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Grad. School Supplies?


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After reading through all 23 pages, I think I've managed to compile the most salient (at least for me) and still relevant pieces of advice as far as grad school supplies  Laptop - While most peo

What was valuable to me: -1TB hard drive to back up to -Bookcase (you accrue a crap ton of books) -Scanner (why have a filing cabinet when you can have a digital one that takes up no space at all)

FWIW, I recommend: A set of blank correspondence cards from Crane and postage to send thank you notes. Purell and lots of it. Your sense of humor--most notably the ability to laugh at yourself. At

Clueless- I would say get a Lenovo or Asus. Those seem to hold up really well. I would avoid the touchscreen personally because they seem glitchy. I prefer Intel over AMD, so I would go with an i5 processor. at least 4 gb of ram. As for hard drive, it doesn't really matter since I would back up everything to an external drive. Consider a laptop that has a numbered key pad if you will be entering data/numbers. You can find all of this for around $500-800. 

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Clueless- I would say get a Lenovo or Asus. Those seem to hold up really well. I would avoid the touchscreen personally because they seem glitchy. I prefer Intel over AMD, so I would go with an i5 processor. at least 4 gb of ram. As for hard drive, it doesn't really matter since I would back up everything to an external drive. Consider a laptop that has a numbered key pad if you will be entering data/numbers. You can find all of this for around $500-800. 

 

My current Lenovo has held up pretty well. I've only owned two laptops, but each time I went for the 'business' model or through the business site. With many companies there's no difference, but with Dell I found there to be a massive increase in build quality for almost exactly the same price. Worth having a look at at least. 

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I just got a Dell laptop. I'm loving the thing. I'm also getting programs such as SPSS (statistics software) and have the full Microsoft Office Suite on it, thanks to a friend who  could let me download it for free. 

 

As for other advice: I also suggest an organized, professional email system. I find myself using my google mail for scheduling my part-time jobs, every correspondence with professors, tutoring students, classes, etc. Through google, I can tag things into separate folders, and color coordinate everything. My email inbox looks like a rainbow. Confusing to everyone else, but brightens my day!

 

I don't like my school email because outlook sometimes spam blocks information I need. Also, I tended to miss things in a less organized inbox. 

 

Clothing (since I see this posted a lot): My GA does not require professional clothing. So I wear jeans, but with a blazer and boots/heels. This way, if I need to cover classes, or present, I look a little more polished. Even if you do not need to wear professional, I suggest looking more professional than the undergraduates. This will help your reputation, etc., on campus. 

 

I have a separate manila folder for each class. No binders. Those things would get cluttered and confused. But with this, you'll find a system that works for you. 

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LifeHAck: Do not pay full price for MS Office. Your school should have a store where software is purchased and you should be able to buy it for $30. This has been the case at all of the previous universities I have attended. I have never paid full price for Office. There should also be other software available to you at a reasonable price. Perhaps contact your IT department and see if they have any tips. 

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A thing I Recommend is getting Amazon Prime. You get free two day shipping plus prime video which has some cool shows you might not find on Netflix (Is it me or does it seem shows are being spread out over so many different providers you almost have to take out another loan to cover them all?). There is a student discount which cuts the price in half. 

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I know we get MS Office for free, as well as a couple of other useful programs.  As soon as you get all the paperwork filled out for your program, best to find the technology page of the university website and see what they offer for students.  Your student technology fees sometimes pay for a great deal.

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My current Lenovo has held up pretty well. I've only owned two laptops, but each time I went for the 'business' model or through the business site. With many companies there's no difference, but with Dell I found there to be a massive increase in build quality for almost exactly the same price. Worth having a look at at least. 

 

 

My work computer is Dell, and I can see how it is built a lot better.  However, it is also a LOT heavier.

 

 

Great point.  I made the mistake of buying a non-business line Dell laptop during undergrad and it was a terrible mistake, lasted a week past the 1 year warranty expiration. At work we have business line Dell laptops and desk tops that have held up for 5+ years. I have a business line Lenovo laptop and absolutely love it, a little more expensive but the machine can take a physical beating and can do some heavy stats lifting. Also, I have found that business line computers come with longer warranties. 

 

ASUS is a decent brand, but make sure you check out the specks for what SeanDDavies recommended and model reviews.  Some models are excellent and some are not good. 

 

This is what my IT department recommended that I look for when I was shopping for a laptop:

 

Yes.  Here’s the things I’m very specific to look for though:

 

Screen resolution: 

·         Please try to avoid 1366x768 screens (which you’ll find on the cheaper options).  You just can’t fit enough information on that screen resolution for real work.   

·         1600x900 should be the minimum chosen for these, with 1920x1080 possible if the user wants it and the price works out (typically found on the larger T/W540). 

 

Hard Drive type:

·         SSD vs. HDD  (Solid state drive vs. “spinning disk” drive).

·         SSD if you can afford it and the user is OK with the smaller size of 128, 180, or 256GB commonly available.  There’s really very few users who need more than any of these sizes. 

 

Processor:

·         Stick with i5 for typical users, i7 if the user will be doing heavier statistics work or graphics work.

 

 

Here’s one laptop that might be just right:

http://www.cdwg.com/shop/products/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T440-i5-4300U-180GB-SSD-8GB-14in-Win-7-Pro/3181263.aspx

 

i5, 180GB SSD, 1600x900 screen – only $1,171.

 

 

Warranties:

·         Most of these will come with a 3-year mail-in warranty.  I prefer to buy an on-site warranty, and typically with accidental damage coverage as well:

o   For “T440 20B6” and “T440s 20AQ” laptops: Search for this part number and add it to the order for 3-year, on-site, w/accidental coverage: 5PS0A22983

 

Hope that helps

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I'm in social sciences and mainly for writing purposes!

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is a ChromeBook - extremely cheap alternatives (like, <$200) to laptops that serve most people's day to day functions. If you only use it for .pdf reading, MS office, youtube, and netflix then it will definitely serve your purposes. Battery life is incredibly long (because it's very minimalist) and extremely light as well.

 

A couple of factors to look for otherwise (non ChromeBook), mentioned above, is SSD, RAM and processor. SSDs are becoming extremely inexpensive - there's really no reason to not get one. Especially if you don't play video games, you could probably get by with a low amount of storage (<300 GB) and then invest in an external drive if you need more space.

 

RAM is used if you like having a lot of windows open, especially if you use Google Chrome (RAM-intensive) and keep like 50 tabs open (*shudder*) or Photoshop/Image processors. Processor is pretty obvious, but to be honest, you won't notice it too much. I've seen i5 mentioned and there's no doubt that it's a very solid processor, but if you're trying to save money feel free to switch to AMD processors - usually much cheaper (sometimes 1/2 the price for same power).

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Hello all!

 

I'm also in the market for a new computer. I've already decided to go with Lenovo. The last laptop I had was a Thinkpad X61 tablet that served me well over its 6 year lifespan. I can't speak for Lenovo's entire line, but I will say that their Thinkpads are solid machines, at least from my experience.

 

I'm saving up for their new Thinkpad Yoga (2nd generation, 12.5 inch, with writing capabilities). I'm wondering about a couple of things though.

 

1) In addition to basic stats programs like SPSS, Minitab and JMP, I want to start learning R. I also want to use GIS and maybe population modeling software at some time on my computer. Do you guys think an i5-5300 processor will be enough? WhatAmIDoingNow, you mentioned i7 is bettter for heavier stats work. What would you consider heavy? 

 

2) I'm thinking about splurging for an internal SSD. The computer will come with a 500 GB HDD but I'll prob either sell that or use it for additional space (although, I already have a 2 TB external drive so I don't think I'd need more...) Do you guys have advice on SSDs in general? If you upgraded, did you notice a significant change and is it worth it to you? I'm looking at 500 GB SSDs.

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Do your due diligence before buying a Lenovo ThinkPad. A number of product lines are having similar issues (e.g. the track/touch pad). If you watch the offerings at the online outlet store, you will see significant numbers of refurbished units and new units at regular intervals.

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1) In addition to basic stats programs like SPSS, Minitab and JMP, I want to start learning R. I also want to use GIS and maybe population modeling software at some time on my computer. Do you guys think an i5-5300 processor will be enough? WhatAmIDoingNow, you mentioned i7 is bettter for heavier stats work. What would you consider heavy? 

 

2) I'm thinking about splurging for an internal SSD. The computer will come with a 500 GB HDD but I'll prob either sell that or use it for additional space (although, I already have a 2 TB external drive so I don't think I'd need more...) Do you guys have advice on SSDs in general? If you upgraded, did you notice a significant change and is it worth it to you? I'm looking at 500 GB SSDs.

Just as a benchmark, I was able to do some pretty heavy R work (transcriptome stuff) without too much trouble on an HP laptop that I bought in high school - the thing is at least 7 years old, probably older.

In terms of SSDs, it really depends. My SO got one when he built his computer and loves it - really cuts down startup/load times, especially for programs like Photoshop, which take about a million years to get going. I personally am fine with my HDD and don't really feel the need for an SSD, but I think it comes down to your own feelings and requirements. The one thing my SO has complained about is the need for a "buffer" of free space on the SSD, which apparently helps it run better/longer. There're various websites out there with rankings and such; thewirecutter.com seems to usually be pretty reliable, if you want to check out their 500 GB SSD reviews.

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SSD drives are much faster than HDD, especially the HDD that come stock with most computers (at 5400rmp). Lycaon I am not familiar with a lot of those programs however doing a bit of research it seems that i5 would be sufficient. I would recommend having 8 gbs of ram but buy it separately and install it yourself instead of ordering it with the computer because you can find it much cheaper on amazon or a computer parts store. 

 

As for AMD, I personally can't stand it. It runs so hot and it is noticeably slower than Intel (even when comparing their top models). It also does a number on your battery. That has been my experience and I know they say that this has been improved over the last few years but I have not seen that. 

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I was told that SSD are also more durable and hold up to drops and jolts better than HDD.  If you want the laptop to last, SDD is the better option.  

 

This article is pretty straight forward on the differences between SSD and HDD: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404258,00.asp

Edited by WhatAmIDoingNow
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Thanks for your responses, everyone!

I had heard about the a few of the issues that a few previous models had (ghosting mostly). To be honest I had been giving Lenovo a wide berth until I found out they were bringing back trackpad buttons, which is perfect since I prefer to use the red nubbly thing anyway haha. But thank you for the additional warning, Sigaba! It would serve me well to find out how to disable the trackpad and whether anyone has had trackpoint problems.

Thanks for telling me your experiences, Sarochan! I've been struggling to decide how much truncated start-up times matter to me but now that I think about it, as my last one reached the end of its life, it was pretty painful waiting for programs to load up. And having a buffer of space would force me to be more organized. I'll make sure to check out wirecutter.com.

Thank you SeanDDavies for your advice! I will be scouring Newegg and the like for good RAM prices. And thank you WhatAmIDoingNow for your comments about SSDs!

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Definitely go for a SSD! You will notice the difference in everything. Most laptops also give you space to put in an additional SSD or traditional HD as well to expand on space.

Yeah, I'm def going for it now!

I hadn't been paying close attention to tech advances in the last few years because I'm just finding out about M.2 SSDs. Does anyone have experience with these?

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  • 3 weeks later...

To switch things up a little, can anyone advise me on buying furniture? As in, bed, mattresses, a desk, the whole schebang?

 

I'm going to be moving all the way from India to Southern Illinois for my MFA. Carbondale, no less, which is a dinky little college town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Apartment-hunting across the internet is distressing as is, and on top of that, it seems unlikely I'll be able to find a furnished place. I'm guessing standard protocol might be to buy a mattress first, and futon it up until you can find a bed? Are craigslist or local stores good places to look (will they charge for delivery and assembly, etc?), or could I risk ordering off IKEA and trying to assemble it myself? How much should I expect to be spending?

 

And, very importantly -- how hard is it to sell stuff off, second-hand, when you need to move?

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To switch things up a little, can anyone advise me on buying furniture? As in, bed, mattresses, a desk, the whole schebang?

 

I'm going to be moving all the way from India to Southern Illinois for my MFA. Carbondale, no less, which is a dinky little college town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Apartment-hunting across the internet is distressing as is, and on top of that, it seems unlikely I'll be able to find a furnished place. I'm guessing standard protocol might be to buy a mattress first, and futon it up until you can find a bed? Are craigslist or local stores good places to look (will they charge for delivery and assembly, etc?), or could I risk ordering off IKEA and trying to assemble it myself? How much should I expect to be spending?

 

And, very importantly -- how hard is it to sell stuff off, second-hand, when you need to move?

 

Hey, Nibs, check out the following...

 

 

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Hey, Nibs, check out the following...

 

 

 

Ikea is not difficult to assemble, they have great rates on mattresses.  I don't think they deliver to Carbondale, so you would need to do a trek to a store.  

 

For affordable and decent mattresses, I have found Ikea and Denver Mattress stores have the best bang for your buck. 

 

I meant to quote Nibs. Oh well.

Edited by WhatAmIDoingNow
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Those threads are amazing! Thanks so much!

 

I'm a little iffy about Craigslist, because I've heard some horror stories -- but then, I guess it's one of many things I'll have to learn to use now that I'm moving to the US, haha. I'd assumed IKEA ships to Carbondale -- at least, I went on their website, added a mattress to my cart and popped in Carbondale's zip code to get an estimate on shipping costs, and it said it would be about 40 bucks, so who knows? I'll do some more in-depth research.

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Those threads are amazing! Thanks so much!

 

I'm a little iffy about Craigslist, because I've heard some horror stories -- but then, I guess it's one of many things I'll have to learn to use now that I'm moving to the US, haha. I'd assumed IKEA ships to Carbondale -- at least, I went on their website, added a mattress to my cart and popped in Carbondale's zip code to get an estimate on shipping costs, and it said it would be about 40 bucks, so who knows? I'll do some more in-depth research.

 

Nice, on the shipping. $40 isn't bad, especially if it is a flat rate.  The Sultan mattresses are pretty decent and inexpensive.  We have had ours for 5 years with no complaints. Ikea also has a 20 or 25 year warranty/return policy.

Edited by WhatAmIDoingNow
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You can find a mattress store like MattressFirm almost anywhere. I'm really picky about mattresses so I have to try before I buy. It's where you'll spend 1/4-1/3 of your time, so it's worth it to get a good one. I bought a simple frame and boxspring as well. The frame is literally just metal rails that keep the boxspring off the ground and it was like $25. The other thing worth investing in, imo, is a good home office setup (so desk and chair). Again, you'll spend a lot of time there so it's worth getting ones where you're comfortable. The desk you can get off Craig's List. For the chair, I recommend using coupons at your standard office supply stores to make a good chair affordable (mine was like $140 after using a 30% off coupon and it is sooooo worth it). You might also check with other grad students to see if they're getting rid of anything.

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