To answer my mother's question on my last post: yes I did get a new computer.
Before I left Nigeria I gifted my old laptop to one of the girls that worked on the compound. It was an older Dell that had run its life course with me and I had been wanting to get a new computer anyway and I knew that my laptop would mean much more to A than it would ever mean to me again and she would likely make it last far longer than I would dare. I had already told Ange that I would be leaving my computer behind in Nigeria before I even left the US, I would just need to find the right recipient. It turned out to be a much harder choice than I thought it would, but in the end I felt good about the decisions I made.
I had planned to order my new laptop about 2 weeks before I returned to the US, but with my premature departure that was not possible. So I returned home with no computer. That was kind of weird. While I was in Nigeria I had done some research on computers so I knew what I wanted, but I needed it to materialize.
The people on the compound where I lived were all Mac people. After living with them for 4 months I started to develop a little Mac-envy. A little. Mostly I was jealous of the battery life they enjoyed..something like 10 hours on a single charge. My dying POS Dell lasted about 35 minutes on battery at that point. Their Macs were also light as a feather, unlike my clunker that weighed 50 skamillion pounds. I was also envious of how dang fast their computers ran. My Dell hobbled along at a turtle speed at this point. My Dell also had major issues with overheating. If it didn't have a laptop cooler under it then it would overheat and auto shutdown after 45 minutes. (Now you can see why I was ready to ditch it)
However, even after battery life, speed and nice cool cases I still loathed the Mac platform. I've used it sparsely over the years at IU (sometimes that's the only thing that's available) and I used it more frequently while in Nigeria helping my Mac-loving friends with various things. I know everyone says "You'll get used to it quickly and when you do you'll LOVE it so much more than a PC" but I actually really doubt that. I don't just prefer a PC I actually LOVE the PC layout. People also always say Macs are "so much more intuitive" and I have found that to be absolutely false. PCs are made for dumbies. It is infinitely more easy to use. I have little patience and am not tech savvy so I know that a PC is going to be the easiest thing for me to use. My Nigeria brother Matthew and I liked to debate about Macs vs. PCs (as well as a million other topics) and we finally arrived at the conclusion that Macs are easier for spatial thinkers to use and PCs are easier for linear thinkers to use. I am a total linear thinker. I need to see things in nice neat rows and columns. I can't stand things flying around in space.
My other big hesitation was price. Macs are freaking expensive. Way expensive. Bottom of the line model with no customization was gonna run me $999 + tax. Yikes. If I built it the way I wanted it was gonna run about $1350 + tax. Now my POS Dell cost me around $300 when I bought it. Yes I realize I got what I paid for, but it actually worked well the first year and went downhill after that. In my experience, a computer has a shelf life of about 3 years before a new and fancy model is needed. Whether it be wear and tear or technological advances after 3 years I need a new computer. For the price of a Mac I could buy a brand new Dell every year.
After doing some more research I also found out that the main data analysis packages I use for my research are a little more difficult to run on Macs. They WILL run, but you have to do modifications, etc. because they are not made for Macs. As I mentioned previously, I am not patient or tech savy so doing special tricks to get things to work is never going to work for me. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I decided to look at other options.
Ange is a huge fan of HPs. I don't really have much partialism to any brand so I was willing to be influenced by others. I checked out the Dell site and decided if I was willing to consider buying a $1000 laptop then I should not limit myself on looking at PCs. So when I got to the HP page I wanted to look for a laptop that was fast, light, and had a long battery life. I chose their "Ultra Portable" tab and started to look. I realized that I could chose the laptop with the longest battery life (up to 7.5 hours--not too shabby) and customize it the way I wanted (mostly 8 GB of memory for super fast processing) for around $1000. Pair that with some sales and an online coupon I ended up buying my fancy HP Pavilion dm3t for $930.
It took about 2 weeks for it to get built & shipped but it was worth the wait. It is LIGHTENING fast, super light and barely even gets warm even after hours of it sitting directly on my lap for hours. It's also pretty slick looking. It's not perfect...the keyboard took some time to get used to (it's kind of squeaky) and the touch-pad is still way annoying but I can get over those things way faster than I can get over learning how to use the Mac platform. Other than those two things, I love it. I've only had it about 2 and a half weeks, but I highly recommend it so far.