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Why I Bought My Wife a Mac (Updated)

(This article dates back to 2012, but be sure to read the 2020 update at the end. Smile)

My wife’s old laptop had served well for many years, but its age was beginning to show. Maxed out, running Windows 7 and lots of assorted applications, it was just getting … pokey.

Slow.

Not absolutely, horrifically slow, but slow enough from time to time that clearly, action would soon be called for.

Now, normally I would back up, reformat, and reinstall. It’d been a while since I’d done so, and the machine was probably overdue for deep cleanup.

And it would probably help. For a while.

But she was overdue for a new computer anyway, so I’ll be completely honest and call it what it was.

An excuse.

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How it gets used

The most important question I ask when anyone asks me what computer to get is, “Well, how are you going to use it?”

My wife’s needs are very simple:

  • Email. Something just short of half of her computer usage is email.
  • Web. Also just short of half the time is spent in a browser, on various websites relating to her hobbies, Facebook, or whatnot.

Well over 90% of her usage is nothing more than email and web browsing.

All told, that’s nothing particularly stressful for most machines.

So, platform?

As I outline in Do Desktop or Laptop Platforms Really Matter Any More?, there’s nothing PC-specific about what she’s doing. In fact, just about any reasonable system would do — PC, Mac, or even Linux. As an active user of all three, the PC versus Mac debate is over as far as I’m concerned. Everybody won.

My own experience with Mac led me to believe that the changes my wife would encounter on a Mac would be handled fairly easily.

So my choice of what to get her next was based mostly on hardware.

And I’d fallen in love with the Macbook Air.

MacBook Air - 2012 Edition
MacBook Air 2012. (Click for larger image.)

Why the Air?

In 2012, a lot of PC manufacturers touted a new “ultrabook” type of computer. Small and light with large screens, they had no CD/DVD drive and often featured SSD hard disks. These computers are exceptionally portable. If you’re someone who prefers a “real” keyboard, they’re often a lightweight alternative to a tablet of some sort.

And, as is sometimes the case, these manufacturers were playing catch-up.

The MacBook Air was really the first ultrabook.

Given that it has a solid track record, I felt it was a good, safe choice of hardware for my wife’s next computer.

But switching computers involves at least some amount of change.

Changes required

Before we even switched computers, I asked my wife to try something. She’s used Outlook 2003 for her email for a long time, but I’ve been routing her email through Gmail for a couple of years already.

So I asked her to try using Gmail directly via the web interface.

Outlook (as my wife knows it) is not directly available for the Mac (and even if we’d switched to a new PC, I’d probably upgrade to the latest Outlook anyway), so some kind of change was inevitable here. While there are many compatible email programs, including my favorite, Thunderbird, my thinking was pretty simple: why bother?

Particularly as a non-power user, Gmail’s web interface is really all she needs, and would allow us to jettison an entire program from what needed to be installed on whatever machine we got her.

And if for whatever reason it didn’t work, then we would install an email program — probably Thunderbird.

Changes not required

Of perhaps more interest is the fact that a lot of things work regardless of what computer or platform we choose.

Google Chrome, Skype, LastPass, Evernote, and Dropbox all work, and work pretty much the same, regardless of platform. In the case of the last three, that even includes our phones.

Given that so much of her time is spent in the web browser, using the same browser and embedded utilities like LastPass was a big win. I just installed Chrome, and it all just worked.

Changes tolerated

Change isn’t always completely smooth. And there are a couple of differences my wife has commented on:

  • The “no button” trackpad. Not a big fan of trackpads to begin with, this was easily solved by plugging a USB mouse into the MacBook Air.
  • The behavior of the Delete key. To a Windows user, the Mac Delete key behaves as Backspace (deleting the character before the cursor) with no obvious equivalent to a Windows Delete (deleting the character after the cursor). I know I bump into this myself all the time as I switch between machines.

Additional minor issues cropped up — the difference between the Ctrl and Command keys for copy-and-paste keystrokes, for example — but nothing major.

Backing up

It wouldn’t be an Ask Leo! article if I didn’t talk about how this fancy new computer is getting backed up.

Originally, it wasn’t. Not directly, anyway. But this was a reasoned decision.

  • The majority of my wife’s “data” (in the form of email) isn’t kept on the machine; it’s on Google’s servers. I do back that up separately, using other machines and technology.
  • The one change I made to LibreOffice immediately after installing it was to change its default data folder to be a folder in DropBox. Any document created or modified there is immediately replicated to DropBox servers, as well as about half a dozen other machines which are also backed up using other means.
  • Other data kept on the machine is minor. Even notes kept in Evernote are synchronized to their online servers.

All that really leaves is a system backup. My original decision was not to keep one. My plan was that if the system suffered a catastrophic failure, I’d let the local Apple Store take care of it. It’d take me maybe half an hour to restore the changes I’ve made and applications installed after that.

At some point — probably around the time Apple Care expired on the machine — I elected to connect an external drive and fire up Time Machine, Apple’s backup software. I’m a big fan of its ubiquity and simplicity. So, every so often we connect the external drive and Time Machine goes to work backing up absolutely everything.

To date, I’ve not needed it.

Configuration

The machine configuration is well beyond what my wife requires, even seven years later.

I maxed out the RAM, ordering it with 8GB. Even the disk space (256GB) is more than she needs.

Why? Two things:

  • Longevity. As we all know by now, over time software expands to fill all available resources. Having more resources available means that the machine continues to be viable for applications and operating systems that continue to grow in size over the coming years.
  • Contingency. If for whatever reason this machine didn’t work out for my wife, it would probably end up being mine. That didn’t happen.

If this machine were more easily user-upgradable, I might have skimped on RAM or other aspects, simply making sure it could be upgraded at some point in the future.

A good start

I don’t mean to imply I’m recommending everyone switch to Macs. Not at all.

Macs are fine machines, but so are many PCs. Operating systems and the applications you expect to use every day are perhaps a more compelling decision point. As I pointed out at the beginning, I carefully considered how this machine would be used before thinking about what specific hardware or software might be required.

That, more than anything, is the point that I want to get across. All computers, be they PCs or Macs or something else, exist to fill a need. The better you understand your own personal needs and constraints, the more informed a decision you’ll be able to make.

Don’t underestimate the “personal” portion of that statement. Accepting change is, in my opinion, critical to the effective use of computers and technology, but in reality, we don’t all react to change the same way. Some can’t really handle much change at all (as frustrating to folks such as myself might find that to be).

Understanding how you use your computer, what’s required to meet your needs, and to what degree your usage can change — even to the point of walking away from the email program you’ve used every day for years — can help you make an informed decision resulting in a more effective, fun computing experience.

So far, so good.

Update 2020

Nearly seven and a half years later, my wife still uses that machine. When I stumbled over this original article, I was shocked to realize it’s been that long.

The machine’s still going strong. It’s used every day. The change to Gmail went smoothly, and my wife spends the majority of her computer time in the Chrome web browser. Even Skype, while still running (for now), has fallen into disuse as we use Facebook Messenger when either of us is away from home.

And, yes, the MacBook Air has a few miles on it now as well, since we’ve packed it along occasionally when travelling.

If I had to do it again

At some point, it’ll be time once again to replace my wife’s computer.

Given the now consistent pattern of usage I’ve witnessed for the past 7+ years, I’d probably give serious consideration to a ChromeBook. In many ways, the requirements are very simple: a device with a good display and a real keyboard, on which you can run a capable web browser.

ChromeBooks these days certainly qualify.

My choice may or may not be less expensive than a Mac or PC equivalent, but there are those who feel strongly that running Chrome OS is more stable and more secure for the average user than either Windows or MacOS.

I’ll let you know if and when that happens.

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Posted: January 10, 2020 in: Computers and Computer Systems
This is an update to an article originally posted October 4, 2012
Shortlink: https://askleo.com/5885
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39 comments on “Why I Bought My Wife a Mac (Updated)”

  1. I hope you realize that Apple’s Mail app can take GMail. Just put in your email address & password and it becomes GMail. No need to mess with the web. That’s where I get my GMail. Oh, and a couple of Yahoo accounts I monitor, as well.

    Reply
  2. You have just purchased the Ultimate anti-virus machine on the planet. I’ve owned a Mac laptop for 6 years now. It is still going strong and fast, and the best part is…I’ve never had a virus. Ever.

    Neither has my wife, who’s used PC’s exclusively – for years – until now. I don’t want to minimize your pride, but I am concerned that the Mac community in general has become too used to this myth that Macs don’t get viruses. They can and do. They’re not as big a target as Windows, but it has begun to happen. Even Apple was forced to remove the “it doesn’t get viruses” from their marketing materials this year.

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012

    Reply
  3. Did you take out the extra 3 year warranty Leo, as it extends the normal free support that runs out after 90 days to same?

    I bought an iMac in March this year, fully loaded 16Gb ram, 256Gb ssd + 1Tb normal hd, and it’s been on 24/7, hammered daily, without one system crash or hangup and no software crashes, outside a Windows XP application shutting down VMWare which didn’t affect OSX itself.

    I use Little Snitch firewall, Sophos free anti virus software, Vox music player with iTunes disabled, Mozilla, Toast for cd/dvd burning, Libre office suite and Adobe Creative suite. I also run Win XP Pro Sp3 in VMWare for a number of Windows cad apps that aren’t ported to OSX. I have also move my Squeezebox Server to the Mac running the OSX version and it works flawlessly, unlike the Windows version.

    By contrast, my new Lenovo laptop with Win 7 arrived yesterday and after having spent a lot of time uninstalling all the crap bloatware that seems standard these days, it is almost ready to have the slimmed hdd Caspered onto a Samsung 256Gb ssd, so the Lenovo will then run at a reasonable speed.

    Reply
    • I bought my current Acer Veriton desktop (i7 3770) back in 2012 and updated it from Win7 to Win10 in about 2017. Up until about 2 weeks ago when an update seemingly eliminated my Office 2016 install and Microsoft decided an in-place update was required (it didn’t solve the problem – it took microsoft techs a total of 9 hours, not counting the re-install – remoted into my system to get office 2013 back up and functioning -have not updated to 2016 as I seem to have lost my key – – ) I have not done any re-install (nuclear option) to maintain performance. I am, however, a strong believer in 2 programs that I have been using for years an my machines as well as on customers’ machines to restore performance when they slow down. Not sure if I am allowed to mention them – but I’ll risk it. Advanced System Care and Smart Defrag from IOBit. My machine ( with 10gb of ram and 3 3 Gb hard drives) is faster today on Windows 10 than it was when I bought it on WIndows 7

      Reply
  4. In addition to being great hardware the Mac Air is a nice fashion accessory. Nobody can beat that look and feel. I guess there is some Steve Jobs magic included in every Apple product. As a sold out user of Windows and Droid, I still usually recommend Apple products to most newbies. I set up an iMac for a friend who bought one. It really was like the old ad 15 years ago. Take it out of the box, put in about 4 plugs and you’re on the Internet in about 10 minutes. Then 20 minutes on the Internet downloading and installing Thunderbird and Libre Office. I originally thought she had made a mistake getting a Mac because I wouldn’t be able to help her if she had a problem. But what I didn’t count on was the fact that in three years, I’ve never had to help her again with her computer.
    You only use 3 of those 5 apps on your phone? I use all 5. I love Google Chrome for Droid, and when I’m in the US, I use Skype (paid version) at Starbucks to call Europe.
    I love your DropBox solution for backup. My working directory is a DropBox folder (2020 update: now OneDrive). I’ve been using it for years. I’ve only once had to use my incremental backups to restore data when my HDD died. I’ve used it to recover from stupid experiments. It’s saved me dozens of hours of reinstalling time.

    Reply
  5. Here’s another alternative for the non-computer user who wants to connect to the rest of the world. My wife has absolutely hated typing and computers. I tried to get her to learn my Dell D610 when I change to a Macbook Pro a year ago [PC users don’t like hearing it, but the Mac is much easier to use]. That didn’t work, and she didn’t have patience with the Mac either. Then, we bought a Telikin after reading about it online. WOW! It does everything she wants [This is not an ad … but she loves the Telikin.]. She does web research, emails and manages her day-to-day activities with it. It’s Linux based, touch-screen + mouse and keyboard. It doesn’t quite live up to the promise of getting up-and-running instantly, but with me in the next room to figure things out, it’s surprisingly easy. She doesn’t like it when I have to say, “Let me try it,” and it works for me after I did the same thing she did, but everyday she makes progress. The big, bright home screen is actually fun, and the help button works well.

    Reply
  6. I’ve been a PC user since 1984 and recently got a Mac. What a breath of fresh air! Once you got a Mac, you’ll never go back…

    Leo, how about writting articals for Mac like you do PC’s?

    Unlikely – I’ve got close to 30 years of experience with Microsoft and Windows to draw on, and nothing near that for Macs. I don’t find them quite the same breath of fresh air as so many do; they’re good machines but I’m equally comfortable in Windows.

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012
    Reply
  7. Great analysis Leo…. uh, did you forget that you could have gotten all of the same features that your wife needs and uses for half the price in any number of Win 7 machines?

    Forget? No. It’s one of the reasons I mentioned track record. The Air has a solid track record for quite a while now. Most of the PC Ultrabooks still fall into the “pretty darned new” category and in my opinion really remain to be proven. Given that I want what I give my wife to be ultra-reliable, in this form factor it came down to the Air hardware.

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012
    Reply
  8. Try Fn + delete to forward delete Leo. It’s an extra key, but should work on all Mac laptops.

    I was hoping a reader would pop in with “oh, you just need to …” for that. Smile Thanks much.

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012
    Reply
  9. PS–Forget Libre Office (formerly Open Office). It works OK but is really slow. For $20. you can get “Pages” from Apple. Not only is it a joy to use, it is speedy and can export to both pdf and epub formats. It’s also fully compatible with Microsoft Office. Better yet, if your wife needs the other modules you can spring for iWork and get the whole office suite.

    Reply
    • Pages is now included free on Macs but I prefer Libre Office. Now I use Microsoft Office on my Mac as I have a license for it included in my annual subscription.

      Reply
  10. I also got my wife a macbook pro laptop. The only issue I have found, other than understanding Mac mentality on their systems, is the wireless connection issues I’m having.
    We/re getting a connected, looking, connected, looking, connecting all the time with my linksys router. I’ve done most to the recommended fixes, short of ML OS re-install but to no avail on having a continuious connect. The Apple forums are full of the issues, discussions I have with the wireless connection speeds/connect issues. I’m a non-techie MS side type but dangerious enough to always get myself in trouble.
    Any easy fixes short of having to buy a separate Apple router and then having mine for my MS laptop?

    I don’t know. I will say that my experience is exactly the opposite here at home. Both of my Macs connect and change access points and resume from sleep more seamlessly and transparently than my PC laptops. It’s been better enough that I noticed. And I’ve definitely got mixed systems – PC, Mac and Linux – all hitting the same access point(s).

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012
    Reply
  11. Occasionally when I visit my daughter (a dyed-in-the-wool) Mac user, she lets me use her Mac laptop, using my own identity. It may be a great machine in and of itself, but for me it’s no match for my $500 Windows 7 PC, which I have customized (shortcuts, links, bookmarks, etc.) to the hilt. On her Mac I’m reduced to the rank of abject beginner. I don’t want to try to rebuild my world on a machine that I don’t own or of a type that I don’t even remotely envision ever buying — for 2 to 4 times the price.

    P.S. As an aside, how come every time I try to post a comment to Ask-Leo.com I get tagged as a spammer? I’m using Firefox 15 and I’m not preventing scripts from running. I have to switch to IE9 to post my comments. Kind of clunky.

    All I can say is that there is something about your Firefox configuration that is preventing Javascript from running or running properly on my pages. That’s all the spammer notification checks.

    Leo
    05-Oct-2012
    Reply
  12. Interesting commentary Leo & thanks for sharing.
    I recently purchased a used iMac for my wife & I to try but it turned out that neither one of us really felt like devoting the time needed to learning a whole new operating system.
    I do monkey around with various Linux “flavors” at a very low level some but we plan to stick with Windows for our primary usage just because we are comfortable with it.
    Wondering if people tend to stick with what they started with just out of habit?
    Take care!

    Reply
  13. You really never answered your article title. Ultrabooks are cheaper and adequate for what is needed. I’m sure there are reasons you chose the air, but you never really went in depth with them like I would have expected you to.

    Reply
  14. Leo!! To surf the web and do E-mails you could have given her a clunker with Linux (any flavor).

    It was truly a excuse to buy a Mac, and nothing more. (well maybe spend some of your latte money)

    XP still does everything I want, why switch?

    Reply
  15. I have just had 2 frustrating days using Pages on an iPad when travelling to collaborate on a document. Pages does not support track changes or comments.

    Because of lack of functionality of Pages and Numbers, I intend to give my iPad away to a friend – if I can find a tablet that runs more of the functionality of MSWord and Excel.

    Or are there any alternatives?

    Reply
    • This is an 8 year old comment, but there is an alternative. I have a Windows tablet which can run the full blown version of Office. It ran Windows 7 which I upgraded to 10 a couple of yeas ago. I guess it can work with a Bluetooth keyboard. It would be like a poor man’s surface.

      Reply
      • I bought a “convertible” -a pad with removeable keyboard – running Win10 for my wife for christmas – it is a “Smart-Tab” and cost me under $160 Canadian. Runs full Microsoft Office without any problems so far. The only thing she doesn’t like about it is the clunky no-buttons “glyde pad” on the keyboard – will get her a blue-tooth mouse and that problem will be HISTORY. There ARE cheap functional alternatives out there. Like Leo’s wife she does e-mail and some browsing – and some “wordsmithing” for committees she is involved with.

        Reply
  16. Thanks, Leo for an excellent article. For me, You hit the nail on the head with the “Things You Tolerate paragraph.” I am a long time Windows user trying to adjust to the MacBook Pro with Retina display knowing there is no way to justify the cost. But I do love the fact that it boots in 10-20 seconds, something I never got from a PC running Windows.

    Reply
  17. Leo, it seems to me that your wife’s system needs could be met with a Chromebook. But yes, a Mac Air is vastly sexier! 😀

    Reply
  18. Funny – until I read this I didn’t realize that Thunderbird existed for the Mac – I’ve always just used Mail as supplied by Apple. We do use Thunderbird on our PCs.

    True, you can get web/email/basic word processing capability for less in small Windows machines – but at the prices quoted you’d get plastic frames, flexy keyboards and mechanical hard drives, not SSDs. I use an Acer 722 (an 11.6 inch “netbook”) as my “ultra portable”. It was cheap and it works, but it feels really cheap, too. The rock-solid feel of that machined-out-of-solid-aluminum frame of an Air or a MacBook Pro simply does not exist in the Windows portable world to my knowledge. And people scoff at backlit keys – until the first time they have ’em in a dark room and suddenly you don’t have to tilt the screen down to see a key you don’t just touch-type to.

    If the data acquisition/interface software I used with my model airplane and rocket equipment ran on Mac OS, I’d have been all over an Air before now. One rocket altimeter maker does have Mac versions of their software. Guess which are my favorite altimeters now…. (but not just for that)

    We use Open Office on both Windows and Mac OS machines at our house. It’s just enough different and quirky to be frustrating in some ways. But it works and you can’t beat the price. I haven’t noticed it being that much shower than Microsoft Office on machines where I’ve run both. That said, my son loves Pages and Keynote on his MacBook Pro.

    Reply
  19. I have been a Mac user and lover for years but in the last year,I started teaching computer classes for senior citizens on PCs. I have been amazed at how much more user friendly PCs have become. I have found good things with both types of computers. I do find, however, that a Mac will “read” from a PC much better than a PC will “read” from a Mac. My son recently bought an AirBook and loves it after having PCs throughout school and work the last few years. If your mind is open, you will find the good (and the bad) of both types and make them both work for you. Still lovin’ my Mac even though I am now more open to PCs.

    Reply
  20. I also switched to Macbook Air less than a year ago. There is Outlook for mac in the latest Office for Mac 2011 (at discounted price on Amazon). If she doesn’t need Office compatibility too much, Pages might be the best for her (also because it wouldn’t require Java).

    Also, there is official Microsoft Messenger for Mac. Not as full featured as on Windows or called Live Messenger, but it exists.

    Reply
  21. my mother-in-law just got a new Mac and frankly it’s driving her nuts. The complicated BS you have to go thru just to find a hidden setup op to do something as simple as change the way certain programs look, is beyond belief. I hate O/S that hide so much in the background you never know what it’s realy doing. It’s like a car with all the dashboard instrements hidden under the hood so if you want to check your fuel guage or oil pressure or battery condition; you have to pull over, get out of the car, pop the hood and read the instrement cluster, Pure BS compared to a PC. But that;s my opinion, and my MIL and my wife and .. and..

    Reply
  22. I find Macs hideously complicated to use. I can’t stand the way the programs don’t actually close when you click the X in the corner. I don’t understand the no-right-click, useless mouse. As someone else mentioned, I find it incredibly frustrating not to be able to get into the file system. Everything is hidden! And what is the deal with no USB slots on the ipads? Apparently you’re supposed to email yourself the entire camera memory card to get your photos on the machine.

    I’ll let the rich hipsters keep their shiny, non-functional toys, while I use my Windows pc and laptops for actual work. (Btw, I’ve run exclusively Windows forever, and never once, in at least ten years, have had a virus. People who claim that Macs don’t get viruses are kidding themselves.)

    Reply
  23. I used Macs for many years before PCs became graphics capable in 1998. I have used PCs since Windows 3.1 for office work.
    Having used both for so long it is more of a mindset then the computer difference that bothers people.
    A Mac is no more difficult to use than a PC. It is all in what you are used to and the inability to cope with change as Leo mentioned in the article.
    I service PCs because they constantly need it.
    Have only had to service Macs twice in 30 years. Once for a FULL harddrive and once because it was full of dust and dirt.
    Good article Leo.

    Reply
  24. It should be pointed out to PC users that you can use a normal two button + wheel mouse on a Mac by just plugging it in the usb port, or connecting via bluetooth. No extra software, it just works.

    You then get all the right button functionality that you are used to on the PC.

    Hth.

    Which is exactly how my wife is using the machine.

    Leo
    09-Oct-2012
    Reply
  25. My MacBook pro is always crashing in mail at the time I don’t have any contacts in address book or do I email just to see what is happening and it will crash I believe my Mac is hacked and someone else is using my my Mac please answer apple has said almost the same just can’t find it

    MacMost is run by my friend Gary Rosenzweig who bills it as a site dedicated to “Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple TV Help and Tutorials”. He’s even posted a video on how to get help: Where To Go For Help With Your Mac Or iOS Device.

    Leo
    30-Oct-2012
    Reply
  26. Since that article was written, Office 365 gives a license for 5 computers. I have 4 machines. So I have MS Office on my Mac. You can now run Outlook on a Mac. I used Thunderbird for years but once when I had some issues with it, I temporarily switched to Outlook 365 because, what the heck, I’m paying for it anyway. I find it ever so slightly nicer to use than Thunderbird so the switch is no longer temporary. I’m guessing you’ve installed Office 365 on the Mac.

    Reply
    • My only concern with Office’s email program, Outlook, is the proprietary file format. I LOVE being able to search the plain text files kept by Thunderbird. And, actually, no, she doesn’t have Office installed on her Mac (though of course she could). I experimented at the time with LibreOffice, and there’s never been a reason to switch.

      Reply
      • I agree about Thunderbird and Libre Office. If it weren’t for the OneDrive included with Office 365, I’d be using Libre Office and Thunderbird. When I taught a course on using office suites, I had the students install Libre Office for compatibility as there were some students with Macs. At the time, I was using Ubuntu on my teaching laptop. I use Office now. Probably due to sunk cost fallacy 🙂

        Reply
        • I used to use Thunderbird for all my personal e-mail in order to be able to switch (not always seamlessly) between Windows and Linux on a dual boot machine. Since changing PCs I switched to gmail browser interface. After 5 years I still don’t care for it that much but I’m used to it.

          When I moved my father from a desktop running XP & Outlook Express to a laptop with Win 10 I moved his mail to Thunderbird. Thunderbird is still a reasonable mail client but it shares a feature with Outlook that I hate – hiding mail folders in an obscure user directory – makes selective back-up of user data more difficult.

          Some years ago I also switched to the Office 365 family pack model. If you can afford it, it offers reasonable value for money and the 1TB per user in OneDrive is a great value add. All my iPhone photos get backed-up to OneDrive.

          I share Leo’s concerns about the proprietary Outlook .pst file format (& I have over 30GB of work related e-mail archives), but I’ve also backed these up into an mail archive program MailStore Home (I just wish MailStore would not limit me to running off an external drive).

          I’ve tried Libre Office periodically and always found it a bit cludgy compared to Office. My but my brother (who is a bit of a technophobe) uses it quite happily for has small business… Most of my use of Office is at work so I’m much more comfortable and familiar with the product and it’s always seemed like too much effort to try to relearn everything in a different menu structure for a modest fraction of the time / files that I work with (90% work in a corporate environment / 10% home use).

          I guess a lot of this is driven by what you are used to and how willing you are to reclimb a competence & knowledge curve when switching to a new OS or software package.

          Reply
          • I don’t worry about the proprietary format of Outlook because, in addition to using Outlook on my 3 Windows machines, I use Thunderbird on my Macbook which backs up my emails in a generic format.

  27. To speak to your update about the Chromebook. I’ve used and have loved my HP Chromebook laptop for 3 years now. Being new to computers 12 years ago, it was necessary to buy many Windows books and even then the time I spent researching and fixing issues was enormous. Not so with Chromebook, which is a much more user-friendly experience. But … the Chrome browser and OS are very rapidly expanding in size. My machine has 4 GB of memory; I run some extensions — most people will do that — and have been running out of memory with the latest update. So … I recommend at the very least a machine with 8 GB of memory for anyone buying a Chromebook. Also remember Chromebooks have a set lifespan for getting updates, something like 5 years from manufacture date, so take that into account; some machines being sold are already a year or two old and you should be paying proportionately less.

    Reply
  28. I was a little taken aback by your comment about using Facebook Messenger.
    Why? Well, in a word, viruses.
    You’ve taught us so much about how to avoid viruses and other nasty things which are spread mostly through email, bogus downloads or rogue websites. You’ve taught us about what to look for in spamming, phishing and the various other seedy tactics malevolent players use to convince us to “click here!” You’ve taught us what to look for and how fast the bad guys are adapting and refining their attacks.
    But for me, an educated user, I’ve found more and more “Private Messages” from damaged and compromised accounts are coming from Facebook Messenger than all other social media combined. These messages come from our friends, who many times have no idea how it happened. It’s such an epidemic, I no longer open any links at all sent through Messenger.

    Reply
    • I’m a heavy user of Facebook Messenger. Like ANY communications platform you need to be watchful and skeptical. You are. That’s great! I’ve seen a couple of malicious attempts, as has my wife, and we both know to avoid them. This can, and does, happen on all instant messaging platforms — it feels unique to Facebook Messenger only due to it’s popularity. Don’t let your guard down with whatever alternative you choose!

      Reply
  29. All right this might be a little off-topic and a bit personal, but when I read “give serious consideration to a ChromeBook”, I was thinking is Google still trustworthy today?

    I’ve been a big fan of Google’s products for many years. However things have changed since Sundar Pichai became the CEO. The ‘close other tabs’ function was removed from Chrome browser (at least for a while) because someone decided it was useless. Android has become less user-friendly as the settings is far more complicated than it should be, most default options consume more battery power, data, and make your device prone to tracking. Even worse, changes to these options may be silently “forget” at Google’s discretion. Don’t Be Evil clause was removed from Google’s code of conduct, which finally answered the question “what the hell was project Dragonfly?”

    Reply

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