Chatbot guide/Cut a bell pepper/Free Smithsonian images

Recomendo - issue #348

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How to use a chatbot for everything

If you take a search engine (Bing) and add a chatbot (GPT-3) you get a brand new thing bigger than search or chat. It is a universal intern. This new assistant does analytics, summaries, drafts, coding, research, queries, and more.  But you need to learn whole new methods to get the best results. This short tutorial by Ethan Mollick called “Power and Weirdness”  is the best first draft I’ve seen of superuser tips and techniques for harnessing the astounding power of Bing and other chatbots. — KK

Free Smithsonian images

If you need to use an image for your art, product, project, or any other reason, check out the Smithsonian’s vast collection of Open Access images available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. I searched “cat,” and it returned over 7,000 images, and every one I looked at was terrific. — MF

How to cut a bell pepper

I used to randomly hack away at bell peppers, ending up with oddly shaped slices covered in seeds. But a few years ago, I learned the trick to cutting bell peppers. Once you learn this method, you’ll never go back. — MF

Three-Body Problem movie

The Three-Body Problem is an original science fiction book trilogy from China. It is a major phenom in China and a huge hit in the rest of the world, sweeping the major science fiction awards in the US. Tencent, the owner of WeChat, funded a TV series version that ran on China TV. You can watch an English-subtitled version of The Three-Body Problem on YouTube, complete with Chinese TV advertisements. Even though I read the books I found the movies hard to follow, and too arty in an effort to be cool. I would only recommend it for the most diehard fans of the books, or just to see how China does long-form TV. — KK

Favorite vacation sandals

Shoewear is such a personal preference that I normally wouldn’t recommend any, but I was complimented on my sandals many times in Cancun — even stopped on the street — that I feel it warrants a review. These are my first pair of Birkenstocks I’ve ever owned and I finally get what all the hype is about. The footbed offers a lot of support and comfort for all-day walking, and the platform heel makes them cute enough to wear with dresses at night. I also took them to Egypt last year while visiting pyramids and tombs, and never had any issues walking or climbing in the rough and sandy terrain. I own a pair in pecan, but for the next trip I might have to buy them in black. — CD

Built-in background sounds on iPhone

I recently discovered that my iPhone has built-in background sounds like rain, ocean, or stream to mask unwanted noise. This feature came in handy on a recent flight while my phone was in airplane mode. You can also play ambient noise while you play other media like music or podcasts to further drown out environmental sounds. I found it under Settings > Accessibility > Audio Visual > Background Sounds. Thanks to Recomendo reader Pedro Nobre for the heads up on this. — CD

Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson


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