Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New computer, fresh headaches

As you who read this reasonably often will know already I work with computers, computer systems and information systems.

From my point of view Linux is the best choice of operating system and laptop is what I must use. Laptop because I travel a lot, a "netbook" does not quite cut the mustard, ever so smart phones do not either as the infrastructure in the countries I work does not really offer enough connectivity and I want to use quite a few applications not (yet) available via phone systems.

The currently popular tablet computers with touchscreens leave me rather uninterested, I need more screenspace and more power than what an ever so slick tablet computer offers.

So after I once more found myself as consultant I decided to buy a new laptop. My "old" Dell is used at home by Mia, the even older Dell by the kids and the one I was using belonged to the former employer. I was allowed to keep using it but did not feel all comfortable with that arrangement.

As a friend/colleague/partner was arriving from Sweden I asked him to buy and bring a computer for me. Did some research and ended up with a HP Pavilion dm4.

In my experience Dell, HP and IBM/Lenovo are the best brands (ok maybe Sony Vaio but you pay through the nose then) in terms of reliability, service and so on. They also normally work well with Linux instead of Windows. I was a bit unhappy with some minor issues with the Dell I had at work last so decided to try this HP instead.

It is just to admit it: I did not do enough homework. Only after it arrived did I discover it has this new "switching" graphics with 2 systems, one for when you are on power and the other for when you are on battery.

"Only" problem is that this is poorly supported in Linux so far. So boy have I struggled to get that sorted. Some computers have a function where you can via setup (bios) switch off one or the other. Not this one, to be honest it is the most useless bios system I have ever seen. Not to mention that an upgrade of it (bios) actually made wireless internet stop working, both in Windows and Linux... NOT what I am used to from HP.

OK have that sort of under control now. But things like screen "dimming the lights" when power goes does not work (I have to do it manually) and I can not switch off the stupid fingerprintreader I don't see myself using. And and and.

And just like the last Dell it gets uncomfortably hot for having in/on your lap. The new processors seem to give off considerably more heat than the one I have in my "trusty old Vostro" that Mia is using. The difference is not small, from around 35 C to 55-60 C. NOT too nice with sweaty lap when sitting on the sofa (like now).

And I HATE the new touch/clickpad that does not have separate click buttons. Both in Windows and Linux it is a nuisance and I can only pray that better drivers will make it work better "next version".

Of course it is faster, better screen, more memory, larger disk, has webcam (that I never use..), is lighter and so on. But somewhere along the line of development certain things that I really like from the old Vostro are sadly missed.

Going back is not an alternative though (Mia keeps suggesting we swap if I am not happy) as all that I crammed on the disk now will simply not fit on the older computer...

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