New Computer

One of the to-do items I mentioned in my last post was purchasing a new computer. Since this seemed like a much more fun thing to do than taking skills assessors or re-writing my resume on the GSB template, I spent last night on the Apple website figuring out exactly what I needed.

Now for starters, I need to admit that I love Apple. I got a mac for college and was instantly a convert. Compared to the very old Dell I had been using up to that point, the mac was fast, intuitive, and packed with lots more fun useful features. When it came time to get an MP3 I got an iPod without hesitation. And when I recently upgraded to a smart phone I never even considered something other than an iPhone. The high prices do suck, but in return you get amazing products that function above your expectations and great customer support. And they do give students a bit of a discount which is nice. As we americans say, I have “drunk the kool-aid.”

But back to my business school computer. I knew from the start that I was going to be getting a mac. And I wanted something light and portable which ruled out the MacBook Pro, leaving the MacBook Air. The Air comes in 11″ and 13″. In my opinion bigger is always better when it comes to the size of a computer screen, so it was pretty easy for me to settle on the 13″ MacBook Air as my ideal computer. Then the problems started. When you select the Mac you want to purchase on the Apple website it sends you to a new page where you have to make tons of decisions. And my very un-techy self who hadn’t purchased a new computer in five years didn’t have a clue what a processor was or what the difference was between memory and storage. So I slowly worked my way down the list, shuffling back and forth between google and the specs, trying to figure out what would impact the computer performance and which items were worth the upgrade.

After I made it past the specs I got to the cable section. It is a list of a dozen or more cables and attachments and other things that mostly perform functions I have never heard about before. At this point I was already confusing all of the technical jargon I had recently learned so I decided not to confuse myself further and just to bypass the cables. If I get the computer and realize I forgot something I can go back and order it then.

Then I got to the more interesting GSB-centric decisions. In most of the business world PCs are still the gold standard, as is the Windows version of Microsoft Excel. Because of this, most business schools are set up to work with Microsoft Excel for Windows and NOT Microsoft Excel for Mac, which is a simplified version that has different short cuts and not quite as much functionality. Getting Microsoft Excel for Windows onto a mac is doable but a huge pain. Option one is to partition the hard drive using Boot Camp so that one side uses the mac operating system and the other side uses Windows. Then you install Excel on the Windows side and every time you need to switch to Windows or back you have to reboot the machine. Uggh. Option two is to install either Fusion or Parallels and that lets you put Excel for Windows onto an otherwise purely mac machine. As you might be able to tell from that horrifically vague description, I’m not really sure how it works inside the computer. But for the user, an Excel icon shows up (in the same spot as the Excel for Mac icon would have shown up had you installed that software) and when you click it Excel for Windows opens up. No need for rebooting or any other messiness. And option three is simply to ignore all of this, install Excel for Mac, and hope that it all goes well.

From my research I have determined that Option One is foolish. The whole reboot thing seems unnecessarily complicated. Plus, you have to purchase (1) Boot Camp (2) a Windows operating system and (3) Excel for Windows– that adds up to about $300. Option Two is better if you are convinced that you need Excel for Windows. Unfortunately it is still expensive since you need (1) Fusion or Parallel and (2) Excel for Windows– adds up to about $200. And Option Three is perfect if you want to attempt to get by without spending extra money or trying to do fancy things on a computer.

As you might have guess by now, I have chosen Option Three. I have talked to two current students who will be MBA2s this coming year and they both also went with Option Three and said it didn’t cause any problems. One of them was able to use Excel for Mac in all of her classes without any problem. The other had one assignment where she needed Excel for Windows, but she was able to connect to another computer remotely and do it that way. So, I’m going with Option Three and I figure if I end up in a job where I need to use Excel for Windows I will just put in a bit of time to relearn all of the shortcuts.

After getting past that decision, I hit the Purchase button! My new computer, along with Office for Mac (the only software I’ve purchased so far), should be here within a week!


About backinthebay2015

Stanford GSB class of 2015
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One Response to New Computer

  1. tripsd says:

    I will be really curious to hear updates how this plays out over the next couple months. Something I had thought about when distracting myself from applications. I run a Mac right now and confess that as someone who is an excel heavy field (academic economics) Excel for Mac drives me up a wall.

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