FEATURED ARTICLES / THE BEST OF HOW-TO GEEK

While Apple might pitch the Apple TV as the center of your streaming video universe, we know there’s no place like home when it comes to high quality content. Let’s take a look at how to access your vast home media server selection with Plex.

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Belkin’s WeMo lineup of smarthome products makes it really easy to turn almost anything into a smart appliance. But if you aren’t sure what the difference is between the WeMo Switch and the WeMo Insight Switch,  here’s what you need to know.

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Windows comes with a bunch of services running in the background. The Services.msc tool allows you to view these services and disable them, but you probably shouldn’t bother. Disabling the default services won’t speed up your PC or make it any more secure.

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So you’ve got a fancy new Logitech Harmony remote, ready to control your entire home theater–but one of your devices is a home theater PC. Don’t worry: Your Harmony can control your PC too, it just isn’t immediately obvious how.

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Guided Access allows you to set a screen time limit on your iPhone or iPad. This is great if you have a child–they can only play games for as long as you choose. The iPhone or iPad will be automatically locked after the time limit expires.

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Microsoft Office lets you encrypt your Office documents and PDF files, allowing no one to even view the file unless they have the password. Modern versions of Office use secure encryption that you can rely on–assuming you set a strong password.

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Philips Hue is a really cool Wi-Fi-enabled lighting system that allows you to turn on and off your lights right from your smartphone (or from other smarthome-controlling devices, like the Amazon Echo). It’s one of the first steps in turning your house into a smarthome of the future. Here’s how to set up your Philips Hue lights using the new Philips Hue app.

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Plex Media Server is a user-friendly way to store all your movies, shows, and other media in one place–and make it accessible from any device, whether you’re at home or on-the-go. If you’re looking for a no-headache way to watch your movies anywhere, this is it.

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Windows can’t normally read Mac-formatted drives, and will offer to erase them instead. But third-party tools fill the gap and provide access to drives formatted with Apple’s HFS+ file system on Windows. This also allows you to restore Time Machine backups on Windows.

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Supervised Mode is intended for organizations, but you can enable it on your own iPhone or iPad. Supervised Mode gets you a few extra features like hiding included apps, and always-on VPNs.

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Here’s something you may not know: that HDTV that you love so much probably doesn’t show the whole picture on its screen. In fact, up to five percent of the picture can get cut off around the edges—this is called overscan. It’s old technology that’s left over from the CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions of yesteryear. Here’s why it existed in the first place, why it’s still used today, and how to (hopefully) turn it off on your TV.

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Phones are private, full of personal data and messages. Guided Access allows you to share your iPhone with someone without being able to access that data–allowing them to look at photos, place a phone call, or play a game while your stuff stays hidden.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduced “Snap” packages, which are a great new way of installing apps. Snaps require different terminal commands–apt-get and dpkg will only allow you to install .deb packages the old way, not Snaps.

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Remote controls are so 1950. If you have a Kodi media center and an Amazon Echo, you can play all your favorite movies and shows with a well-placed voice command…if you’re willing to do a little setup.

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If you use an Apple product like a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, then you may have noticed the “Game Center” app…but probably never opened it. Today we want to talk about what the Game Center is, and whether you’re missing anything.

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So you’ve set up live TV on your computer with NextPVR, and maybe even set it up to stream to every computer in your house. The only downside? Those pesky commercials in your recorded shows. Here’s how to get rid of them automatically.

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Many iPhone and iPad games include banner ads that take up part of your screen. Accidentally tap the ad, and you’ll be ripped from the game and taken to another app, like the App Store or Safari. Enable iOS’ “Guided Access” and you won’t have this problem.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS includes a long-awaited feature: You can now move the Unity desktop’s launcher to the bottom of your screen. It isn’t locked to the left side of your screen anymore. However, this option requires a terminal command or tweaking tool, as it isn’t offered in Ubuntu’s normal System Settings window.

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Like Skyrim and other Bethesda games before it, modding is one of Fallout 4’s huge draws on the PC. But Fallout 4 and Steam don’t offer an easy, built-in way to install these mods. Thankfully, there’s a tool called Nexus Mod Manager that makes this easier, so you don’t have to do everything by hand.

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Ubuntu hasn’t had the best reputation among Linux users over the past few years–with some even going so far as to call it “boring”. If you’ve been hesitant to try it out, then hold on to your seats–Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial Xerus” is not only an exciting release, but one that has the potential to be a game changer for the Linux ecosystem.

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Your iPhone contacts will automatically come with you to a new phone–assuming that new phone is an iPhone, you’re backing up the contacts to iCloud, and you’re using the same iCloud account on both phones. But things get a bit more complicated if you want to do anything else.

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Over-the-air updates have long been the bane of many rooted Android users’ existences. It’s an endless battle: installing the update breaks root or won’t flash at all, but everyone wants the latest version of their mobile OS. Thanks to a new tool called FlashFire, the struggle may be over.

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As you research new smarthome products to put in your home of the future, you’ll come across a lot of terms and categories that seem completely foreign. At the top of the list: “ZigBee” and “Z-Wave” products. What does this mean, and what’s the difference between the two?

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Believe it or not, Sony’s PlayStation 4 works with a mouse and keyboard. This makes it more convenient to type, use the web browser, and generally get around more quickly. Some games even support mouse and keyboard controls.

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Setting up a simple home security camera is a great way to keep tabs on your house while you’re away. A dedicated system is great, but in a pinch, you can use an old, spare smartphone that you have lying around.

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