Thursday, August 24, 2006

Little Black Box

So a point of great personal turmoil presented itself several weeks ago: to buy a new computer or not. My computer (a Dell laptop) was almost exactly three years old and functioning at a questionable level. It works most of the time, but has any number of problems. The external wireless doesn’t work terribly well, it overheats relatively easily, it has spyware that I can’t destroy. Furthermore it has roughly 36 of its 38 gigs of memory filled with music. I’m certain I could delete a solid 6 to 10 gigs of music that I’ll never listen to, but don’t have the time to sort through my 7500 songs. The mouse doesn’t work well, the warranty has expired and the virus protection just ended. It still does everything I need it to, but it is by no means the quality computer it once was.

OSU requires you to have a laptop for medical school. This is a silly requirement because what student in their right mind doesn’t have access to a computer. You couldn’t possibly survive in an academic setting without at least regular internet use and word processing. But they feel the need to make it an explicit requirement and they give the minimum requirements your laptop must meet. My Dell had exactly the minimum requirements, so I found myself in a dilemma. Stay with my computer (which has a record of breaking in some fashion every 4 months or so) or pony up 1800 for a new one.

Not only are you required to have a laptop, but they automatically buy you one and hand them out at orientation. The only way to not have it billed to your tuition is to provide evidence that your current computer is up to their specs. I had emailed the computer guys several times to ask them about my computer, but they never responded. Consequently I shoed up at the computer orientation and they had a computer for me. Now my debate was to get the new comps or try to convince them to give me my money back. At this point the little voice in my head reminded me that I’m already 48 thousand dollars in debt and another $1800 is relatively inconsequential. I argued (actually the salespeople argued) that it was worth the money to have complete coverage and “expert” repairs on my new computer for the next four years. I thought back to the hours I’d spent on hold with Dell over the last three years and took the new computer.

Was it the right choice? The jury’s still out on that one. I immediately had problems with my new wireless card. But the nice thing about the med school owning nearly a thousand of these computers is that they just took the computer and handed me a new one on the spot. This one has yet to give me any problems.

Here are some perks of my new computer. It has fingerprint recognition, which is a pretty useless function but pretty darn cool. I swipe my finger across the scanner and the computer turns on. No more typing in passwords like the rest of you suckers. The computer is Tablet PC (an IBM Thinkpad) which is still quite a novelty for me. A pen pops out of the side of the machine and I can right all over any program I want. Consequently I have yet to use a notebook in my first two weeks of med school: all my notes are digital and right on top of powerpoint presentations and pdf files. The computer also weighs roughly nothing. I’m a poor judge of weight, but I’d say it weighs a couple pounds, whereas my Dell was probably about ten. This is quite handy when you bring the thing everywhere you go.

There are relatively few downsides so far. It’s kind of an economy model (they do buy it in bulk) so isn’t the newest or best laptop on the market. It’s not super fast, though certainly adequate. There is no CD drive, which hasn’t been a problem yet, but could be in the future. They did give me a 1 gig memory key to compensate, but I may very well sell it on eBay to try to recoup some of the costs. As long as I block the debt factor out of my mind I’m happy with it. So if anyone wants a Dell laptop that I’ve spoken so highly of, just let me know and you can also further help me slowly climb my way out of the immense mountain of financial obligations threatening to crush my very will to live.

I’m pretty sure you can safely assume that I’m avoiding studying every time you hear from me in the next four years.

1 comment:

Amy said...

How much are you asking for it?