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General Chat Thread, What laptop should I buy? in General; I am looking to buy a laptop for when I take on this I.T schools career in the new year ...
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    What laptop should I buy?

    I am looking to buy a laptop for when I take on this I.T schools career in the new year but not sure which laptop would be best. I would like one that I can use to learn and get the most out of doing software based jobs for schools. I plan on doing some courses in the new year in website building and in any other software that will get me a job or work experience in a school. I don't think I would be able to do any hardware related work due to a disability but I hear that this would not rule me out in getting some sort of job (I hope not anyway). Anyone got any suggestions?

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    You're being very vague, it's hard to make recommendations on what you've written.

    What exactly do you see yourself doing with the laptop? How important is portability? What OS are you intending to run on it? Do you want a touchscreen? What size screen do you want? How much do you have to spend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norphy View Post
    You're being very vague, it's hard to make recommendations on what you've written.

    What exactly do you see yourself doing with the laptop? How important is portability? What OS are you intending to run on it? Do you want a touchscreen? What size screen do you want? How much do you have to spend?
    I have difficulty in physically writing so it would be good for that but also I want something I can learn on. Now this part where I say learn I mean learning this schools I.T stuff but mainly the software side of it due to a disability I have. I know this does limit me a bit but I cannot think of any other job I want to do apart from I.T in schools. So I am thinking if I was to buy a laptop I could experiment with the software side of things and maybe get myself on various courses to get a job. Then I am also thinking would it be better to ask around various schools and try and get some voluntary work and learn that way instead of learning on my own, I don't know what to do.
    Last edited by PeggleStar; 10th December 2013 at 10:01 AM.

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    Miscbrah's Avatar
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    I'd say see if the budget will stretch to a laptop AND a desktop. Desktop can be a bit older, and that you can PILE hard drives into and run VMs of everything. That way, if you're running say a Linux course you can sit there, fire up the Ubuntu VM and get all $ sudo break Ubuntu -Y on it. Laptop keep for revising the courses and select bits of software I reckon. Dropbox notes between the two.

    Is building a PC something you feel you could do?
    Last edited by Miscbrah; 10th December 2013 at 10:08 AM.

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    OK

    Which software side of things? Active Directory? Programming? SQL? Web development? Also bear in mind that a lot of the software that schools use is proprietary and is useless away from the school network such as their MIS system.

    You haven't answered any of my other questions: Which OS? Does it need to be portable? Touchscreen? Budget? All of these are important questions.

    I have another question: Why a laptop? Are you intending to take it to work when you get a job? A desktop may be better as you would get more powerful hardware for the same cost which may be important if you're trying to set up a learning environment using virtualisation software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscbrah View Post
    I'd say see if the budget will stretch to a laptop AND a desktop. Desktop can be a bit older, and that you can PILE hard drives into and run VMs of everything. That way, if you're running say a Linux course you can sit there, fire up the Ubuntu VM and get all $ sudo break Ubuntu -Y on it. Laptop keep for revising the courses and select bits of software I reckon. Dropbox notes between the two.

    Is building a PC something you feel you could do?
    I wish I could build a PC but due to the disability I have I don't think I would get very far. I can plug everything in once the PC is built but because my hands shake trying to put screws in etc i'd be there all day. I do already have a desktop PC that is a intel core 2 duo, 2GB RAM and 250GB harddrive. The laptop does not have to be powerful just something I could have windows and office on and like you say selected bits of software.

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    Well I reckon if you can get a 1-2tb hdd in that PC and up it to 4gb+ of ram that'll be a fair playpen VM host. Might crawl a bit mind. Get a friendly pair of hands to help if so and get the hdd and ram in, then spend the rest on laptop. Might also be worth a ssd in the laptop if you can.

    Bear in mind Norphy's questions though and we'll be better placed to advise you. What areas are you thinking of learning btw? Do you know 'vanilla' Windows domains much? AD? Much networking? Lots of that is HARD to learn if you've never been near a 'breathing' domain before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscbrah View Post
    Well I reckon if you can get a 1-2tb hdd in that PC and up it to 4gb+ of ram that'll be a fair playpen VM host. Might crawl a bit mind. Get a friendly pair of hands to help if so and get the hdd and ram in, then spend the rest on laptop. Might also be worth a ssd in the laptop if you can.

    Bear in mind Norphy's questions though and we'll be better placed to advise you. What areas are you thinking of learning btw? Do you know 'vanilla' Windows domains much? AD? Much networking? Lots of that is HARD to learn if you've never been near a 'breathing' domain before.
    Should you note be able to change to Core 2 Quad?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norphy View Post
    OK

    Which software side of things? Active Directory? Programming? SQL? Web development? Also bear in mind that a lot of the software that schools use is proprietary and is useless away from the school network such as their MIS system.

    You haven't answered any of my other questions: Which OS? Does it need to be portable? Touchscreen? Budget? All of these are important questions.

    I have another question: Why a laptop? Are you intending to take it to work when you get a job? A desktop may be better as you would get more powerful hardware for the same cost which may be important if you're trying to set up a learning environment using virtualisation software.
    Thanks for the reply I will try and answer your questions the best I can.

    Which software side of things? Active Directory? Programming? SQL? Web development?

    I am willing to learn them all if it means getting a job, I have done a bit of work with Joomla in the past which was fun so the web development side looks like something I could do. You mention MIS, is this SIMS? Last year I had to go into a school for something non I.T related and while I was there one of the head teachers was using SIMS, it's like a big database with pupils names, year, photos on. Do you get involved with this alot like do you add and remove stuff from it or is that all down to administration? A job where I am adding a removing information on a database would be good but I get the impression that's not what you tech guys do

    Which OS? Does it need to be portable? Touchscreen? Budget?

    Windows if possible, the portable question is one I am not sure about and no it does not have to be touchscreen. Budget at the moment is about 400.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newpersn View Post
    Should you note be able to change to Core 2 Quad?
    I figured as much. Putting, say, a q9450 (or q9650 or even extreme quad) in would help BUT bear in mind OP would need to have someone else do that and that's a degree harder than screwing a hdd in, so I didn't volunteer it. Also if we go with a 2tb hdd and the ram and that I've nommed 150 of the budget already.

    Newpersn is quite right though, this'd also help.

    ALTHOUGH if we're talking a budget of 1k+ here you COULD get a fairly decent pre-made motherboard bundle in for the desktop AND a ssd AND still get an ok laptop in.

    EDIT - just seen the post above. With that I'd say you'd get 'something' laptop-wise but nothing stellar.

    SIMS is big btw, really big. Mostly admin here remove/add details. Then we put them in PROPERLY when something breaks - hehe. But we mostly fix the installation of, backend of (server, sequel etc as and when) and *shudder* the upgrades of. Solus 3 (new backend management of deploying SIMS the application to workstations) has been around a little while now, and is making the easy bits of deploying SIMS easier, and the hard bits harder.
    Last edited by Miscbrah; 10th December 2013 at 11:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscbrah View Post
    Well I reckon if you can get a 1-2tb hdd in that PC and up it to 4gb+ of ram that'll be a fair playpen VM host. Might crawl a bit mind. Get a friendly pair of hands to help if so and get the hdd and ram in, then spend the rest on laptop. Might also be worth a ssd in the laptop if you can.

    Bear in mind Norphy's questions though and we'll be better placed to advise you. What areas are you thinking of learning btw? Do you know 'vanilla' Windows domains much? AD? Much networking? Lots of that is HARD to learn if you've never been near a 'breathing' domain before.
    Thanks for the reply the only domains I know at the moment are internet domains, this probably isn't much help. I think the question that I need answering is would I be better learning all this stuff in the work place or learning it sat at home? Like Norphy is saying that alot of the software is useless outside of the school so I am not sure how to go about things at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeggleStar View Post
    Thanks for the reply the only domains I know at the moment are internet domains, this probably isn't much help. I think the question that I need answering is would I be better learning all this stuff in the work place or learning it sat at home? Like Norphy is saying that alot of the software is useless outside of the school so I am not sure how to go about things at the moment.
    Short answer is, workplace. Longer answer is, definitely the workplace.

    The theory behind Windows domains you can learn with Microsoft's own stupid* courses, but the theory is what you learn. In real life things work a bit differently and learning from a course is not match for experience. Even if you learned loads, without living and breathing it for a while you'd get to a network and go "right, now what?"

    If you can volunteer or start at the bottom then do so - you'll get so much onboard. If you are actively studying courses it does show some solid willing though. MCDST/MCSE (or modern equivalents) CCNA/Comptia Network+/Linux + are all going to be good I would say - do you know much Linux? Even a smattering is a good plan going into the world of work.

    But anyways, MOST places run Windows domains, as in servers with AD, DHCP and DNS on. Sharing printers out and drives out and running SIMS and an antivirus - that seems to be the common basis though by no means how everyone does it. You can't get MUCH of a flavour of a domain at home with VMs really but it's possible to knock something up. Licenses for the OSes would cost though. Steeply.

    *stupid to be pronounced 'AAaaaghhhh!'

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeggleStar View Post
    Thanks for the reply I will try and answer your questions the best I can.

    Which software side of things? Active Directory? Programming? SQL? Web development?

    I am willing to learn them all if it means getting a job, I have done a bit of work with Joomla in the past which was fun so the web development side looks like something I could do. You mention MIS, is this SIMS? Last year I had to go into a school for something non I.T related and while I was there one of the head teachers was using SIMS, it's like a big database with pupils names, year, photos on. Do you get involved with this alot like do you add and remove stuff from it or is that all down to administration? A job where I am adding a removing information on a database would be good but I get the impression that's not what you tech guys do

    Which OS? Does it need to be portable? Touchscreen? Budget?

    Windows if possible, the portable question is one I am not sure about and no it does not have to be touchscreen. Budget at the moment is about 400.
    SIMS is an MIS (Management Information System) but an MIS is not necessarily SIMS (We use Correro here for instance). It is essentially a giant database as you say but you generally don't manipulate it directly, you use the frontend that the provider gives to you. That generally isn't a tech role, it's a data manager role. Many schools will have data managers, there are a few on here.

    Saying that you'll learn whatever it takes to get a job is an admirable attitude but if I were you, I'd choose a field and learn about it. None of these things are especially simple and trying to spread yourself too thinly over multiple disciplines is never a good plan. It's better to be able to do one job well than it is to do five jobs badly. The advice that others have given you is good, volunteer, get your foot in the door somewhere and build up your skills from the jobs that they give you.

    400 isn't going to get you anything especially wonderful. If I were you, I'd look at the Dell Outlet centre and places like ICTDirect who will sell you refurbished kit. You'll get more computer for your money. Buy something with the fastest hard drive and with the most RAM that you can see.

    Oh and proper Microsoft courses aren't stupid. You might not get that much hands-on experience with them but the theoretical concepts that they teach you are sound and they give you as many real world examples as they can. They are no substitute for experience but they can help get you started and explain the concepts behind things. There is nothing worse than doing computing by rote, i.e. doing something because you've been told that this is how it's done. Doing a course like a Microsoft one will at least tell why something is done like it is which is far more important. Microsoft also offer fully functional evaluation copies of all of their server software which are usually good for six months. They are an excellent platform to learn on and won't cost you a penny other than the bandwidth needed to download them.
    Last edited by Norphy; 10th December 2013 at 11:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscbrah View Post
    Short answer is, workplace. Longer answer is, definitely the workplace.

    The theory behind Windows domains you can learn with Microsoft's own stupid* courses, but the theory is what you learn. In real life things work a bit differently and learning from a course is not match for experience. Even if you learned loads, without living and breathing it for a while you'd get to a network and go "right, now what?"

    If you can volunteer or start at the bottom then do so - you'll get so much onboard. If you are actively studying courses it does show some solid willing though. MCDST/MCSE (or modern equivalents) CCNA/Comptia Network+/Linux + are all going to be good I would say - do you know much Linux? Even a smattering is a good plan going into the world of work.

    But anyways, MOST places run Windows domains, as in servers with AD, DHCP and DNS on. Sharing printers out and drives out and running SIMS and an antivirus - that seems to be the common basis though by no means how everyone does it. You can't get MUCH of a flavour of a domain at home with VMs really but it's possible to knock something up. Licenses for the OSes would cost though. Steeply.

    *stupid to be pronounced 'AAaaaghhhh!'
    Thanks alot for the reply thinking about it I have heard of Windows servers but I don't have much experience. I think I will get Christmas out of the way and then in the new year see if I can get some work somewhere as a volunteer. I could do with something where I am watching what other techs do to start with but not sure if i'd be able to get anything like this. I also don't mind travelling if need be and even if I could get one or two days a week it would be a start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norphy View Post
    SIMS is an MIS (Management Information System) but an MIS is not necessarily SIMS (We use Correro here for instance). It is essentially a giant database as you say but you generally don't manipulate it directly, you use the frontend that the provider gives to you. That generally isn't a tech role, it's a data manager role. Many schools will have data managers, there are a few on here.
    This is interesting and I have a question or two if you don't mind These data managers, is there much demand for them in schools as there are for techs? I ask because it would be a second option for me if I am unable to get a role as a tech. The problem I have with the tech role is not being able to build PC's due to the disability I have, I am able like I said before to do alot of stuff that is software based e.g Windows, office, web development etc. I am just thinking about all the possibility's at the moment

    Just out of interest what are some of the jobs that you do as tech? Does the hardware side of it out weigh the software side?

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