The Meeting Place

Guidance for a “new” computer

Hi - just on nbn and it’s great so now I need some guidance please

Most of the time the wife and I use our iPhones and iPads to socialise and communicate but I like to use spreadsheets and save things so I did use windows a lot and I have a MacBook that needs attention

problem as always is the expense of software so I used Ubuntu for some time and waited to see how nbn would go 

fortunatly we chose Mate and they have been marvellous and the speed is beaut - so far - and the cost is much less

We were paying $115 per month for fetch ,phone and internet - adsl+2 with the remarkable speed of 4.5 down and .60 up.

With Mate we don’t have fetch and our speed is 22 down and 5 up so buffering is gone

Would like a desk top pc that would be best suited to Ubuntu and ask your opinion as well as a printer

we had a hp photoprinter but the ink was very expensive so we got a canon and the price is just as rediculous- $50 and it doesn’t last long either

we do not play games on our computers but as aged pensioners find them invaluable for how to fix things and recipes etcetera

from your experience we would value your guidance before we buy - will try and find a repairer for the MacBook as all our photos are in the cloud but now we also save in google and now understand that Ubuntu also has a cloud so guidance in this area would be appreciated

kind regards





Can't go wrong with HP  laptop and printer. 

Installing Ubuntu is easy and it can be installed on the HP Laptop hassle free. 

Thanks very much for that 

kind regards 


Thoroughly recommend a Brother laser printer. They are very cheap for one giving only black & white output, but a cartridge costs about $20 delivered on eBay & prints about 3000 pages. Easy to install & simple to use. I've had half a dozen printers over the last 25 years & this is easily the best & cheapest to run.

That’s a great tip - ink costs a fortune but yours sounds very economical

kind regards peter


here's an alternative  - a mini pc designed for Linux.

Not sure if available in oz.



You are fortunate indeed.  My internet is great with the NBN but is costing me an extra $30 for everything.  Reason being that whereas before I had everything in a bundle (landline, mobile phone and internet) for $85 a month, my bill now is $119 a month, because the mobile is charged seperately.  I also seem to have lost my pensioner discount along the way.  Not bad, considering i had no choice in the matter.........GGRRRRRR!

I'd not purchase a desktop at all.  They're not really worth it.  Check out your local area for computer markets.

What brand do you want to purchase?  First of all, get onto the internet and find out what your local Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi, Bing Lee, The Good Guys, or Harvey Norman have for sale.  Always compare 'like for like'.

If you're not prepared to pay the exorbitant prices at the shops, go onto E-bay and search for 'laptop computers'.  There's usually many different brands and prices.  If you're thinking of purchasing from overseas, then you'll have to pay the 10% GST on top of the price, so try to get one from Australia.

My minimum purchase would be a 15.6 inch, 4Gb, 1Tb HDD, with at least 3 if not 4 USB ports, Wi-Fi.  If you can't get the 1Tb HDD with the machine, you can usually purchase one separately on E-bay.

The reason I'd have the 1Tb HDD, is so that you can partition the disk and have the OS on the 'C' drive and your docs on the 'D' drive.  In the case of having to reinstal the system, the 'D' drive wouldn't be affected.  Done this with both of my current (Dell 1525 Inspiron) laptops.  I know they're 'old' compared to today's technology, but they work well and haven't had any problems for the past 36 months since I purchased the latest ones. 

I have 4 extra 2.5" HDDs (the original HDDs from when I purchased the laptops), which I use as backups.  The cases for these are available on E-bay.  I have the clear ones.  All of these come with their own USB 2 or 3 cables.

There's a good disk partitioner program called AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition available free from the internet.

I use Win 7 (the most stable OS I've known - the others just don't cut it for me), and Office 10.  I also get regular updates even though Win 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft.

As far as your broadband goes, I have a $129 a month deal with Telstra for my home phone, internet & Foxtel/Austar.  This gives me unlimited broadband with no 'choking', home phone with no cost for local & STD calls ($5 per month extra included in the above price), with basic Foxtel and Drama ($20 per month included in the above price) packages.  My mobile phone is also on the account and it's a 'bring your own' deal for $35 per month with $50 in calls and SMS included.  I've never had any problems with Telstra since going over to the NBN.

You 'should' be able to transfer the photos on your Macbook to an external HDD or Flashdrive.  I've never used a Macbook, so I really don't know.

Enjoy your search.



Suzi, try a MacBook Pro.  Once you get used to where you can place the Dock, you'll like it.

i find that the 13" MacBook Pros are an ideal size.  Especially for travel.  And convenient to use on your lap.

External SSD's are now affordable and you can even install one as an upgrade in your Dells.

Actually I'd be very wary of purchasing any laptop that you have not actually bashed the keys and held in your hands.  Apple can be tried in many retail outlets and purchased to your configuration on line.  With quick and certain delivery and support.

For backup now, you can connect your BackUp HDD to your home Wifi modem and it will work effortlessly from where ever you are in the house.  External HDDs are also now available that are WiFi'd and hence do not need a hard connection to your laptop, desktop or WiFi base stations.

SuziJ, I use a desktop for a number of functions that are very difficult to carry out on anything else. I maintain a few websites and I have found that updating them on anything other than a desktop is quite difficult. We all have opinions but with computers it's not a "one size fits all" scenario.

Peter, you say that you have a MacBook, you have everything in that laptop that you could ever need for all of the computing that you would ever want to do.  Update the OS to as recent as it can go.  Even ten year old MacBooks work as well as new other laptops.

Apple offer all of the software that you need for free.  There are no additional costs for the very capable Numbers and Pages.

If you aren't sure about using Numbers, there is a free full office suite called LibreOffice.  The spreadsheet with it is very versatile and can open any Excell or Numbers file that anyone sends to you.

All Apple operating systems are very stable and resistant to unapproved intrusions.  If you keep the operating system up to date (all updates are free) you will have a virtually nil risk from virus's, trojans and malware.

The hardware also typically outlasts the products from other manufacturers.

You may think that the Apple Mac laptops are comparitevely expensive against other brands, but they do feel so much better under your fingers.

In case anyone thinks that I work either for Apple or an Apple agent, I do not and never have.  I got into Apple laptops over 15 years ago as I needed something for audio editing and transitioned into video creating.  The free Apple video and photo software can and does do everything a home user/creator can need.

In another discussion group I mentioned the Government website aimed at improving computer literacy among the older users.  I'll place the link here as well.  It is a Government service so has no commercial objectives or catches.

As far as an ISP goes, I have chosen Telstra because when I'm away from home, I can usually find a Telstra Air connection which allows me to use my home account almost anywhere in Australia with no extra costs.

Well my MacBook has developed a problem and the screen fades unless I adjust the screen repeatedly- asked an Apple aproved repairer and the bes I get for a $99 inspection is that the screen may be at fault and a replacement is $700 or a loose lead and then only a couple of hundred depending on time spent

live in Frankston area but repairers are short on the ground

have had laptops repaired before but always problems everafter

kind regards


Peter, get on to eBay and find yourself a 2nd hand business grade laptop, such as a HP ProBook. Business units are much more robust, use better quality components, and usually have at least a 3 year warranty instead of 1 year.

You can get 2 or 3 year old items with 6th or 7th Gen i5 CPU's for $350 to $500, some still with HP Warranty current. I know because I bought 4 recently, 2 of which still had over a year of warranty remaining.

Steer clear of laptops with Celeron or AMD CPU's. And don't waste big money on a new laptop which will be outdated in a couple months anyway.

Any business laptop that new will have a Win10Pro licence included (built in to the BIOS), so zero cost there.

You can find MS Office 2016 Pro Plus licences on eBay for under $15 (from Spain or Germany are usually the cheapest).

Full anti-virus suites can also be found on ebay for under $10 (usually for 1 year on 3 PC's).

BUT, if you have the space, you are much better building your own Desktop PC.

If you don't already have an old case hanging around, surely someone you know has one that you can aquire for next to nothing.

Just rip out the old Motherboard, RAM, and CPU, and replace them with brand new state of the art components for around $332 on eBay (AsRock A320M M/b $80, Ryzen 3 2200G CPU $165, 8GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM $80).

For desktops, the new gen AMD Ryzen CPU's are currently better and much cheaper than the Intel items, and have much better graphics built-in.

If you really want it to fly, spend another $80 on eBay for a 256GB SSD (WD Green M.2 2280 240GB)

You will need a new Win10Pro License for this build (use Pro, not Home), which you can get on eBay for under $10. Or you could use Ubuntu, but why bother when Win10 is so cheap.

If you can get your head around Linux (Ubuntu) you should have no problems building your own PC. (BTY, I am writing this on a PC built from these these exact same components, except the M/b is ASUS instead of AsRock.)

One final point which I think should be mandatory - Spend $5 on StarDock Start10, which is the best way to bring back the Win7 style Start Menu to make Win10 useable.

Oh, and as for printer consumables, well, they grugingly gave us a Royal Commission into Banks. Surely we need one into printer inks and consumables even more!!!

Hawkeye - thanks very much - have written down all you have said and will read it carefully as things disappear from my ipad


will get back to you - thanks again




Fair enough mate.

But be aware that if you search eBay for a ProBook, one of the results will be a HP 650 G2 that I am selling.

Please don't take it the wrong way. My advice above is fair dinkum advice, and is not a sales pitch for my laptop. It is actually one that I bought for myself from Canada before Xmas, but I got a bit ripped off because it didn't have the advertised features and is not suitable for my usage. After receiving a partial refund, I am just trying recoup the rest of my outlay.

But anyway, you say you would like a desktop, and I would advise you to go that way. It is a very good feeling to be able to say "I made that"

The hardware component prices I mentioned above were seen in a 2 minute search on eBay today, and were all from Aussie suppliers, so you have full consumer law protection.

The software is technically legal from European suppliers under European laws, who send the licence keys via email. There is limited recourse if they don't work (usually they will supply a replacement key). But even if you occasionaly get scammed, they are so cheap that you have lost next to nothing.


Buy a cheap ACER or Dell laptop for $300. All the storage you need for spreadsheets . If not you can always store on external drive 

Hawkeye - when I buy a key is that a complete program or an upgrade to what I might have 



Peter, they are for complete programs.

But they can also be used to upgrade given the right circumstances. However, nothing can be upgraded from Linux/Ubuntu (based on Unix) to Windows because they are just completely incompatable. Likewise, nothing can be upgraded from Mac OS (based on BSD, which is much like Unix) because it is also completly incompatable with Windows.

The "key" is the Activation Code which uniquely registers your copy of the program with the software owner (Microsoft) and ties it to your PC, thus enabling updates and the full feature set of the program to work.

If you purchase a key for Windows 10 Pro (get the Pro version, not the Home version) you then use the Microsoft "Media Creation Tool" to make an installation DVD or USB Drive. Use that to do a full "custom" install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (always install 64-bit Windows, not 32-bit), but DON'T enter an activation key if asked during installation unless you have to. After installation is complete, then enter your key in the Activation section in Windows Settings. Don't purchase the key until you are ready to install because there is usually only a short period of about 3 days when the key can be used.

If you purchase a key for MSOffice, go for the full "MSOffice Professional Plus" either 2013 or 2016. Stay away from anything with 365 in the name because that will be a subscription version. You will usually receive an Activation Key by email, along with download and install instructions for a setup that works with that key. For Office, install the 32-bit version to be fully compatable with anything else that you might install on the PC.


Thanks very much Hawkeye - did realise from your earlier that this was just windows


kindest regards