Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

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Dan Greenstein
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Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Dan Greenstein »

Brendan Byrne in the Buzzer Thread wrote:Bringing laptops to tournaments is another issue. I didn't want to start a separate thread for this, but it doesn't make sense to me to let someone else use your laptop for a 5 or 10 dollar discount.
I will start by outlining the major difference between laptops and buzzer systems.

- Laptops are usually significantly more expensive than buzzer systems. Correct me if I am wrong on the price points, but buzzer systems typically cost $250-500, whereas laptops are at minimum $500, and more likely between $1000 and $2000.

- Buzzer systems are more decentralized in what can break. While it is true that a problem in the central unit can doom the entire system, it is just as likely that an individual buzzer will break, a problem that can be temporarily solved by switching out that buzzer. With a laptop, if something goes wrong, such as spilling something on it or it is dropped from high enough, that laptop is knocked out for the day and perhaps longer.

- Buzzer systems are extremely simple devices, with very simple objectives. There is only one stated purpose for a buzzer system: to differentiate who buzzes in. Unless a thief has access to a buzzer or buzzer parts black market, has a buzzer fetish, or just enjoys terrorizing people who play quiz bowl, there is very little value in a buzzer system to a thief. But at the end of the day, if a buzzer system is stolen, it can easily be replaced.

A laptop, on the other hand, is a very complex device with many, many uses. This laptop also contains a lot of information, some of it necessarily to the functioning of the owner's life, such as school documents, and some sensitive information, like credit card numbers. The loss of a laptop is much more devastating to someone's life, even without the financial component figured in.

I think the last point alone is good enough to provide a major disincentive to bringing a laptop to a tournament, no matter how generous the laptop discount is. While bad things can happen whether it is someone else using or transporting the laptop or its owner, the negative repercussions of a laptop breaking or being stolen are such that the owner wants to be in as much control as possible.

It is for this reason that I am not willing to bring a laptop to a tournament unless I am the person who is going to use it or I am able to ensure that someone I know personally and trust personally is going to use it. I will not apologize for this stance.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by AKKOLADE »

yes you will apologize
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

This is the second time in the last few months you've posted a paranoid post about how you're not bringing laptops to anything. I think we get the message.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Dan Greenstein »

Whig's Boson wrote:This is the second time in the last few months you've posted a paranoid post about how you're not bringing laptops to anything. I think we get the message.
I fail to see how this addresses anything I wrote. How about you explain why I am paranoid instead of firing off a ad hominem one-liner and snickering in the corner?
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

Well, both Brittany and I have old laptops that function well enough to read packets. I'm sure many other people have laptops like these, probably worth less than $100 these days. I don't see any harm in giving these out to other people to read during a tournament. Plus, even new laptops can cost as little as like $300 (my new one, for instance cost me around $400). This is still a decent amount of money, but it's not significantly more than what a typicaly buzzer costs.

Finally, presumably a majority of people reading in a tournament have laptops to bring. I'm certainly comortable bringing my own laptop and reading with it, and I bet most other people are as well. The difference can be made up with older laptops and people who don't care as much.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Sir Thopas »

Dan Greenstein wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:This is the second time in the last few months you've posted a paranoid post about how you're not bringing laptops to anything. I think we get the message.
I fail to see how this addresses anything I wrote. How about you explain why I am paranoid instead of firing off a ad hominem one-liner and snickering in the corner?
I guess I would say you're paranoid because laptops get used all the time at tournaments, and there's only been one instance of one being stolen, and that was probably fairly avoidable. If you're worried, just go pick it up during lunch; other than that, the rooms are always manned.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by AKKOLADE »

Sir Thopas wrote:
Dan Greenstein wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:This is the second time in the last few months you've posted a paranoid post about how you're not bringing laptops to anything. I think we get the message.
I fail to see how this addresses anything I wrote. How about you explain why I am paranoid instead of firing off a ad hominem one-liner and snickering in the corner?
I guess I would say you're paranoid because laptops get used all the time at tournaments, and there's only been one instance of one being stolen, and that was probably fairly avoidable. If you're worried, just go pick it up during lunch; other than that, the rooms are always manned.
Are you referring to the Trygve Incident? I thought that was at a restaurant during a break in Chicago Open action.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

No, it got stolen out of the UChicago hallway.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

I'm pretty sure there was also a laptop stolen at the MIT mirror of Minnesota Open.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco »

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:I'm pretty sure there was also a laptop stolen at the MIT mirror of Minnesota Open.
Not just one--three laptops were stolen out of classrooms during lunch. Needless to say, we tell mods to bring their laptops back to HQ during breaks now...
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by dtaylor4 »

The Logic of Scientific Disco wrote:Not just one--three laptops were stolen out of classrooms during lunch. Needless to say, we tell mods to bring their laptops back to HQ during breaks now...
I figured this sort of common sense would prevail. If you're not gonna take it with you during lunch, take it to the staff room. The statperson should stick around during lunch anyway, thus someone is guarding it.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by fleurdelivre »

dtaylor4 wrote:
The Logic of Scientific Disco wrote:Not just one--three laptops were stolen out of classrooms during lunch. Needless to say, we tell mods to bring their laptops back to HQ during breaks now...
I figured this sort of common sense would prevail. If you're not gonna take it with you during lunch, take it to the staff room. The statperson should stick around during lunch anyway, thus someone is guarding it.
There was a miscommunication in which several mods thought their rooms were needed for the lunchtime video game rounds. Then when that tourney didn't use them, no one thought to lock the rooms or take the laptops out. No one person (or three) were being unconscionably stupid - it was very much a collective effort. These things happen.

That said, I also own a circa 2003 PowerBook with essentially zero resell value that comes to tournaments with me. People who deeply value their laptops can refuse to share and we'll still have enough machines around to run tournaments.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by Howard »

Dan makes excellent points. Additionally, I'll add that, unlike buzzer systems, laptops are prime targets of thieves due to their significant street value and are relatively easy to steal by simply picking up and carrying away.

I'm not even sure I'm willing to allow someone else to guard my laptop even if it's someone whom I trust. And I think it's a fair statement to say I trust most of the players I've encountered on the college circuit. While I don't think these people would steal my laptop, I nonetheless have difficulty making sure they meet my personal standards of diligence in protection.

On the other side of the coin, Mike brings up an excellent point regarding laptops of little value to the owner. I still say they're attractive to thieves, though. Thieves of this type are happy to receive $50 for their efforts.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by First Chairman »

Random odd question: will a netbook count as a laptop? Do we have enough experience with these things? I certainly also have concerns about being able to secure the laptop at tournaments, but netbooks are smaller and even easier to walk away with.

Certainly I also have confidential information that I sometimes have access from my laptop (hooray cookies). I do have primary responsibility for my laptop, even if I use it for work and non-work, to be sure that no one can access the confidential files that I keep whether on the machine or on some mystery server.
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Re: Bringing Laptop to Tournaments

Post by fleurdelivre »

First Chairman wrote:Random odd question: will a netbook count as a laptop? Do we have enough experience with these things? I certainly also have concerns about being able to secure the laptop at tournaments, but netbooks are smaller and even easier to walk away with.
They'd also be even less fun to try split-screening. I've used my 13" work laptop at a tournament before, and it's as small a screen as I would ever be willing to work from (hoarseness AND eye-strain by the end of the day? no thanks...), but if others are happy with them, they're also easier to pack/dump in a backpack and take to lunch instead of searching for a safe storage location.
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