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November 2014
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Fun lil mini-project

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Mini-project: Cleaning up and configuring a used, but otherwise nice, older Vaio desktop for use by a (very nearly*) first time computer user who’s nearly 90. Purpose of the computer? “I want to be able to do email with my children and grandchildren.”

A worthwhile use for a computer, but it doesn’t require all that much. So. notebook or desktop was the first question. (Tablet or “smart” phone? Nope. Nixed by user.)

There were several barriers to a notebook: cost, screen size, cramped keyboard and any kind of touchpad were some of the stated barriers. But size mattered, in some senses, as well because of limited living space.

Nice discovery: a nice-sized, high-resolution (1080p) TV with an analog video computer input that sits within pretty close viewing range from the user’s most comfy chair. Desktop that’ll fit into the user’s entertainment center? The right fit.

Internet access. Limited, fixed income. Relatively high medical expenses (relative to fixed income). But. The assisted living facility does sport a wireless network with Internet access, and the wireless password is in my password book. . . Now, if only the user can access it from her apartment, Internet access is solved. Hmmm, a small parabolic dish to improve reception and transmission from a 5db base antenna on a wireless adapter? Could be.

Other minor concerns:

Would have preferred a Linux OS with desktop links to Internet/Email, but (sort of computer literate) adult children would not be all that comfortable helping the user with that OS as an environment, so some sort of Windows environment. Oh, dear. It is a slightly older computer. Only 512 MB RAM, and only room for expansion to a max of 2GB (one pair of expansion slots effectively X-ed out, because one of them is has a small issue: broken clip). That’s not all that bad, since the computer’s limited to a 32-bit OS, anyway. Maybe Win7 wouldn’t be best, though. So, WinXP Pro, 32-bit it is. (Hmmm, seems to run very nicely with the 512MB it has. With installation of software blocked, it might just do as is! But. . . another 1GB would only be about $25. Decisions. . . ) Fully updated, WinXP Pro SP3 will certainly serve the user well enough and be familiar to family who may want to mess the computer up. *heh*

After those trifling concerns were met, the rest has been easy-peasy.

Necessary software:

A decent browser (Opera) configured with useful extensions (WOT, LastPass, Adblock Plus) and Speed Dial selections (the user’s webmail address, several sites fitting user’s stated interests, etc.). Links on desktop to Internet/Email.

Basic security software–Microsoft Security Essentials.

OpenDNS set as DNS resolver, and free account set up for customized filtering.

Irfanview–better for viewing family photos than the XP built in viewer.

TeamViewer8 for the most computer-savvy relative to use for remote management.

. . .and a few other little details, like the mini-manual with outlined user tips.

With a little luck on the Internet connection (via the assisted living facility’s existing wireless network), I think this will serve the stated needs pretty well.

Fun lil mini-project.


(Kudos to JDS and MES for the donation of the computer.)

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2 Comments

Comment by Perri NelsonNo Gravatar
2013-02-19 08:15:50

Nice. The idea of a computer adequate to its purpose instead of packed with useless frippery. You don’t get that from the big box stores.

Comment by DavidNo Gravatar
2013-02-19 09:31:31

TY, Perri. The box is still far more capable than the user needs, but it’s stripped down (software) to the point that it’s very, very lean and likely to stay that way with the requested barriers to adding more functionality. *shrugs* We’ll see how that works out.

 
 

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