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Why Netflix's price increase is no big deal

By Guest Blogger
at 9:30AM Tuesday April 22, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Never say never.

I used to hate walnuts, for example. Now I'm putting 'em in oatmeal, salads, you name it. Turns out they're good, and good for you!

Likewise, back in 2011, when Netflix split its DVD-rental and movie-streaming businesses in two, lots of people swore off the service. "Pay $7.99 just for streaming?!

Never!"

Yeah, and not long after, you came crawling back, didn't you? Because, let's face it, Netflix is the best deal on anything ever. Seriously. You're practically ripping them off. A mere eight bucks per month buys you unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. Read More »

Convert your DVDs to digital movies for free

By Guest Blogger
at 12:05PM Thursday April 17, 2014
under Product Review

Remember all those DVDs you bought back in the days when watching a movie meant watching a DVD? Now they're probably collecting dust on a shelf, having been replaced by the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and maybe even Vudu. (Ha, ha, I know: good one.)

Yep, those discs are veritable dinosaurs these days, about as practical as vinyl records and VHS cassettes. And yet it's possible to resurrect your DVDs for a very practical purpose: Watching those movies on your PC, tablet, or smartphone. All you need is the right software.

Specifically, a DVD ripper. Don't let the name scare you: the process of "ripping" merely means copying the movie files from a disc and converting them to a format that's compatible with the aforementioned devices. Read More »

Five free home-page alternatives that will brighten your day

By Guest Blogger
at 8:00AM Tuesday April 15, 2014
under Freebies

When you fire up your Web browser, what's the first thing you see? Unless you've modified the default home page, chances are good it's MSN, Yahoo, or some other news-oriented site. I don't know about you, but the headlines I typically see make me want to dive under the covers and stay there.

Seriously, do you really want to be slapped in the face with all that negativity, all that bad news, every time you open your browser? I certainly don't, which is why I've changed my home page to something far more positive.

Yes, you can do that. I'm always surprised at how many people never bother to choose a new home page, perhaps because they think that's the way the computer was set up, and that's how it has to stay. Nuh-uh. You can set your home page to Facebook, Twitter, Fluffy Kittens on Tumblr, or whatever you like. Read More »

My smartphone is out of contract. Now what?

By Guest Blogger
at 9:28AM Thursday April 10, 2014
under Money Saving Tips

Huzzah! You've finally reached the end of that oppressive two-year contract with your evil, over-charging mobile phone carrier. At long last, you're free to... free to...

Hmm.

Now that your phone's out of contract, what are your options? A year ago at this time, you didn't have many. Today, however, the mobile landscape has changed dramatically. In a good way. You've got loads of post-contract choices, and in most cases you'll end up spending less than you are now--possibly a lot less.

One phone, two phone, old phone, new phone
At this point you've got two basic options: You can keep your existing phone or replace it with a new one. Let's start with the former. Read More »

Three important things you should know about your Windows XP PC

By Guest Blogger
at 10:33AM Tuesday April 8, 2014
under Stuff We Like

As you may have heard, today marks "the end" for Windows XP, arguably the single most popular version of Microsoft's long-running operating system. (And by "popular" I mean "least hated." This is Windows we're talking about, after all.)

But what does that really mean? Just because Microsoft is pulling the plug, now you have to go buy a whole new computer? And is Windows 8 so incredibly bad that you're better off buying a Mac?

First things first: Don't panic. (It worked for Arthur Dent, it'll work for you.) Instead, read on to learn three essential facts about Windows XP's demise. Read More »

The Roku Streaming Stick vs. the Amazon Fire TV

By Guest Blogger
at 12:35PM Thursday April 3, 2014
under Stuff We Like

One thing I know is that everybody needs Netflix. And Amazon Instant Video. And HBO Go. Maybe Hulu Plus and Crackle.

What I don't know is which media-streaming box I should invite into my home to deliver all these awesome services. I guess you could say I'm feeling...boxed in.

Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week.

Yesterday, Amazon hopped on the set-top box bandwagon with the Fire TV, an Apple TV/Roku competitor with a few neat tricks up its sleeve--and an eyebrow-raising price. More on that in a minute. Read More »

Comedy Central app streams full episodes for free

By Guest Blogger
at 8:55AM Tuesday April 1, 2014
under Freebies

It may be April 1, but this is no joke: Comedy Central's new iOS app lets you watch full-length episodes of "The Daily Show," "Key & Peele," "South Park," and more--all for free.

@#!$ yeah!

Before this, various Comedy Central shows had their own apps, but most of them (like The Colbert Report's) let you watch only clips. Now you can see the latest episodes of over a dozen shows, in their entirety, the day after they air.

In other words, at long last, you can stream last night's "Daily Show" on the train ride to work. In your face, boredom! (Just try to keep the laughter down. Some of us have work to do.)

Read More »

Revive an old PC with Zorin OS

By Guest Blogger
at 9:09AM Thursday March 27, 2014
under Stuff We Like

It's an age-old question: Now that you've purchased a new PC, what do you do with the old one? (Tossing it in a lake is not a wise idea, tempted though you might be.)

The age-old answer: install Linux. You know, that "other" operating system that's kind of like Windows, only not really, and requires a degree in programming to use?

Reality check: Linux has matured a lot over the years, to the point where anyone accustomed to Windows should have no trouble using it. What's more, despite offering nearly all the software power of Windows, Linux requires way less hardware power. Read More »

Use your smartphone to demolish that winter weight-gain

By Guest Blogger
at 12:12PM Tuesday March 25, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Spring has sprung! Well, actually, spring is still cowering in a corner like a frightened little girl, at least around these parts. But the day is coming when we'll want to shed our parkas in favor of shorts, t-shirts, and even bathing suits.

I don't know about you, but I spent most of this winter eating like a bear who forgot to hibernate. Consequently, I've got some extra pounds that need removal. Thankfully, I've also got a smartphone.

Plenty of apps can help with this challenge; my favorites include MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper, which have proven indispensable in recent years.

However, sometimes you need a little extra incentive, or at least a way to shake up your regular routine. That's why I'm always on the lookout for apps that make fitness and weight-loss more fun, if not downright profitable. Here are three of the latest that can help you health yourself.

Read More »

Three new Android games that will obliterate your free time

By Guest Blogger
at 11:42AM Thursday March 20, 2014
under Stuff We Like

I hate boredom. Just thinking about it bores me. Even writing about it... Well, let's move on.

Fortunately, living in the smartphone age means we don't need to be bored. Not now, not ever. Bring it on, waiting room! Do your worst, line at the DMV! Delay my flight another hour, airline! I scoff at your attempts to make me suffer the horrors of boredom.

That's because I've got my Android phone (a Moto X, if you're curious) and three of the latest brain games. Two are also available for iOS, but one of them is an Android-only app. All three: guaranteed to destroy not only your boredom, but also any free time you thought you had.

Seriously, play these at your own risk--risk of serious entertainment!

Read More »

Finally, a mobile charger that's both smart and sexy

By Guest Blogger
at 12:00PM Tuesday March 18, 2014
under Product Review

Mobile chargers are kind of a hot category these days, which is understandable given the ubiquity of smartphones and their insatiable thirst for power.

To put it another way: your smartphone is always running out of juice, and always at the worst times (like when you need to make a call or you're about to finally beat that impossible Candy Crush Saga level).

I've seen mobile chargers in all shapes and sizes, many of them squeezing their way into card-size frames that can easily slip into a pocket, purse, or even wallet. But as cool as that sounds, they typically have ugly plastic shells and anemic batteries.

That's why I'm jazzed about the LithiumCard, which combines slick looks and smart design. It's currently seeking backers on crowd-funding site Indiegogo, but has already blown past its funding goals, meaning it's just a matter of time before it goes into production. Read More »

Office 365 Personal: Like regular Office, only crummier!

By Guest Blogger
at 12:34PM Thursday March 13, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Around this time last year, Microsoft made an interesting move with the latest version of its Office suite: Instead of buying it outright, you could subscribe to it, ostensibly getting more Office for less money.

Indeed, on the surface, Office 365 Home Premium seemed like an attractive deal: Licenses for up to five users/devices, 60 minutes of Skype calls per month, and 20GB of extra OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) storage--all for $99.

Ah, but what if there's only one of you? What if you don't need five licenses? Now you're paying extra for more Office than you're using. (I would argue that nearly everybody is paying extra for more Office than they need, but that's another story.)

For those lonely folks, Microsoft just unveiled Office 365 Personal, which lets you run the software on one PC or Mac and one tablet. Price: $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually.

Let's do some simple math, shall we? The traditional, single-user version of Office Home and Student 2013 costs $139.99, though you can pick it up for as low as $99.99 from stores like B&H. Read More »