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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+.

Sony’s DualShock 4 controller is actually just a standard Bluetooth gamepad. You can pair it with any Bluetooth-enabled PC and use the DualShock 4 controller to play games. Here’s how.

about 3 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Most antivirus programs–or “security suites”, as they call themselves–want you to install their browser extensions. They promise these toolbars will help keep you safe online, but they usually just exist to make the company some money. Worse yet, these extensions are often hideously vulnerable to attack.

about 3 months ago - by  |  26 Replies

If you recently built or bought a new PC, you may be wondering if you can just transfer your old hard drive into the new computer–thus migrating your entire installation in one fell swoop. But it’s not as easy as it seems.

about 3 months ago - by  |  18 Replies

Nintendo’s Wii U has apps for watching Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and all kinds of other streaming video. But Nintendo doesn’t offer an app that will play media files from an external drive or media server. Here’s a little trick that will let you stream videos from your home network to your TV with your Wii U.

about 3 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Hulu doesn’t work out-of-the-box on modern Linux distributions. While Netflix “just works” if you’re using Google Chrome, Hulu’s DRM has gotten old and clunky. You can get Hulu to work on Linux, but it’ll take a little tweaking.

about 3 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Windows can create “system image backups,” which are essentially complete images of your hard drive and all the files on it. Once you’ve got a system image backup, you can restore your system exactly as it was when you backed up, even if your installation is badly corrupted or completely gone.

about 3 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

Facebook’s Android and iPhone apps still aren’t great. The iPhone app has had bugs that cause it to drain battery in the background, and Facebook once even reportedly made its Android app crash on purpose. And don’t even get us started on the Android app’s permissions.

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Netflix recently announced it plans to crack down on VPN, proxy, and unblocking DNS users trying to access content in other countries. The good news: watching streaming sites through a VPN may get a bit more difficult, but it will always be possible.

about 3 months ago - by  |  14 Replies

Microsoft is technically selling  two phones with Windows 10 built-in, but it hasn’t released the update for older phones just yet. If you have a Windows phone, though, there’s a good chance you can upgrade it to Windows 10 now, even if your cellular carrier is planning to delay or block the update.

about 3 months ago - by  |  4 Replies

Like the Roku and Chromecast, Sony’s PlayStation 4 can play video and music files from a USB drive or another computer on your network. Your PS4 can even play local music files in the background while you play a game.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

If you have a Comcast Xfinity Internet connection and you’re renting your cable modem from Comcast, it’s probably hosting a public Wi-Fi network that passers-by can connect to. If you don’t like this, you can disable that “xfinitywifi” network.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

You don’t need a smartwatch, fitness band, or pedometer to track your steps. Your phone can track how many steps you take and how far you walk all by itself, assuming you just carry it with you in your pocket.

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Windows enables device encryption on many Windows 10 and 8.1 PCs out-of-the-box. It also uploads your recovery key to Microsoft’s servers, allowing you to regain access to you encrypted drives even if you forget their passwords.

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The Windows 10 upgrade process drags old files, settings, and programs from your previous Windows system to your new one. If you want a completely fresh system, though, you have a couple options.

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Dangerous root certificates are a serious problem. From Lenovo’s Superfish to Dell’s eDellRoot and a number of other certificates installed by adware programs, your computer’s manufacturer or a program you installed may have added a certificate that opens you to attack. Here’s how to check if your certificates are clean.

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Manufacturers have been pushing “Ultra HD” 4k TVs for a couple years now. There are plenty of models available now, and they’re cheaper than ever, too. But should you buy one?

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New 4K monitors are dropping in price, and they are available almost everywhere. They can be found now for a few hundred bucks, and we’ve seen some great sale prices. But are they worth the money, and should you upgrade?

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Modern versions of Mac OS X no longer need you to repair disk permissions. However, that’s not the only issue that can occur with a disk or file system. Mac OS X contains a variety of tools for repairing disk, partition, and file system errors.

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With Windows 10, Microsoft seems to have disabled System Restore by default — at least on some PCs. System Restore has been around since Windows ME, creating snapshots of system files you can restore if a problem occurs.

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BitLocker disk encryption normally requires a TPM on Windows. Microsoft’s EFS encryption can never use a TPM. The new “device encryption” feature on Windows 10 and 8.1 also requires a modern TPM, which is why it’s only enabled on new hardware. But what is a TPM?

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Can’t remember your Mac’s password? Don’t worry. With the default settings, you can simply try logging into your Mac. Fail enough times and you’ll be able to reset your password with your Apple ID. But this won’t always work.

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Tell your file manager to show hidden files and you’ll see quite a few junk files scattered across your folders. Windows creates thumbs.db and desktop.ini files in many folders, and Mac OS X creates .DS_Store files.

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Each network-connected device — laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and everything else — has an IP address on the network and a unique MAC address. There are many reasons you might need to find this information, so here’s how to find it on all the laptops, smartphones, and tablets you might have lying around.

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If you’re dual-booting Linux alongside Windows 10, 8, or 8.1 and you want to mount your Windows system partition and access its files, you’ll run into a problem. You’ll see an error saying “The NTFS partition is hibernated” due to the new hybrid boot feature, preventing you from accessing its files.

about 4 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 all include BitLocker drive encryption, but that’s not the only encryption solution they offer. Windows also includes an encryption method named the “encrypting file system”, or EFS. Here’s how it differs from BitLocker.

about 4 months ago - by  |  6 Replies