Though solid state drives have existed for years, it is only recently that they’ve gained any sort of market penetration for average users. As we stated in our February 2009 white paper on the subject, solid state drives offer many advantages over traditional magnetic drives. Unlike mechanical hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, so they draw less power and produce no vibrations. They’re also more resistant to physical shock. And most importantly, solid state drives offer much higher read and write speeds than traditional hard drives—at least when they’re new. Due to their NAND flash architecture, SSDs can suffer serious slowdowns once they run out of fresh blocks to write to. The TRIM command, found in Windows 7 and newer releases of the Linux kernel, aims to fix this. But what is TRIM, and why is it even necessary?
Back in the day, the average nerd household had one or two computers, a printer, and a game console. If you were lucky, you had an Internet connection on one of those computers—forget about the printer; forget about the console. And forget about home networking. But now, the average geek household has a multitude of machines: desktop computers, laptops, netbooks, Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, and networked game consoles—not to mention terabytes of ripped movies, music, and photos. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a central location where all of those files lived that was accessible to all your computing devices? A place where you could back up all of your computers, host your media files for streaming to your console or other computers, and use as a file share for your whole network? Yes. Yes, it would.
A few months ago, we showed you how to set up a Windows Home Server to enable such a scenario. But a Windows Home Server license costs 100 bucks, and doesn’t necessarily play well with non-Windows machines. FreeNAS, on the other hand, is a free, open-source FreeBSD derivative, and though it can be a little more complex under the hood, it’s as powerful as Windows Home Server and runs well on salvaged hardware. And FreeNAS plays well with Windows, Apple, and *nix systems.
We’ll show you what hardware you’ll need for a FreeNAS server, how to install and configure your server, and then help you choose between FreeNAS and WHS.
Spend a little time learning Skype and you'll soon discover it's much more than a one-trick pony. Sure, Skype's bread and butter is still its ability to let users make phone calls using their broadband connection, but there's so much more you can do with this versatile app.
There are the basics, like sending and receiving instant messages with other Skype users. But did you ever think to use Skype as a make-shift home surveillance system while you're away at work? By following a few simple steps, you can see if Fido's chewing on the couch again, and if so, issue a stern warning to cut it out.
You can also use Skype to record your own Podcast, weekly rant and all. We'll show you how, but that's not all. We're also going to walk you through an assortment of tweaks and hacks to get the most out of this swiss-army utility. Consider this your go-to guide for making the most out of Skype.
Are you planning to do some travelling or Holiday gift shopping this weekend? There's only one way you can do both at the same time, and that's with SkyMall. It's the catalog for products that didn't quite make it into Sharper Image or BrookStone, and are too expensive to sell on infomercials. We picked up the latest issue on a recent flight, and were astounded to find terrible products on every other page. Here, we've picked out the fifty worst items, including horrendously ill-conceived vehicle accessories, impractical grooming devices, and the most terribly advertised gadgets for sale.
But let's start with the gem of a cover, which apparently breaks the rules of the space-time continuum.
For photographers, the last decade has been a very exciting time. Between the rise of the DSLR, Photoshop, affordable HD camcorders, and other technologies, the tools of the trade have seen dramatic changes. But one of the most important innovations has been Flickr.com, which hasn’t changed how pictures are taken, but how they’re stored and shared.
Flickr is an online photo management service and social network, which has become the service of choice for professional and amateur photographers to share their work and discuss their trade. Its open API has allowed the community to develop hundreds of third party apps and add-ons to enhance its otherwise minimal interface. Because we know that many of our readers are into the art and tech of photography, we’ve compiled the 20 essential tips and tricks that we think every Flickr user should know. And even if you aren't a photographer or don't have a Flickr account, we have cool tricks for searching and browsing through Flickr's incredible database of photos.
Read on to find out how to get the most of Flickr!
Set 30 years after Star Trek: Nemesis (the last film before the J.J. Abrams reboot), Star Trek Online puts you in the shoes of a captain in a newly sparked war between the goody-two-shoes Federation and savage Klingon empire. The promise of exploring the final frontier, massive space battles, and obscure Star Trek references fills us with geeky glee. We went down to Cryptic Studios’ offices to play the game and quiz Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich to ensure that fans of Star Trek and MMOs are getting the best of both worlds.
Craig had some interesting things to say about making a game for Star Trek fans and competing with World of Warcraft. Plus, we're giving away some invites to Star Trek Online's closed-beta!
The "U" in USB stands for "Universal", and no other I/O port does so much for so many computer users as USB. From providing a home for keyboards and mice to driving printers, scanners, all-in-one units, and providing access to terabytes of storage and the Internet, USB ports do it all. That also means that USB-related problems can cripple your PC, leaving it unable to access storage, input, and output devices.
Tracking down the causes of USB-related woes can be difficult, but in this article, we show you the common and uncommon causes for USB problems – and their solutions.
You can forgive AMD for stealing a line from Nvidia’s playbook. From the name and marketing materials, it’s not obvious that this card is a dual GPU card. One AMD chart even refers to the card as the “ATI Radeon HD 5970 GPU,” much like Nvidia’s 295 GTX is a dual GPU card that’s sold as if it were a normal graphics card.
We first take a quick look at the speeds and feeds of the new card, and then discuss additional features. We’ll compare them to the Radeon HD 5870 single GPU card; there are differences in core and memory clock speeds. Then, we jump into the benchmarks, comparing the Radeon HD 5970 to four other videocards in high-resolution gaming.
And if those numbers don't impress you, wait until you see how this beast performs in Crossfire for a total of four GPUs.
So you've read our Complete Beginner's Guide to Linux and have decided to adopt an open-source operating system--congratulations! But diving right into a new OS is daunting, even if it is as polished and stable as Ubuntu. That's OK though, because we're here to help. We've compiled a list of the 20 most important skills that every Ubuntu user should have. These tips, ranging from basic GUI manipulation to advanced system recovery, are essential to your Windows-free computing experience. Whether you've just installed Ubuntu for the first time or have been a Linux acolyte for years, you'll want to read our refresher. And if you have any tips you can't live without, we'd love to hear about them in the comments section!
AMD’s recent release of its RV870 GPU line makes the company the undisputed graphics performance leader. The Radeon HD 5870 is the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the market currently. But at roughly $380, it’s not inexpensive, so AMD has also rolled out the Radeon HD 5850, 5770, and 5750 cards. All are DirectX 11–capable, at lower price points than the flagship HD 5870.
The HD 5850 uses the same RV870 GPU as the 5870, but with a couple of functional units disabled. Priced at around $260, the 5850 occupies the lower tier of the high-end cards. The recently released 5770/5750 cards use a different chip. Based on the same DirectX 11 architecture as their big brothers, the 5770/5750 are built with 1.04 billion transistors—just slightly more than the 956 million used in the previous-generation Radeon HD 4870/4890 products. Contrast these numbers with the 2.15 billion transistors in the Radeon HD 5870. Current prices for 5770s are roughly the same as older 4870s, around $150–$160. So the 5770 is firmly positioned as a midrange graphics card.
We put eight cards to the test, from six companies: three Radeon HD 5870s, three HD 5850s, one HD 5770, and a factory-overclocked Nvidia GTX 260 from Gigabyte, our token Nvidia card in the mix. Read on to see which one is the best for your budget!