Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Calling All Nerds: Computer Purchase Query

O.k., so I won the faculty computer lottery, which gives me $500 in matching funds to spend on computer equipment by the end of this month. My current computer is a 2-3 year old Dell Inspiron 1100, which I am not wild about, but mostly because I've never gotten around to installing a respectable amount of memory on it. I don't strictly speaking need a new machine, but I figure I might as well avail myself of this opportunity.

I've poked around a bit, but any input re: this purchase would be appreciated.

Note: All I do is word processing, a little digital photography, and web surfing. I don't crunch numbers and I've banned myself from playing computer games until this &%$#* book is finished. (Which, incidentally, I want to happen by the end of this near-future gaming isn't completely out of the question...)

Note: as a lowly humanities prof at a decidedly non-wealthy public university, $$$ is something of an issue. I'm trying not to go over $1k.

(Note: am not complaining about my salary. I get to do philosophy for a living. Can't believe I get paid for this at all... What a scam...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if there are any restrictions on what sort of computer you spend your $500 on, but for word processing, digital image manipulation and surfing, the mac-mini is the way to go. Of course, I'm BIASED (I despise Windows).

9:57 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, remember I've got $1k total, since the $0.5k is in matching funds.

But more to the point:
Won't being a Mac user make me, like, a cosmic outcast? How good is conversion of old docs? I mean, I tried converting to Mac many years ago, but my friends convinced me it would be technological suicide.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get the new dual core mac-mini and you can run both Mac and Microsoft systems. But odds are, you'll find that Windows is just wasting your drive space.

Translating documents between platforms is a pice of cake.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto on the Mac mini - I just moved over from a Windows computer to a MacBook Pro, and, armed with Office for OS X, haven't had any problems reading and editing Word and Powerpoint documents on the new system, even without having to install XP.

I should raise the caveat that if you do work in OS X, you may need to buy new copies of things like Office, Photoshop, etc, and that may exceed your budget. (Or you may be able to get an educational discount on software and/or hardware, in which case not.) But I can surely affirm that merely switching to a new system should be a breeze.

Good luck, regardless.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are ambitous, hit up and get some 2nd-3rd generation parts. I rencetly built a highish end machine for under 1k, you can build a respectable computer for well under $500. Forget windows and OS X, linux distrobutions are free (or cheap and are better than either of the above. Bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you'll be fine.

There also exist pre-boxed and installed linux boxes.
(on fisrt glance all those are fine, the essential is a little undered powered, but adding mroe memory and a secodn hard drive are a snap. amd chips are better than intel chips, they run at lower clock speeds but are a better architecture so run faster and cooler)

Even if you don't go for a linux box, try open office ( It does just about everything word does, is far far less bloated, and is free.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to start an OS war on Winston's blog, but I'd recommend against Linux for most people who "just want it to work." When configured properly Linux can easily do everything Windows and OS X can, and more... but getting everything configured can be a sometimes baffling struggle in and of itself, even if you're experienced with computers. An OS that works smoothly and simply, such as OS X, is well worth whatever pricing premium you have to pay, IMO.

That said, if you want to give Linux a try, I highly recommend the Ubuntu distrubution ( Ubuntu's about as user-friendly as Linux gets, and thanks to the miracle that is a Live CD, you can try it out on your existing system without installing anything.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

See, I'm sort of a born tinkerer (it runs in my family), and, of course, that makes computers a constant temptation...which I'll probably give in to some day when I have something more in the way of spare time. Right now--and until the $*#**& book aforementioned is completed--I do, indeed, *just need it to work*. I want to look into this stuff a bit...maybe for next time tho... This time I'll *probably* play it safe...

I *would* like to break free of Microsoft etc. someday, though...

6:25 AM  

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