There's an untold bounty of awesome available on the Internet, and it's all free, free, FREE! From applications and games to movie tickets and mattresses, we'll show you what's safe and steer you away from the unsavory.
As inhabitants of the Internet, we’ve become so inured to the hyperbolic advertising and questionable offers that we miss the incredible values that are ripe for the taking. If you know where to look, you can find all sorts of awesome stuff available for the low, low cost of $0. Whether you’re looking for a great image management app, free AAA games, or the proverbial free lunch, we can tell you where to find it. But wait, there’s more! We’ll also show you three things that seem free, but really aren’t.
Ahh, batteries. The bane of any laptop user. It always feels like you just never have enough juice to finish whatever it is you're trying to do on your portable PC. And as the minutes count down on you notebook's battery estimation, you do everything you can to squeeze working time out of your laptop. You crank down the brightness to a near-dusk level. You disable the Wi-Fi in the hope that the Web pages you've physically downloaded will be enough to allow you to finish your work. You even quit out of as many applications and extra processes as you can think of to terminate--maybe a more idle CPU will make for an extra minute or three.
While doing the "Battery Dance" is an unavoidable part of portable computing, you don't always have to be caught off-guard by the ol' low battery warning. Not only are there a handful of applications that give you more details about your remaining battery life than Windows' default notifications, but there are also a bunch of utilities that you can use to squeak as much time out of your laptop battery as possible. Even better, a few of these utilities even automate this process in the background--you won't have to click a single button to reap the benefits of their tweaks.
Provided you still have some juice left in your laptop, click the jump. With luck, we'll be able to get you some extra battery life so you can finish the article...
No power user runs Windows with just stock settings; the plethora of third-party PC utilities is an embarrassment of riches. But what about Microsoft's own contributions? Tools like SyncToy and Pro Photos are pretty well known, but there's actually a wealth of advanced tools buried in the Sysinternals section of Microsoft's Technet site for IT professionals.
The Sysinternals site hosts some of the most powerful Windows utilities you can find. Yet surprisingly, not too many people know about them, since TechNet is primarily a System Administrator resource. Whether you're looking for more powerful ways to find out what's under the hood of Windows, need help creating VHD images for use with virtualization hosts, or just wanting to play a joke on your co-workers, these little-known utilities have you covered. We cherry pick and explain the features of the ten most useful Sysinternals tools, and then show you the best of the rest.
Read on to dive into this awesome stash of Microsoft-sanctioned tools and tweakers for Windows XP, Vista, and 7!
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?
Printing digital photographs seems so last century.
These days, we all carry at least one smart device, whether it’s an iPhone, a Zune, an MID, or something else. We all use Facebook. And those with a more serious photographic bent might also use an online photo service like Flickr or SmugMug. Indeed, a vast array of methods for showing off your photography without actually handing someone a print now exists.
There are good reasons, however, to have photographic prints—even in the 21st century. Grandparents and other family members often like to have something to put in a frame that they can hang on a wall. Another other reason is size. There’s something compelling about a really large print—8x10 inches or beyond. An iPod or laptop screen might be an acceptable replacement for the common 4x6- or even 5x7-inch print. But holding up a 13x19-inch print suddenly makes a half-decent photograph seem almost like a work of art.
So, for those times when you want a print, what’s the best way to get it? Is it worth paying $400 or more for a large-format printer, and then paying again and again for the ink? What about large-volume or professional online photo-printing services? Are they cost-effective, and can those prints measure up to a good-quality home printer? And how about those photo kiosks you find in places like Target and many grocery stores?
What a difference $500 makes. With $1500, building a gaming PC means being as lean as possible, sacrificing a little here and there to bump the important components to the next tier. But with $2000, your options really open up. The extra dough means you can start considering a solid-state drive or dual-GPU solution. Getting the most bang for your buck is always a consideration, but two grand means you can splurge for cutting-edge components that are priced for early adopters. It also means you have to think about your system's upgrade path, since you don't want to spend so much on a rig with nowhere to go in two years. Lynnfield or Bloomfield? SSD or high-capacity storage? Nvidia or ATI? There are a few no-brainers in our $2000 parts pick, but also a few surprises as well.
So, what's the best gaming system you can get for $2000?
You wouldn't be an average Maximum PC reader if you didn't have 30 different windows, tabs, and applications open at once. After all, what's the point of having a computer that's dressed to the nines if you aren't using up every available resource each time you sit at your desk? Although it's been said that multitasking actually does much to impair your focus and efficiency in dealing with tasks versus a methodical, one-at-a-time approach, all the science know-how in the world isn't going to stop the average geek from using his or her computer to do a billion things at once. That's just how it goes.
So now that we're all candidates for the 12-step multitasking program, how can we go about making the actual act of multitasking more efficient? And no, I'm not talking about those applications that you can use to tell you just how much time you're spending in each open window--if anything, knowing that one spends 95% of one's day looking at cuteoverload.com might be discouraging if nothing else. No, there are ways to quicken and improve your multitasking without resorting to needless shaming.
Minimize your windows, click the jump, and I'll show you five apps that will make your multitasking even better. No. Really. Minimize some windows already..
We've seen some pretty incredible products released in 2009, from the iPhone 3Gs and blistering-fast videocards to the timely release of Windows 7. Unfortunately, there have also been a number of exciting technologies that didn't make it out this year, despite widespread hype and high expectations. We've taken it upon ourselves to call out the worst offenders. Read on for our list of the ten most notable technologies that got prematurely announced, delayed, or outright cancelled in 2009.
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.