6.0197 Rs: Which Computer to Buy (4/132)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 17 Aug 1992 21:05:17 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0197. Monday, 17 Aug 1992.

(1) Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1992 14:57:48 PDT (24 lines)
From: cb@xis.xerox.com (Christopher Bader)
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy

(2) Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1992 18:22 EST (17 lines)
From: Michael Metzger <MLLMIKEM@UBVMS.BITNET>
Subject: R: Which computer?

(3) Date: Wed, 12 Aug 92 23:22:23 CDT (71 lines)
From: "Richard L. Goerwitz" <goer@MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy

(4) Date: Fri, 14 Aug 92 14:04:37 CDT (20 lines)
From: "Gene W. Ruoff" <U38594@UICVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1992 14:57:48 PDT
From: cb@xis.xerox.com (Christopher Bader)
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy; Going to Kiev? (2/74)

Thank heavens for perennial questions! 1) Is the "Republic" really about
the mind or is it about the state? 2) Unix vs. PC vs. Mac?

1) I've read it several times and I'm still not sure...

2a) Unix is great for programmers and it's necessary for everyone who needs
a true multi-user system. If this doesn't apply to you, forget it. Unix
makes DOS look user-friendly. (This is being written on a Unix machine.)

2b) Take a PC running Windows and a Mac of the same price. Power them both
up. Insert a diskette with a BIG word processing file on it, open it up,
and jump around in the document. On which machine was this process easier?
Which machine displayed the new page faster when you were jumping around?
I think you'll find the answer in both cases to be: on the Mac.

By the way, very big hard disks *are* available for the Mac from third-party
vendors, and these disks usually carry longer warranties than Apple's.

-- Christopher Bader
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1992 18:22 EST
From: Michael Metzger <MLLMIKEM@UBVMS.BITNET>
Subject: R: Which computer?

I am in a quandary similar to that of Michael Strangelove and have come to
similar conclusions (486/50, 8-16 MB ram, 200 MB hd, possibly CD-ROM, but not
multimedia); I am beginning to think that for multitasking, i. e. ProCite 2.0
with WordPerfect 5.1, the most important decision to make will be that about the

operating system, and in that regard I'm leaning towards OS/2 2.0, admittedly
only on the basis of what the ads say. Has anyone out there had encounters of
anykind with OS/2?? Windows seems too limited if one wants to use non-Windows
programs, and I'm not crazy about GUIs, which moves me away from Mac IIs, altho
they are neat machines that can be made to run DOS software in a number of
ways. In any case, plain vanilla DOS, even 5.0, doesn't seem to hack it for mult
i-tasking. How about DR DOS 6.0? Michael
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------86----
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 92 23:22:23 CDT
From: "Richard L. Goerwitz" <goer@MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy; Going to Kiev? (2/74)

> My question is simple, given 3 to 4 thousand
> dollars (maybe 5 grand if the system is truely divine), what type of
> computer is the best purchase? I suspect that this is like asking for
> the name of god but the time has come to buy and I am no closer to the
> Truth.

This is a religious question, and has no answer. Most scholars who
finally cough up the money to purchase a machine become bound to it,
and find it impossible to think critically about its good and bad
points. I've seen "which is better" debates come up here time after
time, and only rarely seen a trace of even-handedness or deep famili-
arity with more than two or three machines or OS-types.

Having said this, let me offer some (at times tongue-in-cheek) advice
on how to think about this question.

Step 1: Decide what software you want to use.

Obviously, the machine is no good without software. And its software
has to really *do* something. Sure, it's great to be able to download
lots of "BBS" software. After a month of that you burn out, and for
ever appreciate the value of good, solid academic and commercial dis-
tributions. Decide what your *really* need, then talk to various peo-
ple who actually use the software you plan to use. Narrow you choice
of machines down on this basis. Software first. Hardware later.

Step 2: Decide what kind of environment you want to work in.

After you've narrowed your choice of machines down via criterion 1, if
there is more than one machine remaining you might want to think about
the overall operating environment. For instance, do you write your own
software, or do you primarily use software purchased as-is? If you are
a programmer, think about using an operating system that is designed,
from the ground up, as a programming environment (e.g. UNIX). If not,
then think about one of the many fine toy operating systems out there.
Don't get hung up on any one being drastically superior to the other.
They all have good and bad points that I'm sure users will be glad to
expatiate on as long as you'll listen. All I'd say is that if you want
to use a PC-architecture machine, buy OS/2 rather than Windows. It is
Windows and DOS compatible, and is also a "real" OS.

Step 3: Consider what your co-workers will be using.

Don't underestimate the problems with conversion. If everyone at your
institution is using, say, Macs, don't fight it: Go with the trend (if,
naturally, it falls roughly in line with the decisions you've made in
steps 1 and 2 above). If you have what everyone else has, problems will
get solved faster and more cheaply, and you won't have to struggle with
conversions or networking problems. Travel the beaten path. When it
comes to computers, hackers and individualists, to me at least, are hardly
distinguishable from people without enough work to do.

Step 4: Buy and hide.

Once you've made your choice, face the fact that it was probably, in
many people's eyes, the worst possible decision, and that as soon as you
buy prices will drop. You'll probably also find out that software has
become available for another platform that beats the software that led
you to buy the machine you did in the first place.

Don't worry. That's life with computers. We're only at the "Model-T"
stage in their evolution, and figure that in six years or so you'll just
buy another one, anyway.

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 92 14:04:37 CDT
From: "Gene W. Ruoff" <U38594@UICVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0190 Qs: What Computer to Buy; Going to Kiev? (2/74)

On Wed, 12 Aug 1992 16:43:05 EDT you said:
>(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
>Date: Fri, 07 Aug 92 21:12:13 EDT
>Subject: How To Blow 4 Grand on a Computer?
>I am tempted to put down 3 grand on a Gateway 2000 486/50 but in the land of
>choice and opportunity this seems almost too easy.
>Actually, what is easy is sometimes reasonable. You describe the machine
I just purchased: the standard Gateway 2000 486DX2 configuration, but with
the 15" flat-square monitor (a boon for Windows, which you will want to
explore for sophisticated text-formatting applications. I had been using
a 386-20 for three years, and the increase in performance is remarkable: it
even makes Ventura Publisher for Windows run at a bearable speed.