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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+.

More and more Android and Windows tablets are advertising their styluses. They’re popular iPad accessories, too. But not all styluses are equal. The technology built into your device’s touch screen will control what kind of styluses you can use.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

Did you know that Mozilla is creating a new operating system built on top of Firefox, dubbed Firefox OS? This isn’t an operating system for your computer — Firefox OS is Mozilla’s attempt at a smartphone OS.

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Like any piece of technology, iPads aren’t completely obvious when you first pick them up. They have their own language of gestures, swipes, and button presses you should learn to become more comfortable using them.

about 1 year ago - by  |  2 Replies

Linux distributions aren’t just the Linux kernel. They all contain other critical software, like the Grub bootloader, Bash shell, GNU shell utilities, daemons, X.org graphical server, a desktop environment, and more.

about 1 year ago - by  |  4 Replies

HDMI allows you to connect almost any device to a TV or another external display, but HDMI requires a wired connection. You might assume there’d be a well-supported standard for wireless displays, but you’d be wrong.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

Ubuntu wants to enable TRIM for SSDs by default in Ubuntu 14.04. In other words, Ubuntu isn’t already using TRIM, so your SSD is slowing down over time. But why isn’t Ubuntu already using TRIM?

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Android has a powerful permission system that forces apps to declare the exact permissions they require — whether it’s displaying notifications, reading your contacts, or accessing your location. Controlling these permissions as a user is possible, but more complicated.

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Android 4.4 added a new screen-recording feature, making it much easier to create video recordings of an Android device’s screen in MP4 format. This is useful when creating walkthroughs and tutorials or just showing off an app.

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This cold-calling telephone scam has been going on since 2008, but shows no sign of going away. If you have any relatives who might fall for it, be sure to let them know Microsoft won’t actually call them.

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Linux Mint is insecure, according to a Canonical-employed Ubuntu developer who says he wouldn’t do his online banking on a Linux Mint PC. The developer alleges that Linux Mint “hacks out” important updates. Is this a real problem or just fear-mongering?

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Bluetooth’s power-hungry nature has made it impractical for many types of wireless devices in the past. Bluetooth Low Energy is changing this, enabling new types of devices that can operate for months or years with small batteries.

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The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from. This definitely applies to wireless printers. When buying a printer, you’ll find that most printers support a variety of different printing standards.

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Don’t let the version number trick you, Android 4.4 KitKat isn’t a minor release. This isn’t a small update like Android 4.3, but a big new release with lots of important features.

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Google’s Nexus devices are supposed to receive timely updates, but the staggered rollout means it can take weeks for devices to receive over-the-air updates. Luckily, there’s a geekier way to upgrade to the latest version of Android.

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Apple’s iOS is nowhere near as vulnerable to malware as Windows is, but it’s not completely impervious. “Configuration profiles” are one possible way to infect an iPhone or iPad just by downloading a file and agreeing to a prompt.

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WPA2 with a strong password is secure as long as you disable WPS. You’ll find this advice in guides to securing your Wi-Fi all over the web. Wi-Fi Protected Setup was a nice idea, but using it is a mistake.

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Google’s working on a new launcher for Android, one that seamlessly integrates Google Now. The Google Experience Launcher is officially exclusive to the Nexus 5, but you can easily use it on any other Android smartphone or tablet.

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It has now been over a year since Windows 8 was released. A lot has happened — we’re now on Windows 8.1 and new devices running Intel’s Haswell and Bay Trail chips are coming out every day. Touch-enabled laptops, convertibles, and Windows tablets are getting cheaper and more common.

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Computer hardware and electronic devices aren’t perfect. They may stop working on you at some point, which is why manufacturers offer warranties. Taking advantage of this warranty generally requires you perform an “RMA,” in geek shorthand.

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We’ve written some particularly negative things about Windows recently, focusing on the reasons why using the traditional Windows desktop can be a frustrating experience. Do we just hate Windows? Not at all. The Windows desktop is an amazing platform.

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Every device — smartphone, tablet, eReader, laptop — seems to come with its own charger. But do you really need all these chargers? Can you re-use the same charger for multiple devices?

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Windows 8.1 allows Windows to work better on high-DPI displays. As part of this, the way Windows deals with mice has changed. Games that don’t read raw mouse data may end up with laggy, freezing, or stuttering mouse movement.

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iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service, offering integrated online backup and syncing for Apple devices. iCloud is built-in on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but can also be accessed on Windows.

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After Windows users have watched smartphones, tablets, and even Mac laptops get high-density displays, they’re finally arriving on new Windows laptops. But be careful what you wish for — many desktop apps have problems on high-DPI displays.

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New Windows 8 PCs don’t include the traditional BIOS. They use UEFI firmware instead, just as Macs have for years. How you go about doing common system tasks has changed.

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