New Laptop

Just in time for JavaOne, I got me a new Thinkpad R50 laptop (specs here, but with 512Mb). At 6.8lbs it's a bit heavier than the T41 I initially considered, but the $200+ price difference just didn't seem worth it for what (weight aside) is effectively the same machine...

It's a pretty sweet little machine: very good battery life, a great looking 1400x1050 display, a keyboard that's by far the best I've encountered on a laptop, and to my surprise I even like the trackpoint. It's also got some innovative features like the harddrive active protection system, which works like a charm (though sometimes it seems like it comes on a bit too easy).

When I first opened the box I noticed it did not come with a Windows XP disk, but I later found they instead have a small hidden partition set aside on the harddrive that contains the original disk image, so in case of a problem you can easily reset the system back to its original state. Of course this is only as long as the problem isn't a complete harddrive failure, but in that case a call to IBM support should resolve things.

As new systems always come pretty bare (XP Pro, Office 2003 and Norton AntiVirus being about it in this case), initial setup is necessary to install some basic apps. In my case, those are

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how about firefox 0.9 and thunderbird?

I wouldn't load sharpreader and mess up such a nice machine though :)

Posted by Dennis Lee at June 16, 2004 12:26 AM

I knew someone would suggest firebird 0.9, though didn't expect it this quick :-)

I've never used thunderbird, but love outlook 2003 so no thanks.

And regarding SharpReader, for me that's code, not an app.

Posted by Luke Hutteman at June 16, 2004 12:31 AM

Since someone has already recommended Firefox, I'll recommend Firefox again! :)

Posted by Greg Hannover at June 16, 2004 12:50 AM

Oh, and I think you forgot Firefox.

Um. Add in PuTTY and JetAudio, and Firefox, and this thermos, and that's all I need.

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at June 16, 2004 1:41 AM

I'd say you're missing SpyBot and Ad-Aware, these damn spywares are getting increasingly annoying and disruptive (of course I also recommend Firefox so the spyware problem is a lot less important). I also recommend Shavlik's HFNetChk Pro for patch management (, free for a limited number of computers.

Posted by Nidhogg at June 16, 2004 3:13 AM

Check out skype it's brilliant especially with your built in microphone you now have :-)


Posted by Lee at June 16, 2004 3:25 AM

I used Outlook 2003, and while it certainly is a capable program it misses automatic spam detection, which is included in Thuderbird. If you still like Outlook 2003 so much though, there's solutions available; catch Spambayes from sourceforge - it's free. Thunderbird can, ofcourse, import all old mails you had on Outlook, so the process of migrating is quite painfree.

I would recommend using Miranda IM. Which you can get from here - much better, smaller, less memory eating than Trillian. Over all I personally easily prefer Miranda over Trillian.

As for Google toolbar - aren't we trusting google a little too much here? ;) I may just be paranoid, but I'm pretty convinced that toolbar keeps track of where you surf, what your computer specs are etc in some way. If not, I guess I'm just against it on ideological reasons. :P

Maybe this will be the last point, but if you're stuck using IE (and remember, this is no bashing, IE is quite nice to do webpages for as it supports advanced div layers correctly, in difference from for example Firefox, or any given Gecko-based browser really. ;)) I would do the best out of the situation and go download Avant which can be found here or MyIE2 which can be found here to atleast take advantage of tabbed browsing and *somewhat* working popup stopping. Also Avant has a very nifty URL alias function, so searching google could be made as easy as writing "google searchterm" in the addressbar and a new tab is opened with the results. Awesome.

I'll add more as I remember them. But this was what first came to mind.

Posted by Marinmo at June 16, 2004 5:33 AM

IBM T40 FAQ has some information you'd probably find interesting:

Q: My ThinkPad didn't come with restore or recovery CDs. Are these available?
A: IBM stopped including recovery or restore CDs with their ThinkPads a while ago, with the inclusion of the pre-desktop "Access IBM" partition, that included system restore data. IBM does, however, still offer recovery CDs, and they're for 30 days after your system purchase date. Just call 1-800-772-2227 +2 +1 and speak with a parts specialist. Have your system information ready. They'll order them up right quick and free of charge! This is a lifesaver if you ever install a new hard drive or somehow wipe out the HPA partition.


Posted by Paul at June 16, 2004 7:38 AM

SharpReader is code, but not an app? So does that mean you code it, but don't actually use it?

Posted by Peter at June 16, 2004 9:03 AM

Peter: of course I use it, but I don't need to install it as an app - I just rebuild it from the codebase.

Posted by Luke Hutteman at June 16, 2004 9:46 AM

Your new Thinkpad should have come with a keyboard mapping util. (Keyboard Customizer Utility) Check under the Access IBM program group for that and many other usefull tidbits. I purchased a T41P a few months ago and am utterly in love with it. It's the first hardware I've bought in a long time that I've been _really_ excited to own.

I usually format c: and reinstall a bare OS when I get a new computer just to get rid of the crap installed by the MFG that you can't opt out of. This is the first time in years that I haven't done that because IBM's software suite is so well thought out. Their network connection management program, IBM Access Connections, is a work of art.

To borrow a quote from Nissan's XTerra add campaign: "It has everything you need, nothing you don't."

Enjoy it! I know I love my T41P.

Posted by Brian at June 16, 2004 9:53 AM

You like outlook 2003????!!!!!
With that fraud article you would think that you would have realized that outlook is the number one virus producing rodent around. You know when the plague came around they killed all the rats....with all of the viruses shouldn't you kill the carrier?? Give thunderbird a is better for mail and will not infect your system. :)

So, how are things wild man?? You going to java one?


Posted by LES at June 16, 2004 10:43 AM

Oh...I think Luke uses FeedDemon :-)

Posted by Dennis Lee at June 16, 2004 10:48 AM

Hmmm let me give you my list :)

- FlashFXP / SmartFTP (free); you need an FTP program
- SpywareBlaster; in addition to the spyware repairing programs above, this one prevents spyware from being installed (free)
- MyIE2; I'll second the post above.. still prefer it over Firefox, which misses a few functions I really need and which cannot be found in extensions
- POPFile (free); the best Bayesian filter program. Not only filters spam, but can filter your e-mail into categories automatically (like work, personal etc.). Works with any e-mail program.
- Nero; for your burning pleasures.
- MediaMonkey (free); uses 50% less memory and responds faster than iTunes, yet delivers about the same functionality.
- foobar2000 (free); for quickly listening to some music files (starts up FAST).
- NotesHolder (free); perfect tool for keeping notes - keeps your desktop uncluttered from those NotePad txt files.
- AvaFind (free); searches for lost files on your harddrives and network drives in seconds, instead of the usual minutes from Windows Search.
- Dialog Box Assistant; for accessing directories in seconds instead of browsing to them all the time - saves tons of time if you regularly save in / open from different directories from programs.
- AdMuncher; best popup blocker (better than Google's toolbar) and blocks ads too.
- LeechGet (free); mass downloader.


(I use more but those programs are more expensive and not sure if you'd need them.)

Posted by Arnoud at June 16, 2004 11:01 AM

For the people bashing Outlook 2003: have you actually used it? It has changed considerably from Outlook XP and before and it's uncomparable with Outlook Express. It filters spam, it blocks the loading of images by default and it blocks unsafe attachments. It's as safe as Thunderbird, yet offers more functionality with the Calendar (better than the one available for Thunderbird now), Tasks etc.

Microsoft finally got their act together regarding e-mail software with Outlook 2003. It's great. That app alone is worth upgrading to Office 2003 for.

Posted by Arnoud at June 16, 2004 11:05 AM

You can't do software development without unit testing so I'll add NUnit to the list.

Posted by Patrick Winfield at June 16, 2004 11:06 AM

Outlook 2003 is great...try it before you bash it. SpamBayes (unless your Exchange server is using the IMF). Any Mozilla browser (I prefer Firefox). FxCop. Photoshop, Illustrator. Nero. Cygwin. Microsoft Services for Unix. PDFCreator. ISO Recorder Power Toy. ISOBuster. Vim. Any Anti-Virus software. WeatherCornerAlert. CDex. iTunes. PuTTY. client.

Posted by Travis at June 16, 2004 11:56 AM

Luke -

And here I thought you had good taste...You should have bought a PowerBook!

Posted by Brian at June 16, 2004 1:55 PM

Heh - I briefly considered getting a powerbook, but then that damn SharpReader and .NET framework pulled me back into the wintel world...

Posted by Luke Hutteman at June 16, 2004 2:00 PM

Don't worry, the Mac world is doing just fine with NetNewsWire and PulpFiction. :-)

Posted by Peter at June 16, 2004 2:54 PM

I'd suggest that you give WinRAR a skip & install Zip Genius instead. Its available for free at & it can handle more than one format. Besides the ZIP & RAR formats, it can also handle TAR format & loads of others. I doubt that you'll use anything like WinRAR or WinZIP after you start using Zip Genius. :)

Posted by Amit Gupta at June 16, 2004 3:06 PM

Irfanview. Image viewing/converting swiss army knife.

LookOut. Indexing for outlook that really works.

Posted by Andrew Dixon at June 16, 2004 5:37 PM

Don't forget:
Winkey: - Really accelerates your life ;-)

Posted by Joe McRay at June 16, 2004 6:36 PM

i have a t41 through work, and i love it... i was looking at one for personal use, and was looking at the r50, for the same reason. sure, the thinklight is a gimmicky thing, but it works awesome in a dark room, and for that i like it a lot.
i'd recommend slickrun - instead of remembering key combos, you make "magic words" (as they put it) that either open apps, go to sites, run commands (anything you'd normally do through the command prompt or run...), perform system commands, etc. it's cool too, 'cause you can export the list to share or back up.
other than that, it looks like people have hit on what i thought of...

Posted by dave at June 17, 2004 12:18 PM

We each have a list of a dozen things to do after installing the OS. I find them tedious, and wish for something easier.

I've been thinking about trying to write a script to install all my favorite tools, which I would run after flattening a machine.

I think that if I make the process really easy & automated, I might decide to re-install more often, like weekly.

Got any ideas about good ways to automate this?

Posted by jaybaz [MS] at June 17, 2004 12:43 PM

There is one tool nobody yet mentioned and that I value tremendously (and have on my own Thinkpad, which is an R40) VMware. Sure, it needs some disk space but you get to take along different operating systems and can test any and all kind of software without ruining your normal working set.

Posted by Konrad at June 17, 2004 4:50 PM

jaybaz: You might find this link usefull

I created a CD a while ago, it took a while to set it up the way i wanted, but it saved me a lot of time and effort in the long run.

If you dont want to go the whole hog and create a new windows CD, there is still some usefull info on using VBScripts and the RunOnceEX reg key.

Posted by Jim at June 20, 2004 12:23 AM
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