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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+.

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.

about 9 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

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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Google’s Chromecast makes it easy to browse for videos and watch them on your TV, but what if you want to quickly pause playback without reaching for your smartphone or computer? You can now do this right from your TV’s built-in remote.

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Google’s Chromecast allows you to launch videos and control them from your phone, cast your entire screen to your TV, and generally use a smartphone instead of a remote. You can do a lot of this with your Roku, too.

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Not every Roku channel appears in the channel store. There are quite a few hidden “private channels” you have to go out of your way to find.

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Roku devices recently gained a “screen mirroring” feature. With a few clicks or taps, you can mirror a Windows 8.1 or Android screen to your Roku. It works a bit like Apple’s AirPlay or Google’s Chromecast screen-mirroring.

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Your Roku can do more than just stream from the web. Use it to watch video files you’ve downloaded or ripped yourself, or even play your personal music collection. You can do this with a USB drive or over the local network.

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Wi-Fi is becoming more common in desktop computers, but not all desktop computers have it. Add Wi-Fi and you can connect to the Internet wirelessly and host Wi-Fi hotspots for your other devices.

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Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite introduced a new Notification Center. It’s similar to the notification center found in iOS, bringing together widgets and notifications into one location.

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Linux is often best installed in a dual-boot system. This allows you to run Linux on your actual hardware, but you can always reboot into Windows if you need to run Windows software or play PC games.

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Computers normally have a single operating system installed on them, but you can dual-boot multiple operating systems. You can have two (or more) versions of Windows installed side-by-side on the same PC and choose between them at boot time.

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Unlike most other operating systems, Windows still doesn’t include first-class support for printing to PDFs. However, PDF printing is still fairly simple — you can quickly install a free PDF printer or use the support included in various programs.

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Typically, people tether their laptops to their Android phones, using the phone’s data connection to get online from anywhere. But you may also want to “reverse tether,” sharing your PC’s Internet connection with an Android phone or tablet.

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Macs can boot into a “Target Disk Mode” that causes them to function like an external hard drive. Connect one Mac to another Mac and you can access its files in the Finder.

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