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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+.

One of the many ways you can customize your Android home screen is by replacing it entirely. Android developers can create their own software to replace your home screen — Facebook Home is just one of many options.

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Cloud gaming has much in common with streaming videos. Essentially, the cloud-gaming server runs a game and streams a video of the gameplay to you. Your keyboard, mouse, and controller input actions are sent over the network to the cloud gaming server.

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Hackers aren’t inherently bad — the word “hacker” doesn’t mean “criminal” or “bad guy.”  Geeks and tech writers often refer to “black hat,” “white hat,” and “gray hat” hackers. These terms define different groups of hackers based on their behavior.

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Do you regularly open your antivirus program and run scans? Microsoft Security Essentials and other antivirus programs think you need to, warning you that your computer may be at risk if you haven’t done so in a while.

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iTunes can’t sync your music library to an Android device, and Google doesn’t offer an iTunes-style desktop app. However, there are several ways you can easily transfer your music collection to your Android smartphone or tablet.

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Unlike most other operating systems, Windows still doesn’t include first-class support for printing to PDFs. However, PDF printing is still fairly simple — you can quickly install a free PDF printer or use the support included in various programs.

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The last few years have seen the rise of closed platforms — operating systems that only allow you to install software approved by the operating system’s developer. However, many popular platforms — even mobile ones — are still open platforms.

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If you’re like most people, your Internet service provider hands you a single Internet Protocol address and your router shares it amongst all the connected devices in your home.

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The XPS format is Microsoft’s alternative to PDF. It was introduced in Windows Vista, but never gained much traction. However, modern versions of Windows continue to include better support for XPS files than PDF files.

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Microsoft will be ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014 after 12 and a half years of supporting it. Microsoft has gone out of their way to extend support on several occasions, but the 2014 deadline looks like the final one.

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Phones have improved dramatically in the last ten years. Modern smartphones seem like a technology from an alien civilization when placed next to the original cell phones. But battery life hasn’t improved. In fact, battery life feels like it’s getting worse.

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Have you upgraded to Windows 8 yet? We’ve published a lot of Windows 8 articles here at How-To Geek, and I’ve written many of them, but I haven’t. I still use Windows 7 on my PC.

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You’ve probably heard that firewalls are an important security protection, but do you know why that is? Many people don’t, if references to firewalls in TV shows, movies, and other forms of popular media are any indication.

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Most Linux distributions come without support for MP3 audio, H.264 video, Flash content, and even commercial video DVDs. Patents, closed-source software, and even laws that make certain types of software illegal restrict what can be included in a Linux distribution.

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So you have an antivirus guarding your system, your firewall is up, your browser plug-ins are all up-to-date, and you’re not missing any security patches. But how can be sure your defenses are actually working as well as you think they are?

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If you’re new to the world of PC gaming, it can all seem a bit complicated. Consoles don’t have upgradable hardware, desktop software running in the background, or graphics settings that must be tweaked for ideal performance.

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More than $5000. That’s how much one man’s child ran up on his credit card by playing “free” games on his iPad. Many games may be advertised as free, but they actually try to push expensive “in-app purchases.”

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The news is full of reports of “spear-phishing attacks” being used against governments, large corporations, and political activists. Spear-phishing attacks are now the most common way corporate networks are compromised, according to many reports.

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On Linux, you install software from package management applications like the Ubuntu Software Center. But not every piece of software is available in your Linux distribution’s software repositories.

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Whether you’re installing the latest version of Windows or upgrading your Linux distribution, most geeks agree that you should probably perform a clean installation rather than try your luck with an upgrade.

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Android geeks often unlock their bootloaders to root their devices and install custom ROMs. But there’s a reason devices come with locked bootloaders – unlocking your bootloader creates security risks.

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Multiple user accounts were once impractical to use on Windows, but they aren’t anymore. If multiple people use your computer – particularly children or guests – you should give each person a separate user account.

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Some people believe Tor is a completely anonymous, private, and secure way to access the Internet without anyone being able to monitor your browsing and trace it back to you – but is it? It’s not quite that simple.

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Many gamers refer to any performance problem in an online game as “lag.” But if your computer’s frame rate is low, that isn’t the same thing as lag – lag and low FPS are different problems with different causes.

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Llama is a clever Android app that can automatically perform actions based on your location. It uses cell towers — not GPS — so it won’t use much additional battery power. In fact, Llama can help save battery power.

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