This is a rant, no question. Just to warn you… Mom & Dad, forgive me.
The debate is on prebuilt/factory built computers versus homemade computers. When I graduated from high school, my parents granted me $800 and suggested I buy a factory-built computer. Being freshly and madly in love with a guy who had a reasonable amount of experience in the field of computer-building, I refused this option, choosing instead to bestow the honor of computer-building on my dear Ian. My parents decided that in light of my irrational and passionate insistence on an Ian-made computer, and in the interests of family-preservation, they wouldn’t push my buying a prebuilt computer. Ian built CyberVixen, and she began crashing consistently once I brought her to Clark. Before that, she worked fine. However, this eventually necessitated replacing her, which we did through the generosity of Ian’s parents, who bought me a ShuttleX PC. The Shuttle is a great computer, and I haven’t had any trouble with it since Dan kindly put the CPU and video cards in.
Now Colleen, my “syster,” is going to college next year and the debate once again crops up: to allow her technical boyfriend to design and build her a machine, or to encourage her to buy a manufactured computer recommended by her college. Where to start? The positives of a factory-built computer is that it’s guaranteed to work initially; if it breaks, you ship it back to the manufacturer and they fix it while it’s under warranty; you need no technical skill to buy or use a Dell or Gateway, and in the worst case it goes off and is magically repaired. My family feels burned, because not only did I insist on Ian’s building CyberVixen, but she didn’t ever work perfectly. Homemade computers have their advantages, however, and I think those advantages outweigh the disadvantages. They’re self-designed and thus will fit your needs perfectly; the parts are easily replaceable/upgradeable, no sending back to a factory; generally building one will be cheaper than buying a whole system from Dell or Compaq or Gateway. I’m recommending they take a middle-of-the-road approach by buying Colleen a Shuttle. She could get a nicer card for her graphic design, a good CPU, and everything else is contained on the motherboard: cooling problems are avoided because it’s all designed into the computer’s motherboard. The CPU has a special cooling system that beats any I’ve seen before; because it’s so small, they specially engineered it to stay very cool. Crashing because of hardware mismatches can’t happen because it’s practically all right on the motherboard, and Shuttles run fairly cheap. Certainly cheaper than a Dell. For somebody like Colleen, this would be the perfect solution.
Mom, however, has gotten this idea – which I cannot entirely make out – that somehow a homemade computer could be incompatable at certain colleges. I’m a little confused on this point, but what I heard from her was that college ITS systems – the network? – was actually incompatable with certain PCs, primarily homemade ones. She said that certain programs they would want students to use “to turn in homework” (one example of hers) would not work on any but a very few specific computer types. She also said that she’d heard ITS people had special agreements with Dell, for instance, where they would work with Dell tech support to fix computer problems in Dells owned by students but the non-Dell-using students were left out in the cold. No tech support if you don’t use the computers the college recommends! As Ben said: “That would be like going to school and them telling you you had to wear your hair a certain way or they wouldn’t teach you anything.” I admit I was a little confused on the point Mom was trying to make, because as far as I know no server can tell the difference between a Dell and a homemade computer: they all have the same types of components (working MoBo, CPU, etc). I cannot imagine how a college could force you to buy a computer of their desired brand! Software compatablity doesn’t have anything to do with hardware you’re using, does it? And could a college’s tech support people refuse to work on any but a certain type of machine? It’s ridiculous! -I cannot imagine a situation in which a college would care one whit what type of machine you buy; they don’t run programs on the intranet that would rely on your owning a Dell; if you have a functioning computer it will work.
Maybe I’ve misunderstood here, but overall it sounded like the college was able to force you to buy the computer of their choice by not offering tech support to other users, and Mom also thought that school tech support had special agreements with computer brand X which allowed their tech support to work closely with computer X’s and thus fix computer X’s comptuers, as well as these college having a network that would exclude non-correct computers if it used software that would only run on the college-condoned ones. Is that even possible?! Is any of this even feasable, at all? Is there any way that something along those lines could be accomplished, even if my understanding (garbled through both mom and my non-technical brains) is off somewhat?
Is that discrimination?
– KF –