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Having a computer in a Gite


dave21478

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I run a few gites and the owner wants to install a computer for the guests to use if they wish. We have a wee outbuilding which is converted into a games room, and he wants it in there with an ADSL connection. He also wants Wifi ADSL throught the complex for people who want to use their own laptops.

 

This strikes me as being a particularly stupid idea (the computer mainly, the wifi thing I think is a good idea as long as its set up as a proper hotspot) Leaving a computer at the mercy of people who dont own it or have to repair it fills me with images of virus`s, spyware and all sorts of internet nasties, alongside all the general rubbish people will download onto it. Also, the damage caused by people changing settings and generally messing if they dont know what they are doing. Also what is to stop people downloading all sorts of undesireable stuff from the net?Im reasonably computer literate and constantly have to fix my sisters pc in the uk as her and her teen daughter, despite my warnings, just keep clicking on "OK" for whatever pops up on the screen, and installing loads of "cute" icons, backgrounds, etc for MSN and bogging it down with rubbish, simly because they dont know any better.

Although I say im computer literate, I dont want to become some kind of system admin geek here as Im not up to it and dont enjoy doing it, but leaving a free computer for th epublic to use I think is asking for trouble.

Anyone got any opinions?

[:)]

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An interesting topic and questions. I do not know the answer, except it did occur to me how "Internet Cafés" deal with these problems. I suspect there must be an answer.

I hope someone will solve your concerns.

Baz

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If you work on the assumption that the guests left to their own devices for a week at a time will have installed untold numbers of viruses, games, and perhaps even downloaded illegal pornography (for which YOU will be legally liable and could end up in prison for), you'd not go far wrong.

However, it's easy to sort that out. Step one, setup the computer perfectly, step two do a full backup. Then, each week, as part of the gite resetting tasks, run wipedisk (part of the Norton utilities) then restore the whole lot from the backup. That should take you about 10 mins (it'll take the computer up to an hour to restore itself). If possible, buy a computer that will boot from a USB disk and this'll speed everything up considerably as you may be able to set it up to boot from the backup disk and do the wipedisk completely automatically ie when doing the changeover, you'd just need to plug in your backup disc and let it carry on.

You could do without the wipedisk step (that can take an hour for the computer to do it) but since YOU are liable for any illegal porn that might be found on the machine, it's best not to skip it. Penalties include jail time.

Do watch the range of the wifi though. We had planned to offer that too but find that two foot thick walls and wifi don't mix - we can operate through about 3 feet of stone wall and no more. Even two foot of wall limits the range to under 100 yards.

As it is we have had enough trouble with english guests trying to retune the ruddy TV's to receive the BBC when it is only set up to receive French TV!.

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gah, I never even considered that. I dont have Norton, I use a few different free antivirus things for myself, but I also used to have a program (iirc it was freeware from the net) that allowed a complete mirror of the computer to be saved to the hard drive as a backup. Assuming I had a fresh installation, I could create a mirror of it onto an external drive, and back up each week from this mirror.

Its not going to stop the snapped off drive trays and coffee on the keyboard, but the security deposit should cover that sort of thing.

 

Re the wifi range, yes it is an old building with thick walls, but theowner has had some local expert out who reckons a big booster aerial in one of the lofts will be sufficient. I will wait and see.

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"Anyone got any opinions?"

Yes I have,

Your owner is correct dave 21478, Wifi PSP's Sky TV et all, is what guests want access too on holiday.   Think of it as an investment in their business, they can charge higher, more income for them for little cost, you may even get a pay rise.

Guests who see wifi access is available, will bring their own equiptment (laptops) should they need a surf fix. Discourage them from installing a PC - trouble ahead.

Shame really as family holidays should be spent together not the children playing computer games alone or watching TV.  Though some parents feel they can not cope with their children for 1 or 2 weeks full on without them.  I do require internet access 24/7 for business and take my blackberry to use if needed, my OH allows a few minutes per day. 

'Yes dear, all done, last one in the pool is a cis........'

Apero

 

 

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Actually this is a remarkably easy problem to solve [I]

Forget about any flavour of Windows and just use one of the versions of Linux which boots and runs completely off a CD, Ubunto for instance, you don't even need a hard drive for this. You can also probably press into service just about any old cra p PC you have laying around because the hardware requirements for Linux are remarkably modest.

Your guests will be able to access the Internet but do very little else and because it's running entirely from a CD and in memory they won't be able to do any damage because anything they do or change will be completely lost when it's shutdown.

You may have to write them a few simple instructions on how to get on the Internet in the first place but that's an infinately easier option than having to clean up a Windows PC after it's been "got at" by a hoard of tech savvy bored kids for a fortnight. Nor do you need to worry about virii or anything they may download because without a HD they simply cannot download anything. If the machine had USB ports then they could of course plug in their own USB stick to download to but that's OK because they'll take that away with them and nothing will be left on the computer [:D] 

 

 

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"If the machine had USB ports then they could of course plug in their own USB stick to download to but that's OK because they'll take that away with them and nothing will be left on the computer Big Smile [:D] "

What machine nowadays does not have a USB port EnieY?......

.........Where PC savy 8 yr olds are info equipted to leave untold files on to the host PC?  Do not have a PC at a rental,  my company young guns; show me the way.

Apero.

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I was not advocating a "nowadays" machine which is why I said:

"just about any old cra p PC you have laying around because the hardware requirements for Linux are remarkably modest" 

Although it would not provide a very satisfying experience this could extend to hardware as lowly as an old 486 or early P1 which most definately would not have USB.

Anyway, even if your chosen machine did have USB, a nice glob of Araldite or a squirt of silicon compound would quickly and permanantly block them from use [;-)]

[quote user="Apero"].........Where PC savy 8 yr olds are info equipted to leave untold files on to the host PC?  Do not have a PC at a rental,  my company young guns; show me the way [/quote]Pray tell which part of  "you don't even need a hard drive for this" are you having trouble with - no hard drive = no files [8-)] 

 

 

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[quote user="dave21478"]Although I say im computer literate, I dont want to become some kind of system admin geek here as Im not up to it and dont enjoy doing it, but leaving a free computer for th epublic to use I think is asking for trouble.

Anyone got any opinions

[/quote]

A Google search on 'internet kiosk software' will return dozens of software solutions, even Microsoft tell you how to do it http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555463,

A router/modem such as the NetGear DG834 has settings that will block access to various types of 'undesirable' sites 

 

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Most certainly there are software solutions but that = expenditure whereas what I was proposing would be essentially a near zero cost option.

You would be foolish to underestimate the cunning and resourcefulness of your average 10 year old tech savvy kid to whom a proper PC, however well "locked down", would likely just present an irresistable challenge.

As you correctly point out, many modern routers will have some form of filtering option but we're talking here about providing courtesy web access in a Gites or Gites so you're probably not going to be putting a phone line and router in each one but connecting either wirelessly or by cable to your own router therefore any filtering you set up would apply to you also !

At the end of the day it is a potential mine field and the safe option is of course to advertise that web access is available provided you bring your own laptop. Anybody who's that desperate to have access whilst on holiday will almost certainly have one won't they ?

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[quote user="ErnieY"]Most certainly there are software solutions but that = expenditure whereas what I was proposing would be essentially a near zero cost option.[/quote]

The Microsoft solution is zero cost, apart from the time setting it up.

[quote]You would be foolish to underestimate the cunning and resourcefulness of your average 10 year old tech savvy kid to whom a proper PC, however well "locked down", would likely just present an irresistable challenge. [/quote]

Possibly, but these systems are pretty secure.

[quote]you're probably not going to be putting a phone line and router in each one[/quote]

Possibly not but because of our building, I have 4 wireless access points just to get the signal around the place, there is no reason why one (or more) couldn't have filtering & the others encryption.

[quote]  therefore any filtering you set up would apply to you also ![/quote]

The ones I have seen have had password by-pass, so if you really wanted to get to the blocked sites you can.

[quote]. Anybody who's that desperate to have access whilst on holiday will almost certainly have one won't they ?[/quote]

Yes but if saves carrying it it would be a bonus, also useful for the husbands/wives whose partners forbid then taking a laptop on holiday (BTDIBTTS)

.

 

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I dont want to start filtering things, as there is no way to filter everything undesireable, and as I found out at my last workplace in the uk, it was quite easy to access blocked sites using proxy servers.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. The things that are catching my attention and I will look into further are keeping a mirror backup of the clean computer on my external HD, wiping the computer after its used (not every set of guests is going to want to use it Im sure) and restoring it when needed.

Also removing the HD and using a bootable disk for a linux interface. I will have a look at this, but have some doubts, as there is no point if its going to be complicated for the average pc user to do.

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It needn't be complicated, just a couple of lines telling them how to connect to the router because the config will be lost every time of course, we're not talking War and Peace.

Imaging is a good way to go though too.

Hope you've got some opinions to mull over [;-)]

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[quote user="ErnieY"]

It needn't be complicated, just a couple of lines telling them how to connect to the router because the config will be lost every time of course, we're not talking War and Peace.

[/quote]

(Linux) It's not difficult but it looks different from Windows & that is enough for most people to panic & need help (Been there, done it, got the T-shirt)

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[quote user="Breton Networks"][quote user="Mikey"]

i have this setup in our gites. http://www.darty.com/webapp/wcs/Réseau par courant porteur

one plugged into AOL box then 1 in each of the 4 gites.

[/quote]

Very useful devices (I use them) but doesn't answer the original question.

 

[/quote]

 

And you response answers the original question does it?

I mearly pointed out an easy way of getting internet in the gites, so i think it goes some way in answering the original question.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dave, do not bother. If people are on holiday then they do not need a computor. Surely they can go a week or so without logging in to their email etc. And the kids can do other things such as walking, riding, cycling, swimming...things they probably do not do at home. And with their parents as well. A computor is just one more thing that can get broken, just another expense for the owner.

Personally I hate the bloody things.

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I hear where you're coming from wen but I'm afraid you're ignoring the fact that, whatever your personal feelings towards them, computers are such a big part of many peoples lives these days that having Internet access on holiday could for many be the decider between one Gite over another and I would regard it as a good idea.

Whilst actually providing a PC could be a step too far for the less technically confident WiFi is fine and anybody that keen to take advantage of it will undoubtedly arrange to bring a laptop with them. Range issues can usually be addressed or alternatively mains adapters, as someone has already indicated, could be used instead.

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Id rather not have one either, but as Ernie says, the demand is there and if we are to run a successfull business, we have to provide what people want.

 

Anyway, the Wifi is installed now and working 100% in all rooms, but the final decision for the PC will wait till the beginning of next season.

 

 

 

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Thank you for raising this interesting discussion.

I would like to install WiFi at our gite, but as we do not live on site (in fact we don't even live in the same country!) I need to install something very robust and unbreakable. Trouble is, I'm not too sure how to go about it!

I'd just like to have WiFi, but no PC. I do have a laptop, so am I right in thinking that I could take the laptop with me next time, just to set it up, but I won't have to leave it there, the WiFi will continue to function on its own?

Can anyone point me in the right direction. What equipment do I need and how should I go about setting this up? How much is it likely to cost per month?

(We have a France Telecom phone line at the house, and I have checked and apparently we are able to get broadband in our village).

Thanks in advance to anyone who is able to give me some advice!

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What you are saying is fundamentally correct.

Once you have setup a WiFi system it should continue to function unattended and even recover after power outages which is useful as I'm presuming you won't want to leave the electricity swiched on 24/7/365.

As for price a visit to www.degrouptest.com should tell you who's offering what in your area and for how much. I don't think there are any which allow you to subscribe by the month, at least not without an additional cost (Teleconnect), so you would be looking at paying whatever it is per month all year round.

Most ISP's will provide you with a wireless router as part of the deal. If it's a livebox then I would be highly reluctant to describe  that particular piece of kit as either robust or unbreakable, anything but in fact, however there is nothing preventing you from buying your own router instead.

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Catherine, at home I have the Neuf box with the all-in deal - Although we pay 35euro instead of 30 as we are in a non-degrouped zone and cant receive the tv. Anyway, the box incorporates a wifi modem and once set up, works on its own. It can be configured for "open access" where anyone with a laptop/pda can access the internet, or it can be set to ask for an "encryption key" which is just a password to acces the net. This stops random people passing by from using your connection.

The neuf box is powerfull enough to transmit throughout our large-ish house, (old construction with very thick walls) and in the garden too.

Its pretty relaible and re-sets itself after powercuts etc. Leaving the operating manual or instructions to reset it in you gite might be a good idea though just n case.

 

At the Gite, we have an ADSL connection with FT and a wireless modem bought from a PC shop. This is coupled to a booster aerial in the loft to increase the range throughout the complex. Again, it takes care of itself without problems.

 

 

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