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Microsoft plans to roll out Office 2013 in the early part of the year. In the meantime you can try it out by grabbing the beta or the 60 day trial of the RTM (release to manufacturer) or by shelling out the money to buy the Windows Surface RT tablet. Regardless of how you get it, or if you wait for the public release, there are a few tips that can make your experience with the app suite a little smoother and easier to deal with.

In many ways, Office 2013 has not changed much from its predecessor, the 2010 version. The ribbon interface, once loathed by many users, is here to stay  and has grown on most of us. In fact, Microsoft likes it so much that the company incorporated it into the Explorer in Windows 8.

In the world of web mail, Yahoo – with or without the superfluous exclamation point – has always been viewed as something of the black sheep of the family. Gmail is the cool older brother, while Hotmail/Live Mail was the sibling you were kind of forced into getting along with.

Having rather fallen by the wayside in recent years, Yahoo’s email service has undergone a makeover and there’s a brand new Windows 8 app to go along with it. And, believe it or not, it’s looking pretty good.


Xpadder is the perfect example of a useful app that doesn’t get the praise it deserves. There’s no fancy graphics and the user interface isn’t beautiful, but the utility is powerful and serves a basic purpose. Essentially, Xpadder allows you to map controller buttons to a variety of basic keyboard and mouse gestures, letting you to use a large number of controllers that would otherwise be useless in Windows.

The app has many potential uses, but one of the most common is configuring console controllers to work with games that don’t have native game pad support. While Xpadder will not provide drivers for whichever controller suits your fancy, as long as your controller is recognized by Windows, the app will let you map the controller’s buttons to your liking. There is an almost infinite number of possible combinations of controllers and games that could be configured using Xpadder, but today we’re going focus on how to use the Xbox 360 controller in Minecraft.


When Google released Chrome the web browser quickly became a popular choice, first among tech people, and then spreading to average users. Much of it’s appeal is it’s ability to be customized and it’s minimalistic appearance. Tweaking the web browser to your personal liking and tastes can make your user experience even better.

There are a number of ways to go about this, but the first, and easiest, place to start is in the basic Chrome settings. From there you can move on to more customized areas and even to user scripts, which can get a bit more complicated, but should not scare off an experienced computer user.


What’s the first thing you think of when you think about Windows 8 – try not to be too rude now? The majority of people will immediately think of the new Start screen, or at the very least the fact that there is no longer a familiar Start menu to work with.

If you’ve made to switch to Windows 8 and you’re finding the Start screen a little restrictive and tricky to get to grips with, or you’re thinking about upgrading but have a few concerns in this area, Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer could be the tools you’ve been waiting for.


The process of transferring files inside of Windows isn’t exactly intuitive. Many users complain about the lack of configuration and speed inside of the Windows Explorer file transfer utility. While this process has been steadily improving over the last few versions of Windows, I would not consider it to be up to par with what the average user requires just yet.

For many years, I have been an avid user of an application known as TeraCopy, a free file transfer utility that is more sophisticated than the Windows Explorer file transfer utility in almost every aspect; Notably, it utilizes technology that will speed up the heretofore painful process of large file transfers.

Is it right for you? Let’s take a look and find out!


One thing Microsoft can be counted on is propping up third-party software companies. After all, every time the company launches a new version of the Windows operating system an entire ecosystem of new apps begins popping up around the web. Windows 8 has already proven to be no different, especially with the plethora of options that have cropped up to give users access to that Start menu that many users seem to think that they just can’t live without.

Aside from the missing Windows 95 relic, Windows 8 has provided coders with the chance to design all new maintenance and utility apps and EnhanceMy8 is one of the latest to come along. The app comes with many of the usual tools included in any Windows maintenance utility, but it is geared towards the brand new OS.


Upgrading to a new operating system brings the risk that your apps suddenly no longer work. That concern intensifies with moving to Windows 8 because of the big change the operating system represents compared to earlier version.

The large number of changes to the visual looks could cause some apps problems and with ever operating system change there is always the risk of a small change that breaks some special functionality your program depended upon to work. Many people also need to continue using programs they either cannot or choose not to upgrade, but won’t work under Windows 8 — in a few cases a program doesn’t recognize the newer version of Windows and simply refuses to run.


While I do not condone the ripping of rented or borrowed DVD’s or sharing ripped discs via bit torrent, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to record a DVD to your computer. Many of us are fans of home theater computers (HTPC) or have computer-based set-top boxes like Boxee or NeoTV that can stream content from different PC’s and servers around our home. That makes getting all of the discs we purchase onto a hard drive to create a sort of video jukebox a worthwhile endeavor.

There are a number of good free apps, such as DVD Shrink, that can do this but, thanks to ever-changing DRM methods, these can’t handle every disc. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a form of copy protection that is used by the movie studios in an effort to prevent their DVD’s from being ripped and pirated. It does absolutely nothing to thwart piracy, but it does cause plenty of problems for legitimate paying customers.

Is it worth your time? Let’s find out!


It’s that time of the year — no matter what holiday you celebrate, the decorations are going up and the mood is becoming festive. But, those decorations inside and outside of your home aren’t the only ones you have at your disposal. Your computer may seem like a tool or a toy, depending on your use, but it is also a showcase for your moods, passions and celebrations. Yes, you can “decorate” your PC every bit as well as your home. And, why not? You probably see quite a bit of it anyway.

You are probably familiar with concepts like “wallpaper” and “themes”, and we will cover those as well, but there are other areas that can be customized, such as your web browser. However, we will start with the more obvious — wallpapers and themes.


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