Tablet Adventure

So, after all my talk the other week about netbooks and such things, I broke down and got a new computer. Which wasn't exactly needful, but it's quite nice, and I think it'll feature rather heavily in m posts this week. Sorry if this is too far afield for some. I hope suspect that it'll make sense in the end.

Rather than wait until one of the other computers in the house died, (which would call forth my macbook in as part of the obsolescence cycle), I got a used ThinkPad x41 tablet on ebay (from a local vendor). This is probably about 3 years old, but in it's day it was a damn nice computer and although it's a bit puny in many regards its former glory shines through. It has a gig of ram, the construction is sturdy, and it has a lot of the features that are common place now like bluetooth and an SD card slot. So it's good hardware.

And it's tiny. There's something about a 12 inch laptop that's just the right size. You can fit two standard withds of text next to each other on the screen, the keyboard is fullsized without sacraficing very much, and just like a netbook, any hit in performance is compensated for by the fact that your tasks are likely to be pretty minimal.

One thing that I realized while I was away a couple weeks ago, was that there's something really good about the Awesome Window Manager and the way that it tends to focus my attention and keep me from checking LiveJournal constantly. Which I'm very prone to doing when I'm using the Mac. So it made some sense to me to work on having a laptop that I could be more productive on. And it helps that this model has some other features that I think are nifty. Like it doesn't have a touch pad (opting for the "nipple" button between the 'g' and 'h' keys) and it's a Tablet, which makes it ideal for reading things

One thing that I had been really worried about before hand was the ease of getting linux onto this system. Laptops are fineky, or they can be and on a laptop, if the hardware you have isn't supported, there's not a lot of recourse. And it would kind of suck to have a laptop with a video card that was unsupported, or a wireless card, say. Thankfully, I was able to crib off of someone else in this case, as I knew that Emperor Linux had sold this computer in the past with linux preinstalled and they were able to get all the hardware to work. So I figured I was fairly safe.

What I didn't expect is for the instalation to go so well. I downloaded a utility that would make an install-stick (as this machine doesn't have an optical drive) on my desktop, and that took some time, but but the instaliation itself maybe took half an hour. And then it just worked. There was a lot of messing around to be done, tweaking to Awesome for the smaller screen, and it took me some time to get all my data downloaded and setup, but not particularly long. And now it all works. Just like that.

It's not perfect: the battery only has about 90 minutes on it at best, I can't get the tablet to work when the screen's upside down in tablet mode, there's an accelerometor that should reorient the screen, but that might just take some elbow greese. The biggest problem, frankly, was remapping the keyboard so that it was both comfortable for tycho useage (ie. getting rid of the Caps_Lock key and making it another Control Key) and making the keyboard suitable for awesome (ie. taking the normal control keys and making them "mod4" or "Windows" keys for all the custom keybindings). That'll also take a litle bit of work to get right, as a few things appear to be wonky. Who knows.

Anyway, what I really need is a suitable sticker to cover up the IBM logos. Which, unlike an Apple logo, isn't the kind of thing that one might show off with pride. Suggestions?

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