You can now get unlimited 5G for just $20/month — with a twist | Digital Trends

You can now get unlimited 5G for just $20/month — with a twist | Digital Trends

Helium Mobile

Nova Labs, the company that pioneered the “people-powered” Helium Network, has just announced a wallet-friendly new plan under its Helium Mobile brand that offers unlimited data, talk, and text for only $20/month.

The no-contract plan provides nationwide 5G access primarily through its own Helium Mobile Network that’s backed up by “the nation’s largest 5G network” — T-Mobile. This allows the carrier to provide full 5G coverage at much more affordable prices than traditional carriers and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

In addition, Helium Mobile is sticking with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy that gives subscribers the freedom to use any compatible phone of their choice and reduces the overhead involved in contracts and phone financing.

“Traditional carriers think they have Americans over a barrel. At Helium Mobile, we believe that cell phones are an essential service and unlimited data, text, and calls are table stakes,” Amir Haleem, CEO of Helium’s parent company Nova Labs, said in today’s press release. “We are tired of carriers that hide high subscription rates, roaming, and additional data fees behind free phone upgrades that lock you into years of expensive plans. Americans deserve better.”

How Helium Mobile works

Helium Mobile Outdoor Hotspot mounted on wall ouside an apartment balcony.
Helium Mobile

Nova Labs initially built the Helium Network as an effectively crowd-sourced project that relied on mobile Helium hotspots to create a decentralized wireless (DeWi) network organically built on leveraging existing internet connections of those folks who were willing to purchase and carry a hotspot, which Helium Mobile says allows it to “pursue the community vision of democratizing access to the internet.”

To fuel the growth of the Helium Network by encouraging people to deploy Helium Hotspots, Nova Labs relied on the power of cryptocurrency to reward hotspot owners for participating. The approach was lauded by The New York Times last year for its unique way of leveraging crypto; however, the mobile operator has since moved over to a more traditional rewards system that can be applied to customers’ phone bills.

Map of Helium Network Coverage in 2022.
Helium Mobile

As widespread as the Helium Network has become, it hasn’t quite reached the point where Helium Mobile can provide ubiquitous coverage, so it’s also entered into an MVNO arrangement with T-Mobile to provide 5G service when there are no Helium Network hotspots nearby. This not only expands coverage but also increases network performance by using T-Mobile’s fast and expansive 5G network for additional capacity. The company calls this “Dynamic Coverage.”

Helium Mobile’s “unlimited” service comes with the usual disclaimer: data speeds may be reduced after 30GB of usage per monthly billing cycle. Tethering is also limited to 5GB per month. The company doesn’t say how much speeds will be slowed down, but it’s likely enough to maintain basic connectivity for email, messaging, and casual web surfing, similar to other carriers.

Helium Mobile Outdoor Hotspot banner.
Helium Mobile

While we imagine most folks will interested primarily in Helium Mobile’s unlimited plans, the company’s Network Builder program allows you to be part of the “people-powered” network by operating your own Helium Mobile Hotspot. In addition to getting rewards that could add up to free cellular service, you get to build a network that’s operated by “customers, not carriers.” Helium Mobile likens this to Airbnb and Uber, saying that it helps “reduce monopolies and let customers be owners,” improving service and lowering costs.

Helium also hopes that this could make dead zones a thing of the past since anyone can invest in a hotspot and place it where it’s most needed, creating a “mini cell tower” to cover areas that may not be a priority for the big carriers. The company offers two versions of its hotspot at even lower prices than when they initially launched; the Outdoor Helium Mobile Hotspot sells for $499, while the Indoor Helium Mobile Hotspot can be purchased for $249.

Editors’ Recommendations

Best Apple TV VPN for 2022 | Digital Trends

Best Apple TV VPN for 2022 | Digital Trends

An Apple TV is a great way to transform your normal television into a smart TV, but whenever you have the capability to connect online, it’s imperative you install and use an Apple TV VPN. A lot of smart TVs come with Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ subscriptions already built-in to the device, but what about those who have an older TV? Using the Apple TV device, you can hook up your streaming subscriptions and watch in Ultra HD as you relax on your couch. Make sure you stay safe and protected with a VPN for Apple TV so that none of your information or personal data leaks or is compromised.

If you’re interested in which Apple TV VPN is for you, this list will be perfect for you as we’ve researched and compiled all of the VPNs that we think are right for our readers. Alternatively, you can check our best VPN list for a broader range of choices. If you’re on the fence about purchasing a subscription and committing to it, we’ve got you covered with our list of the best free VPN services. You can give any of them a go and test them with your Apple TV to see if it’s right for you.


  • Country of registration: Panama
  • Clients supported: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux, Apple TV
  • Monthly cost: Standard: $13 / Plus: $14 / Complete $15
  • Number of servers: 5,237+
  • Simultaneous connections: 6

Perhaps the biggest and most popular Apple TV VPN, NordVPN has cemented itself in the industry as the go-to option for customers both new and old. It’s more than likely that you’ve heard of this VPN, regardless of if you have an active subscription yourself. The company flexes its marketing prowess in so many corners of the internet, which brings in a lot of newcomers and brings more attention to the benefits of VPNs.

NordVPN is famous for its sturdy servers and its commitment to user data and protection. Its NordLynx protocol in conjunction with OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec means that you can connect to its servers safely, and more importantly, completely anonymously. When connected, NordVPN’s AES 256-bit encryption ensures stability and prevents any intruders from accessing your precious information.

If you feel safe investing in a subscription from the most popular product in the VPN industry, then there should be no other option for you except NordVPN. It has everything you need, like lightning-fast servers for streaming, world-class security, and great all-around service.


Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Country of registration: British Virgin Islands
  • Clients supported: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux, Apple TV
  • Cost: $13 per month
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Simultaneous connections: 5

While typically you could claim that the VPN industry is wide open with only a few titans in the scene, it seems as if ExpressVPN has marketed itself as one of the most complete solutions as an Apple TV VPN. It has a dedicated section of its website regarding connecting your Apple TV to a VPN which is a great way of educating the mass market and making the product accessible.

If you want to unblock geo-locked content, you can do so with ease through ExpressVPN’s 3,000+ servers. If you can’t watch a highly anticipated or popular TV show due to where your location in the world, you are free to bypass that with a VPN for Apple TV. Never worry about buffering and lag when you’re connected to ExpressVPN’s servers, as they are configured specifically for Ultra HD streaming.

Although many feel that having security on your Apple TV device may not be necessary, it’s still important to have. While it’s true that it’s extremely uncommon for a hacker to target your device, it can and has happened, and any digital platform where your personal information is stored should be treated with utmost caution. That’s why ExpressVPN’s revolutionary security features like Lightway and TrustedServer are worth the subscription — so you can stay safe without doing any of the work!


  • Country of registration: British Virgin Islands
  • Clients supported: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux, Apple TV
  • Monthly cost: Starter: $11 / One: $17 / One+: $22
  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited

Surfshark is an amazing VPN for Apple TV, but it’s also excellent for all smart devices because you can connect your single subscription plan to unlimited devices. Yes, for $13 per month, you can connect an unlimited amount of devices to unlimited global bandwidth. Stream your favorite media without any worries about data caps or bandwidth.

This Apple TV VPN is quickly becoming a fan favorite and, while it’s not as popular as the other titans like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, we can expect that to change soon if Surfshark continues to offer great value to its customers. Connect to a server anywhere in the world with the click of a button, or in the case of an Apple TV, by simply turning on your device.

The 3,200+ servers are optimized especially for streaming capabilities, so you should expect extremely high-quality streams constantly (assuming you have a good enough internet connection in the first place, of course). Gone are the days of VPNs throttling speeds and leaving you on an endless buffer — Apple TV VPNs like Surfshark are changing the way we consume content digitally.

Hotspot Shield

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Country of registration: United States
  • Clients supported: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux, Apple TV
  • Monthly cost: Basic: free / Premium: $13
  • Number of servers: 1,800+
  • Simultaneous connections: 5

Hotspot Shield is the most budget-friendly option on this list, but its price isn’t an indicator of its quality. This VPN for Apple TV is mostly seen advertised on smartphone app stores, but not many people know that it can be used for your TV as well. As long as you have your DNS IP Address (see the relevant section at the end of this article), you can hook Hotspot Shield up to your Apple TV.

Admittedly, this VPN doesn’t come with as many global servers as the others on this list, but if you’re using it solely for the purpose of watching shows without geo-blocking and you’re on a budget, we encourage you to use this service. If you’re still unsure, feel free to use its generous 500Mbps of free data per day on a different device to grab a feel of the service.

Hotspot Shield is an amazing choice for beginners in the VPN world due to its generous free data plan, so if you want to dip your toes into the ocean of this industry, you might want to start here! After your introduction to VPNs, Hotspot Shield is an accessible choice for a premium plan due to its cheap price point.


CyberGhost VPN
  • Country of registration: Romania
  • Clients supported: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux, Apple TV
  • Cost: $13 per month
  • Number of servers: 7,300+
  • Simultaneous connections: 7

Last but not least, CyberGhost is a unique and trailblazing Apple TV VPN that has burst onto the scene looking like a serious contender for the throne. Through its unique branding and company motif, this VPN looks to catch the attention of customers with its visuals first, then retain them with its reliable product. The cute ghost logo may look playful and charismatic, but the security that is implemented in each server is serious business.

Connect your DNS IP Address to your Apple TV, and then forget about it. Installation is easy, and the unlimited global bandwidth ensures you never have to worry about data caps, but more importantly, you’ll never experience significant lag or buffering. With over 7,300+ servers all over the world, you’ll be able to access content in whatever country you wish!

$13 per month isn’t cheap, but you can connect up to seven devices simultaneously, and you can access thousands of global servers with a click of a button. Whether you’re streaming your favorite shows on your Apple TV, browsing on your smartphone, or conducting business on your laptop, CyberGhost is a valuable and solid VPN no matter the occasion.

Can you use a VPN with Apple TV?

Although there are significantly fewer options for you to choose from, there are still plenty of Apple TV VPNs circulating the internet! The problem many consumers face is choosing the right one. You may see VPNs touting Apple TV support, but some may be scams, so it can be hard to determine the best VPNs from the scams. It’s wise to do your own research on anything you’re spending hard-earned money on, and listening to experts while forming your own opinion with the guide of websites like Digital Trends is a surefire way to find the product that’s right for you. Installing a VPN on your Apple TV isn’t as easy or straightforward as installing it on your smartphone, though, so check out the next section for installing a VPN for Apple TV.

How to install VPN on Apple TV

For this tutorial, we’ll be using ExpressVPN as an example, but this method of installation is applicable to all of the VPNs in the list above.

Editors’ Recommendations

Reports says 73 percent of internet traffic is malicious bots | Digital Trends

Reports says 73 percent of internet traffic is malicious bots | Digital Trends

In a concerning revelation by the fraud control platform Arkose Labs, about 73% of internet traffic to websites and apps that was analyzed between January and September 2023 has been attributed to bots engaging in malicious activities. This revelation sparks discussions about the significant drain on valuable resources caused by such nefarious actions.

The third quarter of 2023 witnessed the dominance of five primary categories of bad bot activities, including account takeover, scraping, fake account creation, account management, and in-product abuse. This is similar to the second quarter, with the notable exception of in-product abuse stepping in for card testing.

Among the categories, SMS toll fraud experienced the highest quarter-over-quarter surge, escalating by a staggering 2,141% in the third quarter compared to the previous one2. Equally noteworthy was a 160% increase in attacks on customer support call centers during the same period. Scraping, which had the most significant spike from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2023 at 432%, highlights the dynamic nature of these malicious activities.

Arkose Labs reported a 291% increase in intelligent bot attacks from the first quarter to the second. This surge is linked to the utilization of sophisticated techniques, including machine learning and AI, that enable these bots to mimic human behavior with heightened adaptability. In instances where AI and technology fall short, cybercriminals resort to human-operated fraud farms to execute their attacks. Fraudulent operations are predominantly identified in Brazil, India, Russia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The escalating trend in bad bot attacks suggests that cybercriminals find this mode of operation highly profitable. The integration of efficient AI is anticipated to aggravate the situation, raising concerns about the efficacy of current defense mechanisms. A few months back, we reported that Microsoft’s Bing Chat was recommending malware advertisements that sent users to malicious websites instead of filtering them out.

While the prevalence of malicious bots is a cause for concern, it’s crucial to acknowledge the existence of beneficial bots that contribute positively to the online ecosystem. Many serve useful functions such as website indexing for search engines, handling basic customer service tasks, and managing social media experiences.

Editors’ Recommendations

Can the Quest 3 replace a PC? I found out the hard way | Digital Trends

Can the Quest 3 replace a PC? I found out the hard way | Digital Trends

Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

When Meta launched the Quest 3 in October, the focus was on mixed reality gaming, but I wondered if it was ready for work. Because the truth is that spatial computing is the latest challenge for VR headsets.

It might sound odd, but VR headsets should be used for more than just games. Most computing devices serve a variety of purposes. Your PC works all day with you, then transitions to entertainment, whether watching movies, browsing the web, or playing games. The best VR headsets can be just as functional —  at least, in theory.

What’s needed for work?

Yamaha SR-C30A compact soundbar seen on a desk in front of dual computer monitors.
Yamaha / Yamaha

Your work demands might vary from mine, but most people simply need basic office computing, not a high-performance video- or photo-editing station. The fact that I’m working in VR doesn’t change the task at hand. I need to access email, post to social media, browse the web, use a variety of web apps, and do some photo editing.

I can achieve all of those tasks with any device with a robust desktop browser that can run multiple web apps. A web-based image editor works, and they keep getting better, but I’d prefer a fast and full-featured image editor. I’d also like to have all the browser extensions I’m accustomed to using in my workflow.

On the hardware side, one or more large screens help when taking in information from multiple sources or moving media from one place to another. A mouse and keyboard are hard to beat for productivity, and if I use my favorites, work goes faster.

Despite its reputation as a VR gaming device, most of these requirements are met by the Quest 3. Meta describes the Quest Pro as a whole new way to work, but the Quest 3 uses the same operating system and apps. That means both devices are spatial computers.

Quest 3 in standalone mode

Most web apps work on the Quest 3, even Outlook's spell-checking and correction.
Most web apps work on the Quest 3, even Outlook’s spell-checking and correction. Digital Trends

The Quest 3 meets most requirements for light office work. With three resizable windows placed side by side, I’ll never need a larger monitor or more screens.

Last year, when I tested the Quest Pro as a laptop replacement for a week, Meta’s browser failed in several ways. For example, Gmail loaded in its basic HTML view. It’s functional, but without any styling, it looks like a sea of text with blue links everywhere. I couldn’t download images from websites unless there was a dedicated download button.

In 2023, Meta solved these Quest browser issues. I can sign into Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, or other webmail providers with Meta’s browser, so email access is simple. In fact, most websites look fine and work as expected on the Quest 3. For example, there are no issues with go-to apps like WordPress, Canva, and Pixlr. Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and other social media networks that support a web browser also work well.

I ran into a strange quirk with Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Each web app suggests installing an uninstallable extension to enable copying and pasting. The Quest browser doesn’t support any extensions. Meanwhile, the clipboard works as expected in Gmail and Outlook. The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 has enough performance to handle any web app, but Meta still needs to do more work on browser compatibility to enable the use of many popular web apps.

Gmail works in Meta's Quest browser and I can use the clipboard.
Gmail works in Meta’s Quest browser, and I can use the clipboard. Digital Trends

Typing has gotten much better with the new swipe keyboard. It works just like my phone. I drag a controller line or a finger through the letters, and the Quest 3 figures out what word I want. I can also peck at the keys with my index fingers to enter passwords or correct typos. For faster typing, I can pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to make my Quest 3 more like a computer. The Quest 3’s mixed reality view makes it easy to glance down at the keyboard.

Despite these advances, there are some jobs that are still best handled on a computer. When I need to quickly edit an image, I don’t want to upload images to a web app. I like the ease and speed of Photoshop or Gimp. While video editing is possible in a web browser, it’s a burden to send source material to the cloud.

That means the Quest 3 isn’t any more of a laptop replacement than the Quest Pro. For more demanding tasks, I can stay in VR and connect the headset to a Windows PC, a Mac, or even a Linux computer.

Quest 3 (plus a PC) gets the job done

Meta's Horizon Workrooms connects to a PC or Mac to show three virtual screens.
Meta’s Horizon Workrooms connects to a PC or Mac to show three virtual screens. Digital Trends

Meta’s Quest 3 is meant to be a gaming device, but it’s actually quite enjoyable to use for work if you accept that you’ll need to connect to your computer sometimes. There are several ways to tap into the power of your computer while enjoying the multiscreen potential and immersive feeling of working in VR. The world disappears so you can focus on the task at hand, but is available anytime by switching to a passthrough background.

Meta also offers Horizon Workrooms as a free remote desktop app. If I use this app, I’m fully committed to using the computer remotely through the Quest 3. The advantage of three large virtual displays is tempting, but since I already have a Geminos display with two stacked physical monitors, I rarely use Horizon Workrooms. Meta’s app is also a bit restrictive, fixing the displays in a side-by-side configuration at a limited size.

When I want more screen space or more control of the monitor layout, I choose the third-party app Immersed. I can move, tilt, curve, and resize up to five virtual computer displays. Immersed also supports most Linux computers.

The Immersed app for Quest VR headsets shows up to five virtual PC screens.
The Immersed app for Quest VR headsets shows up to five virtual PC screens. Digital Trends

If you’re happy working in standalone mode on the Quest 3, but need more on occasion, you can use the Remote Display app. There’s a companion app to install for remote access to Windows PCs and Mac computers. When I launch Remote Display, a window opens showing one of my two PC screens beside the two Meta browser windows. With a click, I can easily switch to see a view of the other physical monitor.

I still need to use my computer’s keyboard, mouse, or trackpad to interact with the computer while my hands or controllers control the Quest 3 windows. I found it surprisingly satisfying to blend these two worlds. There’s no automatic data transfer, however. I need to save to the cloud to access files across devices.

Is the Quest 3 ready for work?

Circling back to the question of whether the Quest 3 is ready for work, the answer is yes. A more important question to ask is whether you are ready to work in VR and if the Quest 3 is the best device for that purpose.

Personally, I still find the Quest Pro more comfortable. All the software improvements I mentioned above came to the entire Quest lineup, except for the discontinued Quest 1.

The Quest 3 delivers sharper graphics, which will make a difference in fine print. On the other hand, I don’t need fine print when I’m looking at three giant screens, so the Quest Pro displays are sharp enough.

A greater concern is how long the headset will be comfortable. After a couple of hours, a 1-pound weight becomes noticeable, even with a refined head strap. In truth, VR headsets are still too heavy for a full day of work.

Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro boasts 4K-per-eye displays, and this spatial computer will make the current generation of consumer VR headsets look bad. The performance should be comparable to a MacBook. However, early testers suggest the headset weighs at least a pound, so even Apple’s spatial computer will spend a large part of the workday on its charging dock, just like the Quest 3.

The Quest 3 is ready for work, but don’t get rid of your laptop yet.

Editors’ Recommendations

What is an RSS feed? Here’s why you should still use one | Digital Trends

What is an RSS feed? Here’s why you should still use one | Digital Trends

With so much new content on the web added daily, it can be tough to keep up with what’s happening online. People try several different ways, including visiting specific websites every day, doing Google searches, or relying on social media to keep them informed. One solution that sometimes gets overlooked is an old-school one: The RSS feed.

What is an RSS feed? It’s a technology that has influenced many modern internet tools you’re familiar with, and its streamlined, algorithm-free format could make it your next great tool for reading what you want online.

What is RSS?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What RSS stands for depends on who you ask. The main consensus is that it stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” But you may also hear that it stands for “Rich Site Summary.”  At its heart though, RSS essentially refers to simple text files with necessary, updated information — news pieces, articles, that sort of thing. That stripped-down content gets plugged into a feed reader, an interface that quickly converts the RSS text files into a stream of the latest updates from around the web.

As internet content became more complex, so did RSS files, quickly adopting images, video, and more, but still in a stripped-down format for more effortless loading and compatibility across all feed readers. Readers usually automatically update to deliver the newest content right to your device. This approach allows internet users to create their online feeds filled with custom updates from the sites they regularly visit.

I thought RSS was old. Is it still used online?

Yes and no. RSS feeds are certainly still present (more on this later), but they aren’t as dominant as they once were. Social media sites like Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedIn, and others have become the go-to option for following sites, watching feeds, and learning about the latest content. Other online options such as Google News or Google Discover aggregate full links to the latest stories, with algorithms to pick out stories you may like.

Interest in RSS feeds has gone down over the past several years. Online brands already have to post to social media for their marketing goals, and they may not want to take the extra time to convert content into a bunch of RSS files. This added effort is why a new blog or website may only offer subscription content by following them on social media, but no RSS feed. Google doesn’t even like to support RSS feeds anymore, and Google Reader is a long-dead endeavor. However, RSS feeds still have their place.

How can RSS feeds make my life easier?

Screenshot showing Feedly's interface.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

RSS feeds remain great for an in-depth look at a site’s new content — not just the stuff that gets pushed up on social media. If you are genuinely devoted to a site and want to see everything it has to offer, then an RSS feed is still the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s an excellent alternative to social media if you want the news and articles without all the baggage that comes with having a X or Facebook account.

Additionally, RSS feeds are often very easy to read at your leisure and will update even if you are not online — they are particularly useful for catching up on the news during your downtime. As such, RSS feeds have grown into a beneficial tool, thanks to the emergence of well-crafted mobile apps that act as feed readers.

What are the best feed readers?

A gaming RSS feed displayed on a tablet screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are many different kinds. However, some of the most popular include:


Feedreader is a simple, minimalistic reader that makes curation easy with basic categories and accessible tools. It has a fantastic preview option to see what an RSS feed looks like before you sign up, and it gives alternative options if you decide you don’t like that particular feed.


Feedly can be used for entertainment and professional purposes (for example, following competitors and keeping up on industry news). It has a simple interface with basic categories to collect individual RSS feeds and a home page filled with the latest news from everywhere. Feedly is currently one of the most popular feed readers online, although it was the victim of an attack in 2014.


Flipboard has won admiration for its beautiful design that looks particularly good on mobile devices. It’s an excellent choice if you want a more organic, e-zine-like way to peruse the latest news from your favorite sources.

The Old Reader

It might sound antiquated, but The Old Reader’s name is merely highlighting its simplicity. While it still enjoys some social elements, its core function is bringing you an easy to parse and organize news feed with support for tablets, desktops, and mobile devices.

Editors’ Recommendations

Here’s why people are saying GPT-4 is getting lazy | Digital Trends

Here’s why people are saying GPT-4 is getting lazy | Digital Trends

OpenAI and its technologies have been in the midst of scandal for most of November. Between the swift firing and rehiring of CEO Sam Altman and the curious case of the halted ChatGPT Plus paid subscriptions, OpenAI has kept the artificial intelligence industry in the news for weeks.

Now, AI enthusiasts have rehashed an issue that has many wondering whether GPT-4 is getting “lazier” as the language model continues to be trained. Many who use it speed up more intensive tasks have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to air their grievances about the perceived changes.

OpenAI has safety-ed GPT-4 sufficiently that its become lazy and incompetent.

Convert this file? Too long. Write a table? Here's the first three lines. Read this link? Sorry can't. Read this py file? Oops not allowed.

So frustrating.

— rohit (@krishnanrohit) November 28, 2023

Rohit Krishnan on X detailed several of the mishaps he experienced while using GPT-4, which is the language model behind ChatGPT Plus, the paid version of ChatGPT. He explained that the chatbot has refused several of his queries or given him truncated versions of his requests when he was able to get detailed responses previously. He also noted that the language model will use tools other than what it has been instructed to use, such as Dall-E when a prompt asks for a code interpreter. Krishnan also sarcastically added that “error analyzing” is the language model’s way of saying “AFK [away from keyboard], be back in a couple of hours.”

Matt Wensing on X detailed his experiment, where he asked ChatGPT Plus to make a list of dates between now and May 5, 2024, and the chatbot required additional information, such as the number of weeks between those dates, before it was able to complete the initial task.

Wharton professor Ethan Mollick also shared his observations of GPT-4 after comparing sequences with the code interpreter he ran in July to more recent queries from Tuesday. He concluded that GPT-4 is still knowledgeable, but noted that it explained to him how to fix his code as opposed to actually fixing the code. In essence, he would have to do the work he was asking GPT-4 to do. Though Mollick has not intended to critique the language, his observations fall in step with what others have described as “back talk” from GPT-4.

ChatGPT is known to hallucinate answers for information that it does not know, but these errors appear to go far beyond common missteps of the AI chatbot. GPT-4 was introduced in March, but as early as July, reports of the language model getting “dumber” began to surface. A study done in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley observed that the accuracy of GPT-4 dropped from 97.6% to 2.4% between March and June alone. It detailed that the paid version of ChatGPT was unable to provide the correct answer to a mathematical equation with a detailed explanation, while the unpaid version that still runs an older GPT 3.5 model gave the correct answer and a detailed explanation of the mathematical process.

During that time, Peter Welinder, OpenAI Product vice president, suggested that heavy users might experience a psychological phenomenon where the quality of answers might appear to degrade over time when the language model is actually becoming more efficient.

There has been discussion if GPT-4 has become "lazy" recently. My anecdotal testing suggests it may be true.

I repeated a sequence of old analyses I did with Code Interpreter. GPT-4 still knows what to do, but keeps telling me to do the work. One step is now many & some are odd.

— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) November 28, 2023

According to Mollick, the current issues might similarly be temporary and due to a system overload or a change in prompt style that hasn’t been made apparent to users. Notably, OpenAI cited a system overload as a reason for the ChatGPT Plus sign-up shutdown following the spike in interest in the service after its inaugural DevDay developers’ conference introduced a host of new functions for the paid version of the AI chatbot. There is still a waitlist in place for ChatGPT Plus. The professor also added that ChatGPT on mobile uses a different prompt style, which results in “shorter and more to-the-point answers.”

Yacine on X detailed that the unreliability of the latest GPT-4 model due to the drop in instruction adherence has caused them to go back to traditional coding, adding that they plan on creating a local code LLM to regain control of the model’s parameters. Other users have mentioned opting for open-source options in the midst of the language model’s decline.

Similarly, Reddit user, Mindless-Ad8595 explained that more recent updates to GPT-4 have made it too smart for its own good. “It doesn’t come with a predefined ‘path’ that guides its behavior, making it incredibly versatile, but also somewhat directionless by default,” he said.

The programmer recommends users create custom GPTs that are specialized by task or application to increase the efficiency of the model output. He doesn’t provide any practical solutions for users remaining within OpenAI’s ecosystem.

App developer Nick Dobos shared his experience with GPT-4 mishaps, noting that when he prompted ChatGPT to write pong in SwiftUI, he discovered various placeholders and to-dos within the code. He added that the chatbot would ignore commands and continue inserting these placeholders and to-dos into the code even when instructed to do otherwise. Several X users confirmed similar experiences of this kind with their own examples of code featuring placeholders and to-dos. Dobos’ post got the attention of an OpenAI employee who said they would forward examples to the company’s development team for a fix, with a promise to share any updates in the interim.

Overall, there is no clear explanation as to why GPT-4 is currently experiencing complications. Users discussing their experiences online have suggested many ideas. These range from OpenAI merging models to a continued server overload from running both GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo to the company attempting to save money by limiting results, among others.

It is well-known that OpenAI runs an extremely expensive operation. In April 2023, researchers indicated it took $700,000 per day, or 36 cents per query, to keep ChatGPT running. Industry analysts detailed at that time that OpenAI would have to expand its GPU fleet by 30,000 units to maintain its commercial performance for the remainder of the year. This would entail support of ChatGPT processes, in addition to the computing for all of its partners.

While waiting for GPT-4 performance to stabilize, users exchanged several quips, making light of the situation on X.

“The next thing you know it will be calling in sick,” Southrye said.

“So many responses with “and you do the rest.” No YOU do the rest,” MrGarnett said.

The number of replies and posts about the problem is definitely hard to ignore. We’ll have to wait and see if OpenAI can tackle the problem head-on in a future update.

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Watch out: Google Drive may have lost months of data | Digital Trends

Watch out: Google Drive may have lost months of data | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

If you’re using Google Drive to back up your files, you may need to make sure everything’s in order — and perhaps even back those files up again somewhere else. While cloud storage is typically considered to be one of the safer methods of storing data, several users have reported that Google Drive may have misplaced their files. In some cases, the data loss goes as far back as May 2023. Here’s what we know, and how you can protect yourself.

Over the last few days, multiple complaints started cropping up on the Google Support forums. It appears that Google has a pretty worrying problem on its hands, and it was first reported by user Yeonjoong. Files are suddenly vanishing for some users, with seemingly no way to get them back. The user said that their drive seems to have gone back in time to May 2023, including files and folder structure.

Yeonjoong said in their post that the Google Drive activity doesn’t show any changes, and the only activity they can see was in May, even though they’ve used the drive since. While this user only used the drive locally, others commented that even files that were uploaded through the web interface have all but vanished. Several people mention May as the starting point, which implies that this is how far back the data loss goes in general, and not just for that one user.

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Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of frustration in the comments, as people have lost not just their personal files, but also those pertaining to their businesses. One user said: “It’s all my work for the last 1-2 years. All my business work, all my personal files. Everything just vanished. It must be hundreds of files suddenly gone.”

Some users shared their experience iwhe contacting Google Support about this. Google first advised that if the files are not recovered after 48 hours that they may be gone permanently. However, in another post, it appears that Google is aware of the problem and is working to fix it, but is unable to provide an estimate on how long this might take, and, more importantly, whether all those files are lost forever or not.

Is it possible that the files will not be recovered at all? Unfortunately, yes. However, the good news is that The Register reports that one user found a fix, so it could just be a matter of time before Google’s engineers solve the issue on their end.

What can you do to avoid data loss in a situation like this? For the most important files, it’s usually better to use not one, but two methods of backing them up. It’s a hassle, sure, but at least you can rest easy knowing that even if one method fails, the other one should still work. That’s why things like an external SSD or HDD can truly come in handy.

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How to uninstall McAfee antivirus easily in just a few steps | Digital Trends

How to uninstall McAfee antivirus easily in just a few steps | Digital Trends

As one of the more common pieces of “free” software installed on prebuilt PCs, McAfee security products are something that many people have encountered, but not everyone wants.

If you want to remove it from your PC, here’s how to uninstall McAfee’s antivirus software.

You’re probably here to uninstall the antivirus software. But whether you’re running McAfee Antivirus, McAfee LiveSafe, McAfee Security Scan Plus, or anything else the company has put out, here’s how to uninstall them.

Note: As much as we understand your need to get rid of McAfee, it is essential to have antivirus protection on your PC. Windows Defender is good, but using one of the best free antivirus applications is an excellent second step in protecting your system.

How to remove McAfee using Settings

Windows 10 overhauled much of the Windows ecosystem’s traditional application management systems, but if anything, it just makes the process easier. Here’s how to get rid of McAfee products with Windows’ built-in tools.

Step 1: Open the Settings menu by either selecting the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner and then the Cog icon, or searching for “Settings” using the Windows search box and choosing the relevant result.

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Step 2: Open the Apps menu and use the Search box to search for McAfee to find everything related to McAfee on your system.

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Step 3: Select the McAfee product or app you want to uninstall and then select the Uninstall button. When asked, confirm your choice by selecting Uninstall again.

Step 4: Windows will ask you for permission to continue, as uninstalling an application is an administrative function. Once you confirm, you’ll go through the McAfee uninstaller. Each version is a little different, but follow the removal instructions and it will automatically uninstall the McAfee product from your PC.

This same process can be used to uninstall just about any Windows app.

McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool EULA screen.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool

If the Windows Settings menu doesn’t do the job for you, and there are still some McAfee software elements kicking around your system, you can use the McAfee Consumer Product Removal (MCPR) tool.

Note: At the end of this tool’s operation, it might request a reboot, so it’s important to save all your work before starting.

Step 1: Download the latest version of MCPR from McAfee’s website.

Step 2: Run the tool. It does not require an install.

Step 3: Accept the license agreement and input the CAPTCHA code as requested, selecting Next as necessary.

Step 4: Wait for the uninstall process to work. When completed, if you would like further information about the process, select View logs.

Step 5: If asked to reboot your system, make sure to save everything you need and then restart as you usually would.

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Remove McAfee on Windows 11

If your Windows 11 PC cam with McAfee software preinstalled, then removing it is just as simple as it is in Windows 10. Microsoft made some tweaks to the settings so the process is much more clear.

Step 1: To begin, press the Windows Key and I on your keyboard. From there, choose Apps from the sidebar. You’ll want to look for Apps & features in the middle of your screen and select that next.

(Some Windows 11 PCs may not have the Apps & features option. You may need to select Installed apps instead.)

Step 2: Review the list of apps, and look for any McAfee products. Select the Three dots icon and choose Uninstall. You’ll then want to follow any prompts on your screen, and reboot your PC.

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How to uninstall McAfee on a Mac

With most other apps, all you need to do to uninstall them is find the app in your Applications folder and drag it to your home screen’s trash icon. But McAfee software makes it a little more complicated. It requires more effort to remove it, but the following method is relatively simple and very effective.

Step 1: You’ll need to be signed in as an administrator to do this. Open your Applications folder and choose the Utilities folder. In the Utilities folder, open up Terminal.

Step 2: Under Terminal, you must create an explicit command to uninstall McAfee. Per Apple’s standards, the command has to be specific. For McAfee version 4.8 or earlier, enter: sudo/Library/McAfee/sma/scripts/

For people using McAfee 5.0 or newer, enter: sudo/Library/McAfee/cma/scripts/

After creating this command, tap the Enter key.

Step 3: After tapping the *Enter *key, your Mac computer should have already begun expunging McAfee’s files. After the computer finishes removing the files, reboot your Mac. Your computer should now be good to go.

Sometimes not even a Terminal command is enough to wipe out all of McAfee’s files. You may continue to see a few pop-ups on your screen even after you uninstall it. If that’s the case, download an uninstaller app like AppCleaner to delete the remaining McAfee files forcibly. There are dozens of free and paid apps that can handle this.

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Windows may have a serious security problem on its hands | Digital Trends

Windows may have a serious security problem on its hands | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

The premier sensors enabling Windows Hello fingerprint authentication are not as secure as manufacturers had hoped. Researchers have discovered security flaws in a number of fingerprint sensors used in several laptops that work with the Windows Hello authentication feature.

Security researchers at Blackwing Intelligence have uncovered that laptops made by Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft can have their Windows Hello fingerprint authentication bypassed easily due to vulnerabilities in the sensors that can cause them to be taken over by bad actors at the system level.

Many of the laptop brands use fingerprint sensors from Goodix, Synaptics, and ELAN. These vulnerabilities are beginning to arise as businesses transition to biometrics as a primary option for accessing devices. As time goes on, password use will continue to diminish. Three years ago, Microsoft claimed that 85% of its users were opting for a Windows Hello sign-in on Windows 10 devices over a password, according to The Verge.

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On request from Microsoft’s Offensive Research and Security Engineering (MORSE), researchers shared details of various attacks that have plagued fingerprint authentication-enabled laptops at the brand’s BlueHat conference in October.

One such attack is a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, which can be used to access a stolen laptop. Another method is an “evil maid” attack, which can be used on an unattended device.

Blackwing Intelligence researchers tested a Dell Inspiron 15, Lenovo ThinkPad T14, and Microsoft Surface Pro X, which all fell victim to various bypass methods as long as someone had previously used their fingerprint to access the devices. The researchers noted that the bypassing entailed reverse engineering of the hardware and software on the laptops. They found flaws in the security layer of the Synaptics sensor, in particular. Windows Hello needed to be decoded and restructured to get past its setup, but it was still able to be hacked.

Researchers noted that Microsoft’s Secure Device Connection Protocol (SDCP) is a solid attempt at applying a security measure within the biometric standard. It allows for more secure communication between the biometric sensor and its laptop. However, not all manufacturers implemented the feature well enough for it to be effective, if they enabled it at all. Two out of the three laptops examined in the study had SDCP enabled.

Having more secure biometric laptops won’t only be a task for Microsoft. An initial remedy for securing Windows Hello-enabled laptops is also to have SDCP enabled on the manufacturer’s side, Blackwing Intelligence noted.

This study follows a 2021 facial recognition biometrics flaw in Windows Hello that allowed users to bypass the feature with certain alterations. Microsoft was forced to update its feature after researchers presented a proof of concept showcasing users with masks or plastic surgery bypassing Windows Hello facial recognition authentication.

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