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Chris's Latest Posts
Bluetooth is an alternative to wires – with Bluetooth, you can connect Bluetooth-enabled phones, mice, headsets, printers, keyboards, tablets, and many other devices with a Bluetooth-supporting computer. You can transfer files back and forth, use a mouse or keyboard as a wireless input device, or use a wireless headset for audio input and output – Bluetooth can do many things, depending on the type of Bluetooth device you have.
Our computers aren’t made for reading long-form articles, but Kindles are. You can send websites to your Kindle and read them later, just like you’d read eBooks on your Kindle. This lets you use your Kindle to read long articles in comfort, outside in the sun on an e-ink Kindle or sitting on your couch with a Kindle Fire. If you’ve got a Kindle Fire, you’ll also want to check out Pocket, a great application for saving webpages to read later.
Do you know how the web services you choose use your data? Do they claim a broad copyright to it, remove your rights to a class-action lawsuit in the USA, or share your information with other companies? Or are they a well-behaved service that respects your rights? The answer to this is in each website’s terms of service – unfortunately, no one has the time to read those.
Oracle’s Java plug-in has become less and less common on the Web, but it’s become more and more common in the news. Whether Java is allowing over 600,000 Macs to be infected or Oracle is sitting on their hands and only patching a serious Java vulnerability four months after it’s initially reported, news about the Java plug-in is rarely good. The reality is that you probably don’t need Java installed.
Have you ever seen an advertisement in Android’s notification area? Some apps abuse their notification permissions to display advertisements when you aren’t even using them. The good news is that you can determine which apps are showing the annoying ads and block them from appearing. Google is starting to crack down on apps that abuse notifications, but many apps still use them.
Windows 8 is full of surprising changes – whatever you think about Windows 8, Microsoft certainly isn’t being timid this time around. From integrated antivirus protection and less-disruptive updating to the removal of the Windows Aero 3D interface and the lack of DVD or Blu-Ray playback support in Windows 8, Windows 8 is sure to be full of surprises for the average Windows user. Here are some of the biggest ones you may not have already heard of.
The Windows Hosts file allows you to define which domain names (websites) are linked to which IP addresses. It takes precedence over your DNS servers, so your DNS servers may say facebook.com is linked to a specific IP address, but you can have facebook.com go anywhere you want. The Hosts file can be used to block websites, redirect them, create shortcuts to websites, create your own local domains, and more.
Have you ever pulled out your laptop in public and had to fumble for the mute button as its speakers blasted loud sounds? Or have you used your computer late at night and accidentally woke people up when a video appeared on a webpage? Unfortunately, our computers can’t read minds (yet) and don’t know when we want them silent and when we want them loud. There are some settings you can tweak – and a useful application you can install.
If you’re experiencing a problem with your Windows computer, you can try using System Restore, which rolls back system files, program files, and registry information to a previous state. If these files have been corrupted or damaged, System Restore will replace them with good ones, solving your problem. However, in some cases, System Restore may not work properly – you may see an error message or the restore may not fix anything.
If you’re interested in upgrading, you’ll also need to know which edition of Windows 8 is right for you. The good news is that Microsoft has simplified the different editions of Windows in Windows 8 – gone are the Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate editions. The list of available Windows 8 editions is actually fairly short. If you ignore the edition designed specifically for ARM tablets, there are only two PC editions of Windows 8 to choose from.
If you’re using Google Drive on your computer and you own an Android smartphone or tablet, you should install Google Drive for Android. With the app, you can access the files in your Google Drive from anywhere – just drop a file into the Google Drive folder on your computer and it will be available in the app. Google Drive for Android also incorporates Google Docs, so you can edit your documents and spreadsheets on the go.
We’ve all used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up our files, but there are other cool things you can do with a USB stick. You can use one to lock and unlock your computer — just like in the movies. You can also use a USB flash drive to quickly connect to a wireless network on all your PCs, increase your computer’s performance, or even run a web server – directly from the USB stick itself.
Chrome to Phone is made up of a Chrome extension and an Android app that work together. Install both and you can quickly send web pages, maps, videos, and phone numbers from the Chrome browser on your computer to your smartphone (Android 2.2 or newer). Chrome to Phone is ideal when you’re looking up information on your computer and want to take it with you.
Among the many changes coming with Windows 8 and new computers designed for it is a change in the way we access our computers’ BIOS. No longer do we press a certain key during the boot process to reveal the BIOS – instead, an option to access the BIOS is located in Windows 8’s boot options menu. Windows 8 hardware uses the UEFI replacement for the traditional BIOS
While Google’s official Gmail Notifier for Windows is a bit old these days, it’s still one of the email programs we list on our Best Windows Software page. Many of us live in the browser and can get by with a browser extension for checking Gmail, but Gmail fans that don’t leave a browser open all the time will find a lot to like in the Gmail Notifier. As our Best Of page says, it’s just “simple and handy.”