Grandma's computer...

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Luxeon, Oct 2, 2010.

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  1. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Yup, another one of those threads...

    Grandma has a computer which her daughter gave to her. It is an older Dell 4000, Windows XP, 40gb HDD. It HAD 256mb RAM, which I just upgraded to 1gb--the computer flies now. It was so bad before the upgrade that I couldn't accomplish anything.

    Now the tricky part. I am in the process of really cleaning the computer up (removing old files and programs, checking for malware, defragging, etc). This is going well.
    Unfortunately she is stuck with AOL (provided at some sort of discount through a family member) and dial-up.

    So, I am now trying to determine how to optimize her browsing speed.
    First, I will make sure she has a V92 modem.

    Second, AOL's browser stinks! It is slow and terribly bloated. It has some kind of built-in security, but I have no clue as to how effective it is. I'm not sure if I can use a leaner/faster browser with AOL...anyone know? If so, I was thinking Firefox, but I'm open to suggestions.
    Grandma uses her computer for e-mail and very light browsing.
    Can you use a different mail program with AOL?

    Third, I will need to put together a very light and simple layer of security. Something she doesn't need to interact with. I get over there about once a month, so I can't keep things up-to-date as well as I'd like.
    I was thinking MSE (not the lightest, but it is pretty simple and quiet).

    What do you all think?
     
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    get rid of AOL browser and use Firefox or Opera even latest IE. Use maybe Windows Live Mail 2011 and install MSE as mentioned. Ideally, if at all possible, get rid of dialup and use the cheapest broadband
     
  3. euphoria

    euphoria Registered Member

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    Wow, AOL is still offering dial-up? If it were me the first thing I would do is get rid of them. Though I remember back in the day that trying to cancel anything AOL is nearly impossible. I think you can use some of AOL's services without using it's actual software, but you would have to login to the AOL site. Firefox is very good and customizable to your hearts content. As for security, MSE is a good choice. Running your browser in a program like Sandboxie would also be a good idea.
     
  4. acr1965

    acr1965 Registered Member

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    I noticed AOL mail has a basic version and standard. The basic loads faster although for some reason when I use Firefox I get promted to use the basic because of my slow internet speed. But I have a mid speed dsl which is not slow. Maybe it's adblock plus or some other add on causing the problem.

    Anyway, you can still have an AOL homepage, email and messenger for free. Also there's a web based messenger available. I normally use Chrome but sometimes there is problems rendering aol email. I don't have the extension in FF or Chrome that renders pages in IE but that might help.

    It may not hurt to clean up grandma's computer hen make a snap shot or image just in case.
     
  5. HAN

    HAN Registered Member

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    AOL has their own connection sign-in app but once online, you can use any browser and/or email app you want.

    I encourage everyone I help setup to migrate to a webmail address from Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo and so forth. Once they are setup, they'll never have to change email addresses again no matter who's service they may be on. (I mention this in case she decides to move from AOL at some point. Makes life MUCH easier.)

    Speaking from personal experience, since it's dialup, IMO, you have to be very thoughtful about bandwidth usage. So it's important to run stuff that runs very, very lean (web-wise.)

    Some examples...
    You turn off Windows Update on her PC, download them elsewhere and apply them yourself when you come over once a month. If Updates try to download over a phone line, some of them are huge and would tie up her connection for hours.
    Also, MSE is not dialup friendly at all. HUGE daily updates. Go for free Avast 5. It is very dialup friendly (and can even be set specifically for dialup in it's settings.
    Install free WinPatrol and instruct her to contact you if Scotty barks. This will alert you if anything has changed in startups and services.
    Finally, since she will likely only surf and email, heavily consider Sandboxie. If you install it and make a couple minor tweaks, it's doubtful she will ever get infected.

    As for browser, set her up with what ever seems best. If you run Sandboxie, Avast and WinPatrol, it won't matter what you pick...
     
  6. Coolio10

    Coolio10 Registered Member

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    Oh the AOL days :rolleyes: .

    I remember the good times i had with them...."Connection Attempt 101....(1 hour later)", " You are Connected"

    I would rush to go download some game(i was 10) to find out it would only be 5 hours until completion. :D
     
  7. Tarnak

    Tarnak Registered Member

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    Even, though my ISP shutdown there AOL dialup operations recently, I still manage to access the AOL interface, because I switched to broadband late last year. So, I kept my storage for emails that I have with AOL since I started with them in 2000. :D
     

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  8. allizomeniz

    allizomeniz Registered Member

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    You said she's getting a discount through AOL, but could she possibly do as good or better with someone else? NetZero offers a basic unlimited dialup line for $9.95 p/month. We have dialup through a local ISP for $14.95 p/month. There may be other options depending on how much she's paying now. I've never used AOL and never will. :)
     
  9. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Excellent advice everyone, thanks a bunch!

    I will definitely try to get her away from dialup.
    The plan is:
    1. Get DSL, if possible.
    2. Get a better browser.
    3. Clean out the computer, make sure everything is up-to-date.
    4. Move her to webmail.
    5. Add some simple, light and reliable security. Avast! 5 sounds pretty nice. Sandboxie is excellent. Winpatrol is a GREAT idea. I have never used it, but using it like a "security alarm" is a very cool thought.
    6. Consider turning auto updates off and manually loading them, if she can't do DSL.

    I love the simplicity of Sandboxie! When I do my weekly scans, nothing is found--nothing. Sandboxie just flushes everything away--whoosh!
    I don't think she will get into trouble (she looks at local news, weather, sewing stuff and obituaries, of course), but a little security is a good idea.

    I'm going to use one or two of the portable security apps recommended by Wilder's (don't recall the names, but I have them on a usb drive) to scan the computer and if necessary, remove any nasties (there could be some from two grandkids and one of her daughters).

    I like the idea of the webmail address. I still have my old DSL address, but have been using both GMail and Windows Livemail with excellent results.
    I really like the Windows Live setup, as it has been very reliable and pretty easy to use.

    She LIKES going online, but is so frustrated with the slowness she had nearly given up. Just adding that RAM made a huge difference in her computer speed, and it did help with the online stuff, but I think we can make it better.

    Again, many thanks.
     
  10. BoerenkoolMetWorst

    BoerenkoolMetWorst Registered Member

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    In Avast 5 there is also an option to send a mail to a specified emailadress when an infection is found, may be quite handy to let you know if your grandma's pc is infected. I have no experience with that feature though.
     
  11. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Wow, thanks for the info BoerenkoolMetWorst (glad I could copy & paste your name!).
     
  12. BoerenkoolMetWorst

    BoerenkoolMetWorst Registered Member

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    haha lol, no problem :)
     
  13. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    Call me ridiculous, but I honestly believe that AOL was ahead of its time. If the same walled-garden concept were introduced today and provided everything AOL once did, there are many a family that would opt for that than the wild wild west of today's Internet. And yes, as you are laughing (which I understand if you haven't given it much thought), I truly believe that.
     
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