Thursday, August 30, 2007

Moving sucks

Construction on our new store is done (finally), so we're moving in now, just a little later than originally intended. We're going to shut down this weekend so we can get everything in the new store set up. Hopefully we'll be mostly functional on Tuesday (2007-09-04, after the Labor Day holiday), but I have a feeling it will be a week or two before things settle down to something like normal...

Monday, August 20, 2007

On buying laptops

I posted the following in the LinkedIn Answers section earlier today while I was taking a little break. Maybe it will be useful to someone...
Since we work on laptops that are both in and out of warranty at my job, my first concern is usually how easy a laptop is to work on.

With that in mind, whatever you do, don't buy Dell. Dell's primary business goals appear to a) lock people in, and b) make sure systems self-destruct in a relatively short time so that the customer buys another computer.

Avoid any laptop that has a power cord that doesn't have a normal round plug with the opening for a center pin. That rules out Dell, half the Toshiba laptops, and various others. One of the most common repairs on a laptop is a broken power jack, and the round ones tend to be easier to fix. Plus replacement power adapters tend to be easier to find (and cheaper).

For most people, Lenovo laptops (especially the Thinkpads) would be my first choice... They're reasonably priced, solid, and fairly easy to work on. (I thought that even before our shop was set up as an authorized service center, although that certainly helps with our customers.) For some of the higher-end models, especially gaming laptops, we usually recommend MSI and Asus. If you want really small and light, Averatec usually has some really nice models, although be sure to shop around a bit if you want to go that route. Often you can get an identical laptop from MSI or another company either with better specs or a bit cheaper.

The one exception to my normal rules is the MacBooks. They have a weird power adapter, they aren't terribly easy to repair, and it looks like most of the engineering effort on them went to making them pretty, not providing good airflow, etc. Still, they are nice to look at, they are light, and they're pleasant to use. Just be prepared for them to be a bit more disposable than your average laptop.

A lot of the bigger name-brand laptops (Lenovo, Acer, etc.) will let you buy an extended warranty (Acer will go to 3 years, but I think Lenovo will go up to 5) that covers accidental damage. If you travel a lot, or you are at all worried about accidents, it is well worth the extra money. Not to mention the odds of needing a warranty in 3-5 years is much higher than in the first year.

Oh, and one last thing... Make sure you have good backups of anything on your laptop. Laptop hard drives get much more abuse than desktop drives, so they tend to fail faster than desktop drives. Unfortunately, they tend to be a lot harder to recover data from than desktop drives too.

Store update

It's been hard to find time to get much work done lately, much less post updates here. The new store is coming along nicely. We should be able to start moving in next weekend, and we should be completely moved and operating from the new store on September 1. I've been spending most of my time working on all the little details related to the move (keeping an eye on the construction, turning on utilities, designing a counter, etc., etc., etc.).

I set up a Google calendar to at least start to schedule classes in the new training room the other day.

If all goes well (and I don't lose my mind first), I'll get back to somewhat normal work in a couple of weeks after we're done moving.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Perl 6 modules

I know it isn't what I'm supposed to be working on, but I happened to be looking through the list of Perl 6-on-Perl 5 modules on CPAN. I ran the list through cpanspec --follow and came up with another 51 packages.

As I have time, I'll go through the pile, clean them up, and start submitting them for review.