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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Computer-Shopping Is On The Cards For Me This Summer

Computers have evolved from a curiosity, to an expensive luxury, to an affordable necessity. Computers have become essential to the work-life of most office workers. Most companies depend on computers to get their day to day work done. Students depend on computers for research and learning. As such, they have become essential parts of many back-to-school shopping lists.

A few months back, my kids took tests in their schools for placement in the school district's gifted program. They had already been part of the gifted program at their previous school, but they had to take the test again when they moved to a higher grade in a different school. My wife and I told them we would get them their own personal laptops if they did well in these tests.

My house has only one television set, but already has 3 laptops. Everybody in the house depends on a computer for various things. I have my own laptop at home where I surf the web, catch up on email, do my hobby programming, etc. My wife has her own laptop for watching movies on and reading her email. We also have a common laptop in the living room that we sometimes crowd around to watch YouTube videos, etc. This is also the laptop that my kids use. They take practice tests on it, do research for school homework and projects, upload their singing lessons to it and practice with it, and so on.

In short, computers have become quite an indispensable part of our daily lives. The problem with having only 3 computers in the home while having 4 people who wanted to use it was the frequent conflicts that this arrangement produced. One of my kids would want the computer for homework while the other would want it for some other research and so on.

The results of the tests for the gifted program came back recently, and my kids did get into the gifted programs for their grade levels. And they did so quite comfortably too. So, now I am out shopping for good deals on computers for them. They deserve their own personal computers so that they can do whatever they need to do on the machines independent of each other.

In the past, buying two computers at once would have been a big burden on a family's budget. But computer prices have come down significantly over time. Computers with the power and capabilities that a school student needs to perform their research and homework are very affordable nowadays. And they are also getting to the point where they frequently need to print out either the research they have done on the computer or the results of the research (homework assignment, research report, etc.). So, while I am in the process of shopping around for computers, I might pick up a couple of printers too.

Getting them their own computers will also enable me to start teaching them from a young age how to protect and maintain computers both from a physical viewpoint as well as an informational viewpoint. I can teach them about customization, trouble-shooting common problems, protection from viruses and other threats, protection from online scams, etc. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about these topics (as opposed to ancient Chinese history or the latest advances in DNA synthesis), so it should be a fun summer! At least until my kids tune me out and start treating their computers like toys . . .

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