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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+.

Android’s openness is a big reason for its success, but cellular carriers and phone manufacturers often use this openness to make the experience worse for its users. Android’s openness gives carriers and device manufacturers the freedom to do bad things.

about 1 year ago - by  |  16 Replies

Roaming data can cost as much as 300 times the price of domestic data, leading to bill shock. Some of the more extreme examples of roaming bills have been for tens of thousands of dollars.

about 1 year ago - by  |  4 Replies

The blue screen of death — or BSOD — is always an unwelcome sight. BSODs appear when Microsoft Windows encounters a critical error it can’t recover from, requiring a reboot and possibly resulting in lost work.

about 1 year ago - by  |  7 Replies

So you’re using Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop. Microsoft goes out of their way to make this more awkward, scattering the tweaks you need to turn Windows 8 into a serviceable desktop operating system all over the OS.

about 1 year ago - by  |  47 Replies

You may not have noticed, but Firefox now includes a “Social API” that allows Facebook and other social networks to integrate with your browser. Firefox is providing Facebook a way to integrate with your browser and stay with you everywhere on the web.

about 1 year ago - by  |  2 Replies

Windows 8 no longer comes with Windows Media Center. To get it, you’ll need to purchase both the Pro Pack and Media Center Pack upgrades from Microsoft for a total of $110. Consider using a free, Linux-based media center system instead.

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There’s no one true desktop environment for Linux. Unlike competing operating systems like Windows, Linux users have a choice of many different desktop environments, all with their own styles and strengths.

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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.

about 1 year ago - by  |  9 Replies

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.

about 2 years ago - by  |  75 Replies

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.

about 2 years ago - by  |  9 Replies

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.

about 2 years ago - by  |  25 Replies

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.

about 2 years ago - by  |  10 Replies