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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+.

Sure, everyone involved can come up with a variety of excuses — they aren’t technically misleading customers, it’s all in the fine print, and these are the standard ways the industry operates — but hardware has been advertised in many misleading ways.

about 1 year ago - by  |  25 Replies

Whether you’re using a Chromebook or you’re just interested in switching from installed desktop apps to browser-based ones, web-based software can replace many of the programs people use on their computers — and can often improve on them.

about 1 year ago - by  |  16 Replies

A laptop is a marvel of engineering. So much work goes into designing and manufacturing all the individual pieces of hardware before combining them with software that’s taken decades to build. After going through all this work, laptop manufacturers are paid to make their laptops slower and more frustrating to use.

about 1 year ago - by  |  55 Replies

So you want to buy a tablet — you have a choice between the iPad, Android tablets, and now Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets. Windows tablets are often the most expensive. Software availability is crucial when using a tablet.

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Whatever happened to the digital wallet? We’ve been hearing that smartphones are on the verge of replacing our credit cards and eliminating our physical wallets for years, but it never seems to happen.

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You may have noticed a new command-line environment in Windows since Windows 7 — PowerShell. PowerShell is a much more powerful command-line shell and scripting language than the Command Prompt is, giving Windows system administrators a useful command-line environment.

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The “paperless office” we were promised never seems to arrive for many people. The reality, however, is that a paperless office is here today if you want to take advantage of it.

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You don’t need a task killer because Android can normally manage processes better on its own. However, this all falls apart if there’s a buggy app hogging your resources and running when it shouldn’t be. But how do you identify these misbehaving apps?

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Leave the paper maps, outdated travel guides, and thick dictionaries at home when you go traveling — all you need is an Android smartphone. You can do everything offline with features built into Android and free apps.

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the recently-released Ubuntu 13.04 is that it isn’t remarkable at all. Ubuntu 13.04 contains the latest versions of software and additional polish, but there are no must-have features that will make you rush to upgrade.

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PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil. The web is full of ads for applications that want to “clean your PC” and “make it feel like new.” Don’t pull out your credit card — these apps are terrible and you don’t need them.

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RAID allows you to combine multiple physical hard drives into a single logical hard drive. This allows you to mirror your data across two hard drives, ensuring you always have your important data stored in multiple places.

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Wireless charging is one of many new features appearing in the latest smartphones, from Google’s Nexus 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 to Nokia’s Lumia 920. There are even cases that add wireless charging capabilities to Apple’s iPhone 5.

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QR codes are plastered on advertisements, billboards, business windows, and products. They appear to be very popular among marketers, although it’s rare to see anyone actually scanning one.

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ActiveX controls are Internet Explorer’s version of plug-ins. For example, Internet Explorer’s Flash player is an ActiveX control. Unfortunately, ActiveX controls have been a significant source of security problems.

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Microsoft recently launched Office 2013 as well as Office 365, a subscription service. Office 365 will cost you $9.99 per month or $99 a year, while Office 2013 will cost you $219.99 for the Home and Business edition, which can only be used on one PC at a time.

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Chromebooks aren’t “just a browser” — they’re Linux laptops. You can easily install a full Linux desktop alongside Chrome OS and instantly switch between the two with a hotkey — no rebooting necessary.

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The Great Firewall of China, officially known the Golden Shield project, employs a variety of tricks to censor China’s Internet and block access to various foreign websites. We’ll be looking at some of the technical tricks the firewall uses to censor China’s Internet.

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When people think of innovative tech companies, they generally don’t think of Microsoft. Microsoft has actually had a history of innovative products and ideas, but they’ve failed to execute them over and over again.

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DNS cache poisoning, also known as DNS spoofing, is a type of attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the domain name system (DNS) to divert Internet traffic away from legitimate servers and towards fake ones.

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You can’t normally “undo” an email sent by mistake. Some email clients have undo-like features, such as the “Recall” feature in Microsoft Outlook, but these won’t work most of the time.

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Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a security technology that will help patch up one of the Internet’s weak points. We’re lucky SOPA didn’t pass, because SOPA would have made DNSSEC illegal.

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Chromebooks are becoming more popular, with Samsung’s $249 Chromebook garnering solid reviews and decent sales. But a Chromebook still seems a bit scary — how do you live with just a Chrome browser? Is that really enough for a laptop?

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Apple bans games that deals with serious issues from its app store. Some of the most high-profile banned games have come to Android and the web, so you can play them yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

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Chrome warns you that PDF files “can harm your computer” when you try to download them. But how can a PDF file be so dangerous — isn’t a PDF just a document with text and images?

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