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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+.

Many gamers refer to any performance problem in an online game as “lag.” But if your computer’s frame rate is low, that isn’t the same thing as lag – lag and low FPS are different problems with different causes.

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Llama is a clever Android app that can automatically perform actions based on your location. It uses cell towers — not GPS — so it won’t use much additional battery power. In fact, Llama can help save battery power.

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Whether you’re dealing with images, music, or video files, it’s important to understand the difference between different types of formats and when to use them. Using the wrong format could ruin a file’s quality or make its file size unnecessarily large.

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Android includes a system encryption feature that encrypts all data – including application data, downloaded files, and everything else – on your phone or tablet. You’ll have to enter your PIN or password each time you turn on your phone

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We all know that Windows is the most malware-ridden platform out there, but why is that? Windows is the most popular desktop operating system, but that isn’t the only reason – past decisions made Windows a fertile breeding ground for viruses and other malware.

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If you have installed Linux on its own partition in a dual-boot configuration, there’s no easy uninstaller that will remove it for you. You will need to delete its partitions and repair the Windows boot loader on your own.

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Geeks often consider encryption a fool-proof tool to ensure that data stays secret. But, whether you encrypt your computer’s hard drive or your smartphone’s storage, you may be surprised to know the encryption can be bypassed at cold temperatures.

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You can’t go anywhere on the web without hearing about Google Reader’s shutdown. There are a number of lessons to be learned, but “never use any Google product ever again” isn’t the right lesson to draw.

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The Windows Store may be fairly light on great apps, but BlueStacks gives you access to over 750,000 apps on your Windows 8 PC – including lots of touch-enabled games.

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Many Android phones have an integrated notification LED. With Light Flow, you can have your phone’s LED notification flash different colors depending on the types of notifications you have waiting for you – your phone can communicate notifications even with its screen off.

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Web browsers have been growing up over the past few years. Now that Internet Explorer 6’s hold on the web has been broken, browsers have been implementing a variety of cool new features that websites are taking advantage of today.

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Web apps have been replacing desktop apps for everything from email and document-editing to playing videos and music. You don’t have to keep your web apps confined to a browser window – they can become first-class citizens on your desktop.

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The majority of people use very weak passwords and reuse them on different websites. How are you supposed to use strong, unique passwords on all the websites you use? The solution is a password manager.

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BitTorrent consumes 12% of total Internet traffic in North America and 36% of total traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a 2012 study. It’s so popular that the new “Copyright Alert System” targets BitTorrent traffic alone.

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DashClock allows you to see notifications and status information at a glance, turning your Android lock screen’s clock into a dashboard. It’s a big improvement over the lock screen widgets included in Android 4.2.

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Free, ad-supported apps have two hidden costs: They use your phone’s data connection and battery power to download and display ads. In the long run, using a free app may be more expensive than buying the paid version.

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The media (and Apple) still can’t stop talking about Android malware. Antivirus companies want to sell you a complete Android security solution, but Android malware can be avoided with a few common-sense tips.

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Keyboard shortcuts are an essential tool for dramatically speeding up everything you do on your computer. Geeks make extensive use of keyboard shortcuts, but every computer user can benefit from them.

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Whenever antivirus software is mentioned, someone always seems to chime up and say they don’t need an antivirus because they’re careful. This isn’t true. No matter how smart think you are, you can still benefit from an antivirus on Windows.

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Whether you’re a new Linux user or you’ve been using Linux for a while, we’ll help you get started with the terminal. The terminal isn’t something you should be scared of – it’s a powerful tool with lots of uses.

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The new Copyright Alert System, also known as the “Six Strikes” system, marks the beginning of ISPs in the USA attempting to police their subscribers’ Internet usage. The “punishments” include increasingly harsh alerts, bandwidth throttling, and restricting browsing activity.

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Much of the data on your Android phone or tablet is backed up by Google (or the individual apps you use) automatically. Your photos can also be backed up automatically, but aren’t by default. However, some data is never backed up automatically.

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Google Chrome allows other programs on your computer to install system-wide Chrome extensions. Chrome even allows these extensions to prevent you from disabling or removing them via Chrome’s Extensions page.

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Firefox provides several ways for other programs on your computer to install Firefox extensions, sometimes without your explicit consent. While you can disable these extensions, you often can’t uninstall them via Firefox’s Add-ons screen.

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The tech press is constantly writing about new and dangerous “zero-day” exploits. But what exactly is a zero-day exploit, what makes it so dangerous, and – most importantly – how can you protect yourself?

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