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+.

Netflix recently announced it plans to crack down on VPN, proxy, and unblocking DNS users trying to access content in other countries. The good news: watching streaming sites through a VPN may get a bit more difficult, but it will always be possible.

about 11 months ago - by  |  13 Replies

Microsoft is technically selling  two phones with Windows 10 built-in, but it hasn’t released the update for older phones just yet. If you have a Windows phone, though, there’s a good chance you can upgrade it to Windows 10 now, even if your cellular carrier is planning to delay or block the update.

about 11 months ago - by  |  4 Replies

Like the Roku and Chromecast, Sony’s PlayStation 4 can play video and music files from a USB drive or another computer on your network. Your PS4 can even play local music files in the background while you play a game.

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If you have a Comcast Xfinity Internet connection and you’re renting your cable modem from Comcast, it’s probably hosting a public Wi-Fi network that passers-by can connect to. If you don’t like this, you can disable that “xfinitywifi” network.

about 11 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

You don’t need a smartwatch, fitness band, or pedometer to track your steps. Your phone can track how many steps you take and how far you walk all by itself, assuming you just carry it with you in your pocket.

about 11 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

Windows enables device encryption on many Windows 10 and 8.1 PCs out-of-the-box. It also uploads your recovery key to Microsoft’s servers, allowing you to regain access to you encrypted drives even if you forget their passwords.

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The Windows 10 upgrade process drags old files, settings, and programs from your previous Windows system to your new one. If you want a completely fresh system, though, you have a couple options.

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Dangerous root certificates are a serious problem. From Lenovo’s Superfish to Dell’s eDellRoot and a number of other certificates installed by adware programs, your computer’s manufacturer or a program you installed may have added a certificate that opens you to attack. Here’s how to check if your certificates are clean.

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Manufacturers have been pushing “Ultra HD” 4k TVs for a couple years now. There are plenty of models available now, and they’re cheaper than ever, too. But should you buy one?

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New 4K monitors are dropping in price, and they are available almost everywhere. They can be found now for a few hundred bucks, and we’ve seen some great sale prices. But are they worth the money, and should you upgrade?

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Modern versions of Mac OS X no longer need you to repair disk permissions. However, that’s not the only issue that can occur with a disk or file system. Mac OS X contains a variety of tools for repairing disk, partition, and file system errors.

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With Windows 10, Microsoft seems to have disabled System Restore by default — at least on some PCs. System Restore has been around since Windows ME, creating snapshots of system files you can restore if a problem occurs.

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BitLocker disk encryption normally requires a TPM on Windows. Microsoft’s EFS encryption can never use a TPM. The new “device encryption” feature on Windows 10 and 8.1 also requires a modern TPM, which is why it’s only enabled on new hardware. But what is a TPM?

about 11 months ago - by  |  13 Replies

Can’t remember your Mac’s password? Don’t worry. With the default settings, you can simply try logging into your Mac. Fail enough times and you’ll be able to reset your password with your Apple ID. But this won’t always work.

about 12 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Tell your file manager to show hidden files and you’ll see quite a few junk files scattered across your folders. Windows creates thumbs.db and desktop.ini files in many folders, and Mac OS X creates .DS_Store files.

about 12 months ago - by  |  Comments (0)

Each network-connected device — laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and everything else — has an IP address on the network and a unique MAC address. There are many reasons you might need to find this information, so here’s how to find it on all the laptops, smartphones, and tablets you might have lying around.

about 12 months ago - by  |  Comments (0)

If you’re dual-booting Linux alongside Windows 10, 8, or 8.1 and you want to mount your Windows system partition and access its files, you’ll run into a problem. You’ll see an error saying “The NTFS partition is hibernated” due to the new hybrid boot feature, preventing you from accessing its files.

about 12 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 all include BitLocker drive encryption, but that’s not the only encryption solution they offer. Windows also includes an encryption method named the “encrypting file system”, or EFS. Here’s how it differs from BitLocker.

about 12 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

The paperless office isn’t yet here for many of us, and printers are still a fact of life. If your printer isn’t working quite right on a Windows PC, here are some simple troubleshooting tips that can fix it.

about 12 months ago - by  |  8 Replies

Printers come in all shapes and sizes, but they have similar problems. Troubleshooting a printer on a Mac is similar to troubleshooting it on a Windows PC, but the options you’ll need to check are in different places on Mac OS X than they are on Windows.

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It’s a good idea to give each of the devices you use a meaningful name. This is especially important on Windows 10, as Microsoft has removed the computer name option from the first-time setup process. Windows 10 PCs will just receive random, meaningless names by default.

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Google’s Chromecast offers a way to play games on your TV, too. You won’t find the same ecosystem of games you will for the Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV, but you will find some fun party games people can gather around the TV and play, using their smartphones as controllers.

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Amazon’s Fire Tablet offers both parental controls for quickly locking down a device as well as fine-grained “child profiles”. These child (or teen) profiles use the Kindle FreeTime feature, which is perhaps the most sophisticated parental-control solution for a tablet operating system

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Steam’s Music Player allows you to add a MP3 file stored on your computer to a local music library and play it back — inside or outside a game, with a controller or keyboard and mouse. This would be particularly useful on a Steam Machine or living-room gaming PC in Big Picture Mode.

about 12 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Sony and Microsoft chose not to ship the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles with solid-state drives. They went with slower mechanical drives to keep costs down, but you can speed up load times for your console games by adding a solid-state drive to your PS4 or Xbox One.

about 12 months ago - by  |  15 Replies