If you're like me, your USB key should come with its own flame retardant coating. That's because I tend to use my little four-gigabyte device to great excess on a near-daily basis. It's an easy fix for transferring files from a desktop PC to a laptop, and it's great for carrying batches of files I need to access (especially if I'm without an Internet connection, making Dropbox useless). If I'm heading over to a friend's house, I can slap a movie on the drive for us to watch on an attached PC or home theater device. I can throw down a game or two if I'm going to be travelling and don't feel like reading about overpriced devices that will pet my cat for me. USB keys are more than just a geek's trusty friends. They're uber-tools in their own right.
Application suites for USB keys are another popular way of extending the functionality of your desktop into the portable realm. Install these batches of software and you can take your favorite programs along with you wherever you go--perfect for when you're using a computer that isn't yours, yet you would prefer to be able to access to a better range of apps than Windows' default programs. Better still, you can stick these batches of applications on smaller USB keys to extend the life of these sub-gigabyte devices. The storage might stink, but the functionality will rule.
Click the jump to check out five, freeware application suites that will dazzle up your USB key faster than you can say, "universal serial bus."
That shiny new netbook is light and portable, plays music and movies, and cost less than an iPhone (with service). Problem is: you might be ready to chuck it off a bridge. Running the Intel Atom processor at only 1.60GHz, netbooks are a bit on the clunky side when it comes to actual data processing. No one is going to play World of Warcraft on one of these thin machines, but it sure would be great if OpenOffice, a music player, and Mozilla Firefox could run a little faster.
The answer to the netbook dilemma is: find an alternative operating system. Of course, this is a time-consuming proposition, considering you have to download the OS, burn it to a CD or USB key, load the OS, and then configure it. To find out which OS will actually add pep to your Sony P – or any number of low-cost, Atom-based netbooks – we loaded six different options on the same machine and performed a series of tests – looking at the interface, networking features, the browser and built-in apps, and how much customization you can do and ended up picking a clear winner.
Linux or Windows? Read on to find out which OS is best for your netbook.
Until the introduction of Windows 7, device management was a multi-application nightmare. Want to see a device's hardware configuration? Open Device Manager. Want to browse the contents of a storage device? Open My Computer. Need to manage the settings used by a specific device? Open the appropriate applet in Control Panel (Mouse, Keyboard, Game Controller, and so on). If you have a multifunction device, you would need to open separate applets to manage the printing, faxing, scanning, and file management functions of one device.
In Windows 7, the Devices and Printers applet in Control Panel provides a single entry point to managing single-purpose and multifunction devices. Microsoft considers Devices and Printers so important to system management that you can start Devices and Printers directly from the Start menu. To learn how Devices and Printers will make your life easier, and what you need to do to make it work better for you, join us after the jump.
Stop whatever it is you’re doing. We know your time is valuable, and what you’re about to read could save you hours, if not days, of damage control. What could be so important? Your work documents, for one thing. And then there’s your entire digital collection of family photos cataloguing every birthday, vacation, and other special occasion over the past several years. Common PC pitfalls don’t just affect your digital files, either. Should disaster strike—say a power surge or a hacker attack— you could be looking at hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars of damaged hardware—or even worse, damage to your good name and credit if someone manages to steal your identity.
Are you thoroughly spooked yet? You needn’t be, not if you follow our nine-step guide to disaster-proofing your PC. On the following pages, we show you how to prepare for everything from acts of God to hacker attacks, and every other mishap you’re likely to encounter as a power user. And if you’re an old pro who already knows how to disaster-proof your PC, then treat this as a checklist of things you know you should be doing, but probably aren’t.
If you were frustrated by trying to figure out which edition of Windows Vista was the right choice ("hmm...If I use Vista Business, I don't get Windows Media Center, but if I use Vista Home Premium, I don't get image backup..."), Microsoft has done us all a favor by rethinking the feature sets for Windows 7.
Yes, there are still multiple SKUs to consider, but this time, you no longer need to worry about what's left out if you move up from one edition to another. To find out how the different US editions of Windows 7 compare in features, what Microsoft is doing to satisfy EU regulators, and what it will cost you to pre-order a Windows 7 upgrade now compared to waiting until it ships, join us after the jump.
Brrzap! Not all hardware failures start that way, but there's a good chance they'll end up sounding like that as a result of you chucking an unruly piece of hardware through the nearest exit of your dwelling. Before you hulk up next time, know that there are ways to get a little bit more information about the status of your components. Applications that assess the health of your system's various parts serve a twofold purpose. You can deduce that equipment on your system might be going kaput or is otherwise screwed up in some fashion. Armed with that knowledge, you can then attempt to make an effective repair. If there is no way to repair your parts, you'll at least get an advanced notice that disaster is about to strike and that a trip to the electronics store might be in your soon-to-immediate future.
In this week's freeware roundup, I'm going to give you a list of applications that will help you assess your system's CPU, hard drives, optical drives, network connections, and memory. Don't delay in installing these applications--every second wasted puts you but one step closer to a catastrophic meltdown--or, at the very least, an unexpected failure in a critical piece of your PC. And nobody wants to be left hanging on the one day you really, really, really need to access the Internet, for example.
Click the jump, put on your medic's coat, and let's run some diagnostics!
The days of ugly Linux desktops are a thing of the past. Modern distros include many tools and options that enable them to look good and be more useful.
Unlike Windows, Linux has several different widget toolkits. The most well-known widget engines are GTK+, (distributed with GNOME) and QT. (pronounced “cute”) Widgets are the various elements which make up a program's GUI: scrollbars, arrows, checkboxes, etc. However, take note that QT or GTK widgets are not the same thing as desktop widgets.
Widgets and other things like window chrome (the toolbars, panels, etc. of a programs interface) and window decoration (the window's title bar, minimize/maximize/close buttons, and the window border) are the various elements that, when joined together, create a theme for QT or GTK. It is possible to modify the various themes in Linux to change how they look or even create your own. This article will address the various resources that are out there to help make your desktop look its best and help you get the most out of it.
With the influx of Open Source applications flooding the web, it’s no wonder that people are scoping out alternatives to paying for word processing software. However, what those people don’t realize is the truth behind the phrase “More bang for your buck.” Paying for software means it comes with a multitude of features not included with a free clone, and in the case with popular programs like Microsoft Office, this is entirely true.
We’ve been using Office for years, whether it came bundled with our new machine or purchased at a brick and mortar store, only to take for granted the fact that it comes with a multitude of fully fledged features that makes, well, getting through life much easier. Whether it’s a school assignment, a dissertation, an expense report or a presentation on that idea you’re looking to pitch to your department, Microsoft Office has made our lives much more organized in the ways of word processing and delivering information.
So we took a bit of time to play around with the latest version of Microsoft Word to see if we could rekindle our relationship one more time. Needless to say, we’re still committed. For that reason, we’ve brought you five useful Microsoft Word tips you probably weren’t aware of before or didn’t know how to enable.
If all goes to plan, Mozilla will be releasing its much anticipated Firefox 3.5 browser any day now, and certainly by the end of the month. It's been a long wait for the Firefox faithful, who first got a glimpse of the oft-delayed browser in Alpha form back in July of 2008. More recently, Mozilla has rolled out a pair of Release Candidates, giving fans (and critics) a pretty good idea of what to expect when the final version goes Gold.
The most ambitious update to Firefox yet, version 3.5 delivers a ton of coding improvements and a handful additional features Mozilla hopes will help close the market share gap with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Join us as we take an in-depth look at what's new and highlight which features have us most excited about Firefox 3.5!
Dealing with your data is a critical part of the Windows experience. "No, really," you ask? I know, I know. But the kinds of file operations you perform on any given day represent the bread and butter of your operating system. You drag your pictures around, copy and paste your documents to other places, maybe send a file or two over email. It's simple stuff. That's not a value judgment, just a comment about the basic functionality that everyone uses on a modern OS.
When you're ready to step out of this minor league of file management and head into the majors, you'll find a host of freeware applications waiting to hit a pitch or two. These applications take the common elements of your Windows file operations and inject them with a dose of raw energy. For example, you can customize and jack up the very process of copying files from one directory to another. You can also beat back Windows' default system for batch file renaming and instead transform a large number of files with very specific titles and extensions. You can even map out just how much space your files take up on your drive, giving you the perfect opportunity to catch up on some spring cleaning across your battered hard drive.
While these kinds of processes are a mainstay of this week's roundup, I'm also taking a look at two additional programs that pack additional functionality into your operating system as a whole. So what are you waiting for? Quit your file transfers, click the jump, and get ready for a brand new world.