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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+.

You don’t have to hold up a microphone to your computer’s speakers to record its audio. Even if you don’t have a Stereo Mix option on your PC, you can easily record the sound coming from any Windows PC.

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The PowerCfg command is a hidden tool on Windows. Beyond just tweaking power-management settings, it can generate some sophisticated HTML reports on Windows 7, 8, and 10.

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Macs aren’t immune to software and hardware problems. A Mac may sometimes not respond to the Power button at all, or Mac OS X may crash or otherwise fail to start up properly.

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Microsoft added a hidden “Battery Report” feature to WIndows in Windows 8. Generate a report to see health information about your battery, how its capacity has decreased over time, and other interesting statistics.

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Your Mac has built-in anti-malware (or antivirus) functionality. It works an awful lot like antivirus software on Windows, examining applications you run and ensuring they don’t match a list of known-bad applications.

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Batteries don’t last forever — they only have so many charge cycles. As you use your battery, it will degrade over time and you’ll get less and less battery life from it. Eventually, you’ll want to replace a device’s battery — or get a new device with a new battery.

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You turn on your Android phone or tablet by pressing its power button — simple. If that button won’t work, your device isn’t necessarily broken — there are ways to bring it back to life.

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iPhones and iPads are supposed to “Just work,” but no technology is perfect. If you’ve pressed the Power button and the screen won’t turn on or you see an error message, don’t worry. You can probably make it boot again.

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When you put your PC into sleep mode, it normally waits until you press a button before it wakes from sleep – but you can have your PC automatically wake from sleep at a specific time.

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Geeks often immediately reinstall Windows on their new PCs to get a completely clean system. Thanks to a change in Windows 10, you can get a fresh copy of Windows on any PC without downloading an ISO file and reinstalling Windows.

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Online streaming services are usually considered an alternative to pricey cable subscriptions for cord cutters. But TV networks have been trying to change that for years, and they’ve released more and more services that give you free access to on-demand video if you have a cable subscription.

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After years of use in other countries around the world, chip-enabled credit cards are coming to the USA. Credit cards with only magnetic strips are being phased out ahead of an October 1, 2015 deadline.

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Your Mac’s menu bar can start to look a lot like the Windows system tray after you install a few programs. Here’s how to declutter the menu bar and get those icons under control.

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Systemd is now used by default in most Linux distributions, from Fedora and Red Hat to Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, and Arch. The systemctl command allows you to get information about systemd’s status and control running services.

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Roku’s line of streaming boxes are still the most popular, beating out Google’s Chromecast and the Apple TV. Roku recently refreshed their hardware, but there are still four different options to choose from — not the single option you get with competing devices.

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You can capture video (or screenshots) from any device with an HDMI cable or composite video outputs with a basic device. You could live-stream gameplay on Twitch TV with such a device, too.

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Mac OS X has built-in support for connecting to most common types of VPNs. If you want to ensure your Mac automatically reconnected to your VPN or connect to an OpenVPN VPN, you’ll need a third-party app.

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Windows doesn’t have an integrated too like Preview for Mac OS X — it doesn’t even come with a PDF printer. Here’s how to split, merge, reorder, sign, and mark-up PDF files with the least obnoxious software possible.

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VPN setup can be complex, especially for less experienced users. It may involve installing various certificate files as well as configuring server settings. Create a configuration profile and this will be as easy as downloading and tapping a file.

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Apple’s Time Machine typically backs up to an external drive or wirelessly to a Time Capsule. But, if you have a spare Mac, you can turn it into a Time Machine server. All your other Macs can back up to it over the network, just as if it were a Time Capsule.

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Chrome isn’t the minimal web browser it once was. Originally named Chrome because it was designed to get out of your way, Chrome is no longer just a minimal browser — it’s an entire application platform.

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iPhones and iPads don’t have file systems you can access. Instead, each app has its own “library” of files. iTunes File Sharing allows you to copy files to and from these per-app libraries.

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Many modern smart TVs have support for the Chromecast-like DIAL protocol built in. You can cast videos to your TV from YouTube and Netflix — on your phone or computer — without getting a Chromecast.

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Microsoft does offer a web-based version of Skype, so you can chat with your friends on your Chromebook. There’s no official voice or video support yet, but there are ways around that.

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Modern iPhones and iPads have excellent VPN support. The PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and Cisco IPSec protocols are all integrated. You can connect to OpenVPN networks and other types of VPNs with third-party apps.

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