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Thread: Laptop computers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Laptop computers

    How useful or necessary is having a laptop computer while in school for a master's in planning? Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm......

    Why not? If you spend $25,000 to $80,000 on graduate school, what's another $450?

    I got my first laptop in 1995 during graduate school and it really did come in handy....and that was right around the time Al Gore invented the internets

    Seriously though, having it around to write papers while at the Lib....er Starbucks is great.



    PS: If you have any interest in learning GIS, you'll want to have a laptop that can run at least the freebie stuff from ESRI. Not to mention CAD/Drafting if you're into that. You will want MS Excel for the worksheets done in Planning Methods I and II and all the spatial analysis tools that use a computer.
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  3. #3
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    ESSENTIAL! Seriously, not only for the ability to be mobile, but to be able to work on group projects, take it with you to school, use it in class, work on large projects not at home...etc. Many schools have computer labs for the crazy memory hogging programs and graphics programs if you can't get high end one. But I would go ahead and get a good one, do not get Windows Vista if you go for a PC...(not that you have to much longer).
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  4. #4
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    I'm all of a month into my graduate program, but I can give you a little bit of insight. I recently bought a 13" MacBook Pro and it has really come in handy. I use it in class almost everyday - to pull up PowerPoint slideshows and take notes directly on them, mark important dates on my calendar, etc. Although I prefer taking notes by hand, the increasing number of profs who use PowerPoint and post their lectures online makes laptops much more practical in certain classes. I even use my laptop in the computer labs to work around the setting on our lab computers that prevents us from saving anything. All in all, I wouldn't say it's indispensable, but it's definitely made things easier.

    A bit off-topic, but for those of you who look past Macs because of compatibility issue: Apple makes it very easy to partition your hard drive and run Windows, so when I need ArcGIS or SPSS I just boot up in Windows mode. Pretty cool.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    If you are in a planning program where you use energy-burning programs like ArcGIS, AutoCAD, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketchup, etc. I would go with a desktop. Even high quality PowerPoints with large aerials can eat up time, not to mention presentations with tons of animations. True , aptops are smaller and more powerful than when I was in school earlier this decade, but the processors and batteries still burn out quicker than investing in a desktop with a high quality dual or quad core processor and power supply. Desktops are NOT expensive. I run a quad-core, 3GB RAM, 300GB HP that's about a year old. It doesn't have a ton of bells and whistles. But I bought it at Fry's with a 5 yeart warranty for under $500. My giant 11x17 monitor was about $200 at Best Buy with a 4 year warranty.

    Labtop or desktop, get a high quality graphics/video card. I have a NVDIA 8600 GE Force that has held up pretty well. It cost me a couple hundred bucks, and it has to be installed separately.

    Maybe I'm old fashioned with note-taking, but I found a tape recorder and my own form of shorthand work best. It comes in handy with lecturers who pack a ton into their class and their notes on the board have little to nothing to do with what is being said.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Yes yes, a thousand times yes. Get a laptop, the portablity and being able to have access to a computer when the labs are full is invaluable. As The One said, if you are investing tens of thousands of dollars on your education, spending another $1,000 is a no-brainer.

    As you can see from my icon, I am a bit of an Apple fan. I have a Macbook that served me faithfully in grad school (which is still running almost flawlessly almost 3 years later). The big selling point for me was the fact that I COULD run Windows if needed, but was able to do most of my day-to-day work in the more secure environment of a Mac OS. In school, I used my laptop at the library to work on research, in the classroom to take notes and follow along with the prof. in my stats classes, and with my classmates when working on group projects. My studio project was done in Pages, a Mac desktop publishing program, invaluable when manipulating text and pictures. Sorry this is not meant to be an ad for Mac.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    PS: If you have any interest in learning GIS, you'll want to have a laptop that can run at least the freebie stuff from ESRI. Not to mention CAD/Drafting if you're into that. You will want MS Excel for the worksheets done in Planning Methods I and II and all the spatial analysis tools that use a computer.
    Nowadays, i'd get a cheap, nearly-disposable netbook. You'll spend the vast majority of time in three applications: your web browser, word, and excel. it doesn't take much to run those, and you could probably eliminate word from that list anyhow.

    If you are doing CAD/GIS, use the lab. that's what it's for.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful responses.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    when you go laptop shopping take into account the size and weight of your laptop. a 10lb laptop might not seem like much, but when you have to carry it on your shoulder for 8 hours to and from classes it will feel like you have a ton of bricks in your bag instead of just a laptop.

    i would also recommend going to best buy or fry's and looking at their laptops. netbooks are awesome for what they do but the form factor can be an issue. i know when i bought my laptop i was going to buy one until i actually tried to use one in the store. they are tiny.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    oh yeah, it would be a major advantage and a good investment. stuff using the Uni computers anyway. eww germs and outdated antivirus
    We architects and urban planners aren't the visible symbols of oppression, like the military or the police. We're more sophisticated, more educated, and more socially conscious. We're the soft cops.- Robert Goodman, After the Planners My Planning Forumino

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