What to install on sister's laptop in one hour.
July 16, 2007 2:01 PM   Subscribe

What should I install on my sister's computer when we meet up for an hour or so; in two categories free and not-so-free


My sis and I live about 300 miles apart and we are meeting up for a meal at the weekend. She is bringing her new laptop for me to check out and install a thing or two on.

So far my thinking is:

Not Free

VLC Player

She doesn't use it much, but what else do you suggest - also what prog do you suggest for remote supporting her machine. Preferably in the free category ;)
posted by trashcan to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Grisoft AVG
posted by SpecialK at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2007

If she uses instant messaging, then Pidgin (even if she doesn't, I've got my mom signed up so that I can keep tabs on her and if she has questions she can pester me through my preferred medium).

Thunderbird if she already uses Outlook Express.

I also set up a few extension for mum's Firefox...
Adblock Plus (with Filterset.G Updater)
FEBE (set up to do backups transparently)
IE Tab
Link Alert
Tab Mix Plus

Maybe a feed reader too?
posted by anaelith at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2007

FoxIt Reader, as an alternative to adobe acrobat reader.

You've got VLC there, you might as well install GSpot so when she calls you asking why a movie file won't play, you'll be able to coach her through using GSpot to identify the codec involved.

That's all I got right now.
posted by utsutsu at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2007

Logmein... for emergencies.
posted by sharkfu at 2:16 PM on July 16, 2007

Well, XP has a built in "request assistance" option for support. You may also want to supplement that with VNC (reverse directions here) just in case.

She might prefer "Media Player Classic" to VLC.

Get Windows Defender on there for spyware.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:16 PM on July 16, 2007

What are her interests? What's her life like?

My favorite Firefox add-on: Resizeable Textarea (Thank you, Ask Metafilter!)

Another useful and popular Firefox add-on: NoScript

More great free software: OpenOffice.org - includes word processor, PowerPoint equivalent, spreadsheet, database, and drawing program. Also reads (I think) and saves in Adobe Acrobat format.
posted by amtho at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cygwin, so you can pick up X11, so you can pick up the Gimp. So, I guess I mean the Gimp.
posted by chairface at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2007

CCleaner... When she calls to say her computer is running slow you can just have her run it and it'll delete hundreds of megs of temp files, cache, etc. It really helps.
posted by lockle at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2007

While far less powerful than The Gimp, I'd suggest installing the free Paint.NET, which is much easier to use and doesn't require Cygwin or X11. It is perfectly capable for general photo and image editing.

For remote support, I suggest UltraVNC SingleClick. With this, you create a simple EXE that your sister would double click on, which would connect to a listening viewer on your own computer. Works very nicely through consumer firewalls without needing any changes. It's a bit of work to set up initially, but you can do all of that before you meet her, at which point you only need to copy over an EXE. Totally painless for her to use.
posted by Emanuel at 3:17 PM on July 16, 2007

Things I have installed (the only non-free software I have on my computers are games):

Irfanview (I swear by this - small download, great for viewing all kinds of image files and editing them)
uTorrent (even though you say she doesn't use her laptop much, everyone is torrenting and it saves time in the future should she ever need to)
7 zip

And OpenBook is one Firefox extension I can't live without.
posted by saturnine at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2007

Lately I've been setting up Hamachi for remote access to the machines of friends and family who I'm called upon to help. It will create it's own virtual network adapter, so you can disable the firewall on that connection for open access, while leaving it enabled for their actual link.

sperose, anaelith was talking about FEBE, the Firefox Environment Backup Extension.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2007

On preview (or lack thereof) sharkfu had already mentioned LogMeIn.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:18 PM on July 16, 2007

Yep, FEBE is the thing for Firefox backups.

And you don't need cygwin for GIMP, just install the Windows version... all you need is GTK+, still a pain to download on a slow connection but simple to install.

Picasa is probably something nice to install. Maybe Google Earth, too.
posted by anaelith at 6:44 PM on July 16, 2007

If this is a new laptop, it might be important to actually remove crapware/trialware/ISP offers.

For installing: (Some of this is new, some is an additional vote for already mentioned software)
* LogMeIn for remote access (enterprise-level reliability for free)
* Paint.NET for graphics
* Spybot (be sure and update and immunize)
* Mozy for free secure offsite backup (2 GB free) -
* Whatever chat service you use
* Firefox and VLC, as everyone has said
* Foxmarks (great for backups even if you don't sync with it)
posted by mysterious1der at 7:26 PM on July 16, 2007

Response by poster: thanks all, this is great:

@amtho - she is just starting out on computers, but picking it up pretty quick. she uses it for sage and online shopping and general browsing.

she loves tv - so utorrent might be a good idea for shows that she misses; down the line somewhat.

is there anyway that I can download add-ons to install without an internet connection? there might be one at the cafe we meet at - but maybe not, so would prefer to take the add-ons with me.
posted by trashcan at 6:15 AM on July 17, 2007

No-IP might be worthwhile to install on her computer too - that way you can access her computer (using any of the above suggestions - although I use the built in remote desktop [which you have to activate on her box]) using a no-ip name, rather than having to figure out what her IP is.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:16 AM on July 17, 2007

Response by poster: just another thought - she uses gmail, so going to install greasemonkey with the https script
posted by trashcan at 6:18 AM on July 17, 2007

Sure. Just go to the appropriate pages (on addons.mozilla.org or on the developers site) and where you would normally just click to install, instead right click and "save as". Make sure yuo end up with a bunch of .xpi files. When you get with her computer, you can open the addons dialog in Firefox and drag-and-drop all of your saved extensions off of your thumb drive and they'll install. (Best to do the dragging in small groups, one to three at a time.)
posted by anaelith at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2007

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