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Grad. School Supplies?

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I just finished reading through all 20 pages, haha. 

 

I've been wanting a good desktop setup for a while, so I plan to build one once I have the parts and just depend on my old laptop until then. I'm also a fan of handwriting my notes to start. 

A lot for me is deciding what to take with and what to buy there. Also, I'm most likely moving somewhere with a real winter, so I'm trying to figure out what I need to survive, haha.

As for that article that was posted for women on what to wear, I disagree with some of what the author was saying ("hooker-wear"-really?). Specifically, do not judge a makeup item by its brand name. The Wet n' Wild liquid catsuit line is a great liquid to matte that lasts and they have many professional colors (my favorite for interviews are Berry Recognize and Rebel Rose, but I've basically bought the entire regular line by now). Elf is pretty much known as the cheapest of the cheap, but they've got some amazing highlighters and a great pot gel liner that I swear by. In short, makeup doesn't need to be expensive or belong to a specific brand in order to be good. All brands have great (and horrible) products. The problem is finding them (and youtube helps a lot with that). 

I am going to be a TA (most likely) and I am interested in sprucing up my wardrobe a bit, but I hope I won't need to be business professional every day. I'd like to pair a fitted jacket or cardigan with either a nice knee-length dress or a nice shirt (or nicer tank top) and either slacks or yoga pants. As for shoes, my feet are pretty sensitive, so I'm hoping to get away most days with a black sneaker, my snow boots, or find a flat or something that is actually comfortable. What do you guys think about this plan?

My hope is that I can find somewhere to live close enough to campus that I can bike or that's along a bus route. I'd rather not get a car unless absolutely necessary. I also plan to research local grocery stores as well as grocery delivery services. I can't eat processed food or breads/grains for health reasons, and I hate cooking meat, so I assume I'll be making a lot of crockpot meals and bean-based soups, haha (luckily, a friend is giving me her crockpot).

What are some lesser-known things I might want to buy or prepare for? I'm planning to wait on the bookcase, desk, chair, printer, and filing cabinet until after I get there and see what's provided by the department.

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@GreenEyedTrombonist  I too am a desktop fan and think its smart to invest in putting one together that will last you through your program.  I also have a laptop, but if that thing dies I'll be fine. 

As for footwear I think it is important to wear well made shoes especially if you are on the go.  If you want a dressier but comfortable flat I'd look at Clarks.  They have lots of options and good sales too.  Also consider waterproof hiking boots for snow days.  I find they are more comfortable and breath a bit more.

Before you spruce up your wardrobe for TAing, check out what the other TAs are doing first.  If might not be worth the expense if no one else dresses up.

I'd also look into the kind of bag you're going to carry.  If you won't have a car then you'll carry all your stuff with you and multiple bags can get annoying.  I seriously took all the stuff I'd need to carry each day into an office supply store and tested out several bags before finding a few that worked.

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@MarineBluePsy Thanks! I'll definitely check out what the other TAs do first. :) I have a good backpack, but I'm hoping to upgrade to a nice messenger bag before the fall. 

As for snow boots, I absolutely adore mine, but I guess I'll see this winter if that holds up, haha.

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To add to the conversations about computers, have people (especially in data-driven disciplines) had issues using older computers? My mac is working just fine (it's over 4 years old), but I do have some concerns about it being incompatible with more up-to-date software. 

I guess I'll probably just have to see (though this would be rather annoying if it turned out I couldn't do a step of the project at last minute without a new computer), but if anyone has encountered this sort of issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

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9 hours ago, lemma said:

I guess I'll probably just have to see (though this would be rather annoying if it turned out I couldn't do a step of the project at last minute without a new computer), but if anyone has encountered this sort of issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Umm... there will be computer labs you can use if this is really an issue.

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14 hours ago, GreenEyedTrombonist said:

I just finished reading through all 20 pages, haha. 

 

I've been wanting a good desktop setup for a while, so I plan to build one once I have the parts and just depend on my old laptop until then. I'm also a fan of handwriting my notes to start. 

 

I had a desktop built by a computer savvy family member. One thing I did was buy two monitors, which has been extremely helpful. I ended up with a Dell that pivots, so you can work vertically. It's not a necessity, however, it is nice when I'm writing papers. 

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@NotAlice I stream in my spare time so I picked up a second monitor a while back. I absolutely love it when I have a lot of work to do (or I'm streaming and need to see a bunch of windows at the same time). :) 
At some point, I'd really like a 3 monitor setup. I have friends with 6 though, haha (I'm pretty sure that's excessive).

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20 hours ago, lemma said:

To add to the conversations about computers, have people (especially in data-driven disciplines) had issues using older computers? My mac is working just fine (it's over 4 years old), but I do have some concerns about it being incompatible with more up-to-date software. 

I guess I'll probably just have to see (though this would be rather annoying if it turned out I couldn't do a step of the project at last minute without a new computer), but if anyone has encountered this sort of issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Would updating the OS not resolve any compatibility issues? 

Edit: sorry if that was a dumb question, lol. I don’t know if you would consider Psychology a data-driven discipline but I haven’t had any issues using a Mac so far! 

Edited by 01sonal

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21 hours ago, lemma said:

To add to the conversations about computers, have people (especially in data-driven disciplines) had issues using older computers? My mac is working just fine (it's over 4 years old), but I do have some concerns about it being incompatible with more up-to-date software. 

I guess I'll probably just have to see (though this would be rather annoying if it turned out I couldn't do a step of the project at last minute without a new computer), but if anyone has encountered this sort of issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

With a Mac, you can always update your operating system. Until I upgraded my mac earlier this month, I was running the latest OS on my 2012 Macbook Pro. The only major downside is that an old computer is slow and if you got one with not a lot of computing power 4 years ago, then it may not be relevant today. So you don't have to worry about it being compatible with software (since you can update your Mac's software). And unless you got something really really old, I can't see why your 4-years-old hardware won't be able to run something for work today. It might just be really slow.

In any case, whether you want to upgrade your Mac or keep using the old one, just wait until you start doing the really heavy data driven stuff for work. You'll find out very soon if your computer is compatible. You can get a new Mac in a week (and Mac Migration software makes changing computers very easy!) or maybe even the same day if you live near a Mac store.

I think the biggest limitation for my old computer was RAM so I made sure to get one with 16GB of memory this time so that it can hopefully still run smoothly in 5 years. My old one only had 4GB and it could still run everywhere I needed (again, just really slowly). 

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These are both useful comments! My computer was not a new model four years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the RAM is insufficient.

On a similar note, are there any particular services that people have found useful to back up work outside of the university intranet? I've used Google Drive in the past but have found it clunky. 

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52 minutes ago, lemma said:

On a similar note, are there any particular services that people have found useful to back up work outside of the university intranet? I've used Google Drive in the past but have found it clunky. 

There's many offers of Cloud software around, I recommend you take a look at a few of them and find out what works best for you. You should be looking for: Size, availability and partnerships (many unis offer for instance courtesy access to cloud service X), and fees/free service.

Take a look at OneDrive (Microsoft), GoogleDrive (which apparently you don't like), Dropbox, and maybe also google whether there are other ones - although you probably won't find anything significantly better. I use OneDrive myself.

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33 minutes ago, GreenEyedTrombonist said:

I like to do a mix of GoogleDrive, word docs on my computer, and word docs on an external hard drive and memory stick.

Solid advice! I wouldn't trust myself with an external hard drive (I can never find my phone or keys or glasses), but probably a wise idea.  

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I use SugarSync and find it fairly convenient.  I suppose I also ought to get a hard drive to put on my bookshelf, just in case-- but I am too disorganized to make good use of it.  The automatic backup/sync across all devices makes a lot more sense for me.  Next term, I should also run by the IT office to make sure that I can get on the university backup.

Edited by Concordia

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10 hours ago, lemma said:

On a similar note, are there any particular services that people have found useful to back up work outside of the university intranet? I've used Google Drive in the past but have found it clunky. 

GoogleDrive's glitches and limited space drove me crazy.  I switched to Mega and love it.  More space, not glitchy, and no hassles regardless of which device I access it from.  It creates a backup file on both my desktop and laptop as well.  My research data is also backed up on my Universities server.  I could always add an external hard drive if I needed another form of backup, but right now I think I have enough.

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I used to use Dropbox primarily. The "Great Space Race" for student accounts gave me tons of space (22 GB). Sadly, all of this bonus space is about to expire (in a few weeks) since I graduated last summer. In addition, my new workplace does not allow Dropbox or other cloud storage for all data (very inconvenient!). But I loved how Dropbox syncs with my desktop very easily and I can even access files on my phone via their app (great for saving PDFs of boarding passes, hotel confirm etc. and then set those files viewable offline---i.e. download to phone---so that I can always have access to important info). I also like how Dropbox can selectively sync certain folders only (e.g. I don't need my personal stuff on my work computer and vice versa).

Google Drive now has the option to integrate with your computer just like Dropbox. You get way more space for free (15GB) without strings attached, but this storage space includes everything google. My emails take up 11GB alone (although I can probably delete some things). I am now in the Google Drive camp now because I really like Google Photos (recently put all my photos on the cloud there, at no cost) and I can scan files with my phone directly into Google Drive. I find it easier to just have everything in one infrastructure and I basically use Google for everything. I also like that I can buy more storage space from Google in more reasonable chunks. For example, I can buy just 100 GB of storage from Google for 1.99USD or 2.79 CAD per month. With Dropbox, the only options are the amount of free space you get/earn or buying 1TB at 12.99CAD per month. 

However, Google Drive direct sync-ing is still not allowed with my workplace. During grad school, my advisor bought me a 3TB hard drive to back up my stuff, plus I stored things on my department servers (all of this in addition to having some things on Dropbox as well). At my postdoc now, I primarily back up with an external drive that my work has purchased for me. I also use github and bitbucket repositories to store a version-controlled copy of my computer code (some stuff is private but much of my work is already publicly accessible) and other important files (presentations, CV, website content). My data itself (which takes up a ton of space) are stored on institutional servers that have their own backup systems---I only access the data remotely from my own machines and run analysis on them. 

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On 12/31/2017 at 10:17 PM, lemma said:

These are both useful comments! My computer was not a new model four years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the RAM is insufficient.

On a similar note, are there any particular services that people have found useful to back up work outside of the university intranet? I've used Google Drive in the past but have found it clunky. 

I also use an external hard drive, that I keep in my backpack and/or end table so that I won't lose it. Otherwise I personally like Google Drive, but I know a lot of people like Box. I don't know how much storage space they give you with a standard account but some universities have deals with Box that give you more storage space. 

Edited by 01sonal

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Those of you who don't like google drive, have you used backup & sync app? It makes it much less clunky imo. I also use an airport time capsule as the backup to my backup. 

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What PCs do you guys use? I'm currently on Windows, but I'm thinking of getting a Macbook Pro 13" when I start my PhD. Any experience? Is the keyboard good for a lot of typing?
Also, does Mac potentially lack anything for non-compute intensive workloads that I, as a PhD student, would need? I'm going for a PhD in Business so I doubt anything more than Excel would be required.

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21 minutes ago, SMaric said:

What PCs do you guys use? I'm currently on Windows, but I'm thinking of getting a Macbook Pro 13" when I start my PhD. Any experience? Is the keyboard good for a lot of typing?
Also, does Mac potentially lack anything for non-compute intensive workloads that I, as a PhD student, would need? I'm going for a PhD in Business so I doubt anything more than Excel would be required.

I love typing on my mac keyboard. My first Macbook Pro 13" (2012) was great for all non-compute intensive workloads and even some mild compute-intensive at first. After 3 years, it slows down quite a lot but I only had 4GB of RAM and most apps these days take up a lot more memory. I finally replaced it after 5.5 years.

I am currently using a higher-end Macbook Pro 13" (upgraded processor, 16GB RAM) to do some compute-intensive work too and it's fine. I am hoping the higher RAM will keep this computer fast for compute-intensive work for 2-3 years and for non-compute-intensive work for awhile longer.

If it helps you to know, Mac is the favoured operating system for most astronomers, and we do a lot of compute-intensive work on our machines. I don't think choosing a Mac will hinder your ability to do work but it's not like it's necessary either.

Although these things do not matter to me, here are some limitations (not work related) that others I know have had with Macs:

- My parents do not like that they cannot use their tax software on a Mac (all tax software, at least in Canada, seems to run on Windows only). It's okay for me, since I use the online version of the app.

- Many of my friends do not find Macs high performance enough for games with fancy graphics. There are also fewer games available on Steam for Macs vs. PC. This is also okay for me since I don't really have time for these games anyways! I have some games I like to play to relax / during limited downtime and they work fine on Mac for me.

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5 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

I love typing on my mac keyboard. My first Macbook Pro 13" (2012) was great for all non-compute intensive workloads and even some mild compute-intensive at first. After 3 years, it slows down quite a lot but I only had 4GB of RAM and most apps these days take up a lot more memory. I finally replaced it after 5.5 years.

I am currently using a higher-end Macbook Pro 13" (upgraded processor, 16GB RAM) to do some compute-intensive work too and it's fine. I am hoping the higher RAM will keep this computer fast for compute-intensive work for 2-3 years and for non-compute-intensive work for awhile longer.

If it helps you to know, Mac is the favoured operating system for most astronomers, and we do a lot of compute-intensive work on our machines. I don't think choosing a Mac will hinder your ability to do work but it's not like it's necessary either.

Although these things do not matter to me, here are some limitations (not work related) that others I know have had with Macs:

- My parents do not like that they cannot use their tax software on a Mac (all tax software, at least in Canada, seems to run on Windows only). It's okay for me, since I use the online version of the app.

- Many of my friends do not find Macs high performance enough for games with fancy graphics. There are also fewer games available on Steam for Macs vs. PC. This is also okay for me since I don't really have time for these games anyways! I have some games I like to play to relax / during limited downtime and they work fine on Mac for me.

Sounds great! I currently have a business laptop with i7 4600U (ancient Haswell), 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD. It's flawless for everything except the most extreme Monte Carlo Excel workloads.

I was looking at 13" Macbook Pro with 512 GB SSD and 16 GB of RAM just to be on the safe side of future proofing. I'm guessing they'll release 8th gen Intel quad core 13" by summer, although I doubt the dual cores would struggle at anything I throw at them. Quad cores would be so nice, though.

Regarding gaming, I'm a console guy myself so it's not a big deal. I really only play Civ 6 and that does seem to be out of reach for the integrated card, but oh well, it's not the end of the world.

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7 minutes ago, SMaric said:

Sounds great! I currently have a business laptop with i7 4600U (ancient Haswell), 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD. It's flawless for everything except the most extreme Monte Carlo Excel workloads.

I was looking at 13" Macbook Pro with 512 GB SSD and 16 GB of RAM just to be on the safe side of future proofing. I'm guessing they'll release 8th gen Intel quad core 13" by summer, although I doubt the dual cores would struggle at anything I throw at them. Quad cores would be so nice, though.

Regarding gaming, I'm a console guy myself so it's not a big deal. I really only play Civ 6 and that does seem to be out of reach for the integrated card, but oh well, it's not the end of the world.

The computer you're looking at sounds like what I have. I ended up also upgrading the processor to the 3.1GHz Intel i5. This means I had to get the new TouchBar, which I was meh about since I was hoping for quad cores instead of a touchbar announcement at the big apple event where they announced this line of laptops. But it's pretty fun to use and quite customizable. Now that Chrome and other non-Apple apps I use are adding more touchbar functionality, it's better than before, I think. I still wouldn't upgrade just for the touchbar, but it's not a reason (for me) to avoid upgrading.

I get a discount through work that is about the same as the education discount I got for my last Macbook. So, if you don't currently qualify for an education discount, wait until you start your grad program! These things are pricey! This laptop is the second most expensive invoice I've ever signed for (other than my car) and it was scary! The discount helped a bit though.

Civ5 worked okay (a little slow). It's a good way to kill time on flights or sitting at airport terminals with no free wi-fi. Just for fun, I looked up the Civ 6 requirements. I have the "Intel Iris Plus" graphics card with more than 1GB of VRAM so it might work? The help pages say "Iris Pro" will work and "Iris HD" will not work but nothing about Iris Plus. Anyways, nowadays with a small baby at home and less travel, I am mostly looking for games that I can drop/pause at any time and still playable in chunks of 5-10 minutes. I remember putting a ton of hours in Civ 3 growing up and I love the series but it's too hard to manage an empire and remember what's going on when you only have 10 minutes at a time! 

I'm mostly playing Hearthstone (online card game) as a way to relax now. Games are about 10 minutes long which is perfect. Although multiplayer games are not pausable, the games are low stakes that I can just abandon the game and forfeit if something more important comes up! It used to run quite slow on my old computer even on the minimum settings but now I can run it on the most visually pleasing ones and it still goes very smooth :)

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I’m actually looking at the one you have (touchbar, 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM) as the touchbar ones have better CPUs due to thermals and some other perks (Samsung vs. Sandisk SSDs etc), but also importantly they have more ports.

Actually I was definitely planning on playing Hearthstone since that has been my boredom killer for the last two years or so, but that runs flawlessly on my iPhone and current laptop, so I guess I’ll a new Mac would eat it for breakfast.

And I’m definitely waiting for enrollment before making the decision. Specced how I like it, it’s still around $2100 with edu discount applied.

Also, do you have experience with Magic Mouse 2? Is it worth $80?

 

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Yeah, that price point sounds about right. I got mine in Canada, where we have a 12% tax which basically eats up the discount I had!

No experience with magic mouse 2, only the original magic mouse. I have used the magic mouse for all of my work computers (iMacs during MSc and PhD, Mac Pro now at my office) and I love it. If you need an actual mouse, I think for a desktop, the magic mouse is the way to go. I really like the ability to swipe on the mouse itself and that it knows what is a left/right click based on where I touch it. So if you are going to buy a mouse at all, I'd recommend the magic mouse, unless you can find a generic version that has all the functions! The swiping and smart clicking is worth it, to me.

For my laptop though, I don't use a mouse. I find that having a peripheral defeats the purpose of a portable laptop! Outside of my home, I don't usually use my laptop in an area with space for a mouse as well. At home, my laptop is my only computer but I mostly do work at my office so I don't really need a mouse. The new ForceTouch touchpad is awesome and works even better than the original Macbook touchpads. I find that dragging and dropping on the new ForceTouch model took a bit of time to get used to, but once you've adjusted, it's okay! My muscle memory kept wanting to do one thing, which opened up the file instead of moving it. Since you're moving from Windows to Mac then you might not have the same issue.

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Thanks a lot! Great advice and I’ll probably follow it if everything goes as planned.

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