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+.

DNS cache poisoning, also known as DNS spoofing, is a type of attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the domain name system (DNS) to divert Internet traffic away from legitimate servers and towards fake ones.

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We all want the replicator from Star Trek: a machine that can create any object we desire. 3D printers, which create objects from plastics and other materials, are the closest things we have. And they’re getting cheaper every year.

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So it’s the end of the road for your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Before letting go, be sure to follow this quick check list to prepare your device for its new owner.

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Windows 8 (and now 10) no longer comes with Windows Media Center by default. To get it, you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and purchase the Media Center Pack. And Windows 10 doesn’t have it at all.

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When you sign up for cable Internet service, you need a modem. You’re often asked to choose between renting the modem from your Internet service provider for a monthly fee or buying it outright.

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Windows 8 or 10 allows you to create a recovery drive (USB) or system repair disc (CD or DVD) that can be used to troubleshoot and restore your computer. Each type of recovery media gives you access to Windows’ advanced startup options.

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Most people use their operating system’s included file manager, but many geeks prefer third-party file managers. After all, Windows Explorer doesn’t offer tabs, a dual-pane interface, batch file-renaming tools, and more advanced features.

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Screenshots are great, but sometimes you need to create a video recording to really get your point across. You can record your computer’s desktop, your smartphone’s screen, or your tablet’s display.

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Your Mac’s Services menu can be very useful. The Services menu has become a hidden feature used mostly be power-users, but it’s very easy to use. It’s a bit like the Share features on Android or iOS.

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Google rolls out Android updates slowly, even to their own Nexus devices. It may take weeks before an over-the-air update becomes available via the System updates screen, but you can skip the wait.

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Animations on a desktop PC, smartphone, or tablet are nice — the first few times. Eventually, you just wish they would hurry up and stop wasting your time.

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Keeping your home router updated is a crucial part of staying secure. Shellshock affected a number of routers, and we’ve also seen routers hacked and turned into botnets. Home router security is notoriously poor.

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Gatekeeper is how Apple is “locking down” Mac OS X, forcing it to only run Apple-approved software by default. But a Mac is locked down in the same way Android is locked down — you’re free to change an option and install any application you want.

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Consoles have come a long way from cartridges. Today, they’re practically just gaming PCs and include built-in storage for save files, game updates, and digital-download games.

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Mac OS X ships with a built-in firewall, but it’s not enabled by default. The Windows firewall has been enabled by default ever since worms like Blaster infected all those vulnerable Windows XP systems, so what gives?

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We’ve all seen it in movies: Someone’s in an emergency situation, so they dial 911 on a landline phone and run off. The police then rush to their location. This location tracking doesn’t work as well with cell phones and VoIP services.

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Remember TV antennas? Well, they still exist! Get a digital TV antenna and you’ll be able to watch local TV stations for free, all without paying a dime to a cable TV company.

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The era of the $200 Windows laptop is back, and the HP Stream is just the first of many. These products are definitely better than the much-maligned netbook, but Chromebooks beat them in many ways.

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Apple tries to stop it, but there are ways to change your default apps on iOS. You can use your favorite browser, email client, and mapping app instead of Apple’s own apps.

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Apple’s MacBook Air, along with many other Macs, no longer includes an optical drive. But you can still use CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, and other optical discs on your Mac.

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Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux all allow you to schedule boot-ups, shut-downs, and wake-ups. You can have your computer automatically power up in the morning and automatically shut down at night, if you’d like.

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For those of us who didn’t grow up with smartphones, typing on a touch keyboard can feel awfully slow. But there are tricks you can use to speed up typing on a touch keyboard, just like a physical one.

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On our Comcast Xfinity router, WPA2-PSK (TKIP), WPA2-PSK (AES), and WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES) are all different options. Choose the wrong option and you’ll have a slower, less-secure network.

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Chromebooks allow you to set a custom DNS server, but Google doesn’t make the option easy to find. There are many reasons to change your DNS server, after all.

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Despite what you may have heard, closing apps on your iPhone or iPad won’t speed it up. But iOS does allow apps to run in the background sometimes, and you can manage that in a different way.

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