How To Keep Your PC Hardware Cool with Smart Air FlowbyMatthew BragaonAug. 20, 201012 Comments
If you haven't yet noticed, computers get hot — in some cases, frying pan hot. And while those sort of temperatures might satisfy budding chefs, they're not so great for an evening of Starcraft gaming bliss. When your temperatures are out of whack, it's time to look at the fans that keep your machine cool. While the placement and number of fans may vary, their purpose is largely the same — to draw in cool air, and push warm air back out.
How To Stress Test Your Hardware and Keep Your PC StablebyMatthew BragaonAug. 19, 201016 Comments
We've shown you how to build many a PC, and chances are, you might have even attempted to build your own. Or perhaps you're looking to give your old machine a bit of an upgrade, and swap out a couple of parts. Either way, your job isn't done when you close up the case; just because a piece of hardware appears to work at first glance, doesn't mean deeper problems can't be lurking underneath.
When things go wrong with your PC, it's often hard to pinpoint where the problem lies. Crashes may become common place, or obscure errors could appear with increasing frequency. While software may easily be the culprit, a hardware problem is also just as likely — especially when dealing with a new system build or overclocked setup.
How To Breathe New Life Into Your Old Music CollectionbyMatthew BragaonAug. 18, 201013 Comments
It's scary to think, but the MP3 format is nearly two decades old. It seems like just yesterday we were all downloading illegal Metallica albums off Napster, but alas, those days have passed. But while times have changed, what's perhaps most interesting is that your MP3s probably haven't. Digital pack rats may find that some of those early ripped and downloaded songs are still in your music collection today — complete with gaps, volume variances and array of other quirks.
Shutter vs Aperture vs Manual vs Program DSLR Shooting ModesbyWill GreenwaldonAug. 18, 20108 Comments
Digital cameras can have dozens of different shooting modes, from the standard "Automatic" mode that lets the camera handle everything but the shutter and zoom, to more specific modes like "Fireworks" and "Birthday Party." The majority of these mods are straightforward presets, locking the camera into certain exposure settings commonly used in those situations. While they might seem helpful on point-and-shoot cameras, they offer no real control over how to shoot.
How To Make Your PC and Mac Clipboard More AwesomebyMatthew BragaonAug. 17, 201010 Comments
We have enough RAM these days to run hundreds of programs at once. Even our phones have caches and buffers that put yesterday's supercomputers to shame. And yet, we can only keep one item in the clipboard at a time? Not only does that seem archaic, but downright inefficient. Of course, the simplistic copy/paste system is one that's worked well for years, and no one's quite found a way to do things better. But that's not to say we can't add a few handy improvements to the mix.
Properly Partition Your Hard Drive for Optimal PerformancebyWill GreenwaldonAug. 17, 201033 Comments
There are a lot of choices when it comes to storage on computers. There's the hardware question (HDD? SSD? External?), the controller question (standalone? Striped RAID? Mirrored RAID?), and then there's the partition question. The partition decision is the final chain in hard drive setup before you finally put data on there, and it's perhaps the easiest to answer. The answer is: ideally, use a hardware "partition" of storing different kinds of data on different devices.
The best possible situation would be a series of solid state drives mounted on your motherboard's PCI-e slots and combined in a RAID array to provide maximum storage space and speed. Of course, such a setup can cost upwards of $10,000 and is far and away out of the question for most users. The best realistic solution is a small SATA SSD, ideally at least 40 GB for the OS and commonly-used applications, combined with a large conventional hard drive. The SSD can be used for installation of the OS and vital applications, while the larger and slower HD can do the work of storing all the media. Again, instead of partitioning the drive, you're using two separate drives to offer the maximum performance and security for the price.
Stay Dry: Where to Find Your Phone's Water SensorsbyMatthew BragaonAug. 16, 201022 Comments
Unfortunately, phones and water don't quite mix. A bit of errant moisture is all it takes to wreak havoc on your phone's tiny electronic innards, rendering it no more than a glorified paperweight. What's worse is that most cellular companies and manufacturers won't consider water damage to be acceptable warranty fodder. The thinking goes that if you somehow managed to immerse your phone in water, chicken soup or vanilla bean coffee, that blunder is all on you.
Telltale coffee scent aside, don't think you can fool the repair center techs either. Most modern phones are actually filled with lots of tiny white stickers — Liquid Control Indicators — whose sole purpose is to detect and record watery contact. Should liquid be added to the mix, those sensors will turn red, and you can forget about any warranty-sanctioned repair.
Build an Awesome Gaming PC - PREVIOUSLY RECORDED!byWill SmithonAug. 13, 201073 Comments
Building your first PC can be very intimidating--from the confusing process of choosing the perfect parts for your build, to the actual assembly process. And, it goes without saying that building your first PC is definitely the most intense. My first PC build was a terrifying experience, and PCs were much simpler back then. So, today we're going live on Justin.TV to teach Gary Whitta, who you may remember from This is Only a Test build his new gaming rig the right way. That's right, we're going to show him how to turn that massive pile of components pictured below into an awesome gaming PC.
How To Make Your Own Crossover Network CablebyMatthew BragaonAug. 12, 201015 Comments
Before the advent of bluetooth and ad-hoc wireless transfers, crossover cables were the way to go. If you didn't have a router, these specially designed Ethernet cables allowed two machines to be connected directly to one another, whether it be for gaming, file sharing or other network purposes. In fact, original Xbox owners might remember using a special link cable — a crossover cable, in fact — to connect two consoles together for LAN based play.
Do it the wrong way and you'll risk damaging your cable and creating a fire hazard.
How to Choose Speaker Wire for Your Home Audio SetupbyMatthew BragaonAug. 11, 201010 Comments
For some, picking a decent set of speakers is the hardest part of the home audio buying experience. However, what many fail to realize is that good speakers sound only as good as the wire that runs between them. The market for decent speaker wire is rife with hype and misinformation. For something that's basically made from standard copper, the amount that some people will pay for a Monster-branded product is ludicrous.
How To Take Control of Your Windows Boot SequencebyMatthew BragaonAug. 11, 201017 Comments
Try as you might, but no Windows install stays clean for long. Things might look fine for now, but as the months go on, strange things will occur with increasing frequency. Applications will hang. Memory use will mysteriously skyrocket. Services you didn't even know existed now load on start-up. In some (very) rare cases Clippy may actually return from the dead.
The point is, more often than not, running Windows can become a chore. But it doesn't have to be that way. The most likely culprits are those applications and services that load at boot, so your best bet is to stop them before they start.
Digital camera ISO sensitivity is similar to the speed of film, right down to the numbers of the settings. By setting your digital camera to ISO 100, it becomes roughly as sensitive as ISO 100 film. Similarly, by setting it to ISO 1600, it becomes approximately equivalent to high-speed ISO 1600 film. The "faster" (more sensitive) the setting, the less light it needs to form a picture. A camera set at ISO 100 might require a very long exposure at the risk of an unsteady (and blurred) shot, while one set at ISO 1600 might only need a quick snap.
Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6: How Do You Wire Your Network?byMatthew BragaonAug. 9, 201036 Comments
While you might be agonizing over your latest Wireless-N purchase, there are still some of us that remain tethered to our desks and routers — yes, with actual wires. Next we'll be talking about 78rpm records and last week's issue of Flash Gordon. But really, some of us old timers still stick by good 'ol Ethernet cabling. If you're looking to build a serious home or office network, Ethernet is the only way to go.
Make an Effort to Color Calibrate Your LCD MonitorsbyWill GreenwaldonAug. 6, 20104 Comments
All monitors are not created equal. More importantly, all monitors are not configured equal. Like HDTVs, computer monitors can vary a great deal in gamma correction, contrast, sharpness, and a ton of other settings. You can change them by fiddling with the buttons under your monitor, you can change them by altering your video card's settings, you can change them by loading different color profiles. Like so many settings, if not done correctly your screen will look worse than it did when you started.
Color calibration won't make or break your work unless you're someone who deals with graphic design or production software regularly. If you need to get photos to look perfect or color-correct a video, it's an important thing. If you just want to watch movies and play video games, it doesn't matter quite as much. Still, calibration can greatly improve your experience, especially if you're using two monitors on one computer. If you regularly watch videos on your computer, it's worth looking into calibration.
Astral photography is perhaps the most difficult style of picture taking to master, requiring a great deal of patience and trial and error to get good results. But with the right settings, it's easy to capture all sorts of objects in the night sky, from meteors to satellites, and even the Milky Way.
How To Make the Magic Trackpad Work in Windows (Magic Mouse Too!)byWill SmithonAug. 6, 20105 Comments
The Magic Trackpad is an interesting addition to the world of Macs, but it flat out doesn't work right in Windows. While you can move the cursor and left click with reckless abandon, none of the gestures work, including the one that lets you right click. That makes the Magic Trackpad pretty useless for Windows users--or does it? Follow our sassy how-to and you can make the Magic Trackpad work with your Bluetooth-equipped PC (or a $12 Bluetooth adapter) and the Snow Leopard disc, you can install all the drivers you need to make your Magic Trackpad (or Magic Mouse) work in Windows.