An Open Letter To Lenovo

In January of 2013 I bought one of your X1 Carbon ultrabooks. It’s a lovely machine. Splendid hardware design. You should be proud. I gather that others have come to share my opinion of your wares.

Lenovo X-1-Carbon

However, given your apparent aim at business class customers, at least with respect to the more costly models, I question your decision to litter up your products with bloatware.

I think that you might consider the example set by Google’s Nexus series of Android devices. The attraction of the Nexus series is the pure-Android experience, without any added bloatware.

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WSJ On Computer vs Tablet

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch property posted an article called “10 things not to buy in 2014” by AnnaMaria Andriotis.  Hey, it’s the end-of-the-year and lists are sprouting up like mushrooms in the morning dew. I wish they held as much value as those edible fungi. Still, I suppose there’s little point in being listless at this time of year.

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My What a Big Hard Drive You Have!

HAL & Portable Backup DriveOne of the little side benefits of all the Black Friday & Cyber Monday craziness is that the promotional pricing can be used to address some very real needs around the home office. This is just one fine example that crossed my desk today; high-capacity, portable USB 3.0 hard drives are being offered on-the-cheap. I saw a Seagate Expansion 3 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive offered for $99.

It’s been a while since I bought any storage, but I am reminded that my NAS isn’t backed up in any real way. HAL, a five disk LaCie 5Big NAS , has 10 TB of raw storage, but is presently configured for 4 TB of RAID 10 + hot spare.

It would certainly be nice to be able to back it up to an offline volume. Given that the 4 TB volume is not completely stuffed, a 3 TB drive could still do the job.

Are your important files backed up?

Beware of your mount! Not your horse…your VESA mount.

Dell S2240L MonitorThere was a time just over a year ago when a pair of Asus VE247 LCD monitors graced my desk. I liked them a lot, but eventually decided that two 24” monitors was not exactly what I needed. I appreciated the screen real-estate, but didn’t enjoy how they completely consumed my desktop. So for the past while I’ve had just one monitor on my desk, the other being gifted to my wife.

Very recently I thought I might give a dual-monitor setup another try. This time I might be more creative about positioning one of the monitors in portrait mode. The dual-arm monitor mount that I use would easily accommodate this.

This isn’t a high-priority task, but I’ve been keeping watch for a good deal on a nice monitor for Stella. That would allow me to reclaim the other Asus monitor and return to a matched pair on my desktop.

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Are Tablets Really Killing PC Sales?

I think not. Kudos to Dean Collins for getting this right. Dean  notes a Boomberg Business Week article citing Gartner Group report. They claim;

“…PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers who have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets.”

…which is I think absolute hogwash. Dean quite correctly asserts that the trouble with PC sales is a lack of compelling new applications that require the continuous upgrade cycle of old.

If I consider our own experience hereabouts, both Estella and I got new desktops last summer. This was motivated in part of a compelling offer from Woot.com and the fact that were had three-year-old systems running Windows XP. The move to new hardware was accompanied by a new OS. It made more sense to go all-in on the new systems than upgrade the OS on the existing hardware.

For many people, uber-gamers and media guru’s aside, there simply isn’t any reason to get new hardware so very often. We bought our last Windows XP systems at about the time that Estella bought a license for the Adobe Master Suite. That was a monster bundle of heavy-hitting software that justified the new hardware.

Our move to Windows 7 64 bit was in-part compelled by the need to move to the latest Adobe Creative Suite, which absolutely required a 64 bit OS. For my part, I needed a desktop with PCIe to support the use of a BlackMagic Design video capture card.

Clearly, our activities involving the use of high-quality video drives our hardware upgrade cycle. Such forces do not exist for many people, so their hardware sustains them much longer.

We own tablets, but the presence of those devices has not impacted our decision to buy desktops or laptops. In this case I think that Gartner is mistaken.

Augmenting An Ultrabook

Lenovo X1 Carbon and Docking StationWay back in January when I bought a Lenovo X1 Carbon (X1C) I was a bone fide corporate road warrior. The decision to move into an ultrabook was motivated largely by the desire to have less to carry.

More recently I’ve transitioned into a more stay-in-the-home-office role. Sooooo, I’m not carrying things around very much…but I am living with some of the compromises entailed by the ultrabook class of device. All of this has me wondered when it’s ok to spend a bit more to augment the X1C vs going in another direction entirely?

Allow me to share some of the things that have come to light about the X1C. These are not so much defects as practical realities attached to the ultrabook form factor. For example, there aren’t very many ports. To be more specific, there’s one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and a displayport.

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