A few weeks ago we looked at moving to the clouds, and clearly, this is a concept that isn’t going away. Of course, we would be the first to admit there are some limitations, but the promise of freeing ourselves from the shackles of a single machine is clearly within our grasp. For the most part, we are sold on the idea of cloud-based email clients, and even photo and music sharing, But what about bulk storage for our files and sensitive documents? For many users, this is a line that simply cannot be crossed. The sheer thought of sending private information halfway across the world via the World Wide Web is simply too much to handle.
Unlike many cloud services however, online storage provides a solution to a very unique need that is difficult to satisfy, offsite backups. In today’s age of 2 TB hard drives, keeping all your information, even backed up on multiple drives does you little good if they are all in the same location. A fire or a break-in could leave you with nothing but a decade of lost files, and a handful of regret. So rather than updating a USB hard drive and shipping it to your buddy's house every few months, wouldn't it be great if you could archive your files online, securely and inexpensively? Good news, you can! Plenty of free and paid options exist, but how are you to know which services will best suit your needs? In this article we will look at the most popular solutions available, and help you navigate the chaotic seas of web 2.0 solutions.
What's that? You're not on Twitter? Get out. From Will Smith to surgeons--freakin' surgeons!--millions of people worldwide are using this popular online service to offer up brief, 140-character descriptions of the key events in their fascinating lives. And you too could join the bandwagon/party/mayhem, but you sure aren't going to do it from Twitter's Web page. That just wouldn't be very Maximum PC of you when a host of other options exist for pulling an up-to-the-second ton information out of this living, breathing Web entity.
So join us as we explore five of the top Twitter clients. If you like what you see, perhaps you'll even be so inspired as to write your very own "Tweet," or "Twit," or "message" about your software adventures! Just promise you won't do it from the operating table, ok?
If your laptop needs are limited to email and epic rounds of Bookworm on cross-country flights, plenty of machines will do the job. However, if you need to do something a bit more power intensive, your options are much more limited.
Will Urbina couldn’t find a desktop replacement that suited his needs for video editing; everything available was lacking in some area—so he built the CinematographHD. And although this 82 lb. rig may stretch the definition of portable, we salute his no-compromises approach. The images here give a hint of what Will created, but to get the full picture, check out his build video at http://www.vimeo.com/1847710.
Since Amazon’s announcement on Monday, we’ve had Kindle 2 on the brain. After all, the long-awaited sequel to Amazon’s ambitious eBook reader improves on the original in almost every way: it’s got a better screen, better battery life, more storage, better buttons, and it’s just a hell of a lot nicer looking, to boot. So what’s stopping us from jumping on the preorder list? The price.
Launching at just about 360 U.S. dollars, the Kindle 2 is a pretty hefty investment. But maybe we can justify buying the new Kindle anyway. We’ve heard people bandying about the notion that—based on the discount price for eBooks—the Kindle will actually pay for itself over time. Sounds good, but we wanted to find out just how long it would take to break even, so we went out and did a little research.
You have to admit, Windows is a pretty barebones operating system, feature-wise. After a fresh install of XP or Vista (perhaps following a Clean Start), you're faced with a barren Start Menu and an empty desktop that's beaming with limitless potential. The problem is that it's up to you to hunt and download those applications that you really need in your day-to-day computing experience. And chances are, it's often difficult to find good software that's also free. That's where this guide comes in.
We've put together a list of what we think are the most essential PC apps for every Maximum PC reader. These are all free programs (except one) that should be immediately installed after a fresh build or reformat; 32 indispensable programs and utilities that we couldn't imagine computing without. From the best IM client to FTP browser and Notepad replacement, these essentials truly enhance the Windows experience (much more so than Microsoft's own Windows LIVE Essentials). We're not saying you'd use all 32 entries in our list on a daily basis, but if you are at all serious about utilizing your PC, we promise our picks will not go unused.
And at the end of the feature, we'll even show you how to install these apps in one fell swoop with a special configuration file we've created. Because if it were up to us, this is software that should be bundled with every copy of Windows.
It might seem like an oxymoron to the average geek: getting healthy with your PC. Sure, you can lift your turbo-charged, water-cooled desktop as if you were doing a common bench press. And you could probably tie the ends of the two front speakers in your 5.1 surround sound system together, creating a crude jump rope for exercising right out of your home office / basement dwelling / dorm room. But while these fitness techniques might improve your personal health, they're not very beneficial for the longevity of your beloved computer system.
Let's fix that.
We're taking a look at fitness-themed applications in this week's freeware roundup. And while you might roll your eyes as you head back to your local meat locker for a punching session, don't brush off the notion of computer-assisted fitness just yet. From applications that help you map your heart rate, to nutrition guides, to a comprehensive guidebook of exercises that you can do right at (or near) your desk, this batch of freeware apps will help you transform your PC into your very own personal trainer.
Slap on some sweatbands and click the link, for it's time to pump you up.
Listen to the mind-numbingly repetitive radio programming on the FM dial long enough, no matter which genre you prefer, and you might conclude that only a handful of recording artists are worth listening to.
Fire up your PC and tune in to Internet radio, on the other hand, and you’ll discover an embarrassment of riches, nearly all of which you can enjoy for free and without—or at least with very little—commercial interruption. In fact, there’s so much music that you might find yourself overwhelmed. That’s where the music discovery services Last.fm, Pandora, and Slacker come in. All three services help you discover new music based on the songs and artists you express a preference for. As interesting as that concept is, what’s even more remarkable is that each service takes a completely different approach to the mission. Let’s take a look at all three.
Upgrading is an obligation of any self-respecting PC geek. It’s an affirmation of your thirst for power, a healthy rejection of the status quo. Upgrading is an acknowledgement of the fact that there’s always a way to improve your rig. You may have the funds for premium parts—lucky you. We’ll tell you exactly what those parts are. But even if your means are more modest, there are affordable parts in every major component category that can breathe new life into an aged PC.
Regardless of your financial situation, you must address some important questions before embarking on an upgrade. First, you need to honestly assess your rig’s merits. You shouldn’t waste money upgrading your PC if it still sports an AGP slot or a pre-AM2 Athlon 64 motherboard. The question you should ask yourself is whether it’s more cost effective to gut the machine and replace its primary components—motherboard, CPU, memory, and videocard—than it is to do a piecemeal retrofit. If you look at your rig and decide to build new, check out our full build-a-pc guide, but if you’re ready to proceed with an upgrade, click to find out how!
Clean start. OS reset. Nuke and pave. Whatever you call it, no matter how good a personal system administrator you are, there’s a time to take your OS install out behind the shed and put two in its head.
When would you need to take such extreme measures? If the networking stack is splayed out on the floor and no amount of patching, registry editing, or Winsock repair tools can fix it. If you can’t get hibernate or standby to work anymore. Or if you’ve had a horrible malware or rootkit breakout. Sure, you may have reclaimed control of your PC after an epic five-day battle with the beast, but can you really trust your OS anymore? You don’t want to reenact the final sequence from The Thing, you and your PC eyeing one another wondering if the other is not what he seems to be.
A clean start is the only way to relieve your paranoia. Read on to find out how to do it properly.
Maker’s Mark is of course the name of a fine Kentucky bourbon whiskey, but the phrase also applies to the stamp that skilled artisans apply to their creations. When you’ve finished building your custom PC, we’d encourage you to stamp it with your own maker’s mark; after all, the one-of-a-kind creation you’ll have wrought will have nothing in common with the mass-produced rigs that mainstream manufacturers churn out by the millions.
That’s one of the most exciting aspects of our hobby. Automobile buffs can tune and customize their factory-built cars and trucks, but computer geeks like us get to build something new and unique almost entirely from whole cloth. And it’s so easy that you have to wonder why anyone would buy a preassembled PC in the first place.
Thanks to the relatively open architecture that IBM stumbled into oh so many years ago (and has likely regretted ever since), we can rebuild and retune our creations again and again, boosting their performance and postponing their obsolescence. We do hit a wall every now and again. Intel’s new Core i7 CPU is a good example. Because the new processor features an onboard memory controller—a first for Intel, although AMD’s procs have had the technology for years—the company had to design a new socket architecture to accommodate the additional pins. That blocks the upgrade path for anyone using an LGA775 motherboard.
Intel has AMD on the run in the CPU front, but AMD is poking Nvidia in the behind in the graphics processor market. The result: ever more powerful, ever less expensive videocards. The two companies have shipped so many new parts that we expect things will stabilize over the next quarter or so, so now’s the time to find a great deal whether you’re building a new rig or retrofitting an old one. And if you’ve never experienced the joy and pride of building your own PC, click through to read our in-depth, hands-on guide.