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Stories by Alex Wawro

  • 12 simple steps to safer social networking

    Confession time: I'm an inveterate social media junkie. From Facebook to Instagram to Diaspora, whenever a new communication platform rolls around--or comes back around--I'm ready to leap aboard.

  • 10 Windows 8 apps you should download first

    Windows 8 is all about the apps, so it's important to find the best ones for your unique needs. Unfortunately, you need to sift through a lot of crap apps in the process, especially if you're not using a Windows 8 tablet; desktop and laptop PC users don’t need to worry about the lion’s share of Windows 8 apps, because they're usually single-purpose tools designed to replicate the functionality of a full PC on a mobile device. Since you have access to a full Windows desktop you don’t need just another way to look at photos or surf the Web—you need a way to do those things better.

  • In Pictures: The 21 PC games that matter most, right now

    Spring (southern hemisphere) is here, and PC gaming is about to heat up. Starting with Borderlands 2 (pictured here), there's a bevy of new games coming to PCs this fall, and many of them look good enough to merit serious attention. From complex tactical strategy games to fast-paced, modern military shooters and everything in between, chances are there's a game coming out soon that will be perfect entertainment for all your holiday "down time." Have a look at this gallery, and tell us what you think in the comments section. Did we forget any critical nuggets of awesomeness?

  • Free Tools to Wipe Your Drives Securely

    Your PC's hard drive is packed with your personal data. So when you want to get rid of your system or drive, you should permanently erase your storage device drives before you get rid of them. If your drives are encrypted and you trust the encryption protocol (full disk encryption is pretty safe), all you have to do is delete your encryption keys. If you want to safeguard your privacy further--and prevent data theft down the road--here are a few cheap and simple tools designed to wipe your hard drive, solid-state drive, or USB flash drive thoroughly before you dispose of it.

  • How to boost your smartphone battery life

    Do you know where your smartphone is? Unless you're using it to read PCWorld.com, your phone is probably plugged into an outlet somewhere to charge, because the battery stinks.

  • Better run your business from a tablet

    Getting work done with just a tablet is hard. Many of us carry Android or iOS tablets to stay connected while we’re away from our PC, but without a proper keyboard or mouse it’s difficult to do much more than answer a few emails or play Angry Birds.

  • FAQ: Which Social Networks Fight for Your Rights?

    The Bay Area Rapid Transit District's August <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/239073/groups_ask_fcc_to_rule_against_barts_mobile_phone_shutdown.html">shutdown of wireless service</a> to squelch a demonstration in San Francisco raised anew questions about the use of technology in the face of authority. In this third installment in a series of FAQs, we examine the rights and responsibilities of social networks in protecting your privacy and your free speech. Be sure to check out the first two installments: a primer on your right to <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/240308/faq_your_right_to_phone_service_during_a_protest.html">phone service during a protest</a> and a discussion of your right to <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/240250/faq_when_can_you_capture_cops_on_camera.html">photograph the police</a>.

  • How to build better passwords without losing your mind

    Your e-mail password is your last line of defense when it comes to online privacy and security; if a hacker cracks that, they could potentially reset the passwords of and gain access to your social networks, your bank account and even your identity by taking advantage of the ubiquitous "I Forgot My Password" button.

  • Diaspora: An antidote for your Facebook privacy problems

    Our social networks say a lot about us. When you register with a Website like Facebook, you voluntarily give up personal information like your name, photo, and phone number in exchange for the privilege of access to a network that makes it easy to keep in touch with friends and family. Facebook then makes money aggregating that information for sale to advertisers looking to target groups of potential customers with specific ages and interests. It’s an information economy, and to be clear, Facebook cleaves to a privacy policy that only permits the sharing of “non-personally identifiable attributes” with advertisers.

  • Steps to secure your smartphone against data theft

    You may already know the basics of Internet security and keeping your personal data private while browsing the Web: Use a firewall, don't open attachments you aren't expecting, and never follow links from strangers. But what about your smartphone? The ease with which security researcher Georgia Weidman was able to infect Android phones with her custom botnet during the 2011 ShmooCon security conference suggests that anyone concerned about the privacy of the personal data stored on their smartphone should think twice before downloading dubious or otherwise untrustworthy apps.

  • Five ways Cloud printers will make your small business soar

    A new wave of Web-connected printers from the likes of HP and Lexmark are changing the way we dole out documents. Instead of dumb single-purpose devices, a modern multifunction cloud printer can print any document from nearly any device, anywhere you have an Internet connection. It’s a quantum leap forward in terms of flexibility, and every successful business owner knows you need to stay flexible and adapt to the needs of your customers.

  • MacBook Air performs poorly in laptop comparison tests

    Recently, after testing two MacBook Air models running Windows 7, we published results that showed the thin and light Apple laptops outperformed most Windows-based netbooks and ultraportable notebooks. Hundreds of readers commented on the article, with many of the comments going something like this: "The MacBook Air costs far more than many of the laptops you've compared it against. How does it do against similarly priced notebooks?"