Archive for November, 2011

25 November, 2011

Thinkpad T420 – initial impressions

by gorthx

A few weeks ago my HP 2510p up and died on me*. My repeated attempts to rescusitate it, complete with plaintive “no, baby, no!”s, only intensified my sinking feeling. No, not “when was my last backup, anyway?” but “this means I have to go shopping, doesn’t it.” Based on recommendations from friends and the desire to just get it over with already, I now have a Lenovo Thinkpad T420.

The Internet is awash with promo photos & vids of the T420, so how about some comparison photos with other laptops:

stack of laptops, top view

stack of laptops, side view

stack of laptops, side view

stack of laptops, side view

Top: HP 2510p (“he’s dead, Jim”)
Middle: Lenovo Thinkpad T420
Bottom: Dell Latitude E6410

Things I like so far:
– it feels pretty sturdy, but it’s lighter than I expected it to be.
– grippy surface on the cover. Maybe I won’t drop this one.
– power port in the back, out of the way.
– the battery doesn’t stick out the back.
– wide (deep? long?) wrist rest – I feel much more supported than on my HP.
– default sound is pretty nice.
– responsive keyboard action.
– the bumpy touchpad. I still like the HP’s better, but this one isn’t annoying.
– the keyboard light, OMG. I am using it right now
– BIG FAT delete key.

Things I need to get used to:
– power port in the back, where it’s hard to get to.
– headphone port near the front. My speakers are USB-powered and I had to split the cord to get them to plug in to both a usb port and the speaker port.
– keyboard layout: I keep hitting the fn key on the lower left instead of crtl, which it’s right next to. Some key remapping may be in my future.
– buttons for the touchpad feel like they’re off the edge of the chassis.

The Thinkpad also has keyboard drains, increasing the odds that I will not actually spill anything on it. (Same principle behind “it rains right after I wash my car.”)

Next week, installing Ubuntu on this thing.


*Current theories are: a short somewhere, or a problem with power management.

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18 November, 2011

KOC project at the Grace Hopper Open Source Day

by gorthx

Grace Hopper was in Portland this year, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to attend their first-ever Open Source Day. I planned to spend my time doing some work for the Kids on Computers project, which takes in donated laptops, installs Edubuntu on them, and then deploys them in computer labs for disadvantaged kids.

Four of us set out to make some kind of quickie script that would make laptop ‘triage’ faster: answering questions like does it have the minimum memory required for Edubuntu, what size is the HD, etc. Currently, about half the laptops KOC gets are Windows machines; the other half are (surprise!) Linux. So the script would have to handle both OSes. Luckily, Sandra had done some VBScript a long time ago, and she & Jenna worked up a solution for Windows while Michelle & I worked up a bash script for Linux.

I’d like to say it was glorious & empowering & stuff being in a room full of women nerdy IT types, but really, it felt normal. [1]

The mayor came & gave the lunchtime address (complete with a shout-out to locals Code & Splode http://codeandsplode.org/). He visited our table for a photo-op. A couple days later, when I showed the photo to some friends, they weren’t as impressed by the mayor as by the fact that I was working on a friend’s Macintosh.[2]



1 – Although it was nice not having to answer the usual “Hey! You’re the only girl here!” stuff.
2 – My trusty little HP died, and I had to borrow a machine. More about that next week.