November 20th, 2020

children of dune - leto 1

the time has come for a new laptop

So I ordered a new laptop and am starting prep to refurbish this one for my mom.

The new laptop (name pending) is a Dell XPS 17 9700, upgraded to 32 GB RAM and a 4K touchscreen. I left the drive alone since I'm upgrading it myself to a much faster Samsung Pro 980, but happily, unlike Manhattan, this laptop has two M.2 drives and I seriously, seriously missed having that option.

Manhattan, my current laptop, is a Dell XPS 15 9575 Two-In-One with a 4K touchscreen; the screen folds backward 360 degrees into a very weirdly shaped tablet and you can write/draw on it with a pen. This is a lot of fun, but among my acquaintance, all the artistic types had a blast playing with it. And drew me pictures, some of which can be viewed by non-me company.

This option is not available for the XPS 17s, depressingly. I will miss it.

Why 2 in 1's Are Awesome (It's Not What You Think!)

I recommend this style for every laptop on earth, but not necessarily for the tablet option.

The tablet functionality wasn't bad and in fact could be useful if you like to make handwritten notes or basically any reason you like to use a tablet. The tricky part is the size; this is a widescreen laptop; 3840 by 2160 or 16:9. In the vertical, it's unwieldy as fuck and I don't mean weight (though yeah, that too); it's just not the right proportions for a tablet when you shift to the vertical. However, some may be fine with that, and anyway, that's not why I think this is brilliant innovation.

It was being able to open the laptop screen as wide as I wanted.

Most laptops open to just over or under 135 degrees then stop. As it turns out, my most functional working angle is closer to 145-150 degrees.

I've opened it to a full one-eighty when I was working and I needed to sit very straight; I had to lift my hands a little for keyboard but not as much as if it were just barely passed the 90 degrees most laptop screens allow. With one of my laptop stands, I generally have the screen at 145 degrees from the keyboard; it's much easier to sit straight (or straight-ish) if I can have the screen at near eye-level and the keyboard at nearer-hand level.

Which really just begs the question: why for the love of God are laptops still limiting opening angle to roughly 135 degrees or less? Even if you don't need a full 360 degree bend (which make it look like your screen is on top and your keyboard is on bottom), a 180 degree is super useful (see above).

When I took my laptop apart after I got it (to upgrade the hard drive also because I always take my laptops apart when I get them before anything goes wrong so the first time isn't when I'm stressed), I paid attention to how the cables thread from the body to the monitor to make a 360 degree bend work; suffice to say, it's not particularly dramatic or lifechanging; you use hollow hinges to thread the wires through. It's not easy to do it--yes, I did test that, I always take apart my laptops to the base so I know where everything is and how it connects--but it's not hard, just delicate. t didn't take special equipment or magic; like, in a pinch, you might get some tweezers to help move or two, but that's also because I have an intermittent tremble in my right hand.

This is a huge improvement on the way non-2 in 1 laptops work in that the cables are far better protected threading through the hollow hinge itself; no danger a cord that wasn't affixed right will eventually slip due to normal daily activity and get caught on the hinge when opening or closing and be cut (and yes, that happens even if you never opened your case and moved things around). I can definitely see room for improvement, but from a internal cable management perspective, this shit is the boobs. This also allows thicker, more resilient cabling if they'd consider that; the hair-thin ones that are so fragile breathing on them is worrisome should be a thing of the past.

(I have been watching the Big Foot ep of Psych and now I really want to use that in public. Everything cool for the foreseeable future shall be 'the boobs'.)

Preparation Is Key

So far, the only thing on Manhattan needs cosmetically is a new keyboard, but honestly, I think replacing the keyboard and touchpad (basically the entire front panel) is going to be the best option because if there are problems with either, at this point, I wouldn't notice as I've been using it so long it would be a forgotten quirk my hands know.

I am really, desperately going to miss opening my laptop to whatever angle I want, but I take consolation that my mom is going to love this laptop more than possibly her children.

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Upgrades and Repairs

So I'm prepping now for the upgrade as well as the handoff.

In general, I pick the easiest method;

1.) Buy (or use an existing) portable drive and copy the OS partition and move the Data partition.

The OS partition will be factory reset so it doesn't matter what I leave there, but Data partition is my private data and my brain gets weird about that. I cannot make myself reformat the Data partition while I can see data on it, even after copying it to the portable drive and seeing it there. But if I move the data from the Data partition to the portable hard drive, it's fine; the Data partition is now empty and I can format it.

2.) Copy relevant data to new laptop from portable drive

3.) Move all data from portable drive to the backup partition on Watson Server under computer name (Manhattan) and date of transfer then forget it exists unless something goes wrong.

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This has been an infodump of my brain today. Carry on as you will. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments