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#287441 - 12/20/17 10:36 AM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: CANOEDOGS]
quick_joey_small Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 506
Loc: UK
In the UK the consumer magazine 'Which?' tested laptops this month.

The Asus Vivobook E203NA is:
"A great budget alternative, relatively slim and light. Screen provides plenty of detail and keyboard is suprisingly pleasant to type on.'
I'ts half the price of every other laptop it reviews at 195 pounds on-line.
'Which?' magazine is available to read at libraries.

qjs


Edited by quick_joey_small (12/20/17 10:37 AM)

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#290635 - 09/20/18 04:57 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: CANOEDOGS]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
I use a kindle as my backup. Cheap light and slow

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#290665 - 09/22/18 07:41 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: CANOEDOGS]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2077
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: CANOEDOGS
... thinking about the hassle of getting another and setting it up and trying to remember the websites and passwords i used was a major problem ...

Hopefully you have learned the wisdom of good backups. You should never have to "remember" any of this stuff.

Many have already mentioned using Linux instead of Windows. I agree with that. However, it's not for everybody. You have to be willing to learn and change.

One cool thing about Linux ... If you have a full backup of your system, you can write that to a new hard disk (e.g., for the case where you old hard disk failed on you - as they all eventually will). You can take this new hard disk that was restored from your backups and shove it into just about any new computer hardware, and it will boot up and run! Maybe not perfectly - you may have to tweak a few things for optimal function (video settings mostly, but sometimes audio or WiFi) - but it will usually run and give you immediate access to all your stuff. Try that with Windows. No way will it happen. Heck, just restoring a backup to a different sized hard disk in the same computer is enough to foil Windows (it can be done, but often times attempts will fail even on this simplest of all simple restores). No way are you going to take a disk out of Windows computer A (original or restored from backup) and plug it into computer B and have it boot up unless you really really knew what you were doing when you set it up and took special steps back then, never after the fact. You can maybe access the disk from a different computer, but not boot from it and go about your merry way as if nothing every failed on you.

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#290667 - 09/22/18 09:25 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: haertig]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 999
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
This is when I figure it is a good time to do a full re-install of Windows. Don't even try to back up Windows to bootable condition. Back when Millennium was the current version, I would do a full re-install before every semester to avoid any surprises during the semester.

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#290680 - 09/23/18 02:54 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: haertig]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2748
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: haertig
One cool thing about Linux ... If you have a full backup of your system, you can write that to a new hard disk (e.g., for the case where you old hard disk failed on you - as they all eventually will). You can take this new hard disk that was restored from your backups and shove it into just about any new computer hardware, and it will boot up and run!


Agreed -- it works! I'm partial to Linux Mint 32-bit because it will run on any Intel/AMD box (including 64-bit) with hardly a complaint. It even has adequate video/hardware drivers built in, so there's essentially no "tweaking" required when switching machines. Paired with a small, inexpensive SSD hard drive, it's a really flexible solution.

Scrounge alert: Windows 7 support is ending in about 18 months, which means there are going to be a ton of free, perfectly good laptops up for grabs. Linux users rejoice!

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#290688 - 09/23/18 08:32 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: dougwalkabout]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2077
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
Scrounge alert: Windows 7 support is ending in about 18 months, which means there are going to be a ton of free, perfectly good laptops up for grabs. Linux users rejoice!

Can you give some examples of where you find old free laptops? I rarely use a laptop, pretty much the only time is when on a trip and I want some entertainment in the hotel. And the laptop I have for that is "Windows Vista" era. So quite old. Still works running Linux (LinuxMint 17 - very old, but since I only use it once ever few years, I haven't gotten around to installing anything newer). I can do email, surf the web, establish a VPN and stream movies from my media server back home. It could be a little faster however, so your hints of potential free ones coming available is intriguing.

These days, I've found I tend to skip the laptop on trips, and use a tablet instead. And I take along a Roku that I hook into the hotel TV for movies. I don't stream them this way, because it is problematic to get an isolated Roku to successfully navigate the capture portal that hotels have. But my Roku supports a USB thumbdrive, which I preload with movies from my media server in advance.

None-the-less, a slightly better laptop, if free or dirt cheap, would be welcome!

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#290874 - 10/16/18 03:35 AM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: haertig]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2748
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: haertig
Can you give some examples of where you find old free laptops?


Since you asked, here's my rambling stream-of-consciousness reply:

The first rule is simple: ask around! Mention it to people in your network, mention it to your IT guy at work, mention it to friends, mention it on CraigsList or Kijiji.

Be direct and up-front: "I am learning how to recycle and repair old laptops. I install a free operating system called Linux. I am not reselling these in any way. When I am done, they will be provided to people who need them or properly recycled."

If people are worried about privacy (and they should be!) offer to remove the hard drive on the spot and drill holes in it with a cordless drill.

IT departments often discard flats of laptops when the OS goes obsolete. It's cheaper to buy new than to upgrade them. This certainly happened with Windows XP -- I scored half a dozen IBM ThinkPads (T60s and T61's) with good chargers, moments before they went into the recycling bin. The rougher ones I gave to hobbyists or scrounged for parts. But I still have one of each, and with memory maxed out and solid state hard drives, they scream along perfectly well. They will probably still be ticking along after the next few generations of consumer-grade disposables have conked out. I think they have the best keyboards every made.

Hoard old chargers from your dead laptops. Thrift shops are great sources for laptop chargers too. Dell chargers in particular seem to be everywhere -- corporate leftovers I presume.

Check your area for not-for-profit recycling societies where you can volunteer your time, learn new techniques for refurbishing old laptops, and be rewarded with a refurbed laptop as a reward for your volunteer efforts. This is brilliant.

The other source is rather controversial, and might offend some here: I do not hesitate to discreetly remove discarded laptops from recycling bins. In my mind, these have been discarded in the same way as trash in a dumpster, and I have no ethical qualms whatsoever about reducing our mountain of e-waste by a few pounds.

Recycling centres are making this increasingly difficult, but I have found out it's not because the hardware is worth anything (it's not). It's because of liability concerns. If staff notice it, they are obligated to put the kibosh on it. I respect that, and never put them on the spot.

If I do snag a laptop in this way, a lot of careful cleanup and testing has to be done. Often, I'm more interested in the RAM for other machines, or the wifi card. If I have a compatible power supply, I'll run a low level drive wiper called DBAN from CD/DVD and then a self-running memory test program (MemTest+). This gives me some idea if the device is at all salvageable, even for parts. Safety is key here, as an unknown machine could have electrical hazards, illegal material, or all manner of horrors. It's not advisable for anyone without technical skills and a strong stomach. Since I have a suite of Linux hard drives already, I will often destroy the hard drive and start with the MemTest. A mildly soapy rag, maybe an alcohol wipe, blasting out the crud with compressed air, and a keyboard/display test will hopefully bring it to life. It's often helpful to reset the RAM modules in their sockets for reliability.

I would never give someone a scrounged laptop until I had used it as my "daily surfer" for quite a while -- watching for heating and problems closely. But by connecting all these dots, I have provided clean, functional laptops to quite a few people who need them but are struggling. It's pretty hard to function these days without some sort of access to the Internet.

That's my method. It works for me. Whether it works for others, practically or ethically, I cannot presume to say.

Side note: Opera for Linux now has a free VPN built in -- and it works surprisingly well. I don't know whether I would trust it for banking on an otherwise open, public network, but it's good enough for puttering around in coffee shops.

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#290882 - 10/16/18 05:45 PM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: CANOEDOGS]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
as an alternative a kindle fire is often as low as $29-39 new.
A re-frub chrome book is $100-200

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#290963 - 10/25/18 02:04 AM Re: get a cheap laptop [Re: CANOEDOGS]
ireckon Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1629
Loc: Northern California
All my stuff is on Dropbox (subscription) and I have local backups. I can get to my files anywhere there is an Internet connection, even if all my computer devices suddenly vanish. I can access my files via cell phone, tablet, or computer. The sensitive files are encrypted and will die when I die.
_________________________
If you're reading this, it's too late.

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