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    How To Create the Perfect Android Home Screen Layout
    When you get a new Android phone, customizing the home screen is one of the first things to do. With the openness of the platform and the robust widget framework, the options are nearly endless. Finding the right layout can make you more productive, reduce frustration, and let you enjoy your device more. 
     

     
    How To Give Your PC a Crowdsourced Clean-Up
    A truly clean Windows install is the stuff of legends. Try as you might, there always seems to be some service, process or application that manages to sully an otherwise fast machine. Removing these problems is just half the battle — keeping them from coming back is where the real challenge lies.


    Don't believe us? We'll show you what we mean.

    Shooting Photos in Black and White vs Post-Processing
    Black and white photos are classy. They're artsy. They're stylish. They're sometimes cliched, but can look really good if you know what you're doing. In the days of film, photographers could simply use black and white film, a medium designed to capture a monochromatic image. In the age of digital photography, though, native color images have to be converted into black and white to produce the same result. Because digital camera sensors are designed to capture color images, there's actually no advantage to setting your camera to black and white and "shooting in monochrome." You're just using an in-camera processor to process the sensor image when post-production in Photoshop can produce a far better result. 



    How To Give Your Hard Drive and RAM Regular Check-Ups
    Hardware failure is a horrible thing to experience. One moment you're using your computer as usual, the next moment the entire system is down. You crack the box open to determine what's wrong, and you find out after extensive diagnostics and trial-and-error that your hard drive just died or a stick of RAM is shot. 
     

     
    How To Shoot Photos Using a Gray Card for Proper Color Balance
    White balance settings can keep the colors of your photos accurate, but they can't make up for a truly accurate color reading. You can manually set the camera's white balance using a simple white piece of paper, but depending on how you expose the shot, it might not get quite right. That's when you need to turn to the go-to accessory of all color-savvy photographers, the 18% gray card.  
     
    A gray card is a neutral balance tool. Instead of basing color adjustments on white or black objects, neutral balance determines the best adjustments using the average of all the light in an "average" scene. The 18% gray card will let the camera and any post-production software know what color levels the overall exposure should produce. White balance using a white object can produce mixed results, because any overexposed image will appear white. 
     

     
    How To Determine if You Need an Aftermarket CPU Cooler
    Anyone who's ever owned a MacBook knows that these things get hot — and we mean hot. However, they're built with some of the fastest fans on the market which work to keep temperatures in check, even under heavy load.
     
    Sadly, the same can't always be said of all desktop CPU coolers. Some fans dissipate heat better than others, while others coolers can leave your PC woefully toasty — especially when pushing your processor past stock speeds. 



    Have You Checked Out Our Awesome How-Tos Archive?
    Hey everyone, Norm here. Just wanted to give you a quick update on some behind-the-scenes updates on the site. Many of you may be new to Tested (welcome, Live Live Show viewers!), and we want to make sure you don't miss out on some of the sweet feature stories and how-to guides we have stashed in our archives. For the longest time, our How-To section wasn't working properly--you could only see the 10 most recent posts. Our Top Men have since worked their mojo on the system, and now you can easily access almost 200 How-To stories we've written and shot in the past 6 months. So go ahead and check them out! Additionally, we want your help with two site features that we want to utilize more -- Quick Links and Overheards. Will explains what those are in this forum post, and we encourage you to submit your suggestions for awesome links and Twitter posts you encounter in your day-to-day surfing. In fact, you can send your tips directly to me at norman [at] tested.com. Don't be a link hoarder--share the wealth!

    Check out our How-To archive. Step 2: Submit your interesting links and Twitter posts! Also, we want to see your wish list for future How-To stories in the comments below! What specific guides do you want to see us write about or shoot?
    Skype for Android: What You Can and Can't Do with It
    It took some time, but Skype for Android is now available in the Android Market for all users to download. Until recently, Verizon Wireless had the exclusive on Skype for the Android platform. Avid Skype users were disappointed to see an exclusive on such a widely used service. As such, its appearance in the Market is welcome, but there are some strange choices in the included feature set. 


     
    How To Buy the Right Camera Bag for Your DSLR Gear
    Photographers carry around a lot of gear. If you're a casual snapshooter, you might keep a compact digital camera in your pocket. If you're an amateur photo hound, you might keep an entry-level SLR with your preferred lens around your neck. If you're a serious photographer, you'll probably be dragging around four digits worth of camera bodies, lenses, flashes, and other equipment. 


     
    How To Easily Edit and Convert Recorded Video to Any Format
    Digital videos come in dozens of different flavors. Containers, codecs, resolutions, audio streams, and other data combine into the video files we watch every day. There's MPEG-2, there's MPEG-4, there's QuickTime, there's Flash video, and just looking at the file names probably won't tell you what you need to know to work with them. You can use GSpot to determine what's inside the video file and how it was created, but if it's the wrong format you're still out of luck. That's where MPEG Streamclip comes in. MPEG Streamclip is a free application that can convert nearly any video file into nearly any video file format--assuming you have the proper codecs installed. 


     
    How To Check JPEGs for Photoshopped Modifications
    Ever wondered if a digital photo has been manipulated? Sometimes it’s all too ( hilariously) clear when an image has been altered, but when crafty photoshoppers have been at work, it’s hard to be sure what’s real. But now thanks to a handy online tool, anyone can perform a quick forensic check of a JPEG picture and easily see which sections might be fake.

    error level analysis (ELA), which checks quality level across the image and highlights sections that seem to be off from the rest of it. Here’s how this ELA utility separates truth from fiction.
     
     
    Essential Tips for Proper Posture for a Day at Your Desk
    We all fall victim to poor posture in front of our computers. Whether leaning back in the chair with legs up on the desk or slouched on the couch laptop awkwardly perched on the thighs, we think we're comfortable when, in actuality, we're doing long-term damage to our bodies. 

    Many of us have no choice but to spend our hours in front of a desk at work, and when we get home our leisure time is more of the same. John Morrell, a professor of mechanical engineering and material sciences at Yale, has created a mechanical chair fitted with force-sensitive resistors that vibrate when the body does not make contact with them. This forces the body to maintain proper posture for fear of constant agitation. 


    Morrell's contraption cost nearly $1000 to outfit ($70 in electronics and an $850 industry-standard Herman Miller Aeron chair), but you can save your body and your bank account a lot of stress with these little changes.  
     
    How To Print From Your Phone for Free with Dropbox
    What’s cooler than printing? Well, lots of things--but one of those things is wireless printing. We may be stuck with these ugly, awkward devices for a few more years until our country’s dead paper obsession winds down, but remote printing at least gives us the option to produce paperwork without being tethered to a printer in a stuffy office. We spend more time on our phones than our desktops these days, and that calls for a mobile printing solution. That’s where Dropbox comes in.

    With a Dropbox account and a simple script, you can print whatever you want from a web-enabled phone. It’s free and easy--here’s how.

    How To Easily Cut and Remove Backgrounds from Photos
    Masking backgrounds and pulling out objects is one of the more tedious and common processes in Photoshop. If you have a person standing in front of one background and you want to use the magic of image editing and put him in front of an entirely different background, you need to isolate him from the rest of the picture. The addition of the Quick Select tool in Adobe Photoshop CS3 was a great start, but it's not the only way to tell Photoshop that the background is a different part of the picture from the foreground or the subject.  


     
    How To Micromanage Your Windows Startup Routine
    Windows almost never simply boots. Once you start loading your computer with software, it collects several applications and utilities it will run every time you start. Office has them, Adobe has them, and even iTunes has them. Many of these programs don't even offer the option of disabling them within their own settings; once they're installed, they're lodged securely in your startup routine. 


     
    Chaos In Your Inbox: Turn Off Gmail's Conversation View
    Do you remember the dark age of email, the time before threaded messages became standard? Grouped conversations work wonders for a crowded Inbox, keeping conversations neat and tidy no matter how long they get. Up until iOS4 launched, the lack of threaded email support was quite possibly the most common complaint leveraged against Apple’s smart phone. Everyone loves Gmail’s conversation format, right?

    Well, apparently not. Enough crazies out there petitioned for an option to turn off threaded messaging that Google finally responded, adding Conversation view to the Settings menu. If you feel like deleting snippets of a conversation to make your email archives confusing and disjointed, now’s your chance! If you don’t see the option in settings yet, check back over the next couple days--Gmail updates usually take a few days to roll out to the entire userbase.
     
    How To Watch Blu-ray Movies on Your Mac (It's Not Pretty)
    Blu-ray support on OS X is something of a mystery. According to Steve Jobs, digital download services like iTunes are, in fact, the future, and will ultimately replace physical disc-based formats. And although that future is a long way off — at least, in terms of features and quality — it means the popular Apple OS won't be getting proper support for the format anytime soon. But regardless of what our black turtlenecked overlord thinks, consumers are buying the high-definition discs in droves — and Mac users have no way to enjoy them.



    How To Take Phone Screenshots with the Android SDK
    As we all become more enamored with customizing our smart phones, it makes sense you might occasionally want to show off what you've done. The problem is that Android makes it a pretty spectacular pain to actually take screenshots of your phone. If you root, there are a number of apps you can use to take screens. But if you're not rooted, with a little setup the Android SDK can be used to capture screen shots easily, and with great results.