Start Featherlight: Your Personal Computer

I realize I stated the assumption that you already have a personal computer, as I know you are reading this on something.  So my Latte Scale stays at zero.latte-0 What happens after you take the computer out of the box is important and good for you, and like eating more vegetables and getting more exercise, most of us don’t always do what is good for us.  So we are going to go over the taking-it-out-of-the-box list again.  And while we are at it, we will imagine purchasing a new computer.  Here are the questions to resolve first.

PC or Mac? Doesn’t matter.  You don’t know everyone who will work with you, and they will bring what they have.  When you and the company are buying, you can decide. You will pay more for a Mac.

Desktop or laptop? You decide.  Computers break and they need things done to them on the inside.  Opening one up is a much more unnerving on a laptop and the parts are more expensive.  To stay featherlight, stay with a desktop.

Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS or Ubuntu? Use what you have.  If you are buying new, shop the low end of the computer price scale.  Here I am going to play the featherlight capital card.  At the extreme end (remember I promised to point out the extreme cases), Ubuntu – equipped PCs at my local computer stores are $199 at this writing.  Add $100 more for a machine with Windows.  At this time, this means Windows Vista. And I will NOT pay the extra $150 to Microsoft to use Windows-XP — that’s almost enough for another computer for a team member or a kid who doesn’t have one. Honestly, I do not care enough about the operating system as it has nothing to do with the success of the company.  This attitude is not what the vendors would like; they spend millions trying to make you and me care.  The operating system is disappearing, but that is a topic for CrustyBytes.

Want the hot, sexy, high performance computer? OK by me, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the success of the company and it doesn’t count against the featherlight tab.

Take it out of the box (start here if you already have the computer)

Stop. Make sure you have 2 or 3 hours to dedicate, before you open the box.

Make the recovery DVDs or CDs. Computers and especially hard drives fail.  Computers do not ship with media for the operating system now; you have to make your own.  Do it now.

Patch the operating system. Your vendor loaded the operating system (OS) on the computer, and the image they used may be months old, and hence vulnerable and insecure — you would be amazed.  OK to connect to the internet, and only go to the OS supplier’s website to get the updates.  Many of these may be successive patches, so you need to keep going back until the system reports that it is completely up to date.  Then configure your settings to automatically update  the OS.

Remove the junk. Being frugal means buying consumer PCs.  Most are chock full of junk you would never responsibly load onto your computer.  Remove it now.  All those trial versions of security, money management, internet services, games, etc. — get it out of there.

Install the anti-virus. You haven’t started the company yet and are still working in your garage on your computer.  If you are using Windows, download the free version of AVG from here. Works great. Or if you want to choose for yourself which anti-virus solution to use, check out what the smart people at Lifehacker have to say.

Install it, update it and run it now.  Only now are you free to go elsewhere on the internet.

As soon as you start the company, upgrade AVG to the paid version.  That will put us at 2% on the Latte Scale or about $0.09 per day.

Get your backup plan in operation. Hard drives fail.  Not if, but when.  In our featherlight world, it is your data that is valuable.  Protect it. Choose an automated solution, and set it up now while you are thinking about it.  I use Personal Backup after reading up on Lifehacker (see a pattern here?) and a pair of NAS drives.  You wise tech readers will ask, ‘…And your offsite strategy is?’  Like eating more vegetables, I need to do it.  My rule here is to only recommend what I have hands-on experience doing — so stay tuned.

Congratulations!  You’re ahead of most.  db

PS:  I plan a series of related posts.  I will assemble a Resources page with links to recommended solutions discussed.

Leave a comment

Your comment

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree