Monday, September 22, 2008

Good News Everybody!

The Dell Mini Inspiron 9 is finally for sale in Canada with Ubuntu's Netbook remix version of Linux!

Oddly enough, If you select the same options as the Windows version, (add 1GB ram, 8GB SSD) the Ubuntu version comes out to an extra $10.00. I don't know exactly how THAT works out, but there you have it, Linux is worth more than Windows, even though Linux is free. I guess Dell, through Microsoft is PAYING you to install Windows. That is impressive. Though I find it sad that Microsoft doesn't see fit to allow Linux and Windows to compete on a level playing field, oh no, Windows has to be $10 less as part of some OEM contract I'm sure.

What's even stranger is that Dell calls Windows XP the "Upgrade". Wait, the upgrade costs $10 less? How is that an upgrade?

I assume that Dell makes some money on the side by bundling up some annoying Windows ad-ware. That is the only explanation for why that "Upgrade" to XP is being touted.

Still, I'll probably buy the $349 Linux version. It's just too useful not to have it. Plus its upgradable, so why pay the money now for the extra ram and SSD when prices on both fall so quickly. And in the meantime, I'll have a spiffy little portable laptop.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chose Your own Adventure Now on DVD!

So I saw some Chose your own Adventure DVD's at the store. These have apparently been out for a while. First, I have to ask, how lazy of a kid are you that rather than read a chose your own adventure book, you go for the DVD version. Pretty damn lazy that's all I can say. Good luck on your book reports, kid. Anyways, its got decent production values, they got William H Macy, Lacy Chabert, and Frankie Muniz to provide voices for this one anyways. That's pretty impressive.

Still, I always prefered the time machine chose your own adventure series. Gotta love dinosaurs and stuff. Time machine was more educational cause you learned about history and the many ways it was possible to die in the past. I wonder if this "Abominable Snowman" dvd is based on an actual book, or if they made a whole new plot just for this DVD. And I wonder what percentage of choices result in instant death on the DVD.

Wait, I just noticed that Felicity Huffman provides voices too. Filliam H Muffman!

I saw it on sale for $2.99.. now I'm half tempted to buy it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thinkpad SL400 review part 4 (After a Couple weeks using KDE 4)

Well, This Thinkpad works surprisingly well with Kubuntu Intrepid. There is a lot of instability but as it is running with bleeding edge alpha software, that's to be expected.

There was some slowdowns and crashes originally with the system, but that seems to be the fault of Ubuntu itself. In any case it seems to have stabilized a bit more with each update.

The MMC/SD/MMSpro etc slot still doesn't work, though it is not a particular concern for me as of yet. This is well seems to be an Ubuntu/Linux related issue as the particular device itself perportedly worked in a previous kernel revision on certain Dell PC's, so .. I'm not fussed It'll work itself out eventually.

Suspending/Hibernate is still an issue as are ACPI Thinkpad keys/Function keys. That said, I doubt this won't get worked on in the future. Hibernate at least seems a little bit closer to functioning. Suspend seems to work occasionally though.

Apparently the thinkpad SL-400 comes with a Conexant soft-modem. Now, I don't really use dial-up really these days, but it's nice to have the option if travelling where there isn't wifi (just plug it in and use the dial-up.. is a cheap backup dialup company I pay for but rarely use) and its nice to know the modem is supported through the linuxant project. I just ran their setup tool and it seemed to download the required deb, then fail in compilation. STILL, it tried, and again I have faith it'll work itself out in a future kernel revision once this version of Kubuntu becomes more stable. Again, not like it's a pressing issue.

An interesting thing is that the microphone is built into the assembly of the camera, so its good that I bought a version with a camera or I would have to add an external mic to talk on skype or whatnot. I have yet to actually be able to see anything on screen with the camera, but it lights up nonetheless and is detected, so I remain optimistic.

As an aside, I also can't wait for KDE 4.2 and more compiz effects built into KDE 4. A lot of stuff that I like to use occasionally like Amarok and Kopete crash if I want to use them for anything useful, but I love the state I've gotten KDE into. It looks halfway decent. Again all it really needs is a Mac OSX like bar at the bottom. Konqueror in KDE 4 is a lot better than it used to be. I wonder if they're using webkit. Yep, its using webkit. Just like Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. I've always liked Konqueror, so its nice to see that it has come full circle in a way.

Anyways like I said earlier Skype worked pretty well right out of the box so to speak. Aside from video which I've never cared much about.

The keyboard sometimes really bugs me. I hate the page up key and page down key being in the arrow key area. I used to use that as a place to rest my thumb, and use my index finger on the end/delete/home/insert/page up/page down section, but now I get confused and have to look at the keyboard, and since this thinkpad doesn't come with a thinklight (for one of the only reasons I might actually use it) it gets annoying. also the function keys are too close to the other keys, its hard to feel your way between them. I used to be able to feel around the page up key then move down to the F12 key. I mean, if you're just a simple touch typist, then what do you care, but if you're a thinkpad user key placement is important, and any tricks that speed things up are welcome. (I mean, how many touch typists realise that there is a raised bar on the f and j keys?) Anyways, keyboard design is very important. I mean, it feels like a decent quality keyboard, thats not the problem, and the design of the thing, I see where they were going with it, but did they do any real world tests on this keyboard? Or did they just see what their competitors are doing and assume people liked it. Heck, I use page up and down a lot, and in its current place I feel like I will get carple tunnel syndrome if I use it. Page up and Down should be used with the index finger and be placed somewhere in the top row. Preferably with insert/delete and home/end. It just works there. The arrow keys should not be impeded with other keys around them. It'd be like having an NES controller with the A and B keys incorporated into the direction pad. They would never do it! But I've gone off on a tangent. Anyways, another thing is neither the trackpoint or trackpad cannot be disabled in BIOS. This is a grave annoyance. Especially since I have no idea how the latest Kubuntu sets this stuff up. Uses Hal or DBUS or something which I have yet to understand or bother to research. Can't just delete it from and be done with it anymore. Also, with regards to trackpoints, I wonder why they don't put a scroll bar trackpad somewhere along the right hand side. It doesn't have to be full size, in fact it shouldn't be. just a little vertical scroller trackpoint that you could use your index finger to slide up and down the page. I think it'd be useful anyways, it might get me to shut up about the stupid page up and down keys being moved. I hate the trackpad itself, but I don't mind using it as a scroller. Another thing is I managed to find a way to get the trackpoint to scroll using the middle button. I wish that was the default setup. But I had to resort to google to find a way to do it. Hopefully in the future KDE's mouse settings feature such advanced mouse configuration options.

Again with KDE, Plasma really feels raw. There needs to be ways to snap things to a certain size. Still, what I love most about Plasma is it totally reminds me of Tandy Deskmate, especially after I've configured a few applets. I do believe theres a lot modern OS's can learn from really old desktop interfaces rather than simply looking at Macs and Windows. Still its fun to see the improvements happening quickly. The weather applet finally works. Dunno about the media player applet, it doesn't work with Songbird, which is the Firefox media playing program which I never heard of before but its quite good (aside from the fact that it doesn't know how to display the text of all the song names in the playlist.. seems to be a font rendering issue) Still, its no Amarok, and it'l be nice when Amarok finally works in KDE 4.

Another thing that bothered me was sound output was a little on the quiet side by default. I even plugged in a little external speaker and couldn't get that loud of a sound to watch a projected movie with. I don't know if the problem is with dragon player or what, but its still a buggy movie player. In any case, I found right in the mplayer man page that you can simply do "mplayer -af volume=20.1:0 -vo xv dvd://" and have a louder default volume from your dvd's and so forth.

hmm, for the record, the camera shows up as:

"uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device Integrated Camera (17ef:480b)"

which the uvc website does not list as yet supported.. but whatever.

So in conclusion, every piece of this laptop works/kinda works/will eventually probably work with Linux. Considering how much worked out of the box, That's pretty impressive. Most of my problems are with the bleeding edge and not with the Laptop itself.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thinkpad SL400 review part 3 (Overall experience with Kubuntu Linux)

I still dislike the placement of the page up/down keys. It seems logical, but its not, one rarely uses the arrow keys, but frequently uses the page up/down keys when browsing the web. the position of them makes me move my hand down, and press the wrong key accidentally. I don't like it. If I had realised the keyboard had been changed from a regular thinkpad before I bought it, I wouldn't have likely bought it.

Attached the HDMI and VGA to a widescreen TV.. worked reasonably well, display configuration in KDE occasionally crashed as I tried to mess around, but it is Alpha software and for the most part I got a 1024x768 resolution, which could probably be blamed on the TV itself being finnicky. I'll wait for a stable release to make any judgements.

Getting into X after startup USUALLY happens but occasionally the laptop just hangs before X, and theres nothing I can do. who knows why? Not me! I may have to check into xorg backup logs next time it happens.

Kmail, klibido, ktorrent, firefox, konqueror, flash, konversation... all work pretty well in kubuntu intrepid ibex. I wish they'd make a new version of klibido though. Amarok is pretty buggy still, Plasma is 50% useful, but not by default. A lot of configuration options are missing in kde 4.1 still. I'm confident they'll come eventually, but no big deal. I would occasionally lose a panel bar or something would get messed up. qcomicbook crashes on all zip files I tried for some reason. dolphin file manager is pretty decent, and I quite like the dragon media player (and old dependable standby mplayer)

Plasma applets like the comics one and the one that gets photos from flickr.. are too annoying to be used in any capacity. not very configurable, and the image size always changes, causing the comic to overlap other things on the desktop.

Camera seems to be detected, but I'm not concerned with it.

I get about 2 hours of battery life on the machine with a 6 cell battery. Not bad I guess.

like I said in the previous post a few buttons, like volume control and print screen, don't work for some reason.

bluetooth works.

quibble about the LCD screen that came on this thing.. viewing angles aren't brilliant.

All in all, though, its working out better than I expected all things considered. Still, if possible I'd recommend buying something with linux already installed, or at least without Vista, cause no company deserves to be rewarded for shipping out crap like that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thinkpad SL400 review part 2 (Vista, and installing Linux)

We left off with me being generally more positive than negative about my new laptop, the Thinkpad SL400 from Lenovo. So anyways, I ended up using Vista for about an hour. I mean I'll give it a fair try.

It was a total pain in the ass I can tell you. It was a PRETTY total pain in the ass, but I'm not a masochist who will sacrifice functionality for good looks. All of the hardware worked flawlessly with Vista upon first boot, but of course, why shouldn't it, it was designed for this machine. The Vista dashboard widgets were nice, but I know KDE 4 has a few (and more in the future) coming anyways. Plus they don't give you a boot CD or DVD. There was no obvious way to backup to a disk. I did a painstakingly slow backup of the default install, to its own separate partition on the hard disk, thinking I could maybe copy it to CD. By the end of it, I figured, who the hell cares I'll never use it anyways and decided to jump right into the deep end with Kubuntu Linux, my distro of choice lately.

I used the 64 bit version, as I paid for a 64 bit computer I figured I should make the most of it. Plus I had the last stable 64 bit release sitting around as I had recently reinstalled it on my desktop PC, which was a far easier process. Anyways, I ended up using that disk to repartition the hard drive, which the latest Kubuntu Intrepid alpha release (release 4 I believe) stalled on. Granted Intrepid is not supposed to be stable. I decided to use the alpha release as I knew the drivers were too new to work with any older distro, x-win, or kernel. Which was correct, as the live CD did not have access to wireless. Neither did the alpha release, but I have an old 802.11g USB plug from office depot I got on sale a year ago with a zd1211 chipset that always comes in handy. It's always good to have one of these things just in case. I use it in my desktop as well as the PCMCIA card I have does not yet have the Ralink drivers to support it either. Or at least, last time I checked it didn't, I haven't bothered checking that in a while already. Yes, I have a PCMCIA card in my desktop PC, I use a PCI - cardbus adapter. I figured its easier and cheaper than buying a desktop card. And it was.

So anyways, I repartitioned the hard drive, and after some initial worries Kubuntu Intrepid Ibex installed without much problem. I still couldn't make use of the build in Intel Wireless, but like I said I had the USB adapter and after it booted I used that. Granted it didn't give me a screen at first and I had to use Safe Mode/Vesa at first. But Kubuntu told me it needed tons of updated packages and I let it go to work getting them (After I had installed a few more packages to keep me entertained. You would think that the Kubuntu live CD would throw in Solitaire and Tetris or something to keep you occupied as you installed. KDiamond/Gweled. I think Gweled is the better realised version even though it's a Gnome program and I suppose doesn't fit into the whole purpose of a KDE based distro.. still, Ubuntu people, throw a couple puzzle games on there please!)

After updating, and installing a million programs that I wanted, I rebooted, though wireless still didn't work. Well, technically it did, but Kwifimanager or whatever the name of the kde wifi program is, did not work at all. Luckily I had experienced problems with wifi in linux enough times to know to install wicd, which almost always works where the others do not, and can be set to automatically run at bootup to auto-connect you to your wireless router. so with that working, I was ready to check the video.

At first I was still in Vesa video mode, but after a few reboots and messing around a bit, eventually the intel integrated graphics worked at 1200x800.

anyways, my lspci

matr1x@Panteleimon:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Cantiga Memory Controller Hub (rev 07)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Cantiga Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Cantiga Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 03)
00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 (rev 03)
00:1a.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #6 (rev 03)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 03)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 03)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 4 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev 93)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation ICH9M LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation ICH9M/M-E SATA AHCI Controller (rev 03)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Device 4237
0c:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 02)
0d:00.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller (rev 05)
0d:00.1 SD Host controller: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 22)
0d:00.2 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C843 MMC Host Controller (rev 12)
0d:00.3 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (rev 12)
0d:00.4 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd xD-Picture Card Controller (rev ff)

look at all that crazy stuff! the only thing that doesn't seem to work is the Ricoh SD Host controller. Granted, I haven't tried the FireWire or external HDMI/VGA yet, I'll let you know about those in part 3 or 4.

for those curious, the error I get with the SD card slot is:

[ 7032.611354] mmc0: card b368 removed
[ 7043.339062] mmc0: new high speed SD card at address b368
[ 7043.340823] mmcblk0: mmc0:b368 SD 1960448KiB
[ 7043.342138] mmcblk0:<3>mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.343207] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.343216] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.343760] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.343771] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.343776] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.344374] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.344384] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.344390] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.344958] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.344969] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.344974] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.345552] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.345570] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.345575] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.345598] ldm_validate_partition_table(): Disk read failed.
[ 7043.346332] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.346342] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.346348] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.346900] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.346910] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.346915] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.347481] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.347490] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.347496] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.349071] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.349083] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.349090] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.349591] Dev mmcblk0: unable to read RDB block 0
[ 7043.352164] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.352174] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.352180] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.352635] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.352640] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.353344] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.353350] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.354188] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.354196] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.355205] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.355216] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.355721] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.355733] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.355792] unable to read partition table
[ 7043.966314] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.966328] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.966343] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 8
[ 7043.966350] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 16
[ 7043.966356] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.966843] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.966848] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7044.030438] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7044.030452] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7044.030468] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 8
[ 7044.030474] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 16
[ 7044.030480] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7044.030967] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7044.030973] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0

which seems to be a problem recognizing the SD card itself. I know it works, because its worked in other devices, even a USB/SD adapter card. I'll chalk it up to something temporary and hopefully its just a bug in the latest drivers for this piece of hardware. Maybe I'll do some more research on it but its not a particularly pressing issue.

Other things that didn't work at first was the screen brightness plugged in was at the lowest possible setting, but I ran the new kde 4 battery monitor tool and it allowed me to fix that, and things are working much nicer and brighter. However the "thinkpad" keys do not currently seem to work, but I have faith that the people who work on that will get around to it eventually. Also function+print screen did not bring up the screenshot program, which was annoying. Another annoyance was I had no way of setting the middle trackpoint button to work as a scroll device. The Ubuntu people changed how Xorg works and I have no idea what they did. I'td be nice if someone were able to add a little "Middle button to scroll" option in the KDE 4 mouse config.

Another thing, which is probably only a personal preference, is I wish KDE used control + Tab to move between virtual desktops. I have to manually set it every time and its a pain. Control + Tab to cycle desktops, Control + shift + tab to go backwards.

So in any case with OpenGL AND xvideo working, I was free to play around in KDE 4.1 and try out various things. Of course first I set up Compiz under KDE. Which works nice except for a little bit of fuzziness and artifacts that quickly dissappear, but its there all the same. I'll get a couple more gigs of ram just to see if that helps, as I only have one gig on this thing (I found it cheaper to buy the memory locally, plus I like to support local businesses occasionally)

I still have to setup a bunch of programs and copy over some stuff from my old laptop, and then I can play around a bit more with KDE 4.1. Still, I hate the Oxygen desktop theme and switched it right away, same with the new panel/taskbar. I hope someone comes up with a MacOS X style panel widget for plasma soon.

Next time I will give my review of Kubuntu Intrepid (Alpha) on my SL400.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thinkpad SL400 review part 1 (first impressions)

Surprise Surprise, I actually bought a new laptop. So new in fact, that it's a challenge getting linux to work with it. But that doesn't mean I'll give up! The Lenovo Thinkpad SL400.

I bought it a few days before Dell announced they would be releasing notebooks with Ubuntu pre-installed. If I had known then, what I know now, I might have gone for the Dell instead. It is quite infuriating that Lenovo does not give the option to install Ubuntu or at least not install Vista on the computer. But it was the only laptop they offered that had the features I desired, and it was at a decent deal, so I grabbed it without thinking. Also my old thinkpad A22m just isn't keeping up with the times anymore.

Anyways, I figured even though its bleeding edge, it shouldn't be too long before its better supported under linux. Plus it took them like 6 freakin weeks to ship it. And they shipped with UPS, the worst possible shipping company anyone can find. But oh well, I got it, and I'm going to go into details about my install.

First though, Specs.

Intel Core 2 Duo processor T5670 (1.8GHz 800MHz 2MBL2)
Genuine Windows Vista Home Basic (Genuine CRAP)
14.1 WXGA AntiGlare
Intel GMA X4500
1 GB PC2-5300 DDR2 (1 DIMM)
UltraNav (TrackPoint and TouchPad)
160GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
DVD Recordable, Fixed
Integrated Bluetooth PAN
Intel WiFi Link 5100
6 cell Li-Ion Battery (2.4Ah)
1 Year Depot/Express Warranty
ThinkPad and Lenovo 65W AC Adapter - with US/Canada/LA Line Cord (an extra one, they're not that expensive with the free shipping compared to ebay)
Sale price: $ 652.40
GST: $ 32.62
PST: $ 45.67
Estimated total: $ 730.69*

upon reflection, I shoulda gone for the 15 incher, cause with these widescreen laptops, 14 inches is a little less than it used to be, screen real estate-wise.

Other first impressions.. the Keyboard is not bad, its still a thinkpad quality keyboard, except the repositioned keys really do not help. I'd rather they got rid of the touchpad and put in a full trackpoint like exists on my A22M series. I know they won't, but I wish they would. The quality of the plastic is different than whatever my A22 is made of, but its not horrible. It's better than what you're going to find in most stores like Best Buy or Office Depot or Futureshop. The lid doesn't have any latches, nor a rollcage built in, But I've never been a heavy industrial user of my thinkpads so I can deal with it, though if I could have gotten a version with it included, I would have. As well, it apparently doesn't have the feature where if you spill something, its designed to safely come out of a hole somewhere with minimum fuss. I've never used that feature, but its a disapointing loss in this thinkpad series. They also got rid of the thinklight on this series, which I did occasionally use but never particularly effectively.

The black glossy cover really does easily get marked up with fingerprints and the like, but it does make the thinkpad look different, same with the little red LED on top of the i in Thinkpad on the lid. It's not really all that distracting either. With the lid open, I'd heard reports that the it flopped around, but mine is pretty steady. I don't miss the absense of latches, I broke mine on my thinkpad and they were a bit of a pain for me to fix. I am surprised that there isn't even one latch on this thing though.

A nitpick, the Camera, which I requested to be added on, cannot be covered or be manually shut off with a switch. Which is a design point I think I'm the only person who has ever considered. I know it can be handled in software, but theres something comforting about knowing if you press a switch nobody can take pictures of you without you knowing it. It happens. Never has to me, but I'm a paranoid person by my very nature. Also I thought there would be a wifi on/off switch but its built into the function keys on the keyboard, which again I think would have been better served in a different manner. Also the lack of a dedicated print screen button (you gotta use function!) is somewhat annoying, as at least in Linux, print screen usually tends to launch a screen grabber program, which is often useful when taking screenshots. Again, a shortcoming due to the Vista oriented design goals perhaps. Still, it has bluetooth, HDMI out, and bleeding edge hardware I expect will end up supported in Linux within a short time frame. Also its reasonably lighter than I expected it to be. Much lighter than the A series anyways. Also I can see my reflection in the cover. Which is a cute feature unless you're Medusa.

Next post I will discuss the "joys" of Vista (cough), and installing linux onto the SL400.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Labour Day


...Sincerely, your dolphin overlords. GET US SOME FISH!