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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+.

The tech press is constantly writing about new and dangerous “zero-day” exploits. But what exactly is a zero-day exploit, what makes it so dangerous, and – most importantly – how can you protect yourself?

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The Caps Lock key is outdated and mostly useless. Most people will only ever trigger it accidentally. Google replaced the Caps Lock key with a Search key on its Chromebooks, and you can do the same thing on Windows.

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Entering your online-banking or email passwords on an untrusted computer – particularly one in a public place – is risky. If you had a USB drive with Linux installed on it, you could log into your accounts without fear.

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Browser plug-ins like Flash and Java add additional features web pages can use. However, they can also slow things down when in use or add extra security holes, particularly in the case of Java.

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Browsers are packed with settings and options, many of which are hidden. Each browser has a place where you can change advanced settings that aren’t available in its standard options window.

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Web browsers store your personal data – bookmarks, history, settings, extensions, and more – in a profile. You can create separate profiles to split things up – for example, you could have one profile for work and one for play.

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Android may not have Siri, but it does have Voice Actions. Voice Actions are a powerful way to perform actions – searching, getting directions, making notes, setting alarms, and more – with just your voice.

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The Galaxy S III is the highest-selling Android phone, but much of the geeky buzz is around the Nexus 4 – and the Galaxy Nexus before it. Nexus devices are special because they don’t have some of Android’s biggest problems.

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With browser sync enabled, you can open some tabs on your computer and access them on-the-go from your smartphone. If you have multiple computers, you can easily keep your bookmarks and settings in sync between them.

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You will usually see the Linux operating system referred to as “Linux” online. However, the term “GNU/Linux” is occasionally used instead. Linux and GNU/Linux refer to the same operating system and software, and there’s a controversy over which term is more appropriate.

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Android has a built-in battery stats tool that shows you what is using your battery. Unfortunately, this tool doesn’t provide all the information you need to identify the root causes of poor battery life.

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Many websites offer specific interfaces for smartphones, iPads, and other mobile devices. Whether you need to test mobile websites or you’re just curious to see what they look like, you can access them in your desktop browser.

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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes unlocking cell phones, ripping DVDs, removing eBook DRM, and jailbreaking tablets illegal in the USA. However, there’s another surprise: simply watching a DVD on Linux is also illegal.

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Few people disable JavaScript, but many who do are very vocal about it. JavaScript makes the type of web pages we have today possible. While you could disable JavaScript, it would be a lot of annoyance for little benefit.

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There is more to an Internet connection’s speed than just its bandwidth. This is especially true with satellite Internet connections, which can offer speeds of up to 15 Mbps – but will still feel slow.

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In a perfect world, there would be no way for your computer to be infected via your browser. Browsers are supposed to run web pages in an untrusted sandbox, isolating them from the rest of your computer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

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Linux users often use the terminal to accomplish tasks. This can be intimidating if you’re a new Linux user who wants a graphical environment that’s easy to come to grips with, but you shouldn’t be put off by the Linux terminal.

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Websites – at least the desktop versions – are designed for broadband connections and are larger than ever. This isn’t normally a problem, but what if you’re tethering your computer to a smartphone with a limited data plan?

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Android developers can restrict their apps to certain devices, countries, and minimum versions of Android. However, there are ways around these restrictions, allowing you to install apps marked as “not compatible with your device.”

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Windows 7 makes it possible to change the welcome screen that appears when you start your computer without any third-party software, but this setting is well hidden. You can set any image you like as your background.

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Between the browser history and tracking cookies, it’s easy to feel like your browser is tracking and spying on you. But web browsers store this private data for good reasons.

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Many recent Android phones – and even Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets – have integrated NFC hardware and support Android Beam. Android Beam allows you to send content between devices just by pressing them back-to-back.

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We already live in the future. We have handheld devices that use satellites to pinpoint our precise locations almost anywhere on the planet. But have you ever wondered just how GPS works?

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Whenever Google releases a new version of Android for its Nexus devices, it doesn’t roll out to everyone at once. It may take several days before your device receives the update, but you don’t have to wait.

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Windows 8 is designed to push Microsoft’s web services: Bing, Internet Explorer, Outlook.com, and more. However, Windows 8 isn’t limited to just Microsoft’s services. Google services like Gmail, Google Search, Chrome, and more can all be integrated with Windows 8.

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