[EN] Lenovo M30-70: the first thing to do? Get rid of Windows 8.1!

19/02/2015

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I don’t think I’m the only one out there who thinks that Windows 8.1 is crap, do I? In my opinion, Windows 8.1 is a totally confusing and misconceived operating system, but I think that also Microsoft has the same opinion as I do, since they rolled back a lot of things in the new Windows 10. Anyway, my shiny Lenovo M30-70 shipped with a licensed copy of Windows 8.1. Before getting rid of it, and installing whatever else operating system you wish, it’s a good practice to create a recovery disk on an usb pendrive. Since you paied for the OS, and you could need that license in the future (ex. to reinstall it before selling it, to upgrade to Windows 10 for free), it’s -warmly- recommended that you backup it. Do it as soon as possible. In my case, Windows 8.1 run for like 20 minutes before I started the procedure, that you can find here. Be aware that you’ll need a pendrive with a size of at least 16 gb, and the recovery disk will take approximately 12 Gb of it. It could be a good idea to backup D: as well, since it contains all the drivers in one place, as I wrote here.

As alternative, you could also avoid to create / backup anything, and stick with the hidden recovery partition available on the computer, but I honestly think is a waste of space to keep that there. I definitely suggest to create a recovery disk on a pendrive (they are very cheap nowadays), backup D:, and then get rid of all the five (!) partitions available on the machine, and create 1-2 partition(s) from scratch according to your needs. In my case, I booted the computer from a Windows 7 pendrive, I deleted the pre-existing partitions and I created two new partitions (100 gb for operating system and programs, and ca. 350 gb for the data). I think that this partition scheme is much better than the default one ;-)


[EN] Lenovo M30-70: the drivers partition

16/02/2015

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As I was writing some days ago, I recently bought a Lenovo M30-70. I used Lenovo enterprise laptops for years at work, but this is the first time I own one. Once booted, I’ve been really positively impressed by one thing on the software-side. Lenovo provides to you an extra partition with all the drivers inside. I dreamed about something like this for ages in my fifteen+ years of experience as IT technician for private customers. Everytime I had to prepare a machine, I had to deal with the manufacturers’ crappy websites in order to dowload the drivers, copy them on an external drive, install them on the target machine, how frustrating! Lot of time wasted for such a simple thing, expecially in the pre-DSL era. Now finally big computer brands have started to address this issue! Thumb up for Lenovo!


[EN] How SFI and SAS work in Sweden, a.k.a. the full path to learn Swedish for free

13/02/2015

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If you live in Sweden since a while and you own a personnummer, you’ve surely heard about the possibility to go to school and learn Swedish for free. All the people around you mention quite often the word “SFI”, that stays for “Swedish for Immigrants” (Svenska för Invandrare), but a very small percentage of them knows that SFI is just the first step in a full learning path, about which there are not clear information in English on the Internet (neither on Swedish actually…). Or well, there were not…until now.

After many hours spent researching on-line, and asking in the Komvux of my little town, I finally understood how everything exactly works, and I´m glad to share everything with you in English, so that you can effectively plan your studying and boost your Swedish skills, that are quite nice to have if you live in this land. The Swedish learning path for foreigners conceived by Skolverket (Swedish National Agency of Education) is quite smart and well planned, but it needs a lot of effort by your side and a couple of years if you want to reach some results. The path I will describe in this post is the one valid at the moment of writing, year 2014-2015. Imagine it like a videogame, with a serie of achievements to reach in order to unlock the next ones.

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[EN] A quick review in English about NetOnNet.se

10/02/2015

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I don’t usually buy gadgets on swedish e-commerce websites, because the prices are quite higher than ordering on Amazon or eBay (or than buying them when I go back to Italy), but a couple of weeks ago I decided to give them a try, since I needed a laptop with quite a lot of urgency. After maniacally stalking Priskakt for a couple of weeks, I decided to buy my new laptop on NetOnNet, one of the biggest websites available in Sweden regarding computers and peripherals. Ordering and payment processes have been as expected, it’s a reputable website after all, so I would go for it again if needed.

NetOnNet

The only little “complain” is about their handling time. It took almost three days for them to ship the package from their warehouse (placed in Börås), and after that less the two days to reach my hands (using the free, slow shipping included in the price, not the fast one for 79 kr). Being habit to Amazon or eBay sellers who ship the package the next morning, or the same day, a package handling time of almost three days looks quite anachronistic to me. My order was made of just a laptop and a pendrive, both in stock and available.

I think that speeding up the handling process would make NetOnNet almost perfect (apart lowering a bit the prices of some stuff, like pendrives), imho :)


[EN] Lenovo M30-70 Unboxing (and first boot)

06/02/2015

Quick specs: Intel Celeron 2957U, RAM 4GB DDR3L (max 8Gb), Harddisk 500GB, Intel® HD Graphic, 1,8 kg, 1mpxl camera, 5h battery, 13,3″ 1366×768 LED, Windows 8.1

Quick opinion: Lenovo M30-70 (Scandinavian version). Cheapest ultrabook (and cheapest 13.3′ laptop) on the market when I bought it (under 300$, end of January 2015). The laptop ships with Windows 8.1, but Lenovo is very nice and provides the drivers for Windows 7 as well, it’s the only brand that does that for a consumer computer. Excellent support for Linux. The two power plugs that you see in the videos are the german plug and the danish plug (three poles). The plastics feel a bit cheap, but ok for the price. The screen is matte (yay!). It feels very light and compact (price apart, it’s the main reason to buy it for). First boot takes appr. 3 minutes (I edited the video).


[EN] Toshiba Satellite M30-304 (2002) shutdowns automatically after that Windows XP has loaded the desktop

12/01/2015

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Some years ago my fully working Toshiba Satellite M30-304 laptop (2002) suddenly started to behave abnormally. It used to start normally, to load Windows XP desktop and then shutdown by itself after a couple of minutes, without any kind of intervention by me. This happened after every single attempt to start it up, no exceptions. My setups are usually quite clean (retail OS installations or lite versions of them made by me, no bloatware, nearly zero applications running in background and/or in the traybar at startup etc), so I excluded any kind of software reason straight away. In that short period of time before the automatic shutdown, I have been able to run CPU-z and I discovered that the temperature inside the case was terribly high, over 120 °C, so I guessed that the problem was the thermal paste on the cpu, that after more ten years of usage didn’t do its job anymore and needed to be replaced. Every cpu automatically shutdowns when it reaches a certain temperature, in order to preserve the integrity of the machine it belongs to, and probably this was one of those cases.

After a couple of years since that discovery, I finally found the time to go thru the problem and try to solve it, disassembling the laptop following this wonderful Irisvista.com guide (offline, printable version in .docx format), cleaning the dried out thermal paste with some rubbing alcohol, putting some new thermal paste on the cpu and assembling everything back.

I have to admit that the solution worked extremely well and now my dear Toshiba is kicking ass again! I documented the main part of the process with a couple of pictures that I’m glad to share with you, just in case you’ll encounter a similar issue and you’ll wonder how to solve it. Of course we are talking about a really old laptop (13 years ago at the moment of writing!), but I’m not the kind of guy who trashes things that can still serve for a purpose, expecially such a cute computer. Many old computers can still work quite fine, so, in my modest opinion, is really a pity to trash them.

A quick advice: when you disassemble this laptop, please be extra careful when you de-attach the keyboard ribbon cable from the motherboard. I’ve been careful, but probably not enough, since the keyboard doesn’t work anymore after my intervention, but it worked fine before. Nothing that cannot be fixed with a cheap USB keyboard, but please learn from my experience and try to avoid to stumble upon the same issue :)

Pictures of the intervention after the break.

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[EN] Unboxing Asus F200MA-KX384B + Asus Eos carrybag

10/01/2015

Some weeks ago I bought and configured for my brother his first laptop. He needed a quite portable machine able to handle basic tasks, such as Facebook, Youtube, writing stuff for school in Word, music listening, movie watching and internet browsing in general. He needed also a machine with a decent battery life, to use during his frequent bus trips, so I thought that buying a netbook would have been an excellent solution. I went for an Asus F200MA-KX384B (quick specs: Intel Celeron Dual-Core N2830 a 2.16Ghz, 4 GB RAM PC3-6400 1.600 MHz, 11,6′ HD 1366×768, 500 GB HDD, Windows 8.1 with Bing, 30,2 cm x 20 cm x 2,56 cm, 1,24 kg, link on Monclick.it), because it had very balanced specs for its price (sub 300 euro), and I bought an adeguate carrybag with slim form factor as well, called Asus Eos carrybag (link on Monclick.it). Asus has always been very good into designing low-cost, compact machines (they are the ones who invented the netbooks after all!) and this F200MA-KX384B follows the tradition. It feels very robust and quite nice when you touch it, and the keyboard and the trackpad are ok for the price. The only problem is Windows 8.1, that is a very crappy operating system (IMHO), and very annoying to configure (ex. it needs a LiveID in order to work). With Windows 7 this netbook would have been perfect! The bag is very nice as well, and the laptop fits just perfect in it. There is also space for a standard size mouse and for the power adapter, so you are fully served!

Anyway, I will post after the break some quick unboxing pictures of both the laptop and the bag, in the case you are also thinking to buy them :-) Sharing is caring!

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