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Lori Kaufman

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

The hosts file in Windows contains mappings of IP addresses to host names, like an address book for your computer. Your PC uses IP addresses to find websites, so it needs to translate the host names into IP addresses to access websites.

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With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to pull out the holiday card list and get writing. However, how would you like to save some money this year and also help save the environment?

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If you use iOS or Android devices, you’re familiar with the drag-and-drop method of creating folders. If you like that method of grouping files, you can get the same functionality on your Windows PC using a free utility, called Smart Folders.

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One of the new features in Windows 8 is the improved Task Manager, which provides access to more information and settings. If you don’t want to upgrade, there is a way you can use a simple Windows 8-like Task Manager in Windows 7, Vista, or XP.

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A mind map is a diagram that allows you to visually outline information, helping you organize, solve problems, and make decisions. Start with a single idea in the center of the diagram and add associated ideas, words, and concepts connected radially around the central idea.

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RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary.” It’s a document specification that allows you to easily collect and organize web-based news and information from websites. RSS reader applications allow you to follow your favorite websites without having to visit each one separately.

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The Windows Task Manager is a built-in tool that allows you to check which services are running in the background, how much resources are being used by which software programs, and the all-to-common task of killing programs that are not responding.

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If you need to install Windows or Linux and you don’t have access to a CD/DVD drive, a bootable USB drive is the solution. You can boot to the USB drive, using it to run the OS setup program, just like a CD or DVD.

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Windows 8 ships with built-in apps available on the Modern UI screen (formerly the Metro or Start screen), such as Mail, Calendar, Photos, Music, Maps, and Weather. Installing additional Modern UI apps is easy using the Windows Store, and uninstalling apps is just as easy.

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Windows 8 has a new feature that allows you to automatically run scheduled daily maintenance on your computer. These maintenance tasks run in the background and include security updating and scanning, Windows software updates, disk defragmentation, system diagnostics, among other tasks.

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The Windows clipboard is like a scratch pad used by the operating system and all running applications. When you copy or cut some text or a graphic, it is temporarily stored in the clipboard and then retrieved later when you paste the data.

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The Windows Store is similar to the app stores for Apple iOS and Android devices and Windows phones. It allows you to buy and download both free and paid Metro-style apps for Windows 8.

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Getting bored with your desktop wallpaper or the wallpaper on your mobile device? Because we use our PCs and mobile devices so much, it’s nice to have a choice of cool backgrounds to look at.

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If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

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The boot options have been consolidated in Windows 8 into a single menu, called the “boot options menu,” providing access to repair tools and options for changing Windows startup behavior, such as enabling debugging, booting into safe mode, and launching into a recovery environment.

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Bookmarklets are JavaScript links you can place on your browser’s toolbar that add one-click functionality to the browser or webpage. They are free and help make repetitive tasks in your browser quicker and easier to perform.

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Text to Speech (TTS) software allows you to have text read aloud to you. This is useful for struggling readers and for writers, when editing and revising their work. You can also convert eBooks to audiobooks so you can listen to them on long drives.

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We’ve previously written about a tool that allows you to create a bunch of folders at one time from a list of words or phrases. However, what if you want to create one or more folders from a bunch of selected text files?

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We’ve previously shown you how to backup Firefox profiles using an extension and third-party software and how to backup Google Chrome profiles. If you use Opera, there is a free tool that makes it easy to backup Opera profiles, settings, and even browsing sessions.

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Recently, we showed you how to automatically open tabs from your last browsing session when you run one of the five most popular browsers. However, what if you accidentally close a tab or two while browsing, and you want to reopen it?

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If you leave your computer on when you are not using it, there are ways you can put your computer to use when it’s sitting idle. It can do scientific research, backup your data, and even look for signs of extraterrestrial life.

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Before computers could handle graphical games, there were text adventure games. The games are interactive stories, so playing a text adventure game is like being part of a book in which you affect the story. Text adventure games are also referred to as “interactive fiction.”

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Do you pin a lot of programs to your Windows 7 Taskbar and run a lot of programs at once? Between pinned programs and other programs running, your Taskbar can get crowded. There are a few ways you can reclaim the space on your Taskbar.

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Now that Windows 8 is available, you might have started playing around with Internet Explorer 10. It comes in two different versions: the minimalist Modern UI/Metro version accessed from the Start screen and the traditional, full-featured Desktop version accessed from the Taskbar.

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For the holiday weekend, we wanted to provide you with some more ways to have fun. The following sites allow you to play and download classic and retro games, such as DOS games, classic adventure games, and old console games.

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