Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal

Windows users without a hefty dose of technical knowledge always have a tough time getting help. If you don't have a geeky friend handy, PC problems often mean dragging your computer down to the Geek Squad or local PC shop, where you'll be charged a crazy amount of money to have malware removed or speed up a slowing PC.

No more!

If you live near a Microsoft Store some of the peskiest PC problems can now be fixed in-person for free. Microsoft's retail locations recently started offering their Windows-focused answer to Apple's Genius Bar: the Answer Desk.

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Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you

PC gaming rocks—but figuring out whether the latest game will even run on your system can be a pain. You already know the answer to the question if you have a dedicated gaming rig, but for anyone looking for gaming thrills on their standard issue laptop, things aren't quite so simple.

Finding the answer can be easy, though. Rather than digging through spec lists to try and figure out whether you've got a suitably beefy graphics card or processor, get some quick automated advice from the long-running website Can You Run It.

Powered by System Requirements Lab, Can You Run It scans your PC and lets you know whether your machine is up to snuff for next week's Battlefield 4 LAN party.

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How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously

Recently, BoingBoing ran an article about how some librarians in Massachusetts were installing Tor software in all their public PCs to anonymize the browsing habits of their patrons. The librarians are doing this as a stand against passive government surveillance as well as companies that track users online and build dossiers to serve highly-targeted advertising.

It's an interesting project and a bold stand for user privacy. But the good news is that if you want to browse anonymously, you don't have to go to the library to use Tor. Connecting to the Tor network from your own PC is quick and painless thanks to the Tor project's dead simple Tor Browser.

What is Tor?

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How to get (mostly) stock Android on your phone easily with CyanogenMod

There's a lot to love about Android, but one problem that plagues the mobile platform is the variety of different interface skins. Samsung has TouchWiz, HTC does the Sense UI, Asus has Zen UI, and on and on it goes.

If you're tired of all the nonsense and just want stock Android you have two options: Buy a device among the limited selection of Google Play Edition devices or install a new Android ROM that brings your phone or tablet to a vanilla state.

Today, we're going to explore that second option by installing CyanogenMod, the ROM pre-installed on the OnePlus One, using Cyanogen's almost one-click installer for Windows.

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Three warning signs that email is malicious

Email spam filtering is far better than it used to be. There was a time when nearly every scam email would land in your inbox. Thankfully that's not the case anymore—especially if you're a Gmail user.

But no system is perfect. Every now and then a scam message will manage to slip into your inbox. But how do you know when you're looking at a scam or not?

Here are three basic tip-offs you can look for to figure out whether you're looking at an email with dishonest intentions. They're hardly an exhaustive list, but more often than not one of these tips will save you from getting suckered.

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How to make webmail your default email in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera

How many times have you clicked an email address on a webpage instead of copying it only to accidentally start Outlook or another desktop mail client?

Who uses desktop mail clients anymore? Well, I do, but that's another story. Many people these days are just keeping all their email in web-based services like Gmail,, and Yahoo Mail.

When you click an email address your browser is handing off responsibility for a special kind of link, called mailto, to a desktop program.

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Automate your morning programs with Windows Task Scheduler

One of the best parts of owning a PC isn't downloading videos, sending email, or playing games. If you ask me, the best tool for your computer is automation. Get it to do some of the mundane things you need to get done in the day or that make your work life just a little bit easier.

One way to do that is to use the built-in Task Scheduler for Windows. A simple, but also strangely satisfying use for Task Scheduler is to fire up all the programs you need to get going during your morning work routine.

In our case, we'll use Excel, Firefox, and Skype as examples. The only thing to keep in mind is that you must be logged in for Task Scheduler to work. If you shut down your PC or log out every night, you'll want to make sure Task Scheduler is set to go to work after you login.

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