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    Best Practices for Securing Your Online Accounts

    When you think about it, a username and password are just two strings of characters. A measly handful of letters, numbers and symbols are all that stand between your digital identity and nefarious spammers and phishers, hungry for just a taste of your juicy bits and bytes. While securing your many online accounts may be somewhat inconvenient, weigh that against the inconvenience of losing everything to a hacker who, with little effort, gained access to your personal information and used it to take money from your bank accounts and burn bridges in your name.

    The following are just a few steps that you can take with relatively little effort to secure your online accounts and to rest, comfortable in the knowledge that your online identity is yours alone.

    How To Make Better Use of Dropbox on Android

    Without a doubt, one of the best cloud services in town is Dropbox. For the unaware, Dropbox allows users to sync files between their cloud storage and as many devices as they like. A free account will get new users 2GB of storage, plus there are plenty of ways to increase that limit for free. The official Dropbox app has been on Android for some time, but there are also a number of third-party apps that can improve the experience.

    Taking advantage of just a few of these apps will make your cloud storage much more useful. Let’s go over how to take your Dropbox experience to the next level.

    How To Simulate Five Popular Lens Effects in Photoshop

    There's photography, and then there's photography — that is, all of the impressive lenses, filters and techniques that can make a good photo great. But while many popular image effects are only possible with special — and often expensive — photographic equipment, there is a way to approximate many of those results in software as well.

    A fake tilt-shift photo, via Flickr user kennymatic.

    That includes fisheye, tilt-shift, shallow depth of field and more. You’ll never beat the real thing, of course, but we can still come close.

    How To Use Filters to Teach an Old Camera Lens New Tricks

    DSLR owners, both new and old, take note: it's not all about the lenses. An extra piece of glass can be a great way to expand your camera's abilities — but it's also an expensive investment you don't necessarily need to make. There's a much cheaper way to get more from your old lens, and all it takes is a filter.

    A dramatic example of a polarizing filter, via Flickr user jadjadjad.

    Filters — to use a tired, but apt cliche — come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, there are a myriad of great filters that can both alter and even improve the look of your pictures. And you don't have to break the bank either. Here's how.

    How To Properly Patch and Repair Your Network Cables

    Network cables are the arteries and veins of the Internet. A cabled network is the most reliable of the available options for setting up network infrastructure as it provides the highest speeds, is less prone to failure and has fewer points of failure to check during troubleshooting. Being less prone to failure, though, does not make it foolproof. Cables get twisted, caught in doors, have clips broken and become unreliable as they’re pulled and tied in knots during transport.

    Today, we're going to help you to become "that guy" who can fix network cables. Y’know, the guy who brings a roll of bare Ethernet cable, a crimping tool and a bag of 8P8C plugs to every single LAN, just in case. We’re here to tell you, that guy is awesome.

    How To Design a 3D Model for MakerBot Printing with Google SketchUp

    Most weeks, our famed MakerBot printouts are culled from a handy website called Thingiverse. It's here that members of the CNC community can submit pre-made models for anyone to print — and if some of our past videos are any indication, there are some very good ones available too. But while it's easy to print someone else's creation, there's something to be said for designing one yourself. There's a sense of accomplishment that you just don't get by mashing "print" on a pre-made design.

    Today, we're going to use a free piece of software called Google SketchUp to make a simple 3D model, and show you how to turn your creation into a tangible piece of printed plastic art. There are some caveats, of course — some objects and designs are simply impossible to print — but we'll make sure you come away with something awesome for your effort.

    After all, if you make something especially cool, we could print it on a future episode of the MakerBot Mystery Build!

    How To Get Started with 3D Modeling for 3D Printing

    There’s one thing--and only one thing--the Transformers films are truly remarkable for: staggeringly detailed computer effects shots from the incomparable artists at Industrial Light & Magic. In Dark of the Moon, Shockwave’s worm-like metal pet Driller consists of 70,051 separate parts, a good 20,000 more than Revenge of the Fallen’s Devastator. It took ILM 288 render hours per frame to animate the Driller eating its way through a CG Chicago skyscraper, and the visual effects files themselves took an hour just to load on the development house’s most powerful desktops.

    No one does 3D modeling and animation like ILM--they’ve proven that time and again by bringing characters like Optimus Prime and Davy Jones to life. To climb to that level of talent, most of us have to start small, building our own simple 3D models and learning the ins and outs of shaping and texturing meshes. Getting into 3D modeling can be intimidating thanks to the complexities (and costs) of software like Autodesk’s $3500 3D Studio Max, but it’s easier than ever thanks to free options like Google Sketchup and Blender.

    Interested in throwing yourself into 3D animation? Want to know how to design those cool objects we print in the MakerBot every week? Here’s how to jump headfirst into 3D modeling without spending hundreds of dollars on overwhelming software.

    Where to Find Free e-Books for Your Kindle and Other e-Readers

    Google eBooks are compatible with all sorts of e-book readers, but until recently the service has never enjoyed the benefits of an affiliated electronic paper device. Now however, the iRiver Story HD has become the Kindle to Google’s Amazon, providing users with the kind of direct access that other online booksellers have enjoyed for years. Google boasts that the new device has access to “more than 3 million” free titles through their service. But is that really a selling point? Can’t other electronic paper devices provide free reading, too? We decided to take a look.

    Here’s how to get started finding free content for the major e-book readers available.

    How To Create Your Own OS X Lion Bootdisk and Cure Installation Woes

    Lion, the latest version of OS X was released on Wednesday, and already, many of you have made the jump. But if you’re still holding off, and wondering how exactly the upgrade process works, worry not — we’ll answer those burning questions right here and now.

    For example, is a clean install necessary, or even possible? And now that OS X is offered as a digital download, can you reinstall from physical media in the event your hard drive dies? Read on.

    How To Get Started with Mac OS X Lion: The Essentials

    While some of us have been busy fawning over Apple's latest MacBook Air refresh, let's not forget why we're really here. Lion was released today too, and if you're anything like us, you've already taken Apple's next version of OS X for a spin. But unlike Snow Leopard, this is more than a routine release.

    Lion is a legitimate shift for Apple's decade-old OS, and as with any upgrade, it helps to know where to start. For Mac users new and old, here's some advice on how to get the most from your new Lion install, and take advantage of features new and old.

    How To Send Any Audio (and Video) Stream to AirPlay Devices

    If you're big into iOS, AirPlay is a great method for streaming audio and video content between your Apple devices. But it's not perfect. Your iPhone and iPad can only stream out, for example — not the other way around. And your AppleTV will only accept the file formats supported in iTunes. These aren't quite deal breakers, but they can be annoying restrictions.

    Luckily, there are are a few third-party solutions with AirPlay support — and they enable your Apple devices to do all the things they normally can't. If you've ever wondered how to re-direct audio (and sometimes video) from nearly any application or player to your iOS device — including all that new Spotify goodness — here's how.

    How To Avoid Accidental Android Market and In-App Purchases

    We have, in the past, complained that Google makes it a hassle to buy apps. Well, they must read Tested (or just listen to their users) because over time, the Market has gotten a lot more user-friendly. One of the most useful features Google has rolled out to the Market as of late is in-app purchases. When you add this to the already exploding paid app ecosystem, it gets very easy to buy things. But, maybe too easy? We’re hearing more and more stories of people accidentally buying in-app goods.

    Another incident might begin when a user lets their young ones play with the phone only to learn they bought $50 worth of in-game currency. Or maybe you just let an acquaintance borrow your phone? Not everyone is familiar with the concept that phones do ask for real money. We’re going to go over the best ways to guard against that kind of occurrence. Stick with us to protect your wallet.

    How To Test Your Web Browser (and What Browser Benchmarks Actually Mean)

    With the Internet's second big browser war upon us, benchmarks, performance and speed have taken center stage in the fight for online supremacy. Here at Tested, we often discuss numerous technologies, from WebGL to HTML5, in attempt to suss out what browsers work best. But we also realize it's not always easy to understand what purpose these tests serve — and more specifically, the real-world benefits for people like you.

    Here's a quick rundown of what all these names and numbers mean, why they matter, and how to run some tests of your own.

    How To Manage the SD Card on Android Phones Like a Pro

    Android provides a lot of freedom with regards to file system access and storage. We definitely love having this kind of control, but it’s not just the user that gets this access. Any app that includes the modify/delete SD card contents permission has the same access to your storage card that you do. It goes without saying that you should only install apps you trust when they can access your files.

    More than that, these apps can go around making folders, leaving files strewn about, and just generally messing the place up. In the short term a few apps won’t be a problem. But if you install a lot of apps, it’s going to get messy. Let’s go over some best practices for managing your SD card and keeping the file system neat and tidy.

    How To Run a Local Web Server to Host Web Apps

    Hosting is expensive. So is registering a domain name and renewing it every year — especially for a personal blog or wiki you might not use all that often. So why not host it yourself? It's not as crazy as it sounds.

    Of course, we don't actually recommend you host your collaborative Star Trek wiki or trendy food blog on your own machine. What we're referring to are web applications that are just as useful when run locally as they are online. For example, some people maintain personal Wikis for storing notes and private information. Or consider ThinkUp, an app that archives all of your Twitter and Facebook posts, and generates statistics and trends with the results. You could buy a hosting plan and install each of these services online — or you could run them locally, free of charge. You'll get the same results, not to mention the added peace of mind that your personal data is safe, secure and only accessible by you.

    Today, we'll focus on installing the aforementioned ThinkUp, one of many legitimate reasons for running online apps and services on your own machine with a local web server. Let's get started!

    How To Remove Malware and Thwart Its Dirtiest Tricks

    It’s every Windows user’s worst nightmare. You boot up your machine to play some games do some work, but instead of seeing your usual desktop, you get a hideous pop-up claiming that viruses and hardware errors are destroying your computer. The warning is completely bogus, of course, generated by malware that’s trying to scare a credit card number out of you. But the phony program is right about one thing: your system has been infected, and now you have to deal with it. There are lots of genuine malware removers available for free that can help, but even with such noble code on your side it can be tricky to completely undo the damage—modern malware digs into a system like a tick, employing devious tactics to prevent its own removal.

    Here’s how to deal with some of the most common infections.

    Tips For Safe Surfing On Public Wi-Fi Networks

    Go to your nearest mall, library or school, and you’ll probably have an easier time finding an open wireless hotspot than a washroom; that’s just the way things are. Not that we’re complaining, of course. Blanketed, city-wide Wi-Fi has been a long time coming, and we can’t wait until that pervasive vision comes true.

    However, the risks associated with public wireless hotspots should be abundantly clear — and increasing the number of hotspots will only make those risks worse. With some freely available software, it’s trivial for unencrypted information to be intercepted or sniffed, often without you knowing. Here are a few tips for safer public browsing, with the hopes of keeping your identity where it belongs.

    The New Complete Guide to Backing Up Your Android Phone

    Google has had more than a enough time to develop some sort of unified backup solution for Android. They haven't, and we don’t expect them to ever do it. Google, and by extension Android, are about the Cloud. A lot of the data on your device ends up in Google’s servers, ready to be pushed back down to your device should you ever need it. But for the data that isn’t handled by Google, you’re on your own.

    A year ago we went over how to backup your Android phone, and it’s about time we revisited the issue. Technology marches on, things change, apps fall behind, and new services appear. Read on to find out what you can backup and how to do it.