failing like never before


Reasons for Buying a Refurbished Thinkpad

I wrote this article about three years ago, but never posted it. So finally, here it is... (I should point out this Thinkpad has since expired in a fire.)

I was procrastinating on studying a few weeks ago (as usual) and decided to look at the going prices for refurbished laptops, and most especially refurbished IBM Thinkpads. I stumbled across and noticed that they had refurbished x60 Thinkpads for around $350, and then a few days later, a x60s (sans battery) showed up Cedar PC for only $240. I thought about it for a while and decided to pull the trigger on it. Now lets follow the logic that allowed me to justify spending $240 on a refurbished piece of 4 year old technology...


I have a perfectly functional HP dv2910us laptop right now that I carry to campus almost every day now and despite the fact that it only weighs in at around 5lbs, I've found it to be rather tiresome to carry constantly. The problem is mostly that not only do I have to carry the laptop, I also have to carry the AC charger, a binder, one or two textbooks, and my lunch, and the weight adds up quite quickly. So I've been thinking about getting a lighter machine for a while now. A netbook would be a perfectly logical choice, but after spending an extended period of time trying to type on a 10 inch netbook, I found the miniature keyboard to be absolutely unbearable to use. Of course, I considered getting a new 12 inch light weight laptop, but discarded the idea quickly because I really can't justify spending more then $800 on a device right now.

Obviously, the ipad or any kind of keyboard-less tablet was out of the question (not just because I dislike Apple) but because I can't develop software on the ipad.

The x60s I purchased is by no means expensive, and at 3lbs its quite light.

Shiny Shiny Shiny

I hate glossy screens. Glossy screens are the devil. The glossy screen on my HP bothered me a bit when I first got it, but I was willing to put up with it since the price was so low. Unfortunately, over the past 18 months that I've had my HP laptop, I've discovered that unless I keep the backlight cranked up to over 95%, the glare off the screen under normal lighting is atrocious. And of course, with the backlight up so high, my battery life went from 2.5 hours to about 1 hour.

I'm sitting in a dimly lit corner of the library right now with my backlight set to 90% and I can still see annoying little glare spots from the ceiling lamp twenty feet away, and even more annoyingly, I can see the reflection of my moving fingers at the base of the screen. If I switch to my black background terminal, I can see my entire reflection in all its glory. The only time that this screen doesn't have glare or reflect back everything behind it, is when there are no other ambient light sources in the same room. With the smallest amount of ambient sunlight, my shiny screen turns into a 14 inch mirror, and if I happen to sit next to a window on a sunny day, my screen becomes completely unusable.

Yet for some reasons, glossy screens are the only option for most laptops sold today. Only the high end business laptops and expensive Macbook pros offer matte screens at a premium, which infuriates me to no end.

Loud Howard

My HP has a bit of a problem. When its CPU temperature drops below 118 F, the BIOS decides to go nutty, and it revs the system fans all the way up for a split second, shuts them them down for about a second, and then repeats ad nauseum. This generates what is hands down the most infuriating noise ever.

Imagine if you will, you're sitting in the nice quiet library studying for your big test tomorrow when some guy sits down next to you and pulls out his laptop. He flips it open and immediately the following noise starts emanating from his machine:


Oh, by the way, that guy with the annoying laptop is me...


The Amazing Thinkpad

I was helping my uncle move last Saturday, and as we were loading his crap into the moving truck I noticed a laptop sticking out of a box full of cables. I pulled it out, and was surprised to find that it was an IBM Thinkpad T21.

I asked my uncle why he had thrown, what appeared to be a perfectly good laptop, (sans battery) into a box full of junk. He replied that the screen had stopped working years ago, and he had simply thrown tossed the laptop into his garage. He was about to throw it away, since he was moving, but I offered to take it off his hands. Luckily, we were also able to find the AC adapter for the T21 stuffed away in one of his boxes.

Its hard to understand why Thinkpads are so popular with large companies, until you've actually used one for an extended period of time. The old IBM Thinkpads were built to last forever, to suffer amazing punishments and just keep on ticking like nothing had happened; I don't think any other company makes laptops like IBM once did. It is still possible today, to buy a refurbished Thinkpad T20 online for about $200 (US), even though the laptop is close to eight years old. My dad didn't quite understand why I liked the Thinkpad line so much, so I showed him just how sturdy the old T21 was by pushing and pressing against various parts of the laptop's frame and screen, to show how it didn't flex at all, and then proceeded hit it a few times against the ground for good measure. Most other laptops will bend like a sapling in a light wind, the instant some pressure is applied to their screens, whereas I could probably use the lid of my Thinkpad as a hammer.


The Laptop Search

Its about time that I finally got a laptop. I'll be starting my second year of college this fall, and it'll be nice to be able to have a laptop to take to class and the library. For the past few years, I've had the same desktop, a Pentium 4 3Ghz, with 1gig of RAM and an ATI Radeon x800 xl, and it has been quite good to me. I'll be sorry to part with it.

I think its best, when shopping for a computer (or indeed, shopping for most things) to specify what one wants, or does not want out of it.

  • So firstly, I want it to able to run Linux well. I've no qualms against diving into configuration files and getting dirty, but I still want a Linux friendly machine.
  • Pretty much every laptop these days comes with Vista installed. I hate Vista, but fortunately I have an official ISO image of Windows XP Pro 64-bit, so I want a laptop that will play nicely with Windows XP. (Were it up to me, I would never use Windows, but I need certain programs for school, like Visual Studio, DreamWeaver (Yuck! I can write my own code, thank you very much.), and CAD stuff.)
  • I'm not a gamer, so an integrated graphics card would be fine. I would actually prefer to have an Intel integrated graphics because I know Intel tends to be pretty open with their graphics cards. Nvidia would be fine, but not as preferable as Intel, and ATI/AMD is definitely out of the question.