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+.

Thanks to modern smartphones, it’s possible to know where your family members and friends are at all times. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have their own solutions for sharing your pinpoint location in real time.

about 1 year ago - by  |  1 Reply

Programs you install often add themselves to the startup process on Windows, Mac OS X, and even Linux. But you can also add your own favorite programs to the startup process and have them launch automatically after you log into your computer.

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Windows PCs don’t have to slow down over time. Whether your PC has gradually become slower or it suddenly ground to a halt a few minutes ago, there could be quite a few reasons for that slowness.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

Rainfall is one of the most useful pieces of information to know about the weather. Rather than “it will rain sometime today,” get weather forecasts more like “heavy rain starting in five minutes, for the next 45 minutes.”

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If you haven’t ripped your music CDs to audio files on your computer yet, it’s not too late. All it takes is a CD drive and a bit of time. When you’re done, your physical music collection will become your digital music collection.

about 1 year ago - by  |  9 Replies

Mozilla Firefox is due for some big changes soon. By the end of 2015, Firefox will move to a more Chrome-like multi-process design. And, in a year to a year and a half, Firefox will abandon its current add-on system for one largely compatible with Chrome extensions.

about 1 year ago - by  |  41 Replies

How often do you load a web page on your phone only to be confronted by awkward layouts, ads that get in the way, and heavy pages that stutter as you scroll them? “Reader mode” is a one-tap solution to reading web pages without the frustration.

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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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Does YouTube stutter, heat up your laptop, kick your fans into gear, or just use a lot of CPU? Even if you’ve never noticed, YouTube in Chrome is almost certainly using more battery power than it needs to. Like Chrome’s other performance problems, this is probably worst on Macs.

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Microsoft gives you the 32-bit version of Windows 10 if you upgrade from the 32-bit version of Windows 7 or 8.1. But you can switch to the 64-bit version, assuming your hardware supports it.

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Windows 10 is a great upgrade. Microsoft paid a lot of attention to the feedback they ignored while developing Windows 8, and it shows. Unfortunately, some parts of Windows 10 are inexplicably bad and hostile to users.

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Apple’s iCloud now allows you to undelete files you’ve deleted from iCloud Drive, restore recently deleted photos, and revert your contacts and calendars to a previous state. If you accidentally deleted something, you can get it back.

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Click-to-play plug-ins allowed you to prevent video plug-ins from starting as soon as you load a web page, but more and more websites are moving to HTML5 video. Thankfully, it’s still possible to prevent autoplay in many browsers.

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Google Photos offers unlimited storage for your photos and videos, a slick website, and automatic-upload apps for Android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac. It’s a great option for storing your photos.

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Music streaming is the hot new thing, with many services offering access to millions of songs for a monthly fee. If you have your own music collection on your computer, you can put it online and stream it from anywhere — free.

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Windows 10 is designed for PCs with unlimited Internet connections, and it normally uses as much of your download and upload bandwidth as it wants without asking. Setting a connection as metered puts you back in control, and it’s essential on some types of connections.

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Antivirus should be a last-ditch line of defense, not something you rely on to save you. To stay safe online, you should act as if you had no antimalware software on your computer at all.

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Attackers are trying to compromise your web browser and its plug-ins. “Malvertising,” using third-party ad networks to embed attacks in legitimate websites, is becoming increasingly popular.

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Consumer router security is pretty bad. Attackers are taking advantage of lackadaisical manufacturers and attacking large amounts of routers. Here’s how to check if your router’s been compromised.

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Windows 8 had trackpad edge swipes that opened the charms bar and did other things desktop users didn’t care about. Microsoft overhauled these gestures in Windows 10, and they’re now useful even for desktop users.

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Can’t sign into your iPhone or iPad anymore? If you’ve forgotten the PIN and haven’t set up Touch ID on a modern iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to reset your phone or tablet to regain access.

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Android normally secures your device by demanding a PIN, pattern, or full password. Your phone isn’t useless if you forget the unlock code — you can bypass it and get back in.

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Google automatically added the Google Settings app to nearly all Android devices back in 2013. Since then, Google has added feature after feature to this app via Google Play Services updates.

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All modern operating systems — from smartphones and tablets to desktops and laptops — automatically send your local searches over the Internet and provide web results. But you can disable this, which is especially useful for protecting private searches.

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Windows 10 doesn’t include Microsoft Office, but it does include regular advertisements encouraging you to download it. If you don’t want to get Office on your Windows 10 PC, you can prevent those notifications from bothering you.

about 1 year ago - by  |  4 Replies