The Windows 10 Technical Preview, keylogging, and you

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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In its current Technical Preview edition, the next major version of Windows can send your keystrokes and spoken words to Microsoft. Andy Gorfman asked if it will stay that way. “Apart from taking Microsoft on trust, how do we know that [the spyware will be removed].”

Paranoia seems reasonable these days. We know that big-data companies such as Google, Facebook, and yes, Microsoft, gather information about us for commercial reasons. In addition to that, the NSA spies on us, and the big companies may be collaborating with them.

Meanwhile, the Windows 10 Technical Preview Privacy Statement is indeed a scary document. It informs us that “we may collect voice information” and “typed characters.” That’s not what you want in an operating system.

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How to extend the life of your laptop battery

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Siddhartha Raval asked how to take care of a laptop battery so that it lasts a long time.

Batteries don't last forever. Like everything except diamonds and viral tweets, they eventually wear out. But with proper care, a laptop battery can still carry a sufficient charge until you're ready to move on to a better laptop.

But it's a tradeoff. Taking the best care of your laptop battery just may be more of a hassle than it's worth.

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Use Google Maps and GPS offline on your Android device

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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You don’t have cellphone coverage—or affordable cellphone coverage—everywhere. That’s why Joel asked if he could download maps when he has Wi-Fi, and use them when he has no access to the Internet.

The Android version of Google Maps offers a way to download maps for later use, but it’s limited. In case it meets your needs, I’ll tell you about it. Then I’ll recommend a much more powerful app.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Do the research before you upgrade your RAM

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Hoping to speed up his PC, Elijah Kinch Spector (yes, we’re related) asked about adding more RAM.

The amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) in your PC may or may not be the machine’s major bottleneck. But it will likely speed things up, and it’s easier to install than an SSD, which requires you to move your operating system and other files.

But you have to know not only what kind of RAM your PC can take, but also how much of it.

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What's in the hidden Windows AppData Folder, and how to find it if you need it

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Frank Hammond asked how to access the AppData folder and copy files from it.

The Application Data—or AppData—folder contains data created by programs. Almost every program you install creates its own folder in AppData and stores information there. At least in theory, users don’t have to worry about these files.

But in reality, you probably do. For instance, my personalized Microsoft Word templates and Sticky Notes file all reside inside AppData. If you’re using an older version of Outlook, that program’s data is probably in AppData, as well.

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Avoid typos: Disable the Caps Lock key

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Peter asked for a way to “remap the Caps Lock key so it does nothing.” He wants to avoid accidentally hitting that key and finding himself typing ALL CAPS.

You can go into the Windows Registry and change how Windows interprets the keyboard code, so that Caps Lock can do something else or nothing at all. That way, you won’t accidentally switch to all-caps.

But even by the standards of Registry editing, it’s a tough hack. So I’m supplying an easier fix.

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When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Mrinal Thakur asked “What should I buy, an external hard drive, an external SSD, or a pen drive?”

My quick answer: Use an external hard drive for backup. Use a flash drive or an SSD if you want to move files from one computer to another and a network isn’t practical.

The long answer: It all depends on how much storage you need, how much you worry about physical damage, and how much you’re willing to spend. Flash-based storage such as external SSDs or flash drives (also known as pen drives or thumb drives) tend to be more robust: Drop one to the ground, and it’s still likely to work. But hard drives provide more storage for the dollar.

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