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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+.

Did you know Windows has had Speech Recognition¬†built-in since Windows Vista? This is more than just a way to type by speaking aloud — you can use it to control applications and navigate the desktop with your voice.

about 9 months ago - by  |  4 Replies

Microsoft’s Windows XP started using the NTFS file system by default for its internal drives back in 2001. It’s now 12 years later, so why are USB sticks, and SD cards, and other removable drives still using FAT32?

about 9 months ago - by  |  19 Replies

It’s easy to set up parental controls and filter the web. These features are built into everything from Windows to the iPad. But none of these filtering solutions is perfect.

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Android geeks often unlock their devices’ bootloaders, root them, enable USB debugging, and allow software installation from outside the Google Play Store. But there are reasons why Android devices don’t come with all these tweaks enabled.

about 9 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Touch-screen keyboards can be slow, especially on phones with small screens. To enter text more naturally, you can use your phone or tablet’s voice dictation feature. Just speak — punctuation included — and your device will convert what you say to text.

about 9 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

More and more Android and Windows tablets are advertising their styluses. They’re popular iPad accessories, too. But not all styluses are equal. The technology built into your device’s touch screen will control what kind of styluses you can use.

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iPads and iPhones give you control over how your kids can use your devices. You can quickly lock your device to a certain app before handing it over or lock down an entire device with comprehensive parental controls.

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Did you know that Mozilla is creating a new operating system built on top of Firefox, dubbed Firefox OS? This isn’t an operating system for your computer — Firefox OS is Mozilla’s attempt at a smartphone OS.

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Like any piece of technology, iPads aren’t completely obvious when you first pick them up. They have their own language of gestures, swipes, and button presses you should learn to become more comfortable using them.

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Linux distributions aren’t just the Linux kernel. They all contain other critical software, like the Grub bootloader, Bash shell, GNU shell utilities, daemons, X.org graphical server, a desktop environment, and more.

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HDMI allows you to connect almost any device to a TV or another external display, but HDMI requires a wired connection. You might assume there’d be a well-supported standard for wireless displays, but you’d be wrong.

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Ubuntu wants to enable TRIM for SSDs by default in Ubuntu 14.04. In other words, Ubuntu isn’t already using TRIM, so your SSD is slowing down over time. But why isn’t Ubuntu already using TRIM?

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Android has a powerful permission system that forces apps to declare the exact permissions they require — whether it’s displaying notifications, reading your contacts, or accessing your location. Controlling these permissions as a user is possible, but more complicated.

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Android 4.4 added a new screen-recording feature, making it much easier to create video recordings of an Android device’s screen in MP4 format. This is useful when creating walkthroughs and tutorials or just showing off an app.

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This cold-calling telephone scam has been going on since 2008, but shows no sign of going away. If you have any relatives who might fall for it, be sure to let them know Microsoft won’t actually call them.

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Linux Mint is insecure, according to a Canonical-employed Ubuntu developer who says he wouldn’t do his online banking on a Linux Mint PC. The developer alleges that Linux Mint “hacks out” important updates. Is this a real problem or just fear-mongering?

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Bluetooth’s power-hungry nature has made it impractical for many types of wireless devices in the past. Bluetooth Low Energy is changing this, enabling new types of devices that can operate for months or years with small batteries.

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The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from. This definitely applies to wireless printers. When buying a printer, you’ll find that most printers support a variety of different printing standards.

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Wouldn’t it be great to have a smart TV? Well, not really. 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.

about 9 months ago - by  |  17 Replies

Don’t let the version number trick you, Android 4.4 KitKat isn’t a minor release. This isn’t a small update like Android 4.3, but a big new release with lots of important features.

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Google’s Nexus devices are supposed to receive timely updates, but the staggered rollout means it can take weeks for devices to receive over-the-air updates. Luckily, there’s a geekier way to upgrade to the latest version of Android.

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Apple’s iOS is nowhere near as vulnerable to malware as Windows is, but it’s not completely impervious. “Configuration profiles” are one possible way to infect an iPhone or iPad just by downloading a file and agreeing to a prompt.

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WPA2 with a strong password is secure as long as you disable WPS. You’ll find this advice in guides to securing your Wi-Fi all over the web. Wi-Fi Protected Setup was a nice idea, but using it is a mistake.

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Google’s working on a new launcher for Android, one that seamlessly integrates Google Now. The Google Experience Launcher is officially exclusive to the Nexus 5, but you can easily use it on any other Android smartphone or tablet.

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It has now been over a year since Windows 8 was released. A lot has happened — we’re now on Windows 8.1 and new devices running Intel’s Haswell and Bay Trail chips are coming out every day. Touch-enabled laptops, convertibles, and Windows tablets are getting cheaper and more common.

about 9 months ago - by  |  12 Replies