I’m in Dublin

Hotel room

It’s true! I’m in Dublin. And just to prove it, here is a photograph of my (an) hotel room in said Irish capital. Look (above) it’s a real, Irish bedroom. In a real Irish hotel. In real Ireland. Really.

And this (below) is the view from my real Irish hotel room in real Ireland:

View from my hotel room -- of a sandy field.

It appears to be a building site themed on a gymkhana. There was also a crane nearby which I could have taken a photograph of, but if it’s alright with you I’m going to keep that to myself as a private memory. I don’t want to give everything away on my blog, you know!

It’s been a good day. Up early (05:45), at the airport by 06:45, flight left on time (ish) and no sooner had we got to cruising height than we were making our descent into Dublin International Airport.

Taxi or bus? Those are the kind of important decisions you have to make when you’re an international business traveller. We decided on taxi, but the queue was massive so we crossed the road to the Aircoach. Only to return to the taxi queue a few minutes later when the packed bus drove off without us. I guess I am new to this international business traveller business after all!

The rest of the day has been taken up with the TERMINALFOUR Open Day, which has been excellent. An excellent opportunity to meet other Higher Education users of T4, an excellent opportunity to find out what is intended for the next few versions and to put in our own tuppenceworth (twoeurosworth maybe?), and an excellent opportunity to blog from Dublin. Which is where I am just now. Did I mention that?

System Requirements

System Requirements Lab shows that my PC can run Battlefield 2

Here’s a really useful online application from the guys at System Requirements Lab: it’s called Can You Run It?

As the name may suggest, this is an application that runs via your browser and using either a helping of ActiveX or Java magic (depending on your browser of choice) quizes your PC’s system requirements and lets you know whether your particular box of plastic, metal and silicon can run the game that you’ve selected from a drop-down menu at the start of the test.

For example, it informs me quite reliably that I can run Battlefield 2, Star Wars Battlefront and Lego Star Wars on my home PC (which I already know, because I do) but not on my laptop.

It even goes a little further than simply saying “The computer says No!” by identifying exactly what part of your hardware is letting you down. In the case of my laptop the graphics card scores reasonably on everything apart from Video Hardware Transform & Lighting, my puny Intel 900 (915GM/GMS,910GML) graphics chipset just isn’t up to the task, poor thing.

Guess I’ll just have to settle for chess, mahjong and solitaire while on the go rather than anything more vioilent or sci-fi. Which, I suppose, is probably for the better.

Redeeming my laptop en route for Dublin

Lenovo laptop
My laptop automatically ‘healing’ itself – reinstalling Windows XP Home unattended. (Oranges optional.)

Since buying my Lenovo 3000 C100 laptop back in July I’ve been installing all sorts of rubbish on it (such as beta versions of Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft Office 2007 and … stuff) secure in the knowledge that with the Lenovo Care “Restore to Factory Settings” feature a clean, happy and thoroughly redeemed system was but a click or two of the mouse away.

Redemption Day

And Friday evening was Redemption Day for my laptop. I pressed the power switch and watched the laptop boot up … at the “Lenovo” screen I carefully pushed the “Lenovo Care” button and once the application had loaded I selected the “Restore to Factory Settings” option and left it to it.

About an hour later, and after a little intervention from me — just to answer some basic questions such as “do you want to continue?”, “which country do you live in?” and “what is average air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” — I had a laptop that was as good as new.

When I say “good as new” what I really mean is that when I rebooted it everything was just as it was the first day that it arrived. What I don’t mean is that it was running as efficiently and as optimized for speed as it is now. Lenovo Care will only take you so far, I guess. But I am most thankful that XP is now running fine and that I didn’t have to reinstall all the system and drivers peripheral drivers.

TweakGuides

For the last couple of days (and evenings) I’ve been busy removing most of the pre-installed software from it: Diskeeper Lite, Norton Internet Security Suite, Google Toolbar (with built-in Lenovo branding), Google Desktop and carefully working my way through the TweakGuides guide to setting up Windows XP. I’ve used this four or five times now, when setting up and tweaking XP and it is excellent. Naturally, I don’t follow all his advice, but I must carry out about 90% of what he recommends.

Full marks to Lenovo

As a footnote to the reinstallation post, the more I use my Lenovo laptop the more I appreciate the thought and effort that has obviously gone into building it. I know that a lot of OEM laptops have the “Restore to Factory Settings” feature, this is just the first that I’ve used that I’ve had absolutely no trouble with whatsoever.

The Lenovo System Update too was effortless to use. It connected to the Lenovo support website, downloaded the latest drivers and BIOS updates (potentially risky, I know) and installed them all without a hitch. And if you really wanted to reinstall everything manually then I’m delighted to report that the drivers download information on the Lenovo website is clear, excellently laid out and very well documented.

All in all, I’m delighted with my Lenovo 3000 C100. It may not have the graphics card oomph to run any of my running-jumping-shooting people games. But to be fair, that’s not what I bought it for. I’d recommend a Lenovo to anyone.

Dublin

I now have a fast, clean laptop to take with me to Dublin this week. I’m off to Ireland on Tuesday for an Open Day hosted by TERMINAL FOUR, the company who are responsible for the new content management system that we’ve bought at the University. I’ll take my camera and see if I can blog from my WiFi-enabled hotel room. See you then…

Today in St Andrews

Rain on window

It’s lunchtime and I’m blogging, looking out of my office window opposite the University Library at a very wet St Andrews; very wet indeed. In fact about half an hour ago I was out in it (“isn’t it!”) and I am now, in the words of my dearly departed Great Aunt Ella, “Plachit through tae ma breek erse!”

Exciting goings on in town today through, other than the crowds of ill-clad St Andrews students dancing through puddles to and from lectures. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing.

Waterstone’s

Seemingly overnight Ottakar’s has been transformed into Waterstone’s. I emerged from Logie’s Lane, a wee close that links South and Market Streets, and stood for a moment staring at this once green building — now painted black — and feeling a little disoriented. I looking up and down Market Street for Ottakar’s. Hmmm… it used to be there, I pondered to myself. Good news though, as I much prefer Waterstone’s. Mr Waterstone has a good taste in all forms of printed matter.

Greggs

The second transformation I noticed as I was leaving Boots the Chemist, my £2.99 Meal Deal in a bag swinging at my side. The Bakers Oven, a bakery and café on the south side of Market Street, has now become a Greggs. Hmmm… Greggs chicken and mushroom slices, I pondered to myself. Good news though, as I really like Gregg and his fine assortment of baked wares.

Fopp

The third transformation is that Birthdays (which closed during the summer — did you manage to get your cowboy and indian play set there during the extended closing-down sale?) is now in the process of becoming a Fopp music film + books store. (Fopp obviously don’t believe in punctuation.) Good news though, as I was regretting St Andrews’ lack of a quality emporium for purchasing pre-recorded audio media, and Mr Fopp has a solid and reliable reputation for dealing in such things.

Ah … and now lunchtime is up. Well, it’s been nice chatting with you. I hope you don’t get as wet as I did today. And probably will on my way home. It’s forecast for thunder and lightning, you know.