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+.

Apple’s iMovie application comes free with new iPhones and iPads. It allows you to make home videos, combining multiple clips, inserting photos, adding transitions, applying a soundtrack, and using other effects.

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iPhones and iPads offer a built-in way to cut clips out of videos and trim them without installing any third-party apps. This is useful when you want to upload or share a video — but not the entire video.

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Your router’s web-based setup page allows you to change various settings — like your Wi-Fi network’s name and password — and view information. You’ll need your router’s IP address to access it.

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Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.

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Google’s Chromecast works well for streaming videos from YouTube, Netflix, and other online services. But there isn’t an obvious way to stream local video files from your computer to your TV via the Chromecast.

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Many cellular carriers offer “microcell” devices — T-Mobile is calling them “CellSpot” devices, but they’re the same thing. These function as small cellular towers, but they use your home Internet connection and anyone can connect to them.

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There’s a good chance your smart TV is spying on you. Smart TVs often analyze the videos you’re watching and report back — whether you’re watching live TV, streaming videos on a service like Netflix, or playing local video files. Worse yet, this can be a security problem.

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Microsoft’s Edge browser receives media-casting support as part of Windows 10’s first big update. Edge can now cast media to MIracast and DLNA-enabled devices. This isn’t compatible with Google’s Chromecast, but it can be used for similar purposes.

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Amazon’s $50 Fire Tablet only comes with 8 GB of storage, but it also supports MicroSD cards. A MicroSD card is an inexpensive way to add additional storage to your tablet and use it for music, videos, apps, and other types of content.

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Modern versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox prevent you from installing unapproved add-ons. This is a good thing, and helps block malware from your browser. But you may sometimes need to install an unapproved add-on from a CRX or XPI file.

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Your Wi-Fi router comes with a default network name and password, and both are often printed on the router itself. But you can change the name and password to anything you want in just a few clicks.

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The first big update to Windows 10, which should be arriving today via Windows Update, fixes a lot of problems with Windows 10. Microsoft is streamlining activation, restoring colored window title bars, integrating Skype, and improving the Edge browser. But they’ve also added advertisements to the Start menu.

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Windows 10’s Start menu — or Start screen, in tablet mode — allows you to “pin” more than just apps. You can pin folders, websites, settings shortcuts, email folder, notes, and contacts.

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Wireless charging is overrated — at least in its current form. The dream of wireless power sounds great, but current wireless charging technologies are more “plugless” than “wireless.” They’re also less convenient, slower, and less-efficient than just plugging your phone in.

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Want to update your computer’s hardware drivers? Don’t use driver-update utilities. Avoid bad freeware-download sites, too. Get your driver updates from Windows Update or your device manufacturer’s website.

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Google’s new YouTube Gaming and Google Play Games apps allow you to record your Android device’s screen and create screencasts. They’re designed for recording mobile games while you play them, but you can use them to record any app.

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Amazon’s Fire tablets run Amazon’s own “Fire OS” operating system. Fire OS is based on Google’s Android, but it doesn’t have any of Google’s apps or services. Here’s what that means, and how exactly they’re different.

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Wouldn’t it be great to have a smart TV? Well, not really. Smart TVs have a lot of problems. If you do have a smart TV, you’d be better off combining it with a cheap set-top box rather than actually using its smart features.

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Amazon’s Appstore has quite a few big-name apps, including Microsoft’s. But Google hasn’t put its own apps in the Amazon Appstore. It’s still possible to access Google’s services in other ways — or even use Google’s actual Android apps on your Fire Tablet.

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Whether you’re dealing with images, music, or video files, it’s important to understand the difference between different types of formats and when to use them. Using the wrong format could ruin a file’s quality or make its file size unnecessarily large.

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Amazon’s Fire Tablet normally restricts you to the Amazon Appstore. But the Fire Tablet runs Fire OS, which is based on Android. You can install Google’s Play Store and gain access to every Android app, including Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps, Hangouts, and the over one million apps in Google Play.

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Windows 10, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One all have integrated ways to record your gameplay and post clips online. Now, Android devices, iPhones, and iPads are gaining integrated ways to capture videos of mobile gameplay and post it to YouTube or elsewhere.

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Antimalware programs like Malwarebytes pop up warnings when they detect “potentially unwanted programs” you might want to remove. People call PUPs many other names, including “adware” and “crapware.” You almost certainly don’t want these programs on your computer, but they’re categorized differently for legal reasons.

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Many online services offer two-step verification or two-factor authentication. Enable this for an account and it’ll require more than just your password to sign in. You’ll also need something else — and there are many different types of additional authentication methods you can use.

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On a Chromebook, only apps from the Chrome Web Store typically get their own taskbar icons and separate windows. But you can give any website its own taskbar icon and make it open in a separate window, effectively turning any website you like into an “app.”

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