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+.

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 a standard gamepad, and you can connect it to any PC with a USB cable, standard Bluetooth, or Sony’s official wireless USB adapter. It will work in a variety of games, too, since Steam now offers official support for DualShock 4 controllers.

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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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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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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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