Three critical laptop accessories for summertime travel

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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With July in full swing now that Independence Day is over, thoughts are turning to company-sanctioned time off for travel and relaxing in the sun. Before you head out on your great summer vacation, you’ll want to make sure you pack well not only for yourself but your laptop as well.

No matter if you’re headed across the country in a VW bus or across the Atlantic on a 777, here are three critical laptop accessories no summer traveler can do without.

Adapt your laptop’s power supply

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Six modern Windows apps for Fourth-of-July fun

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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Independence Day may be largely an outdoor affair, but your PC or Surface can still play a role in planning your day. 

If you’re running Windows 8.1 on a tablet or traditional PC, the Windows Store has a number of apps that can help you prepare for your day.

Heat, humidity, precipitation

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Get tough on stubborn programs with Revo uninstaller

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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It’s rare these days, but every now and again you’ll come across a Windows program that refuses to uninstall. About three weeks ago, while doing research for this column, it happened to me. I downloaded a desktop program for mapping local Wi-Fi networks, but try as I might I couldn’t get the darn thing off my PC.

Eventually, I chalked up the problem to a quirk of Windows 8.1, figuring the program’s uninstaller was crashing when it came in contact with Microsoft’s latest OS. Not content to let an unwanted app sit on my system, I turned to Revo Uninstaller.

Revo is a well-known desktop utility that is part heavy duty uninstaller, part system cleaner. There’s a paid pro version for anyone who needs it, but for quick hits to get rid of a stubborn program that’s overstayed its welcome, the free version works just fine.

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I'm getting 1TB on OneDrive, now what?

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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On Monday, Microsoft got serious about its OneDrive cloud offerings by beefing up consumer storage limits. Free users now get 15 gigabytes of storage and Office 365 subscribers (Home Premium, Personal, and University) get a whopping 1 terabyte. Unless you start uploading tons of video files or are an ardent photographer, you’ll probably have a hard time making a dent in that 1TB.

The new storage limits will roll out over the next month, which gives you just enough time to ponder what you’re going to do with all that storage—especially if you’re an Office 365 subscriber.

IFTTT is a service that automatically takes actions for you based on events like marking a favorite photo on Instagram, getting tagged in a photo on Facebook, or adding a new item to an RSS feed. With OneDrive expanding for everyone, Microsoft’s cloud storage service is a perfect repository for your IFTTT data storage needs.

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Five questions to answer before paying for a VPN

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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If you work on a computer or mobile device away from home, you probably use Wi-Fi hotspots in hotels, cafés, restaurants, airports, or on campus. The problem is, there is no way to know exactly how secure those networks are.

The best ways to stay safe on a public Wi-Fi network is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is basically an encrypted tunnel between your device and the Internet that makes all your online interactions safe from prying eyes lurking on the same network.

There are many free VPNs around, and they may serve your needs initially. Eventually, you really should consider paying for a VPN.

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Simple mouse and keyboard tricks for efficient file management

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: keyboard shortcuts will set you free.

Yes, they’re a pain to learn, and many of us are used to sticking with a mouse. Nevertheless, being familiar with even a handful of shortcuts will help you get around your system faster—plus it has the added benefit of making you feel like a power user.

Even if you’re a tried and true mouse-only user, I’ve got one old—yet little known—trick for you too. All of today’s shortcuts center around file management with File Explorer/Windows Explorer and will work with Windows 7 and up.

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A free photo editor worth trying: Getting started with GIMP

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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When most of us are looking for a photo-editing tool, we immediately think of Photoshop. Adobe’s program is powerful and popular, but it’s pricey at $100—and that's for the “light” version called Photoshop Elements.

Meanwhile, $20 per month is the standard charge for individual one-app subscriptions to Photoshop Creative Cloud. Adobe offers a free in-browser version called Photoshop Express Editor, but it’s very limited and only allows you to edit JPEG files.

A better free alternative is to turn to the open-source world and a popular program called GIMP. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is the standard photo-editing tool included or available to most Linux distributions. GIMP is also available for Windows (XP and up) and Mac. 

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