Author Topic: computer option for kid?  (Read 4933 times)

scrubbyfish

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computer option for kid?
« on: September 12, 2016, 11:06:40 PM »
12 years old.
Wants to learn programming, and to play games, especially Minecraft (servers??).

Has a fancy ipad Air.
Has a fancy Macbook Pro (2010).

The Macbook is developing issues: slow, pokey, frustrating, whirring noise (hard drive? fan?). Internet searches say upgrading to each new OS is a bad move, oops. I've spent three hours trying to improve it, no go.

Do we pay to diagnose and repair the Mac?
Or call six years enough and move on?

If we move on, what way to go?

Can he do a desktop version of Minecraft on the ipad??
Can he attach a DVD player, as needed, to the ipad?
Or to learn programming and play this whatever Minecraft servers thing, will he need a computer?

If a replacement computer, what's the best go?
(I will never, ever, ever, ever buy a Mac again.)

We have only intermittent internet, so a DVD drive is helpful (movies from library).

alsoknownasDean

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 12:14:24 AM »
Which MacBook Pro is it (specs, model)?

I'm going to go against the grain and suggest repairing the Mac. Replacing the hard drive with an SSD and bumping the RAM to 8GB should help get a couple more years from it, especially if it's slated to get macOS Sierra.

Replacing the fans can be done as well with the right know how. It'll be worth cleaning dust out of the thing as well, a can of compressed air will be perfect for this. You'd be surprised how much dust gathers inside a computer after a few years.

Check out ifixit.com :)

My MacBook Pro is over seven years old. I spilt coffee on it a month ago, and was shopping around for replacements. Instead I decided to order the parts to have a go at fixing it. Aside from the $50 spent on replacement parts, nothing to lose.

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 02:28:13 AM by alsoknownasDean »

mwulff

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 12:20:41 AM »
12 years old.
Wants to learn programming, and to play games, especially Minecraft (servers??).

Has a fancy ipad Air.
Has a fancy Macbook Pro (2010).

The Macbook is developing issues: slow, pokey, frustrating, whirring noise (hard drive? fan?). Internet searches say upgrading to each new OS is a bad move, oops. I've spent three hours trying to improve it, no go.

Do we pay to diagnose and repair the Mac?
Or call six years enough and move on?

If we move on, what way to go?

Can he do a desktop version of Minecraft on the ipad??
Can he attach a DVD player, as needed, to the ipad?
Or to learn programming and play this whatever Minecraft servers thing, will he need a computer?

If a replacement computer, what's the best go?
(I will never, ever, ever, ever buy a Mac again.)

We have only intermittent internet, so a DVD drive is helpful (movies from library).

I would replace the Mac's harddrive with an SSD and plug in 8 gigs of ram like the previous poster. It will feel like a brand new mac.

PowerMustache

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2016, 12:32:56 AM »
The approach I take with my own computers is to buy an in expensive, often refurbished, middle-of-the-road PC laptop at the best bargain I can find. I know they are not as reliable or long lasting with the build quality of a Mac, but I'm ok with that. I just plan to replace it every 2-4 years. If it breaks before that, oops -- not a huge problem. For the same price as a single $1000+ Mac, I can purchase 3-4 good PCs.

Since your son wants to learn programming, I would recommend having a keyboard to work with to learn touch typing, so I'd caution against the ipad only route (maybe you could get a keyboard -- even so I don't think an ipad is up for serious programming work, which he will be old enough for now/soon).

Others are probably right that upgrading the Mac with SSD and better RAM would work well. That may be your best option at this point. I would price compare that option with something like this, what I would consider a good PC deal for myself:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=247491&CatId=4935

Looks like minecraft doesn't require much from a PC -- 2GB of RAM and a 2.6GHz processor -- unless your son is doing something more advanced. Why do you mention servers?

http://www.systemrequirementslab.com/cyri/requirements/minecraft/11356

scrubbyfish

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2016, 01:06:00 AM »
Why do you mention servers?

I'm just quoting my kid :)   I know nothing of which he speaks, computer-wise. Apparently there are different versions of Minecraft. So, he could do something Minecrafty on the iPad, and some kids have a "pocket edition" on their phones, and he likes this one on his computer, using the mouse. Says he can do more stuff, build worlds... and when he talks about it, he refers to servers.

I'd rather keep the Mac (because I dislike shopping), so if SSD + ram will resolve its issues while costing far less than another computer, I'll go that route. I'll ask tomorrow how much those would bring the cost to.

My own computer was much, much cheaper and I far prefer it, so yes, middle of the road PC laptop is my preference for future. The Mac was a weird, homeschooling, pre-MMM decision that I very much regret.

mwulff

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2016, 01:13:13 AM »
My own computer was much, much cheaper and I far prefer it, so yes, middle of the road PC laptop is my preference for future. The Mac was a weird, homeschooling, pre-MMM decision that I very much regret.

I wouldn't regret the mac if I were you. They last a long time and they usually hold their value pretty well. As a software developer I do all of my work on a Macbook Pro and it has never let me down.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2016, 02:29:28 AM »
Would you be paying for repairs, or would you DIY?

ifixit.com would have plenty of info on how to DIY repair a MacBook Pro :)

Dust removal is worthwhile too.

https://www.ifixit.com/Device/MacBook_Pro :)

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 03:38:24 AM by alsoknownasDean »

PowerMustache

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2016, 02:44:26 AM »
Why do you mention servers?

I'm just quoting my kid :)   I know nothing of which he speaks, computer-wise. Apparently there are different versions of Minecraft. So, he could do something Minecrafty on the iPad, and some kids have a "pocket edition" on their phones, and he likes this one on his computer, using the mouse. Says he can do more stuff, build worlds... and when he talks about it, he refers to servers.

I'd rather keep the Mac (because I dislike shopping), so if SSD + ram will resolve its issues while costing far less than another computer, I'll go that route. I'll ask tomorrow how much those would bring the cost to.

My own computer was much, much cheaper and I far prefer it, so yes, middle of the road PC laptop is my preference for future. The Mac was a weird, homeschooling, pre-MMM decision that I very much regret.

I see. I haven't played minecraft myself, but a bit of googling and I see it's possible to run your own minecraft server. If he's doing it, that's actually a good learning opportunity for your son! Requirements would be met by any middle of the road PC or the upgraded Macbook.

http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Server/Requirements

I have a bias toward the PC option because that's what I do and I'm more familiar with it, but I acknowledge that the Macs are rock solid and you can't really go wrong with them. Just a bit more googling and I found this information on cost of upgrading a macbook ($170 in this case):

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/2tytpb/with_a_new_ssd_and_8_gb_of_ram_my_4_year_old/

If you do go this route, I'd recommend making this a project for your son since he sounds so savvy. Research the cost of new SSD and RAM, verify that your Macbook is compatible with the SSD and the RAM he has selected, purchase the new components together, and he could install them himself with a little help from google.

Ishmael

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2016, 04:31:42 AM »
I will also recommend upgrading the MacBook Pro, but one thing to note - if it's getting slow and pokeish, it might be a bad hard drive cable. Mine was getting crazy slow, and for over a year I've been cursing the newer versions of the OS. Bought a new hybrid HDD to put it in, and it wouldn't recognize the drive. Finally, after doing some research I discovered that some of the MacBook pros had faulty drive cables. Bought a new one for $30, installed it in a few minutes, and it was like a new machine!


teen persuasion

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2016, 04:46:54 AM »
Little bit I know about minecraft - there's 2 versions: PC, for PCs, and PE (pocket edition) which can run on tablets.  The PE version is more limited, but has frequent updates adding functionality already in PC, so the kids are thrilled with each update.

There's something called "scratch" for teaching kids coding concepts.  Again, 2 versions - one for PCs and one for tablets, with the pc version more powerful and advanced.  This is not for creating mods for minecraft, but learning basic concepts.  It's a fairly visual program, and encourages experimentation, so kids seem to pick it up fairly easily.

dang1

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2016, 05:52:08 AM »
good time to have the kid assemble a Windows PC from parts, a good way to introduce them to electronics.

Rubic

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2016, 07:42:38 AM »
Learn to program with a Raspberry Pi for $35:

https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Pi-RASP-PI-3-Model-Motherboard/dp/B01CD5VC92

For another $30 dollars you can add a touch screen:

https://www.amazon.com/Premium-Touchscreen-Official-Raspberry-Display/dp/B01GQFUWIC

Then build stuff!

SimplyMarvie

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2016, 09:05:53 AM »
We had to deal with this same issue -- except, our son was required to have a laptop by his school, so we had to buy something. We had a 2010 Mac around the house that had a couple of HD replacements, and was dead in the water, or we could buy something new/used/refurbished. We ended up sending the Mac in for cleaning and fan replacement ($60) and a new Battery ($150) and replacing the plastic 'feet' that had fallen off and a new cord ($5 for the feet, $30 for the cord). It's doing well, and I think we'll up the RAM and put an SSD in after the holidays. It should get him through the next couple of years, at which point we'll be in a new school and god knows what horrors they will inflict on us through their Bring Your Own Device policy.

Honestly, though, if we hadn't HAD to get him a laptop we never, ever would have done it. If you have any sort of troubles controlling his screen time or access to computers, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye once the laptop is in the picture! We're pro-tech people who also believe that our kids should play outside and be bored occasionally, and the laptop has been no end of fights and sneaking and arguments and threats. OMG, the drama! Before this we had an iMac with a big screen that was in the living room so parental supervision was constant. It worked MUCH BETTER for the kids, and for us, than the MacBook does.

techwiz

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2016, 09:19:32 AM »
I have two kids that live for Minecraft. They first had it on the Playstation, but then wanted to do the MOD's and even record themselves doing videos. It's weird how they will watch videos of others play Minecraft for hours. 

I thought this is a great time to teach some basic computer knowledge and programing and skills with the kids.

The option I have went with is to have a dedicated kid's computer. It's a mid-range computer with a Linux operating system (Ubuntu) with a good video card (for performance).

Although it even stretches my knowledge from time to time having to setup these MOD packs and configuring the video recording and editing software.  Everything you need is available on the Internet and support forums and all the software is free since there is great open source stuff for this.   The only cost are for the computer and the initial MineCraft account (My advice is to buy the MineCraft card Wal-Mart) rather than entering credit card info on the Internet.

This provides a great learning opportunity for the kids and you to play together gives them a good insight to programing etc...   

**Warning*** I have found that I am the one that ends up doing most of the learning.  I have had to rebuild the system and reinstall it twice from the ground up. The kids often just want me to fix it without the learning part.  I still don't know much about playing MineCraft  ,but man do I know how to build a gaming system and install these MineCraft launchers and MOD packs.

Good luck.

... Just read the last line "intermittent internet" that will limit the amount of things you can do if you choose my route. 
It will makes the online gaming part of MineCraft impossible. Depending on how intermittent your internet is downloading patches and the supporting a computer will also be difficult. There is still lots of MOD's and home Minecraft server stuff you can do and might help encourage more self-built home grown MineCraft worlds. 

I like to think of MineCraft as being digital lego. 

« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 09:31:24 AM by techwiz »

scrubbyfish

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2016, 10:52:03 AM »
This is all incredible!!!

Feeling much better about the Mac, and repair (not DIY, will be outsourcing).

Thanks, all!

He's at a new school for kids with autism, and they can bring special interest tutors in for the group now and then. He's going to ask them to bring someone in re: electronics (building and repairing hardware, programming). So, I would pay to get the Mac up to snuff and hope the school, internet, programs and videos mentioned above can facilitate his learning from there.

topshot

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2016, 11:30:41 AM »
This is somewhat but not really off topic. Since you said he wanted to learn to program and play minecraft, you might look into Piper in addition to fixing or replacing your Mac. I plan to get that for my son in the next year or so.

cchrissyy

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2016, 12:29:39 PM »
my kids are big on minecraft - you do need a computer for it, the macbook will be perfect if you fix it up.  It's a fun and wholesome game and a very good way for kids to get in to coding and modding (changing the game's code to do new things) and yes they can set up a server and host multi-player games, but that doesn't require a special computer, any laptop or desktop can be the server in this sense of the word. not a mobile device though. Definitely don't rely on a mobile version, like ipad, it's similar but not the same game, can't do near as much in terms of learning programming and mod design.

Gronnie

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2016, 03:42:30 PM »
Came in to recommend SSD upgrade and 8GB of RAM... saw that others think alike, left satisfied.

scrubbyfish

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2016, 12:51:47 PM »
We got word on the repair. Because they never called us, we just dropped in while in the area, which means I didn't have your guys' awesome info with me. So, I don't know if the recommendation and quote was for a SSD or replacement of existing type. (Prices Canadian.)

$80 to back everything up, just in case
$50 to diagnose
+back up drive, taxes, etc

Dx: hard drive is failing intermittently
Recommendation: Replace hard drive, should be good to go
Hard drive: Another $130

Other option is to pay $80 to have everything wiped, put back to original, and sell for $400.

Primarily because I hate having five gadgets to take care of, and I don't think he needs three, I'd rather get rid of it. Pitched to kid that if he wants a computer primarily for playing a specific version of Minecraft on it at home, he would need to pay for the hard drive.

So, we're landing at:
1. I paid the first $160ish.
2. If he wants to keep it, he pays the next $130.
3. If we sell it for $400, he keeps the money and can use it for his long list of other wants.
4. He says he would want to buy another computer, which start at $500ish here, in which case it seems best to go with #2.

Your smart people thoughts?

gooki

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2016, 01:55:10 PM »
Do it yourself for $60. Or make your kid do it. Buy them the ssd and a small screw driver, sata to usb adapter and let them Google away.

If they are successful with this, then upgrade OSX. Then go ahead with the ram upgrade.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 02:05:13 PM by gooki »

gooki

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2016, 02:02:07 PM »
Or you can get the hdd, file transfer and install done for you for $90
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S9Q9UKS/ref=twister_B00WKRZSEO?_encoding=UTF8&th=1
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 02:08:11 PM by gooki »

Gronnie

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2016, 04:31:38 PM »
Do it yourself. This isn't hard stuff, even for a non-nerd.

Just watch a YouTube video on how to do it.

scrubbyfish

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2016, 06:49:12 PM »
Gooki and Gronnie, I think you're both recommending the repair-and-keep path, then, even with the inherent costs (hardware, etc) and opportunity loss (sale). Thanks!

It's hard for me not to go sale, but kid is different from me and is certainly keen on having all three devices for different things. If he pays for it and/or deals with it, I'm game. I agree there are great learning opportunities for him in having the Mac and fancy Minecraft, and doing repairs.

11ducks

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2016, 07:44:07 PM »
When he is staring out, I'd suggest you google a list of family friendly servers (which are like worlds that ppl set up for others to join). They are usually moderated to ensure that the chat and gameplay is appropriate. Also, adding a headset with microphone mightn't be a bad investment, it'll get him talking/interacting with the other players.

cacaoheart

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2016, 10:49:46 AM »
I purchased a refurbished 2010 Macbook (not pro) from Apple in late 2010 for ~$750. I used the easy to follow free videos at macsales.com to upgrade my ram and switch out the hard drive for an SSD. The SSD has made it faster than new. At this point you could upgrade both for ~$150, particularly if you purchase from a site other than macsales.com (they sell exactly what you need but charge more). Your kid should be able to do most if not all the work themselves.

I'm not sure I'd want a new mac given how so much of it is made to be difficult to switch out now, except for the non retina Macbook Pro that seems to have not been upgraded much since 2012.

cchrissyy

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Re: computer option for kid?
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2016, 11:02:00 AM »
Paying them to back it up and install the new hard drive is a huge ripoff.  You and/or the kid can do that all yourself for no cost and very minimal time/hassle. Just buy the right new drive and google how to do it.