Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

iPhones and iPads are supposed to “Just work,” but no technology is perfect. If you’ve pressed the Power button and the screen won’t turn on or you see an error message, don’t worry. You can probably make it boot again.

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When you put your PC into sleep mode, it normally waits until you press a button before it wakes from sleep – but you can have your PC automatically wake from sleep at a specific time.

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Geeks often immediately reinstall Windows on their new PCs to get a completely clean system. Thanks to a change in Windows 10, you can get a fresh copy of Windows on any PC without downloading an ISO file and reinstalling Windows.

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Online streaming services are usually considered an alternative to pricey cable subscriptions for cord cutters. But TV networks have been trying to change that for years, and they’ve released more and more services that give you free access to on-demand video if you have a cable subscription.

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After years of use in other countries around the world, chip-enabled credit cards are coming to the USA. Credit cards with only magnetic strips are being phased out ahead of an October 1, 2015 deadline.

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Your Mac’s menu bar can start to look a lot like the Windows system tray after you install a few programs. Here’s how to declutter the menu bar and get those icons under control.

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Systemd is now used by default in most Linux distributions, from Fedora and Red Hat to Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, and Arch. The systemctl command allows you to get information about systemd’s status and control running services.

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Roku’s line of streaming boxes are still the most popular, beating out Google’s Chromecast and the Apple TV. Roku recently refreshed their hardware, but there are still four different options to choose from — not the single option you get with competing devices.

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You can capture video (or screenshots) from any device with an HDMI cable or composite video outputs with a basic device. You could live-stream gameplay on Twitch TV with such a device, too.

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Mac OS X has built-in support for connecting to most common types of VPNs. If you want to ensure your Mac automatically reconnected to your VPN or connect to an OpenVPN VPN, you’ll need a third-party app.

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Windows doesn’t have an integrated tool like Preview for Mac OS X — it doesn’t even come with a PDF printer. Here’s how to split, merge, reorder, sign, and mark-up PDF files with the least obnoxious software possible.

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VPN setup can be complex, especially for less experienced users. It may involve installing various certificate files as well as configuring server settings. Create a configuration profile and this will be as easy as downloading and tapping a file.

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Apple’s Time Machine typically backs up to an external drive or wirelessly to a Time Capsule. But, if you have a spare Mac, you can turn it into a Time Machine server. All your other Macs can back up to it over the network, just as if it were a Time Capsule.

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Chrome isn’t the minimal web browser it once was. Originally named Chrome because it was designed to get out of your way, Chrome is no longer just a minimal browser — it’s an entire application platform.

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iPhones and iPads don’t have file systems you can access. Instead, each app has its own “library” of files. iTunes File Sharing allows you to copy files to and from these per-app libraries.

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Many modern smart TVs have support for the Chromecast-like DIAL protocol built in. You can cast videos to your TV from YouTube and Netflix — on your phone or computer — without getting a Chromecast.

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Microsoft does offer a web-based version of Skype, so you can chat with your friends on your Chromebook. There’s no official voice or video support yet, but there are ways around that.

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Modern iPhones and iPads have excellent VPN support. The PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and Cisco IPSec protocols are all integrated. You can connect to OpenVPN networks and other types of VPNs with third-party apps.

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How fast is your Internet connection? Sure, your Internet service provider has given you some numbers, and your cellular provider probably says you get blazing fast 4G LTE. But how fast is it, actually?

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Need to sign a document and email it? Don’t print, sign, and then scan it back in again. Skip the entire process and apply your signature electronically. It saves time and you don’t need a printer or scanner.

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Many boxes you plug into your TV, including the Roku, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PlayStation 3 offer DLNA (“Digital Living Network Alliance”) streaming support. They can stream video files and music over the network from your PC — as long as you set up a DLNA server first.

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There are several reasons why you might end up with a protected partition you can’t delete on a drive. For example, Macs create 200 MB partitions at the start of an external drive when you set up Time Machine on it.

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So you’ve got a nice big widescreen TV and an amazing home theater setup. Your speakers offer excellent sound — there’s just one problem. You want to use it while people are sleeping or otherwise busy. That means turning to headphones.

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You generally don’t need to install hardware drivers on Linux. It’ll automatically detect the hardware in your computer and set it up for you — that’s the goal. But printers can be a different story.

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YouTube has an integrated remote-control feature. Pair the YouTube app on your phone or the website on your computer with YouTube on any streaming box, smart TV, or game console for easy, Chromecast-style browsing and playback controls.

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