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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+.

We often fixate on smartphone battery life, but most laptops still don’t have all-day battery life. Rather than always using your laptop tethered to an outlet, here are some ways to squeeze more life from your laptop’s battery.

about 1 year ago - by  |  3 Replies

Batteries need to be cared for properly — they’re a critical part of our mobile devices and battery technology hasn’t advanced as fast as other technologies. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of incorrect information about batteries out there.

about 1 year ago - by  |  21 Replies

Windows installation disc-customizing tools are always useful. They allow you to add Windows updates to your installation media, streamline the installation process by filling in your product key and other information, and customize Windows’ default settings.

about 1 year ago - by  |  5 Replies

Some people’s networked printers, cameras, routers, and other hardware devices are accessible from the Internet. There are even search engines designed to search such exposed devices. If your devices are secure, you won’t have to worry about this.

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It’s happened to most of us. You delete a file and realize you need it back. This guide will explain when you can get that file back and how to go about it.

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Google is now pushing Chrome packaged apps, but many Chrome apps are still shortcuts to websites. You can make  your own custom web apps that function as shortcuts if the website you want isn’t available in the Chrome Web Store.

about 1 year ago - by  |  11 Replies

Sandboxing is an important security technique that isolates programs, preventing malicious or malfunctioning programs from damaging or snooping on the rest of your computer. The software you use is already sandboxing much of the code you run every day.

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Browser extensions extend your web browser with additional features, modify web pages, and integrate your browser with the other services you use. This guide will introduce you to the world of browser extensions and help you get started.

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PC gaming isn’t quite as simple as console gaming. If you have a laptop with weak graphics hardware or an older PC, it’s important to check whether your computer can support a game before you spend your hard-earned cash.

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There are some things you can only do from the command line, even on Windows. Some of these tools don’t have graphical equivalents, while others are just plain faster to use than their graphical interfaces.

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Some slow-moving businesses and government agencies may not accept documents over email, forcing you to fax them in. If you are forced to send a fax, you can do it from your computer for free.

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Remote printing doesn’t have to be hard, whether you want to print to a printer down the hall or half-way around the world. We’ll cover some simple ways you can print without being directly connected to your printer.

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There was a time when we had to worry about manually updating desktop applications. Adobe Flash and Reader were full of security holes and didn’t update themselves, for example — but those days are largely behind us.

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The web is littered with traps for novice users when downloading software, from fake “Download” buttons that are actually advertisements to installers full of bundled toolbars and other junk software. Learning how to avoid the junk is an important skill.

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The Windows desktop is the sole platform without an app store-style software installation process. Smartphones, tablets, Macs, and Linux PCs all allow you to quickly install multiple programs — but this is more complicated on Windows.

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When you leave the country, you don’t just have to worry about different currencies and languages — you also have to worry about different plug shapes and electricity voltages. There’s no one standard socket shape or voltage.

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For many people, Windows seems to slow down over time. Quite a few people fix this by regularly reinstalling Windows. But do you really need to regularly reinstall Windows? And, if so, how regularly do you need to reinstall it?

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Your wireless router has a variety of useful options you can configure. These are practically hidden — you wouldn’t know these features exist unless you were digging through your router’s configuration pages.

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You don’t really need a full Internet security suite. However, many people like having them — and they pay dearly with subscription fees. But you can assemble your own security suite for free.

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Whether you’re switching to a new PC, reinstalling Windows, or just ensuring you don’t lose hours of gameplay if your hard drive dies, you’ll want to make sure your save games are properly backed up.

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Like other smartphones, Android phones use an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust your phone’s display brightness. This often doesn’t work too well.

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We previously reported that the system image backup feature was removed in Windows 8.1. This isn’t entirely true — while the graphical interface for creating system images was removed, you can still create system images with a PowerShell cmdlet.

about 1 year ago - by  |  17 Replies

Windows has had support for themes, also known as visual styles, since Windows XP. By default, Windows will only load Microsoft-signed themes — but you can get around this fairly easily.

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By default, Windows 8’s Refresh or Reset your PC feature restores Windows to its initial state. However, you can also create custom recovery images containing your favorite programs and system settings.

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Once upon a time, Linux desktops were full of wobbly windows, desktop cubes, and other over-the-top graphical effects. Ubuntu still includes the Compiz software that makes this possible, but it’s been toned down by default.

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