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How not to buy a phone on Black Friday - three simple rules to smarter phone purchases

Carriers aren't looking to cut you a deal. Installment plans are just contracts by another name. Last year's phone is not "just as good" as this year's.

These are the three golden rules of Black Friday smartphone shopping. There are other important things to consider, sure, but those are the fundamentals that everyone needs to know and abide, because if you don't, you could end up with a phone you don't want that's stuck on a carrier you don't want to be with. And that sucks.

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How to turn off those pesky Google Maps notifications

Google Maps is one of the company's best products, right up there with Search, Gmail, and Photos. It has evolved quite a bit over the last few years, and while some things have improved, other additions are more annoying than helpful. Take those notifications you get after visiting a store or restaurant, for example. You know, the ones asking you to review the place, answer questions, or upload photos.

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What to look out for when buying a Chromebook

Chromebooks are just like any other tech products - some are good, and some are not so good. While they avoid some of the pitfalls of Windows laptops, like spinning hard disks and bundled malware, you still have to deal with potentially under-powered hardware or a lack of support for certain features.

This guide highlights what you should avoid when buying a Chromebook, especially older models that often appear as refurbs at major retailers, or used on sites like eBay and Swappa.

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How to install Linux applications on Chrome OS

One of the most exciting new features in Chrome OS is the ability to run applications designed for Linux. Most software that can run on Ubuntu, Debian, or other Linux distributions will work. This is the first time it has been possible to (officially) run traditional desktop software on Chromebooks, and the possibilities are endless.

Unfortunately, the feature is a bit tricky to figure out if you don't already have experience with Linux. In this guide, we'll show you how to set up the Linux container on your Chromebook and how to install applications.

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The best Chromebooks for school (2018 Edition)

If there's one area where Chromebooks are undeniably dominating, it's in education. Chromebooks made up 60% of mobile device purchases by K-12 schools in the US last year, and since 2014, they have led classroom notebook and tablet shipments. As it turns out, schools love cheap computers that back up everything to the cloud and can be easily reset.

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How to get around IFTTT's cap on sending SMS messages

If This Then That, or IFTTT for short, is a pretty great service. There are hundreds of connected services, allowing you to automate your email, smart home, social networks, and more. Many people use the service to set up push notification alerts, like one for when the International Space Station flies over your home or for when the pollen count is high in your area.

Push notifications are great, but they require you to install the IFTTT mobile app, which not everyone wants to do. IFTTT also supports sending notifications via SMS, but that is limited to just 100 messages per month.

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How to improve privacy and security on Android

Your smartphone contains a massive amount of information - photos, contacts, access to online accounts, and much more. Even though Android itself is a fairly secure platform, some data about your phone's settings and usage is sent to Google's servers. If you want to limit data collection and make your phone more secure, here are some tips you can try.

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How to remove your Google voice search history and opt out of future collection

Google's speech recognition technology is insanely good - perhaps the best in the industry. But did you know Google stores all your voice searches? Every time you say "Ok Google" or "Hey Google," a snippet of audio containing the command is sent to the company's servers, where it is deciphered. These audio snippets are stored indefinitely (to improve accuracy), unless you delete them and opt out of future collection.

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How to make Android use the DNS server of your choice

It's not a huge stretch to say that without the domain name system, the internet as we know it would be practically unusable. With domain names being as important as they are, the servers we use to look them up form a critical part of our internet experience. For users who would like a little more control over how their phones resolve domain names, we're here to talk about what you can do to configure Android to work with the domain name server of your choice.

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Guide: How to make your own personal VPN in under 30 minutes

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are a popular way to stay safe online. When you connect to a VPN, all outgoing network traffic is funneled through an external server. Your internet service provider can't tell what sites you visit (only that you're using a VPN) or inject content into webpages. They're also commonly used to bypass blocked websites and to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Unfortunately, using certain VPN providers can be just as dangerous as going without a VPN in the first place. Many popular providers will log connection details of users, which can then be sold to third parties.

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