As a student I will be taking my third statistics course this coming fall. I realized the other day that I’m going to have to buy a new laptop for this course because the simple fact is that SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) is a resource hog.
SPSS or as the new owners of the software IBM is trying to re-brand it, PASW (Predictive Analytical SoftWare) is a staple in the social science fields for research. Most students in the psychology, sociology, and social work fiends are trained in grad school how to use it. The problem is that it’s a pig. My two year old gaming computer that can handle games like Crisis, FarCry, and FEAR along side thousand plus entry website SQL databases chokes when I ask it to open SPSS ver. 16 and play around with the demo data sets. This is annoying, but what just floors me is that the official system requirements at www.spss.com are:
* Intel® or AMD x86 processor running at 1GHz or higher
* Memory: 1GB RAM or more recommended
* Minimum free drive space: 800MB***
* DVD drive
* Super VGA (800×600) or higher-resolution monitor
This is a joke. It has to be. A system meeting those minimum requirements may run the software, but it’s going to run like molasses. I know this is a fact, because as a social psychology undergrad research assistant I’ve run SPSS on a similar system in the lab. Frustrating is the most polite word I can come up with when remembering that task.
I don’t begrudge the designers of SPSS really. They’re statisticians and mathematicians. They put more effort into the back end statistical calculations then the core of the program. At least I hope that this is the case, because I do not and can not believe that a computer programmer who has respect for their work as an application designer ever looked at SPSS as a software package being used by real before before being looked at as a calculation tool.
For now, I am stuck trying to strike a balance between power and portability and find a laptop with enough power to run this beast of a program that is not so heavy that I’d sprain my wrist trying to pick it up one handed.