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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+.

Routers are basically little computers. By default, they run a manufacture-provided operating system, or firmware, to route network traffic and provide you with various settings and features. But you can often replace this firmware.

about 2 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

Android may be based on Linux, but it’s not based on the type of Linux system you may have used on your PC. You can’t run Android apps on typical Linux distributions and you can’t run the Linux programs you’re familiar with on Android.

about 2 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Chrome is gradually becoming more of a platform, and some of the best features of Android are making their way to Windows. With voice search and Google Now support, Google beat Microsoft’s own Cortana service to Windows.

about 2 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Consumer PCs didn’t always run Windows. Before Windows arrived, PCs came with Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system. Here’s what the command-line environment was actually like to use.

about 3 months ago - by  |  39 Replies

Have you heard? Antivirus software is dead — at least according to Symantec, maker of Norton Antivirus. But they’re still making Norton Antivirus and want to sell it to you, so what does this statement even mean?

about 3 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is the latest release of Ubuntu. Like other recent releases, there are no flashy big new features. Canonical has made some important changes, but they’re very easy to miss.

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Keyboard shortcuts are essential for being productive on any device with a keyboard, whether it’s a Windows PC or a Mac. Use these keyboard shortcuts to get around your Mac more quickly.

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Yes, some Android apps can be malicious — Apple, Microsoft, and the media seem happy to remind us about this. Take a few basic precautions and you can avoid these potentially dangerous apps.

about 3 months ago - by  |  8 Replies

Browser extensions are pieces of code that run in your web browser. They can do malicious things like display ads, track your browsing, and capture your passwords and private data. A safe extension could automatically update and become malware.

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Windows 8.1 and 8 brought big changes to Windows. Even the process of logging in and setting up user accounts is extremely different, with new types of user accounts and login options.

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Web browsers are gaining more and more features websites can use, and with them come permission options. Your web browser has a variety of permissions you can apply to individual websites, restricting them in various ways.

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Remote desktop software allows you to access your computer from another room or halfway around the world. You can also share your desktop with someone temporarily — ideal for remote tech support.

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Portable applications allow you to move between computers, taking your applications and their settings with you on a USB stick. Portable VirtualBox allows you to create portable operating systems and run them on any PC.

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Some Windows tablets have as little as 32 GB of internal storage, and future ones may only have 16 GB! This is extremely cramped for a large Windows system, so you’ll want to make the most of the little space available to you.

about 3 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Most web browsers load Flash and other plug-in content as soon as you open a web page. Enable “click-to-play” plug-ins and your browser will load a placeholder image instead — click it to actually download and view the content.

about 3 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

With so much concern about government surveillance, corporate espionage, and everyday identity theft, it may seem surprising that so few people use encrypted email messages. Try using encrypted email and you’ll find it to be difficult and complicated to use.

about 3 months ago - by  |  8 Replies

Some Internet service providers have harsh restrictions on the amount of bandwidth you can use in a month, charging you extra if you go over your bandwidth cap. Other ISPs restrict traffic at certain hours — for example, offering unlimited bandwidth only at night.

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Building your own computer is actually pretty simple. Don’t be afraid to dive right in — all you’ll need is a screwdriver, patience, and the ability to follow simple instructions.

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Most computers ship with a single operating system, but you can have multiple operating systems installed on a single PC. Having two operating systems installed — and choosing between them at boot time — is known as “dual-booting.”

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VirtualBox can boot virtual machines from USB flash drives, allowing you to boot a live Linux system or install an operating system from a bootable USB device. This option is well-hidden.

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OpenOffice.org was once the open-source office suite of choice, but it fractured into two separate projects — Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Never mind Oracle Open Office, which was actually a closed-source office suite and was discontinued.

about 3 months ago - by  |  10 Replies

Yes, there are some situations where you’ll want to regularly change your passwords. But those will probably be the exception rather than the rule. Telling typical computer users they need to regularly change their passwords is a mistake.

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iTunes uses an authorization system to ensure only a handful of computers can access your purchased music, videos, and other content at any given time. You should deauthorize iTunes before getting rid of a computer or reinstalling Windows.

about 3 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to all Windows 8 users, but you normally can’t install Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 product key. Luckily, you can get around this limitation if you really want a fresh install of Windows 8.1.

about 3 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

Windows 8.1 allows you to limit and monitor data usage, which isn’t just useful if you have a Windows tablet or laptop with mobile data. It’s also useful if you’re tethering your PC to your smartphone.

about 3 months ago - by  |  1 Reply