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October 30, 2017

My New Laptop

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Laptops. I have laptops. I have a baby laptop I picked up at Costco because it was $199. I have an IBM Thinkpad, which now runs Ubuntu Linux. And laptops dwell in the boneyard. But recently, the Ubuntu Thinkpad has been my go-to laptop, though it doesn’t run Microsoft Word (of course).

The biggest problem with baby laptop is that it’s stuck with the original version of Windows 10. The dern thing won’t update. I’ve tried clearing the cache. I’ve tried resetting it. Nothing works. So the system has security vulnerabilities. I think the last time I turned it on was over a year ago.

Originally, the Thinkpad worked really well for the longest time. Then, a week before the warranty expired (3 years; always get the extended warranty on a laptop), the Wi-Fi failed. I took it to a local authorized dealer and — even under warranty and my having to pay $120 for labor — the thing wasn’t fixed.

Rather than haggle with the dealer, I took the advice of a friend. He said to put Ubuntu Linux on a USB stick and use it to boot the laptop. If Wi-Fi worked fine under Ubuntu, then the problem was with Windows. And yes, the problem was with Windows, so I reformatted the hard drive and installed Ubuntu. I’ve been able to squeeze an extra two years of life out of the Thinkpad, thanks to Ubuntu. It still works today. I just used it to update my Ncurses programming book, ensuring that all the code runs under Linux.

The Ubuntu Thinkpad has ventured out-of-town with me several times. This last time, however, it stayed home: During the trip, I was required to do author review of my next book. That means using Microsoft Word, specifically the track changes feature. The laptop runs LibreOffice, which can open Word documents, but it’s not 100 percent compatible.

After running a few tests, I discovered that the track changes feature wouldn’t perform well on LibreOffice. My next choice was to run Office 365 on the web. Alas, that version of Word lacks the track changes feature. So, the Monday before the Wednesday I left, I needed a new laptop.

No one likes to buy anything rushed.

A new laptop was something I knew I needed eventually. I get one about every three years and it’s been five for the Thinkpad. If I can put off the purchase, however, I’m good. Still, I’ve been laptop shopping in anticipation of the Ubuntu Thinkpad eventually dying. I would prefer to get another Lenovo, despite their confusing model names and numbers. With no time, however, I was off to Costco first, then to Best Buy to purchase a laptop right then and there!

This sordid story continues on Thursday.

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