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    August 8th, 2009

    Television’s an invention
    Close to my heart
    But I know something twice as cool
    And three times as smart
    Cups and pencil sharpeners
    Are okay machines
    But this one blows them all away
    Come see what I mean

    You gotta see my new computer
    Come and check it out
    I’m gonna show you
    Ah – ha – ha
    Just what it’s all about…

    Words and music by Sesame Street and Jim Henson.

    Right now families are busy trying to figure out what computer to buy for their kids heading off to college. I know – I am right in that group.  After much agonizing, we made a decision – and to hopefully save others time and grief, here is what we purchased and why.  I have also added what we downloaded immediately onto the computer once we got it home and why.

    First was the purchase decision. Since my daughter will be thousands of miles away in university, I didn’t want to end up in the same situation with my mom – who calls me up and says “this ….isn’t working..what do I do?”  Hers is a Compaq Windows XP machine and for the life of me I find it almost impossible to extend familial computer support from 2500 miles away.  Her problems have to await my arranging my schedule to stop by and see her (and solve her computer problems at the same time).  Which means that she goes for weeks if not months with something or other not working. Since my daughter will be in first year, this is untenable.  We needed to find another route.

    SO – what did we buy?  A MacBook Pro, 15 inch 2.53 GHz, 320 GB hard drive with a remote (why not?) and iWorks ’09 installed.  We selected the AppleCare 3 year support plan, as I would want her to have the ability to call Apple any time to get whatever support she needs ASAP to get her project work done.  The comfort factor alone is worth this, since I will be a long way away….

    Why  this particular computer?  We wanted one that would last, that would be as protected as possible against malware and which would grow with her as her needs changed.  We obtained a ‘sleeve’ for the laptop that will shield it against most shocks and bumps.  And which, *of course* would be pink (her colour, of course…)

    The computer is a solid one, with a built-in cam, and all the applications and utilities that Apple already supplies (iPhoto, iCal, iTunes, Safari, Keychain, iChat etc…).  We spent a few moments setting up iChat so that she on her new MacBook Pro and I on my MacBook can video conference for free (saving her old dad much in the way of long distance cell charges…).  We ordered iWork ’09 preinstalled and spent a bit of time familiarizing ourselves with it.

    Then came the add-ons.  The first was the free version of iAntivirus from PCTools (we don’t want any problems with malware for the Mac), Skype (might as well have an alternative to iChat) and FireFox (to have an alternative to Safari) .  I gave my daughter a decent headset/microphone that allows her a bit more privacy than using the mic and speakers on the Mac when we wish to chat.

    We also downloaded NeoOffice for the Mac.  At this point I am anticipating that iWork and NeoOffice will fulfill her need for word processing, database, spreadsheet and presentation software.  We are hoping to avoid having to purchase Microsoft Office for the Mac (which I use on my MacBook). It isn’t that I have anything against MS Office, but I would prefer if she can use alternatives that are true Mac applications if possible.

    I have to say that I like her lighted keyboard as well as the size of the screen (15″) compared to my 13″ MacBook, although my white MacBook is lighter (but noticably  smaller).  We have enabled the hard-drive encryption built into the Mac for security reasons. I do like the new touchpad features in her MacBook Pro that are not available on my MacBook.

    Apple threw in a Canon Pixma MX320 printer for free along with a significant discount on an iTouch, together with a small savings for purchasing all this thru the Apple educational online store.  They also thru in free shipping.  I am very happy as is my daughter – and most importantly, I feel I have given her a significant start along the way towards her university education. Now it is all up to her…

    And I am sure that she will be saying …you gotta see my new computer…

    This entry was posted on Saturday, August 8th, 2009 at 12:13 am and is filed under I'm a Mac, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    4 Responses to “My Daughter’s New College Computer…”
    1. English Says:

      You should have mentioned reasons NOT to purchase a PC. I
      would also have mentioned that the MAC is running a nearly 30 year vetted in corporate, industrial and military UNIX BSD-based machine running a nearly industrutable journaled file system. But the “why not a PC” angle would have been even more helpful.

      You must really give users in a down-trodden economy good reason
      to purchase the more expensive machine based on the headaches
      such a purchase will inevitably cause their student at University.

      Most PCs cost a fraction of the MACBook Pro and many come with
      built-in web cams, so telling people why such a purchase iwill cost
      them more intrinsically is critical.

      You made a great choice for your child. I just wish we all had UNIX-based
      systems rather than clap-trap PC serving only to increase margins
      in Redmond.

    2. admin Says:

      Greetings English:

      Good points..I think it comes down to cost/benefit.

      The cost of a Windows machine is less – true – but there is a both a carrying cost and hidden purchase costs of maintaining it (keeping it malware free, buying all the extra software that otherwise comes with a Mac etc) that has to be put into the equation. Some people do not value the time that they have to use to keep a PC system current and malware free. Or to buy the extra software that you need. That time, in my experience being in both worlds, is very much reduced when working on a Mac. So you are more productive. You also have a peace of mind factor to bring in as well.

      When the computer is literally thousands of miles away you have to also consider how you are going to deal with the inevitable glitch that occurs. At least with AppleCare, I can rely on their experts – in the PCWorld, I would be MUCH less comfortable. And my daughter can just take the MacBook into the nearest Apple store for help and repair.

      But I also realize that going to university is an expensive undertaking; some parents and kids simply may not have the ability to purchase a Mac. They, like many others, will jump to the PC, for having any laptop for school is better than not. In either case I wish them all well, for they are our future.



    3. Luigi Says:

      Having written several articles about the Mac/PC debate, I figure the crux of the matter is this:

      Windows, lower INITIAL purchase price (not always, though)

      Mac, lower total cost of ownership

      Other notes:

      While I don’t disparage the idea of installing a malware prevention suite, I have spoken with business owners who run Macs with no malware protection and have done so for as long as they’ve had Macs – decades in at least one case.

      The current version of OpenOffice works properly on the Mac so, to my understanding, NeoOffice is no longer necessary.

      Best of luck to your daughter! I wouldn’t expect too many tech support calls from her, if I were you.

    4. PC Arbor Says:

      We saw something like this in our corner of Michigan recently.

      Can’t wait all these XP systems to start needing upgrades.

      Thanks for the post.

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