To casual observers, PC builders who fixate on benchmarks are geeks unable to see the forest from the trees. “Why,” they ask, “can’t you just enjoy your new computer and let it be?” Our answer: the difference between a person who cares about benchmarking and one who doesn’t is how much that person values their free time.
Case in point, we recently did something as simple as download two large zip files at the end of the work day. Instead of strolling out at 6 p.m., we ended up waiting 15 minutes for the files to be decompressed on our work-issued PC. To care about benchmark is to care about performance. And to care about performance is to care about having more free time on your hand.
But you shouldn’t just download any benchmarking tool to run--there’s a right and wrong way to benchmark your machine if you want to get meaningful results. We’ll teach you proper benchmarking techniques and how to interpret your results. Read on to learn how to benchmark the Maximum PC way.
From Google Desktop to the Windows Sidebar introduced in Vista, there have been several attempts to integrate our online life onto our desktop. But none of them come close to Rainmeter, a totally customizable platform for decking out your desktop with a variety of useful applets that can stand prominently in the foreground or blend into the background.
There's a lot you can do with Rainmeter thanks to a diverse collection of available 'skins' (think of them as widgets), all of which can be individually tailored in look and function. There are skins for keeping tabs on system resources, displaying RSS feeds, sending and receiving Twitter messages, and even recording notes.
Rainmeter isn't at all difficult to use, but there is an initial learning curve as you come to understand just how powerful this unassuming app really is. On the following pages, we'll guide you through the setup process and show you the ins and outs of using Rainmeter. We'll also highlight the 12 best skins out of the hundreds that are available to give you a head start on decking out your desktop like never before.
Think about all the time you spend in front on your PC. Are you being efficient? Here’s a better question: Are you being as efficient as you can be? The simple answer is ‘No.’ Every time you lift your fingers off your keyboard to navigate Windows, you’re wasting time. Sure, it only takes a few seconds to drag your mouse cursor over to the Firefox icon or to navigate the Start menu to open up the Control Panel, and while none of that sounds like a big deal, it all adds up over time, be it a week, a month, or a year. The reason Microsoft includes so many shortcuts in Windows is so you can streamline these little time wasters, but these preset hotkeys will only take you so far.
That’s where AutoHotkey comes in, a lightweight but powerful app that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for any Windows program. Here are a few tricks to get you started.
Remember browsing the Web before mouse gestures? Neither do we. It’s not because we can’t recall that far back, we’ve just chosen to block out any recollection of wading through cyberspace using only the navigation toolbar. How primitive!
Mouse gestures have become such a popular part of day-to-day Web surfing that it was only a matter of time before someone ported the functionality over to the Windows OS. Enter SrokeIt, a free, open-source utility that brings the magic of mouse gestures to any system running Windows 95 or later.
Whether you own an iPod touch, Zune HD, Nintendo DSi, or any number of other portable devices, there's one tool that makes easy work out of ripping DVDs and converting incompatible video files into manageable formats: Handbrake. This wonderful utility has just about everything you could ask for, including robust compatibility, a slick interface, and snappy performance. And if that weren't enough, the developers have chosen to give the program away for free, no strings (or trialware) attached.
We realize we're probably preaching to the choir and there's a good chance you've used Handbrake before, if not frequently. But do you know how to create, backup, and transfer your own custom settings for the Xbox 360, PS3, and other popular media players not included by default? Do you know how to encode a copy protected DVD with the least amount off fuss? We do, and on the following pages, we'll guide you through a series of advanced tips for getting the most out of Handbrake.
Remember when webmail used to be synonymous with AOL? Boy has the Internet grown up since then, and lucky for us, a little company called Google came along and changed not just how we surf the web, but also how we communicate with each other. We're of course referring to Gmail, Google's nearly six-year-old webmail service that only recently shed its beta tag.
For most of you, we're probably preaching to the choir and you already own at least one Gmail account, if not several. And with good reason, too. Google's now-infamous email service offers oodles of storage space (over 7GB and counting), excellent spam detection, built-in chat, awesome search capabilities, a ton of customization options, and a whole lot more. But even with all that it offers out of the box, are you making the most out your Gmail account?
That's where we come in. We show you everything you need to know to wield Gmail like a pro. Need to access Gmail offline? How about automating canned responses for quick-fire emails? Want to set up Gmail on your own domain? We'll walk you through all of these, plus a whole lot more essential tweaks and tips that most people are just too lazy to use.
Downloading video isn't rocket science, but it sure can feel that way sometimes. First, you have to figure out what kind of video it is you're trying to snag from cyberspace. Then there's the question of what to do with it once you've downloaded the clip to your hard drive. And that's assuming you even got that far, fetching Flash-based content isn't as simple as mashing a 'download' button, nor will it play in Windows Media Player. In fact, there's' a good chance the video you downloaded won't play on your portable device, either.
The underlying problem with video playback is there isn't a single universal standard. There are as many file containers as there are handheld digital devices, and don't even get us started on codecs.
Is this all starting to sound foreign to you? Don't worry if it is, on the following the pages we're going to show you the ins and outs of video playback. We'll start with the basics, like explaining what a file container is and why it matters, and then move on to more advanced topics, such as how to convert just about any video clip into a format that's compatible with your mobile device. We'll also show you how to handle subtitles, enable GPU Flash acceleration, and a whole lot more.
It’s the Holiday season, and that means a lot of time catching up with relatives on the phone or in person. You can make those long-distance calls a lot more personal though, by setting up your living room TV to act as a video phone.
And really, setting up a video chat session on your living room PC isn’t all that hard. We’ll show you how you can get started video chatting with just three simple steps: Finding the right connector, setting up a webcam, and installing video chat software.
We’ll warn you ahead of time: this guide is written to be a little more newbie-friendly then our usual how-tos here at MaximumPC. Now, we’re not forgetting our power-user fans, but we wanted to make this guide something you can send to your parents and other relatives, so that they can get in touch for the holidays.
When you get right down to it, Dropbox is a pretty simple app. It syncs folders—that’s it. But what makes Dropbox amazing is the sheer number of different ways you can use that functionality, by itself or in conjunction with other programs, to improve your computing experience. We like Dropbox so much that we’ve written about it severaltimesbefore, and we still haven’t gotten to every cool thing you can do with the program.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to share with you a whopping 15 things that we think everyone should know about Dropbox, from how to get extra storage for free to how to use Dropbox to control your Bittorrent client.
For example, do you know how to hack Dropbox to accept email attachments?
A while ago we wrote about setting up a MAME machine, which allows you to play faithfully emulated old arcade games on your computer. In an aside to that article, we mentioned that a similar program exists for the other arcade staple—pinball machines. Some pinball fans have written in, asking for more information, and because we love all arcade technology equally here at Maximum PC, we decided to do a quick writeup on how to get started playing classic pinball machines with Visual Pinball and PinMAME.
Read on to find out how to play your favorite pinball classics for free!