A desktop is more than just a computer. It’s also your entertainment center, eager and willing to provide you with endless hours of gaming, movies and music. As time goes on, it has become more and more common to see PC’s synched to TVs as people are beginning to see the advantages of having easy, living room-wide entertainment powered by their computers. I don’t even own a monitor (or a desk for that matter)--my desk-less desktop computer is hooked up to a Panasonic HD TV hanging on my wall, and it’s most often controlled by a wireless keyboard and mouse from the nearest sofa or bed. If this sounds like a familiar (or ideal) set up, this article may be helpful to you.
The downside to utilizing this sort of a set-up lies strictly in loss of control. A wireless keyboard and mouse combo will work for basic computer tasking, but are slow and often unreliable - especially for tasks like watching movies or gaming where you truly need a quick response. And, if you’re sitting clear across the room like me, getting a wired keyboard and mouse with extra-long extensions seems a little excessive.
There is, however, a simple alternative. Have a wired console controller tucked away somewhere, gathering dust? I’ll bet you do. Using open source programs like Xpadder, you can configure that very controller to become a tool to help you with your day-to-day, distance computing needs.
When you finally make the decision to start fresh with a new OS on a new hard drive, it can be nerve-wracking. If you’ve been following proper hard disk etiquette, most of your programs and data should be stored on different drives or partitions than your operating system, but somehow important data has a way of making its way onto your C: drive. And although you can do your best to make sure you back up all the data you want to keep (your My Documents folder, for instance), it’s hard not to feel like you’re forgetting something.
You don’t have to worry. Thanks to new tools from Microsoft in Windows 7, you can preserve your entire hard disk on another drive as a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD). So don’t worry that you’ll forget important data on your old drive—just freeze it solid, like Han Solo in a block of carbonite, and rest easy knowing that if you suddenly recall that you left something important on your drive, you can simply run it as a virtual PC, or mount it to your new system.
We’re on a bit of an IP kick this month in the R&D section. In the Windows Tip we showed you how to locate your local IP, and in the DOSBox article we showed you how to play old games online, as long as you know your IP. We’ve got one more IP-related trick up our sleeves: How to set up a Ventrilo chat server for your gaming friends, using a static IP from DynDNS.com.
In the decade or so since the rise and fall of Napster, it’s become very hard to find a single person who doesn’t keep a super-size collection of MP3s on their hard drive. That’s all well and good, but what happens when you get a new roommate or move in with a significant other, and want to merge two music collections into one? Windows 7 and most popular music library managers, like Windows Media Center, iTunes, and WinAmp offer solutions for sharing your music library over a home network, but a big decentralized library (likely with lots of duplicate files) spread out over a network is inefficient, hard to manage, and hard to keep backed up. In this article, we’ll show you how you can use a free program to merge multiple libraries into a single, organized music archive.
Most PC gamers have, at one point or another, known what it feels like to have a computer that’s too slow to play the latest games on the market. It sucks, but it comes with the territory—you just save up some cash and upgrade. Unfortunately, there’s another, more insidious problem that can keep you from playing the games you want to: a PC that’s too fast.
If you’ve ever tried to run an old DOS game on a modern computer, you probably know what we’re talking about. If the game loads at all, it’s glitchy, or too fast, or the sound doesn’t work. It’s a symptom of software written at a time when gigahertz-scale processors and gigabytes of RAM were simply unthinkable. If you wanted to, you could try to fix the problem by building a PC out of vintage hardware and running DOS natively, but there’s a much easier solution, called DOSBox.
DOSBox is an emulator, similar to those that allow you to play classic console games on your PC, which simulates a DOS environment running on old hardware. In this article, we’ll show you how to get set up with DOSBox, so you can play all of the classics on even the most breakneck-fast modern rigs.
Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and netbooks have always had a trade-off. What you get in convenience, you lose in good old-fashioned power. Even as modern smartphones close the processing power gap, and web apps get more sophisticated, you still can’t do everything you could do at your primary PC. Or can you?
In this article, we’re going to show you how to use remote-desktop software to control your PC from another PC or mobile device. There are several programs that let you remotely control a computer, but in our experience LogMeIn offers the most useful and consumer-friendly software in the category. In light of that, we’re going to show you how to configure and use LogMeIn Free and LogMeIn Ignition to get desktop-grade power, anywhere.
In a personal computer, heat is poison. It hurts performance, causes instability, and makes parts degrade faster. There are ways to reduce the heat in your system, but how do you know when you've got a problem with too much heat?
You could wait until your hardware dies, but that's expensive. You could stick your hand inside the case, but that's imprecise. Or, you could use a dedicated software or hardware heat monitor. Now we're talking, but which one's the best? In this article, we'll explain the pros and cons of 6 heat-monitoring solutions; 2 programs and 4 hardware monitors.
Read on to find out how to tell if your computer's getting too hot.
With the arrival of the much-hyped iPad and the rest of tablet-mania, it seems like ebooks are about to have their “iPod moment,” when they’ll go from a favorite of early adopters and bibliophiles to a mainstream phenomenon. There’s one problem, though: Unlike MP3s, there’s not a single, near-universal standard for ebooks. Historically, this has made it difficult to organize your ebooks and transfer them between various reading devices.
Fortunately, there’s one program that can help you solve nearly all of your ebook-related problems: Calibre. A free, open-source project, Calibre is one part iTunes-esque library-management program, one part batch-conversion tool, and one part file-transfer manager. In this article, we’ll show you how to use Calibre to manage your ebooks and to get them working on any reader.
There are few moments in life quite as sickening as realizing that you’ve spilled a beverage on one of your gadgets. The feeling can range from mild infuriation (spilling a Bud Light on your PlayStation controller) to near-coronary levels (knocking over a Mountain Dew: Code Red onto your brand-new laptop). Either way, it’s never something you want to go through. Because of that, we’ve put together a simple disaster plan for dealing with beverage-soiled electronics. We hope you never have to use it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you read it.
Apple has done everything in its power to convince the public that when it comes to music hardware and software there’s only a single choice: the iPod, and iTunes, respectively. And while we do admit that the iPod is an excellent MP3 player, we’re not so enamored with iTunes. That’s why we’re going to show you how you can use Foobar, a popular open source program with a powerful, modular design, to manage your music files, rip CDs, and even manage your iPod.
In this guide we’ll show you how to get started organizing your music with Foobar, as well as how to customize the program, burn CDs, and manage an MP3 player. Read on to find out more!