Let’s set the scene: It’s a beautiful April day, and you’ve just come home after a trip to your local Best Buy, a spring in your step and a smile on your lips. What’s got you so excited? Why, it’s new laptop day! You’ve scrimped and saved and finally, finally, you’re able to afford that new notebook you’ve been pining after.
Breathless, you tear your new computer out of its packaging, plug it in and turn it on, right there on the kitchen table. Windows loads for a minute, then pops up the first time setup. You make an account, and there you are; gazing at the desktop. You feel a sense of proud ownership: that’s your recycle bin; that’s your browser; those are your network places. That’s your Google desktop search bar, your link to ask.com and your 30 day free trial of America Online.
Wait, what? What is all this crap?
When you buy a brand new laptop from an OEM, they’ve already installed an OS for you. And, while they were at it, they’ve tossed in a few extra “features” that they (have been paid) to think you would like. These range from the useful to the vaguely harmless to the downright obnoxious. In any case, your laptop would be better off without them, and in this article we’re going to show you how to make your new notebook as pristine as freshly driven snow in just two steps. Then, we’ll show you how to back up your disk so that you can restore your notebook to a clean state whenever you want, even if you can’t start Windows.
If you're only using your $500 PlayStation 3 for console gaming, you're missing out on half of its hidden versatility: the ability to upgrade into a fully functional PC! Inside that shiny plastic shell resides some decent computing silicon, just waiting to be released from its undeserved console shackles. And while Windows Vista and OSX are no-goes due to legal issues, there's no reason at all not to dual boot into a perfectly serviceable Linux platform when the need arises.
The installation process is fairly straightforward, and the hard drive is easily upgradeable if you don't mind spending a little extra cash on the side. And while Ubuntu for PlayStation has a few functional limitations, you can find myriad excellent applications for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own living room, including VLC for encoded video playback, Amarok to blast your digital music library, and some classic SNES emulation software that you can play using your PS3's Sixaxis or Dualshock controller. This guide will show you how to do all of the above, so let's get started!
Radiohead jamming with Kanye West would be an odd pairing on any stage, but in the world of mashups—where the vocals of one song are folded into another—the weirder the combination, the bigger the bragging rights. While the RIAA is determined to put an end to the art form, many artists are releasing a cappellas (vocal-only tracks) and stems (individual tracks of a mix) to support the creative movement. And you can be part of it too.
Pros often look to Sony ACID Pro ($315, www.sonycreativesoftware.com) or Ableton Live ($600, www.ableton.com) to mash up music, but you can do it on the cheap with Audacity, an open source audio-editing app, and your own music. We’ll show you some basic techniques—you just need to find two tracks to work with. Find songs in the same key (like Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” and Puddle of Mudd’s “Blurry”) or ones that have a similar groove and chord progression (such as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”). Or Google “a cappella download” to find vocal track downloads (for personal use only) and choose a song in your music collection to pair it with. We always thought 4 Non Blondes’s “What’s Up?” sounded just like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” so for simplicity’s sake we’ll use these songs for our example.
Sometimes you just want to browse and listen to your album collection at the office without having to load it all into a portable music player. Pandora and Last.fm are great web services that can help you discover new music, but they won’t let you specify your own music playlist. Streaming music from within a home network is easy with iTunes and Windows Media Player; what’s trickier is getting access to your 100GB music library while away from home. We’ll teach you how to turn your library into an Internet radio station with Apache server software and a little-known program called netjukebox. You’ll be able to browse your collection via a gallery of album cover art, stream custom playlists, and even download entire albums as zip files.
The first thing you'll need to do is set your desktop up as an Apache server.
With the prevalence of software available for many distros, why would anyone want to compile software from source? Compiling allows you to custom-fit a program to your particular hardware configuration and CPU architecture, which is useful if a program has no binary that is compatible with your processor. However, this is seldom a problem these days, since most computers now use 32 or 64-bit x86 processors. In the past, Linux enthusiasts often compiled programs from source to wring the greatest possible performance out of their hardware. More recently, this has mostly become a non-issue due to the increases made in computing speed; while compiling may offer a slight performance increase, it is not enough to really make a difference.
Although the introduction of package management on most distros, less diversity in CPU architecture among the user base, and massive increases in hardware speed have largely reduced or eliminated the need to compile software yourself, there are still a few instances where you would have to do so. Although the various official and unofficial software repositories for Ubuntu and other distros include most of the tools that the average user would need for any given purpose, the repositories are not completely comprehensive.Old packages sometimes get dropped and updated versions are often slow to be added. It may also take a release cycle or more for brand-new programs to be included.
While Ubuntu and Debian have “backports” repositories that have fairly new packages in them, many other distros do not have such a resource. For large projects with large community support, the developer may offer nightly builds, but this is not the case for most projects. The only reliable way to get bleeding-edge software (stability issues aside) is to either find a repository that has it or download the source code from the developer and build it yourself.
Looks like your system is on the fritz again -- it refuses to boot your operating system. What do you do now? You can take it a tech shop and have "experts" investigate the problem, but that a costly option. Even if your computer can’t load Windows, there is still a way to fix boot problems without reformatting. With the right boot CD, you can perform your own troubleshooting dianosis the cure whatever ails your PC. Our guide will show you how to make a powerful boot disk that'll let you do more than just access a DOS prompt. You'll be able to run processor stress tests, memory scans, edit partitions, and even extract hard drive data.
More likely than not, you’ve been asked in the past to help fix one of your friend’s or relative’s computers. Most of the time, the problems you’ve been brought in to remedy are basic malware or virus infections that you can address by grabbing the appropriate diagnostic and software removal tools stored in your trusty USB toolkit. But once in a while, you’ll be faced with a novice struck with the most basic and frustrating of problems: forgetting their Windows administrator login password. With no way to get into the system, you can’t even perform basic maintenance, let alone a thorough tune-up. Formatting is always an option, but we consider that a last resort. (Plus, guess who’s going to have to help reinstall all the programs lost after a wipe?) But all hope is not lost. There are a few ways to actually retrieve a lost Windows account password. Read on and we’ll show you the light.
These days, most people have at least one computer and a large collection of media files. The conventional practice for most people has always been to have redundant copies of their media collection on their various computers. While this system technically works, it is highly inefficient and creates the unnecessary task of keeping the media collection on each computer synchronized and up-to-date with the others. A far better solution is to keep all the media on one computer and stream it as needed to the other machines over the network.
Streaming technology has been around for over a decade and is something that most people are at least a little familiar with. (Youtube uses streaming flash-based video to work) In the past, playing large files over the internet was usually pointless due to the fact that the software of the time required the whole file to download (often on slow connections) before the media could be played. With streaming media, the remainder of a file is fetched as the first part it is being played, so there is no need to wait to get the whole thing before watching it. The video quality on early streaming media was often quite bad, (a trade-off between quality and speed was necessary when most people were stuck on dial-up) but with the near-ubiquitous availability of broadband in most urban and suburb areas today, high-quality streaming media has finally become practical.
We have assembled this guide to help you set up a cross-platform media streaming service using a Linux computer as a server. With our guide, you will be able to stream media to any other computer you own. Other guides on the subject discuss how to set up a Samba-based solution, but we feel that our solution is simpler and easier since you only have to install and configure one program instead of several. For this purpose, we use GNUMP3d. GNUMP3d is a program that makes media available through a web-based interface. Instead of using the Samba protocol, GNUMP3d uses ordinary HTTP to get the job done.
If you want to take full advantage of your PC’s audio potential, you should connect your rig to your A/V receiver and passive speakers—or a really good set of powered speakers. But accomplishing this task is often tricky, thanks to a combination of digital rights issues, proprietary surround-sound algorithms, and evolving connection standards.
Computers outfitted with Blu-ray drives and certain late-model videocards can deliver Blu-ray video over HDMI, but getting HD audio that way is another issue. An HDMI cable can carry both high-definition video and up to eight channels of high-definition audio (front left and right, front center, rear left and right, side left and right, and low-frequency effects). Blu-ray discs are typically encoded using Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, or DTS-HD Master Audio; all three of these eight-channel lossless compression codecs can deliver bit-for-bit perfect copies of the original movie soundtrack. Here lies the rub: PCs currently cannot output audio encoded in any of these formats over HDMI.
A properly outfitted PC running CyberLink’s PowerDVD 8, however, can decrypt and decompress Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD and output it as uncompressed eight-channel LPCM (linear pulse code modulation) to HDMI. However, while videocards based on newer Nvidia GPUs are outfitted with HDMI, they’re all limited to two-channel LPCM (linear pulse code modulation) audio over HDMI, and that’s only if your motherboard has a S/PDIF-out header
AMD’s RV7xx-series cards can deliver uncompressed eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI because they route the signals over the PCI Express bus. For integrated graphics, motherboards with Nvidia’s GeForce 8300 chipsets (for AMD CPUs) and GeForce 9300 or GeForce 9400 chipsets (for Intel CPUs), and those with Intel’s G35 Express, G45 Express, and G965 Express chipsets can do it, too.
We highlight the four most common PC audio scenarios. Pick the one that fits your situation and we’ll show you the best way to integrate your PC into your home-theater system.
In our opinion, no artistic medium offers a better opportunity to express a PC gamer’s individuality and inappropriate sense of humor like a personal decal “spray” projected on your enemy’s spawn room wall during a multiplayer match. While Valve has made it a mostly painless process to import spray images into their Source engine-based games, the difficulty still lies in creating an original image you can be proud to vandalize next to an enemies corpse. And since no game offers more opportunities to grief friends and enemies than Left 4 Dead, we’re going to show you a flawless technique for creating your own ‘writing on the wall’, pun absolutely intended.