Any car enthusiast worth his salt knows that until you customize your ride, it’s just another commuter. Likewise, your computer is little more than a generic PC in an ocean of look-alikes until you make it your own.
Here at Maximum PC, we don’t settle for out of the box. To us, a computer is incomplete until it’s been forged in our own image. To that end, we’re taking a look at six unbeatable tools that can spice up a drab Windows desktop. When we’re done here, you’ll have given your default Windows interface a much-needed face-lift by adding custom themes, ditching the taskbar for a more attractive dock, and setting up your wallpaper to refresh on a schedule.
This newfound pride in your desktop will raise your morale while you’re working for the man, and these apps will boost your overall productivity by better organizing your applications and icons on different virtual desktops and placing to-dos, system statistics, and other important information a keystroke away.
Sound appealing? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s time to turn that dreary Windows default into something you can be proud of.
So, the season of giving has just come and gone, and you’ve received a Linux-based netbook—the popular new class of ultra-cheap, ultra-portable computer. By definition, netbooks are very limited in what they can do; they’re primary meant for accessing the web as well as some moderate office and multimedia use. Their low-speed processor and minimal memory means that they’re just not suited for more intensive applications like gaming or video editing.
However, there are things you can do to get the most out of your little machine. For instance, you can swap out the limited OS that comes packaged with most Linux-based netbooks for a much more versatile distro like Ubuntu, which can be customized specifically for netbooks. It’s a somewhat complicated process, but in this guide we’ll walk you through it, step by step, and then we’ll show you how to get around in Ubuntu.
With outsourced support now the de facto standard in the IT and ISP industries, do-it-yourself computer repair has gone from being an optional luxury to an outright necessity. You might feel hopeless and abandoned the first time your network connection gives out, but don’t fret just yet. Given the right direction, even the greenest of users can fix a number of common network errors. We’re going to give you all the tools you need to become your own network tech support.
You might be skeptical, but LAN/WAN troubleshooting isn’t all that difficult. Upgrades are easy and cheap—if required at all—and the analysis process is brief and painless, even if you’ve never wired a Cat5 cable or run a command line ipconfig. Even better, many of the steps and instructions are identical in Vista and XP, which goes a long way toward easing the troubleshooting transition, should you switch from one OS to the other.
While sometimes a call to your ISP is unavoidable, when you do have to do it, at least you’ll brandish the knowledge to blaze through all the low-level BS and head straight to a speedy resolution. Don’t let the Internet and networking companies bully you any longer—it’s time to stand up and take matters into your own hands.
Read on to find out how to optimize your internet experience!
There’s no denying that Flash has changed the world of entertainment in some pretty profound ways. Sure, some might argue that we could have done without the flash-enabled advent of floating ads, gaudy movie websites and cheaply-animated stoner cartoons, but we think that the good outweighs the bad. After all, without Flash, we’d be missing out on a whole slew of rad flash games, clever web interfaces and cheaply-animated stoner cartoons. And let’s not forget YouTube and its ilk, which have truly revolutionized the way we waste time.
However, there’s a problem with streaming video: you don’t get to keep it on your computer when you’re done. So if you want to watch something again, or to show it to your friends, you have to go back and find it on the website again. But it’s pretty easy to rip streaming video to your hard drive, and in this article we’ll show you how, as well as how to convert that video to other formats so that you can play it on your device of choice.
Although DVDs are quickly losing the limelight to their higher-definition Blu-Ray brethren, they’ve still got a lot going for them. They’re cheap, for one, as are DVD burners. And DVD players and drives are so ubiquitous that you know that if you burn data onto a DVD, you’ll be able to access it almost anywhere.
Plus, burning data onto a DVD is easy—there’re a dozen free programs that can do it for you without any hassle. But burning video to a disc so that you can watch it in a regular DVD player isn’t nearly so simple. If you’re willing to pony up for commercial DVD authoring software like Nero Vision, the process is pretty user-friendly, but here at Maximum PC we’re committed to showing you how to do things using free software solutions, so we’re going to explain how you can use a free and powerful (albeit slightly confusing) program called AVI2DVD to create full-featured video DVDs from your media files.
If you spend a lot of time on the internet (and let’s be frank, if you’re reading maximumpc.com, you do) you’ve probably become intimately familiar with Google search. After all, the web’s a big place, and finding what you need can be pretty damn tough without the help of a search engine.
But you don’t need to be Googling as much as you are. A host of new web-based tools are becoming available which do the searching for you. They can keep track of subjects that interest you, as well as housing and job listings, product pricing and availability, and more. Best of all, you can have updates sent right to your email inbox, as often as you want. In this guide we’ll show you the best tools for keeping track of the changing web, and give you examples of how they can be effectively used.
One of the most frustrating experiences you can have as a PC user is when something just won’t work. Maybe it’s a game that blacks out after the title screen, or an app that refuses to launch when you tell it to, but in any case it doesn’t give you much of a clue what’s going wrong, and it’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out.
One possible cause of these mysterious crashes is interference with one of your computer’s background processes. Unfortunately, a whole host of them start with Windows, so it can be tricky to figure out if they’re causing a problem, and if so, which one.
In this article, we’ll show you how to use a clean boot to identify harmful program interactions. A clean boot is a boot where no unnecessary background processes launch at startup. Some functionality of the computer may be lost while performing a clean boot, but it’s easily reversible and a powerful diagnostic technique.
It’s OK, Linux users. We understand your pain. Gaming on your open-source platform is, for the most part, restricted to similarly open-source or freeware titles from independent developers. You don’t often receive the same love that Windows users enjoy from triple-A game developers. But your time spent in the dark can now end: We’re going to show you how to play the latest PC-only titles on your Linux distribution of choice.
We’re using a program called Wine to simplify the process of running Windows-based games on a Linux platform. Unlike virtualization applications such as VMware, Wine is not an emulator. An emulator is a wrapper that allows one operating system to run within another. This wrapper hides the primary OS from its windowed love child, creating a software bubble for the second OS to play in. Since emulators run a complete OS within this virtualized bubble, the performance hit can be staggering and hinders gaming on all but the most powerful PCs.
Wine avoids this problem by implementing a set of routines (or APIs) used by applications to communicate with Windows. Rather than emulate them, Wine uses a compatibility layer that translates system calls from Windows to Linux and vice versa. If you’re still confused, relax. You don’t need to understand how it works. You just need to know that Wine is free and easy to configure and will have you up and gaming in no time!
If there’s one thing that PC users like, it’s to customize things. There’re custom cases, aftermarket fans, water cooling systems, and dozens other ways to boost your system’s cool factor and (hopefully) its usefulness. But there’s one thing you can customize that’ll really take your computer to the next level: the shell. Your system’s shell, the software that allows you to interface with all those tender, juicy files stashed away in your computer, defines how you interact with your PC. As a power user, you owe it to yourself to explore the ways that you can alter your experience by altering your shell, and we’re going to tell you how.
A shell replacement is software that takes over the role normally filled by explorer.exe, which you’re probably most familiar with as the ubiquitous taskbar/start button combo. There are plenty of ways to go about shell replacement, so we’re going to take a look at members of three major classes of the software: Talisman, a commercial, user-friendly shell replacement; bbLean, a replacement focused on performance, a clean aesthetic and expandability; and the popular and powerful LiteStep.
From the Maximum PC Archive - Odds are, you already have everything you need to turn that big TV in your living room into an movie and music jukebox that will put all your media at your fingertips and amaze your friends. Whether you ripped your entire CD and DVD collection, purchase DRM-free content online, or you acquire your media from less legitimate sources, we'll show you everything you need to know to stream your audio, video, and pictures to your Xbox 360, PS3, or any other UPNP-compatible streaming device!