Welcome to 2023! I’m changing things up a bit this year. In addition to the in-depth columns I’ve been doing, I’m going to start sharing some tech news and tips that affect or can be used by all of us. Additionally, the frequency of this column will change. Instead of weekly, it’ll generally be every other week so the next column after this should be out in the Jan. 26 Times-Gazette.
I’ll look into ways to keep you all informed as to my schedule and topics. If you have any ways you’d prefer I keep you informed of the schedule, or any topics you’d like me to cover, please write to me at the address at the end of this column.
The password manager Lastpass was hacked and users’ password vaults were stolen. The passwords in your vault are encrypted and, depending on how complex your master password is, you’re probably OK but, just to be safe, you should change passwords to your significant accounts (e.g bank, credit card, Facebook — basically any account that could harm you if the account was breached by a bad guy).
We discussed password managers in the Nov. 24, 2022 column (https://go.ttot.link/TFTNT-PwdMgrs) and in it we discussed Lastpass and Bitwarden. At the time I talked about Bitwarden more than Lastpass because I liked both the features and the price better than Lastpass. That’s still the case, but if you decided to go with Lastpass, it’s pretty easy to export your Lastpass vault and import it into Bitwarden. See https://go.ttot.link/BitwardenImport for step-by-step instructions.
If you follow tech news at all you’ve heard of ChatGPT. What is it? It’s an artificial intelligence (AI) “chat bot.” OK, two terms I should define before we discuss ChatGPT itself. First, “chat bot” — that is a “bot” (i.e. robot, i.e a program) that responds to text messages. Rather than a person responding to your messages, a bot responds to your messages. Artificial Intelligence is a fancy term for a program or set of programs that has been fed a lot of data and, through an analysis of that data, has “learned” from it.
ChatGPT has been fed data through sometime in 2021 and can answer a lot of questions by sorting through that data to provide you an answer. You can try it out by going to chat.openai.com and signing up for an account. Note that the ChatGPT bot doesn’t use the Internet to get answers for you but relies on the data it’s been fed already so if you ask it about things that happened in 2022, for instance, it can’t answer because it doesn’t have that data. Also, they say their information is not authoritative so keep in mind that their answers may be wrong or incorrect or just plain weird in some cases. That said, I still enjoy messing around with it. I have heard tales of it writing term papers, stories, poetry and songs for people.
Paid TV cord cutters
My column of July 7, 2022 (https://go.ttot.link/TFTNT-CordCut-1) talked a little bit about Plex. Well, the Plex service has been beta testing a feature called Discover. That feature allows you to link your free TV services like ABC and NBC as well as your paid TV services like Netflix and Paramount+ to your Plex account so you can view and play the content available from all those services from within the Plex app. That feature is coming out of beta this quarter and should be free for all users. Read a little more about it at https://go.ttot.link/PlexDiscovery, but note that it talks about setting up your own Plex server. Don’t let that stop you – you can sign up for an account without your own server.
Plex has some live channels and a program guide for them. And when you link your streaming accounts, if you search for a movie or TV show that’s available on one of those services and want to watch that show, it will launch the appropriate app so you can watch it right there. There are other services that let you link your streaming services and watch their content like Plex does (e.g. Google TV mentioned in my column from August 18, 2022 – https://go.ttot.link/TFTNT-CordCut-4) but Plex has the added benefit of live TV channels as well.
As always, my intent with these columns is to spark your curiosity, give you enough information to get started, and arm you with the necessary keywords (or buzzwords) so you’ll understand the basics and are equipped to search for more detailed information.
Please feel free to email me with questions, comments, suggestions, requests for future columns, whatever at tony@TonysTakeOnTech.com or just drop me a quick note and say hi! And don’t forget that I maintain links to the original columns with live, clickable links to all the references at https://go.ttot.link/TGColumns+Links or https://go.ttot.link/TGC+L. It should be updated shortly after this column appears online.
Tony Sumrall, a Hillsboro native whose parents ran the former Highland Lanes bowling alley, is a maker with both leadership and technical skills. He’s been in the computing arena since his graduation from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in systems analysis, working for and with companies ranging in size from five to hundreds of thousands of employees. He holds five patents and lives and thrives in Silicon Valley which feeds his love for all things tech.