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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’re buying a new laptop for Linux, you shouldn’t just buy the Windows laptop you like and hope for the best — you should plan your purchase to ensure it will work well with Linux. Thankfully, Linux hardware compatibility is better than ever.

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UltraViolet is a “digital locker” for your movies designed by the big movie studios. It’s a response to iTunes — studios don’t want all their customers using iTunes with Apple being the single company in control.

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Microsoft’s Games Explorer — also known as the Games folder — is only a single click away every time you open Windows 7′s Start menu. It’s Microsoft’s interface to your PC games, but not every game appears here — and what is a “Game Provider,” anyway?

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Cable TV is an outdated concept. You pay an ever-increasing bill every month for thousands of shows you’ll never watch. When you do want to watch, you have to organize your life around the TV schedule or set up your own DVR.

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MacBooks offer quite a few multi-touch trackpad gestures. These gestures allow you to perform common actions more quickly — the trackpad isn’t for pointing and clicking.

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Linux systems aren’t as light on disk space as they could be. For example, the APT package manager keeps package files around even after you install them — a waste of space unless you plan on uninstalling and reinstalling them.

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Chrome OS is based on desktop Linux, so a Chromebook’s hardware will definitely work well with Linux. A Chromebook can make a solid, cheap Linux laptop.

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Safari is easy to use, but you may never find all of its useful features unless you go looking for them. iPads have many useful navigation tricks you may never stumble across, and Safari has its own tricks.

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PC manufacturers are now beginning to create all-in-one Android desktop PCs. They also sell Android laptops and convertibles that transform from a laptop-with-keyboard to a tablet. But should you buy one?

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More Internet service providers are now providing their customers with modems that function as routers — and those units may also be public hotspots. This sort of feature is common in Europe, but it’s now arriving in North America.

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Macs offer excellent built-in encryption support, whether you want to encrypt your entire hard drive, removable drives, or just create an encrypted container for only your most important files. It’s all built in.

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Hard disks, USB drives, SD cards — anything with storage space must be partitioned. An unpartitioned drive can’t be used until it contains at least one partition, but a drive can contain multiple partitions.

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Enterprise Mode is a new feature in Internet Explorer that allows businesses to use old web applications in modern versions of IE. This feature is designed to help businesses who still need Internet Explorer 8 for some reason to upgrade to a more modern, secure browser.

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Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to Windows 8. It’s what the original Windows 8 should have been, with important improvements for both desktop and tablet users. So why are more people using Windows 8 than Windows 8.1?

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With Windows XP reaching the end of its long support life, many businesses and individuals are avoiding Windows 8 and upgrading to Windows 7 instead. If you’re a latecomer to Windows 7, here are the basics you need to know.

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iOS supports third-party browsers, but not like you might expect. Third-party browsers will always be inferior to Apple’s own Safari on iPhone and iPad — at least until Apple relaxes their restrictions.

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Do you regularly erase your browsing data, run CCleaner, or use another temporary-file cleaning tool? You’re probably clearing your browser cache, and it’s slowing down your browsing.

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Windows 8.1 Update 1 offers some crucial improvements for mouse and keyboard users. Windows will now automatically detect whether your computer has a touch screen and do the right thing. It also provides better mouse and keyboard support in “Store apps.”

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Microsoft won’t be releasing new security patches for Windows XP come April 8th, 2014, and they’re making sure all Windows XP users know it. You’re on your own after this point — no more security updates for Windows XP!

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It’s 2014, shouldn’t we stop worrying about disk space? Nope, not at all! A modern MacBook might have a solid-state drive with just 64 GB of space. You’ll want as much space for your important data as you can get.

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Game-streaming services like Twitch TV are becoming bigger and bigger. Whether you want to let your friends watch you play a game or try to build up a larger audience, streaming is easy.

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Macs don’t need third-party utilities like TrueCrypt to create a secure, encrypted container for your sensitive files. You can create an encrypted disk image using the built-in Disk Utility.

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Botnets are networks made up of remote-controlled computers, or “bots.” These computers have been infected with malware that allows them to be remotely controlled. Some botnets consist of hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of computers.

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Microsoft makes much more money from Android than Windows Phone. Every time you buy an Android smartphone or tablet, Microsoft is likely receiving $5 to $15. They likely make at least $2 billion per year from Android.

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Windows 8.1 integrates OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) everywhere, even on the desktop. You may want to save all your personal files to OneDrive so they’ll be accessible everywhere, but Windows doesn’t always save to OneDrive by default.

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