USDA Farmers' Bulletin No. 2277: Computers on the Farm, by Deborah Takiff Smith is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here: [LINK TO TABLE OF LINK]. How to Select Hardware - Checklist for Evaluating Hardware
Here are some factors to consider when evaluating and comparing hardware:
Software. The first questions to ask are, "What software do you plan to use?" and "Which computer will run that program?"
Does the computer come with a standard operating system so that it will be compatible with a range of software programs?
Memory. How much memory, or information storage capacity, do you need? The computer's memory is measured in kilobytes (abbreviated K), and most computers come in sizes ranging from 2K up to 256K. (A kilobyte is equal to roughly 1,000 characters.) You need to know the software program you will use and your recordkeeping requirements to accurately estimate the capacity of the equipment you need.
Some agricultural programs use 48K or 64K of memory. User friendly programs, which require little training to use and which guide you through the program, may be easier; but they may require more memory for the program itself, leaving you less storage space or memory for the data.
Computation. What kind of computational ability do you want your computer to have? Will it serve the computing needs you have identified for now and later?
Input and Output Devices. What kind of output do you need? What additional pieces of equipment or peripherals (such as separate screen, disk drive, modem, printer) will you need to buy to make this system do what you want it to?
Most agricultural programs require a printer. A dot matrix printer (which produces characters made of small dots) may be sufficient. Another option is a letter quality printer, which is more expensive.
How big a screen do you need? (Screens are measured in characters and in inches.) Do you need an 80-column or 40-column monitor? Do you need color and strong graphics capability? What quality screen image do you need?
Can you add memory and other components later if you need to?
External Storage. What kind of external storage does the system use, floppy disk, hard disk, or tape? Cassette tape storage costs less, but compared to disk storage, it has several disadvantages.
If the hardware uses floppy disks, is the disk drive included as part of the computer package or does it come separately? Is a second disk drive included in the package or does it come separately? What kind of a disk drive(s) do you need, single or double density? Hard or floppy?
Training. What training is available in the use of the new equipment?
Backup and Maintenance Services. What backup and maintenance services are available from the vendor or other sources, once you've bought this computer?
What happens when the computer is down (not working)? Does the company or store from which you plan to buy offer a service contract, and how much does it cost? Will you have to carry your computer to their site for servicing, and how long are you likely to be without it? How far away is your dealer and where will the computer actually be serviced?
It's important to buy something that you can have fixed fairly quickly and cheaply, since elements of your system, especially the mechanical parts, may well need repair at some time.
Value. What equipment and software programs come with the basic package, and are these items included in the base price?
Compare prices carefully, considering the components and software you are getting for a particular price. Do not buy on the basis of price alone, but consider also the reliability of the equipment and the vendor, and the service you will be getting to set up, maintain, and support your system.
About HackerNoon Book Series: We bring you the most important technical, scientific, and insightful public domain books. This book is part of the public domain.
Smith, Deborah Takiff. 2019. USDA Farmers: Bulletin No. 2277: Computer on the Farm. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59316/59316-h/59316-h.htm#How_to_Select_Hardware
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org, located at https://www.gutenberg.org/policy/license.html.