Quick Thoughts on the ThinkPad T495

Recently I was handed a new Lenovo ThinkPad T495 as my new “sysadmin” notebook to use for the work I do around campus. I asked for this device because I was curious about how openSUSE would work with the newer AMD Ryzen Pro mobile chips and the current notebook I was using was starting to buckle under its age.

This ThinkPad is now setup with openSUSE Tumbleweed and here are some generic thoughts about how things are working out so far.

ThinkPad T495 on desk
  • This is the nicest traditional, non-Apple laptop I have ever used. It feels sturdy and the hinge is quite nice.
  • The screen is matte and full HD, and is quite nice. It isn’t the best screen I’ve seen, and I didn’t watch a touchscreen for this device, but it is quite capable.
  • The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor is quite capable and more than fast enough for what I need to do. I haven’t bothered checking for benchmarks, but openSUSE Tumbleweed is a dream on it.
  • The keyboard is … OK. I don’t hate the keyboard on my MacBook, and there are definitely some things to like about this keyboard over Apple’s current designs, but I have had problems typing accurately that I am chalking up to being more used to the shallow typing distance of my MacBook.
  • It is thin and light enough, but I am finding that the bags that I have been using most are now too small for this laptop even though I didn’t think the difference between Apple’s 13″ lineup and this 14″ Lenovo machine would be that big of a deal.
  • If you are going to run Linux on it, aim for as current of a kernel as possible. It runs with openSUSE Leap 15.1 decently, but the switch to openSUSE Tumbleweed was a revelation. The newer the kernel, the better, and I am hoping for continued improvements for AMD’s chips in the future.
  • I will need to get more RAM (8 GB is not enough).
  • There really is a difference between Apple’s Retina screens and something like this (what is being used in business-class notebooks across the rest of the industry). Part of this is going to be software and part of it is going to be hardware.
  • Everything should have USB-C.
  • I think I quite like it.

Apple doesn’t really offer a notebook like this at the moment and the ThinkPad is not trying to compete with Apple’s offerings. When I am using it, I do miss macOS, but part of that may just be familiarity.

At some point I am going to be forced to make a decision around replacing my MacBook, but I will keep seeing if I can wedge this ThinkPad into other parts of my work. One of the first things I did was get Zotero installed and hooked up to LibreOffice to see if I could continue working with my citations there and it works just fine.

If you are looking for a very good, competent, thin-enough and light-enough Linux laptop … I have no issues recommending the Lenovo ThinkPad T495.

Inadvertent Post

Earlier today a post I had originally published in 2010 was inadvertently updated and the published date moved to today. That was a mistake on my part.

That post was originally published in the summer 2010 when we were getting ready to move to the Milwaukee area. Since then we have moved back to Minnesota and we are not in the process of moving again.

Again, that was my fault.

Have a great week and watch those stray clicks and automation!

Have We Hit Peak Podcast?

Have We Hit Peak Podcast? by Jennifer Miller, NY Times

An interesting piece from the NY Times about the podcast “industry” right now and how many are thinking the “good times are coming to an end” (so to speak). Here is an interesting and salient quote to me:

Call him cynical, but Jordan Harbinger, host of “The Jordan Harbinger Show” podcast, thinks there is a “podcast industrial complex.” Hosts aren’t starting shows “because it’s a fun, niche hobby,” he said. “They do it to make money or because it will make them an influencer.”

When the point is to make money instead of having something interesting to share, or just wanting to have fun doing it, then you are going to burn out or even edit yourself to try and meet some sort of metric, or reach some specific audience because they are going to make you some money.

This is part of the issue with news today, right? It is searching out dollars first and informing the public second. The incentives are messed up and wrong and the interesting writing I remember reading years ago tends to be drowned out by people yelling at each other.

Maybe the end of the “podcast industry” isn’t a bad thing, overall, for the culture.

Goodbye Jony

Apple announced that Chief Design Officer Jony Ive is going to be stepping away from the company later this year to form an independent design company.

I have been a fan and user of Apple devices during the Jony Ive era and it will be interesting to see what happens from this point forward for Apple, and for Jony as well. Steve Jobs’ death was a major shift for the company and this will be seen as the same, but I feel this has been coming for a while.

If you want to read up on some good thoughts, head over to Daring Fireball to read Jony Ive is Leaving Apple and listen to the last episode of The Talk Show: ‘A Bit Too Thin’.

Thanks Jony for the work. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the devices you had a hand in.