How to easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear's free Chrome extension

Virtual private networks are already easy to use thanks to the simple desktop apps many services offer. But if you live most of your computing life in the browser even a desktop app might be overkill.

Instead, you could use a Chrome extension instead of a desktop app. VPN provider Tunnel Bear, my personal VPN of choice, recently dropped the beta tag from its Chrome extension and made it available as an official stable release.

The extension works with Chrome on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. TunnelBear's one of the few popular VPN providers with an official Chrome extension—CyberGhost being the other.

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Give Wikipedia a sleek, user-friendly visual overhaul with the Wikiwand extension

Wikipedia is easily the greatest compendium of human knowledge ever created. Sure, academics have their issues with it and pranksters love messing with it, but as a starting point to learn about pretty much any topic you can think of you simply can’t beat Wikipedia.

But it does have its downsides. One thing that’s always irked me is the interface. On the PC, to put it bluntly, it sucks. It’s very busy, with text and boxes everywhere, and the article navigation links are oddly placed.

A Chrome extension called Wikiwand aims to change all that by giving Wikipedia a much-needed visual overhaul. To use it all you have to do is download the extension from the Chrome Web Store and it starts working automatically any time you visit Wikipedia. It’s not perfect, however, and security-conscious users may not like it.

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3 simple tips to get the most out of your webcam

The webcam is such a ubiquitous part of PCs we just don't give them much thought anymore. They're just one component among many on the latest desktops, laptops, and Ultrabooks sitting on store shelves.

That's really unfortunate, because this has led to some horrendous norms for how people use them. You know what I'm talking about: that parent who only ever seems capable of keeping half their face in the frame (and that's on a stationary PC!), and the poorly lit ghoul that usually replaces your sibling on Skype.

People just aren't giving the webcam the respect it deserves. Well, I say enough. Here are three tips to make the most of your webcam—including one tip that has nothing to do with video chat.

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3 surprisingly easy PC repairs you should do yourself

PCs can be confusing, even scary at times, but the truth is they shouldn't be. That's especially true when it comes to simple hardware upgrades, repairs, or software fixes.

Sure, you could pay the overpriced techies at Geek Squad to fix your Windows system for you, but why bother? Tech support is often hiding a dirty secret: You could easily do most of this stuff on your own and save yourself some serious money in the process.

To get you started, here are three fixes you should almost never pay someone else to do.

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How to check if extensions are slowing your browser down

It's time to come clean: My name is Ian Paul and I'm a browser extensions addict. Right now, as I look at my browser I've got close to 40 Chrome extensions and applications enabled and about another 15 installed but disabled. I think some of those come as the defaults in Chrome, but I'm not sure how many. 

There's a downside to my enthusiasm, however. Extensions and apps are great fun, but they can also be huge resource hogs that slow down your browser. (Ad blockers, I'm looking at you.)

If you find your browser is slowing down, one of the first things you should do is see if the culprit or culprits are browser add-ons and extensions.

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How to personalize your PC's power settings for every situation

Power settings are one of those facets of your PC you never really think about until you need to change them. The default settings in Windows are pretty good, but they may not suit everyone or be ideal for certain situations.

That's why Microsoft makes changing them a snap. I recently had to manage my power settings to deal with a large download that was taking forever. I figured it would be finished in about two hours, but it was late at night and I didn't want to bother waiting around for it to finish.

I also knew, however, that if I didn't adjust my power settings the PC would probably go to sleep and my download wouldn't be sitting there waiting for me in the morning.

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How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click

If there's one feature I love about Chrome it's the volume indicator that lets you know which tab is pumping out auto-playing audio or video. Without it I'd never be able to track down which of my gazillion open tabs is screaming at me.


Chrome's "mute tab" feature in action.

But the noise indicator is so 2014. For 2015, Google is playing around with the ability to mute noisy tabs with one click. Instead of switching to the tab and scrolling around the page to find the offending video or audio, a new hidden feature lets you silence the noise by clicking on a tab's speaker icon. 

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