Dad needs a new computer

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by jigwashere, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Dad finally conceded that he needs a new laptop and gave me a $500 working budget for the replacement. I have a few challenges in how to support him and would appreciate any help (encouragement, condolences, cocktail recipes, etc.). Here are some of the issues/concerns/needs:
    • Dad is in his 80s and lives 1600 miles away
      • He isn't computer literate
      • He's not cognitively impaired, but vulnerable to getting help from emails and phone calls saying his computer is infected. He's also very willing to let anyone "help" him, including Best Buy geeks. YIKES!
    • His current laptop is a 900lb Dell with a 17"+ screen
      • He bought it without consulting me.
      • He spent way too much money on it (a big chunk of my inheritance) not only on the hardware, but also on extended warranty/Dell tech support.
      • Vista OS
      • It still boots up, but takes forever, and it won't run anything
    • He refuses to give up on AOL
      • He calls AOL for tech support (I mentioned he's vulnerable, right?). They suggested he buy Windows 7 and install it on his laptop.
      • While he can access AOL mail and content through any browser, he insists on using their software (just kill me now).
    • My older brother who lives nearby tries to help, but he's still on Windows XP (and AOL mail)
      • My birth certificate would suggest we share DNA, but I'm pretty sure I was adopted.
    • My dad has used an Android phone for a few years, but struggles with it. I bring this up in part to show that he's willing and somewhat capable.
    • If Dad remains retired (he's been fired from retirement at least 3 times now), his computing needs should be limited to basics such as emails, checking the news and weather, some word processing, and perhaps online banking and shopping.
      • Mom and Dad use Microsoft Word.
    • My parents spend their summers in a rural area of Manitoba where internet connectivity is sporadic.
      • I put Dad on a T-Mobile plan that includes Canada roaming, but it's not dependable.
      • I did install an email client app on his phone so he can check AOL mail.
      • He has used (long distance) dial up through AOL client on his laptop (please, shoot me).
    Quite frankly, I would love to get him to use a Chromebook. I'm considering configuring my Toshiba Chromebook 2 for him and shipping down, at least as a proof-of-concept to see how he gets along with it. While he has WiFi at home, he connects via Ethernet. He doesn't understand WiFi, but I think my brother could help him (Chromebooks typically don't have ethernet ports). The other issue would be local printing. Maybe I need to buy him a new Google cloud ready printer, too.

    I think I'm better off getting him a Windows 10 laptop. He think a 13" screen would be okay, but I'm thinking bigger is better. While he's thinking $500, I think I could make a good argument for going a bit higher to get him decent quality. I would need to be able to remote in using Chrome Remote or TeamViewer or whatever is recommended these days. I would also like to avoid as much bloat as possible. I'd consider having the laptop delivered to me so I could do some set up, then ship it down to him, but the situation is a bit urgent and my schedule is fairly full right now. I'm thinking about going with a Microsoft Signature Edition PC.
     
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  2. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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  3. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    My friend, I wish you and your Dad the best -- as you've described it, it's a difficult position you're in. I also was thinking Chromebook, until I got to the 'poor conectivity' part...

    I'll be following the thread; again good luck. ps-- how's the blizzard?
     
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  4. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    Darn, I was hoping "Dad" in the title was a reference to yourself and was looking forward to another opportunity to help you spend your money. Any way to upgrade his internet and by a chromebook?

    I think Lenovo is a good Windows choice and an SSD drive, especialy for boot, will be helpful, but as RA pointed out, you are in a difficult position. You aren't going to change him. Get him the best value you can for your money, set it up the way he likes and then stand back and walk away. I had to learn that with Mrs. Hook. :vbrolleyes:
     
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  5. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    I can't speak to specific models; but I'm happy with my super-cheap Lenovo laptop. I figure that these things are now essentially disposable, after having all kinds of issues with my last laptop (one of the last Toshibas). I didn't love my Dell either; the wifi modem inside would regularly drop off, which I found out was a common issue with Dells. Plus the speakers were very weak, and Dell didn't seem to be of the quality they had been in the past.
     
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  6. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    For remote support, TeamViewer has been the way I've remotely assisted my family. Configure the device so you can remotely connect via TeamViewer without needing him to rattle off a password, or launch the program.

    Setup the device, and give him a standard user account. Create an administrator account you can use for updates, and recovery. That way, should he let 'anyone' help him, the damage will be limited to his account, and not the entire computer.

    Install what he needs, and remove the rest. That includes the worthless W10 junk apps.

    You could install a start menu replacement to make W10 look more like W7, which in turn would be closer to Vista.

    As for AOL... Now is the time to tell him that the AOL software isn't supported on the new computer. He can use a browser, or Outlook to connect to AOL's email, but the software won't work. Configure his browser to AOL's portal, and call it good. This fib may save your sanity.
     
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  7. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    Agree on Teamviewer for support. That's how I solve my kids' and sisters' computer problems. I set it to launch at boot, create a password, and tell them to leave the computer on so I can check it.

    I guess you'll set up some kind of cloud account for your dad's data. Maybe you could also look into automatic system backup/imaging? From what I've read, EaseUs ToDo Backup can remotely start a full partition/system restore. I haven't tried it (this feature is only on the pay versions) but it could help in case things go terribly wrong. There surely are other apps with similar features.

    I'd get as large a screen as possible. A few years ago my wife wanted to get a 13" laptop and I convinced her otherwise. Her 15" laptop is at 1366 x 768 pixels so everything looks large and easy for her to read.
     
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  8. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    @Hook: I'm trying to set up a home theater, so I'm doing a bang-up job spending money. I should start a new thread for that! No need to upgrade Dad's internet in Florida, and in Canada it's not worth it. A chromebook is a remote possibility, but I'll likely go the Windows route.

    @EdmundDantes: I tend to agree with the disposable nature of technology, but my dad will likely use his laptop well beyond normal expiration dates.

    @headcronie: TeamViewer it is. That's what I used to assist my mother-in-law, but I tend to use Chrome Remote to access my own PC. Great advice about giving him a standard user account. I've been meaning to set up a standard user account for myself on my own PC and only log in as an administrator when needed. I think either buy locally or have the laptop shipped to me, do as much set up as I can, then ship it to him. It's an expensive PITA, but would allow me to more confidently configure it before he gets his hands on it. Also, I think he'd be okay with W10 look/feel, especially if I give him shortcuts in the taskbar or desktop. Regarding AOL, he knows the difference between installing the app vs accessing through the browser, and his pal at AOL already sent him an install disk. But...if he's not the administrator....:D

    @raspabalsa: I'm actually not too concerned about making backups. Windows is very easy to reinstall these days and any data loss would be minimal. My brother can help him back up his document folder every so often to an external drive. Then again, I could do some backups when I remote in.

    @RickAgresta: This was a heavy heart attack-inducing snow to shovel. If we were still living in Minneapolis, the kids would've had to attend school, but here in the first ring suburbs, our schools closed. I think we got about a foot of snow. I ran the snow blower about 3 times yesterday, trying to keep up so we could drive in and out. I also shoveled quite a bit this morning, widening the driveway and making a path to the mailbox.

    Yesterday morning when I took the dog out and the first flakes started to fall, a bald eagle sailed 20 feet directly over my head. By the time I reached the top of the driveway, 5 deer ran past making the dog very excited. Later, I spotted a fox coming down our driveway and head toward the lake. Even though we're in the city, we've got lots of wildlife!
     
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  9. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    correction: Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools were closed today. Very unusual!
     
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  10. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    Your not too distant neighbor, Rochester, was closed yesterday as well. We got just a few inches less than you did up in the cities. The amount of infrastructure that needs to be cleared up there is far more than we have down here. Rochester opened on time today. I had to snowblow 6 driveways in total yesterday. If I were shoveling, I would be dead... Heart Attack Snow is not something to mess around with!

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 using Tapatalk
     
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