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    How To Find the Right DSLR Lens For Your Needs

    Photographers are a funny bunch. One day, they tell you that it’s not the gear that matters, it’s the photographer, so you should be able to get great photos out of that old Instamatic. In the next breath, they tell you to throw away the perfectly decent kit lens you got with your new DSLR because photos shot with it will be crap. Oh, what to believe!

    What you really want is the right lens for your photography. That 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens may be just right for you, if you primarily take photos of your family in brightly lit environments, or lug it along on vacations, where the relative light weight of the kit lens makes life easier on necks and backs. On the other hand, if you’re trying to shoot your kid playing basketball in crappy gym lighting, and get blurry messes for most pictures, maybe you do need a different lens.

    Let’s try to deconstruct some of the key numbers, and understand why some lenses do better than others – and why they also might cost and weigh a whole lot more. Most of the discussion will focus on zoom lenses, but we’ll touch on primes – fixed focal length lenses – at the end. Since I’m a Nikon shooter, most of my examples will be Nikon, but the principles are the same whether you use Canon, Sony or some other DSLR brand.

    The 5 Tweaks Every New Galaxy Nexus Owner Should Do Immediately

    So you picked up a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon over the weekend? Well, its important to get off to a good start with any new smartphone, and the Galaxy Nexus has so many new tricks that it can be a little overwhelming. To that end, we’re going to tell you about the 5 things you should do immediately when turning on your Galaxy Nexus.

    New users might have done some of this, but we’d wager everyone will find something new here. Grab your Nexus and get ready to do some tweaking.

    Here's Where Awesome Free Shit Lives on the Internet

    Do your eyes light up when you hear the word free? Will you bend over backwards to use free software just to avoid paying a couple bucks for a better app? Have you been known to go to Subway at 9 a.m. for a free breakfast even though you don't like Subway? Then prepare to lose countless hours plumbing the depths of these Internet treasure troves of media and culture. For example: you probably knew was full of terabytes upon terabytes of information (actually, it's more than 3 petabytes), but did you know it hosted radio broadcasts of The Shadow from the 1930s featuring a 22 year-old Orson Welles? Or over a dozen Felix the cat cartoons dating back to the 1920s? and Project Gutenberg, which hosts more than 100,000 ebooks, are just two awesome resources for amazing free content on the web. For your enjoyment (and our own), we've put together a list of some of the best, including content to look for and tips on finding exactly what you're looking for.

    How To Sideload Android Apps on the Amazon Kindle Fire in 3 Steps

    So, you’ve got a shiny new Kindle Fire, but your favorite app isn’t in the Amazon Appstore? Since the Fire lacks access to the Android Market, you’re just out of luck, right? Nope. Amazon was good enough to leave the frameworks in place to allow sideloading of apps from other sources. It’s not the most straight forward process, but that never stopped us before.

    it might take you a few minutes, but there is enough of Android filling the Fire's cracks to make this a quick fix. Read on as we go over how to expand your Kindle Fire’s app selection in just three steps.

    The Best Password Managers for Your Android Phone

    It only takes one epic disaster to make you take password security seriously, so why not get out ahead of that calamity? A password manager can generate complex passwords and plug them in whenever you need them, making it nearly impossible for someone to crack your accounts. There are a number of excellent password management services out there, and many of them have solid Android integration. Whether you want your data manged for you in the cloud, or you want a safe and secure database file on your phone, there are options.

    We’re going to go over the best password manages on Android so you can make the safe choice that’s right for you.

    How To Make Full Use of Your Android Phone's Voice Control

    Android has had voice commands for quite some time, but like many of Google’s services, there are some easter eggs hidden beneath the surface. Voice Actions is part of Google Voice Search and ties in with a number of apps and services. It can even be managed on Google’s back end dashboard for increased privacy. Unlike some other voice input solutions, Android voice input isn’t geared toward natural language; you have to know the commands.

    Let’s go over the compatible voice commands, and see what sort of tweaking you can do to make Android’s voice input work better for you.

    How To Easily Stream Your Own Live Podcast On Windows or Mac with Mixlr

    Our 24-hour Oktobercast marathon went out over a live video stream, but as an alternative the day-long podcast was simultaneously streamed through a service called Mixlr. Mixlr's audio streams--accessible on computers or mobile devices thanks to HTML 5-optimized sites and Flash playback on Android--gave listeners an opportunity to follow along for the entire 'cast and was rock solid for the entire production. So why had none of us heard of Mixlr before?

    Simple answer: Mixlr's free broadcasting launched in late May 2011, and since then the service has been piling on new features--integration with Dropbox, Facebook, Soundcloud, and more. If you're looking to livestream your own podcast or broadcast audio from a special event, Mixlr's a great place to start. We'll walk you through the setup--what kind of hardware you'll need, how to get Mixlr running smoothly, and what it takes to get music and sound effects like the Inception horn integrated into the stream.

    How To Use Android's Safe Mode to Save a Phone from Boot Loops

    We find that Android is a stable operating system these days, but there is always the possibility that you might install an app that doesn’t agree with the device. When that happens, a device can start suffering battery drain issues, force closes, or even a boot loop. Force close and boot loops can result from the app continuously opening itself, thus rendering the device unusable. In these, the darkest of scenarios, the temptation may be to reset the device to factory defaults. But there is another way.

    Android has a hidden Safe Mode that is perfect for pulling out a miscreant app that is causing your system to crash. There are some annoyances, and it’s not necessarily consistent from device to device, but it can save your bacon.

    How To Choose the Perfect Bag for Your DSLR

    Bags come in all sorts of varieties. Some are designed to contain all your gear — from your biggest lenses, to your cache of spare batteries. Others are slim and compact, intended for no more than a single body and lens. From backpacks to slings and over the shoulder or messenger-style bags, there's nearly an endless selection of models from which to choose. So how do you decide what's best?

    Predictably, it all comes down to the amount of gear you own, and how you want to use it. If you're searching for the perfect bag for your DSLR, here's a good place to start.

    How To Get Started With iCloud Backups and Sync in iOS 5

    iOS 5 is packed with a bevy of new features, but iCloud is undoubtedly one of the best. Announced at WWDC this past June, iCloud does what MobileMe could not. The web-based calendar, contacts and mail functionality are still there, but the service has been reborn as an impressive backup solution that aims to keep all of your Apple devices in sync.

    That means apps, music, videos and books move seamlessly between devices. Your data and settings stay persistent too. And because it happens in the cloud, you don't need a Mac or PC. Here's how to get started.

    A Link to the Past: How To Add CRT Filters to 16-Bit Games on PC

    Almost 90 million people worldwide own Nintendo Wiis. Millions of those Wii owners spent money on retro games on Nintendo's Virtual Console to replay classics like Super Mario World. And millions of those people were in for an ugly surprise: old, low resolution games do not look good on LCD TVs. Between upscaling games designed for 224p output and inappropriately stretching them to 16:9, modern flatscreens do Virtual Console games no favors.

    But the problem goes deeper than that: LCDs and plasmas simply look different than the cathode ray tube televisions old games were designed for. Emulators allow us to run games at their original resolutions or control image scaling more accurately, but that's only a partial solution. Here's where it gets cool: programmers with a passion for preservation have developed filters to bring the CRT look alive on modern displays. We're talking about manually introducing color bleed, scanlines and even the rounded corners and bulge of the CRT into perfectly emulated images.

    The attention to detail may sound crazy, but comparisons will make you a believer. Read on to see the filters in action as we dig into the technology keeping the analog video look alive and flickering in the digital era.

    How To Properly Upgrade to iOS 5 in Five Simple Steps

    We've been putting the iOS 5 beta through its paces for the past few months. But today, the final release is available to all. Any device capable of running iOS 4 is eligible for an upgrade to iOS 5 — including the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod Touch.

    If you've been waiting for improved notifications and iMessage goodness, this is your chance to see what you've been missing. But more important, here's how to make your upgrade go smoothly the first time.

    How To Shoot Better Photos on Your Android Phone with 4 Apps

    The iPhone 4S and iOS 5 are really taking Apple’s cameras up a notch, but existing Android phones often have fine sensors of their own. With a few software compliments, your Android device’s camera can get a new lease on life. Not all phones have the same features built in, but with these apps, you can bring your phone up to parity with even the most advanced cameras.

    We’re going to go over ways to make your pictures better looking, faster, and more expansive.

    10 Clever Ways to Automate Your Online Life with ifttt

    You want to automate your life. So do we. And while there’s still no way to feed the cat and do the dishes in one fell swoop, we can at least make your digital life a little easier. But don’t thank us. Direct your praise at ifttt instead.

    It has a weird name. We know. Just say “lift” but without the L. That’s ifttt. The acronym actually stands for “if this then that” which is the basis of ifttt’s operating philosophy. You create macros, or automated tasks, by combining a variety of web apps and services. The results are extremely cool.

    Think of it as “duct tape” for the web, where you make sites that don’t normally talk speak each other’s language. In other words, you have the ability to send all your Instagram photos to a Dropbox folder, or have your phone ring every time a used SNES hits Craigslist. If this, then that. And we’re only just scratching the surface.

    How To Buy and Test a Third-Party Battery for Android Phones

    Android is designed in such a way that users that really want to go out of their way, can customize a device eight ways from Sunday. it can be easy to go a little overboard and end up with a ton of services pining the data network or the GPS. While useful, this is a major drain on battery life. If you want to keep your phone chugging along, but don’t want to make sacrifices, it could be time for a third-party battery.

    There are a few things to look for no matter if you’re replacing your battery altogether, or just getting a second as a spare. Read on to stay powered up.

    How To Download Kindle Books from Your Local Library Website

    Library fans rejoice! The Kindle Lending Library service, announced in April of this year, has spread from its limited launch in Seattle to a far more accessible range of 11,000 libraries across the United States. The service mixes the routine and limitations of borrowing a book from a library with the lovely convenience of Kindle digital delivery. That is, libraries have limited digital copies of books, and only lend them out for certain periods of time, but you don't actually have to go to the library to check out a book.

    Books can be checked out via participating library websites and synced to a Kindle via Wi-Fi or USB. And if you don't own the e-reader itself that's okay, too--anyone using the Kindle reading software can get in on the book borrowing action. Here's how to find out if your library's involved.

    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.