How to seize control of your privacy with Mozilla’s Firefox browser

When it comes to online privacy, Mozilla’s open-source Firefox browser is probably the best choice for keeping your data away from prying eyes. Even though Mozilla does have some behavior-based advertising on its new tab page, it’s still by far the browser maker that most respects your right to browse unmolested.

Nevertheless, Firefox does require several tweaks if you want to avoid privacy-invading tactics like ad tracking. Here's a rundown of the basic steps you can take in this browser.

Do not track and tracking protection

firefoxprivacytab

The default settings for the Firefox Privacy tab.

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Avid Pro Tools review: This studio-style software will appeal to home creators too

Since its inception, Pro Tools’s outstanding mixing board mimicry has made it the pro's choice for upscale audio recording and manipulation—the recording industry’s DAW, as it were. That’s its bread and butter and it’s very intuitive for traditional studio engineers. For artists? Enh. However, over the years, Pro Tools has acquired MIDI and sequencing abilities, as well as notation, so it’s a more than competent tool for creative purposes. In fact, the program’s in-line editing (editing done right on the track rather than a separate window) makes it a favorite of many.

Avid’s brave new world

Pro Tools fell behind in the home creative audio market not so much because of creative lacks, but restrictive marketing practices. Prior to version 9, you needed an M-Powered consumer audio interface that was limited to 48kHz, or expensive, proprietary hardware if you wanted to record at bit rates beyond that. Avid still markets the high-end hardware which is quite nice-sounding, but it’s no longer joined at the hip with the software.

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Presonus Studio One review: Take your music production to the limit

When PreSonus dipped its toes into the high-end digital audio workstation (DAW) market a few years ago, it was a bit of a surprise. The market was thought saturated, nothing major had appeared in years, yet the company’s Studio One 1.0 proved almost immediately popular. Introducing the more efficient paned interface and drag-and-drop that industry mainstays Cubase, Logic, Sonar, and Pro Tools lacked proved enticing. It also didn’t hurt that Presonus bundled Studio One with its top-rated audio interfaces. 

Powerful but...

Over the last five years, the competition has remedied most of their interface issues, while Studio One, now on version 3.2, has caught up with them in terms of features. It’s now as powerful as they come, but adding features has exacerbated what was always a problem--visual overload and ambiguity. That’s partly because of the sheer number of features, but also because of the way they are presented. There’s a lot to take in, and even once you know Studio One, it can be tricky on the eye.

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Ableton Live review: This digital audio workstation does it all

As a track-based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, i.e. a MIDI and audio recorder/editor) guy, my first look at Ableton Live elicited from me a rather long-winded “huh?” It was familiar-looking, but at the same time not. However, befuddlement soon gave way to stark admiration for the program’s interface and abilities.

I wrote the above paragraph five years ago. But while I admired Ableton, I kept going back to the DAWs with workflows I was familiar with such as Studio One, Cubase, Sonar, and even Mulab, even though they all irritated me in one way or another. I could just never get over the hump of Ableton’s unfamiliarity. A real shame, because now that I’m fully on board, for the first time in my recording life I’m free of DAW-envy. While I have a few nits with Ableton, I’m no longer tempted by others. At least for the creative stage.

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Pure URL simplifies web addresses for safer surfing

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Pure URL simplifies web addresses for safer surfing

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Why you need a cloud backup service, and how to use one

Cloud backup is exactly what it sounds like. Your data is stored in an online repository, where it’s accessible to you when you need it. It works like this: You download a desktop client to your PC, select the folders you want to back up, and that data uploads to the service on a set schedule. Then if catastrophe strikes, such as a house fire or robbery, you have a clean, up-to-date copy of your data stashed on a server somewhere, all safe and sound.

Cloud backup does not eliminate the need for a local backup on an external hard drive of some sort, but it provides an easy solution for keeping another backup off-site. Your other options are to circulate a few hard drives that you keep in a safe at the office (a pain to remember), or run a remote server (technically challenging). Pay a few bucks a year to store your hard drive data online with a third-party provider is the easiest choice for most people.

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Three desktop tools for ultra-private encrypted chats

Many people like the idea of increasing their privacy with encryption and anonymity tools for sharing files, web browsing and messaging. The trouble is finding tools for the job that aren’t overly complex.

Today’s tip will take a look at how easily you can use current privacy tools to chat with your friends in privacy and security.

Cryptocat

cryptocat

Advantages: Browser-based, encrypted chat, no user account required

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Windows 10 review: It’s familiar, it’s powerful, but the Edge browser falls short

(Editor's Note: As promised, we've revisited the review with the "release" version of Windows 10, which Microsoft began pushing to PCs on July 29. Minor updates are scattered throughout, with emphasis on the Windows Hello and Edge sections and bugs that were present in earlier code.)

We may as well refer to Windows 10 as a date, or an hour, as much as an operating system. It’s a moment in time. A month from now, it will have changed, evolved, improved. But right now? Microsoft has shipped an operating system that was meticulously planned and executed with panache, but whose coat of fresh paint hides some sticks and baling wire.

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