How to Choose the Best Laptop for Programming (S5E15)

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We talk a lot on this podcast about non-traditional paths into tech—but traditional education can also be a solid choice to build a wealth of technical knowledge and start your career.

Take Forrest Knight, who went to college for computer science, graduated in May 2018, and got a job as a software engineer that same month. As a part-time YouTuber on the side, Forrest shares his experiences on topics including computer science, software engineering, and advice for choosing the best laptop for programming.

In this episode, Forrest joins us to talk about that last part: how to choose the best laptop for coding, depending on your needs. He also gives us an overview of hardware terms (e.g. CPU, RAM, SSD) and talks about replacing, repairing, and updating your equipment.

Listen to the episode below!

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

Laurence Bradford 0:08
Hi, and welcome to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. Today we'll be learning about choosing the best laptop for you after this quick word about how you can support the show.

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Laurence Bradford 1:06
Hey listeners. In today's episode I talk with Forrest Knight. Forrest is a full time software engineer and part time YouTuber. He studied computer science at college and he's here today to share his advice on choosing the best laptop for programming. You'll learn which laptop to buy if you're learning to code, which one to buy if you're also doing more demanding tasks like gaming, everything you need to know about replacing repairing and updating your hardware, and what key terms like CPU, RAM and SSD mean. Let's get into the interview.

Laurence Bradford 1:43
Hey, Forrest, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Forrest Knight 1:46
Thank you for having me.

Laurence Bradford 1:47
I'm really excitedto talk to you today. But as I just said, while we were getting ready to record, I am a little bit nervous because this is the first time ever out of like, almost 100 episodes that I'm talking to someone about Something that's hardware related what laptop to buy when you're figuring out what kind of lots of you buy if you're if you're learning to code. And this is a question that I get asked all the time from people writing in. And by no means am I an expert on this. So I'm just really happy to have someone who has researched this to come on and from your own experience and discuss it. But before we get into all that, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background in tech?

Forrest Knight 2:28
Sure. So I could really go all the way back to when I was a toddler, you know, growing up, but I'm just going to go back to college days, because that's really when I dove into it to the point where I am today. And that is I went to college for computer science. I graduated with a computer science degree last May. And in that same month, I got a job as a software engineer. So obviously, computers laptops have been a big part of this whole entire career for me.

Laurence Bradford 2:54
Nice. So one of the things that struck me is really interesting when I was researching This topic was how little content there actually was online about determining which computer or laptop to buy to code on. But there was stuff Don't get me wrong. And there were lots of like listicle articles that had these whole comparison charts, but it really wasn't geared towards someone who was new and getting started, and how I ended up coming across you and your work was on your YouTube channel where you had this entire video called Best laptops for computer science students. And for those listening, we'll definitely link up to it in the show notes of this episode. And I just want to know, like, what made you want to make a video about this topic to begin with?

Forrest Knight 3:38
So I get asked this question all the time, because my audience is a lot of those people who are aspiring computer science students or aspiring software engineers or they are currently and since this question was asked all the time, I figured I'd address it in a video where I can go into a lot more detail about it than I would in a comment.

Laurence Bradford 3:56
Got it. That makes sense. So could you tell us about What you talk about in it and what you recommend in the video?

Forrest Knight 4:03
Yeah, in the video, I really talk about my personal experiences because, as you mentioned, there are a lot of like, lists out there of you know, what could be the best coating laptop, I just talked about what I find to be the best coating laptop for me, and, or computer science laptop, whatever. It's the same thing really. And for me, it was my MacBook Pro because Macs, run Mac OS and that is Unix based. And that's very popular within computer science software engineering realm, of course. And I also talked about the Dell XPS laptops, just because I think that's a very solid, good laptop for the price and what it offers. That's what I've recommended to my brother and countless other people. But one of the main points I tried to touch on is get a laptop that's catered towards you in which you like to do. If you're only focused on coding, then you can get by with one of those four or $500 laptops, whether it's you know, a few years old, or it's a Lenovo ThinkPad, I know some are more expensive than $500. But you can get some cheap, thick pads as well. And if you like to game, but you also want to be a computer science student or software engineer, then get a gaming laptop, because those laptops will be able to code as well. So I just try to encourage people to do a bit more research based on what they want and what their needs are trying to think about everything that they'll be using the laptop for, and get the laptop for all of those reasons.

Laurence Bradford 5:32
So what is a gaming laptop? Exactly.

Forrest Knight 5:36
So gaming laptop would be something created like by MSI, that's a company that will create graphics cards or whatever and they have laptops, it's basically a beefier laptop that generally has a better processor. A better a better ram a graphics card in order to optimally run video games.

Laurence Bradford 5:56
Make sense. And I never knew this but my monitor apparently is really good for gaming I'm not a gamer clearly by question but at the company I was working at before all of the people on the tech team we all had the same monitor and I don't know who chose it he must have been must have been a gamer I'm assuming most yeah because I remember trying to find like an output an out of gosh an output or a cord to like go to my Mac and I had to order especially online because whatever it was that he would have at the Apple Store.

Forrest Knight 6:29
Very interesting. What?

Laurence Bradford 6:31
Yeah, I would have to like I can't have to look it up to to get the exact cord. Oh man I would and then I have to do special converter. Next I have a new the newer MacBook.

Forrest Knight 6:42
That's always fun.

Laurence Bradford 6:43
Yeah, it's like I used to keep buying more things I feel like to to use to then have to buy like $40 converter on top of the other thing. I'm like, oh my goodness is just just adding up but I love the monitor so much because the graphics were so great and it's relatively affordable. So I am I went with that but Nice. Yeah. So, okay, so you mentioned like catering to what works for you and what you like to do. So what if someone you know, they're not a gamer, they only really use their laptop right now maybe just for like social media or email and just like kind of like basic things. Nothing too crazy. What should they think about then then, like in that case.

Forrest Knight 7:27
If they're just a casual user who wants to code?

Laurence Bradford 7:30
Yeah, yeah.

Forrest Knight 7:31
So I guess that heavily depends on your budget. If you're if you really budget conscious and you want to get something cheap, one of those Lenovo thinkpads or I actually use a Dell Inspiron at my software engineering job. So obviously that does the job for me. And you can get those for fairly cheap. I would just say get whatever laptop you can to actually get you started to code. It's less about the laptop. Sure. You need maybe minimum specs in my humble opinion. It would be maybe like a newer, within the past four generations of Intel Core processors like I five, that's essentially what I have in my computer tower. And that can code and a minimum of eight gigabytes of RAM in terms of the company or the actual laptop, that's really up to whoever, if you really want to just be directed in one area, I'd say look at Lenovo, because a lot of my audience tend to use those because they're generally on the cheaper side or look at Dell, because I've always liked Dell.

Laurence Bradford 8:29
So you mentioned a few terms just a second ago, like gigabytes Ram. Core processor, I think was another Yes. Could you just briefly explain what some of those things are?

Forrest Knight 8:40
So the core processor, that's the CPU, that's essentially what will run all of your tasks and there's a lot of different levels of that. And I would just recommend a minimum of, of I five and then when it comes to your RAM, your RAM, I would recommend a minimum of eight gigabytes but you can get by with four gigs. gigabytes, a lot of other computers are running like 16 or 32 or 64. Beyond in what the ram does, it's random access memory. And that is essentially, when you are running a particular program, whether that be a coding program, or a video game, or chrome, Google Chrome, that is where the information that you're using is stored in the RAM. And then if you save that, that's when that stuff will get saved onto your main storage. So that's essentially where all of your stuff runs.

Laurence Bradford 9:31
I'm like kind of switching gears here. But this makes me think of it. Um, so now there's all these cloud storage solutions, right? So I mean, there's like AWS, but then even if you're just doing like, Doc stuff, like Google Docs, like my entire life is on Google Docs. And I also use Dropbox does doesn't really matter, like how much local storage you have if you're using some of these cloud things that save it all there?

Forrest Knight 9:55
Um, I guess in terms of your storage Not necessarily as long as your local storage has a comfortable 25%. So like if you have a 250 gigabyte hardware, what am I trying to, say a storage, then you want to have like at least 40 to 50 gigabytes of open storage in order to have your computer run optimally. But in terms of RAM, it really heavily depends on what what programs you're running. So if you're running Premiere Pro, which Adobe Premiere Pro is what I use to edit my YouTube videos, that needs a decent amount of RAM. And then when I export that, regardless of where I'm exporting it to it could be up to the cloud, it could be to a an external hard drive like I normally do. The RAM is still necessary to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Laurence Bradford 10:48
Right. So you're really interesting because you you're not only like a software engineer, but you also do a lot of video editing. And do you do any design?

Forrest Knight 10:58
I do a little bit of a design I work with Adobe XD, but dhobi experienced design because I have the Adobe Creative Cloud. And since that was added in, I think, maybe the beginning of 2017, or maybe somewhere in 2016, when I first started, you know, getting Adobe Creative Cloud and doing all of that, I figured I'd use it. I use that for mobile app design, web design, although I don't do much web design, you can use it for that. It's essentially like sketch or envision studio, which I think is relatively new. And I do use that for some design. And I've used illustrator but that's not really my cup of tea.

Laurence Bradford 11:37
So if someone is maybe they're starting out, they're not exactly sure what direction they want to take, but they do think something down the design route could interest them. So maybe product design or UX design or mom know web design or what have you. Are there any considerations a person should make? When it comes to computer to buy for doing design work that's different than doing Software Engineering?

Forrest Knight 12:02
I still think that it'll be able to take the same workload, if you're doing that type of work. I mean, if you're doing 3d rendering, or some heavy, heavy video editing, but then that that's kind of a different ballpark, that's more than what I do. So if you're just kind of focused on design, whether that is web design with HTML, CSS, and whatnot, or if that's designed with one of these programs, where you're essentially just making a mock up in order to go off of to create your website or your iOS application, I think the specs would be similar, just the same minimums, as I mentioned earlier.

Laurence Bradford 12:38
And then for someone buying a laptop, do you have any advice on like, where to look or maybe where not to buy one from?

Forrest Knight 12:47
Where not to buy one? I'm not sure I try to stay away from anywhere like that.

Laurence Bradford 12:52
I was. I was going to say I was thinking like Craigslist because sometimes I get tempted to buy like a TV. I really want to TV. Listen, I'm like, I don't know if I should buy an electronic on Craigslist, because who knows how well it's gonna work once you bring it home.

Forrest Knight 13:07
Yeah, that's definitely a concern. So in terms of laptops, my main thing is that I haven't bought a laptop in a long time. As mentioned, I still use a mid 2012 MacBook Pro. And then I have a three to four year old desktop computer that I built. But I have been keeping up to date and my friends have been asking for laptops and whatnot. And of course, I'm still in the know about it. And they just go the typical route, whether that'd be straight from the website like Dell, or maybe that'd be Best Buy, or Amazon is always a good one. But sometimes they have a little bit too many options. The cool thing about the native website on like, if you want to order it online, like let's say if that's their, their URL, you can actually go through and you know, if you need X amount of storage, you can get X amount of storage if you need X amount of RAM. Or if you want to choose a CPU, you essentially can customize your laptop instead of going on Amazon and it's a little bit more confusing to do that. So I would just recommend ordering it from the regular avenues. As mentioned in terms of somewhere like Craigslist, I've yet I've used Craigslist a lot Don't get me wrong. I used to make money on Craigslist buying and selling stuff just for fun in high school to have, you know, some extra money but I've never bought a laptop so I can't really say much about it.

Laurence Bradford 14:31
Yeah, I feel like it's definitely a risk when you buy from some kind of place like Craigslist or I know there's other apps now like let go and Facebook marketplace. Yeah, I haven't found like traction there either. But yeah, as you said, it feels like it's a lot safer to go down a more traditional route.

Forrest Knight 14:49
Yeah, in terms of the hardware, especially but there's also that concern of you're meeting a random person somewhere. And so if anyone ever does buy anything off Craigslist or something anything on Craigslist meet no public busy place. Just Just a tip.

Laurence Bradford 15:04
Yeah. Or have someone or more than one person maybe go with you. Yeah. But yeah, in the sidebar but in I live in New York and I always am on Craigslist looking at furniture, which is, you know, much different than buying electronic. There have been pieces of furniture, but yeah, I've definitely never gone alone or I've looked at the person up on LinkedIn and made sure like, they're like, real or you know, whatever.

Forrest Knight 15:28
I see background check.

Laurence Bradford 15:30
Yeah, yeah, definitely. So you mentioned a little bit ago that you've had your computer since 2012.

Forrest Knight 15:36

Laurence Bradford 15:37
How have you been able to like maintain? Take one for that one because I think I got what I feel now I feel kind of guilty because I feel like I just got a new one and I really might, really wasn't that old, but it was so slow. It was just like hard to use.

Forrest Knight 15:52
We'll see. That's what I was going to mention when you're talking about having all these like dongles or adapters. I was going to say you could have With that problem, I just keep in a really old laptop, not worrying about it, but then you run into other problems. So I have the mid 2012 MacBook Pro, and that has an i7 CPU. So that's, that's good. And the generation is old, of course, I don't even know maybe the fourth generation Intel processor, and then it has eight gigabytes of RAM. So that's good. That's what I would buy. I mean, I still create apps on there. So obviously it does the job plus that's old Ram. So that's why I say specs like as long as you have these minimums you should be good because if I'm able to work on a what, what now, six and a half year old laptop then anything within the past two years you should be fine on.

Forrest Knight 16:45
The one main thing that I did with my MacBook Pro is I ordered a 500 gigabyte SSD which is solid state drive and replaced my hard disk drive. Because you know if you have a laptop and you hear like a disk Spinning as if you inserted a CD, that's that that would be a disk drive spinning around. And if you bump it, it could mess something up that's running a solid state drive. It's essentially flash storage. So instead of spinning on a disk, try to find what it needs to find. It essentially finds it a snap of finger. And that was my main replacement and update to that laptop, which really allowed it to, to continue going on to put in perspective, it took about I don't know I have a video on it somewhere, but like, let's say like three to five minutes from shut down to boot up. Now it takes like 30 seconds. So it made quite the difference.

Laurence Bradford 17:40
Wow. And I again, all this stuff is like so new to me. But how much does something like that cost like the SSD that you put in.

Forrest Knight 17:49
So it's just getting cheaper and cheaper as years go on, which I'm very happy about. But then again, a lot of things are taking up more and more storage so you have to spend more money for more storage But the 500 gigabyte at the time, I think I spent maybe 160 if I recall correctly, hundred 60 US dollars, but I think you can get down for us. It's a Samsung 850 EVO, a solid state drive. And I think it's around closer to 100 bucks then 160 if I'm not mistaken.

Laurence Bradford 18:23
Wow. And that's definitely a lot less than a new Mac computer.

Forrest Knight 18:27
Definitely and, and I can also take it out if I ever got a new one and use it as an external hard drive or put it into my PC or something. So it's an update that isn't just, you know, custom to that if I wanted to, I could take it out, wipe the whole thing and use it in another computer.

Laurence Bradford 18:45
So did you install this or I guess if that's the right word install yourself.

Forrest Knight 18:51
Yeah, I did. I like doing that.

Laurence Bradford 18:55
So, so for someone who maybe doesn't like doing that or is nervous. They're going to like, mess, that would be my major. I'm like, oh god, what if I like just like break the whole thing because I'm clumsy and I like screw the wrong thing or something. I'm like, is there's a, like, I guess there's places locally where computer repair places that can maybe bring it. Yes, watch a lot of YouTube videos and gain the confidence and doing it.

Forrest Knight 19:20
Yeah, that's what I do. I just, I look at YouTube videos for anything from, you know, figuring out what what squeaking in my car and how to replace like my pulley like I have in my in my car before or replacing a hard drive in a laptop. But if you are really worried about it, and just don't want to mess with it, then you obviously you would be spending for more money for the service. And you could go to a local computer, fix it shop or, you know, someone like Geek Squad at BestBuy or one of those types of electronic stores could probably fix it for you but obviously you're gonna be paying more for the The name brand you know, like Geek Squad Best Buy, they're gonna cost more most likely than your local shop.

Laurence Bradford 20:05
And have you ever replaced the battery in the computer that you've been using? I have not.

Forrest Knight 20:11
I actually have another laptop that is sitting on a shelf. It's a I think it's an HP laptop elitebook I think if I if I recall correctly from my old job, but that doesn't turn on unless it's plugged in because the battery's dead. But in terms of MacBook Pro, it's a little bit different, but no, I've never done it.

Laurence Bradford 20:32
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Laurence Bradford 20:38
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Laurence Bradford 22:58
Yeah, I feel like this is another thing I feel sort of guilty about a story feel guilty about sharing but my home I have I have two computers now one I never users kind of the backup one and then my newer one that I got several months ago and one of the big things that made me get a new computer was that my battery need to be replaced and if I went through the Apple Store and mind you I live in Manhattan so this is like there's literally a 24 hour Apple Store in Times Square like while there Yeah, it's which totally blew I actually know somebody to work there. I don't and she liked the overnight shift because she worked on not the geek whatever the equivalent of the Geek Squad which I'm blanking on

Forrest Knight 23:38
Apple care me?

Laurence Bradford 23:39

Forrest Knight 23:39
I don't know.

Laurence Bradford 23:40
Yeah, they don't care 24 hours so nice. And she actually told me that this is shocking to the people who would come in a lot at night where a lot of like celebrities or like an like NBA players or like people maybe that want to keep a low profile and like, which is crazy that they're going to get their iPhone fixed, but maybe I don't know they just wanted to and not send an assistant but in any event she said she really liked the shifts because it was really quiet but there was like three main kinds of people that would come in. That's also magic like like the different people have come in at 4am like right because they're you know, working on an essay at college and their computer crashed and they're freaking out or something.

Laurence Bradford 24:18
But anyway, so I went there and they said it would take like a week for me to send my laptop away for them to change the battery and then give it back to me It could have been up to even 10 days I think and I was like I can't go without my computer for 10 days so then I found another place in the city that could have repaired it and it could have taken a day but because of my the type of computer that I had which is maybe a 2012 MacBook Pro and dedicated of the part this the service all this it would have come out I think to be like $500 at that point. I was like well yeah me measures guy new computer and just save this one because yeah, I just can't believe there's not like a better solution for the battery fix. repair and I know some computers, it's easier to change your battery than others. But I think the one that mine was it's like not easy to change, like if a person wants to do it themselves.

Forrest Knight 25:08
Yeah. And that's, that's in yours was a Apple Computer.

Laurence Bradford 25:12
Yeah, it was. Yeah.

Forrest Knight 25:14
So that's the thing with Apple products. I remember way back when I had a flip phone, you know, I went from a flip phone where you could take the battery out to turn it off or to do whatever to an iPhone. They have no removable battery. That was my first experience with something like iPhone where they don't let you customize the hardware at all. And even now in their laptops, or even in their computers, a lot of like the RAM, the stuff is soldered on. You can't replace a lot of the items within that. It's essentially you buy what you need now. In either you take it in and pay you know $500 to get it up, updated or you buy a new one. That's one of the my main gripes with Apple. I do like apple. I'm a bit biased since One of my main things was has been iOS development so of course I'm going to be running my Mac OS but that's one thing with Apple that I just can't wrap my head around.

Laurence Bradford 26:10
Yeah, it's pretty it's pretty wild because they do make it so hard. It's like a week like I can't like I can't not use have a computer.

Forrest Knight 26:19
Business I need to keep this running.

Laurence Bradford 26:21
Yeah, exactly. It's like I I can't even imagine a day even unless I'm like on vacation or something but being in like the you know, real world I can't imagine going you know, yeah, day would be really difficult. But I think what you mentioned is also something good for people to keep in mind, like if they want to do any kind of tinkering or customization that especially the newer apples, it's basically impossible to do that. Yeah. So if you if a person is interested in building their own computer, doing all that it may not be a great option for them. Yeah, I'm gonna change Yeah, well, a little bit still by computers, but you Were also mentioning something earlier about the disk in the noise and whatever. And then it just made me think of even on my new MacBook Pro, which again, I got a few months ago. There are times when I'm running certain applications. And this is actually it only really happens with audio or video where it gets really loud, like my computer's like buzzing just to have an answer for that. You know what that is? Because I'm like, how is a really new computer doing this?

Forrest Knight 27:27
But that's what under a heavy workload. Yeah, that's probably your fans trying to cool off the insides of your computer. That's what I guess your fans are so fast as possible, trying to blow as much air through in order to make sure everything stays cool and not overheat.

Laurence Bradford 27:43
But is there a way for that to? Like, is there any way to like to avoid that from happening? Like if I had more, I don't know, like space on my computer or something or more is more powerful?

Forrest Knight 27:56
I'm not sure maybe. I'm not. I'm not sure exactly how it's set up. For the for the fans to work, that's a very interesting question. Because of course, if you have lower, I feel like if you have lower specs, then it's easier to make your computer have a heavier workload because otherwise it could be a regular workload on a high end computer like a really good computer and your fans wouldn't be working as hard because the workload wouldn't be as as heavy so I guess that would kind of go hand in hand with better the computer the less frequent it'll overheat I guess. I don't know. That's just an assumption. Don't quote me on that please.

Laurence Bradford 28:32
Yeah, yeah, I but I am then I am also just thinking about some people I know that do a lot of the video stuff in particular where they will actually give some I used to work with where her computer they had to get her a new one because she ended up doing a lot of video work and her computer would just like crash. This was again brand new Apple Computer. Yeah, we just crash out and it was crazy. And they were we had where I used to work and she ended up getting into No one got like a very powerful like we're probably the highest specs you could get an apple and then it was totally fine but it is wild just like the spectrum of these laptops because I don't know how many Apple will release but you know, they have like four or something different ones. Kind of specs from the lowest which is the cheapest to the best which can be like show much more expensive though.

Forrest Knight 29:21
Yeah, you could buy so I course few use cars for that price.

Laurence Bradford 29:26
Yeah, yeah, it's apps. Yeah, it's really it's it's insane. But uh, for me I now have a car so I here's my I use my lots of times I'm like, Okay, this is this isn't investment and I really need this and I did go with a bit better specs this time around because I always ran out of storage space on my last computer. So I was like, I don't want that from happening. But anyway. So I just wanted to actually I just I would love to talk real quick about your YouTube channel, if you don't mind and like how you got into that because I know there's people listening that really want to like helped share their knowledge as they're learning to code. And it's I think it's awesome that you have such like an active YouTube channel. When did you start that?

Forrest Knight 30:08
I started it in the summer of 2016. Towards the end, I think in August, if I recall correctly.

Laurence Bradford 30:14
And it's grown like quite a lot, or you have a large following.

Forrest Knight 30:17
I appreciate that. Yeah, we've had almost 40,000 subscribers in December, just just a couple weeks ago.

Laurence Bradford 30:26
And how often are you putting out new videos there? So for me, it's either,

Forrest Knight 30:31
It really depends, some weeks, none. Other weeks three. So I tried to average a single video per week in 2018. I think I got maybe like mid 40s. I didn't quite hit that 52 video mark, which I wish I would have. But you know, it is what it is at this point. Now I could just move forward and that's essentially the consistency it's, I had one whole month of May, that I didn't upload a single video. Because I got married, I graduated, went on my honeymoon and I started a new job. So I had a little bit going on that month. And I hope I hope my subscribers could understand.

Laurence Bradford 31:11
So I hope so.

Forrest Knight 31:13
Yeah. And then it's crazy how the YouTube channel has evolved to what it is today because I started off just making videos didn't really know what I wanted to make videos about. But I just wanted to make videos and this was around this was when I was a computer science student. And then I decided I'm going to track my iOS development journey. I coined it as AI dev journey, because I was learning iOS development for the second time, because I forgot everything from before. And then I was just essentially tracking that whole entire journey on my YouTube channel. And one thing led to another, I uploaded a few computer science related videos, and those are some videos that really caught that caught towards the end of 2017. And essentially, that propelled me into making more money. More videos about computer science because I remember when I first was interested in computer science, just like many people right now listening are either interested in computer science or software development, you have so many questions. And since I've been there, I figured it's wise of me and helpful of me to answer a lot of these questions that I knew I had, back then based on my personal experiences that I've gone through. And to put in perspective, at the beginning of 2017, I had 3000 subscribers, I didn't publicly announce my goal, because it's kind of like a vanity metric. My one goal was to upload 52 videos one video a week, but in my mind, for subscribers, my goal was to have 10,000 subscribers by the end of 2018. And as you could see, the computer science area, me sharing my experience has really allowed me to grow faster than I ever could have dreamed.

Laurence Bradford 32:54
Wow. And then looking ahead for 2019 What are your plans of use Are you still going to try to Put out, like a video every week? And is it still going to be about the computer science topics or something else?

Forrest Knight 33:06
Yeah, that's the goal. I do have this one series that I am about to begin. And it's kind of like, essentially what I'm what I'm working on kind of like, you know, back when I made the dev journey, which check my iOS development journey. I want to track my personal development journey with whatever I work on this year. And I kind of, in my mind, I don't think it'll play out this way. But I'm going to say here anyway, in my mind, it'll ideally be, let's say, like every Tuesday or every other Tuesday upload part of that series, which is kind of like, like what I just said of what I'm working on, and a little bit more, a deeper look into what's going on in my life, whatnot. I think that'd be fun to look back on in five years and whatnot, kind of like a vlog series, if you will, like there's typical daily vloggers and whatnot, but weekly or bi weekly, and then I would like to keep my computer science related software. Engineering related topic videos or tutorials every Friday. I'm not sure if that's going to happen. But then again, this is my very first year ever, of having a foreseeable consistent schedule. Instead of worrying about what classes I'm taking or what job I'll be working. I know I'll be working as a software engineer at the current company, which I work for this whole entire year, at least. I hope so. And I know my hours, so it's easier to set a schedule like that. So that's kind of what's going on this year. Hopefully.

Laurence Bradford 34:32
Nice. I could ask you like a lot more questions about next thing is really interesting. So but just like super quick, Suji, you plan out all the topics like far in advance that you're going to make?

Forrest Knight 34:40
Yeah, I actually I use Trello Trello board, which is very good for me for organizing because I forget everything. So I have the app on my phone. I have the desktop, not application but the browser and it's always open in my tab. And I just essentially have a few different tabs like personal topics I want to talk about computer science related to I want to talk about software development topics I want to talk about and every time I get an idea, I put it in the in there. And then whenever I create that, I move it over to my live video section, basically those that I've already uploaded. So I have a backlog of mini videos and then if I have more of an idea of what to make within each video, I just add that into the little section of I want to make a video about x, but then I kind of maybe scripted out or maybe just kind of wing it maybe bullet points of what I want to talk about.

Laurence Bradford 35:32
Okay, and last question about this after what made you want to do videos rather than another kind of content type because right you could write blog articles. You could do podcasting. You could just do like short videos on you know, Instagram or something. What made you go to YouTube?

Forrest Knight 35:50
Um, what really made me go to YouTube is this. This fellow that oh, I watched a few videos, Gary Vaynerchuk. Now if someone out there doesn't like cussing, don't listen to this guy he has. He just doesn't have a very polite mouth, if you will, but he is polite. He was when I was I had this internship at a, it was at NASA. And it was kind of like a almost mundane task. So basically what I did my spare time was listen to YouTube videos, watch YouTube videos, and he was one and him talking about YouTube. And all this essentially, was what got me into it. And I just loved the idea of making videos. I really enjoy the process of editing the videos and making the thumbnails and I feel like all of that that I'm able to put into that really allows me a creative outlet. And that's kind of why I continue to do it.

Laurence Bradford 36:47
Awesome. Well, I tip my hat to you because I that's the one thing I really find very tedious is like the video editing. I'm trying to ease into it, but I just use Instagram and they're like 10 second videos, I don't really do any editing. So I that's something I admire. I like people with the video editing skills. And it's something I mean, not that you need any more skills, you're already a software engineer, but I feel like it's also something that you can always use in lots of ways, whether it's for yourself or for other people, you know, down the road --

Forrest Knight 37:17
I would have to reverse that on you and say, I tip my hat to you because I don't think I'd be able to have guests on every week or every month or however often on a podcast. I feel like I would just always be nervous. I don't know because I get nervous and interactions like this.

Laurence Bradford 37:32
Well, thank you. It's we it's really weird, cuz I talked with us before in the show, but for the podcast, I'm like fine, but I actually really don't like public speaking. Yeah, and I do get kind of like social anxiety I guess. You could call it before going to like certain events like networking events or something you mean so it is kind of Yeah, it is kind of weird. And also I don't like live like the live video. This isn't live obviously, right? Like, this is these aren't live they given us that. So there is like I'm kind of layer there but anything that was that is live sort of stresses stresses me out. But I hope to do more stuff in the future like do like doing some live video because I do think it's a great way to communicate and like educate people but I need to start build up the courage to do that.

Forrest Knight 38:15
Now if you need it all the courage you can get just watch some of my early videos and you'll see how horrible I was in front of the camera didn't know anything about lighting or how to talk to a camera because I'm very much of a feedback oriented person. I like to talk to people like this conversation instead to just talk to a camera and I talked all entire time, so it was definitely something to get used to and I still don't even think I'm quite there yet, but I'm working on it every day.

Laurence Bradford 38:38
Well I feel like those few videos I watched of yours that were more recent I thought you looked like very professional and like a natural so you're definitely coming along I do because my early blog posts and all my early stuff I just like cringe rambling. I don't do it. Yeah. Oh god. Yeah, I've taken down a few articles or I've like redirected them somewhere else or something cuz I'm like, Oh my gosh, what was it It's not like I mean, it's embarrassing to me. Maybe other people wouldn't think it is that embarrassing, but I don't know. It's just..

Forrest Knight 39:07
You know, a different outlook on things. I have a few private videos, so I know the feeling.

Laurence Bradford 39:13
Anyway, thank you so much for just for coming on. Where can people find you online? What's your YouTube channel?

Forrest Knight 39:17
Yeah, me my youtube channel is my name Forrest Knight or, my first initial, last name. And that's where you can find me.

Laurence Bradford 39:27
Awesome. Thanks again for coming on.

Forrest Knight 39:29
Thank you for having me.

Laurence Bradford 39:36
That's our show. Thanks for tuning in. For recap, order, browse through other episodes and show notes head on over to If you like tech related content like this podcast, make sure to sign up for my email list. You can do so easily right on the homepage at there's a big sign form at the top. I'll send you new blog posts tell you about time limited course deals and much more. It was great to have you with me today. Join me next week for another episode.

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Key Takeaways

Here are Forrest’s main pieces of advice when you’re trying to find the best computer for programming.

1. Know what you want the computer for

Think about everything that you will be using the laptop for—whether it’s just for coding, or if you will be gaming too, or photo editing, etc. Get a laptop that can fulfill multiple purposes so you don’t regret the purchase later.


2. Educate yourself on computer components

Learn what components make up a computer and learn their function. It will help when you want to buy a new computer/laptop, because you’ll be versed in the lingo and able to actually understand the descriptions.

3. MacBook Pros are popular for software engineers

A MacBook Pro can be a good choice for coding. It runs Mac OS, which is very popular within computer science and software engineering.

mac computer

4. Non-Apple laptops can be good for coding too (and cheaper)

Apple doesn’t completely rule the coding world. If you’re considering non-Apple laptops for coding, Forrest recommends Dell XPS, which are “solid laptops for the price.”

5. Keep your equipment up-to-date

To ensure things keep running fast and smoothly, keep your computer/parts up to date. Computers can last a long time, but if it’s slowing down or important functions aren’t working as well anymore, bite the bullet and upgrade, replace parts, or get it serviced.

fixing the computer

Links and mentions from the episode:

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