These days, privacy is getting pretty hard to come by. Your boss checks your Facebook, your mom sees what you’re looking at on YouTube, and anyone who Googles your name can find out about that embarrassing incident at the IHOP.
That’s why we think you should at least be able to find some peace of mind on your own PC. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a quick guide for keeping files and folders on your computer hidden from prying eyes. We’ll cover four different ways to accomplish this, from the mundane to the nigh-unbreakable.
The web browser is probably the most essential application on your PC; there is no better practical way of staying connected to news, your friends, and most importantly, the lulz. But whether you’re using Internet Explorer or newly minted Chrome, each of today's popular web browsers has different strengths and weaknesses. Mozilla Firefox is feature-heavy and relatively fast, but can get terribly unwieldy when crammed with juicy add-ons. The newest version of the once dominant Internet Explorer is a quantum leap above previous buggy versions, but remains slow. And while both Opera and Google Chrome are blazingly fast, they currently lack customization.
No matter which browser you use, you want it to fit your personal needs and tastes. With this guide, we will show you the essential initial tweaks everyone should make to “awesomize” their browser. Whether it’s accelerating browser page-load performance, boosting security, or just improving the look of the interface, we teach you the tweaks that we think should be implemented the first time you start up a browser after installation.
We cover comprehensive step-by-step instructions for Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 9, and Google Chrome, starting off with general web optimization tips. So jump into the guide and start tweaking your web browser!
You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Back in February, we brought you an article called Give Windows a Clean Start, which explained all the details about how to properly perform a system-cleansing reformat, without losing your valuable data. It covered important steps like salvaging product keys, deactivating apps, prepping iTunes and making backups. The original article was written for desktop PCs, and although nearly all of the techniques also work for laptops, we thought a supplement about how to install laptop drivers on a fresh Windows install as called for.
Sure, almost all laptops come with recovery discs or recovery partions, so a full reformat is rarely absolutely necessary, but there are a number of reasons you might want to do it:
2. You want to reformat and upgrade or downgrade to Vista or XP.
3. You’ve managed to truly, thoroughly hose your laptop beyond all recognition, and you lost your restore disc.
If one of the above applies to you and you have a retail Windows install disc, then give your laptop a clean start!. First, check out the original article for advice about saving your data, then read on to learn what software you'll need to install after your reformat.
Let’s set the scene: It’s a beautiful April day, and you’ve just come home after a trip to your local Best Buy, a spring in your step and a smile on your lips. What’s got you so excited? Why, it’s new laptop day! You’ve scrimped and saved and finally, finally, you’re able to afford that new notebook you’ve been pining after.
Breathless, you tear your new computer out of its packaging, plug it in and turn it on, right there on the kitchen table. Windows loads for a minute, then pops up the first time setup. You make an account, and there you are; gazing at the desktop. You feel a sense of proud ownership: that’s your recycle bin; that’s your browser; those are your network places. That’s your Google desktop search bar, your link to ask.com and your 30 day free trial of America Online.
Wait, what? What is all this crap?
When you buy a brand new laptop from an OEM, they’ve already installed an OS for you. And, while they were at it, they’ve tossed in a few extra “features” that they (have been paid) to think you would like. These range from the useful to the vaguely harmless to the downright obnoxious. In any case, your laptop would be better off without them, and in this article we’re going to show you how to make your new notebook as pristine as freshly driven snow in just two steps. Then, we’ll show you how to back up your disk so that you can restore your notebook to a clean state whenever you want, even if you can’t start Windows.
If you're only using your $500 PlayStation 3 for console gaming, you're missing out on half of its hidden versatility: the ability to upgrade into a fully functional PC! Inside that shiny plastic shell resides some decent computing silicon, just waiting to be released from its undeserved console shackles. And while Windows Vista and OSX are no-goes due to legal issues, there's no reason at all not to dual boot into a perfectly serviceable Linux platform when the need arises.
The installation process is fairly straightforward, and the hard drive is easily upgradeable if you don't mind spending a little extra cash on the side. And while Ubuntu for PlayStation has a few functional limitations, you can find myriad excellent applications for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own living room, including VLC for encoded video playback, Amarok to blast your digital music library, and some classic SNES emulation software that you can play using your PS3's Sixaxis or Dualshock controller. This guide will show you how to do all of the above, so let's get started!
Radiohead jamming with Kanye West would be an odd pairing on any stage, but in the world of mashups—where the vocals of one song are folded into another—the weirder the combination, the bigger the bragging rights. While the RIAA is determined to put an end to the art form, many artists are releasing a cappellas (vocal-only tracks) and stems (individual tracks of a mix) to support the creative movement. And you can be part of it too.
Pros often look to Sony ACID Pro ($315, www.sonycreativesoftware.com) or Ableton Live ($600, www.ableton.com) to mash up music, but you can do it on the cheap with Audacity, an open source audio-editing app, and your own music. We’ll show you some basic techniques—you just need to find two tracks to work with. Find songs in the same key (like Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” and Puddle of Mudd’s “Blurry”) or ones that have a similar groove and chord progression (such as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”). Or Google “a cappella download” to find vocal track downloads (for personal use only) and choose a song in your music collection to pair it with. We always thought 4 Non Blondes’s “What’s Up?” sounded just like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” so for simplicity’s sake we’ll use these songs for our example.
Sometimes you just want to browse and listen to your album collection at the office without having to load it all into a portable music player. Pandora and Last.fm are great web services that can help you discover new music, but they won’t let you specify your own music playlist. Streaming music from within a home network is easy with iTunes and Windows Media Player; what’s trickier is getting access to your 100GB music library while away from home. We’ll teach you how to turn your library into an Internet radio station with Apache server software and a little-known program called netjukebox. You’ll be able to browse your collection via a gallery of album cover art, stream custom playlists, and even download entire albums as zip files.
The first thing you'll need to do is set your desktop up as an Apache server.
With the prevalence of software available for many distros, why would anyone want to compile software from source? Compiling allows you to custom-fit a program to your particular hardware configuration and CPU architecture, which is useful if a program has no binary that is compatible with your processor. However, this is seldom a problem these days, since most computers now use 32 or 64-bit x86 processors. In the past, Linux enthusiasts often compiled programs from source to wring the greatest possible performance out of their hardware. More recently, this has mostly become a non-issue due to the increases made in computing speed; while compiling may offer a slight performance increase, it is not enough to really make a difference.
Although the introduction of package management on most distros, less diversity in CPU architecture among the user base, and massive increases in hardware speed have largely reduced or eliminated the need to compile software yourself, there are still a few instances where you would have to do so. Although the various official and unofficial software repositories for Ubuntu and other distros include most of the tools that the average user would need for any given purpose, the repositories are not completely comprehensive.Old packages sometimes get dropped and updated versions are often slow to be added. It may also take a release cycle or more for brand-new programs to be included.
While Ubuntu and Debian have “backports” repositories that have fairly new packages in them, many other distros do not have such a resource. For large projects with large community support, the developer may offer nightly builds, but this is not the case for most projects. The only reliable way to get bleeding-edge software (stability issues aside) is to either find a repository that has it or download the source code from the developer and build it yourself.
Looks like your system is on the fritz again -- it refuses to boot your operating system. What do you do now? You can take it a tech shop and have "experts" investigate the problem, but that a costly option. Even if your computer can’t load Windows, there is still a way to fix boot problems without reformatting. With the right boot CD, you can perform your own troubleshooting dianosis the cure whatever ails your PC. Our guide will show you how to make a powerful boot disk that'll let you do more than just access a DOS prompt. You'll be able to run processor stress tests, memory scans, edit partitions, and even extract hard drive data.