Latest StoriesHow-To
    How To Protect Yourself from Windows and Firefox Crashes
    Windows has made some wonderful strides since the debut of Windows 95. The operating system that brought us the Start menu and task bar crashed aggressively and almost seemed to delight in delivering that dreaded blue screen of death. Things have gotten better since then. Vista may have been something of a misstep (and we don’t even want to talk about Windows ME) but Windows 7 is stable, slick and intuitive.

    We’ll lead the way.
    How To Root the Most Popular Android Phones, and Why You'd Want To
    Android is a very capable operating system in its shipping form. But there may come a time that you just want a little more control. Rooting your phone can be a rewarding experience. There are a number of reasons you might want to do this. For instance, some apps require root access to work. Or maybe you want to flash a third-party ROM on the device. Whatever your intended results, you should proceed carefully as these operations can often damage your phone. 

    How To Choose an Android Phone and Not Get Screwed on Updates
    Since Google has finally announced version 2.3 of the Android OS, also known as Gingerbread, the time has come for people to start clamoring for an update. Some phones will probably be bumped up fairly quickly, while others will languish in the doldrums of Froyo, or maybe even Éclair. Samsung has been using some vague, discouraging language regarding a Galaxy S update, which is surprising. 

    How To Properly Convert Your Vinyl Record Collection to Digital
    A veritable treasure trove of classic vinyl recently fell into my lap, bursting with treasures like "Blood on the Tracks" and "Led Zeppelin I"--it’s a collection of hundreds for me to listen to, enjoy . . . and rip. There’s something a little bit magic about vinyl that separates it from the digital music libraries we use today: the incredible artwork you can touch and feel, the weight of the record in your hands, the subtle difference in tone and atmosphere of an analog recording. It’s just different, in an irreplaceable way. But there are some drawbacks. Scratches and pops are atmosphere, but skipping signifies damaged vinyl. And portability? Forget it.

    Armed with a fairly cheap ION USB turntable, I’ve started listening my way through the 60s and 70s, recording every wah-wah and analog crackle the needle picks up. I’m doing it partly for safekeeping but mostly because dealing with music technology--both new and old--is awesome. By grappling with drivers, software and a mess of configurations, I’ve finally settled on a streamlined system that works really well. You won’t know how satisfying it is to hear a fantastic quality mp3 of Neil Young’s "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" until you’ve ripped it from vinyl yourself. 

    The Awesome iOS 4.2 Feature You Don't Know About
    The recent release of iOS 4.2 brought a number of cool additions, but one of the most significant improvements is something you probably didn’t notice, or even know about. An updated iPhone now supports Network Controlled Fast Dormancy, technology that lets a handset and it’s network join forces to improve battery life and reduce network traffic—both things that a multitasking iPhone could use.

    When You Should Give Your Android Phone a Factory Reset
    In an ideal world, your Android phone would run like a dream forever. This being real life, we can't always expect that sort of robust performance out of our devices. Things can happen that slow your phone and damage the experience. Maybe you install a lot of apps, and some of them are acting a little mischievous, or maybe something has just gone wrong deep down in the system where you have little chance of fixing it. At times like this, you could agonize over tweaks and possible fixes, or you could spend time uninstalling different combinations of apps. But maybe wiping the phone clean and starting over is the best overall option sometimes. 

    How to Make an Optimal Wallpaper for Your Android Phone
    Android has long supported custom wallpaper on the home screen. It does fit the platform's high degree of customization after all. When you're looking for a new wallpaper, there are a few things to think about. Android doesn't just take an image that is the resolution of your display, like some other platforms do. 

    How To Test the Quality of Your Android Phone's Touchscreen
    A phone can be built well, and have fast internals, but if the touch screen is of poor quality, the experience will be damaged. This is of special concern with Android. Many manufacturers use different hardware with different capabilities. You also have to worry about defects that can adversely affect the image quality of the screen. It's also possible for a high quality touch screen to be defective when you take it out of the box. There are a few easy things you can do to make sure your touch screen is detecting your interactions correctly. 

    Be a Savvy Tech Shopper by Avoiding These Two Psychological Pricing Tricks
    No one wants to be a sucker. We all like to think of ourselves as savvy consumers, especially when it comes to our tech. That’s why we arm ourselves with benchmarks, product reviews, and bar code scanner apps—so we can buy the best gear, and not get fooled by hype and gimmicks. But are we really as safe as we think? Dan Ariely, author of “ Predictably Irrational,” would say “no.” In his book, Ariely explores the field of behavioral economics, which studies how consumers make decisions, and explains how products in the real world are sold through subtle psychological trickery. These slick tactics show up everywhere—even the latest electronics store catalog.

    Clever Hack: 3.5 Floppy Inches of USB Storage
    We can’t get enough of hacks that hearken back to tech from days gone by. Who wouldn’t want a Game Boy Hard drive? The latest nostalgia-fueled hack we’ve come across is a USB drive crammed into a 3.5” floppy disk. The floppy, submitted to technabob, houses a flat chip of flash storage and the USB cord fits right out of a snug hole beside the disk’s shutter. When not in use, the USB pushes far enough back into the floppy to be almost completely hidden. Industrious hacker Charles Mangin even lined up the flash drive’s red LED light with the disk’s read/write port.

    The USB port was too thick to fit within one floppy, so this hacked USB storage drive is actually made of two 3.5” disks stacked together. And here’s a depressing thought: show this to a kid under the age of 15 and he probably won’t even notice the added bulk.

    Four Essential Computing Tasks You Don't Do Often Enough
    We can sit at our computers for hours, polishing our operating system into a lean, mean, defragged and efficient machine. Even the arduous process of upgrading software and drivers can somehow be fun when it offers the illusion of new features and better performance. Tech geeks have a tendency to pour lots of effort into system maintenance, but we slack off when it comes to real-world upkeep. Crumbs in the keyboard? Dust buildup in the PC tower? We’ll take care of it later!

    How To Resolve Windows 7's Most Frustrating Annoyances
    Microsoft has scored big with Windows 7, redeeming itself from the mess that was Windows Vista and delivering a solid, easy-to-use operating system. Nevertheless, Win7 comes with some baggage from previous versions of Windows. And with the breadth of functionality in a modern OS, it’s a given that there will be features and shortcuts that some people never want to use. There are also shortcuts that no one has ever wanted to use, little Windows quirks we’ve been living with for years.

    Perform Regular Solid-State Checkups with SSDlife
    Solid-state drives aren’t the outrageously expensive investments they once were, but it’s still important to keep them running in tip-top shape to make the most of their speedy potential. Here’s a free tool to give that SSD a regular checkup: SSDlife scrutinizes your drive and spits out a detailed report on how it’s feeling, how much work its done over its lifetime, and how many years it has left before conking out.

    Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology monitoring system to analyze various drive values like throughput performance, temperature and read/write errors. SSDlife is a lightweight tool that gives easy at-a-glance info about your solid-state drive: to give the SSD a tune-up, try Intel’s Solid-State Toolbox.    
    How To Best Share Android App Recommendations with Friends
    As Android continues to expand, you're likely to see family and friends turning up with shiny new Android handsets. If you've got a reputation as a tech savvy individual (and let's face it, you're reading Tested), these people will start asking you questions. Frequently, the answer is going to be to download an app. Then you have to go through the process of instructing your acquaintance to search for it in the Market app; maybe you even need to spell it for them a few times. Then you have to worry about having multiple apps with the same name. It can be confusing for the uninitiated. 

    How To Get the Most Out of NiMH Rechargeable Batteries
    If you’ve got few AA and AAA devices in your life, you’ve probably at least considered investing in some rechargeable batteries. NiMH cells have soared in popularity as devices have become increasingly wire-free, and thus battery-dependent. And that’s a good thing. Rechargeable batteries are a great idea all around: they save you the hassle and money of repeatedly buying throw-aways, and also keep those single-use cells out of the landfills.

    How To Completely Back Up Your Google Account Files
    Raise your hand if you use Gmail, Google Docs, Chat or Calendar (if you’re in a public place, you’re excused from raising your hand--you might look a bit silly). Point is, the majority of us find ourselves knee deep in at least one Gmail Inbox every day, and Docs provides a fantastic service for storing files in the cloud and collaborating with friends and colleagues. But delete a file from the cloud, and you may find yourself scrambling in vain to get it back. Worse, every so often the unthinkable happens--Google’s servers go down.

    How To Uninstall Your Android Apps the Right Way
    Many tasks in Android can be accomplished in multiple way. We talked about installing applications recently, but you also have a few different methods of uninstalling applications, but you should know the outcome is not always the same. Some methods are more powerful than others, but you need to choose carefully depending on what you're are doing. 

    How To Fine Tune Automation on Your Android Phone
    Some of Android's early killer features were centered on automation. The automatic syncing of Gmail and Google Contacts was a delight even on the T-Mobile G1 back in the Android 1.0 days. Over time, Android has gained the ability to automate more parts of the experience. That can be great if you are happy to let your phone manage itself, but can manual management of some settings be better?