THERMOWORKS SMOKE $99

A tool to help make perfect barbecue

The key to good smoked barbecue is cooking it low and slow. The low refers to the temperature, which is usually in the 225- to 250-degree range. The slow part refers to the time (hours and hours) it takes for the meat to cook.

Experienced pitmasters can tell when a piece of meat is done by feel, but beginners rely on internal temperature to tell when to think about removing the meat from the fire.

The Thermaworks Smoke is a dual-channel thermometer that comes with two probes — one for the meat and one for the pit. Each channel on the Smoke has alarms for high and low temperature as well as readouts for minimum and maximum temperature.

One of the coolest features of the Smoke is the Smoke Receiver, which is a second display that you can keep with you so you don’t have to sit next to the smoker all day.

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ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE 2017 $100

A new way of replacing your hard drive

The old way to replace a legacy hard drive: reinstall all applications, copy data files to a USB drive then transfer to the new drive. Troubleshoot when it doesn’t.

There is a much better way. It is called cloning, and Acronis True Image 2017 backup system does its work without much fuss. The new hard drive is connected to the old one with a USB cable. After a few clicks in the intuitive Acronis software, the cloning begins. It works beautifully.

And the programmers at Acronis didn’t stop with cloning. True Image is actually a suite of programs. For example, Rescue DVDs can be made. And unlike with other boot disks, the Acronis boot disk takes you to your original desktop and contents of your hard drive rather than just booting into Windows.

Another utility, System Clean-up, removes all traces of your web surfing and program launching. If you ask it to, the utility will wipe the free space on your PC’s hard drive. Yet another utility will wipe an entire hard disk clean.

Acronis promises to protect your backups from ransomware, and that service is worth the cost alone. The $100 version comes with a terabyte of cloud backup and can be used on three computers. There are cheaper ones, some as one-time purchases or with a limited time frame on services.

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