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Offline Pmb

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New Computer System
« on: 23/10/2013 00:01:29 »
Hi all,

Since I created my NPO's website my councilor from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commision (MassRehab) has been very happy with me. She loves what I'm doing with it. I realized that eventually I can use this (the actually website and not the forum) as a tool to derive work as a Physics and/or Math tutor and thus work for myself out of my home.

She told me to put together a business plan, which I did and she liked, which she'll show to her boss. She expects that he'll approve it. At that point I'll have to buy a new computer system since mine is too old to handle the new software and hardware that's out there.

I'd like some advice on what kind of computer (I prefer a tower) I should get in order to be the best math/physics tutor I can be.

What kinds of bells and whistles will I need? She told me to make out a wish list so Iím thinking lots of memory and a massive hard drive and a very fast chip. Other thoughts?


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #1 on: 23/10/2013 07:10:55 »
You need a bit better definition before going out and forking out a bunch of dough.

I did a bit of random clicking on Dell's website, and was able to spec out a Dell Precision computer for just over $10 Grand.  :o

If money is a bit tight, and you're reasonably proficient with computers, I'd encourage browsing on Craigslist.

Here is a nice quad core + 8GB RAM for about $400 locally.
http://eugene.craigslist.org/sys/4121984137.html

This one has dual monitors + 8GB RAM also for $400.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/sys/4145583608.html

And, an nice 17" laptop for $375
http://eugene.craigslist.org/sys/4090256659.html

I usually pick out a relatively advanced feature, and search for it on Craigslist, for example:
(8GB|16GB|Quad)...  etc.  Then see what pops up and strikes your fancy.

Keep in mind that anything you buy this week will be obsolete next week.  Thus, if you go all out on buying that $10 Grand computer...  In a year or so, you might be able to spec out a similar computer for $1 Grand.

You may find yourself wanting to add memory or something.  I now have one of those little half sized desktops.  Many people never mess with cards and etc, so the smaller form factor is fine, but for the one-percenters, it is handy to have a little expansion space. 

How much of the tutoring will be on a computer vs working with books and paper?  3D graphics vs reading word processing docs and spreadsheets?

Personally I've mostly converted over to Linux with Open Office or Libre Office, & the Eclipse programming platform.

However, some of the Microsoft Visual Studio programming platforms just about program themselves...  at least it would be worth considering if you're doing any programming in the educational environment.

I find dual monitors are nice for some things, and might be handy for an "educational" setting.  You could even run a computer with identical dual cloned monitors, and two keyboards and two mice.  Then two people could work on the PC at the same time.  Then, if you don't want cloned monitors, just set it for dual monitor use, and use the two monitors.

A good monitor should last for a good number of years.
The 24" monitors are nice, and generally reasonably priced.
For CAD or something, a 30" monitor would be excellent.
I'm seeing Dell now has a 29" Ultrasharp Ultrawide monitor 21:9 aspect ratio.  It may give you the benefits of a dual monitor, while being only a single monitor.

If you set up a network, you could share files, but work independently.   And, there are "remote control" apps that you can use, so you could give a student a computer, have a view of their computer on yours, and also do your own work.

Of course, many students will also have their own laptops (which you still may be able to do remote control with).

Remote control might be another reason to have dual monitors your computer.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #2 on: 23/10/2013 07:25:04 »
Oh,
One other note.
I've been out of the loop with the Apple computers for quite some time, but they are also worth looking at.

If you are doing tutoring, find out what your students are using.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #3 on: 23/10/2013 09:03:44 »
Quote from: CliffordK
You need a bit better definition before going out and forking out a bunch of dough.
Thatís part of why I started this thread. :)

Quote from: CliffordK
I did a bit of random clicking on Dell's website, and was able to spec out a Dell Precision computer for just over $10 Grand.  :o
Figure between $500 to $1000. It has to be new. Iím not the one buying it. The state is doing that.

Quote from: CliffordK
Here is a nice quad core + 8GB RAM for about $400 locally.
http://eugene.craigslist.org/sys/4121984137.html

This one has dual monitors + 8GB RAM also for $400.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/sys/4145583608.html
Why would I want dual monitors? How would it help me?

Quote from: CliffordK
Keep in mind that anything you buy this week will be obsolete next week.
This isnít my first barbeque. :)

Quote from: CliffordK
You may find yourself wanting to add memory or something.
I think itíd be good to have a computer whose memory is very updateable. The more memory the faster it will run and I hate sitting there waiting for things to happen. Especially if Iím doing tutoring at that time.

I also want to get into multimedia applications too.

Quote from: CliffordK
I now have one of those little half sized desktops.  Many people never mess with cards and etc, so the smaller form factor is fine, but for the one-percenters, it is handy to have a little expansion space. 
What are these cards that youíre referring to?

Quote from: CliffordK
How much of the tutoring will be on a computer vs working with books and paper?  3D graphics vs reading word processing docs and spreadsheets?
Impossible to say at the moment. This is all new to me. It will depend on need of course.

Quote from: CliffordK
Personally I've mostly converted over to Linux with Open Office or Libre Office, & the Eclipse programming platform.
I plan on installing Linux too.

Quote from: CliffordK
However, some of the Microsoft Visual Studio programming platforms just about program themselves...  at least it would be worth considering if you're doing any programming in the educational environment.
This is a down the road kind of thing.

Quote from: CliffordK
If you set up a network, Ö
No need for it right now. Iíll be working by myself out of my home.

Thanks for the input. Good stuff! :)
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #4 on: 23/10/2013 11:01:31 »
As far as dual monitors, I guess it all depends on what you're doing.
  • Multitasking
    In a sense, you can window from one window to another using Alt-Tab.  But, sometimes it is nice to have extra windows.  Put mail, schedules, websites in one, documents in another
  • Comparing and joining documents
    Say you are incorporating data from one document into another. 
    Or, working on a spreadsheet and text document simultaneously.  It is handy to view both together and separately
  • Powerpoint is optimized to allow a presentation on one monitor, and control structure on the other.  Usually used with a projector, but could be used with dual monitors too.
  • As mentioned, if you do remote control, you can place the screen of the controlled PC in one window, while still having your own computer in the other monitor.
  • If doing something like real-time stock investing, it is easy to fill up every inch of monitor space
Actually, I like the idea of the new ultrawide 29" monitor which should give more space for side-by-side windows, although in a sense, it looks like a 30" monitor that has the top cut off, so perhaps one is just better off with the 30.  But, the little extra width could come in handy.

As far as extra cards. 
Perhaps the big thing is a graphics card. 
If you go with stock video, you may not be able to use dual monitors, or handle the 2560x1600 from a 30" monitor.  Or both. 
In the past, I've also replaced ailing built in parts with add in cards with older PCs. 

Generally networking is onboard, and as long as you stay with a stock system, it should be fine.

Anyway, perhaps having full sized slots aren't a big deal, but I'd take it if there was a choice.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #5 on: 23/10/2013 12:45:26 »
CliffordK Ė You sure know your computer stuff friend. How so? Are you a computer scientist or something or merely very computer literate?

Quote from: CliffordK
As far as dual monitors, I guess it all depends on what you're doing.
  • Multitasking
    In a sense, you can window from one window to another using Alt-Tab.  But, sometimes it is nice to have extra windows.  Put mail, schedules, websites in one, documents in another
Thatís a great idea. Iíll have to make sure that I get a computer that allows two monitors though, right?

Quote from: CliffordK
Actually, I like the idea of the new ultrawide 29" monitor which should give more space for side-by-side windows, although in a sense, it looks like a 30" monitor that has the top cut off, so perhaps one is just better off with the 30.  But, the little extra width could come in handy.
Way too expensive.


What's really cool is the fact that  can use my 60" plasma HD TV as a monitor! Tre cool! :)
[/list]
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #6 on: 23/10/2013 16:11:42 »
I haven't tried using a HDTV as a monitor. 
1080p is supposed to be 1920 x 1080 pixels. 
This is the same resolution you might get on a 22" monitor.

That means that for a 60" monitor, you get about 3x the pixel size in each direction.  I believe there are cases where it would be handy, but it certainly isn't equivalent to having a half dozen computer monitors smashed together.

It would be great, however, if you wish to do powerpoint presentations to small groups of students.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #7 on: 23/10/2013 16:29:50 »
I haven't tried using a HDTV as a monitor. 
1080p is supposed to be 1920 x 1080 pixels. 
This is the same resolution you might get on a 22" monitor.

That means that for a 60" monitor, you get about 3x the pixel size in each direction.  I believe there are cases where it would be handy, but it certainly isn't equivalent to having a half dozen computer monitors smashed together.

It would be great, however, if you wish to do powerpoint presentations to small groups of students.
There is one use with multimedia that I won't mention because I don't want to give anybody any bad ideas. Lol!!
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #8 on: 24/10/2013 19:41:54 »
Cliff - Here's what I'm thinking. I have a new buisness which consists in part of creating and maintaining a website. I'm allowed so much money by the Rehab people (above which it comes out of my empty pockets). Here's what I figured out for everything, soup to nuts. The SKU number is Best Buy's ID number
 
Computer (SKU: 1460086)
Monitor (SKU: 8977079)
Speakers (SKU: 9616421)
Web Cam (SKU: 1305198997)
Keyboard (SKU: 3764993)
Mouse (SKU: 8719084)
Laser Printer (SKU:1308002840)
HD Video Camera (SKU: 1305948295 )
Flat Bed Scanner (SKU: 1304656856 )
Digital Voice Recorder (SKU: 4853295 )
Dreamweaver   (Web design software)

Do you have any suggestions regarding what I've chosen (which ar not written in stone by any means)

My computer goals are as follows:
Fastest/best chip I can get
16GB memory
3TB hard drive
SD card reader
DVD reader/writer (Blue ray if possible)
Windows 8 Operating System
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #9 on: 24/10/2013 21:16:12 »
Your BB computer comes with a keyboard and a mouse.  Do you need the extra ones?  I suppose some people like wireless, but for me, it just seems excessive.  I did mention that if your business plan includes sharing the computer, then it may be handy to have a keyboard/mouse to share.

Those are expensive speakers.  It is hard for me to imagine "business use" would require speakers worth more than $20.

3TB???  It is mainly commercial videos that eat up a lot of space.  Unless, perhaps you are also doing your own video editing (see below).

You might also consider a USB Hard Drive for backups, especially important the more "business" data you keep on your PC.  It should be as big or bigger than what you have for the hard drive on your main PC.  You may also consider NAS.

I've got a color laser which I like, although I must admit that the color quality is mediocre.  You will have to decide if you wish to use color vs BW.  The color ink jet printers are good for many things, but it is also hard to beat the quality of a good BW laser.

Also, one should consider the use of multifunction machines vs flatbed scanners, as well as how much scanning you will actually need to be doing.

I'm not partial to brand names for things like monitors.  BB has a Hanns-G 27" monitor for $100 less than the Samsung.  I've never used the 27" monitors, but the number of pixels is identical to smaller monitors.  But, the prices are now competitive.

Is your goal including video production & video tutorials?  Building a mini video studio may be more than just getting a small camera.  Tripod?  Lighting?  Microphones?  Headsets?  Video Editing Software?

Once you get an approximate budget and idea of what you want, it never hurts to actually go to the store and look around.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #10 on: 25/10/2013 02:37:56 »
Quote from: CliffordK
Your BB computer comes with a keyboard and a mouse.  Do you need the extra ones?
I was unaware that it came with those.

Quote from: CliffordK
I suppose some people like wireless, but for me, it just seems excessive. 
I hate all these wires floating around my desk, especially the one for the mouse. Iíve often wanted to lay back on my recliner/couch and type on the internet because sitting in a chair like this is painful. If I had wireless keyboard and mouse that would make things less painful for me.

Quote from: CliffordK
Those are expensive speakers.  It is hard for me to imagine "business use" would require speakers worth more than $20.
This computer will be totally replacing the one I have now. Since I love listening to music from my PC and even cheap speakers sound great I thought Iíd splurge and have nice music on heavenly speakers.

Quote from: CliffordK
3TB???  It is mainly commercial videos that eat up a lot of space.  Unless, perhaps you are also doing your own video editing (see below).
My company will be multimedia intensive so I felt that the more space the better. And yes, I expect to do a lot of video editing. Iím also thinking of storing videos and movies on my PC.

Quote from: CliffordK
You might also consider a USB Hard Drive for backups, especially important the more "business" data you keep on your PC.  It should be as big or bigger than what you have for the hard drive on your main PC.  You may also consider NAS.
Good idea.

Quote from: CliffordK
I've got a color laser which I like, although I must admit that the color quality is mediocre.  You will have to decide if you wish to use color vs BW.  The color ink jet printers are good for many things, but it is also hard to beat the quality of a good BW laser.
At first I chose a bw laser printer expecting to print out documents in a timely fashion. After I made all my choices for my system I forwarded it to a friend of mine whose knowledge I have a great deal of respect for. To be honest I also have a color inkjet printer and if I wanted high quality photos Iíd use that one.

Quote from: CliffordK
Also, one should consider the use of multifunction machines vs flatbed scanners, as well as how much scanning you will actually need to be doing.
I originally had a scanner and printer separately but he suggested combining them. Iím not sure how much Iíll be scanning or even what. I do find that science discussions over the internet I use it more. For tutoring online I might need to  jot off an equation or derivation and pen/paper -> scanner -> e-mail would be timely. Especially if Iím tutoring via Skype-video.

Quote from: CliffordK
I'm not partial to brand names for things like monitors.  BB has a Hanns-G 27" monitor for $100 less than the Samsung.  I've never used the 27" monitors, but the number of pixels is identical to smaller monitors.  But, the prices are now competitive.
Thanks. Iíll check into it.

Quote from: CliffordK
Is your goal including video production & video tutorials?
No. The video equipment is for interviews. On my website Iíll be creating an ďAsk a ScientistĒ section and instead of asking the scientist to write something up Iíll video them. I imagine that every several months Iíll build up a list of questions and meet with a particular expert in their field. Then Iíll run the camera and weíll go over the list. That way nobody will be asked to sit down and write something out. They can just talk. Cool, huh? :)

Quote from: CliffordK
Video Editing Software?
Good idea.

Quote from: CliffordK
Once you get an approximate budget and idea of what you want, it never hurts to actually go to the store and look around.
Actually it does hurt, especially lately. Standing and walking has caused severe pain so bad it nearly stopped me in my tracks. I was on a good regiment but we decided to try methadone so weíre starting low and titrating up. In any case I donít have a car and have to walk a lot of places. Thereís no Best Buy near where I live so Iíll have to go to Boston and to their Best Buy.

Some great ideas here Cliff! Thanks a lot!!! :)
 

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Re: New Computer System
« Reply #10 on: 25/10/2013 02:37:56 »

 

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