I taught computing for many years. Among other pursuits, I now provide 'house calls' supporting computer users.
There are certain things that I tell people time and time again... for instance some simple tricks to make web browsing easier on the eyes... so perhaps if I present them here too, you may find them useful?
I have a guide with recommendations for what I try to do when just getting started on a new computer.
Re- "For the Ambitious", above: I'm torn when I try to describe it. Any reasonably intelligent, somewhat experienced, home user could have a lot of fun with the material in this guide. (Of course, the higher you score on any of those criteria, the easier it will be.) Within that crowd, there are many who will find the guide interesting. You don't need to be interested in all of the following to enjoy bits. Don't be put off by what you may consider "advanced" projects... That's what I thought. When I got down to work, I found I could do these things!! Don't flinch when you see "server". The guide looks at: "Serving" your own web pages. Multi-user databases... across a LAN or across the internet. Apache. ooBase. MySQL. Dynamic web pages, programmed with PHP.
Further to "For the ambitious": The guide is written to help novices in any of these areas. "Relatively impecunious" was once in the list of user qualifications. That was back when I had hopes of making the whole thing work with a Windows 98 box at the heart of the system. Well, I nearly made it work, but in the end I gave up, and spent $200 on a second-hand XP box. That was adequate for serious "play" at having your own Apache, MySQL, PHP server... either securely within your personal LAN, or, for the more adventurous, accessible to The World. (I still get a thrill when I realize that anyone, anywhere, can see what I've put up for them, on my server, the one across the room from me as I type this. (I know... I should Get A Life. But there are others out there as sad... and they could get to where they're having the fun I'm having without spending quite as many hours as I spent getting there.)) (Anyone can put pages up on a commercially maintained server!) Of course, if you open the "own server" door, be careful about how far you open it.
Raspberry Pi? Arduino? Neither?- The chattering classes are all excited about the Raspberry Pi... and I would certainly commend the Pi's creators for what they have made, and even more I would commend them for their hopes of re-kindling interest in programming as a hobby, and activity for schools. But is a Pi the best way to go, for you, if you are considering one? I taught computing for many years, and have been using computers since 1968. The link above will take you to some thoughts I hope you will find useful.
Disk images and things to do with a new PC- How to copy your whole hard drive, and advice on steps to take while your computer is new, before it is too late. If your machine isn't new, there are still things here for you about disaster recovery and different "restore" options. If you house catches fire, you will find it is too late to go to the store for a fire extinguisher. Computers do Get Sick. While the ideas in this essay are dull, no difficult tasks are proposed.
Music anywhere on your LAN- Blow by blow account of setting up a FreeNAS server, and WinAmp clients. The good news: Only free software used. Stream your MP3s to where you are working; free disk space on your computer by putting your music on a central, shared computer.
Passwords and Encryption Keys- Ideas for choosing, remembering, and protecting them.
Using passwords to protect documents. Solutions for when you have a document that someone needs to be able to read... but not just yet. You may be suddenly incapacitated. Does anyone have your account passwords? Many email providers will not release passwords to next of kin, etc.
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