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A Replacement for the i-Opener? 98

Posted by Cliff
from the a-no-hassle-internet-appliance dept.
kenh writes "For years my father has gotten along the Information Superhighway with just an i-Opener and an Earthlink account. However, the internet has moved too far ahead for his burned-in-ROM browser to be useful to him anymore, and dial-up is a bit slow these days. While investigating various options (Apple Macintosh, Knoppix Linux/Ubuntu Linux with USB key file storage, WebTV) I didn't find any that were very appealing, for a variety of reasons. Right now, I'm looking for something that has: dial-up support, no update/anti-virus/etc pop-ups, and no software 'update' downloads, support for PDFs, Flash, Javascript, and other features necessary to accommodate more modern websites. The i-Opener was 'foolproof', and if things went wrong, you could just shut it off and try again, Everything I see today lacks that ability (to varying extents)." What decent i-Opener replacements, if any, exist today?
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A Replacement for the i-Opener?

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  • Quick fix (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sigma 7 (266129) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @05:45AM (#16075057)
    Right now, I'm looking for something that has: dial-up support, no update/anti-virus/etc pop-ups, and no software 'update' downloads, support for PDFs, Flash, Javascript, and other features necessary to accommodate more modern websites.


    What you want to get is a minimal PC and install either Firefox, Opera or early versions of Netscape. Then, you configure the browsers to load minimal information (i.e. text only) and retrieves the extras only when required (i.e. clicking on an "Images" button.)

    The greatest reason why modern sites load slowly on Dial-up is because of the large quantity of images - cutting them out (especially the advertisements) significantly speeds up loading time.

    Any updates (other than the initial download of Flash and Java) that are available for your system are not needed to be installed as long as you keep a firewall enabled, and don't blindingly auto-execute any files from the web.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @07:42AM (#16075213)
    1) Build a machine from Newegg or buy one from eBay. I build to full computer (including 17" LCD monitor) for under $500.

    2) Install Kubuntu and set KDE into kiosk mode.
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @08:49AM (#16075369) Journal
    and no software 'update' downloads
    Right there I realized that you're out of luck in 2006. That requirement nixes Windows (any), Linux (any), Mac OS X, Qnx, (any)BSD, or any other modern OS. The advances in OS vulnerability mitigation has been to
    1. lock down the OS as much as possible and
    2. provide for an easy, painless-as-possible method for downloading and installing updates/fixes/patches.

    Instead of "and no software 'update' downloads" I suggest aiming for "fast, effective, automatic, unobtrusive-to-simple-usage software update downloads."

    Look to well-supported OSes for meeting this revised requirement. I like Apple, personally, and have regard for several Linux distributions' efforts in this area. I even appreciate Microsoft's work in regard to software updates, although the quickest fixes are related to protecting Hollywood and not their OS users (however, my biggest gripe with Winodws is the fact that #1 above has not occured w/r/t Windows).


    People find innovative ways to cause havoc everyday. Therefore a system designed for common users without built-in automated patching must be rejected. ROM-based systems are fine, unless, as you have found out, that new stuff is needed for features required to surf the modern web. Once you open that 'hole' you are in need of patching.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:22AM (#16075491) Homepage Journal
    While investigating various options (Apple Macintosh, Knoppix Linux/Ubuntu Linux with USB key file storage, WebTV) I didn't find any that were very appealing, for a variety of reasons. Right now, I'm looking for something that has: dial-up support, no update/anti-virus/etc pop-ups, and no software 'update' downloads, support for PDFs, Flash, Javascript, and other features necessary to accommodate more modern websites.

    You list requirements, and then list some computers that meet those requirements. If they're not good enough, then either say why a Mac or flash-Linux box isn't good enough, or else list the secret requirements that ruled them out.

    Is fast booting from ROM one of the requirements? Is it the simplicity and efficiency of QNX?

    Several years ago, many Amiga refugees were looking for somewhere to go, and QNX Neutrino was a very appealing candidate, because it matched AmigaOS' speed/efficiency/elegance. Alas, I ended up not going that way (didn't want to risk getting burned again by depending on proprietary software), and didn't keep up with what happened to that group. I wonder how well things went for them. A cheap x86 box that boots Neutrino and runs Firefox on top of that, might be what you're asking for.

  • Re:replacement? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:28AM (#16075795)
    Why pay more for a mac and not run mac osx on it?
  • Re:Pepper Pad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @11:53AM (#16076235)
    Your kidding right? The price v. funcionality of that thing is abysmal. It's appeal is more for people that really should use a full featured laptop & early adopters that are about one-upsmanship. I like what they are doing, but it'll likely be version 6 or 7 before they finally get a product thats worth it. This is at least if they are still around by some great miracle.
  • Re:Pepper Pad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zzootnik (179922) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @12:59PM (#16076524)
    Actually, Even though I've been waiting to blow my hard earned cash on one of these, I have to admit-- you can buy a brand new laptop for a cheaper price, so I'm a bit torn...I suppose you just pay for the convenient small size and all the engineering that went into building the darn thing. From what I've read, it is a very nice little package. You can still hook up external displays and keyboard/mouse if you really want to, but its still dinky enough to be really really portable.
    --Just stop pushing back the release date, eh? ;-)
  • by nuggetman (242645) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:04PM (#16077345) Homepage
    Why is everyone telling him to buy his dad a Mac and put Linux on it? that makes no sense at all.

    Buy a mac mini and cheap LCD or an iMac.
    Get OS X updated and ready to go.
    Create a new account with "Simple Finder" enabled. Give your dad access to Safari, Mail, Text Edit, QuickTime, and maybe Chess. Plus any other apps you feel would be useful.
    Keep the administrator account on there, and when it needs updating come over and do it.

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