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 10 includes  a “Battery Saver” mode that’s designed to extend your laptop or tablet’s battery life. Windows will automatically enable Battery Saver when your PC’s battery runs low, but you can control this–and choose exactly what Battery Saver does.

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NVIDIA’s GameStream technology lets you stream games from a GeForce-powered Windows PC to another device. It only officially supports NVIDIA’s own Android-based SHIELD devices, but with a third-party open-source GameStream client known as Moonlight, you can stream games to Windows PCs, Macs, Linux PCs, iPhones, iPads, and non-SHIELD Android devices.

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Windows sets all PCs to a “Balanced” power plan by default. But there are also “Power saver” and “High performance” plans. Your PC manufacturer may have even created their own power plans. What’s the difference between them all, and should you bother switching?

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Everything has DRM these days, and while Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and even DVDs and Blu-rays “just work” on most systems, Linux users always have to do a little more work. Here’s how penguin lovers can get all those services working on their machines.

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Windows offers an on-screen keyboard that lets you type even if you don’t have access to a physical keyboard. It’s particularly useful with a touch screen, but you can also use it to type with a mouse–or even to type with a game controller from your couch.

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This week, Microsoft made Windows 10 a “recommended update” that will automatically download for many Windows 7 and 8.1 users. This is just Microsoft’s latest move in aggressively pushing Windows 10–here’s how we got to this point.

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Rooting your Android device gives you access to a wider variety of apps and a deeper access to the Android system. But some apps–like Google’s Android Pay–won’t work at all on a rooted device.

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A mouse and keyboard isn’t always the most convenient way to control a PC, especially a media center PC you control from the couch. You can try to control your desktop with a game controller, but your smartphone will do the trick as well.

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USB Type-C brings a new universal connector to laptops and smartphones, and many devices are already starting to use it. But beware: many USB-C cables aren’t designed properly and could potentially damage your hardware.

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Many Android tweaking and hacking guides warn that you’ll void your warranty by continuing. But will you actually be denied repair service if you’ve rooted or unlocked your bootloader?

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Commercial DVDs and Blu-ray discs are encrypted. The Digital Rights Management (DRM) is designed to prevent you from ripping them, copying them, and watching them on unsupported players. You can get around this protection to watch DVDs and Blu-rays on Linux, but it’ll take some tweaking.

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If you have your PC set up as a living room gaming PC and media center, why use a mouse for everything when you could just use your game controller?

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Apple’s iPhones and iPads use its own Lightning connector for charging and data transmission. You can purchase third-party cables and accessories, but they must be certified. If a cable or accessory wasn’t certified by Apple, you’ll see a warning message when you connect it. However, this message can sometimes appear incorrectly, too.

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Most modern browsers support extensions, which add additional features to your browser. But the fewer extensions you have installed, the speedier your browser should be. Here’s how to uninstall or disable extensions you don’t use.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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