Category Archives: Students

Back To School Essentials: Please RT

Good afternoon everyone.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful day.  🙂

I haven’t done a blog entry like this before, so I’m going to give it my best shot.

Having gone through college, I have gained some knowledge and experiences on things that students might need.  I’m not talking about 3-ring binders, staplers, hole punchers, or paper here, but rather, I’m talking about electronics and accessories to accompany the electronics.

First, and foremost, are computers.  A computer is essential for any college undergrad or graduate student.  You’ll be using it to write those late night papers that are due in a couple hours ;), check your email to see if professors have cancelled a class or see if someone wants a homework party session, and browse the web for help finding a good research topic for that British Lit course.  All kidding aside, your computer will be a significant part of your life as you journey through college.

When you’re buying a computer, think for the long term.  Consider the computer the best asset of your college experience.  Ask yourself the following questions: What do I need my computer to do?  Do I only need the computer to run Microsoft Office, email, and web?  Do I/Will I need to run more than just office or send/receive email?  Second, What do you wish your computer to do?  Would you like to be able to play the latest and greatest games during the weekends or procrastination nights?  Do you see yourself using your computer for a personal summer business venture?  These are important questions you must ask yourself.  I wish I would have asked myself these questions when I was starting my freshmen year of college.

When I started my freshmen year, I bought a Dell Inspiron.  After seeing a friend’s Dell and what it was able to do, I had to have it.  I tricked it out to the max (August 2003).  512MB RAM, 80 GB HD, P4 processor, DVD Player/Writer, second battery, special docking station, and many other things went into this laptop purchase.  The computer only lasted me two years.  I got involved with designing websites.  The computer could barely handle it without overheating or shutting down randomly.  Finally, the death toll rang as I watched the hard drive disintegrate just before I was leaving for a 1 month study abroad program.  Long story short, I had it with Dell and that computer.  Dell wasn’t very nice to me and in the summer of 2005, I got my first Mac, a PowerBook G4 17″.  (Side note: That computer still runs perfectly to this day with no problems)

With all that happened with my Dell, I learned a lot of things along the way.  I lost lots of music, movies, games, and old papers.  When you’re buying a computer, consider buying some protection for yourself such as a USB Flash Drive/Thumb Drive to backup your papers and other homework assignments.  I wish I would have done that my freshmen year.  Buy an external hard drive to backup your music that your dorm friends/house mates give you, your pictures that you have taken on your study abroad programs or sporting events, your movies that you acquired from friends, and, of course, older homework assignments/papers from the previous years (Seriously, keeping those papers around will really help you, trust me).  Plus, having a backup ensures that if your computer is stolen or breaks down, you won’t have to re-write that 10 page paper due in 2 days.

If you a bit more adventurous, own a Mac, and wish to have online storage/access to your files from anywhere and any computer in the world, grab a MobileMe subscription.  It’s $99 or $69 with a purchase of a new Mac.  If you own an iPhone, you can even access and view your files right on your phone.  Speaking of iPhones, let me recommend a few good apps.

First up is a wonderful little app called iStudiez Pro ($2.99).  This app allows you to keep track of your homework.  You can add your course informations such as the course number, professor, section, room info, etc.  You can add your professor’s office hours and contact info into the app.  You can put in your exam schedule, lists of holidays/the times you have off during the semester, and even your assignments.  The app will even alert you when an assignment due date is approaching even if the app isn’t open!  Same goes for exams too.  Oh, you can also keep track of your grades for each class too.  For $2.99, it’s worth the price.  I wish I had this app when I was in college.

Second, Skype for iPhone (FREE).  If you have a Skype account, which is free, you can talk to your friends who also have Skype.  For you international students, this is a great alternative to pre-paid phone cards or expensive phone bills.  Best part is, you can have Skype on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or even an iPad.  So if you want to talk to your mom and tell her how your doing and if she has Skype, you can talk to her for free.  FYI, for the moment at least, you can make/receive Skype calls over 3G on AT&T’s network.

Beejive IM ($9.99) is my next pick.  If you’re still an active AIM, Yahoo, or MSN user, you’ll appreciate this app (other IM protocols are supported as well).  You can run multiple accounts at once, which is great if you have six AIM accounts and 3 MSN accounts.  You’ll get notifications of new IMs even if the app is closed.  Also, there are regular updates to this app as new iPhone operating systems are released.

Also, most major colleges/universities have their own iPhone apps related to your school.  Check the app store to see if your school as such an app.  If so, I highly recommend downloading it.  It may offer information such as sporting events, ordering tickets, campus maps, and even campus information ie campus closures.

I think I covered some of the big ones.  I’ll have a more thorough list of apps in my next blog entry sometime next week.  Stay tuned for that.

I hope you find this very helpful as you’re preparing to face yet another grueling academic year.  Feel free to leave a comment if you want to share your back to school electronics experiences, good or bad.  Also, if you wish to promote an app you love, give me the app name and I might add it to my list to blog about next week.  (Please keep it limited to the following categories: Educational or school related, or Social media.)

DISCLAIMER:  I have not been solicited into reviewing any of the apps mentioned.  These reviews are solely of my experiences.