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+.

Windows has a hidden setting that will enable only government-certified “FIPS-compliant” encryption. It may sound like a way to boost your PC’s security, but it isn’t. You shouldn’t enable this setting unless you work in government or need to test how software will behave on government PCs.

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Sony’s PlayStation 4 offers button remapping for its DualShock 4 controllers. If you don’t like a game’s control scheme, you’re free to switch the buttons around and make it more comfortable. The game doesn’t even need to offer its own button-remapping.

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Windows 10 saves a list of Wi-Fi networks you connect to along with their passphrases and other settings. If you want to set your Wi-Fi network up from scratch–something that’s occasionally necessary to fix connection problems–you’ll need to make Windows “forget” the Wi-Fi network.

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Wi-Fi calling allows your iPhone to place and receive phone calls and text messages over a Wi-Fi network. If you have a weak cellular signal but a solid Wi-Fi signal, your iPhone will automatically switch over and route calls and texts via Wi-Fi.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 only lets you install apps and games on a limited number of devices. It has even stricter limits for subscription music and videos purchased from the Windows Store. Here’s how to ensure you stay within those limits.

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Windows lets you set each network you connect to as either a “Private” or “Public” network. When you connect to a network the first time, Windows 10 asks if you want your computer to be discoverable or not by other computers.

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Anyone with physical access to your PlayStation 4 can just grab the controller, turn it on, and start playing–at least by default. You can restrict access to your PlayStation 4 so people can’t  play your games, mess with your save files, and make online purchases without your permission.

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Intel’s integrated graphics have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, but they still aren’t as speedy as dedicated NVIDIA or AMD graphics hardware.  Here’s how to squeeze some more gaming performance out of your Intel HD Graphics.

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Modern versions of Windows–and other operating systems–can use either the older Master Boot Record (MBR) or newer GUID Partition Table (GPT) for their partition schemes. Here’s how to check which one a disk is using and convert between the two.

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Windows activation is designed to be as foolproof as possible, so Microsoft’s graphical tools keep it simple. If you want to do something more advanced like remove a product key, force an online activation, or extend the activation timer, you’ll need Slmgr.vbs.

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Most Mac applications use the operating system’s spell check feature, and share the same personal dictionary. So if you add a custom word to your dictionary in one application, other Mac apps won’t detect it as a typo in the future. But there’s no obvious way to remove a word from the dictionary if you accidentally add one.

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Many old PC games seem to work fine on Windows 10, but games using Microsoft’s failed Games for Windows LIVE (GFWL) platform are an exception. They’ll give you an error on Windows 10. You can remove GFWL from many games entirely, though, or just troubleshoot it and make it work properly.

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If your Android phone is feeling a little low on battery, you can find out exactly where your battery power is going. Android’s Battery screen shows you what’s used battery power since your last charge, from apps to system services and hardware devices.

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Unlike a faster CPU or graphics card, more memory (aka RAM) won’t always speed up your games. If you already have enough RAM, adding more won’t make a difference. So how much RAM do you need for modern PC gaming, anyway?

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Windows 10 allows you to quickly sign in with a numeric PIN instead of a longer password. if you have a keyboard with a number pad, you can use that number pad to enter the PIN–after you enable Num Lock. Here’s how to enable Num Lock at boot so you don’t have to press the key every time.

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Windows 10 includes an Xbox app and other Xbox-related features. Many of these features are useful even if you’ve never owned an Xbox in your life, and one of these features is even useful for Windows 10 users who never play games.

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Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It’ll keep working for the foreseeable future, with only a few small cosmetic restrictions. And you can even pay to upgrade to a licensed copy of Windows 10 after you install it.

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Microsoft is clashing with the PC gaming community again, with everyone from PC gamers to the CEO of Epic criticizing Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform. Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of goodwill left in the PC gaming community, thanks especially to the disastrous “Games for Windows LIVE” service from a few years back…and they’re worried history will repeat itself.

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Migrating your files, settings, and programs to a new PC can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not completely organized. These tools and simple tips will help you get started.

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PC gamers have to set a myriad of graphics options to balance performance with graphics quality. If you don’t want to tweak them by hand, both NVIDIA and AMD provide tools that will do it for you.

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Applications can use Windows 10’s location services to view your physical location. You’ll see a system tray icon that reads “Your location has recently been accessed” or “Your location is currently in use” when this happens, and it can get a little annoying.

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AgileBits is trying to wean people off of this feature, but–unfortunately–it hasn’t provided any equivalent functionality. You can still gain web access to your 1Password vault by changing a few settings, and it will continue to function as long as you don’t migrate to the new database format.

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Need a file from an old Windows backup on your Mac? Macs can read Windows drives, but Time Machine won’t help you recover files from a Windows backup. You have to extract files from the backup manually, and it’ll take a bit of work.

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Much like Microsoft’s Xbox-to-PC streaming, Sony’s PlayStation 4 can stream games to a few of Sony’s Xperia smartphones and tablets. However, with a small tweak, you can stream your PlayStation 4 games to nearly any Android device.

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The Windows Store included with Windows 10 could be a one-stop place to find all the software you’re looking for. But it isn’t. Search for common desktop applications–even the Microsoft Office desktop apps–and you won’t just won’t find them.

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