You make such good use of all the great technology that is available to us these days. Is there a reference source anywhere to explain RSS, and all the other new technologies that have come up since I stopped paying attention, about 10 years ago?
My computer is probably on its last legs, and my husband says replacing it is necessary – it is a necessary tool for me to do my work of homeschooling. So he asked me what I need in a computer. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know what computers are capable of, what is useful, what is helpful, and what is just one-more-thing-to-break-down. And, do I even need a computer – aren’t there other little devices for reading e-mail and e-books? If they take me to the internet, too, maybe that is all I need, with a word processor…
So my question is: what *would* I need in a computer to get best use of all that you offer? I think that would mostly cover any other uses I have, as well.
Thank you for any help you can give me.
Oh! I just got a flashback to just a few years ago. I was SO where you are. Of course, things constantly change, so it is easy for me to feel just as overwhelmed today if I get to thinking about all that is out there. Does that give you any comfort or scare you even more? 🙂
My first computer was a gift from my father. I had felt the call to write, yet had no way to do it. We were maxed out on our budget. The thought of a computer seemed as big and frivolous as a condo on the beach sounds today. I had NO IDEA that a simple computer would open up the door for my ministry and business…for unlimited studies for our children…and for relationships with family and friends across the miles. It changed our lives.
Obviously, I have gone from Daddy’s “Computer Crash Dummy” (He said I should work for a company like Apple or Microsoft as their Crash Dummy for testing their hardware and software—hehe! He DOES love me and we DO get big laughs that my hobby today is podcasting and web-design—God can use ANY dummy!!) to owning, designing, and managing over 30 websites, an internet radio show, and online seminars (including the first and largest online Homeschool convention in history). 🙂 Who would figure???
Sweet friend, you will not BELIEVE all that you can do on a computer today. I don’t even begin to describe it all. I do not even tap into a fraction of the things that are possible. Remember, I am a reformed Computer Crash Dummy. 🙂 There are some things that I simply LOVE. This may help you. Let me share:
Some essentials for your computer:
1. A good size hard-drive. It fills up faster than you think! I will not even consider a new computer with less than 120-160Gigs of hard drive space. I just gave my Mac to my computer-junkie daughter and I wanted the new Mac that is thinner. Well, I simply cannot buy a computer with only 80-90Gigs of space. I am going to wait to see if they get a larger hard-drive some time. I use back-up drives with all of my computers–more on that in a bit. But, I know what it takes to operate freely with all that I do. It takes a lot of freedom with my space in my computer. Today, you can buy a nice computer with a good size hard-drive for anywhere from $500-1,000. I just bought a back-up laptop (for recording our Talk-a-Latte seminars) for $499 with a 120Gig hard-drive. It works wonderfully well! Don’t get less than that for yours.
2. Lots of USB ports. 🙂 Ask the clerk how many the computer has. My old laptop has 4, my new laptop has 6. Oh! I use them ALL! Why would you use them? I use them for my back-up drives, syncing my phones (more on that in a bit), tethering my Blackberry for internet service, plugging in my microphone/headset for online classes, etc. As I was typing that, I got to thinking that it probably sounds Greek to you. The short advice–get LOTS of USB ports. Let that be a big deciding factor. It will give you freedom to do all of the wild and crazy stuff you want to do. 🙂
3. CD/DVD Rewritable Drive. You may think that you won’t need anything like that, but buy it anyway. 🙂 When I bought my laptop that I am working on (my old laptop), I thought that since I didn’t know anything about video, it would be ok to just save that money. I had NO idea how much money you can save backing up information on a DVD instead of a CD. It helps so much to have back-ups of your pictures, audios, etc. CD’s just do not hold much. They are great if you want to burn an audio podcast (Those are online audio teachings–we have TONS free on our websites). Of course, if you want to back up your family photos or share them with another family member, you may need a whole stack of CD’s to hold the same amount you can save onto one single DVD. Over time, you will probably want that ability. Remember my $499 computer? It has the CD/DVD Rewritable Drive. To buy one extra would be anywhere from $99-149 at minimum. A good investment. And, I have already used mine soooo much! Go ahead with that as you buy.
4. RAM–at least 1Gig. I am not very patient. I did not even realize that the biggest difference in the new and old computers is the RAM that comes with them. It makes a difference, especially when running demanding programs or doing a bunch of things at one time. I am not sure what the minimums are now, but most programs require a minimum of 1Gig of RAM. Watch for that.
5. Plug for headphones. When tuning into an online class or even listening to an audio, you will enjoy having earphones/headphones. Make sure that the computer has both the USB ports AND regular plugs for a headset. If you are like me, you will use it all of the time. Ummm…I am listening to an audio that I am editing right now. A MUST!
Now…what are some things that I LOVE to go along with my computer?
1. Headset! I use two different kinds. One is the earphones from my iPod. I have them on right now. I use them when I am just listening online. I also have a headset/mic for our online classes. You don’t have to have that. But, they are very inexpensive. A good Logitech headset with a microphone is around $16 at Walmart. I use mine till they wear out!
2. Back-up Drive. A MUST! The reason that a lot of computers get so sluggish is because we fill them to the top with information. I am the world’s worst! I regularly save my files on a back-up drive and clean off my computer. You may not need this right at first, but it will help you in the sad event that your computer crashes–which we hope we can steer you away from. You can just drag and drop the information back up in your computer in minutes. THAT IS PRICELESS! Especially when you have PICTURES of your little ones or audios that you are studying through. You can get your best price on a back-up drive at Sam’s. I just bought a 500Gig drive. I LOVE IT! I have had others. I use this one for EVERYTHING. It has all of my past files and all of my current back-ups of what is on my computer now. It is like a library of my life now. Very reasonable. You can get a good back-up drive for anywhere from $49-99. Worth it!
You were asking about the hand-helds–like smart-phones. Oh! You ARE talking my talk here. 🙂
I would not do that at the detriment of having a laptop. And, I did not mention above that I prefer a laptop to a desktop computer. It is just much, much more reliable and convenient to use–you can take it with you anywhere you need to go.
I have a Blackberry and an iPhone. Long story on why I have both. I won’t go into all of that. But, I love both of them. They are great for having all of my information at my fingertips anywhere I go. I enjoy them. But, I don’t think I would choose them over a laptop. You just cannot do the writing and projects that you may want to do with your children on a phone. Also, you cannot tune in live to our online classes on a phone. You would need a laptop for that. Now, if you only wanted something to carry with you for email and reading fun things online, it is great to have either of those. We got an iPhone for my son when he could only have a phone (he is in the military) and not a computer. It worked great. I think my favorite thing about my phones is that I can use the calendar and contacts to keep myself organized. I need those timers to help me remember details. To choose between the Blackberry and iPhone would be another big email, so I won’t go there now.
Soooo, what would you need to get the most out of what we offer?
I would recommend a nice, reasonable laptop with headphones. We have the Conference Room Software free for our attendees so you can join our online classes- you would need a PC for that right now (we are working on a Mac option right now! WOoohooo!).
Also, when you get your computer, I highly recommend iTunes for your audios. It will be SO easy to plug into all we do if you have iTunes. We can walk you through in minutes. It is a free audio program. It is super easy to use. You can keep all of your audio files perfectly organized using it–that is important. We do A LOT of online audio. 😉
Finally, don’t forget to use spyware protection—I use Ad-Aware by Lavasoft (look that up on Google) and Spy-Bot Search and Destroy. Also, be very careful about going to online sites—MySpace and sites like that can add malware that is very, very malicious to your computer. I do not access any of them unless I am on my Mac. The Vista operating system is a bit better than older programs at protecting your computer, but don’t chance it.
Let me know when you get it! Since I am using your question for today’s blog question, you can have access to one of our upcoming Talk-a-Latte Online Seminars as my gift to you. Then, you can use that new computer to join us LIVE and enjoy our Membership Site to the fullest! I can’t wait until you plug in!
Love ya tons!