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+.

Standard “tethering” involves connecting your phone, tablet, or other device to your smartphone, sharing your smartphone’s mobile data connection with your other devices. But you may sometimes want to get your iPhone or iPad online via your PC or Mac.

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Wireless devices with Bluetooth radios must be “paired” with each other before they can communicate. This involves making them discoverable and potentially entering a PIN.

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Your Wii U’s GamePad will automatically turn itself on, play a sound to get your attention, and display advertisements for games you might want to buy. It does this when you’re not using the Wi U at all, and that can be a big distraction.

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Your Mac can function as a wireless hotspot, allowing you to connect your other devices to it and share its Internet connection. It’s just like tethering to your phone.

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You don’t need third-party virtualization tools like VirtualBox and VMware on Linux. KVM (Kernel-based virtual machine) is an open-source virtualization technology built into the Linux kernel. GNOME Boxes provides a pretty front-end that makes it easy to use.

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Why manage a collection of audio CDs, DVDs, some videos on VHS tapes, photos, and other documents in physical form? Go digital to get all your stuff on your PC — and on your other devices.

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Modern CPUs include hardware virtualization features that help accelerate VirtualBox, VMware, Hyper-V, and other virtual machine applications. But Intel VT-x isn’t always enabled by default.

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Many hotels still limit you to one or two devices per room — a frustrating limitation, especially when traveling with someone else. Connection restrictions can apply anywhere you have to log into a Wi-Fi network via a portal instead of a standard passphrase.

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Windows needs manufacturer-provided hardware drivers before your hardware will work. Linux and other operating systems also need hardware drivers before hardware will work — but hardware drivers are handled differently on Linux.

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Wi-Fi hasn’t completely taken over the world yet. Some hotels may offer wired Ethernet connections and spotty or unavailable Wi-Fi, for example. But you can turn that wired Ethernet connection into a Wi-Fi connection all your devices can use.

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Need to replace a word with another word, or quickly remove bits of text from a document? Just use search-and-replace — whatever application or browser you’re using, you already have an easy find-and-replace tool available to you.

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Think you can just plug a standard Linux live USB drive into your Mac and boot from it? Think again. You’ll need to go out of your way to create a live Linux USB drive that will boot on a Mac.

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Practically all smartphones can tether, sharing their data connection with your other devices. You can do this over Wi-Fi, a USB cable, or Bluetooth — if your carrier lets you. You might have to pay extra.

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Be sure to wipe your drives, devices, and anything that potentially contained sensitive files before getting rid of it. Whether you’re disposing of it, selling it, or giving it away — securely erase your data first.

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Windows normally can’t Time Machine backups — in fact, it doesn’t even understand the HFS+ file system format Macs require on their Time Machine drives. But you can recover all the files from your Time Machine backup on your Windows computer.

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Hotel rooms still have televisions, and you can put them to use when traveling. Why use your laptop, smartphone, or tablet when you can watch thing son the bigger screen?

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Want to keep an old Windows or Linux installation around without keeping the hardware around? Convert that physical Windows partition to a virtual hard drive, allowing you to boot it in a virtual machine program like VMware, Hyper-V, Parallels, or VirtualBox.

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Your Mac includes a built-in partition manager and disk management tool known as Disk Utility. It’s even accessible from Recovery Mode, so you can partition your Mac’s hard drive without any special bootable tools.

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Windows 8 offered support for restoring Windows 7 backups, but Microsoft removed this feature in Windows 8.1. There’s still a way to restore your files from Windows 7 backups on Windows 8.1, but it’ll take more work. Microsoft saw the error of their ways and this is now easier on Windows 10.

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It’s a lesson many of us have learned the hard way. Yes, $100 is overpriced for a storage upgrade, but it’s still worth it. The most inexpensive models of smartphones, tablets, and laptops often have too little storage.

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Microsoft recently announced that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade even for computers without genuine copies of Windows. But, even though they’ll let you install Windows 10, you’ll just end up with a non-genuine copy of Windows 10 that continues to nag at you.

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When you set up Time Machine, your Mac wants to use an entire external drive exclusively for backups. Here’s how you can get around that and use a Time Machine drive both for backups and file storage.

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Surge protectors aren’t like diamonds. They have a definite lifespan. At some point, your surge protector will stop protecting your gear from power surges and become a dumb power strip.

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Homebrew is the most popular package manager for Mac OS X. Homebrew Cask extends Homebrew with support for quickly installing Mac applications like Google Chrome, VLC, and more. No more dragging and dropping applications!

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Time Machine doesn’t just back up to external drives. Enable Time Machine on your MacBook and it will create “local snapshots,” too — potentially taking up over 100 GB of disk space on its internal storage.

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