How To Guides: The Best Of 2009

As any diligent weekend reader knows, we don't just find and explain the news around here, we like to do stuff; hack things; make gadgets better. Here's the cream of this year's how-to guide crop.

Make Your PC and Mac Share Stuff Like Best Friends: Getting PCs and Macs to play nice over a home network seems like something that should be trivially easy by now; incompatibilities like that feel like a relic from the '90s. Yet somehow, after all these years, it's still a pain in the arse. Unless, of course, you read this guide.

Totally Overhaul Your Phones With Google Voice: You've probably heard about Google Voice in abstract terms, and with a unified, multi-phone phone number, a web-based voicemail dashboard, free text messaging and cheap international calls, it probably sounds great. Also: confusing. Here's how to get totally and painlessly set up with Google Voice (if you live in the US).

Clean Your Filthy Gadgets: Look down at your keyboard. Your smartphone. Your PMP. Your DSLR. Your HDTV. Notice how some of the most expensive things you own are completely disgusting? Here's how to clean them up on the cheap.

Back Up Any Smartphone: Smartphones do just about everything your PC used to, so why don't we care about backing them up? We should, and in this post, we do. iPhone, Pre, WinMo, BlackBerry, Android - instructions are all there, ready to indulge your sexxxilyy cautious urges.

Make Windows 7 Play Nice With All Your Gadgets: Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that really respects the gadget hound - it knows us, it understands us, and it gives us tools. Getting your media players, phones, network devices, displays and cameras to work with Windows is easier than it's ever been, but it's also fairly different than it used to be. If you sense tension between your gear and your new Windows 7 PC, look no further.

Hackintosh a Dell Mini 10v Into the Ultimate Snow Leopard Netbook: From dumpy Dell to full-on Mac netbook in one lazy afternoon. I use mine everyday (for pooping!) and you will to.

Survive Boot Camp (and Run Win 7 on a Mac): Boot Camp, the Mac app that lets you dual boot Windows with OS X, works pretty well, except when it doesn't. Matt runs us through the simplest ways to make sure your Windows 7 install goes smoothly, and how to salvage it when it doesn't.

How To: Virtualise Any OS For Free: A great man once said, "Any sufficiently advanced virtualisation software is indistinguishable from magic." Something like that, yes! Who cares. Point is, Virtualbox is free, and it lets you install pretty much any OS within any other OS, so you can introduce your Zune to your Mac, your Word to your Linux, your Ubuntu to your Snow Pussy. Again, magic! And again, free!

Install Homebrew On Palm Pre 1.2.1There's really no reason not to crack your Pre open for homebrew, which offers new apps, new functionality, themes, etc. Plus, software updates don't usually break your patches, like iPhone updates do jailbreaks. The version numbers in this guide are old and the software tools a bit different, but hey, the equivalent tools still work.

Rip Your Music Like a Pro: Please, please don't just leave your music ripping up to iTunes. Do right by your music, by ripping it as cleanly and purely as possible. It's actually pretty easy, once you've got the right tools. Your ears will thank you.

Back Up All Your Stuff For Free, No Hard Drive Needed: Excuse the grotty MacBook, it's been replaced. Which was pretty painless, because I backed up all my important stuff for free! Peace of mind, people.

Kick Your Torrent Addiction With Usenet: Usenet trolls sent me actual death threats over posting this article, which apparently threatened to ruin their top-secret file haven (did you jerks know I went on the radio with this thing? Ha!) So it with it with the utmost glee that I backlink here. Usenet is awesome - faster than just about anything else, and full of sweet, sweet filezs. Here's how you, person who doesn't really know what Usenet is, can be saturdating your internet connection within an hour.

Bake Your Own Chrome OS, Right Now: You can actually download the real Chrome now, so it wouldn't really make much sense to follow this guide today. But it's worth a read, if just to see how close Chrome matched our sad, modest expectations. To the people who said they hope Chrome is nothing like the imagined version in this post: oh well!

Install Windows Mobile 6.5 Right Now: A lot of newer Windows Mobile phones have official updaters, so you can bring your handset up to speed without resorting to hacks. Older ones, though, don't. The ROMs will be different that listed in this guide - better, now - but the process still works.

Calibrate Your Turntable For the Best Possible Sound: Because having a poorly calibrated turntable is more damaging to your audiophile cred than not having one at all.

Manage An All-Lossless Music Library With iTunes: From a music listener's standpoint, lossless music is the way to go. From a person-who-has-to-use-iTunes-because-that's-just-how-things-are-nowadays' standpoint, it doesn't. Luckily, it is possible to make iTunes and a lossless library play nice.

Remote Control Your Home Computer From Anywhere With VNC: VNC, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Vee-Enn-See: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Vee. Enn. See.

Use BitTorrent Like a Pro: It's embarrassing to admit that you don't know how to use torrents properly in this day in age, but let's face it - most people don't. Give them this guide! Or use it yourself, discreetly.

Create Stunningly Realistic High Dynamic Range Photographs: Love them or hate them, high dynamic range (HDR) photos are something any good photographer should know how to take. Ex Gizzer Johnathan Mahoogles lays down the steps to snapping hyper-real photos, one by one.

Rip Blu-ray Discs: Optical media is dead! Well, it should be. Here's how to help kill it, by ripping your entire Blu-ray collection to your PC where it belongs.

Hackintosh a Dell Mini 9 Into the Ultimate OS X Netbook: Remember that Dell 10v hackintosh guide up above? This is that, except for the older, more popular Dell Mini 9.

Install Ubuntu On Your PS3 For Vintage Gaming Emulation: So your PS3 can run Linux, BFD. But what the really means is that your PS3 can play pretty much any vintage game, ever, through emulators. It's all about phrasing!

Add Wi-Fi To Your Xbox 360 Smartly and Cheaply: I was really hoping this guide would be obsolete by now, but man, Xbox wireless adaptors are still way, way too expensive. Buying and bridging an entire router, as described here, is still a better deal.

So that's about it (for this year)! Let us know in the comments if there's anything you'd like to see in 2010. Happy holidays, folks.

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