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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 loves to criticize the state of Android tablet apps when pushing its own iPad tablets. But just how bad is the Android tablet app situation? Should you avoid Android tablets like the Nexus 7 because of the apps?

about 10 months ago - by  |  17 Replies

Bloatware is still a big problem on new Windows 8 and 8.1 PCs. Some websites will tell you that you can easily get rid of manufacturer-installed bloatware with Windows 8′s Reset feature, but they’re generally wrong.

about 10 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Many people swear by multiple monitors, whether they’re geeks or just people who need to be productive. Why use just one monitor when you can use two or more and see more at once?

about 10 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

Android allows developers to replace its keyboard with their own keyboard apps. This has led to experimentation and great new features, like the gesture-typing feature that’s made its way into Android’s official keyboard after proving itself in third-party keyboards.

about 10 months ago - by  |  18 Replies

Android allows you to customize your home screen, adding widgets, arranging shortcuts and folders, choosing a background, and even replacing the included launcher entirely. You can install icon packs to theme your app icons, too.

about 10 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Cell phone contracts are bad. You get a seemingly cheap phone up front, but you more than pay for the cost of the phone over two years. Prepaid phone plans are surging in North America for a reason.

about 10 months ago - by  |  27 Replies

Ransomware is a type of malware that tries to extort money from you. One of the nastiest examples, CryptoLocker, takes your files hostage and holds them for ransom, forcing you to pay hundreds of dollars to regain access.

about 10 months ago - by  |  33 Replies

iPads and Android tablets can’t run Windows apps locally, but they can access a Windows desktops remotely — even with a physical keyboard. In a pinch, the same tricks can be used to access a Windows desktop from a smartphone.

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Heat is a computer’s enemy. Computers are designed with heat dispersion and ventilation in mind so they don’t overheat. If too much heat builds up, your computer may become unstable or suddenly shut down.

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Printer ink is expensive, more expensive per drop than fine champagne or even human blood. If you haven’t gone paperless, you’ll notice that you’re paying a lot for new ink cartridges — more than seems reasonable.

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Concluding that your computer has a hardware problem is just the first step. If you’re dealing with a hardware issue and not a software issue, the next step is determining what hardware problem you’re actually dealing with.

about 11 months ago - by  |  9 Replies

Your computer seems to be malfunctioning — it’s slow, programs are crashing or Windows may be blue-screening. Is your computer’s hardware failing, or does it have a software problem that you can fix on your own?

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Buy something at an electronics store and you’ll be confronted by a pushy salesperson who insists you need an extended warranty. You’ll also see extended warranties pushed hard when shopping online. But are they worth it?

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A security researcher recently discovered a backdoor in many D-Link routers, allowing anyone to access the router without knowing the username or password. This isn’t the first router security issue and won’t be the last.

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Windows 8.1 is available to everyone starting today, October 18. The latest version of Windows improves on Windows 8 in every way. It’s a big upgrade, whether you use the desktop or new touch-optimized interface.

about 11 months ago - by  |  35 Replies

You turn on your computer one day and Windows refuses to boot — what do you do? “Windows won’t boot” is a common symptom with a variety of causes, so you’ll need to perform some troubleshooting.

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There was a time when every geek seemed to build their own PC. While the masses bought eMachines and Compaqs, geeks built their own more powerful and reliable desktop machines for cheaper. But does this still make sense?

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Ask a geek how to fix a problem you’ve having with your Windows computer and they’ll likely ask “Have you tried rebooting it?” This seems like a flippant response, but rebooting a computer can actually solve many problems.

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You should never have to hunt down a lost file on modern versions of Windows — just perform a quick search. You don’t even have to wait for a cartoon dog to find your files, like on Windows XP.

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We’ve previously covered the standard ways to free up space on Windows. But if you have a small solid-state drive and really want more hard space, there are geekier ways to reclaim hard drive space.

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Windows is big, complicated, and misunderstood. You’ll still stumble across bad advice from time to time when browsing the web. These Windows tweaking, performance, and system maintenance tips are mostly just useless, but some are actively harmful.

about 11 months ago - by  |  28 Replies

Windows 8.1 will automatically encrypt the storage on modern Windows PCs. This will help protect your files in case someone steals your laptop and tries to get at them, but it has important ramifications for data recovery.

about 11 months ago - by  |  69 Replies

Windows 8.1′s Assigned Access feature allows you to easily lock a Windows PC to a single application, such as a web browser. This feature makes it easy for anyone to configure Windows 8.1 devices as point-of-sale or other kiosk systems.

about 11 months ago - by  |  17 Replies

Antivirus programs aren’t perfect — especially Microsoft Security Essentials. If you’re relying on your antivirus alone to protect you, you’re putting yourself at risk. You should still follow basic, common-sense computer security practices.

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A bad sector on a hard drive is simply a tiny cluster of storage space — a  sector — of the hard drive that appears to be defective. The sector won’t respond to read or write requests.

about 11 months ago - by  |  8 Replies