Sunday, 14 March 2010, 0844
When I ordered a custom Lenovo ThinkPad W500 (specifications) last month, the estimated ship date was 22 March. I was therefore delighted when on 22 February I received an e-mail indicating my new computer was on its way.
The slim box arrived via UPS on 24 February having flown across the ocean from China, spending two days in US Customs along the way. My excitement only grew as I extracted the notebook from its minimalist packaging, connected the battery and fired it up for the first time.
My first impression of the factory software install was positive. There was a minimum of third-party applications installed and no pop-ups or prompts to buy or install anything. A temporary partition with recovery media images was included in lieu of a DVD. The only annoyance was having to use Lenovo's clunky application to extract the data before reclaiming the disk space.
Fortunately, I have no real need for recovery media. I copied the contents of a Windows 7 Professional 64 DVD to my SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive and booted off it. Windows was installed and operational in eleven minutes. There were a few pieces of hardware that required vendor drivers but that was a simple matter to resolve, especially with Lenovo's System Update 4.
Over two weeks later, I continue to be impressed by the performance and stability of my ThinkPad. Applications like Firefox, Photoshop, Outlook, 7-Zip and Google Earth run quickly and smoothly, even when under high processing loads. Furthermore, the speed of the computer is not affected while multiple processes consume system resources. Multitasking, indeed.
I have found numerous sites and forums where people share their Windows Experience Index score as computed by the Windows System Assessment Tool. WSAT quantifies the performance and capability of a system's processor, memory, graphics card and hard drive, producing a subscore for each. The lowest of these subscores, which at present range between 1.0 and 7.9, is also the reported base score. These are the results of my assessment test.
|Component||What Is Rated||Subscore|
|Processor||Calculations per second||6.2|
|Memory (RAM)||Memory operations per second||6.2|
|Graphics||Desktop performance for Windows Aero||5.9|
|Gaming Graphics||3D business and gaming graphics||6.4|
|Hard Disk||Disk data transfer rate||6.7|
|Base Score||Derived from lowest subscore||5.9|
As you can see, the W500 performed excellently during these tests. I was a bit surprised at the 2D graphics score (5.9), but the Mobile Intel 4 video chipset appears more than adequate in real world use. When graphics performance is required, the ATI Mobility FireGL (6.4) takes over. I was most entertained if not unsurprised by the scorching hard drive performance score (6.7). I definitely made the right decision by selecting the solid state hard drive.
Instead of using additional benchmark tools to spit out more figures, I decided I would time the boot and Windows loading sequence. For starters, POST takes four seconds from pushing the power button to when the OS starts to load.
With the wireless network and Bluetooth adapters turned on, it took Windows thirty seconds to get to the login screen. With the wireless and Bluetooth turned off, the time was reduced to 17 or 18 seconds.
Windows is immediately ready to use after I log in, with all services and start-up applications loaded and running in under eight seconds. The ThinkPad W500 and Windows 7 seem to be a match made in heaven. Only time will tell if the reputation of the ThinkPad line stands, though based on what I have seen thus far I have no reason to doubt it.
|7 Comments||The New Computer II | http://mtsutro.org?p=938|
Saturday, 20 February 2010, 2011
Stepping outside the office to take a break on a not-so-cold day about a month ago, I noticed a co-worker's sweater had a familiar logo on it. Most people, the wearer included, would immediately recognize the logo as that of the New England Patriots North American football franchise.
This was not my first thought, however, as my former high school sometimes uses the very same logo. Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida, is home of the Patriots, where they used to "meet the challenge" but now apparently "make the difference."
While the mascot, school seal and other official materials contain original works of art, the New England Patriots head logo and script typeface "Patriots" are/were featured on athletic uniforms, t-shirts, websites and documents. I explained all this to my co-workers and wondered how this never resulted in a lawsuit for trademark infringement.
I suppose it is not outside the realm of possibility the National Football League decided not to take action because it was a high school, not to mention one with a well-established football program. Then again, of those copyright and trademark holders most inclined to sue I would think the NFL would rank highly.
The Tale of Two Patriots: New England (left) and Lake Brantley High
When I was at Lake Brantley (1995–1999) the registrar was Regina Klaers, a kind and professional woman with whom I was fortunate to know. She was promoted to the County level before I graduated, but I made a point to stop and visit her from time to time.
She has no idea1, but she just answered this long running question for me in a one-sentence quote in the Orlando Sentinel: "The NFL does not have a problem with schools using the logos as long as there are limitations on it." The same article goes on to note that as long as no competition is involved with NFL licensed firms, "teams often are happy to have high schools emulate them."
The quote was prompted by a recent situation involving Lake Mary High School, home of the Rams. For reasons past understanding, Lake Brantley has long been high school rivals with Lake Mary. I remember their logo being a bighorn sheep standing with the word "Rams" in script below it. They still use this version apparently but a few years ago started using the Dodge ram head logo on uniforms, benches and even the gym floor.
Tipped off by an anonymous citizen, Chrysler sent a cease and desist letter to Seminole County Public Schools and threatened to sue. The district decided to comply, intelligently concluding the financial resources could be better spent on students then on a hopeless legal battle, and Lake Mary must eliminate the infringing logo by the end of the school year.
Two Rams Not Better Than One: Dodge (left) and Lake Mary High
In response to criticism over their move, Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese told the Sentinel, "it is a course of action we have to take to protect our trademark rights. If we don't approach these kinds of things with dilligence [sic]2, we can lose our trademark rights."
Interestingly enough, Chrysler will stop using this logo itself in 2010 opting instead for a text-only logo. Quickly working to distinguish corporate decisions from their family owned and operated dealership, Orlando Chrysler Jeep Dodge has offered to redesign the Lake Mary logo for free. In the meantime, the old bighorn sheep just have to do.
2 It seems the Tallahassee Democrat is not the only newspaper to forego spell checking.
|2 Comments||The Patriot and the Ram | http://mtsutro.org?p=932|
Local Orlando Personal Typography & Logos
Monday, 08 February 2010, 0156
Believe it or not, I am writing this article on the Gateway Solo 2500 notebook I customized and purchased, or rather had purchased for me as a graduation present in May 1999. It arrived at my house in early June while I was vacationing in San Francisco and was the only thing enticing me to return to Orlando.
This system has provided reliable service to me for 10 years and 8 months now, but is obviously slow and underpowered for my current needs. My philosophy on buying a new notebook is simple: upgrading them can be difficult and expensive so I get the most powerful one I can afford. Although prices have fallen and technology improved in the past decade, my philosophy remains valid for modern desktop replacements.
Entering the 21st century, Gateway hit hard times and the quality of their offerings lessened. In the meantime, my line of work has provided me the chance to use a variety of business notebooks from Dell, Toshiba and HP/Compaq. By far the most impressive notebook is the well-designed ThinkPad by IBM, acquired by Lenovo in 2005. I have logged incalculable hours on the ThinkPad T43p and T61 and am continuously impressed with their quality and performance.
Yesterday afternoon, I placed an order for a custom build ThinkPad W500. The W Series is a recent line of systems designed as upgraded successors to the popular T Series and could probably be referred to colloquially as the Cadillac of ThinkPad notebooks. The W700 even comes with a secondary flip-out LCD panel and built-in tablet. Now that is overkill for me, but I am saving nearly $1000 on the W500 between a sale price and coupon discount.
My ThinkPad W500 will be equipped with the following components:
- Intel Core 2 Duo P9500 Mobile Processor
- ATI Mobility FireGL V5700 Video Card
- 8 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM Memory
- 15.4" WSXGA+ CCFL TFT Display
- 128 GB Solid State Hard Drive
- Intel WiFi Link 5300 Wireless Network Card
- Bluetooth PAN
- 8x DVD/CD Recorder
- 7-in-1 Media Card Reader
- TouchPad, TrackPoint and ThinkLight
- Windows 7 Professional 64
Needless to say, I am fairly excited to get my hands on this computer. I will likely be compelled to run and post some speed tests and boot-up times. I have yet to use a solid state hard drive, but I am preparing to be blown away based on the performance results I found online. With any luck, the shipping estimate I was provided—22 March 2010—is highly conservative and it will only be a matter of weeks before it arrives.
Update: I received an e-mail on 22 February that it would arrive on the 24th and it did. I will elaborate at a different time, but for now it is sufficient to say this notebook is the fastest I have used and I absolutely love it.
Update: Read the follow-up article The New Computer II.
|3 Comments||The New Computer | http://mtsutro.org?p=930|
Sunday, 31 January 2010, 2354
I have been thinking about classic diners in Florida after recently discovering a good one in High Springs. Since I could only think of two more, I will also recommend a nearby non-diner for each.
But first a recap of High Springs' Fleetwood Diner, 615 NW Santa Fe Boulevard. As I noted before, Fleetwood (formerly Floyd's) offers classic diner favorites, homestyle dinners and breakfast anytime they are open. The meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes and corn and the patty melt with fries are both excellent.
Within walking distance of the boardwalk, pier and typical Daytona Beach junk shops is the Starlite Diner, 401 North Atlantic Avenue. Featuring a medium-sized menu with breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and homestyle dinners, the Starlite sits in the shadow of modern condominium skyrises but maintains its charm with stainless steel and neon. I recommend the patty melt sandwich with fries, but also enjoyed the breakfast plate with ham steak, eggs, homefries and toast.
A few blocks south is Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q, 37 North Atlantic Avenue. Like the Starlite Diner, Hog Heaven does a swift lunch business due in part to the nearby hotels with meeting spaces. The service was prompt and professional regardless. The menu includes BBQ favorites like beef, chicken, ribs and pork. I enjoyed the pulled pork lunch plate with fries, cole slaw and garlic bread. The indoor dining area is nice enough, but I recommend a table in the covered outdoor area.
Two-hundred fifty miles to the south and not far from Fort Lauderdale beach is Lester's Diner, 250 West State Road 84. From their large menu of classic dishes, I took a chance on and was pleasantly surprised with the open-faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and corn. This diner classic is often fatty and drowning in gravy, but this version was great. The building was looking a little worn at the time and the waitress was grumpy, but good roast beef goes a long way.
Down the street is the must-visit Old Heidelberg German Restaurant, 900 State Road 84. Featuring a comprehensive menu of old world favorites and import beer, Old Heidelberg is quaint, dimly lit and heavily decorated with art and beer steins. I still have dreams about the Oktoberfest combo: bratwurst, thüringer, knockwurst, smoked pork chop, meatball and kielbasa with red cabbage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. The waiter was polite and attentive, plus the live accordion player was a nice touch. If you really enjoy your meal, walk next door and pick-up some sausages and meat from the Old Heidelberg Deli, which features the products served in the restaurant and much more.
Please note it has been around five years since I last visited the Starlite Diner, Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q, Lester's Diner and Old Heidelberg. If you have more recent experiences, please share them.
|Add Comment||The Five Restaurants | http://mtsutro.org?p=929|
Food & Drink Personal Travel
Sunday, 24 January 2010, 2159
Last weekend I joined Mom and Ross for three days camping at O'Leno State Park. After a tumultuous drive on Interstate 10 through fog and heavy rain, I arrived at the park and drove toward the Magnolia camping area. The park ranger at the entrance had provided me a map, brochure and permit for my car before sending me to campsite 29. Unfortunately, Mom and Ross were set up in campsite 16 creating an interesting moment when I pulled into someone else's campsite and exchanged puzzled looks with an equally confused man.
Instead of grilling in the rain and 40 mile per hour gusts of wind, we drove to nearby High Springs and found the delicious Fleetwood Diner, 615 NW Santa Fe Boulevard (formerly Floyd's Diner). Their comprehensive menu includes classic diner favorites, homestyle dinners and breakfast anytime they are open. UPDATE: During my visit on 19 February 2012, I discovered the restaurant is now called Springs Diner.
We used a break in the storm as an opportunity to build a campfire, something I had been looking forward to specifically. It was a fun time until the rain and wind returned, when hickory trees surrounding our campsite dropped golf ball-sized nuts on us like weaponized projectiles. We narrowly escaped the assault but my car and Ross' truck sustained minor damage.
The next morning after breakfast at the campsite, we walked to the swinging suspension bridge (1938) and the River Trail trailhead. The trail included views of the Santa Fe River and the sink where it becomes subterranean, flowing southwest three and a half miles to River Rise Preserve State Park.
We continued to the day use area and log pavilion, watched white-tailed deer grazing in the woods and hiked the Dogwood and Limestone Trails. We ended a perfect Sunday with Mom's chicken and veggie skewers, various beers from Republic of Panama, the early celebration of my birthday and a quiet evening by the campfire.
On Monday we wandered down to River Rise, hiked the Yellow Trail and saw where the Santa Fe River resurfaces and continues west to the Suwannee River. Since we had already vacated our campsite, we once again visited the Fleetwood Diner to have another great meal. After saying our goodbyes, we drove out of O'Leno and headed home in opposite directions. The long weekend was such a success we plan to select another park and do this again soon.
|1 Comment||The Camping Trip | http://mtsutro.org?p=928|
Personal Photography Travel
Thursday, 07 January 2010, 2359
Although the winter months here are normally cooler than the rest of Florida, the past few weeks have been ridiculous. Twice this week there have been references in the local forecast to snow, flurries and sleet. The low yesterday bottomed out at 16°F and it was about that cold this morning. If the rain forecast for the overnight actually comes and the conditions are right, it could be a very interesting morning tomorrow.
Snow in Tallahassee, while unusual, is not unprecedented. There have been thirty-two occurrences, seven of which were measurable, from 1891 to present. The record for most snowfall in a twenty-four hour period was set on 12–13 February 1958 with 2.8 inches, visible in this photograph of FSU students outside Bryan Hall. The winter storm of 1989 provided the last measurable snowfall of 1.0 inch on 22–23 December.
Update: Friday, 12 February 2010, 1940 EST
Make that thirty-three occurrences. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Barry, a combination of rain and snow fell late last night. I did not see any of the flurries myself but there were a few people at work today who said they did. It will be below freezing here soon and flurries are again possible, but I am not complaining too much considering the week the northeast experienced.
While in transit from Buffalo with the moving van in September 1989, Hurricane Hugo was lurking about and made finding motel rooms in the southern states, well, impossible. Later as we crossed the state line amidst a torrential thunderstorm, we laughed at the "Sunshine State" slogan on the Welcome to Florida sign. A few months later, my uncle flew in to see our new house in Altamonte Springs and enjoy Christmas with us. Some snow was reported in Orlando at the time, but what I remember are the power failures. It was nearly Christmas by candlelight.
Despite the possibility, I do not expect any noteworthy white stuff. On the other hand, based on the beautiful sheets of ice on my car the past two mornings, any overnight rain will no doubt be frozen and slick just in time for my morning drive to work—with the 50,000 college students back in town this week, no less.
My only hope is an increase in temperature for next weekend when I am scheduled to camp in O'Leno State Park. Camping in the winter is one thing, but when it is this cold in Florida it usually means the humidity is extremely low as well, causing Red Flag Warning conditions that make campfires inadvisable. More importantly, I'd like the chance to hike in the woods and otherwise be outdoors and so the warmer, the better.
|Add Comment||The Winter Wonderland | http://mtsutro.org?p=927|
Thursday, 07 January 2010, 2317
People frequently ask me if I am going to watch this game or that game, referring to college football. These questions amuse me because, as you probably know, I could care less about sports. When it comes to college football, there is only one question that matters. Is it a home game? Living close to Doak Campbell Stadium, this simple fact is crucial when planning to drive anywhere on game day.
Anyway, my favorite and often accurate response—"What game?"—generally provokes a stunned expression. The friendly Publix cashier on New Year's Eve, who had been happily chatting while scanning my items, said nothing further after I responded instead with a succinct "no." Honestly, I really enjoy this little game because the amazement others express at my answers equal my own amazement over everyone else's total obsession.
I gave the standard reply when asked today about my interest in sports and plans to watch some bowl game tonight. But after a few seconds, an idle neuron fired in my brain bringing to the surface information I had apparently subconsciously obtained via NPR this morning. I quickly followed up by correctly identifying the Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Longhorns as the opponents, surprising even myself.
|1 Comment||The Game Question | http://mtsutro.org?p=926|
Local Personal Sports and Recreation
Wednesday, 30 December 2009, 0420
It went by so quickly, no?
Welcome twenty ten.
|2 Comments||The New Decade | http://mtsutro.org?p=923|
Local Personal Photography