Textbooks

The majority of the courses offered in the BIT programs require that students purchase textbooks to further their studies in addition to the lectures. A list of books needed for a term is usually provided by the instructor of a particular course in the course outline. Students are normally given the option of purchasing their textbooks at the Carleton or Algonquin Book Store, at a third party book store, online, or used from upper year students. Bear in mind that instructors routinely upgrade to new editions of existing text books or change to a completely new one from year to year, and thus only the Carleton Book Store is guaranteed to have the correct books in stock at the beginning of every new school term. In the case where only a part of a text is required for the course, instructors will attempt to get permission from the publisher to make photocopied course packs available to students at a considerable discount.

Students should speak with their instructor before making the decision of buying either an older edition of a required text book or a substitute text. If older editions of a text are still permissible, students may also attempt to borrow a copy from the MacOdrum Library (if available) before deciding whether or not to purchase the newer edition.

Some courses, such as Physics also require students to purchase a lab manual and lab supplies such as report booklets. Lab Manuals for Physics courses are sold at the Sciences Store (118 Steacie Building); Lab Report booklets are sold at the Carleton Book Store.

Algonquin College also offers students a book and technology store. For further information go to www.bookstore.algonquincollege.com

Computer Hardware

Introduction

All schools involved in the IMD and NET programs provide access to a large number of computers both in class and for general access; these computers are normally installed with up-to-date software relevant to the courses students will take. However, some students like to purchase their own machine for a variety of reasons and should consider the following information:

Brand/Type

Neither program endorses a specific brand of computer and a student's own preference and available funding will determine their eventual outlay. In general, we recommend something from reputable manufacturers, especially from the aspect of longevity, such as HP, DELL, Apple, and Lenovo.

Regardless of the manufacturer the computer should be a Laptop, Laptop/Tablet Hybrid, or a Desktop, due to the requirements of the courses. Net Books and pure Tablets are not specifically recommended as they lack the power capacity for certain applications.

Laptop vs. Desktop

The choice of purchasing a Laptop or a Desktop will depend on (a) cost, (b) handwriting, (c) weight.

  • Cost - generally laptops cost more and you will obtain less (for the same money as a Desktop), and in addition they can only be upgraded slightly (i.e. you can add memory, but most will not allow the swapping of the graphics card).

  • Handwriting - if you are not very good at handwritten notes, a laptop can be valuable in taking notes in class; they enable you to keep clear, searchable notes for the courses that do not provide them online.

  • Weight - most laptops weigh around 2Kg, if not more. The more powerful ones weigh even more (especially those with bigger screens and better CPU's and graphics cards); if they need to be hauled to/from class every day it can be a considerable burden.

If you have good funds, your handwriting is not as good as it should be, or you just want the convenience of everything being there, then a laptop can be ideal - but make sure the weight is acceptable to you (imagine carrying this everywhere). A powerful laptop is just an expensive desktop if it's always left in your room.

If you are not bothered about using one every day or think you will upgrade over time (4 years is a long time in terms of computer hardware) then a desktop can be more suitable; and just carrying a hard-drive to/from school can be sufficient.

Configuration

A good CPU and plenty of memory will serve you well for 4 years; at least 4GB is recommended as of writing and more if you wish it to last longer. Consider getting 4GB now with space for another 4GB in a few years is also a good way to spread the cost. For a desktop, the Intel Core i7 is currently a good CPU to have; however you can compare a prospective purchase against other CPU's using the following benchmark ( www.passmark.com ); the Core i7 975 is a good CPU to compare against.

Most hard-drives are of a sufficient size nowadays to hold the files that will be used; so speed is more of an issue. The Solid-State Drives (SSD) are very expensive, smaller, but very fast (and theoretically more reliable), the Western Digital VelociRaptor is a less expensive alternative - however the slower the drive the lower the cost. You might also consider two hard drives: one for the OS (which can be smaller and slower) and one for data (which can be faster) which would balance costs a little.

For the NET program a standard graphics card is sufficient. For IMD decent graphics card will help, although most intense applications will occur from the 3rd year - therefore it can be advisable to purchase a standard card now and then invest in a more powerful one after your 2nd year. Currently, a NVidia GeForce 5xx or 6xx series is considered around the level required, but power requirements need to be taken into account (i.e. make sure when purchasing the computer that the power supply meets the requirements of these graphics cards).

Back-Up

Regardless of the program you are in, you need to make sure you have the ability to backup your data - lost files, work, etc can have catastrophic consequences on your academic performance. Therefore it is advisable that you either have an external hard drive which you use for backup, or you backup to another hard-drive on your computer (we recommend daily). Make sure you take this into consideration when purchasing a computer system, regardless of your configuration, brand, or type.

Purchase Date

We often recommend that students wait until after their first year to purchase a computer; or at least until the first term is well underway. This will enable them to get a feel for how the program is set out, how they will use the computers available, and whether they feel the need for the investment. This will enable them to invest in a better computer when they need it most.

Computer Software

While the School of Information Technology has arranged computer labs for students to complete all their work during the school year, purchasing your own copies of the software to learn at your own pace at home or in your dorm room might be a wise decision. Some instructors also expect that most students have a working knowledge of the software before entering first year. Carleton University has agreements set up with software makers to offer students the resources they need at an affordable price. Software can be purchased at student prices at the Carleton Book Store (UC172). Some Microsoft software can also be downloaded through the MSDNAA program. More information can be found at msdnaa.carleton.ca .

The IMD program uses solely Windows 7 x64Bit and therefore it is expected that students should be able to submit assignments for this platform. Therefore the purchase of a personal computer or laptop should take this into account (e.g. it should be a Windows-based machine or a Macintosh capable of running in Windows Mode).

The NET program uses mainly Windows 7 x64Bit, but on occasions Linux, and therefore it is expected that students should be able to submit assignments for these platforms. Therefore the purchase of a personal computer or laptop should take this into account (e.g. it should be a Windows-based machine with the ability to run Linux if additional requirements are expected).

Other recommendations on software will come on a class-by-class basis due to the ever-changing nature of software it may be different year to year (at least in version).