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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+.

UPnP comes enabled by default on many new routers. At one point, the FBI and other security experts recommended disabling UPnP for security reasons. But how secure is UPnP today? Are we trading security for convenience when using UPnP?

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Windows 8 takes a new approach to the hosts file by default – it won’t allow you to block Facebook and other websites by modifying your hosts file. Luckily, there’s a way to bypass this restriction.

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Windows 8’s Family Safety features allow you to monitor your children’s computer usage, get weekly reports, set time limits for computer use, filter inappropriate websites, block children from using certain applications, and more.

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UPnP is a convenient way for programs to forward ports without you having to pull up your router’s web interface and forward ports manually. Unfortunately, some programs that require port forwarding don’t support UPnP – that’s where UPnP PortMapper comes in.

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The desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8, replaced with Xbox-integrated full-screen versions. While the classic desktop versions are missing in action, there’s a way to get them back.

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There are two types of firewalls: hardware firewalls and software firewalls. Your router functions as a hardware firewall, while Windows includes a software firewall. There are other third-party firewalls you can install, too.

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Windows 8 is more integrated with Microsoft’s services than ever. When you create a user account on your computer, you’ll be prompted to use a Microsoft account. Microsoft accounts are different from local user accounts, which are still available.

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One of the first messages you’ll see after logging into Windows 8 for the first time (aside from a message about activating Windows) is a request to “Trust this PC.” But why does Microsoft want you to “trust” your PC?

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It’s easy to think of a Kindle as just an eBook reader, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an MP3 player, portable web browser (with free Wikipedia access over 3G), gaming device, and image viewer.

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Do you store sensitive files on Dropbox or another cloud storage service? Encrypt them with EncFS for Linux, an encrypting file system that transparently encrypts and decrypts each individual file with your encryption key. There’s also an experimental Windows build.

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Want to secure your SSH server with easy-to-use two-factor authentication? Google provides the necessary software to integrate Google Authenticator’s time-based one-time password (TOTP) system with your SSH server. You’ll have to enter the code from your phone when you connect.

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Consider this a public service announcement: Scammers can forge email addresses. Your email program may say a message is from a certain email address, but it may be from another address entirely.

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Google Now, new in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, is Google’s attempt to be smarter. It includes cards that automatically provide you with information and voice search integrated with Google’s knowledge graph to provide direct answers to your questions.

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Android is very customizable – many of its features are just defaults and can be swapped out for third-party alternatives without any rooting required. Some of these things are possible on a jailbroken iOS device, while some remain impossible.

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LastPass offers a lot of security options for locking down your account and protecting your valuable data. We’re fans of LastPass here at How-To Geek – it’s a great service that a lot of you already use.

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Want to put your Linux PC into sleep or hibernate mode and have it automatically wake at a specific time? You can easily do this with the rtcwake command, included by default with most Linux systems.

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Each version of Android since Gingerbread (Android 2.3) has included an Easter egg, which is always accessed in the same way. The Easter eggs in the latest versions are becoming more complex, with animations and interactivity.

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Android 4.0 and newer include an easy-to-use, built-in screenshot feature. You can take a screenshot and send it off your smartphone or tablet in just a few seconds. This feature was introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0).

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There’s no built-in way to take screenshots if your device is using a 2.x version of Android, such as Gingerbread or Froyo. However, you can take screenshots by connecting your Android phone to your computer and using Google’s Android SDK.

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The Ubuntu App Showdown resulted in the development of 133 new applications for Ubuntu. Soon, you’ll be able to install these apps from the Ubuntu Software Center and vote on your favorites – the voting decides which apps win.

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Want to play videos from your computer on your Android, without the hassle of copying them to your device’s internal storage? Share a folder over the network with Windows. You can copy files back and forth over Wi-Fi, too.

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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the slickest, fastest, most responsive release of Android yet. Here’s a list of the great features you have to look forward to when you get your hands on Android 4.1.

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Try to install an extension from outside the Chrome Web Store and Chrome will tell you that extensions “can only be added from the Chrome Web Store.” However, this message is incorrect – you can still install extensions from elsewhere.

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For years, Android enthusiasts have been rooting their devices to do things that Android doesn’t allow by default. Google has added many features that once required root to Android, eliminating many of the reasons for rooting.

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Use the Nexus Root Toolkit to quickly root your Nexus devices, whether you’ve got a Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus, or even a Nexus S. Rooting allows you to use powerful apps that don’t work in Android’s default sandbox.

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