Tag Archives: Ninite

New Windows 10 box

Mark wrote about this as well this weekend but I decided to upgrade his laptop this weekend.  His laptop runs Windows Vista and while it does a not bad job of it, it would need some more RAM to handle Windows 10.  I was pricing out the memory and the license for Windows 10 when I noticed that OTV had some Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop computers coming off lease that had way more power and were less than the Windows 10 license.  Not only that but they included a copy of the 64 bit version of Windows 7 (which of course upgrades to Windows 10).  The machine will handle a total of 16 gb of RAM so that was a plus as well.  I’ll add some more memory to this summer.

I picked that up with a $15 Logitech keyboard and mouse and took it home.  We had an extra monitor in the basement but as I go to grab it, Wendy and Mark tell me that  they threw it out in a cleaning purge.  Excellent.  So it was back to OTV where they had a 19.5 inch monitor on for $50.

Still it was cheaper than upgrading Windows and the RAM.

So we got it going, connected it to the interweb, and then used Ninite to download and install the freeware programs like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Chrome, Apple iTunes, Spotify and other programs.  The one thing I didn’t download is Libre or Open Office which I have come to believe are some of the most bloated pieces of software available.  Instead I was going to download AbiWord and have him use Google Sheets for a spreadsheet but I was in London Drugs where they had Corel WordPerfect Office Home and Student on for only $34.97.  It’s not Microsoft Office but it is a lot better than Libre Office in terms of speed and features.

This is off topic but I thought I would take a moment to mention how much I miss Lotus Smart Suite which included Lotus 1-2-3 but more importantly Lotus Ami Pro (later called Lotus Word Pro).  While I am it, I also miss Microsoft Works which I did an awful lot of writing on.  I really miss Works suites.  I wish someone would do one again.

The last bit of freeware software I put on his computer is Serif Publisher Starter Edition.  It is designed for beginners and gives him far more control than either WordPerfect or a word processor will give him.

I am kind of careful about fonts.  So many collections of freeware fonts have commercial fonts in them.  Years ago a graphic designer I know realized he had some illegal fonts in his collection and purged them and then put together some excellent freeware font CDs.  I installed them and then added some excellent commercial fonts that I have the license for.  He isn’t into page layout of print design but if he ever is, he will have a nice system for it.

I love my laptop and have no problems with it but the joy of a full sized keyboard and an almost 20 inch screen was pretty awesome as well.

The upgrade to Windows 10 took overnight to download but once that was done, it was good to go this morning.  Am always amazed at how powerful machine I was able to get him for so little money.  I grew up with DOS and then Windows.  After 4 years with a Mac and OSX, I like being back with Windows and the PC world again.

Projects: About.Me

A lot of you know that I am a big fan of About.MeWendy, Mark, and even Oliver has a profile on it and every night I need to show Oliver his site after he asks for “Oli-er’s web page”.  Each page took under 5 minutes to create and I was suprised to find how useful mine has become, even after having jordoncooper.com online for over a decade now.

One of the things I have learned about homelessness is how disconnected our residents become from the rest of the world.  Some of the staff who are reading this have worked Christmases at the Centre and at Mumford House and know how few phone calls come in for the guys who call this place home during the holidays.  It puts a damper on a normally joyous day for a lot of them.

When I saw About.me, I realized this was a perfect for the clients to reconnect and be found.  To make it happen, I needed a couple of things. 

  1. Webcam shot of Jordon Cooper at work A computer: Nathan, our IT guru got me a couple of Pentium 4’s running Windows XP.  Not exactly cutting edge but cheap and they work well.  My boss Captain Rhonda and the other managers authorized me spending some money on new monitors.  We put the larger 19 inch monitors on some desktops and took their 17 inch monitors for the workstation.  Some keyboards, new mice and I was almost set.  Toss in a USB stick, a $10 webcam that takes photos and 640×480 video for Skype, a microphone, and some speakers and we are good to go.
  2. XS Cargo has $20 computer carts with wheels.  Since we don’t have the space for a permanent computer lab, portability is the key.  Now the cart took me 3 long hours to assemble so there was some labour costs but I finally got it set up.
  3. Software: Ninite.com provided everything I needed.  Firefox, Chrome, AVG, Open Office, Gimp, and Picassa.  I know there are some commercial programs that would be useful but for the most part, this works for us.
  4. A camera.  XS Cargo has some 10 megapixels point and shoots for sale we use for intake.  We will use it for a while but I want to find something cheaper and simpler like this Vivitar.  In addition to taking some photos for profile photos for About.me, I’ll use it to teach some digital photography.

So what does it accomplish?  Well for guys who are looking for work, the workstation will provide them a chance to create or redo a professional looking resume for submission online or in print.  It also also allows them to link to a space online, whether that be LinkedIn, About.me or another site so that employers can find and contact them.  It also gives them some control over their Google rankings.  For guys in the half-way house, a Google search for them may be damaging (and ignore the reality of rehabilitation), for others, they may never have been online at all and this lets them create and tell their story.

For others it allows people to find them.  The front desk at the Centre gets a lot of phone calls from RCMP and police departments across the country looking for guys.  A lot of them are here, they aren’t missing in the traditional sense but the family has lost contact.  A couple of weekends ago I was asking guys what they wanted to see here and a couple of them said, “Skype”.  Well Skype it is.

I need a couple of things.  I am going to see if I can find some headset/microphones for guys talking online and I probably should put some games on the computer.  I’ll check out the freeware game sites.  I also need to create a start page with links to Gmail, Hotmail, The StarPhoenix, Kijiji, and SaskJobs but I’ll do that this weekend.

I have never been a big believer of those that say that technology is the answer as often times it is a scapegoat for not taking personal action, in this case technology isn’t the answer but is a conduit for men and women who are ready to start connecting to their community and family again.  I’m excited by the workstations and tools like About.me.

My new HP Mini 210

hp-mini-210I ordered a HP Mini 210 last week and I have spent the last couple of days getting it ready.  It’s a process of downloading all of my essential Windows applications, getting used to Windows 7, and setting everything up again.  Using Ninite makes the process a lot easier.  With Ninite, you just pick all of the apps you want to install and it downloads, installs and sets them up for you and without any spyware, toolbars or prompts.

So far the machine has exceeded my expectations.  It’s performance doesn’t match my desktop but I didn’t expect it to do so.  The keyboard is a little cramped but I can touch type on it and while I am constantly hitting the \ key instead of the return key, I will overcome that in time.  The internal webcam is far superior to any that I have used in years.

Of course I don’t expect to play many games on the system and a lack of an internal DVD player means that I can’t install many either.

Of course I now I have a netbook, a rustic cabin and a (somewhat) devoted dog which means that I have no excuse not to write the great Canadian novel.  I’ll let you know how that works out.