In January, this web site and my business turned 16 years old. In that time, I have worked on thousands of computers ranging from the oldest DOS machines to the newest gaming and Mac monsters. My youngest client in that time has been 5 years old and my oldest was a 94 year old author writing a book for the first time on a PC. When your work in any field for a certain period of time, you start to spot patterns and consistencies.
After incubating the idea in my head for about six months, I want to share with you (and anyone you forward this article to) my opinion of how to use computer technology with the bare minimum of issues and cash. The following would be my advice to a computer user who truly wanted to follow my advice, no questions asked, based on my knowledge and experience.
- Buy a mid-range laptop costing no more than $600. Immediately install Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux on the laptop and allow Ubuntu to completely erase the drive’s contents (Windows and a ton of trial ware) as it installs. Ubuntu will provide you a top notch Office productivity package (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, etc), tons of games, CD/DVD burning, secure, fast Internet browsing with Firefox, photo management and editing software, and more for no cost. Ubuntu also does not require extra security software that we use to try and keep Windows running at a decent clip.
- Sign up for a Gmail email address and use the Gmail interface exclusively for email. You won’t experience spam, you won’t lose your address book, and you will be able to check your email from anywhere in the world via any computer and be completely at home with the process.
- Purchase a low cost B&W Brother All-in-One laser printer. The costs of the consumables will be a fraction of an ink jet, and it will last for years and years. If you really want color, get a low cost color laser.
The only people who I can’t see using this type of a setup are those who absolutely have to use Windows only software like QuickBooks, genealogy software or other Windows only software solutions. Any other small business or home user could save thousands of dollars, upgrade less often, accrue less computer down time and repair bill costs by using this type of a simple approach to computers. The problem is, when I do give this type of advice, most people get a little apprehensive about the prospect of not being with Windows and other Microsoft products. From my 13 years of experience, it can be a huge advantage from a mental, physical, temporal and financial stand point to work with the technology proposal I just outlined.