Charles Engelke's Blog

July 1, 2008

Lenovo Impresses. So Does UPS.

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 2:22 pm
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I just had a great experience ordering from Lenovo, which I was not expecting.  UPS did a good job, too, but that wasn’t such a surprise.

I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 last summer direct from the company.  At least, I ordered one.  There were so many delays that I canceled the order so it wouldn’t arrive while I was away for almost a month.  I reordered one three months later; there were fewer glitches, but it still took a month or more to get the unit.

I put up with the delay because ThinkPads are still the best notebook PCs there are.  They’re sturdy.  They’re rock solid reliable.  The service is superb (I know not because I’ve ever had a ThinkPad just stop working, but because I dropped mine straight onto a cobblestone from four feet, cracking the case; it kept working fine, but I didn’t like the crack and Lenovo service was fast and perfect).  They’ve got good keyboards and the best notebook pointing device (TrackPoint) ever made.  They come with useful and reliable extra software like Presentation Manager, instead of crapware.  If I could legally get Mac OS/X on a ThinkPad it would be perfect.

I know a lot of people claim that ThinkPad quality has gone down since Lenovo completely took over from IBM.  I was worried about how well they’d keep up with design; I expected construction to stay the same.  Well, I’ve seen no drop in quality at all.  I’ve been using ThinkPads for fifteen years.  I’ve used three Lenovo ThinkPads after the turnover, and they’re just as good as ever.

This story started on Friday, June 20.  My wife’s old ThinkPad T42 needed replacement.  It still works as well as ever, but expectations keep going up and it was four years old.  So we ordered her a T61 direct from Lenovo.  The web site said that every model available would take at least two weeks to ship; the model we ordered said it would take three to four weeks.  We placed the order anyway, and got a confirmation message listing the ship date as exactly four weeks after the order.

We ordered it on Friday and by Monday morning the Lenovo site said it had been shipped.  They were telling the truth: the UPS site showed tracking information for it later that day.  It started in Shenzhen, China (just north of Hong Kong) and I watched as it passed through Guangdong, Anchorage, and Louisville.  Halfway through the trip UPS started showing its delivery date as today, July 1, 11 days after we’d placed the order and 8 days after Lenovo shipped it.  Not bad; we’d paid for the cheapest shipping option (called “Ground” on the web site) because we figured we’d be waiting a long time before it even shipped anyway.

Well, it didn’t arrive today.  It arrived last Friday, slightly less than 7 days after we’d ordered it.  Lenovo took the order, custom assembled the PC in China, and got it to our door in Georgia in less than a week.

I’m impressed and pleased with both Lenovo and UPS.  They each underpromised and overdelivered.  It would have been nice if Lenovo had been more accurate from the start so we could better plan for things, but we can’t complain about the wait.

February 27, 2004

Two Icons of American Products Don’t Mix

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 1:13 pm

I finally did it: spilled a Coke across the keyboard of my
ThinkPad. I was tired at the end of a long day far from home, making me very
clumsy. There was also a lot of clutter on the hotel room desk as
I was gathering all my stuff to pack for my return trip, and as I
was avoiding the clutter, I knocked down the Coke can.
The Coke was more than a foot from the ThinkPad, but
I knocked it over with a lot of force.

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July 17, 2003

T40: Sproing!

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 9:07 am

I think I know why I’ve been having ThinkPad crashes. I’ve been going nuts with
updating applications and drivers, but it’s done no good. I thought I had it when
I rebuilt a T30 drive from scratch and the problems went away, but when I did that
for a T40, it crashed, too.

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July 8, 2003

The ThinkPad T40 at the Open Source Conference

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 1:07 am

There’s bad and good news about my new T40. First, the bad news: it
froze twice today. However, based on the software common to each problem
installation, I’m beginning to strongly suspect the Cisco VPN software.
I’ve been connected to the VPN each time it froze up. I’m going to ask our
IT staff to see if a newer release is available.

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July 5, 2003

Software Installed on the ThinkPad T40

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 5:10 pm

I use a lot of software, much of it open source and free (in several
senses of the word). Since something made at least one Windows XP
ThinkPad I set up unstable, it seems useful for me to list what’s installed
now on a stable T40:

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ThinkPad T30 versus T40

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 3:34 pm

Now that I’ve used a ThinkPad T40 for a while, I see a lot of
virtues in it. First and foremost is its battery life. I’ve been running
this PC unplugged for a total of about three hours so far, installing lots
of software making the disk spin and powering a USB GPS unit on the plane,
and the power gauge shows I still have 60% capacity and estimates that I
have another 3:39 to go. This is with the extended battery option; the
regular battery should have about two-thirds the duration, and I’ll have
a lot of experience this week to see if that’s true.

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Finishing with the T30

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 3:18 pm

The ThinkPad T30 is now working flawlessly, and is perfectly configured
for my needs and tastes. So, of course, it’s time for me to switch PCs
again. I just got a T40 and I’m migrating to it.

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June 30, 2003

You always need more software

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 10:34 pm

Since Saturday I’ve been using the new PC more and more, and I keep
needing to install more software. So far, I have:

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June 28, 2003

Settling In to the New PC

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 1:59 pm

Of course it’s not a new PC, just a new system disk. Still,
it’s pretty much like a new PC in what I have to do. As I mentioned
yesterday the first step was
to copy all my old files over by putting my old drive in a USB hard
disk adapter. It was slow and I expected it to take hours, so I
started the copy and went to bed.

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June 27, 2003

Installing XP

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 7:51 pm

Okay, I took my old Windows 2000 hard drive and installed XP on it. I even
deleted the old partition first, then did a full format instead of a quick one,
to be sure that the new installation was completely clean.

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June 26, 2003

ThinkPad T30 + Windows XP = crashes

Filed under: ThinkPad — Charles Engelke @ 3:19 pm

At least, so far for me. I’ve been using ThinkPads for years, and liking each
model more than the last, but now I’m getting frustrated. My fairly new T30
is crashing several times a week (sometimes several times a day), and in many
different ways: blue screen, screen freezing, black screen, random reboots.
I don’t know exactly what’s to blame, but I have my suspicions:

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