How I turned an older laptop into a desktop computer.
I decided to get a monitor that I could plug into my laptop to make it easier to read and write for the dissertation that I have started. My idea was to buy a monitor and use it with my Macbook Air. I chose a 24 inch monitor as I wanted to be able to view two pages at the same time. The laptop connects using a standard HDMI cable and a HDMI to ‘lightening’ adapter or an HDMI to ‘lightening’ cable. I also tried the monitor with a 5 year old Dell Inspiron laptop and it worked pretty well, which got me thinking…
I added a wireless keyboard and mouse (which uses a USB dongle and Bluetooth) which saves having to use the laptop in front of the monitor and not being able to see the bottom of the screen.
So now I have my Dell laptop running Windows 10 and Office 365 with plenty of options for viewing.
I can still use the Macbook if I want but for now I am happy to leave the old Dell where it is!
I feel that I have got a useful and space saving desktop computer for the price of a monitor, keyboard and mouse. And if the older laptop dies I can either use another laptop or buy a basic desktop unit.
What do you think? Have you tried something similar?
Monitor: LG 24MP68VQ-P Slim bezel 24inch IPS LED around US$160
Keyboard and Mouse: Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse around US$30
Dell Inspiron N4110 with i5 processor and 8gb of RAM. This model had an HDMI slot
Here are some built in tools that allow the Mac to read aloud and turn our speech into text.
Text to speech (reading) on a Mac
This cool feature is built into the Mac operating system. You may need to activate it. Here’s how:
Open System Preferences > Dictation and Speech
Choose : Text to Speech
Check: Speak selected text when the key is pressed
Current Key: option + esc
How does it work?
Select (highlight) the text that you want read to you. Press the option and esc keys together. The text will be read out loud to you.
If you would like more details, including how to change the voice you can look at this video. The uploader also talks about how this helps with his dyslexia.
Dictation on a Mac
Open Preferences > Dictation and Speech
Choose: Dictation – On Button
Press fn (function key) twice
How does it work?
Open your word processor (e.g. word), click the cursor for where you want to start. Press the fn key twice. Speak normally and the text should begin to appear. You will most likely need to do some editing on the text but it is a good way of getting your ideas written down.
Read & Write for Google Chrome and Drive
These settings will not work with Google Chrome or Drive. Herer are some videos to add an extension that will work with Google.
Here’s a video about how to add the Read & Write for Google – Chrome Extension
It’s a while since I have used a Mac, but now that the school is going to use both Mac and Windows I will be using a MacBook air. I know that there has been a lot of discussion over the years about Mac vs Windows, with much of it around personal preferences but I will try to give my impressions about using the laptop in school and at home.
First things first:
It’s a MacBook Air
Tech Spec: Processor 1.3 gHz Intel Core i5 / RAM 8gb 1600mHz DDR3 / Intel HD Graphics 5000 1024 MB / HD Solid State 250 gb / OSX 10.9 /
The hard disk has a Windows partition, which means that it is possible to install a windows operating system on the computer. I will not do this unless I need to…
Software: I have Office for Mac installed which gives me access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Outlook gives access to our school mail server. I will also be using Google Drive, so I have installed the Google Chrome browser alongside Safari.
It’s solid and well made, a bit heavier than I thought it would be. Typing is easy with a solid place to rest my wrists and scrabble style keys that are backlit in low-light conditions. The case is slim and the lack of a conventional hard drive means that it is quiet and runs cool without the need for fans blowing away the heat. The first part of my learning curve will be to forget my windows keyboard shortcuts and begin to learn some for the mac, oh and not having a right click but using a two fingered gesture instead!
Familiar Apps, Unfamiliar Menus
The Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) are all familiar, but different enough to leave me scratching my head looking for features that are available on the windows platform.
Now I am going to get on with using the MacBook Air for the next few weeks, including a trip out of the country for a conference, then I’ll post some impressions… watch this space!