January 18, 2011

New laptop, twice the fun

Apart from the cluster and the other dozen of computers at home, I got my last work horse in 2003, an Inspiron 5160 from Dell.

The thing was expensive, badly designed (it spent three months in service, one for each new motherboard it required until I clipped the insides of the case to stop it ripping the board apart) and lived miserably until a couple of years ago when I stopped using it. Before that I even tried to upgrade it a bit with more memory and a new hard disk, but finally the external wifi card failed and I didn’t bother getting a new one (a few Eee PCs replaced it, thank you very much).

But now the Colmenar is working, Visual Studio 2010 has a good number of nice features, and after a few months thinking I decided to get a new laptop. I got an HP ProBook 6550b, and I am liking it nearly as much as the Eee PC.

It came with Windows 7 64 bits, and a sledge of applications that I didn’t want, so after a few hours trying to remove them I wiped the disk and installed Ubuntu instead. The setup was fast and detected everything but the finger print scanner (which I don’t care).

After installing VirtualBox I went for Windows, and found that the disk that came with the machine had a 32 bits version instead of 64. I imagine that I could have called the guys in HP, but it is not a big deal (as other .NET people are doing, I wonder how longer will I stay in the lands of Uncle Bill) and the setup of Windows 7 32 bits in Virtual box worked without flaws. Visual Studio, SQL 2008 and the usual suspects went in without protests, and now I finally have a machine where I can run Python and mySQL on their natural neighborhood, as well as doing C# as fast as usual in Visual Studio.

The only point a bit annoying is that on the first boot, when Windows asked for my details, some of the dozen weird applications wrote the BIOS with a username and password related to the Mickey Mouse network I said I was using. After wiping everything, when I accessed the BIOS setup to change some details for virtualization, I found that those user details were used and now I can not change them. I didn’t spend too much time investigating, but I guess that I will be in trouble if I want to do a BIOS upgrade, but I think that it will not be another period of seven years until the next laptop. Hopefully, that upgrade will never be required.

All in all I am very happy with the ProBook, it is solid, good looking, the keyboard is surprisingly good for a laptop (I am writing this on it, even than the Natural Keyboard 4000 is my interface with the processor), and the screen is great.

Now, the only bit missing is to do some real programming :)