The surge suppressor is one of the unsung heroes of the computer world. Often valued more for its ability to multiply one electrical receptacle into many than for its role as protector of all things electronic, the surge suppressor is your first line of defense against transient power surges that can damage or destroy sensitive components inside your PC. Let’s take a look at how they work.
Before we tackle the concept of surge suppression, we should first understand what exactly a surge is. In the United States, electrical energy flows through standard household wiring at an average rate of 120 volts. Because the system used is alternating current, the voltage level of every AC cycle reaches a peak value that’s roughly 1.414 times higher than 120 volts. A surge occurs when the voltage level suddenly rises significantly higher than that. A lightning strike on a power line, for instance, will cause a transient spike in the electrical power entering your house. Problems with your utility company’s equipment (anything from a downed power line to a defective transformer) can also cause power surges.
Appliances and other electrically powered devices inside your home, however, are much more common causes of power surges. Any device that requires a large amount of energy to switch on or off—examples include refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and air conditioners—can disrupt the flow of voltage through your home’s electrical wiring. Surges such as these don’t pack as much destructive power as a lightning strike, but they can cause as much damage, instantly or over time.
In order to surf the web, you need a web browser, and today there are several different ones to choose from. If you're looking for a lean, no-nonsense browser, Chrome is the one for you. Internet Explorer still stands as the odds on favorite when you want to make sure pages load correctly (not because of superior standards support, but because its majority market share have driven developers to code their webpages to look best on IE). Firefox has found more than a niche market by giving users near endless customization, and Apple's Safari purports to run circles around everyone else (it doesn't). And then there's the cornucopia of alternative browsers and browser shells, like Flock (Firefox-based) and Avant (IE-based).
No matter which browser you choose to surf the web with, the features you take for granted today are the result of nearly two decades of browser design. On the following pages, we'll take you through a visual tour, in chronological order, of every major PC-based (read: not Mac) web browser that ever was, starting with the very first one: WorldWideWeb. We'll tell you what made each one unique and, when applicable, what it contributed to modern browser development.
Sit back, buckle up, and hit the jump to get started!
From a distance, the Windows 7 GUI resembles its predecessor, Windows Vista. However, the closer you look, the more you'll see that Windows 7's take on the GUI is a big improvement, adding more power, more customization, and better ways to open frequently-used programs and files. Join us after the jump to learn how you can tap into the power of the Windows 7 desktop, Taskbar, and Start menu.
I'm speaking, of course, of the privacy features that come native to the Windows operating system. Sure, you can tuck your special documents away in a private user folder, but that doesn't mean that your files have been secreted away forever. An industrious user with physical access to your machine can wreak havoc on your personal files, regardless of how much Windows tells you that they're safe from external abuse.
Change that. Beyond the cut of this week's freeware update are five applications that will enhance your ability to secret away that-which-you-don't-want-anyone-else-seeing. Does that involve encryption? Yes. But that's not the end-all be-all technique for hiding things on your computer. Depending on the amount of privacy you need, there are faster and easier solutions than merely locking down your entire drive using a 128-bit cipher.
Grab your Sherlock Holmes pipe. It's time to get cryptic.
We were elated when Firefox 3.5 came out, which brought increased stability and new features to one of our favorite web browsers of all time, including private browsing, tear away tabs and location awareness. We also got a faster browser with enhanced security and user-friendliness. However, what ultimately makes Firefox the choice browser is the appeal of its massive library of add-ons, which not only shed light on the fervent community, but also ensure that Firefox users get a great deal by installing widgets and extensions that only add to the Internet browsing experience. Users have the ability to experience what other web browsers do not — and cannot — offer.
From Mozilla's massive library of add-ons, we've chosen our favorite 16 that we believe are essential to the Firefox experience. These are add-ons that introduce features we wish were pre-installed with Firefox -- enhancements that we can't live without. Because as awesome as Firefox already is, these picks make our web browsing experience that much better.
Windows Vista introduced the Recovery Environment to the world of Windows, and Windows 7 has brought it back with even more improvements. Windows 7's Recovery Environment (also known as System Recovery Options) lives up to its predecessor, adding additional refinements and features.
To learn how Recovery Environment makes fixing a balky Windows 7 installation easy, join us after the jump.
I covered some awesome Firefox plugins a little bit ago, and it only seems fitting for Google Chrome to receive the same treatment. But as you're undoubtedly aware, Google Chrome doesn't feature built-in extension support like other popular browsers on the market. Or does it?
Actually, if you run the developer builds of Chrome, you can access the wonderful (beta) world of browser add-ons with but a few extra commands and tweaks. Seeing as very few people who use Chrome know or care about this little modification, it stands that the actual world of add-ons for the browser is pretty small right now. That said, there are still some neat extras that you can build into your browser--including some add-ons that mimic the best of what you'll find in Firefox's expansive database.
So what are you waiting for? Click the jump and I'll show you how to surf with add-ons, then give you a list of neat ones to try out!
You may know what the inside of a PC looks like, but what about the parts which make up your PC components? Over the past few years, we've dissected hard drives, keyboards, soundcards, and a plethora of other PC hardware, just to see what makes them tick. Here, we've picked out 22 of these autopsies to showcase. If you've ever wanted to see the guts of a netbook or the silicon that makes a network router work, read on!
Although the various Linux distributions have a wide variety of software available, you may have a few Windows programs that you may not be willing or able to part with. Although many people dual-boot or use virtual machines to get around this problem, there is yet another potential option that many people new to Linux may not have considered--- Wine. Wine stands out from the other options because it does not require a separate Windows license.
Wine is a program that allows you to run Microsoft Windows programs on Linux. Although it is emulator-like in appearance and by observation, Wine is not an emulator; in fact, the very name of Wine is an acronym for Wine is not an Emulator. A true emulator can emulate CPU architecture in addition to the actual software it is running. For instance, a program that could execute Intel x86-based Windows software on SPARC-based systems running the Solaris operating system would be a true emulator. However, Wine is actually a compatibility layer since both Windows and Wine run natively on x86 and no hardware emulation is required.
Read on to find out how to acquire and configure Wine to play Half-Life 2!
While we're big fans of the proven awesomeness of open-source software, we don't automatically download every free application that's labeled as an open-source project. What make more sense is the use of open-source as the tool that effects some kind of massive or otherwise unreachable change in a common device. Case in point is open-source firmware, named not for any philosophical belief behind its creation, but because few would want to heft the banner for these changes themselves. After all, creativity comes from a wide range of sources and inputs--as does software testers. You sure wouldn't want to be the one person working on third-party iPhone firmware, bricking device after device in a quest to add additional functionality that Apple didn't first design.
But that kind of unintended funcitonality is the sole benefit to open-source firmware. Throw those aspirations of community membership and open-source allegiance out the window: You want to increase the power of your device akin to a Sim tinkering his or her hardware to gain mechanical skill points. There's no shame in that. In fact, you can accomplish much by adopting third-party firmware in place of standard manufacturer packages. For example, building increased sound codecs into your MP3 player of choice, or adding on-screen level meters to your digital SLR. You can even turn your router into a bridge, perfect for extending the range of your neighbor's wireless signal so you can thieve his connection from additional locations in your apartment. You can also brick your device.
We jest, but only partially. For the danger of running third-party firmware--safe as many of the packages can seem to be--is that you could render your device of choice unusable. It happens to "real" firmware upgrades; it can happen to "unofficial" firmware upgrades as well, only I venture that you'll probably find more problems in the latter scenario than with a manufacturer's tried-and-tested update. But still, the benefits can often outweigh the risks, especially if you're looking to extend your legacy devices with additional features. An entire ocean of open-source firmware fixes awaits your perusal -- we take a look at some outstanding examples of open-source firmware, and teach you how to install them on your own gadgets!