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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+.

If you read any tech news, you’ve probably seen “the Internet of Things” mentioned over and over. It’s supposedly one of the next big things — but what exactly does it mean? Isn’t the Internet already made up of things?

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Reports of the PC’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. We’ve all heard that everyone’s just buying tablets and throwing out their keyboards and mice. But if you live in the real world, you see people using PCs every day.

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Microsoft’s Office Online is a completely free, web-based version of Microsoft Office. This online office suite is clearly competing with Google Docs, but it’s also a potential replacement for the desktop version of Office.

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You can easily reset your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to factory default settings. If you’re experiencing problems — even if it won’t boot — you can reinstall the entire iOS operating system.

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Screencasting can seem a bit daunting at first. Open Broadcaster Software is a powerful, free program that will do everything you need, but you’ll need a few minutes to learn its interface.

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There’s no need to huddle around the same computer or send files back and forth over email if you want to collaborate with other people. You can all edit the same copy of the document — you can even edit it together in real time.

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Computers generate random number for everything from cryptography to video games and gambling. There are two categories of random numbers — “true” random numbers and pseudorandom numbers — and the difference is important for the security of encryption systems.

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Do Android phones and tablets slow down over time? Many people seem to think so. We’ll look at the reasons why devices slow down and how to battle slow downs.

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Dedicated GPS devices are going the way of the dodo, and for good reason. That smartphone or tablet you have can be a capable GPS with turn-by-turn navigation. This works even if you don’t have a data connection.

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The Internet is complicated. Never mind net neutrality — peering agreements can affect services like Netflix and YouTube, slowing down their traffic. Issues with peering agreements may be indistinguishable from an ISP throttling some types of traffic.

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Windows Activation, introduced in Windows XP, checks in with Microsoft when you install Windows or get a new Windows PC. This is an anti-piracy feature — it’s designed to annoy you if you’re using a non-genuine copy of Windows.

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If there’s one complaint nearly everyone seems to have about Windows, it’s that it wants to reboot so frequently. Whether it’s for Windows updates or just when installing, uninstalling, or updating software, Windows will often ask to reboot.

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The Xbox 360 controller has become the gold standard for PC gaming. Yes, the specific type of controller is important — you don’t want another brand of controller or even an Xbox One controller.

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You don’t need Microsoft Office to put together a professional-looking resume. Google Docs is completely free and offers a variety of resume templates, so you can focus on highlighting your skills instead of fiddling with formatting.

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Gaming mice are advertised with high DPIs and polling rates. But what do these specifications actually mean, and are higher values actually useful?

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Most operating systems can be grouped into two different families. Aside from Microsoft’s Windows NT-based operating systems, nearly everything else traces its heritage back to Unix.

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HTTPS, which uses SSL, provides identity verification and security, so you know you’re connected to the correct website and no one can eavesdrop on you. That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, SSL on the web is kind of a mess.

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Microsoft has been called late to the party for not offering Microsoft Office for the iPad, other tablets, and smartphones. The truth is, Microsoft does make quite a few different versions of Office for mobile devices, although they aren’t full versions of Office.

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There are two types of mixed content — one is worse than the other, but neither is good. Mixed content warnings are in indication that something is wrong with a web page you’re visiting.

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HTTPS, the lock icon in the address bar, an encrypted website connection — it’s known as many things. Knowing what it means is important, as it has serious implications banking online, shopping, and¬†avoiding phishing.

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Have you ever noticed that it’s C:\Windows\ in Windows, http://howtogeek.com/ on the web, and /home/user/ on Linux, OS X, and Android? Windows uses backslashes for paths, while everything else seems to use forward slashes.

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Many people say they use Hibernate instead of Sleep mode because Hibernate draws no power. Unfortunately, when it comes to desktop PCs, they’re wrong. Desktop PCs still use some power even while they’re shut down.

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You’re playing a game and you Alt+Tab to use another program, but there’s a problem. The Alt+Tab process may be extremely slow, the game may crash or freeze, or you may see graphical corruption.

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Can you not see your laptop’s screen in a bright room, or do you think the colors on your desktop computer’s display look dull and lifeless? Maybe you chose the wrong type of display coating.

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If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have a choice of different Internet service providers in your area. Don’t just trust the advertised speeds — look at the data to find the fastest ISP near you.

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