Lounge Life

Choosing the ideal external back-up drive

Having a reliable external hard drive is fundamental to a good backup and archival storage strategy.

But deciding which drive is best-suited to your needs can be mind-boggling. Speed, capacity, overall size, and price are all important factors in the final choice. And then there are the intangibles. Are you going for the latest designer shape and color?

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Help for a hijacked e-mail identity

Having your e-mail address hijacked by spammers is more than irritating; it can damage your reputation and make communicating with friends and business associates painfully difficult.

Sometimes spammers simply steal your e-mail identity and send out thousands of unwanted messages under your name. Even worse, they might install malware on your PC and send their dreck from your own machine without your knowledge.

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Picking the best all-purpose media player

There’s no shortage of digital media players to choose from — iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, and others can all do the job.

But picking one that works well with a variety of portable music devices can be surprisingly tough.

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Taking control of troublesome startup apps

Programs that automatically start up when you boot Windows can be time savers. But they can also be a pain in the neck.

That’s often the case with programs that automatically install themselves as startup apps and that offer no obvious means of removal.

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Cleaning a PC demands a delicate touch


Periodically cleaning the innards of your computer is a necessary task. Accumulated dust and detritus can cause overheating and component failure. But safely removing dirt from the delicate parts of a motherboard requires more finesse than simply blasting them with canned air.

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Password security in Firefox and other browsers

Popular Web browsers will often remember passwords to visited sites — but at what cost to security?

Keeping track of the dozens of passwords we use is a hassle, so most of us blithely trust the password managers built into almost every browser.

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When is a script or batch file copyrighted?

Freeware, shareware, and independently written scripts fall into a legal gray area that’s easily overlooked by most users.

It gets especially murky with scripts and batch files as they are modified, combined, and redistributed across the Net.

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Untimely USB drive disconnect causes data loss

Even the most conscientious PC users disconnect their USB devices before it’s “safe” to do so.

Accidents happen — a hand reaching for a cup of coffee knocks out the USB cord connecting an external drive, and critical data get lost. It could even cause hardware damage.

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Perplexing print-preview problems with browsers

Reviewing Web documents with print preview can be deceiving.

Often, what looks fine in the preview emerges from the printer as a disjointed and difficult-to-read mess — if anything emerges at all.

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Dead language becomes dated placeholder

Although placeholder text has been used in word processing for decades, it’s rarely the subject of scrutiny.

Lorem ipsum is the Latin-derived placeholder text used by graphic designers and layout specialists. But in this age of sophisticated digital-document product, is it time for an updated version?

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