TheITBros http://theitbros.com We Know So You Don't Have To Fri, 10 Apr 2015 22:51:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Cheap Video Cards for Gaming http://theitbros.com/5-cheap-video-cards-for-gaming/ http://theitbros.com/5-cheap-video-cards-for-gaming/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 22:51:19 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8475 video-card

It’s not unusual for avid gamers to spend more than $500 on a video card. However, if you’re working off a tight budget or just starting out in the gaming world, there are other cheaper options that will still give you a good gaming experience. It’s important to pick the right card, though – often, […]

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video-card

It’s not unusual for avid gamers to spend more than $500 on a video card. However, if you’re working off a tight budget or just starting out in the gaming world, there are other cheaper options that will still give you a good gaming experience. It’s important to pick the right card, though – often, low-priced cards just don’t deliver the performance you need. Here, we look at 5 cards that give you decent gaming performance without emptying your wallet.

Sapphire Radeon R7 250X

Let’s start with the best. For a great balance of price and performance, it’s hard to beat the 250X. You’ll pay around $90 for this card, and it’s a lot of card for the money. Because the card comes with GDDR5 memory running at 1125 MHz, the effective memory bandwidth comes in at 4.5 GB/sec. While that is still relatively low compared to high-end cards, it should still give you high frame rates – in fact, some games can get close to 50 frames a second and 30 fps is pretty standard. The other nice thing about this card is how well it handles textures. It has many more texture units than other cards in its class, and the result is a texture fill rate that comes in at 38 GT/s. This means that you will be able to crank up the detail more than you can with other similarly priced cards.

 

Sapphire Radeon R7 240 Boost

If $90 is a little too high for your budget, then take a look at the 250X’s little cousin, the 240. You can get this card for around $60 if you look around, and it’s a good choice for novice gamers. The memory bandwidth is about 28.8 GB/s, thanks to a combination of 900 MHz memory clock speed and GDDR3 memory technology. That’s only about 60% of what you get with the 250X, but it’s still good enough for moderate gaming – although you won’t be able to turn your games up to their maximum display settings. Just like the 250X, for the 240 has excellent texture performance, although it’s obviously not as good as the more expensive card. Here is the bottom line – you’re not going to find a better video card at this low price point, so just don’t bother looking for anything else.

 

MSI Radeon R7 260X OC

On the other hand, if you want to step up to the top of the budget card range, then take a look at the 260X. This is going to set you back around 120 bucks. Still, that’s incredibly cheap compared to top-end video cards, and you get a lot for your money. This card will easily give you 50 fps with most games, although you still may have to tweak your display settings a bit. While the 250X has a memory bandwidth of 4.5 Gb/sec, the 260X more than doubles this to 96 GB/sec. The texture fill rate is also a step up from the 250X – 58.8 GT/sec compared to 38 GT/sec. The only real complaints are that the card draws a massive 115 W and generates a lot of cooling noise.

 

Asus GeForce GT 740 OC

Let’s talk about power consumption for a minute. All of the Radeon base cards we’ve been talking about do draw a lot of power, which can be a real problem if your existing power supply isn’t up to the job. If this is the case, there are alternatives, although you won’t get quite the same performance. For example, the GeForce GT 740 is in the same price range as the 250X, and only needs 60 W as compared to 90 W with the Radeon card. However, unless you need to make the compromise to limit power consumption, the 250X is a better choice – the 740 tends to run about 5 fps slower, and it can start to struggle if you turn up your display options too high.

 

EVGA GeForce GTX 750

This card is in the same class as the 260X – in fact you’re likely to pay a little more for it. Again, the real selling point here is the power consumption. The 750 pulls far less power than the 260 X, and it runs more quietly. However, its performance falls between the 250X and 260X – you’ll get a few less frames per second than the 260X across the board, and in demanding applications the rate can be down as much as 7 to 8 FPS. That having said, this is still one of the better budget video gaming cards on the market today.

 

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5 Reasons Why You Should Build Your Own Computer http://theitbros.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-build-your-own-computer/ http://theitbros.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-build-your-own-computer/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 04:31:02 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8469 build-computer

If you need a new desktop computer, you may be thinking of buying a pre-built machine from a manufacturer such as HP or Dell. However, there is another option – build your own. Enthusiasts have been doing this since PCs first hit the market, either to save money or just for the fun of it. […]

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build-computer

If you need a new desktop computer, you may be thinking of buying a pre-built machine from a manufacturer such as HP or Dell. However, there is another option – build your own. Enthusiasts have been doing this since PCs first hit the market, either to save money or just for the fun of it. Today, with cheap PCs available for $400 or less, some experts will tell you that there is no longer any reason to do it yourself. However, they are completely wrong. There are still many good reasons to build your own computer – and here are just a few.

1. Quality components

When you walk into your local big-box store and buy a desktop computer, it’s hard to know what you are really getting. Sure, you’ll see which CPU is in there and how much RAM, but do you really know where all of the components in the computer came from? More importantly, how good are they? The problem is that computer manufacturers are always looking for the best deal on the components they use. They get discounts from suppliers because of the volumes they purchase, but they still try to squeeze costs any way that they can. That means there’s no guarantee that the components in an off-the-shelf computer are up to scratch.

On the other hand, if you build your own computer, you can choose all of the components yourself. You can check out the specs and the reputation of each manufacturer, and then pick components that are going to last and perform. That extra peace of mind alone is worth the effort of doing it yourself.

2. Security

Bloatware is an issue with off-the-shelf computers, but let’s face it – with terabyte hard drives and gigs of memory, storage isn’t the issue that it once was. However, here’s the real concern – what exactly is that software getting up to? The answer might surprise you. Recently, Lenovo bundled Superfish with many of its consumer PCs, and it turns out that the adware posed a significant security risk. The lesson is this – you just don’t how dangerous that bundled software is. When you build your own computer, you know exactly what software you have installed, so you can avoid any backdoor security risks.

3. The operating system you want

Speaking of software, just about every desktop you can buy today comes with Windows 8 – and you are paying for that in the price of the computer. To put it mildly, Windows 8 wasn’t Microsoft’s finest moment, and things didn’t get much better with Windows 8.1. However, if you build your own computer, then you can install any operating system that you want. If you do want to use Windows, then you can install the far superior Windows 7, which should cost you less than $100 for an OEM copy. On the other hand, you can also choose from a number of different Linux variants – and these will cost you nothing at all.

4. Better warranties

When you buy a prebuilt desktop computer, you’re going to get a one-year warranty if you’re lucky. After that, the store will try to sell you an extended warranty at an exorbitant price. In other words you have to fork out big bucks for longer coverage or you’re on your own after 12 months.

On the other hand, if you buy quality components when you build your own computer, you should be able to get a much longer warranty. It’s not unusual to find RAM with a lifetime guarantee, and some power supplies will come with a seven-year warranty. You should even be able to get a three-year warranty on the CPU – the same CPU that you only get a one-year warranty on in the prebuilt machine.

5. High performance for less

If you only need a low-end desktop, then building your own probably isn’t going to save you any money – computer manufacturers can churn out cheap PCs for much less than you can. However, if you are looking for a performance machine, then it’s a different story. For instance, you can easily pay $2500 or more for a high-end gaming PC, and a similar amount for a powerful workstation. When you consider that you can get a high-end CPU – say an Intel Core i7-4790 3.6GHz – for about $300, and an absolutely top-end graphics card for about $600, then you still have $1600 left over for all the other pieces when you build it yourself. You’ll be hard pressed to spend that much. Not only that, you’ll be able to get exactly the performance machine you want – not just what someone else wants to sell you.

Resources for building your own computer

Building your own computer isn’t too difficult if you get the right parts and tools. There are many websites and videos on-line with step by step instructions on the whole process. Below are two resources you can use:

How to Build a Computer
A List of Everything You Need to Build a Computer

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16 Open Source Alternatives for Your Favorite Programs http://theitbros.com/16-open-source-alternatives-for-your-favorite-programs/ http://theitbros.com/16-open-source-alternatives-for-your-favorite-programs/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 04:33:46 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8463 Open source word cloud illustration

In this information age, the words “paid” and “proprietary” seem to be among the dirtiest words that you can possibly slap on a piece of software. But let’s face it- lots of people use commercially-made software on a daily basis whether they like it or not, often paying a premium price for functions that they […]

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Open source word cloud illustration

In this information age, the words “paid” and “proprietary” seem to be among the dirtiest words that you can possibly slap on a piece of software. But let’s face it- lots of people use commercially-made software on a daily basis whether they like it or not, often paying a premium price for functions that they could’ve gotten for free…

Yes, you read that right. FREE. And “free” here does not merely mean that you can get software without paying money for it. This is free in the sense that you can do anything you want with the software- customize it, do tweaks on its code, share it with other people, without fear of having a corporate lawsuit thrown at you. This is the beauty of the open source movement.

If you’ve decided to make the jump to the world of free and open source software, here are some of the best open source alternatives that you can find for popular proprietary software that most people use:

1. Linux Mint (Operating System)

If you want a sleek and fast operating system that is as powerful as the latest Windows iteration, then go for Linux Mint. Based on the uber popular Ubuntu, Linux Mint has been the beginner Linux distro of choice for people coming from Windows operating systems. Its interface is pretty similar to Windows, and it already comes pre-packaged with a variety of open source alternative software that people will need for most computing tasks. Also, it’s extremely lightweight and takes up a such a small space on the hard drive (unlike the egregiously bloated Windows) that it can be safely installed on older computers.

2. VLC (Media Player)

There’s a reason why VLC is touted as the “Swiss Army knife” of digital media files- it can play almost anything out of the box! No need to download additional codecs or tweak anything in the settings. Just download it and you’re done.

But VLC is not just a mere media player alone. Did you know that it can also convert media files from one file type to another (e.g. .mp3 to .ogg), play damaged videos, and record/capture desktop videos? It can do a whole lot more than what plain old Windows Media Player can offer.

3. Audacity (Audio Editor)

Proprietary audio editing and recording software like Apple Logic Pro or FL Studio Producer are kind of expensive ($149+). For students and people on a budget who just need something they can use to do basic audio edits and mix/splice tracks with, there’s absolutely no reason for them to spend that much money on overbloated, expensive software.

Thankfully, Audacity performs most of the functions that these commercial software can do. This multi-track editor can also add numerous effects to your audio, convert tapes and records into digital format, and improve the quality of audio tracks.

4. 7zip (File Archiver)

Of course, you can use the popular file archiver/compressor WinZip for free indefinitely. But how many times would you have to click through that annoying prompt that asks if you want to pay up every time you use the software?

If you don’t like being prompted to shell out money everytime you’re trying to zip or unzip a file, then try 7zip. It supports more compression formats than WinZip, and best of all, you won’t have to deal with the annoying prompts anymore.

5. PDFCreator

Adobe Reader allows you to create PDF files, but it’s only limited to a set trial period. You have to get a subscription to the Adobe PDF Pack online service if you want to extend this function and use it for good.

If you don’t want to pay up, then there’s an easier solution for your PDF-making needs, PDFCreator will let you make PDF files from any Windows program. Just use it like a printer in Word or Excel: the document will instantly “print” into a new PDF document.

6. GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program (Image Editor)

GIMP is not a Photoshop alternative- it’s a Photoshop COMPETITOR. And a free one at that. It is the image editor of choice for most Linux users, but the software itself is also available for Mac and Windows users.

While Photoshop is the industry standard for image/photo editing, GIMP is perfect for enthusiasts who want a no-frills photo editing experience without the steep price tag (a full edition of Photoshop costs $600+). It has many of the features that Photoshop offers; should you want to make it “feel” more like Photoshop (especially if you’re used to the former) you can easily customize the UI according to your preferences.

7. Inkscape (Vector Graphics Editor)

If Adobe Photoshop has GIMP as its hefty open source alternative, then Illustrator has Inkscape. This lightweight program can be used to draw, edit, and manipulate Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files. Since SVG files are also supported by Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape is cross-compatible with the commercial software. There’s no need to worry about compatibility issues or projects going awry if you’re gonna be working with someone who uses Illustrator.

8. ClamWin (Antivirus)

Norton, AVG, Avira, and Avast are all excellent and very reliable antivirus software in their own right, but you still need to pay up to get full virus/malware protection from them. The open source ClamWin, on the other hand, doesn’t require its users to pay for anything. It gives you maximum protection, right out of the box.

ClamWin boasts high detection rates for viruses and spyware which are pretty comparable to the detection rates of most proprietary antivirus programs. The best thing of all, you can actually store a portable copy of ClamWin on a USB drive so that you can have complete antivirus protection anywhere you go.

9. ownCloud (Cloud Storage/ File Hosting)

Think of ownCloud as Dropbox- only free and without the data limits or pricing restraints. As an open source project, ownCloud’s code can be freely customized and tweaked. This means that you can set up your own ownCloud server at home, without anyone dictating the limits on what you can store on it. The only factor that would determine the amount of storage space that you’ll get is the amount of free disk space on your computer where ownCloud is installed.

Aside from the usual file storage function, ownCloud also has a few more extras for its users. It has a built-in text editor, PDF reader, phonebook, video streaming and media player. It’s an all in one cloud solution that is both free and highly customizable.

10. Pidgin (Instant Messaging Client)

Keeping up with all of your chat clients can be quite a task, especially for those “socially-inclined,” so to speak. Imagine having to open up tab after tab of chat boards and messaging web apps, and getting one confused for another or accidentally closing one when you still have a conversation going on with a friend. It can be quite a nightmare.

But Pidgin is here to save the day. This nifty little app allows you to use multiple chat networks all at the same time. For example, you can be exchanging notes with a coworker on Google Talk while keeping up with a friend on Yahoo. No need to switch from one tab to another just to catch up. Another great thing: Pidgin automatically encrypts all of your messages as soon as the chat client receives and sends them.

11. Scribus (Desktop Publishing)

Are you working in the field of publication? Do you like to design newsletters, manuals, and book covers? Always had an interest in learning how to properly layout page elements on a magazine or any other published piece? Then Scribus is just the right program for you. While Microsoft Publisher is a popular desktop publishing software that is used by most layout designers in the industry, Scribus offers a free alternative that is just as good.

Still not convinced? Scribus has its own blog of success stories for your reading pleasure. The blog tells some inspiring tales of people who managed to save thousands of dollars just by using Scribus, authors who were able to self-publish and design their own book covers, and some non-government organizations who used the open source software for their newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets.

12. ApacheOpen Office (Productivity Suite)

Microsoft Office and all its component programs (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint) has been the standard productivity suite for many businesses and enterprises. The problem is, a subscription to MS Office can be quite pricey.

If you want the same amount of power and function as MS Office but do not want to shell out money, then Apache OpenOffice will probably be the best productivity suite for you. OpenOffice uses open standards for its native files, but the programs can also read, edit, save, and write files in proprietary formats like .DOC or .DOCx. This means that you can easily open your Word files into OpenOffice Writer without much trouble. The same goes for the other programs in the OpenOffice Suite, namely Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math.

13. WordPress (Content Publishing Platform)

Google’s Blogger has been around for ages. It’s dependable, easy-to-use, and secure. This is the domain of those who like journaling and writing long, essay-type, blog posts, and don’t want to spend too much time on the technical aspect of blog design.

Of course, a service that old has its own limitations. While Blogger is dependable, it’s just not powerful enough for people who want a little more “oomph” in their blogs. WordPress, its open source alternative, is far more powerful and has a host of customization options that Blogger can only dream of.

For example, you have full control and freedom over your blog, and you can customize it as you wish. You’re not stuck with pre-determined templates. If you want to extend the functionality of your blog (and probably turn it into a full-blown website or eCommerce shop) you can easily do so just by installing various plug-ins that can add any kind of feature or functionality. And for a small fee, you can have your own domain name and unlimited space (Blogger offers only 1GB of space for its users).

14. Mozilla Thunderbird (Email Client)

Microsoft Outlook is boring; Mozilla Thunderbird is the real deal. This popular email client is easier to set-up than its proprietary counterpart; just provide your IMAP, SMTP, and SSL/TLS settings, plus your name, email address, and desired password, then you’re good to go. Aside from this, Thunderbird also has a host of other cool features that are missing from Outlook. For example, if you want a personalized email address (e.g. yourfirstname@yourlastname), you can conjure one up within Thunderbird and the system will automatically set it up for you. The software has its own Activity Manager, Message Archive, and Search box. It also has Smart Folders that can help you cut back on the junk mail and easily manage multiple email accounts with just a simple click of a button.

15. Mozilla Firefox (Web Browser)

Here’s another well-known offering from Mozilla. Firefox has been around for a decade or so, and its longevity stems from the fact that it is one of the most reliable web browsers that you can ever download onto your machine. Internet Explorer is passe, outdated, and too much of a security risk, while Google Chrome is a resource hog and isn’t developer friendly (and for some people, there’s also the issue of it being a Google product). Mozilla Firefox is sleek, and comes with an extensive offering of plug-ins that can help you make your web browsing experience an awesome one.

16. KeePass (Password Manager)

KeePass keeps your passwords safe! If you’re having a hard time managing your passwords for your email, social media, gaming, and other website accounts, then KeePass will help organize everything for you. It also gives you another layer of protection from hackers by encrypting your passwords with some of the most secure encryption algorithms known to man.
So, there you have it. The world’s best open source software, summarized into just one page. Computing need not be expensive and complicated. Why go for expensive commercial software when you can have free ones that are just as good (or even better)?

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Top 5 Most Common Computer Problems And How To Fix Them http://theitbros.com/top-5-most-common-computer-problems-and-how-to-fix-them/ http://theitbros.com/top-5-most-common-computer-problems-and-how-to-fix-them/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 22:13:38 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8450 computer-problems

On a daily basis millions of people who use either a PC or laptop are bombarded with various problems and while some of them are really simple to solve, some are so annoying and persistent that they can drive you crazy. Well, if you’re one of those who is sick and tired of having windows […]

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computer-problems

On a daily basis millions of people who use either a PC or laptop are bombarded with various problems and while some of them are really simple to solve, some are so annoying and persistent that they can drive you crazy. Well, if you’re one of those who is sick and tired of having windows popping up on your screen without you do anything or if your computer keeps randomly restarting, then “we have a case” as a lawyer would say. Because of that, below we’re going to take a close look at the top 5 most common computer problems and how to easily solve them. Let’s get right at it!

1. My machine performs very poorly

Having a slow computer is certainly a very good reason to be frustrated and angry, but the good news is that there are simple fixes you can consider before you start replacing parts that don’t need replacement in the first place. While there are various reasons for a slow computer, most of the times it’s due to lack of maintenance. Unnecessary programs running in the background, spyware, corrupted registry entries and fragmented data are some of the main causes of a slow computer.

In order to fix your slow computer, begin by removing unnecessary files and programs and then initiate a full defragmentation. You should also run a spyware and virus scan and choose the option to automatically remove spyware and viruses as they’re found, depending on the tool/tools you’re using.

2. My homepage changed and my computer is bombarded with adware

Many of us are unaware that when we install certain games or software programs, we also agree to install toolbars that we don’t need and that is how our homepage is overwritten. Not only that, but at the same time you may also get bombarded by annoying pop-up messages advertising you certain products you’re not even remotely interested in. So how can you fix this?

First of all, it’s best that you always read the terms and conditions of whatever you choose to install on your machine. But if you already installed these programs and they now spam your computer with dozens of ads, you should try to delete and reinstall your browser. This is in fact the easiest and simplest way of getting rid of these annoying toolbars. However, just make sure that you also backup your browser’s bookmarks, website log-in information and also your passwords.

There is a chance this may not work, so if that’s the case, then remove them from Control Panel, Add\Remove Programs and perform a spyware and virus scan. This should fix your problem guaranteed.

3. My data is gone and I have no backup

Most people overlook the importance of backing up their data until they lose everything one day, including their favorite movies, music, personal files, photographs and so forth. While some people may think their data is gone forever, there is still hope, especially if it was stored on a traditional hard drive. One thing to keep in mind though is that once you lose data from a certain partition for instance, it’s not recommended that you write on it again. In fact, don’t use the HDD at all.

So how can you recover your data? Well, take your hard drive to one of your friends, and have them scan it with a data recovery program and then recover the data and copy it unto another hard drive. If that doesn’t work, you should look into professional data recovery services, but these can get pretty expensive. Because of that, you should use them only if you have vital data to recover.

4. My computer keeps freezing on me

This issue is a lot more serious than a slow computer and most of the times it’s caused by spyware or viruses infecting your machine. In general you can get any of the two or both by visiting shady websites, having no antivirus software installed and also lacking active spyware protection. However, the issue may also be caused by hardware incompatibility, such as the RAM memory you probably installed just a few days ago.

Therefore, if you think the problem is hardware related, then it’s best you remove the part you’ve recently installed and then restart your computer to see if it freezes again. If it doesn’t, then it was due to the most recent hardware changes you made. On the other hand, if it’s software related, perform virus and spyware scans and if this doesn’t fix the problem, use Windows Restore to roll back to an earlier restore point.

5. I can’t get online

Now if you’re an avid internet surfer, then this issue has probably gotten you feeling really angry and no one blames you for feeling this way. This is even truer for those who work online and need to be able to use the internet between certain hours or else they may lose money.

For one thing, internet connection problems can be caused by many factors with the most common ones being firewalls that block online traffic, incorrect connection of network cables, incorrect IP address configuration, latency from your ISP, software or hardware errors in the router and finally, network misconfigurations.

However, if you notice that your Wi-Fi connection is disabled, then you need to check if your computer or laptop’s Wi-Fi is on or if the cable is properly connected. If you see a yellow exclamation mark in the taskbar, then that’s a sign you need to reboot the router. Most of the times this fixes the problem, but if it doesn’t, then go to Start, type cmd and then hit enter. You’ll see a black box popping up where you should type ipconfig / release. Press enter and then type ipconfig / renew. If this doesn’t solve your connectivity issues, then it’s time to give your ISP a call.

Computer problems can be as simple as having your homepage changed to a new one or as annoying and frustrating as having to dismantle your entire computer\laptop, clean the fans, the CPU, troubleshoot the RAM memory and even back up your data. Whatever the case, these tips should help you fix them so you can either get back to work or get back to watching YouTube videos again!

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Essential Productivity Apps for the Mobile Freelancer http://theitbros.com/essential-productivity-apps-for-the-mobile-freelancer/ http://theitbros.com/essential-productivity-apps-for-the-mobile-freelancer/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8446 Beautiful girl with a teddy bear

Being a freelancer is hard work– despite what most people would think. The idea of working from home in your pajamas would seem like an ideal working scenario for some, but having no bosses around to keep tabs on you can result into your productivity going into a nosedive. Before you know it, you’re browsing […]

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Beautiful girl with a teddy bear

Being a freelancer is hard work– despite what most people would think. The idea of working from home in your pajamas would seem like an ideal working scenario for some, but having no bosses around to keep tabs on you can result into your productivity going into a nosedive. Before you know it, you’re browsing through celebrity gossip sites or looking up random facts on Wikipedia instead of working on that report. Hours pass by, the day ends, and you find yourself with absolutely nothing to show for the lost time.

Thankfully, there are a lot of FREE productivity tools on the Web that can help you get back on track and keep up with your work commitments. Here are some of the best ones:

1. Evernote and The Secret Weapon

Evernote is mostly known as a journaling and note-taking tool. It is pretty similar to Microsoft One Note in some respects, but Evernote has web-based functions (e.g. synchronization across multiple devices, online clipping, shared notebooks, etcetera) that the former lacks.

Now, Evernote is very useful on its own- you can use it as a plain old notebook, album, and clippings repository. But to get the most out it, you need an organization system that will teach how to organize tasks and to-do lists according to importance, date due, and other such categories.

This is where The Secret Weapon comes in. If you’re familiar with the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method, then you’ll understand what Secret Weapon is all about. This system integrates useful GTD tenets with Evernote functionalities, allowing you to become a productivity powerhouse in no time.

2. Pomodairo and the Pomodoro Technique

We mentioned GTD, but that productivity system might be a bit complicated for first-timers. As a simpler alternative, you can try out the Pomodoro Technique. Developed br Francesco Cirrillo in the 1980s to help him focus in his university exams, this time management method involves having your worktime for the day sequestered into indivisible “pomodoros”- or blocks of 25-minutes. At the end of each pomodoro, you get to have a five minute break. Four completed pomodoros nets you a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes.

It is important to note that once you get started on a pomodoro, there’s no turning back. A pomodoro is indivisible- you have to work on something for 25 minutes straight. For more in-depth information on how to organize pomodoros and how to deal with distractions, just take a look at the About page on the www.pomodorotechnique.com website.

Now, there are a lot of Pomodoro timers available on the Web. But Pomodairo seems to be one of the best ones among the lot. Most timers are just plain timers. Pomodairo has extensive functionality that you can’t find anywhere- it has a tasklist, a system for marking distractions, customization options and many more.

3. Trello

What if your freelancing career involves having to work with other people? Working on projects with a team, and getting everyone on board and updated all the time can be quite a task especially if you’re relying on plain old emails.

But Trello is here to save the day. A dedicated online collaboration tool, Trello allows people to congregate on a virtual “board” and fill it with cards. The cards can be then customized according to your needs (for example, you can group under specific deadlines). After filling the board with cards and tasks, you can then add people to it. These members are allowed to move the cards along lists, add notes and documents, and even communicate with one another on the board. It’s like a virtual workplace.

4. Coffitivity

Coffitivity is not actually a productivity app per se, but it is something that can help you keep focused.

There’s a reason why people go to cafes to work- and sometimes its not just about the coffee. The noise provides enough stimulation to keep them going without being distracting. Coffitivity here will recreate the sounds of a busy coffee shop for you, so that you’ll get to experience that work-conducive cafe environment right in the safety of your own homes. The best thing of all? You wouldn’t even have to spend a dime on overpriced coffee, or have to listen to customers nagging on poor baristas.

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Linux Mint for Noobs – Getting Started http://theitbros.com/linux-mint-for-noobs-getting-started/ http://theitbros.com/linux-mint-for-noobs-getting-started/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:00:49 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8442 linux-mint

Windows is easy and familiar. It has been the de facto operating system on most computers for the past twenty years or so- and for the majority of people who use PCs, it’s the only operating system that they know of. It’s easy to see why some people are hesitant on making the leap to […]

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linux-mint

Windows is easy and familiar. It has been the de facto operating system on most computers for the past twenty years or so- and for the majority of people who use PCs, it’s the only operating system that they know of. It’s easy to see why some people are hesitant on making the leap to other operating systems.

What is Linux Mint?

But if you do find yourself getting more and more enthused about moving away from “evil” corporate Windows and into the free world of open source Linux, then consider getting Linux Mint as your beginner distro!

Often touted as the ultimate Windows replacement, Linux Mint is one the most popular “beginner” Linux distros in the world today. Based and built upon another Linux favorite, Ubuntu, Linux Mint has been consistently getting positive reviews and raves from the tech community at large. It combines Ubuntu’s “out-of-the-box” functionality (i.e. just install and you’re done, no need for tweaking or fooling around with console) and its own brand of simplicity and newbie-friendliness.

The operating system’s current iteration is the Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca,” which was released on November last year. As a Long-term support (LTS) release version, Rebecca is expected to be supported by the Mint team until 2019.

Why Linux Mint?

Linux Mint users (and users of other Linux distros, for that matter) are such a small subset of the computing community, that hackers and other unscrupulous programmers don’t often bother writing malicious code and programs for them. There’s also the fact that Linux Mint can be installed on older computers (something that you can’t possibly do Windows 8.1 or Mac OS X) and is not a resource hog.

Now, compared to its older sister and near competitor Ubuntu, Linux Mint is sleeker and faster. Also, since the latest releases of Ubuntu use the drastically complicated Unity interface (with its Mac OS-type dashboard and confusing icons), Linux Mint offers a more familiar environment for people who are coming straight from Windows.

How to Install Linux Mint

Another great thing about Linux Mint- its versatility! You can install it on bare metal (i.e. install it on a computer as its sole operating system), dual boot it with Windows, or run it from WITHIN Windows.

1. First, go to the official Linux Mint download page. There are several editions of the current Linux Mint release available for download. The MATE edition is perfect for older, slower computers, while Cinnamon can be handled by most modern PCs. 64-bit computers can run both 64-bit and 32-bit Linux Mint editions, but 32-bit computers can only run 32-bit editions. So make sure that you choose the appropriate type.

2. Burn the downloaded .ISO file into a DVD or a USB stick. Run the program from the ISO, as soon as you’re ready.

3. Choose your preferred installation. Below are your three options:

a. Install it within Windows.

This option allows you to install and run Linux Mint like a normal Windows application. Run your Linux Mint DVD or USB, then select mint4win.exe as soon as Autoplay runs. In the Linux Mint Menu, choose “Install inside Windows.” Follow the instructions that the installer will show you.

b. Perform a clean install.

This option is for those who want to erase their existing operating system and use Linux Mint as their main OS. From the Linux Mint Menu, choose the “Erase disk and Install Linux Mint” option.

c. Use it alongside Windows.

Now, this can be a bit trickier. First, you have to backup all of your files from your Windows OS (in case something goes awry) and then partition your hard drive to make way for Linux Mint. Google “How to Partition Your Hard Drive” on how to do this properly. Once you’ve done partitioning, run your Linux Mint live disk and choose “Something Else” from the Menu. Decide on how much space you want to allocate for Linux Mint. Twenty gigabytes is highly recommended.

d. Try it using Live Mode.

If you don’t want to commit to having a full installation of Linux Mint on your machine, you can try using the OS straight from the USB or DVD drive. You can choose the “Try Mint” option from the menu.

There you have it. The Linux Mint installer is self-explanatory in itself, and you can have the OS up and running in no time. Linux Mint’s interface is pretty similar to Windows so you would have no problem getting around. But should you have any questions, the Linux Mint forums are an excellent resource for beginning Mint users!

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Awesome Websites to Get Your Kids Hooked on Programming http://theitbros.com/awesome-websites-to-get-your-kids-hooked-on-programming/ http://theitbros.com/awesome-websites-to-get-your-kids-hooked-on-programming/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 23:33:06 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8435 kids-computer-programming

The success stories of people who used MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to pick up new skills and even change careers aren’t exactly rare nowadays. You probably have heard of people learning how to code by signing up for classes on sites like Coursera, eDX, and Udacity, then leveraging the knowledge that they’ve gained to […]

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kids-computer-programming

The success stories of people who used MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to pick up new skills and even change careers aren’t exactly rare nowadays. You probably have heard of people learning how to code by signing up for classes on sites like Coursera, eDX, and Udacity, then leveraging the knowledge that they’ve gained to find jobs and/or internships.

But what if your ten-year old kid expresses an interest in becoming a computer programmer?

These MOOC sites aren’t exactly kid-friendly, and most of the courses that are hosted there require at least highschool-level knowledege to fully comprehend (plus kids might not be so keen on participating in online class discussions if their classmates are scary grownups). Thankfully, there are a few child-friendly options that kids (and kids-at-heart!) can play and program with. Here are some notable examples.

Lightbot

Is it a game or is it a programming course? It’s actually both! In Lightbot, your kid takes control of a robot (the eponymous “Lightbot”) and guides the little guy by issuing commands that order Lightbot to walk, turn around, switch on a light, and so on. These commands are entered by clicking on icons that are displayed on the screen.

Lightbot is one of the simplest games out there, but its simplicity hides the fact that it teaches some complex programming principles like loops, procedures, if-then statements, and more in a very fun and cute manner.

Code.org “Hour of Code” – Write Your First Computer Program Lesson

Hour of Code is a global educational initiative endorsed by no less than the president of the United States himself. It seeks to have children from all over the world become proficient in computer programming with just an hour of code work everyday. The modules for the program, which are spread out across a number of affiliated websites, can be accessed at Code.org’s main website.

While most of the items that are featured on this list are also part of the Hour of Code, we’ll take a special focus on the website’s own Write Your First Computer Program lesson. This module is notable for featuring luminaries such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Through the use of videos, these celebrities will directly teach students some of the basic concepts involved in computer programming like conditionals, algorithms, and loops. What’s even better is that there is a drag and drop (pseudo) programming language (featuring the birds and the pigs from Angry Birds and the zombies from Plants Versus Zombies!) built directly into the module so that kids can instantly put into practice what they’ve learned.

Scratch

Scratch is pretty similar to Code.org’s in-browser programming language, with its drag-and-drop functionality and simple syntax. Yet it is more powerful by leaps and bounds. Built in 2003 by the MIT Media Labs in cooperation with the Intel Foundation, Lego Foundation, Google, Dell, and Microsoft, Scratch can be used as a “gateway” for kids to dabble into more serious programming languages such as C, C++, Python, and others.

While the interface looks simple and cutesy (a cat sprite greets users when opening a new file), Scratch is powerful enough to create complicated games such as Mario-like platformers, simple RPGs (role playing games), and Dance Dance Revolution clones.

While Scratch is primarily targeted at kids, older students can also benefit a lot from it too. It is to be noted that Harvard’s famous CS50 (Introduction to Computer Science) course uses Scratch in its first week as a teaching tool.

Robozzle

Robozzle doesn’t actually teach you a programming language, but it does teach you how to think like a programmer. The premise here is simple: help the spaceship/pointer-like thing collect all the stars in each level. You must use a variety of commands to make the pointer do what you want it to do.

The great thing about Robozzle is that it can be fun for people of all ages (and not just for kids). The beginning levels are easy enough, while there are harder levels that even seasoned programmers might have a hard time to finish.

Codecademy

If your kid is ready to take on a “real” programming language, then go on codecademy.com and have him or her try out the lessons there. Codecademy has a gamified lesson system, so that kids will know exactly where they stand (in terms of knowledge gained) among their peers.

If your child shows interest in programming these are great tools to send them in the right direction. Who knows, maybe they’ll even build the next Facebook or Google when they grow up!

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Laptop Recycling Project: Turn Your Old Laptop Screen into a Working Monitor http://theitbros.com/laptop-recycling-project-turn-your-old-laptop-screen-into-a-working-monitor/ http://theitbros.com/laptop-recycling-project-turn-your-old-laptop-screen-into-a-working-monitor/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 04:10:21 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8431 laptop-monitor

So you have an old laptop lying around that you just can’t bear to part with. It’s too underpowered for you to do anything remotely useful with it, plus its battery is already busted. What can you do with this thing to make it useful again? If you’re a gamer or a productivity-freak who likes […]

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laptop-monitor

So you have an old laptop lying around that you just can’t bear to part with. It’s too underpowered for you to do anything remotely useful with it, plus its battery is already busted.

What can you do with this thing to make it useful again?

If you’re a gamer or a productivity-freak who likes to keep tabs on everything at all times, then you probably find the idea of a multi-monitor set-up very enticing. The problem is, an extra monitor can cost you a pretty penny.

Thankfully, your old laptop’s LCD can still be salvaged and repurposed into a sweet secondary monitor that you can hook up into your primary computer.

There are two ways with which you can do this project.

Method #1: The Software Option

This relatively easier method requires that your laptop is still fully operational (i.e. you can still boot it up and install stuff on it) for it to work. All you need to do is install a software that allows you to use your laptop as a secondary monitor on both of your machines (your laptop and your main computer). An example of this kind of software is called MaxiVista, which can be purchased on its official website at www.maxivista.com. The site also offers a trial version, so you can check out if this option is right for you.

Method #2: The “Monitor From Scratch” Option

For those whose laptops are totally dead and useless (and who are interested in building a monitor from scratch), they can check out this method. This might be harder than the software option mentioned above, but don’t worry, as long as you know how to follow instructions and use a screwdriver, you’re golden. This method requires you to fully dismantle your laptop and take out the LCD (while the laptop’s other salvageable parts like the hard drive and motherboard can be stored away for future projects). Now, the laptop LCD is useless by itself, so you need to purchase a compatible LCD controller board for it before you can use it as a monitor.

An Instructables article provides detailed step-by-step instructions for this project, but we’ll give you a general overview of the steps plus some notes for each.

1. Dismantle the laptop.

All laptops follow a general build, so the instructions provided by the Instructables article on dismantling a laptop can be sufficient enough for the technologically-inclined. But if you want more in-depth dismantling instructions that is specific to your laptop’s brand and model, you can search for “(your laptop’s brand and model) + disassembly” on YouTube (chances are, there’s someone who already did a video on it) . You can also consult your laptop’s general manual for disassembly/dismantling instructions.

2. Remove the LCD screen.

The LCD screen is connected to your machine with a cable (LVDS cable). In order to fully remove it, you have to take apart your whole laptop, unscrew the LCD panel from its case, and unplug the inverter and cables.

3. Buy the LCD controller.

Flip your LCD panel and look for its model number. Now, go on Google or eBay and search for “(LCD model number) + controller board.” A particularly useful website for this step is www.njytouch.com, which is a computer parts company. You can email them your LCD’s model number and they’ll find one in stock which is compatible with your LCD. The controller board can cost you anywhere from $30 to $45 (still cheaper than a brand new monitor though).

4. Connect all the cables.

The controller board should come with all the cables necessary for you to connect it to your main computer and to a power source. Just follow the insructions in the Instructables article and you’re basically done.

So now you have a working secondary monitor up and running. But there are cables everywhere! Thankfully, you can read the secondary half of this tutorial (http://blog.siddv.net/2014/09/turning-laptop-screen-into-external.html) for ideas on how to organize the cables and parts of your new LCD monitor, as well as make a new stand and case for it. All you need is a screw driver, some screws, and a little bit of creativity.

If you want to turn it up a notch, you can also check out this Instructables article on how to protect your LCD monitor with a Plexiglass case.

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Easy as Pi: 7 Creative Raspberry Pi Projects http://theitbros.com/easy-as-pi-7-creative-raspberry-pi-projects/ http://theitbros.com/easy-as-pi-7-creative-raspberry-pi-projects/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 23:13:19 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8423 raspberry-pi

The Raspberry Pi is the little computer that could. Credit card-sized and with a cute raspberry logo printed on the board, it’s easy for a casual observer to dismiss it as a mere tinkering toy for nerds. But beneath the small exterior lies a relatively powerful (for its size and price) computing machine that can […]

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raspberry-pi

The Raspberry Pi is the little computer that could. Credit card-sized and with a cute raspberry logo printed on the board, it’s easy for a casual observer to dismiss it as a mere tinkering toy for nerds. But beneath the small exterior lies a relatively powerful (for its size and price) computing machine that can be used in all sorts of amazing projects.

Here are some of the coolest things you can do with the little Pi:

1. Multi-room Music Player

Buying a multi-room music set-up for your house can be a costly venture, but with the help of the $35 Raspberry Pi and the free Pi musicbox software, the costs can be drastically cut down to the minimum.

Full instructions here.

2. Ultimate Pi Home Server

Despite its miniscule size, a Raspberry Pi packs enough punch to power a home server. A bit of fair warning though, this project can take up a lot of your time so make sure to set aside at least a weekend for its completion. The required hardware is minimal; the only materials that you’ll need is a Raspberry Pi (obviously), SD card, ethernet cable, USB cable, Pi case, 2 heat sinks (usually comes free with Pi cases) and an external hard drive. Chances are, you already have these items on hand if you work around with computers a lot.

Full instructions here.

3. Raspberry Pi Desktop Computer

Here’s something a little more basic. Did you know that your Raspberry Pi is basically a complete computer by itself? If you have an old monitor and keyboard lying around, you can plug them into your Pi and have another desktop computer in your house which you can do basic computing tasks on.

Full instructions here.

4. Retro Game Console

Gamers, rejoice! This very simple retro game console project will take you only thirty minutes from start to finish. The process is simplified by RetroPie, a software that comes bundled with console emulators that are all optimized for the Pi. Best of all, this project is very noob-friendly; no need for fancy Linux acrobatics to get your own Raspberry Pi game console up and running.

Full instructions here.

5. Smart Digital Picture Frame

Using a Raspberry Pi with an old monitor or an existing digital frame is simple enough. But you can take this project up a notch by attaching a motion sensor to the Pi so that it will only display pictures if there are people around. Compared to other pre-made digital frames, this Pi-powered frame runs on less electricity and is more satisfying to look at (since you made it with your own hands).

Full instructions here.

6. Raspberry Pi Tablet

Now, this tablet isn’t something that you would exactly call as “portable” but it’s still a pretty satisfying project to do if you like to tinker with electronics. All you need is a Raspberry Pi, LCD kit (can be purchased from online electronics stores), microUSB cable, and SD card.

Full instructions here.

7. Google Glass Clone

For those who really want to test the limits of the Raspberry Pi, then this Google Glass Pi-powered clone is something that they can revel in. Granted that this project does not have the sleek and sexy form factor that the original Google Glass have, it’s still a rewarding project for amateur tinkerers. Be prepared to have your wallet on hand though. This project can cost you about a $100 to complete (most of it goes into the purchase of the video glasses and the 3D parts printing). But compared to the $1500 that you will have to pay for a real Google Glass, that’s basically a steal.

Full instructions here.

Wrapping it Up

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a cheap miniature computer like the Raspberry Pi. The best thing about the projects above is that they do not just teach you how to make stuff, but they also teach you the underlying principles that go into the making of these gadgets (e.g. desktop computers, game consoles, music players, and others) that we so often take for granted. Hopefully, the tech knowledge that you’ve gained from tinkering with the Raspberry Pi is enough to inspire you to make bigger and awesome-r projects of your own.

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How to Uninstall Windows 8 Apps http://theitbros.com/how-to-uninstall-windows-8-apps/ http://theitbros.com/how-to-uninstall-windows-8-apps/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:13:04 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8411 windows8.1

Windows 8 has been quite popular among laptop, tablet and smartphone users. It has a new interface called the Windows Start Screen. This is the first screen you notice when you log in to Windows 8. Laptop, tablet and smartphone users need to use this interface to search for files, launch applications and browse the […]

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windows8.1

Windows 8 has been quite popular among laptop, tablet and smartphone users. It has a new interface called the Windows Start Screen. This is the first screen you notice when you log in to Windows 8. Laptop, tablet and smartphone users need to use this interface to search for files, launch applications and browse the Internet. The Windows Start Screen also contains tiles, which represent a lot of different programs. You can launch these programs by clicking on their tiles.

One of the key features of the new interface is that these tiles are able to give you real time information directly on the Windows Start Screen. Due to this, you’re able to use the Windows Start Screen for both starting an application and accessing other data including email information, weather, RSS feed articles and so on. Before you access the new Windows Store, you need to understand the Windows Start Screen interface.

New Windows Store

When Microsoft released the new Windows 8 operating system, it also introduced an upgraded Windows Store. This new store allows you to easily purchase and download applications that are specifically designed to operate in the Windows Start Screen. The interface is quite similar to the iTunes Store.

You can easily log in to the new Windows Store and download applications and trials to run on your computer. In case you want to buy an application, it will be automatically downloaded and even installed on your computer. Moreover, you will be able to use this application on 4 different Windows 8 computers.

Uninstalling Windows 8 Apps

In case you’re not used to Windows 8, you may consider some things confusing and time consuming. In fact, the lack of some traditional buttons doesn’t make things easier. For instance, when you’re using the Metro interface, i.e, the new Windows Start Screen with all the new tiles, you must be able to see some installed applications.

Most people are confused when it comes to removing an application. For most people, the steps aren’t immediately obvious. When you pull up the Windows Charms Bar, and click on Settings, you won’t find any help. Similarly, when you click the Change PC Settings tab, you won’t find any uninstaller there.

Some people think they can find help in the Control Panel. However, this isn’t the case. When you open the Control Panel, you won’t find your applications listed there. Microsoft Windows 8 doesn’t consider them like traditional programs. Due to this, it can be difficult to find a way to uninstall your apps. Here are some easy steps to help you install Windows 8 apps without any hassles.

How to Uninstall Windows 8 Apps

Earlier, when users wanted to install an application in Microsoft Windows, they needed to use the “Uninstall a Program” feature from the Control Panel. In case you want to uninstall these applications, it’s necessary to use a specific set of procedures. You can use the following instructions to uninstall a Metro App from Microsoft Windows 8.

When you open the Metro Start Screen, you need to scroll through all the applications. You need to find the app you want to uninstall from your computer. Once you get to see this application, you need to right-click. This will allow you to see a new dialog.

On right-clicking the particular application, you can see all the options necessary to uninstall the app. In some cases, options are specific to particular apps. For most apps, you can see two options on the screen – Unpin and Uninstall the App. With the Unpin option, you can make sure the undesired app is not visible in the Windows 8 Metro Start Screen anymore. With the Uninstall the App options, you can simply uninstall the application from your computer.

Once you do this, you will be asked for confirmation about uninstalling the application. You need to confirm before the app gets uninstalled. In order to continue uninstalling the application, just click the “confirm” button, and the application will no longer be available on your computer. If you want to install this application again, you will have to download it from the Microsoft Windows Store.

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How to Use Tor Browser to Protect Your Anonymity Online http://theitbros.com/how-to-use-tor-browser-to-protect-your-anonymity-online/ http://theitbros.com/how-to-use-tor-browser-to-protect-your-anonymity-online/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 04:17:18 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8415 privacy

Here is an inconvenient truth: everything that you do on the Internet leaves a trace. If you have an extension like Ghostery* installed on your browser, you’ll know that even a simple benign-looking webpage can be filled to the brim with web trackers that spy upon your browsing habits. These trackers then use the data […]

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privacy

Here is an inconvenient truth: everything that you do on the Internet leaves a trace. If you have an extension like Ghostery* installed on your browser, you’ll know that even a simple benign-looking webpage can be filled to the brim with web trackers that spy upon your browsing habits. These trackers then use the data that they’ve gathered for a whole variety of purposes- advertising, analytics, or whatever it is that their creators have set them upon to track.

*Ghostery is a privacy-focused browser extension that shows all the companies that are tracking visitors on a web page.

But of course, those trackers are just the tip of the iceberg. The idea of having our computer usage being mercilessly tracked and spied upon can be really discomforting for most people. Thankfully, there are a number of viable options with which people can escape surveillance and tracking.

Enter the Tor Project.

What is the Tor Project?

Tor was initially conceptualized by the US Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications. Control and development of the project has since then been transferred to a nonprofit organization founded by one of the project’s original developers.

Tor stands for “The Onion Router.” It got its name from the way it encrypts the data of the people on its network: all sorts of communication that pass through Tor are nestled through layers and layers of encryption, in the same manner as how the insides of an onion are organized. Once the original data has been sent through the network, it goes through a relay of computers on the Tor network, which decrypts it further and further until it reaches its destination. Since that data packet has already gone through a multitude of “relays,” its sender can’t be traced back to its originating server/computer.

How to Use Tor?

Tor has gained quite an (in)famous reputation partly due to the role it plays in the buy-and-sell of drugs and other contraband on the dark web. Despite this, the software is also notable for the good that it does to society. For one, it helps people living in countries where the Internet is heavily censored and regulated (e.g. China and Russia) to access the Web without restrictions. It also lets political whistleblowers to bypass surveillance and political persecution safely.

For us normal folks, Tor is just a simple way within which we can get ahead of the corporations and entities who are using our browsing data without our knowledge. Thankfully (despite sounding so complicated), using Tor is just as easy as downloading a small application onto your computer. Here’s how to get started.

1. Download Tor Browser from its official download page at www.torproject.org. The software is available on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

2. Install Tor Browser on your computer. Do take note that you can install the application anywhere you like, whether it’s on your computer or on a flash drive.

3. Open the Tor Browser. Simply head on over to the folder where you saved the application and click on the “Start Tor Browser” file.

4. Wait as the application connects you to the Tor network. Waiting time is dependent on how fast your internet connection is.

Voila. You’re now free to roam the Internet as you please, without worrying about corporations and other entities spying in on your browsing habits. You can see that the Tor Browser is actually a modified Firefox browser, so getting around it will be intuitive for most people. There are no extensions of any sort, so forget about running Java or Flash-based applets in-browser.

Tor Tips and Tricks

1. If you’re a mobile worker who likes to connect to public Wifi in cafes or libraries, then keep a copy of Tor Browser in a flash drive. This way, you’ll be safe from attackers who use public Wifi networks to spy on people’s internet traffic.

2. Forget about having extensions like Quicktime and Flash. These applications often leave traces of a person’s unencrypted IP address, so the Tor Browser safely leaves them out. If you must use these applications, consider using a VPN instead.

3. As much as possible, don’t use Google for searches. There’s a possibility that it will tag your search as malicious, thereby making you go through numerous captcha pages. Just use the default search engine “Startpage” when you have to search.

4. To ensure your anonymity, always keep your copy of Tor regularly updated. The browser’s frontpage will notify you if a new update for Tor is available for download.

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How to Use Reddit Like a Boss: Tips & Tricks for the Internet’s “Front Page” http://theitbros.com/how-to-use-reddit-like-a-boss-tips-tricks-for-the-internets-front-page/ http://theitbros.com/how-to-use-reddit-like-a-boss-tips-tricks-for-the-internets-front-page/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:30:44 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8395 reddit-logo

Facebook and Twitter might have the largest userbases among social networking sites, but they’ve got nothing on the extremely tight-knit Reddit community. Reddit, for those unfamiliar with it, is an online-forum-slash-social-network of registered users (who may or may not be anonymous) from all over the world. Its slogan “The Front Page of the Internet” can’t […]

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reddit-logo

Facebook and Twitter might have the largest userbases among social networking sites, but they’ve got nothing on the extremely tight-knit Reddit community.

Reddit, for those unfamiliar with it, is an online-forum-slash-social-network of registered users (who may or may not be anonymous) from all over the world. Its slogan “The Front Page of the Internet” can’t be more fitting; most of the viral hits that are shared on “pop” websites like Buzzfeed and UpWorthy were sourced from frontpage submissions that first appeared on Reddit. If you’re fond of reading clickbait articles (You Won’t Believe What this Man Did on Christmas Day, Awesome Pictures from Around the World, Teenager Sells Startup for a Million Dollars- you know the drill), then chances are, you’re reading something that was first discussed about and commented on by Reddit users.

Reddit Culture 101

Reddit is not just one big online forum; it’s divided into small, independent, sub-forums called “subreddits” that have different points of interest from one another. For example, /r/aww is a subreddit filled with pictures of cute things (e.g. babies, kittens, puppies), while /r/philosophy is full of submissions and discussions about philosophy. Users can submit content of their own, or comment on the content already submitted by others. The site also has its own sort of reputation indicator called “Karma.” Whenever someone upvotes a comment or a submission made by a user, that user gains Karma; the reverse happens when a user receives downvotes. The most popular submissions of the day are displayed on the front page.

With an overwhelming plethora of subreddits that are dedicated to every imaginable topic under the sun, you’re bound to find something that you’ll like on the site. This is a great way to spend downtimes (especially when you’re compiling code!) or to learn about new things that can help you in your career.

Tips and Tricks to Make the Most Out of Reddit

1. Sign up for an account.

While you can browse Reddit even without signing up, you won’t be able to do much on the site. Becoming a reddit user means you’ll be able to save favorite subreddits, submit submissions of your own, plus vote and comment on the submissions of others. Don’t worry- Reddit won’t spam you with unwanted newsletters. In fact, you can even sign up without giving out your email! You just need to specify a username and password, then you’re good to go.

2. Save all of your favorite subreddits.

Are you a budding coder? Then go hang out with fellow learners at /r/learnprogramming or /r/cscareerquestions. There are also platform-oriented subreddits like /r/iOSprogramming, or /r/androiddev. If you want your daily dose of interesting general info, then have /r/todayilearned, /r/askreddit, and /r/IamA saved on your account. You can group all of your saved subreddits into one big page called a multireddit, so you won’t have to deal with posts and submissions from the general Reddit populace.

3. Understand the quirks of the community.

Redditors love their inside jokes and references (that outsiders might find incomprehensible and weird). If you’re a newbie and you don’t get what other users are saying, then don’t worry, you’ll understand them soon enough. But the community has its own rules and conventions that all users should learn about since disobeying them would unleash the a fury of downvotes from angry Redditors and moderators. Examples would be absent attribution for posted content, reposting and resubmitting content made by other users, and blatant online marketing efforts like incessantly posting links to one’s own website and products. Most of the rules can be found on the reddiquette page at www.reddit.com/wiki/reddiquette.

4. Know valuable shortcuts and “cheats.”

Do you want comments to be read like a live chat stream (with newest posts displayed on top)? Then edit the URL of your subreddit like so: www.reddit-stream.com/r/subredditname/comments.

For picture heavy subreddits like /r/pics, you can view all of the photo submissions by appending a “p” at the “reddit” in the URL. Example: redditp.com/r/subredditname.

Most of the comments that you’ll make on reddit will be in plain text, but if you want to add a little bit of style in your text, then you can try learning Markup syntax. Here you can add special characters, insert quotes, and do other fancy things with your comments.

And last, but definitely, not the least…

5. Install the Reddit Enhancement Suite on your browser.

This extension does exactly what it says on the tin. It enhances your reddit browsing with spiffy features and tools like a customized dashboard, infinite scrolling, in-line image viewing, and multiple user log-ins. It also makes the site look more pretty. You can grab it here.

Reddit can be a little intimidating at first but with these tips you should be a pro “redditor” in no time!

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5 Ways To Make Your Computer Blazing Fast http://theitbros.com/5-ways-to-make-your-computer-blazing-fast/ http://theitbros.com/5-ways-to-make-your-computer-blazing-fast/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 21:21:26 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8387 Tortoise on a laptop computer

No matter how powerful your computer may be, you should know that one day it is going to slow down and performance will be significantly lower compared to how it performed when you first got it. While this may make a lot of people worried that something is broken or needs to be fixed, that […]

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Tortoise on a laptop computer

No matter how powerful your computer may be, you should know that one day it is going to slow down and performance will be significantly lower compared to how it performed when you first got it. While this may make a lot of people worried that something is broken or needs to be fixed, that is not the case. This is normal for a computer that hasn’t had routine maintenance performed in a while. Luckily, below we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do to rejuvenate your computer’s performance and make it work as fast as in the day you got it, so let’s get right at it!

1. Remove spyware infections

Spyware infections are probably amongst the most annoying things computer users who surf the internet a lot need to deal with. So what are they? Well, a spyware infection is more commonly referred to as a nasty bug or software that causes a lot of performance dropouts, but also installs software that can steal your personal data, record everything you do online, including the websites you visit, your passwords and so forth. To make sure you won’t have your privacy at risk, it’s best that you install a spyware removal tool to finally get rid of these infections. Some software we recommend: AVG, MalwayreBytes, SpyBot.

2. Start freeing up disk space

Did you know that your computer needs a certain amount of minimum disk space in order to operate without impacting performance? Most of the times this is about 10% of your partition’s maximum available disk space so when you install or copy too many games, music or movies to one partition, then you may start to notice accessing it takes longer. While you can go about fixing this by deleting data you no longer need, you can also use the Disk Cleanup tool to free up some space (especially on the Windows partition).

To offer you some examples of how you could easily free up some space, they include:

– Backing up files you never access
– Removing Windows Temp files
– Removing programs you rarely or never use
– Emptying the recycle bin
– Removing temporary internet files

3. Removing start-up fluff

Last but not least, if you want to speed up your computer, you need to remove start-up fluff. These are the programs that you don’t actually use or rarely use, so you don’t need them loaded every time your computer starts. To do this, you need to go to Start, type msconfig and then click on the Startup tab. Here you’ll be presented with a list of all the programs Windows loads when your computer starts. Make sure to only select the ones you want to load on startup and remove those that you don’t.

4. Repair disk errors

error check

While defragmenting your disk will greatly speed up performance, you also need to make sure there are no disk errors that hamper it. As you use your computer, over time it can develop bad sectors which make it very hard or almost impossible to write data and save files on your HDD.

However, when you run the Error Checking utility, you can easily find these bad sectors and fix them. To run the tool, right click on your desired partition, click Properties, go to Tools and then click on Check Now. Make sure the boxes Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors are checked.

5. Defragmenting your system

defragmenting

You may not know about this yet, but disk fragmentation slows your computer’s overall efficiency. As you copy files, install and uninstall programs and so forth, small gaps are created amongst the data on your hard drive. After some time, information is not going to be stored in blocks anymore, but in the corners and nooks of your hard drive.

To you, this means you have to wait longer when doing just about anything on your computer, since the system needs to work harder in order to piece various parts of data together by searching the HDD. Luckily, you can easily fix this by running Disk Defragmenter, a tool that any Windows operating system already includes. As for running Disk Defragmenter, it’s best that you use it after:

1. Installing new and large programs or a new operating system.
2. Freeing up space that totals 15% or more of your HDD’s capacity.
3. Copying a large number of files.

Making your computer blazing fast doesn’t have to cost money, since there are many things you can do to make it perform very well by performing routine maintenance. In fact, by considering these tips, you’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars that would otherwise be spent on calling computer technicians or probably buying new computer parts that you thought were broken, but in reality they work just fine.

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How to Make Your PC Malware-Proof http://theitbros.com/how-to-make-your-pc-malware-proof/ http://theitbros.com/how-to-make-your-pc-malware-proof/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:00:53 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8379 antivirus

Every time you browse the internet, download content or use online programs, you are in danger of having malware infiltrate your computer. Malware is actually computer software, which was created with malicious intent of disrupting the smooth operation of your PC, or to gather information that the user would like to keep private (like bank […]

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antivirus

Every time you browse the internet, download content or use online programs, you are in danger of having malware infiltrate your computer. Malware is actually computer software, which was created with malicious intent of disrupting the smooth operation of your PC, or to gather information that the user would like to keep private (like bank account data). There are countless malware victims in the world, which have lost private information and money because of malware.

Protecting your computer against such software is no easy task and requires diligence. Every day new malware programs are released, increasing the danger of having your computer infected.

In this article we’ll take a good look at how one can successfully protect their computer from malware, both with special anti-malware software and with diligent care. To understand how to protect oneself from malware it is best to look at how malware first infiltrates the computer.

How does malware enter the PC?

There are many methods through which malware software enters the computer. Arguably the most common one would be downloads. Downloading any programs bears the danger of said program containing malware. The danger is higher if you download illegal material, like pirated videos, games and music. The type of site you download from is also important.

Shady sites, like those containing sales pages, porn and illegal files, are more probable to contain malware in the downloadable content. Official sites on the other hand, like Microsoft’s etc, are far less likely to infect your computer.

Malware can also enter the PC through CDs and DVDs. If said CD/DVD contains malware instead or with the program you wish to use, then you might infect your computer by using it.

Knowing this it is easier to understand how to protect the PC from malware. Here are the five steps to rid your computer from malware and protect against future infiltration:

Tips on How to Protect Your Computer From Malware

To ensure that you and any other user can safely browse the internet, download content and use DVDs without fear of computer infection from malware, you should:

  1. Download and Install High Grade Anti-Malware Software. There are hundreds of choices out there, with some being obviously better and faster than others, while some are too expensive. There are plenty of free trial programs and cheaper options that will do just fine for a home computer, but a business should consider buying an official Anti Malware Software that specializes in professional networks.

If the computer you wish to install the software on is new, then you should download the software from another (already protected) PC, to avoid infecting the helpless new machine.

If you buy your Anti Malware Software in DVD form, then make sure you have bought an official, legal version to avoid a malware scam. Official versions are well sealed and carry the trademark symbols of the developer.

There are many great choices for anti-malware software out there, including: Malwarebytes, AVG, Bitdefender, Microsoft Windows Defender, Avast, Comodo, Panda Cloud and many others.

  1. Use a Secondary Anti Malware Program. A single Anti Malware Software might actually miss a few infections and dangers, so it is a good idea to install a secondary program. It is important to choose two programs that are compatible and work together well. Spybot and Malwarebytes are two great programs that work in synergy with other anti-malware programs.
  1. Update All your Anti-Malware Software Regularly. Since new malware appears every day, it is important to keep your current anti-malware software updated constantly, or it won’t be able to defend against newer dangers. Most anti-malware programs will detect updates by themselves when the computer is connected to the internet and will inform you about the need to download those updates.
  1. Perform Regular Scans. You Anti-Malware software will not always detect a problem the moment it infects your computer. It is quite important to have regularly scheduled scans made by the programs to detect any malware that has slipped through the defenses. Most Anti-Malware programs will tell you to scan regularly, but if they don’t, remember to scan at least once a week. Scans can take a few hours so schedule them at a time where you don’t need to do memory consuming tasks on your PC, since the scans can tax the memory quite a bit.
  1. Update your OS Regularly. The operating system (OS) of your computer needs to be fully updated to be able to see dangers and detect malfunctions due to malware properly. If you use Windows, make sure that you have your firewall operating constantly when browsing the internet.
  1. Keep Backups. You never know when a new malware might defeat your Anti-Malware software and make a mess out of your computer. Even the best protected PCs can get infected and that is why, as a last resort, regular backups might save you from a lot of grief and keep your data intact even if all else fails.

Notable Anti-Malware Software

Most Anti-Malware software will work just fine on a regular home PC, but there are some programs that can actually make a great difference when you are in a pinch:

  • Spybot- Search and Destroy. This handy little program will actively look for any piece of dubious data on your computer and get rid of it with your permission. Spybot is the ideal tool to complement a more basic Anti-virus/Anti-Malware program.
  • Another great addition as a secondary anti-malware software, Malwarebytes can make a great difference in finding malicious files that have hidden in your PC for a while.
  • This is very minimalist and straight forward software, which is ideal to be used as a primary anti-virus program.

Many Anti-Virus programs will also scan for other types of malware. Viruses are only a part of all malware that exists. Ensure that your anti-malware software combination covers you for all types of malware, including viruses, adware and spyware, among others.

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Become an IT Professional Without Ever Leaving Your Couch – Here’s How http://theitbros.com/become-an-it-professional-without-ever-leaving-your-couch-heres-how/ http://theitbros.com/become-an-it-professional-without-ever-leaving-your-couch-heres-how/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:50:42 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8376 computer-learning2

In these days of sky-high tuition fees and crippling student debt, the thought of going (or returning) to school to get a degree is almost tear-inducing. But fret not. While getting a degree is alarmingly expensive, gaining knowledge isn’t. In the movie “Good Will Hunting,” the genius protagonist Will stands up to an Ivy League […]

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computer-learning2

In these days of sky-high tuition fees and crippling student debt, the thought of going (or returning) to school to get a degree is almost tear-inducing.

But fret not. While getting a degree is alarmingly expensive, gaining knowledge isn’t. In the movie “Good Will Hunting,” the genius protagonist Will stands up to an Ivy League toughie by taunting him with the fact that he spent 150 grand to get an education which he could have gotten for free at the library.

Will’s quote might be snarky trash-talking, but it rings true. You could learn just about anything that you want as long as you have the proper resources and the right amount of personal motivation. And in this Internet age, there’s no reason to complain about “lack of resources.” There are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and YouTube videos for just about any topic there is.

If you have aspirations to become an IT professional or computer programmer, then you’re in luck. The best thing about this field is that you don’t need a college degree to break into the industry; just self-study, earn a few certifications in the area that you want to specialize in, do a couple of volunteer or personal projects on the side, and you’re good to go.

Here are some of the best online resources to get you started in your IT career:

Harvard’s CS50x: Intro to Comptuter Science

Harvard’s CS50 is one of the most in-demand courses on-campus, often taken not just by Computer Science majors alone, but students from all academic backgrounds. It’s MOOC version, CS50x, is also just as highly-rated, with the instructor David Malan and his TAs providing entertaining commentary. The whole course is available on different platforms (YouTube, OpenCourseware, iTunes U) but the one that is on eDx.org is the most recommended since it is easily the most interactive out of the lot.

Why should you take this course? Simple, if you really want to “think like a programmer” then this course will teach you the barest fundamentals. All students, regardless of whether they have programming experience or not, will start at the very beginning. To get a feel of how a programmer should think, you will start with playing around with Scratch, a visual programming language. Next you’ll move on to C, to working with Linux, and to learning more advanced programming concepts like debugging, stack overflow, etcetera.

If this sounds very simple to you, then do take note that CS50x also caters to advanced students. Each problem set comes with a “hacker” edition, that challenges more experienced students to harder problems.

Codecademy.com and W3schools.com

Once you’re done with CS50x, you might have a yearning for additional training on specific programming languages or aspects of web development. Codecademy and W3schools can fill up that need. Codecademy is good for learning stuff like HTML, CSS, Python, and Javascript. It presents everything in an interactive gamified format so that you can easily track your progress and see how your code works instantly. W3schools doesn’t have that kind of interactivity, but it is a great reference material for most languages.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

This site is pretty vendor-specific, but you do have to realize that Microsoft is the usual software company of choice in most corporate settings. If you want to take Microsoft certification exams in the future, then this site is an indelible resource. Subjects are divided according to topic (mobile development, app development, virtualization, etcetera) and according to the Microsoft product involved (e.g. Windows Server, Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio, and others). While taking the certifications do cost money, all of the courses and learning materials on this site is FREE. You can check out the academy here.

GitHub and Stack Overflow

If you want to be a programmer, then hang out with other fellow programmers! Github is an open source version control system and code-sharing/social networking site, while Stack Overflow on the other hand, is like Yahoo Answers for geeks. It’s a question and answer site, wherein people post problems and other users get to answer them.

Learning about IT and programming, shouldn’t be a one-man island- it should be a collaborative process. These sites can help you learn more about the experiences of other more experienced programmers, while you also get to help other newbie programmers in return.

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What is the Best Web Hosting Service for a Small Business? http://theitbros.com/what-is-the-best-web-hosting-service-for-a-small-business/ http://theitbros.com/what-is-the-best-web-hosting-service-for-a-small-business/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 03:43:32 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8326 web hosting

Recent research has shown that online sales and marketing are at an all time high. A rising number of customers prefer to get information on their desired products before purchase and the easiest source are mobile devices. Businesses that don’t move at least part of their marketing efforts online are expected to lag behind in […]

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web hosting

Recent research has shown that online sales and marketing are at an all time high. A rising number of customers prefer to get information on their desired products before purchase and the easiest source are mobile devices. Businesses that don’t move at least part of their marketing efforts online are expected to lag behind in popularity and sales in the next few years.

Any business, new or old, that wishes to increase its brand awareness and attract more customers, should think about creating an online presence, whether that is in the form of an e-shop, a website or a business e-mail. Since these services need to be of a professional level, good hosting is paramount to the success of this endeavor. The only viable choice is to choose one of the best Web hosts for small businesses out there.

Small Business Web Hosting Overview

Before choosing a Web host, one should be aware of all the actual needs and benefits the business has and gains from hosting. The first question to ask is: Why does a business need a Web host? These are the top benefits one expects to gain from purchasing Web hosting as a business:

24/7 online presence. The best Web hosts for small businesses keep their servers running at all hours, which means that your customers can browse your information no matter when they want to or where they live. This is achieved with the use of large ‘server’ computers.

It is cheaper. In the long run owning your own server for your small business can be quite expensive. Web hosts take all the responsibility of keeping their servers protected and up to date. Doing that as a small business costs way more than renting a chunk of a Web host server.

It is easy. One does not need to be tech savvy to be able to get Web hosting. It only takes a credit card and a purchase.

You can upgrade. Starting small is always a prudent option for a business that hasn’t had an online presence yet. Most Web hosts have small packages that are quite cheap for beginners and those who have only just started. The business can always upgrade their hosting as soon as it is needed.

It is safe. If you choose from among the best Web hosts for a small business, you know that they have top notch security on their servers and always keep their programs updated. Security and updates are a hassle to manage as a small business, so a Web host can do all that for you.

It is pretty obvious that the main gain of choosing a mainstream Web host as a small business is in time and money. You spend less time working on your online marketing campaign and gain more money from the added exposure of your business.

The next question you, as a small business owner, should ask yourself is:

What Do I Need From a Web host?

Web hosts offer you space on their servers and often give you plenty of professional programs to handle that space as well. What you need to determine first is how much space you actually want. Not all websites are alike. The more pictures you wish to add the larger the space the website needs. Videos and flashy interactive interfaces can be even more demanding. The safest way to determine the server space you wish to rent is to get a professional website designer to tell you how big a site he is going to make for your business.

Using a professional Web designer is important when creating websites for small businesses to ensure the result is professional, up to date marketing-wise and visually pleasing for the customer. Your Web designer can tell you exactly how much space your ideal website needs and you can then purchase a package from a Web host that covers your needs.

The same goes when you wish to create an online store or have an online e-mail for your business. Having a professional set it up for you will give you the exact information you need to purchase the correct Web hosting package.

You need to decide what kind of website and/or e-mail service suits your business best. Giving your customers the necessary information to contact your business online increases its appeal. Having a professional e-mail hosted is always a good idea because of that reason.

Next you have to decide what percentage of your website will be dedicated to pure marketing. Websites that are purely dedicated to marketing contain long sales copy and plenty of enticing pictures. Blog-like websites offer the public entertaining information, while also advertising your products indirectly. Both have their pros and cons and need a different design approach.

After collecting all the information on the type of website and/or e-mail service you wish to get hosted, it is time to look at the actual services and bonuses various hosting companies will offer you. Choosing the best Web host for a small business becomes easier once the key quality parameters of Web hosting are known.

So What Makes a Good Web Host for a Small Business?

Choosing the ideal Web host among the many prominent names that currently exist is not an easy feat even for experienced users. Each case is different and hosting companies diversify their packages to suit different kinds of customers.

As soon as you know exactly what you want to get hosted, it comes down to finding the hosting company that will suit your needs best.

When browsing the Web hosts, make sure to check for:

Price. If you are on a budget, it is worth looking into special offers at various Web hosting companies. First time users often get the first couple of years cheaper than the average user at some companies. Just be careful, because the value you get might not be worth it always.

Uptime. Servers do rarely restart or shut down for a small while, usually so that updates and repairs can be made. Web hosts who keep their servers online the most will often proudly announce that fact. The longer your website is online, the more reliable exposure your small business will get. You certainly want to see a number of at least 99% when it comes to uptime.

Bandwidth. In hosting, bandwidth generally refers to the amount of data that can be transferred to and from your hosting account in a given month. Usually there is incoming and outgoing bandwidth and depending on the host you go with either one or both can be limited. Hosts that offer unlimited bandwidth usually have a “catch” and do not offer true unlimited bandwidth. If you start using more than what is considered “reasonable” they may ask you to upgrade. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go with a host that claims to offer unlimited bandwidth but it’s just something to keep in mind.

Size. Always compare the price to the server space size you are buying. It is best to start at the smallest size that will fit your current website idea. Web hosts will be more than obliging if you later decide to increase the server space size you are currently renting.

Free Programs. To make use of the server space you buy you will need professional programs to create websites. Many hosts will offer these programs for free. Unless your Web designer had you covered, it is worth looking into the free programs your Web host offers.

Customer Support. Never choose a Web host unless you are certain that they have excellent customer support. Business websites need to be repaired quickly, so you want fast answers and steady support. You won’t want to be waiting a week before you know how to fix your website. To see which Web hosts have the best support it is best to read customer reviews.

Value for Money. A great Web host has most of the above features and has plenty of satisfied customers to prove it. The prices might seem higher at good hosting companies than those of shadier Web hosts, but you will certainly get more value for your money if you choose quality over cheapness. One has to be careful not to overdo it also. A small business does not need the most amazing hosting package. Calculate the exact needs of your business and buy a high quality package that doesn’t overcompensate.

Thankfully, Web hosting isn’t such a new business anymore. The best Web hosts have long been reigning strong in the market and offered decent services to hundreds of thousands. Unless your business has a very particular need, most well-known, established Web hosts will serve you well.

Choosing one of the top hosting companies takes away the worry of buying low quality services, but it still leaves one with the question: Which one of the best is the best for my business?

To determine that, we have created a list with 7 Web hosts for small businesses. These web hosts have been chosen on popularity and how high they score when it comes to the quality of their services. Each entry contains the most vital information about each company and why it might be the right pick for you.

Here Are 7 Small Business Web Hosting Recommendations:

1. LiquidWeb

LiquidWeb (this is where we host our website, The IT Bros) is a very popular Web Host choice for small business owners. They are not the cheapest choice, but they certainly offer extremely high quality for every penny they receive.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • Adjustable Size. From 1GB to a whole server, LiquidWeb allows you to choose exactly how much space you wish to rent. They let you upgrade at any time.
  • Full Management. LiquidWeb offers to completely manage your rented space for you, taking away the tedious responsibility of updating and repairing your site on your own.
  • Heroic Support. They offer some of the highest quality customer support you can find online. It’s very easy to reach them via e-mail or phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round.
  • 100% Uptime. LiquidWeb boasts about their perfect uptime records, keeping your site working constantly without any downtime.

With LiquidWeb you get exactly what you are paying for: Some of the best and most reliable hosting you can possibly find online. This is not the cheapest, so it is not ideal for businesses on a very tight budget. LiquidWeb is perfect for the business that seeks to lose the least time, while getting the most out of their online marketing campaign.

Visit: http://www.liquidweb.com

2. HostGator

When choosing Hostgator you know you have picked one of the best Web hosts for a small business you can possibly find. What’s probably most notable about Hostgator is that this company offers many budget choices for those who don’t wish to spend too much on hosting.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • Amazing Prices. Hostgator offers newcomers very cheap packages for the first month or year. This way you know if your website is worth the money when you get to the point to pay full price, making online marketing a safer investment.
  • Good Support. Customer support is available 24/7 all year around. If something goes wrong, or you need help, you won’t have to wait long to get it.
  • 99% Uptime. With Hostgator you can rest assured that your website will be available constantly to the public.
  • Free website Building Tools. Hostgator offers website building programs and 4,500 free website templates to every customer.

Hostgator is an excellent choice for a small business that only just started online marketing and wants to make a safer investment. Hosting is very cheap for a trial period and can be upgraded at any given time.

Visit: http://www.hostgator.com

3. GoDaddy

GoDaddy has become the go-to place when it comes to buying domain names, but they also offer good quality hosting. They are the biggest hosting company currently on the market and their large customer base alone speaks of the quality of their services. The popularity of GoDaddy alone is a very good reason to consider buying your hosting from here.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth. No need to worry about how much data gets transferred to and from your hosting account every month.
  • Free domain names. A nice little feature, GoDaddy offers you a number of domain names for your site for free if you buy hosting.
  • Good Prices. At a monthly cost starting at around £49 per month, GoDaddy is an affordable choice for a small business.
  • 99 % Uptime. With GoDaddy your site will be constantly online.

Their customer support is great and their services leave little to be desired. More expensive packages also offer higher security and extra features. GoDaddy is the best Web host for small business owners who wish to go with the most popular choice.

Visit: https://www.godaddy.com

4. iPage

iPage is an amazing Web host company that focuses mainly on the needs of small businesses. They offer excellent uptime and easy to use tools for website creation. Most of their templates are excellent for marketing purposes and their customer support is top notch. Their prices are affordable and iPage also offers newcomers discounts for a trial period.

The Hosting features they provide include:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth. Your site can be seen an unlimited number of people at the same time without a problem.
  • Great Prices. iPage is affordable and offers trial discounts for the first month of use.
  • Perfect Uptime. Your site will be online all year round, at all hours of the day.
  • Great Array of Free Templates and Programs. iPage offers plenty of easy-to-use tools to create your own website with. The templates all look professional and help a business set up a visually pleasing marketing site very quickly.

iPage is a great hosting company that pretty much offers the full package when it comes to affordability, reliability and security. Their servers are constantly monitored and protected from any harm, so you know that your website will be safe on the servers of iPage.

Visit: http://www.ipage.com

5. Bluehost

Bluehost has dedicated their hosting services to keeping business websites online and in tip-top condition. They work with both small and large businesses, focusing on helping their customers create an authoritative online presense. Bluehost offer plenty of unlimited features to their customers at a very reasonable per month price.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • Unlimited features. With unlimited bandwidth, mySQL databases, e-mails and websites with their most popular package.
  • Reasonable Price. Their popular package isn’t the cheapest on the market, but the price is very reasonable when considering the many extra features they offer.
  • Constant Uptime. No downtime at all for your website means that you will get the most profit out of your online marketing campaign possible.
  • Great customer support. A group of experts is constantly available to advise and help whenever it is needed, 24/7.

Bluehost offers the complete package to a small business that wishes to create steady brand awareness and look perfectly professional while doing it. They have a budget package for businesses that wish to spend less, but it is certainly their popular ‘plus’ package that makes this hosting company so appealing to small business owners worldwide.

Visit: http://www.bluehost.com

6. Green Geeks

What makes Green Geeks so amazing is that their whole business operates on green energy alone. If you are seriously concerned about the environment, then Green Geeks can offer you excellent hosting, all powered by wind energy. Aside from being a very good choice for the environment, using Green Geeks for an online website increases a small business’ appeal to the eco-friendly audience.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • Energy Efficient Servers. You know that this company cares a lot about where the energy the servers use comes from. Ideal hosting choice for eco-friendly businesses and those businesses that market organic products.
  • Great Customer support. Green Geeks offer 24/7 support all year round, never leaving you without help or assistance.
  • Excellent Uptime. Your website is guaranteed to be up and working almost constantly.
  • Free Programs. You get a free website builder and starter site. Creating your dream site with Green Geeks is quite easy.

Even though the main selling point of Green Geeks is their eco-friendly approach to the business, they also offer pretty much the same high standard of services like some of the best Web hosts out there.

Visit: http://greengeeks.com

7. HostPapa

HostPapa calls itself ‘America’s #1 Small Business Web host’ for a reason. Their prices are just right and the services they offer cover just about every need a small business will have. Their prices are good, considering the excellent support and features you get for your money.

The hosting features they provide include:

  • 99% Uptime Guarantee. Your site will be constantly online and available to the wider public.
  • 24/7 Customer Support. Their multilingual, 24/7 support has made HostPapa quite popular among businessmen. You know that the moment you have a question or a problem, there will be someone there to offer solutions.
  • Unlimited Features. You get unlimited websites, domains and e-mails which you can have.
  • Automated Backups. With this feature you know that even if something goes horribly wrong somehow, your site will always be safely logged in a backup file.
  • Free Programs. A free website builder will help you create a site easily if need be.

HostPapa is certainly to be counted among the best Web hosts for a small business. From a fairly cheap price to excellent support, HostPapa ensures that their customers are kept happy, which is their popularity continues to rise.

Visit: http://www.hostpapa.com

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Easy Way to Reduce Eye Strain While Using Your Computer http://theitbros.com/easy-way-reduce-eye-strain-using-computer/ http://theitbros.com/easy-way-reduce-eye-strain-using-computer/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 03:35:24 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8307 EyeStrain

If you’re like me you probably stay up late at night working (or playing) away on the computer. The later and darker it gets the brighter your monitor can seem and this can put a strain on your eyes. Not to mention that it keeps you awake longer when you’ve basically got a lamp shining […]

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EyeStrain

If you’re like me you probably stay up late at night working (or playing) away on the computer. The later and darker it gets the brighter your monitor can seem and this can put a strain on your eyes. Not to mention that it keeps you awake longer when you’ve basically got a lamp shining into your eyes.

Here’s a simple way to reduce eye strain. I use a program called f.lux which basically gradually reduces the brightness of your monitor as the day progresses. The program is completely free which is a huge bonus :)

Step 1

Download f.lux here and install.

Step 2

Launch f.lux and set your location.

f.lux

That’s it!

It helps a LOT especially at night. You can also adjust whether you want it to dim down right away or gradually. I prefer to do it gradually because you don’t notice it as much. If you’re working in a program that requires your monitor be bright (design work, etc) so you can see all the colors properly you can always right click it and “disable for an hour”.

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Outsourcing Your Software Development Needs – Make Outsourcing Work http://theitbros.com/outsourcing-software-development-needs-make-outsourcing-work/ http://theitbros.com/outsourcing-software-development-needs-make-outsourcing-work/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 22:38:44 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8296 Working on laptops

As a start-up owner you have to keep your overheads competitively low to weather periods of slow growth and provide your client base with competitively priced products/services whilst enjoying a reasonable standard of living. To keep overheads low whilst accessing top talent, outsourcing is likely to be the best way to have your start-up’s software […]

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Working on laptops

As a start-up owner you have to keep your overheads competitively low to weather periods of slow growth and provide your client base with competitively priced products/services whilst enjoying a reasonable standard of living.

To keep overheads low whilst accessing top talent, outsourcing is likely to be the best way to have your start-up’s software development needs met; however, as you’ve probably come to realise, opinions are divided as to what’s the best option for start-ups – in-house developers or software development agencies?

To give you an idea, here are a few of the commonly cited pros and cons involved in outsourcing software development or keeping it in-house by hiring fulltime software developers.

  • In-house software development teams cost more
  • Software development agencies thrive on innovation
  • In-house software development reflects brand ability
  • Outsourcing software development lacks long-term focus
  • In-house software development increases workplace distractions
  • Outsourcing software development offers greater flexibility

These pros and cons won’t be applicable to all start-ups, for instance if your start-up doesn’t operate in the tech sector outsourcing software development won’t affect your brand ability because you aren’t involved in tech.

Exceptions aside, there are likely to be as many notable reasons for outsourcing software development as there are for keeping it in-house; however, if you decide to outsource software development to an agency, make outsourcing work for you not against you.

How to Make Outsourcing Software Development Work for You

If you’re going to outsource your software development needs you need to make outsourcing work in your favour and that starts with a comprehensive understanding of what to look for in a software development agency and the outsourcing process you should follow.

The Ideal Software Development Agency

The ideal software development agency to outsource your software development needs to isn’t necessarily the most cutting-edge and innovative, nor is it necessarily the most cost-effective, what you should be looking for in an agency to outsource to is an all-rounder, one that’s innovative, cost-effective and knows how to communicate with its clients.

Top communication skills frequently top ‘most important’ lists when the topic of outsourced software development is brought up and not without good reason either. Good communication skills entail more than weekly or fortnightly progress reports; they entail much more – constant updates to keep clients in the loop with what’s going on.

The Process of Outsourcing Software Development

Once you’ve decided upon a software development agency it’s the process of outsourcing that will then play the most important role in determining the success of your outsourcing efforts.

The ideal software development process – this also applies to outsourced mobile app development – comprises five phases:

  • The Discovery Phase

For the client, i.e. the start-up outsourcing, the discovery phase is a critical phase because it’s the phase in which they communicate the explicit goals they wish to achieve, their expectations of the agency, their expectations of the timeline and their expectations of the finished product.

If this is the first time you’ve worked with the agency you’ve decided upon, how well they respond to your expectations and how they communicate their expectations of you is of particular importance.

  • The Scope Alignment Phase

This phase entails laying out the scope for the product and you’ll need to work closely on the details because after this phase comes the development phase and to mitigate problems requiring revisions everything needs to be made crystal clear – capacity, capabilities, features, options, etc. – everything.

Ideally you’ll have charts, diagrams and lists prepared for the agency so you can clearly communicate how you want your software to feel, look and work.

  • The Software Development Phase

Although you’ll take a somewhat hands-off – not to be mistaken with ‘backseat’ – approach during this phase, you should be in constant communication with the agency and this is where top communication skills on the part of the agency really prove important.

  • The Revision Phase

Communication once again plays an integral role in the revision phase because this is the phase where any issues with the software need to be identified and cleared up. If you’re working with an agency for the first time, how they react to your desire for revisions is of note and should affect your decision as to whether you want to work with them again.

  • Shipping/Production

That’s it – your software is ready; however, as many experts make a habit of pointing out, there’s no finish line where software development is concerned because it’s an ongoing process requiring maintenance and enhancement over time.

Most start-ups find outsourcing their software development needs beneficial, and as outsourcing works best when client and agency have a solid relationship that stands the tests of time, working with the right agency right from the get-go is often the epitome of the ideal outsourcing relationship.

Author Bio:

Juliet Martin is a freelance writer for Feline Soft, an established software and website development house based in Bristol and London.

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The Cheapest Stock Photo Site (My DepositPhotos Review) http://theitbros.com/cheapest-stock-photo-site-depositphotos-review/ http://theitbros.com/cheapest-stock-photo-site-depositphotos-review/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 03:51:21 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8196 depositphotos

I run various websites and online businesses and am constantly in need of stock photos. I’ve looked around everywhere for the cheapest stock photo site and now I get the majority of my stock photos from Depositphotos.com The images start at $1 for the smallest ones (usually sufficient for my needs) and they have generous monthly subscription plans […]

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depositphotos

I run various websites and online businesses and am constantly in need of stock photos. I’ve looked around everywhere for the cheapest stock photo site and now I get the majority of my stock photos from Depositphotos.com The images start at $1 for the smallest ones (usually sufficient for my needs) and they have generous monthly subscription plans if you need a lot of images frequently.

Most other sites seem to have much higher fees on both a per image and subscription basis. I recently got a daily subscription plan and have been very happy. I can download 10 images / day of any size and up to 300 per month for just $99/month. That comes out to 33 cents / image. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything cheaper that can give you as many quality images.

Is DepositPhotos.com the Best Stock Photo Site?

I wouldn’t go as far as saying DepositPhotos is the best stock photo site. However, I would say that they are the best as far as value goes. They have a huge selection of quality images at the best price. There are very few instances in which I can’t find the photo I am looking for. Having said that, you might find more images on other but more expensive sites.

I’ve found DepositPhotos to be a good value – they are cheaper than almost every stock photo site out there while having a huge database with high quality images. You might find a cheaper (or free) alternative but I can pretty much guarantee you they won’t have the same quality or volume of images.

DepositPhotos Credits vs. Plans: Which Should You Buy?

That really depends on how many images you need. If you only need a few images every so often then you’re probably better off just buying 30 or 50 credits. If you are in need of more images then you should definitely consider one of the subscription plans.

My recommendation would be to go with one of their daily subscription plans.

depositphotos-plans

They allow you to download anywhere from 5 images / day up to 200 images / day depending on your needs. I’m currently on the 10 images / day at $99/month plan and couldn’t be happier. You can check out all their plans and sign up here.

Summary

If you’re looking for stock photos, DepositPhotos provides a great value. With the large selection of images you’ll most likely find what you’re looking for. The price per image starts at $1 but can go as low $0.15 / image depending on the plan you choose. All in all, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better stock photo site. Click here to visit DepositPhotos now.

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Remove U2 “Songs of Innocence” Album From iPhone http://theitbros.com/remove-u2-songs-innocence-album-iphone/ http://theitbros.com/remove-u2-songs-innocence-album-iphone/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:48:18 +0000 http://theitbros.com/?p=8248 u2-album

Follow these instructions to remove the free U2 album from the iPhone 6.

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u2-album

These are the official instructions from Apple on removing the U2 album “Songs of Innocence” from your iTunes library:

1. Go to https://itunes.com/soi-remove.

2. Click Remove Album to confirm you’d like to remove the album from your account.

3. Sign in with the Apple ID and password you use to buy from the iTunes Store.

4. You’ll see a confirmation message that the album has been removed from your account.

If you downloaded the songs to iTunes on your Mac or PC or to the Music app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you’ll need to delete them manually.

Source: Apple Support

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