How-To Geek teaches you all kinds of useful and interesting things. Sometimes we publish special How-To Guides, which are detailed articles about how to do something. Here are the best ones that we published in 2011.
The How-To Geek Guide to Getting Started with LastPass
Do you tend to create passwords that are not strong enough and not varied enough? It’s a big hassle to remember a different complex password for every website you visit. However, LastPass can solve the problem. It makes it very easy to generate strong, secure passwords, manage your passwords, and to use your passwords on websites. LastPass is a local password manager combined with cloud-based storage. Your passwords database is encrypted locally and then stored in the cloud. It can only be accessed by you using your master password. The following guide helps you get started using LastPass.
The How-To Geek Guide to XBMC Add-Ons
XBMC is a robust, open-source media center program. However, like many other programs, such as Firefox, the native functionality of XBMC can be expanded using add-ons. You can use add-ons for many things, such as watching Netflix and listening to streaming music. The following guide shows you how to find and install add-ons for XBMC from both the official and unofficial repositories and introduces you to some of the more popular add-ons.
The How-To Geek Guide to Making Your Own Custom Ethernet Cables
Have you set up your home network only to find that the Ethernet cables you have are either too short or too long? The following guide shows you the tools and techniques you’ll need to make custom Ethernet cables for your own home network.
The How-To Geek Guide to Getting Started with Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system that’s been around since 1980. Articles posted to Usenet are organized into categories called newsgroups. Usenet is not used as a global discussion forum much anymore, except for a few groups that are still in use. However, binary groups and the introduction of the NZB file has brought back Usenet as a private, secure method for downloading files, as opposed to torrents. The following guide gives you some of the history of Usenet, how to select a service provider, and install and configure a Usenet client.
Hardware Upgrade: The HTG Guide to Picking the Right PC Monitor
Most of us spend so much time working with computers that it’s worth buying a good monitor. However, how do you make sense of all the monitor jargon and specs to decide which monitor to buy? The following guide describes some of the more important specs and information you need to know before spending your hard-earned money on an expensive monitor.
The Beginner’s Guide to Using QoS (Quality of Service) on Your Router
Quality of Service (QoS) on your router is used to control traffic priority on your network. QoS takes over when there’s a bottleneck in your network and decides which traffic has priority over other traffic. The following guide helps you understand QoS, determine where the bottleneck is, and how to tweak QoS to get your bandwidth back.
How to Secure Your Wi-Fi Network Against Intrusion
Speaking of home networks and routers, securing your network is vital. If you don’t protect your Wi-Fi network against unauthorized access you could end up in a lot of trouble. Anyone within range of your network could get into it and access your private files and use your internet connection to do illegal things in your name. The following guide helps you understand Wi-Fi security and shows you how to securely setup your network and monitor activity on it.
How to Use a Soldering Iron: A Beginner’s Guide
Soldering is a geeky skill that can be useful for all kinds of DIY projects. A soldering iron is a tool for joining two work pieces together. It has a metal tip that gets very hot and then applies solder to the joint. The following guide shows you the proper technique for soldering and explains some safety tips.
How to Pick the Right Motherboard for Your Custom-Built PC
The motherboard is the central, and most critical and complex, part of your computer. They are responsible for communicating among all the important components inside the computer. The following guide describes the most important factors in choosing a motherboard so you know what to look for when you start to build your next PC.
The How-To Geek Video Guide to Using Windows 7 Speech Recognition
Have you ever wished you could talk to your computer like they do in Star Trek? Microsoft introduced voice recognition in Windows XP, improved it in Vista, and further polished it in Windows 7. It’s not a well known feature and there are other expensive voice command and speech recognition programs that may have more features than the one built-in to Windows. However, Microsoft’s speech recognition software is easy to enable, configure, and use. The following video guide shows you how to enable it and you’ll see a demo of what it can do.
The Beginner’s Guide to Shell Scripting
The command line is a common and useful tool if you’re a Linux user. It is more often used and more powerful than the command line in Windows. “Shell Scripting” is an easy and powerful method of programming in Linux and can save you time and help eliminate tedious tasks. If you were a Windows user before becoming a Linux user, you probably remember writing batch files with commands that would run in turn when the batch file was run. Batch files are useful, but they are not as powerful as shell scripts. The following two-part guide teaches you the basics and shows you how to program loops in shell scripts.
The How-To Geek Guide to Hackintoshing
Have you wanted a Mac but haven’t wanted to pay for one? They tend to be more expensive than PCs, the cheapest Mac (the Mac Mini) starting at $599. However, if you are adept at building PCs, there is a way to custom build your own PC with specific hardware such that you can use a special method to install Mac OS X on it. A custom-built PC running Mac OS X is called a “Hackintosh” (Hacked Macintosh). The following three-part guide shows you how to try this out without spending too much. We provide all the basic concepts needed to understand hackintoshing.
The How-To Geek Guide to Audio Editing Using Audacity
If you want to be able to edit your own audio files, but don’t know where to start, How-To Geek can help. There are advanced applications out there, such as Adobe’s Soundbooth or Apple’s GarageBand, but they can be overly complicated and are meant for more advanced users. The free, open-source program Audacity is easier to use for more novice users and has great plug-ins and awesome effects included in the main program. The following four-part guide shows you the basics of using Audacity and of basic noise removal, how to use the delay, echo, and reverb effects, and how to remove vocals from music tracks. The articles focus on using Audacity in Windows, but Audacity is cross platform, so Linux and Mac OS X users can join in also.
The How-To Geek Guide to Scoring Free Wi-Fi
With all the portable devices out there that allow you to access the internet, such as laptops, networks, tablets, and smartphones, finding free Wi-Fi is very useful. Even though the number of available free Wi-Fi hotspots increases, finding a connection is not as easy as you might think. The following guide provides tips, tricks, and apps that help you surf the web for free.
The How-To Geek Guide to 3D Monitors and TVs
3D display technology is starting to become more commonly available, but manufacturers of 3D monitors and TVs use different technologies and it is easy to get confused when trying to decide what to go with. The following guide describes three main technologies that are competing right now and how to decide which one is the best for you.
The How-To Geek Guide to Buying an HDTV
In addition to the 3D monitors and TVs available that we mentioned above, you can also consider buying an HDTV. However, just as there is with 3D displays, there are many options, add-ons, features, and technical jargon to sort through. The following guide highlights the key terms and concepts you need to know to make an informed decision when shopping for an HDTV.
We hope you learned a lot from these guides and that we helped you to make useful and informed decisions. You can look forward to more helpful How-To Geek Guides in the future!
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 12/17/11