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.
For those of us who download applications, programs, extensions, or really anything off the Internet in great frequency, what's the best way to keep a computer completely protected from external threats? I'm talking about locking down your system tighter than a Supermax prison--not impacting your ability to carry out your everyday tasks, rather, making sure that you're protected from attack at your PC's primary entry points.
That's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's freeware roundup: The five best free applications for keeping your computer as secure as can be. If you aren't running some combination of these freeware and open-source apps, well, you only have yourself to blame if your system gets infected with something unpleasant!
Second verse, same as the first! It's Cyber-Monday, that retailer-coined holiday term that's supposed to be a continuation of Black Friday deals mainly offered via online purchases. It remains to be seen whether this day is actually a "prime" shopping day or not, as not nearly as many retailers are offering as good of a discount as what you might have seen this past Friday (or weekend, for that matter).
Suffice, Cyber-Monday is here, and we've rounded up a list of items that might catch your fancy if you're into that whole "I like to buy goods and services when they cost less than their original price" sort of thing. Without further ado, click the jump and get ready to spend!
Black Friday. It's big. There's a lot of shopping going on. You can acquire goods and services for far below the actual cost of the items. Unless you can catch said deals online, you will likely spend a lot of time fighting your peers for low-priced products. You might start to hate shopping. You might vow to never shop on Black Friday again.
Those are the ground rules. Let's get to the deals. As mentioned, there are a lot of awesome things you can pick up on Black Friday for a cheaper-than-expected cost. I've searched through a number of online sites to find just exactly what it is that's going on come Black Friday. I'll be listing out a number of awesome deals to check out below, as well as a handful of sites that you can check out to further supplement your tech-themed Black Friday purchases. I've really scoured the categories to find some great savings and great products--in the case of the storage category, for example, that's the most inexpensive capacity points you're going to find for those prices!
Anyway, enough reading. Let's get to the spending. Black Friday 2009... begin!
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!
In a lot of PC publications, it’s the CPUs, video cards and other internal hardware that gets all the attention, with input devices relegated to a few pages here or there in the reviews section. But why should that be the case? Input devices are, after all, your point of connection to your machine. As keyboards, mice and game controllers have evolved over the years, so has the way we control and interact with our computers. That’s why we’ve chosen to give them the respect they deserve—by compiling a list of 50 of the most important, memorable, or just downright wacky input devices from the past, present and future of computing.
We’ve arranged our retrospective into logical sections: mice, keyboards, game controllers, and miscellaneous peripherals. Within each section, we’ve arranged the input devices chronologically, so read through from the beginning to get a sense for each devices history, where it’s at today, and where it’s going in the future.
Widescreen monitors are, in a word, awesome, and not just because they offer some kind of enhanced quality over their four-by-three ratio brethren. Depending on what you're using them for, like movie-watching, you'll simply see more of a given scene than you otherwise would on a standard display. The increased screen real estate (on the horizontal plane) also allows you to make more effective use of your desktop... provided you have the right software tools to create this enhanced productivity.
In fact, one of the biggest complaints surrounding the use of widescreen monitors is just that--the elongated desktop space is just too hard to navigate, and applications frequently don't make the best use of this additional room. I can't promise that everything out-of-the-box (or out-of-the-browser window) will look great on your widescreen display. However, what I can do is offer you a suite of tools designed to make your 16-by-9 or 16-by-10 experience as great as it can be. I've been using widescreen monitors for quite some time now. I know how it feels. That extra background space on the sides of every Web page you load? Maddening.
Let's take care of that issue, and more, with some awesome widescreen monitor apps.