close
Headshot of MakeUseOf Writer, Christian Cawley

Christian Cawley

Deputy Editor / Joined 2 December, 2011

Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming, and Tech Explained. He also produces The Really Useful Podcast and has extensive experience in desktop and software support. A contributor to Linux Format magazine, Christian is a Raspberry Pi tinkerer, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.

1386 Articles
2038 Comments
How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything

DIY

How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything

I’ve been building a media centre recently. Actually, scratch that – I’ve been building two. One is a compact device (my Raspberry Pi) running the RaspBMC distribution of XBMC, while the other is a traditional HTPC home build – a media centre in a slimline PC case with added TV card. At this stage I haven’t quite decided which system I’m going to stick with long term, so I have a sort of competition running between the two.

24-01-2013
How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything
Must-Watch Documentaries About The Birth of Computers & The Internet

Internet

Must-Watch Documentaries About The Birth of Computers & The Internet

While computers and the Internet have moved into the public consciousness since the late 1990’s, their importance wasn’t quite appreciated until recently. But the computer revolution that started in the 1960’s was well into its stride when the following excellent documentaries were broadcast in the 1980’s and 1990’s. These must-watch films explain everything you need to know about the birth of computing and the development of the Internet.

23-01-2013
Must-Watch Documentaries About The Birth of Computers & The Internet
4 Smartphone Security Risks To Be Aware Of

Security

4 Smartphone Security Risks To Be Aware Of

There seems to be a sort of general malaise among users – the tech savvy and everyday users alike – that because your computer fits in your pocket, it can’t be infected by malware, Trojans, worms or other threats. This is, of course, ridiculous, and perhaps stems from the age-old misunderstanding of the nature of malware transmission.

18-01-2013
4 Smartphone Security Risks To Be Aware Of
Are You Sure It’s Bricked? How You Can Fix Your Broken Smartphone

Android iPhone and iPad

Are You Sure It’s Bricked? How You Can Fix Your Broken Smartphone

Back in the day, a bricked device would be very tough to recover, but over the years some resilience has been built into smartphones and tablets. These days a few clever button presses, useful additional software, a USB cable and a few prayers (the prayers are optional, of course) will sort out many bricking issues. But as it turns out, you don’t even need to go as far as that!

17-01-2013
Are You Sure It’s Bricked? How You Can Fix Your Broken Smartphone
Identify The Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet Or Laptop

Internet

Identify The Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet Or Laptop

After spending hundreds of dollars on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, we all try to be vigilant when it comes to thieves. In most cases you can walk down a street without any trouble; most days your briefcase or satchel won’t be stolen when you put it down beside you in a restaurant or railway station. Most days, your home or office won’t be broken into and your computer stolen.

16-01-2013
Identify The Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet Or Laptop
Take Your Books With You On Windows Phone With The Amazon Kindle App

Windows

Take Your Books With You On Windows Phone With The Amazon Kindle App

When I head out I’m already carrying my Windows Phone. What I don’t need is an extra device in order to access any books I might fancy reading. Fortunately, Amazon appreciates this and has released apps mimicking the functions of their popular Kindle device. One of the first apps to launch on Windows Phone 7 back in October 2010, Amazon Kindle is now available for Windows Phone 8 devices.

11-01-2013
Take Your Books With You On Windows Phone With The Amazon Kindle App
What You Need to Know About Native Social Networking Tools In Windows 8

Windows

What You Need to Know About Native Social Networking Tools In Windows 8

Whenever you switch to a new operating system there are always a few new things to learn – and with Windows 8, the learning curve has increased considerably with the new user interface and built-in store adding a new dimension to Microsoft’s long-running OS. One of the key differences in Windows 8 is the approach to social networking.

10-01-2013
What You Need to Know About Native Social Networking Tools In Windows 8
Rearrange The Windows 8 Start Screen With Registry Tweaks & Utilities

Windows

Rearrange The Windows 8 Start Screen With Registry Tweaks & Utilities

As befits a new operating system, over the past few weeks we’ve featured many articles about how to use and tweak Windows 8. With the focus largely on tweaking. After all, when so many developers have gone to the lengths of making tools to make the new operating system more customizable, it would be a shame to overlook this, especially when so many potential Windows 8 users seem to want to make changes.

09-01-2013
Rearrange The Windows 8 Start Screen With Registry Tweaks & Utilities
Forget Your Laptop – You Can Word Process On Your Android Tablet With These 4 Superb Apps

Android

Forget Your Laptop – You Can Word Process On Your Android Tablet With These 4 Superb Apps

As mobile devices become more and more prominent as productivity tools, so an increasing number of apps offering solutions become available. Earning my living as a freelance writer, I’m particularly interested in word processing on my Android tablet, which I use as a proxy laptop computer. Thanks to a selection of useful apps – native and third party – I’m able to work from just about anywhere!

02-01-2013
Forget Your Laptop – You Can Word Process On Your Android Tablet With These 4 Superb Apps
Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade?

Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade?

As a long term user of Windows Phone 7, the decision to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 was made all the more difficult by Microsoft’s revelation that they wouldn’t be completely abandoning the older release. Instead, the older devices would be receiving an upgrade to what is called Windows Phone 7.8, an update that begins rolling out in December 2012.

28-12-2012
Windows Phone 8 vs Windows Phone 7.8 – What’s the Difference & Should You Upgrade?
Low-Cost Tools That Every Techie Needs

Windows

Low-Cost Tools That Every Techie Needs

It’s been ten years since I took my first IT job, and in that time I’ve collected a bunch of tools that have proved invaluable to me in resolving issues with computers, hard disk drives, printers and other corporate hardware. While I work purely freelance these days, I still maintain a collection of devices and gadgets that can be used to assist with quickly resolving problems that might arise.

27-12-2012
Low-Cost Tools That Every Techie Needs
Improve Your Android Wi-Fi Experience With These Handy Android Apps

Android

Improve Your Android Wi-Fi Experience With These Handy Android Apps

Public wireless networks are becoming more and more prevalent within towns and cities, providing an excellent alternative to running up a large data usage bill on 3G or 4G. Often public Wi-Fi is “free”, perhaps afforded to customers of a particular shopping chain or Telecoms Company, or anywhere else where a transaction might have already been made. Managing Wi-Fi on an Android tablet is largely straightforward, particularly on the most recent versions.

21-12-2012
Improve Your Android Wi-Fi Experience With These Handy Android Apps
Ho Ho Ho, Viagra: Top Ways Spammers Can Get Your Email Address At Christmas

Internet

Ho Ho Ho, Viagra: Top Ways Spammers Can Get Your Email Address At Christmas

The problem is that not all businesses “trading” at Christmas are reputable. While you can trust your shopping center chains and online giants, there are plenty of businesses operating both in plain sight and behind the scenes that are trading not in gifts, but in data – your data. Specifically, I’m talking about email addresses, and the remarkable number of ways that scammers can farm them over the Christmas period.

20-12-2012
Ho Ho Ho, Viagra: Top Ways Spammers Can Get Your Email Address At Christmas
Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft

Android iPhone and iPad

Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft

Considering the cost of a new smartphone, most of us are extremely casual about how we treat them. But keeping tabs on your smartphone isn’t difficult. Keeping it safe from the possibility of theft is even simpler. The following practical tips should explain exactly where you have been going wrong. You need never worry about a lost phone again!

13-12-2012
Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft
MakeUseOf Experiments: Going Tablet-Only For a Week & Staying Productive

Web Culture

MakeUseOf Experiments: Going Tablet-Only For a Week & Staying Productive

You took one look at the headline and thought “this guy is crazy”, right? That’s pretty much what I thought at first, but as the week progressed I found myself struggling with apps, multi-tasking and spending too much money in cafes (and I only went once!). What’s worse is that this article was my idea. Anyone else could have taken it, but it fell to me. Perhaps the rest of the team were trying to tell me something; perhaps I should have heard the alarm bells ringing?

12-12-2012
MakeUseOf Experiments: Going Tablet-Only For a Week & Staying Productive
It’s More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer

DIY

It’s More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer

Although things are getting better (some printer manufacturers have radically reduced the cost of ink) as far as the owners of many sub-$100 printers are concerned, the price of ink is staggeringly close to the price of the printer. This underlines the manufacturers’ attitude to the devices – that they’re consumables, intended to last just a couple of years before being replaced. There are several ways in which you can force your printer into sharing a bit more ink with you.

07-12-2012
It’s More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer
HP TouchPad Not Charging? Don’t Worry, It’s Probably Not Bricked!

DIY

HP TouchPad Not Charging? Don’t Worry, It’s Probably Not Bricked!

The HP TouchPad is a remarkable piece of kit. This tablet computer with its dual core CPU was released with a buggy version of the webOS operating system back in mid-2011 and failed to capture the imagination of app developers, leading to HP dropping the device within weeks of its launch. The ensuing firesale resulted in tablets being picked up brand new for under $100 on both sides of the Atlantic.

05-12-2012
HP TouchPad Not Charging? Don’t Worry, It’s Probably Not Bricked!
Email Goes Modern: Three Windows 8 Email Apps

Windows

Email Goes Modern: Three Windows 8 Email Apps

With your shiny new Windows 8 device or upgrade booted up, tiles gleaming at you and winking with useful information, you might take a few moments having a look around before you get the chance to look at the email client. I should add here that not all versions of Windows 8 come with the Microsoft Mail client pre-installed. It really depends on the version and the manufacturer of your Windows 8 computer.

30-11-2012
Email Goes Modern: Three Windows 8 Email Apps
3 Skype Security Issues and Threats You Should Know About

Internet

3 Skype Security Issues and Threats You Should Know About

The world’s favourite voice over IP, text, voice and video chat system, Skype is one of those rare things, an app that has found a place in the hearts and minds of computer and smartphone users regardless of what operating system and manufacturer they have allegiance to. Of course, as any scam-aware users (and indeed, scammers) know, where there is widespread use of a piece of software, there is an opportunity to rip someone off, usually with malware.

29-11-2012
3 Skype Security Issues and Threats You Should Know About
Internet Explorer 10 Tips and Tricks: It Can Do More Than You Think

Windows

Internet Explorer 10 Tips and Tricks: It Can Do More Than You Think

When Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, one of the most interesting things about it was the new iteration of Internet Explorer. If viewed via the Start screen, the slimmed-down browser offers maximum space for viewing web pages thanks to the position of buttons and the address bar striped across the bottom of the screen (where people don’t usually read). It’s a fascinating new approach, but Internet Explorer 10 is apparently low on features and options.

23-11-2012
Internet Explorer 10 Tips and Tricks: It Can Do More Than You Think
The Top 5 Cool Hidden Features In Windows 8

Windows

The Top 5 Cool Hidden Features In Windows 8

It’s very square, Windows 8, don’t you think? Those tiles have such defined lines – edges you could almost cut yourself on – and impressions of the whole user experience seem to change from person to person. Depending on your needs and requirements, Windows 8 is either a white elephant or a superb piece of finger-focused modern UI design. However, it remains as tweakable as previous versions of Windows, just in other ways.

22-11-2012
The Top 5 Cool Hidden Features In Windows 8
Killing the Man: Making A Living As an Artist Online [Feature]

Internet

Killing the Man: Making A Living As an Artist Online [Feature]

Can you really “kill the man” and make a living on the Internet as a creative professional? I spoke to a quartet of creatives recently, each proudly working for themselves in different ways. Read on to find out more about a freelance writer forced into his dream career through redundancy, a photographer who stumbled upon a means of making money through her ability with Photoshop, an artist who followed her dream instead of processing card payments and a journalist who found himself offered a six book deal by a major publisher!

22-11-2012
Killing the Man: Making A Living As an Artist Online [Feature]