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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+.

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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NFC hardware is being included in more and more devices – particularly smartphones, but also some laptops. NFC could be the future of payments, security keys, and boarding passes. NFC is also an upgrade over clunky QR codes.

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Microsoft’s Surface RT and other Windows RT-based machines include the Flash browser plugin, but it only runs on websites Microsoft has whitelisted. We have covered how you can add any website to the Flash whitelist, but now there’s an easier way.

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Web browsers normally save your private data – history, cookies, searches, downloads, and more – and only delete it when you ask. If you are constantly clearing it, you can have any browser automatically clear private data when you close it.

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Windows has quite a few ways to control your default applications and file associations – more than you might expect. These are used when you double-click a file, click a link, connect a device, or insert media.

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Private browsing mode doesn’t offer complete privacy, but it does prevent your browser from saving your history, searches, cookies, and other private data between browsing sessions. You can have your browser always start in private-browsing mode if you prefer it.

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Internet security suites are big business. Trial versions packed full of features come with most new Windows computers. They typically include powerful two-way firewalls, phishing filters, and cookie-scanning technology. But you don’t really need all these features.

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Linux’s file system has quite a few differences from the Windows file system. You won’t find any drive letters or backslashes, but you will find an alien-looking layout where files can have the same name, differing only in capitalization.

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Most people know that .exe files are potentially dangerous, but that isn’t the only file extension to beware of on Windows. There are a variety of other potentially dangerous file extensions – more than you might expect.

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Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 8, but it does not include the ability to quickly right-click folders and scan them. However, you can add this option yourself with a quick registry hack.

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DOS isn’t widely used anymore, but you wouldn’t know if from reading instructions written by manufacturers for BIOS updates, firmware-updating utilities, and other low-level system tools. They will often require you to boot into DOS and run the utility.

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Windows 8 installs applications to your C:\ drive by default, but you may want to change where Windows 8 stores these apps. For example, you could install them to an SD card or secondary hard drive.

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