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Free Geek

I am entering a part of my life that is characterized by increased responsibilities, and I no longer have enough time to generate new content for this site.

Starting today, I am going to be focusing my online efforts on Here, I will continue to offer what I consider the best tech tips and tricks, but will increasingly focus on producing comprehensive content that covers issues I strongly care about, such as:

  • how to protect your data in an age of omnipresent surveillance
  • how to use free, open source software for personal empowerment and participation in international communities that seek to create a more transparent world
  • the fundamentals of computing and Web technologies, and how to use this knowledge to remain a competitive force in an ever-changing, global economy
  • software and services that will help children appreciate and learn about the technology that is shaping their world

Already, I have started posting on topics ranging from encrypted email and VPNs, to alternative cloud sync services, and I look forward to continuing to provide useful content that enables people of all experience levels to use technology to improve the quality of their lives.

If you’re interested in following along, you can visit to sign up for email subscriptions or you can use RSS to keep in touch.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all :-)


Paul Ciano


Enhance Your Gmail Experience With Better Inline Previews

Inline Previews

You may not be aware, but Gmail offers inline previews of popular online services like YouTube, Flickr, and Yelp. The previews are not enabled by default, but you can activate them via the Labs tab under Gmail > Settings.

Since it were introduced in 2009, Google has let the feature linger, but a new Chrome extension has aggrandized this useful feature. Read more

Replace Household Items With Your Smartphone


Occasionally, using a dedicated electronic device might have some benefit, but it is very useful to be able to consolidate various devices’ functionality with a single uber-device. The smartphone, if properly configured, can replace many of the dedicated devices you may have lying around your home.

If you’re interested in some personal consolidation, read on. Read more

Increase Your Android Efficiency With These Tasty Tips


Over the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate the power of automation. Basically, if there is anything I find myself doing over and over again, I try to automate it. Luckily, there are a variety of great tools out there to help people implement automation systems.

What you may not know is that Android has several ways to help you increase your efficiency baked right into the operating system. Let’s learn how to utilize these features. Read more



It’s Turkey Day, folks. Stop reading tech tips and go spend some time with your loved ones.

See you all next week and have a happy holiday.

Improve Your Firefox Experience With These Awesome About:config Tweaks

Firefox Tweaks

Firefox might not garner the attention that browsers like Chrome and Safari now engender, but it is still an excellent browser that is known for its top-notch developer tools and customizability. The odds are that if you like to tinker and find ways to improve how things work, you appreciate Firefox’s about:config menu and the plethora of options it gives users to customize many aspects of their Firefox experience.

Here are some about:config entries that might help you fall back in love with the world’s favorite fox. Read more

The Top Three USB Hubs

USB Hubs

Like many users out there, a laptop is my main computer. As you can guess, port selection is at a minimum, and a USB hub is required for connecting additional drives and peripherals.

Outside of printers, I’ve had no worse luck with hardware than with USB hubs. Like clockwork, these bad boys inevitably fail for me after several months of use. Fortunately, through experience and harnessing the power of crowdsourcing, several high-quality models have been identified for your purchasing pleasure. Read more

How To Ensure Accurate Battery Life Estimates Through Calibration

Laptop Battery

Intel’s Haswell goodness has finally brought killer battery life to the laptop market, but it is still important to make sure that you are getting an accurate estimate of your battery’s remaining charge.

Today, we are going to review why you should be concerned with calibrating your laptop’s battery and how you can go about properly doing it. Read more

Track Down Your Username History With KnowEm


If you’re not using a credential manager like LastPass, you may find it easy to forget your usernames, or perhaps you want to determine if a username is available across multiple online services.

Whatever reason you have, KnowEm can assist you.

Read more

The Evolution Of The Chrome App

Chrome Apps

The Chrome App is an interesting beast. Once just a glorified extension/bookmark, it has now evolved, in its latest iteration, to something closer to a full-fledged desktop application.

What exactly are these new Chrome Apps and how do they work? Read more