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New ThinkPad T61 with Vista Business

December 10, 2007

My new laptop arrived today. I’ve been playing with it for a few hours now and thought I would share my initial reactions with you.

This is a Core Duo 2.2Ghz processor with 3GB of RAM. It has a 15.4″ widescreen LCD display, which is gorgeous. My favorite feature so far is the integrated fingerprint reader: logging in is super easy and secure. But software installation is shocklingly slow. It only took an hour or so to get the initial Vista install configured, but everything after that has been less than optimum.

I was so excited by my new machine that I went to Staples at lunch time and picked up a new Logitech wireless mouse and keyboard. I bought a docking station with this laptop for the office, one goal of which is to switch back to a regular mouse, keyboard, and monitor. The keyboard part is largely to restore my hands, which hurt quite a bit after working day in and day out on a laptop keyboard. Of course, I know I could have used a regular keyboard with my old laptop, but I found that it pushed the screen to far away. With the new display, that is not an issue. I’m also hoping to use both the built in LCD and an external 22″ widescreen monitor, which should give me loads of space for Visual Studio and related tools. Anyway, I connected my new mouse and keyboard (I haven’t bought the monitor yet) via the USB connector and they worked immediately. I did not even need to push the device “Connect” buttons.

After that, it was time to start installing software. First, I tried to install IBM’s iSeries Access for Windows, V5R4. This was the first task for the CD drive, and it sounded like a rocket ship taking off. It got about half way through the install, whirring, buzzing, and scraping all the while, and then it just quit. I tried to bring up Task Maanger, but it would not show itself. Finally, I popped the disc out and reset it. I don’t think I had it seated all the way although it seemed fine. I resumed the setup and the noises were gone. At the end of setup, I received a “Updating software, please wait” message that never went away. Eventually, I succeeded in bringing up the Task Manager and the process showed running but 0% CPU. I ended it, thinking the install failed, but it appears to have worked.

I closed Task Manager, but in my shortcut tray there were now 2 task manager icons that would not go away, and clicking on either did not reactivate the Task Manager. Sigh. I decided a reboot was in order.

Except the machine would not reboot. I tried restart, log off, and shut down. I tried them from the Start menu and from Task Manager. Each responded to the mouse click yet accomplished nothing. Finally, I did the old push and hold the power button technique to get the machine to shut off. When I brought it back up, I received no errors or warnings about a previous incorrect shutdown.

While it was coming back up, I hit the Google Highway and found that this is a fairly typical problem: the USB devices connected to the machine were preventing it from shutting down. Now, the only two devices connected are my printer and the Mouse and Keyboard connector mentioned above. According to the complaints I found on the web, the Mouse was most likely the culprit and the solution was to update the drivers. Now, I’ve used Logitech accessories for about 7 years, and I’ve never been a fan of their software. I just want a stinking mouse and keyboard that work, I don’t need to use them to program my dishwasher. The last few times I’ve installed their products I have been able to forego installing their software, but this time I figured I’d better do it if I want to be able to shut down my machine, so I did.

The good news is that installing “Logitech SetPoint 3.3a” seems to have solved the problem. After the install I was able to restart from the Start menu just fine. The bad news was that it took almost 15 minutes to install.

I have a stack of other software to install, including of course our erstwhile Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Blend Preview 2. I’ll let you know how these go as well.


Xara Xtreme, an awesome (and inexpensive) vector based graphics tool installed no problem and took less than 5 minutes.

New problem: I can’t get to the Network. It appears that Norton Internet Security, which came preloaded and is active on this machine, is preventing me from seeing my network. I’m investigating this problem now, but I can’t get on with the installs until I can get to the network path where they are stored.

Update 2:

OK, annoying, but I basically had to disable the Norton Personal Firewall, at which point the network location I was seeking became visible. I established a connection and the system offered to remember the password, which I said yes to. Then, the Fingerprint reader asked me to verify who I was with a swipe of a digit. Way cool! Anyway, it’s off to VS2008 next.

Update 3:

New problem: I am using Microsoft’s Virtual CDRom Control Panel to mount the VS2008 ISO files to a local drive. When I execute the program, it denies access to the needed files. I found in Vista you can right-click and Run the application as Administrator, which worked. I was able to install the driver and mount the file to a local drive letter. The problem now is that the Computer window will not show or find the mounted drive letter. I guess I’ll either need a different emulator or to try and find a Vista update for Virtual CDRom.

Update 4:

OK, I found a freeware utility called Virtual CloneDrive that appears to work on Vista.? I was able to install it and mount the ISO file to a drive.? Immediately, the Autorun.exe started (which never worked on Virtual CDRom XP for me) and I began installing VS2008.? It is 3.5 GB (after I removed C++ and Crystal Reports), so it might be a while.? I’m going to let it run and head home.? I’ll check in tomorrow.

Categories: Rants and Raves, Vista
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