I had decided to buy a Lenovo E430. It arrived. Now it was time to customize it. It came with Windows 7 x64 pre-installed, so I figured this would be comparable to my previous ASUS Eee configuration exercise. Strictly speaking, though, I followed the full set of steps laid out in my earlier post on installing Windows 7 from scratch. I wouldn’t be detailing those steps again in this post; the commentary here would have more to do with the vagaries of the ThinkPad in particular. In other words, the full process that I used is described, more or less in sequence, by reading this post and that previous install-from-scratch post together.
Partitions and the Virgin Image
Upon receiving the E430, I plugged it in, charged the battery, and turned it on. I ran immediately into a problem with the touchpad, addressed in a separate post. Aside from that, my first objective was to divide the hard drive into several partitions. This would serve several purposes: (1) It would keep the Windows installation separate from my data, so that I could reinstall Windows (probably from a backup image) without losing any of my work. (2) It would give me what I called a BACKROOM partition where I could keep one or more backup images of my PROGRAMS partition (i.e., drive C, where Windows and other programs were installed). (3) It would allow me to set up a separate INSTALL partition, where I would keep program settings (e.g., my Microsoft Word autocorrect list; my list of Firefox add-ons) and a folder full of the installation files I used to set up my system (including e.g., Firefox.exe); and my customized Start Menu.
I used GParted on a multiboot USB drive to partition the hard drive. To boot that USB drive, I was able to plug it into any of the E430’s USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 sockets, though the latter were such a tight fit that I had to look up the question of whether a 2.0 drive was supposed to be able to fit into a 3.0 socket. (It was.) I expected to boot that USB drive by hitting a key when the machine was first starting up. So I did a restart out of Windows and hit Enter when the screen said, “To interrupt normal startup, press Enter.” But that didn’t work. I tried it three times, and each time it went on into Windows.
There was no CD containing a user manual accompanying my ThinkPad, so — as described in the post about the touchpad issue (above) — at this point I was still in the process of doing a huge download, on another computer, to try to get a PDF copy of the user manual. But no problem: a paper accompanying the E430 gave me the URL for the online copy. But when I clicked the link for the user guide for the E430 specifically, I got an error message: “Product is not selected! Please select your product.” Tried again; same thing. Tried for the E530, which was pretty much the same machine with some keyboard differences. This time, when I got that same error, I clicked the “Select Product” button, which was pretty much the only option there. Now I understood: first you select your product, and then you see the list of products from which you can select. (Sigh.) I tried again: ThinkPad Edge E430 3254. Now, a puzzle. I was at nearly the last criterion before they would show me my user manual, but there was a list of about 50 different models. Then I remembered: I had had to choose a sub-submodel when purchasing. I went back to the place where I had figured that out. Got it! Mine was an ADU. That led me to the user manual. See? Easy! It was a 20MB download, and that took a minute, considering that I was meanwhile trying to download about 2GB worth of driver updates and wrong files (see other post).
Eventually, I believed, I would get that user manual, and I knew that, when that glorious day arrived, I would be determined to read it and find out how to boot my computer into the BIOS setup. While I was waiting, I got a bit impatient and just booted it and hit Esc and Del and F2 and F12 and Fn-F2 and Fn-F12 (because Lenovo had made the function key functions secondary, on the function keys; it seemed that I had to press Fn to get them to function as function keys instead of turning up the volume on my speakers or whatnot), and that did get me into a Boot Menu. Not sure what, exactly, did get me into the boot menu, but I was pretty sure it had to be one of those half-dozen assorted keys just listed, all pressed madly in the two seconds allowed before the damn thing would boot on into Windows once more. Once given a boot menu, I was able to arrow down and select my multiboot USB drive. And it was good that I was able to do this, because at a certain point that downloaded user manual did arrive, but Adobe Acrobat promptly crashed, so I lost it and would have had to start all over. So I decided to just wait for my user manual until the 2GB download was completed, at which point I could easily extract the manual from the 104 other driver updates etc. that I was downloading (for real), as soon as I was able to figure out which of the files revealingly titled x35baba and abi3baha and bk;jfbikaj was, in fact, the user manual. Remember, RTFM.
Eventually I realized that it was F12 (not Ctrl-F12) for the boot menu: the Ctrl-key remapping apparently didn’t have an effect until we got inside Windows: it was business as usual at the BIOS boot phase. I chose GParted as the program du boot. As usual, I hit Enter three times, to get past the three questions that GParted asked, about keyboards and such. Once inside GParted, I saw that the E430’s drive had 450GB of usable space, originally partitioned into SYSTEM_DRV (1.46 GiB, i.e., gibibyte, not to be confused with “a castrated male cat or ferret” — regarding which I say, fine, but let’s try to keep that sort of thing to the males), Windows7_OS (450.62 GiB), Lenovo_Recovery (13.67 GiB), and unallocated (1.02 MiB) partitions. I was not sure what these partitions did. It seemed like something I might check in, oh, a user’s manual, for instance. A search indicated that people wondered whether they could safely delete any of these partitions and reconfigure their drives as they wished. On one thread, people who apparently worked for Lenovo said that deleting SYSTEM_DRV would remove the ability to restore the computer to factory default status — which would be fine as far as I was concerned, but maybe when I resold the thing someday, someone would want that.
There was also a reference, in that thread, to the possibility of creating Factory Recovery disks. I thought maybe I should do that before rejiggering partitions. A separate search on that led to a thread that gave me the impression that I could do this by booting into Windows and choosing Start > Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools > Factory Recovery Disks. Oddly, when I double-clicked on that option, nothing happened. When I pestered it long enough, it finally gave me a dialog: “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?” The program was recovburncd.exe. I said Yes, please do. But then nothing more happened. Eventually I realized that the stupid thing had opened the next dialog behind the list of ThinkVantage Tools; or maybe that was because I, adapting to the new and dysfunctional touchpad, hit it too many times. Anyway, I found the dialog and consented to its insistence that I was legally prohibited from hawking the resulting CD from a pushcart in Kuala Lumpur. Now a real quandary: “Select the recovery medium you wish to create,” with a choice between Boot Media or Data Media. According to an eHow article, I wanted both. Both were checked already, so I went with that. The next dialog said I could choose from a CD/DVD, memory key, or USB hard drive. I wondered if “memory key” meant a USB jump drive, so I plugged one in, gave it a second to warm up, clicked the Refresh option, and waited about two minutes until it found it. But then I got an error:
Create Recovery Media
No enough temporary disk space in F drive, Create Recovery Media will exit now.
That surprised me. They said a CD drive would be acceptable; CDs typically had only 0.7GB of space; this USB drive had 2GB. But, not to argue nor even to correct their spelling, I tried again with a 4GB USB drive. But, jeez, still not enough space. This thing was unreasonable. I could have plugged in a 1TB external USB hard drive, but it wasn’t clear whether the contents of the drive would be erased. That would be undesirable. I wondered if I could use something like Virtual CloneDrive (VCD) to create a fake drive and copy the output to there. I didn’t really want to clutter up the virgin system, but they weren’t saying how many DVDs this process might take, and I didn’t want extra DVDs lying around. Then again, I wasn’t sure what would happen if VCD filled up. I decided to find out. But that was a dead end: the program simply didn’t view the VCD as a real drive. So, OK: I bit the bullet and used blank DVDs. The program started. For maybe five or ten minutes, it just said, “Create Recovery Media. Files are being extracted. Please wait.” Then it said, “This process might take some time. During this process, do not turn off your computer or remove the medium.” I said OK. Then it said, “Insert blank or erasable disc.” I had already done that, so I clicked OK. Apparently it hadn’t tried to check first. It went on with its process. A few minutes later, it said, “The boot medium is successfully created.” I okayed out of that, but then it said, “The program is going to create recovery data media. Do you want to continue?” So apparently I was going to have one DVD for the boot and one DVD for the data. I checked the boot DVD, just completed. It filled just 311MB. Now, why would that foolish thing not fit on a 4GB USB drive? I tried again with the data backup. But no, it was not going ask me which drive to use for the data. It had to have a blank DVD. That took another couple of minutes. That one filled 3.8GB. So apparently my 4GB USB drive was just a tad slender for the task. Now I knew. And I had an opportunity to make sure the DVD drive worked too.
Or … not so fast. What’s this — “Insert blank or erasable DVD disc 2”? Apparently we were not as finished as I thought we were. It filled that DVD, and another, and was ready for more. Finally, I understood, or at least I had a guess as to what was happening. This wasn’t some kind of recovery DVD to reboot the system. This was shaping up like a complete DVD backup of the operating system. I didn’t need that. I didn’t want a stack of 10-15 DVDs to restore the system that way. I already planned to make a backup using Acronis True Image — or if not that, one of the freeware imaging programs on my multiboot drive. The images would go into as few as one large file, easily cabled across to a backup drive. So, OK, apparently a blind alley there.
It was time to make the BACKROOM partition, so as to have someplace to put my Acronis images of the existing and future setups. I decided to leave the SYSTEM_DRV and Lenovo_Recovery drives on the system, although I didn’t expect to need them: I didn’t have any desire to restore the system to the default, after all the time I was going to devote to tweaking it; but I’d had a problem, once before, when trying to remove manufacturer’s partitions from a laptop drive. So the mission here was just to carve chunks out of the 450GB Windows7_OS partition. Back in GParted, using an external mouse to compensate for the still-unfixed touchpad, I decided to allocate 100GB for the PROGRAMS (C) partition (renamed from the original Windows7_OS), 140B for DATA (D), 60GB for INSTALL, and the remainder of about 150GB for BACKROOM (X). To get Windows 7 to recognize the new partitions, I went to Start > search for CMD > diskmgmt.msc. It appeared these partitions would be ample for my purposes. I was glad I had not opted for a smaller drive. Once the partitions were set, I ran CHKDSK /B and Memtest86+, both from my multiboot USB drive.
(Henceforth, for brevity, I won’t mention each time that the next step after clicking on the Start button was to search for the program in question (e.g., diskmgmt.msc), or to run a CMD window, or to use the Run option restored via the Classic Start Menu (see other post). So in the following paragraphs, “Start > diskmgmt.msc” means “do whatever works, on your system, to run diskmgmt.msc.” I will tend to refer to e.g., “diskmgmt.msc” rather than “Disk Management” because, for those with customized start menus, the latter may give no explanation of where to find it or what to run in order to make it happen.)
Although I had already formatted and named the partitions in GParted, I basically needed to start over by right-clicking on each of the new partitions, deleting, recreating, naming, and, while I was at it, assigning drive letters. There was a problem in this regard — drive D was not available, for some reason — but I dealt with that later (below). At this point, I made an Acronis backup of the original partitions, in case I ever wanted to restore them in largely original condition.
I went into Control Panel > Windows Update and installed all available updates. Meanwhile, my early attempts to fix the touchpad problem (above) introduced me to the fact that Lenovo was not making all of its own updates available through Windows Update. As a second-best, there was an option to search for and install drivers and other updates through the E430’s Start > Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools > Updates and Drivers option. Unfortunately, on the two separate occasions when I tried that, I got error messages saying, “The system Update Server is temporarily unavailable.”
At Lenovo’s drivers and software page, I downloaded all of the drivers and other updates that seemed to apply to my Windows 7 x64 system, along with the read-me files accompanying them. I glanced at some of that documentation. There were some indications that I might not need to install a particular update if my system was functioning OK. It was always possible that an update would create a problem that did not exist previously. On the other hand, I had often seen, as a first step in troubleshooting, the advice to make sure that the computer’s drivers were updated. I decided to gamble that updates tended to make things better than worse — that installing them would solve more problems than they would create. I might have proceeded differently if I’d had time to research each individual update. But there were almost 50 of them. Instead, using DIR and Excel on the text of the download page, I renamed each download so that I could tell what it was, and I structured them all into a batch file that would run them, one at a time, and would save the output to a log, so that I could review what had happened. The first two of those commands looked like this:
start /wait “” “Auto Scroll utility – gevv17ew.exe” >> log.txt
start /wait “” “BIOS Update Utility – h0uj05ww.exe” >> log.txt
For some reason, the duplicative set of “” marks made the program feel better. The /wait flag made the batch file pause until each command was completed, so I didn’t have 50 executables trying to run at once. Log.txt contained nothing; I may not have done that part of the batch command correctly. In those instances where the update wanted to restart the computer, I said no, I would do that later. For each of these updates, I just went with the defaults, Yes, No, check the box, whatever the installer seemed to want me to do, or whatever seemed to make sense. If an update informed me that the folder into which it proposed to install itself already existed, I said that’s OK, go ahead. When it informed me that I was attempting to replace a newer driver with an older one, I said no, don’t do that. If it offered to just repair or remove but not install a program, I took a hint that Lenovo or I had already somehow installed it, and politely bowed out.
When all ~50 updates were done, I rebooted. There were four items that didn’t work well the first time. I made a note of those and tried them again after the reboot. Some (e.g., a patch for Firefox) had to wait until I installed the program in question (below). If an update was still balky, I figured it was because that update didn’t work with whatever else I already had installed, so I removed that item from the list. After these manual updates, I checked Windows Update again. I saved the batch file and the set of updates in case I would ever have to reinstall for some reason.
A couple of the things I had downloaded were intended to create bootable CDs or USB drives for diagnostic or BIOS updating purposes. The instructions for one were pretty poor. Briefly (for those who have stumbled across it and would appreciate a hint), the command I used to make it work was:
UefiBootableGenerator.exe --create -l XTEMP -u F -f "UEFI Bootable v1.05.00.rar"
where XTEMP was the name of the USB flash drive I was using, F was its drive letter (i.e., F:), and the rar was part of the download. This command worked only after I reformatted the USB drive to have the name of XTEMP. This process gave me a bootable UEFI key. I used ImgBurn to “Create image file from files/folders.” I called it Lenovo_UEFI.iso. There was also a downloaded Linux bootable diagnostic ISO that I had picked up somewhere from the Lenovo site, as well as a ThinkPad BIOS update CD ISO. Using YUMI, I put all of these onto a 32GB multibootable USB drive. But for the most part, that didn’t work. The Linux bootable CD produced a bunch of error messages and resulted in a “boot failed” message. I didn’t need it — I already had several other Linux ISOs on that drive — so I deleted it from my set instead of trying to troubleshoot it. The Lenovo_UEFI.iso produced an “Error 13: Invalid or unsupported executable format” message, so perhaps the steps described above were not workable; maybe it had to be done some other way. I deleted that one too.
The third one, the BIOS update CD, did work. It put me into a System Program Service Utility. In that utility, option 1 said, “Read this first,” so I did. The instructions (using the option of going, in Windows, to Start > (Run or Search) > msinfo32.exe > System Summary > BIOS Version/Date) led me to discover that the BIOS update I was using was “LENOVO H0ET24WW (1.06), 3/6/2012,” whereas the most recent version was 1.18. So there was much room for updating there. The concept seemed to be that, instead of running a utility that would install any of several different BIOS updates, you would just run this CD and it would already contain the last several BIOS updates. When I rebooted into the multiboot USB drive and chose this BIOS update CD and chose “Read this first,” it told me that, sure enough, the update CD itself contained the update. Option 2, “Update system program,” led into the actual update process, with a warning that “It may take about a few minutes.” When it was done, I hit Enter as instructed, and rebooted back into the USB jump drive. I ran the update CD again. This time I looked at option 3, “Update model number.” It had the right number, so I escaped out of that.
With these steps, the update process was done, at least for now. The system rebooted normally into Windows, so apparently I hadn’t fubared the motherboard during the BIOS update. I returned to the guidance of the previous post, to proceed with the steps described there. The following paragraphs describe my progress through those steps — again, without repeating information already provided in the previous post, and with a focus instead on peculiarities of the ThinkPad tweaking process.
During the foregoing steps, there were a couple of things I had to take care of to move ahead. For example, I’d had to enter a password. Now there were some more basic essentials or irritants peculiar to this machine. First on the list was to eliminate crapware. Almost as soon as I booted, the machine kept pestering me with stupid reminders to “Configure your Lenovo Solutions for Small Business.” I was seeing this, perhaps, due to some choice I had made in the very early stages. I looked at what they were offering and decided that I had no interest in any of it. For one thing, as it reminded me, I had also seen pop-ups from Norton Internet Security. A trial subscription was already installed, and I believed I could repay that kindness by promptly uninstalling it, which I did (Start > Control Panel > Small icons > Programs and Features). The uninstall itself was tricky: I had to start with a No to indicate that I did not want them to install something else in its place. That actually turned out to be the only item I uninstalled at this point: for the Lenovo Solutions for Small Business, I just indicated that I didn’t want it to bother me anymore. It looked like it had a few possibilities that I might want or need at some point, so I didn’t uninstall it. But then it came back up on reboot, so apparently the “don’t bother me” choice was not as sweeping as intended. So at that point I did uninstall it, starting with Lenovo Solutions for Small Business Customizations and then Lenovo Solutions for Small Business itself.
To run other commands, since I was not yet set up to use the classic menu (see other post), I used Start > cmd to open a command window, and then typed the command — for example, “control userpasswords2.” That particular command opened the User Accounts window, which showed me that I had a HomeUsers group and a HomeGroupUser$ user. I didn’t have that user on my other computers and didn’t think I needed it, so I removed it. While I was there, I designated myself as Administrator in the Properties > Group Membership tab. Then, in User Accounts, I went into Advanced tab > Advanced user management > Groups > right-click on HomeUsers > Delete. Also in the Advanced tab, I chose the Secure logon option (requiring Ctrl-Alt-Del to log in).
The laptop already had its own drivers installed at this point, so I didn’t need to use any of the files I had saved for that purpose for my other computers. I added the folder called ThinkPad Driver Updates (used above) within what I called the 01 Mobo Drivers & Utilities folder (“mobo” being short for “motherboard,” and 01 helping Windows Explorer to present this folder first, among the several folders in the Win7 Drive C folder there in the INSTALL partition).
The update process had not installed Microsoft Security Essentials, and I had previously decided to use that for my antivirus, and had saved the download into the folder called “02 Programs Needed Early,” so I went ahead with that and with the other programs saved in that folder. The purpose of that folder was to pull together the programs that might be useful or necessary during the installation process. For instance, sometimes I needed or at least preferred the Everything file finder (though at this point I was using it as a portable) to find a certain file during installation. As another example, the Bullzip PDF printer sometimes came in handy during installations.
At this point, I decided to fix the problem I had noticed earlier (above): Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) was not showing drive letter D as being available, even though there did not seem to be any partitions with that particular letter. This was not the same as the problem of a hidden unknown device foiling the drive letters on a USB drive. In this situation, typing D: in a CMD window produced “The device is not ready.” A search provoked the idea of deleting and recreating the DATA volume that I wanted to be drive D but was now showing up as drive H. That didn’t help; the letter D was still not available in Disk Management. So I recreated the volume (now as drive F) and tried again. A different search led to the suggestion to go Start > Regedit > HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > MountedDevices. There, I saw an entry for DosDevices\F:. The details of the suggestion didn’t quite seem to match my situation. I wondered what would happen if I simply deleted the entry for DosDevices\D:. Before doing that, I ran SystemPropertiesProtection.exe and configured it to allow 10GB for backups of drive C only, and I created a restore point. Then I deleted that DosDevices\D: entry and rebooted. That wasn’t the solution; drive letter D was still not available. So I restored the system back to before that change. Another suggestion was to type “net use” at the command prompt. It said, “There are no entries in the list.” So that wasn’t the solution either. Another suggestion was to run TweakUI and see if drive D was hidden. But TweakUI would not install on Windows 7. A search led to another suggestion like the one considered above, regarding MountedDevices in Regedit. I had assumed it wouldn’t work to just rename DosDevicesF to DosDevicesD, because there already was a DosDevicesD entry. That assumption was correct. So this time I deleted DosDevicesD and then added the step of renaming DosDevicesF to DosDevicesD. Drive letter D was still not available in Disk Management. I rebooted. That was the solution: Disk Management now said that my DATA drive was drive D, as I wanted.
Now I got a pop-up asking if I wanted to purchase an Intel Anti-Theft Technology contract. To do this, I would sign up with a service provider. I could get such a contract for $30/year from Tiger Direct. I’d had laptops for years and had never had one stolen. If that did happen, I believed my renter’s insurance would cover it after a deductible. I decided to buy a cable lock — just to keep the honest people honest, as the saying goes — for those instances when I had to leave the thing unattended for a few minutes. That cost about $5. Taskmgr.exe said that the program responsible for this pop-up was Intel Management and Security Status. I didn’t see that listed in Control Panel > Programs and Features. A search led to an indication, from Intel, that Intel Small Business/Security/Management Technology could not be disabled because it was “a requirement for the motherboard” and disabling “will create erratic behavior on the board.” A search provoked the thought that this technology might enable remote wiping of drives on a stolen laptop. One reviewer commented that a smart thief might know that “staying off a network prevents the Anti-Theft service from reaching it. In that case, you’re able to set up a trigger whereby the passage of time without a check-in automatically locks the machine.” It did appear that the software could be useful. I decided not to go through the steps apparently required to uninstall and/or hide the thing to the extent possible.
When I went into right-click > Properties for each drive in Windows Explorer (also available in Disk Management), in addition to the option of optimizing for Documents in the Customize tab, I also went into General tab > turn off “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed,” since I would be using Copernic for that. To facilitate sharing of files on my home network, I also went into the Sharing tab > Advanced Sharing and set permissions etc. as needed. That amounted to clicking the “Share this folder” box, giving the share a name (e.g., “ThinkPad DATA”), and giving Everyone Full Control in Permissions. To hide the Lenovo_Recovery partition in Windows Explorer, I tried to foll instructions suggesting I run gpedit.msc to hide specified drives, but that pertained to hard drives, not to partitions on those drives. Another source recommended NoDrives Manager. That worked.
I had worked up a file called Win7RegEdit-x64.reg, containing numerous registry tweaks. I ran that file now, even though some of its tweaks would not apply because not all of the related programs were yet installed. I would run it again at the end. When I ran it, though, I got “Cannot import [path and file name]: Error accessing the registry.” A search led to indications that this error could arise from various problems, including incorrect lines in the file and insufficient user permissions. I didn’t have a right-click “Run as Administrator” option. I tried exporting a branch from the registry and importing it right back into the registry, and that seemed to work, so permissions didn’t seem to be the issue. I dismantled the large REG file and added it in pieces. All of it worked except one part at this address: HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-286796416-316639809-3742389262-1000\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RunMRU. That particular branch, starting with S-1-5-21-286796416, did not exist in the laptop’s registry. Instead, the laptop had two branches beginning with S-1-5-21-338466153. A search promoted the belief that each such branch belonged to a different user. The laptop could use this portion of a REG file, exported from another computer, only after that ID number reference was changed. It had to use the ID number shown in the laptop’s registry. To make that change, I exported that branch from the laptop’s registry and copied and pasted just that number into the REG file.
At this point, another piece of potential crapware floated to the surface: SimpleTap. For my purposes, it amounted to another interface that I needed to learn, in order to do what I already knew how to do. Given the option of downloading and reinstalling if needed, I uninstalled it.
Now the Fingerprint Reader came up. I wasn’t sure why these things were only turning on when I was using the computer. It would have been less irritating to have them appear when the computer was sitting still, and ideally I would have had a list of them to deal with all at once, rather than this sense that I had to keep swatting away flies. I did like the idea that the fingerprint reader would help me at those times when I was not remembering a password. It seemed that many but not all others had some success with it, but also that it was not very secure. I had already tried the fingerprint reader a couple of times, but I thought I should give it another whorl. My understanding was, it wanted me to swipe my fingerprint over the little fingerprint reader, to the right of the touchpad. It was going to record my fingerprint, and use that to identify me as the rightful owner and operator of this computer. Clear enough. So I said yes, let’s go ahead, and I proceeded to swipe my fingerprint over the reader. My fingerprint, that is — the kind that the police push down onto an inkpad and then press onto a piece of cardboard. It said, “Continue swiping until the progress bar reaches 100%,” and that’s what I did. But no matter how slow or fast I would run my fingerprint over the sensor, it always ended up the same: we’d get up to around 80%, and then I’d get the question I hate when I hear it from those phone bots: “It looks like you’re having some trouble. Do you want to try again?” How about, “It looks like we are having some trouble. Could you please give us another chance before you delete us?” The little video accompanying the process showed someone swiping their fingertip, not their fingerprint, so I tried that, but no joy there either. Obviously, I was not going to be desperately relying on this stupid thing to get me out of a Mexican prison. Either memorize your passwords or you’re screwed, buddy. Here, again, it looked like I could download and reinstall this software, if ever I wanted to spend some more time on it. So by now you know the answer: uninstalled!
In the spirit of the Fingerprint Reader, Windows now decided it had more updates for me. More flies to swat away. I installed those. The system wanted to reboot. I let it do so. It had earned a break. When it came back on, I finished the last of the early-install programs, including notably my hard-copy printer.
I just wanted to take a peek and see if there was anything in the BIOS that needed adjustment for my purposes. To get in there, I hit Enter as soon as it was rebooting. Or maybe F1. Whatever — I hit them both. Something worked, because now I was in the ThinkPad Setup screen.
There was nothing adjustable in its Main tab. In the Config > Network tab, I shut off the wake-up and remote startup options, but turned on the Wireless LAN radio option. This was a good time for me to ask a question that, somehow, had never before occurred to me: what, exactly, is a wireless LAN radio? I didn’t come to a clear answer — it appeared to be a series of tubes. Anyway, I said yes, yes, yes.
In Config > Keyboard/Mouse, I was very happy to see an option to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys, which I found to be one of several bad aspects of a bad keyboard layout. There was also, rejoice (sorry, it’s almost Christmas), an option to return the F1-F12 keys to their original purposes, as God intended. These were mere drops in the bucket, where this keyboard was concerned, but I was desperate. The keyboard layout was actually better on my little ASUS Eee than on this larger and more luxurious machine. I wasn’t sure whether things were different on the E530, but if so that would have been one reason to go for the bigger model. Here on the E430, they had enough space for an entire additional row of keys, but nooo — they had to cram Home and Delete and PgUp into weird corners, while allocating an acre to the right Shift key. A fricking travesty. But let me also say that the keyboard feel was excellent. They were just drunk when they arranged it.
In Config > Power, I had to decide what to do about the Intel SpeedStep technology. It sounded like I’d be best advised to choose the Battery Optimized option, so as to save juice when unplugged. If it proved slow in the field, I might have to switch to Maximum Performance, the only other option. The manual didn’t have a BIOS section, and I wasn’t finding good guidance for the BIOS as a whole, so this was a process of researching one item at a time. After SpeedStep, there was the matter of Rapid Start technology. The accompanying explanation, there in the BIOS, seemed to indicate that this was available only if I had a solid state drive. It was set to Enabled. I left it that way, and did likewise for everything else under the Config tab.
The next thing I changed was in Security > Virtualization. I set Virtualization Technology to Enabled. I wasn’t sure what this meant, or if I would use it, but I had used Virtual PC and VMware, and there was at least a slight chance that I would do so on this machine. In Security > I/O Port Access, I disabled Fingerprint Reader.
In Startup > Boot, I set USB devices first, CD devices second, and hard drives third. I noticed that the specific USB drive I had left plugged in was listed here, toward the bottom. I wondered if that meant that the generic USB drive entries would be overridden by specific entries for each USB drive I might use — if, in other words, I would have to plug in each such device, boot the system, and configure the BIOS for each of them individually, rather than be able to rely on the BIOS to recognize that it was a USB device and prioritize it accordingly. I set the Boot Mode to Diagnostics rather than Quick.
I saved and exited. On reboot, I missed the Pause button, another casualty of the E430’s misbegotten keyboard layout. I wanted to stop the system and spend a moment perusing what the Diagnostics layout was showing me. Oh, well. And there was another surprise. In Start > Run > control userpasswords2 > Advanced tab > Secure logon, I had checked the box, “Require users to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete” to log in. But now I discovered that, apparently due to some change in the BIOS, I had to use the right-hand Ctrl and Alt keys to do this. Or, no, duh: I had just remapped Fn to be Ctrl on the left side, and vice versa: I was pressing the key labeled Ctrl instead of the reassigned Fn (now Ctrl) key. OK.
Control Panel Tweaks
Now, in sync with the previous post, it was time to work through items in Control Panel. There were only a few changes. I was now inclined to customized my Notification Area icons. The Power Plan for a laptop was naturally different from that for a desktop. This time around, I set the paging file at 800MB (minimum and maximum) on drive C and set a System Managed Size on drive X (BACKROOM). Another item for Internet Explorer > Tools > Internet Options > Security tab > click on Trusted Sites > Custom Level: in the Miscellaneous section, about halfway down: change “Display Mixed Content” to Enable. I also found that, at least in Internet Explorer 10, I wanted to turn off the spellchecker so that it would not distract me when composing blog posts. To do that, courtesy of a tip, I went into Tools > Manage Add-ons > Spelling Correction > uncheck “Enable Spelling Corrrection.”
Later, I found that Firefox menus were flickering. Among the solutions for this, I found two that seemed to work. One was to go into Start > Run > sysdm.cpl (same as Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings) > Advanced tab > Performance Settings > Visual Effects > Adjust for best appearance > uncheck “Show shadows under windows.” Upon doing that, I had to restore my selected Classic theme. Checking back in sysdm.cpl, I found that restoring the theme had unchecked a couple other boxes as well. I had always opted for “Adjust for best performance” rather than “Adjust for best appearance,” but at this point I preferred to try this option because I’d been having display issues outside of Firefox as well. The other fix that also seemed to work, for the flickering Firefox menus, was to go into Firefox > Tools > Options > Advanced > General tab > uncheck “Use hardware acceleration when available.”
Later, I noticed that something was running the battery down. There were actually a couple different discoveries here. One was that a USB-to-audio adapter, which enabled my standard audio headphone plugs to work through a USB port, was draining the battery; I had to resort to using the headset only when I needed the microphone, and otherwise use plain old ear inserts (which would run from the 1/8″ audio jack without battery drain). In Device Manager, I also disabled the bluetooth adapter and set the wireless adapters to be power-smart, and set the network adapter not to wake the computer. But there was still a problem. I had the laptop set to go to sleep when I closed the lid on battery power. I could stand there and watch it do that. And yet, the next morning, the battery would be drained, where normally Sleep mode would keep it alive for at least a day or two. The solution to this one was to change the Properties for the external USB mouse (which I was leaving plugged in while disconnecting the power cable, so as not to degrade the battery through overcharging) so that the external mouse would not be able to wake the computer.
Miscellaneous Programs and Tweaks
Now I had arrived at the start of the marathon. There were many programs that I could install. I was inclined to plow through substantially the same list as on the desktop, rather than do much picking and choosing. That was because it seemed more time-consuming and sometimes counterproductive to wait until I really needed a program to install it. I usually opted for portable programs on my customized Start Menu, except when the installed version worked better. This meant that all I needed to do was to get the INSTALL partition set up (above) and get the Classic Start Menu working with my saved settings. Once that was done, my Start button pointed toward that saved Start Menu, which included all those portable programs. So that reduced the number of programs that I actually had to install. I did not update the previous post’s list of programs installed; I just saved the executables in a folder in the INSTALL partition, as noted above, and installed whatever was in that folder.
One thing I had to research, while installing these programs, had to do with cloud storage. The general idea was that I could have a folder, on my computer, that would be automatically copied somewhere online, and then I could access the contents of that folder from anywhere. There were a number of these free services, frequently changing the features and the amount of space they offered. Recent articles led me toward iCloud, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and DropBox as the leading current examples. I had already worked a bit with SkyDrive; it seemed to be offering the largest amount of free space (7GB) at the moment; so I went with that.
I set my Internet browsers so that all would pass the Do Not Track Test Page. “Do Not Track” meant that unknown individuals and organizations would not have a free pass to watch where I went and what I did in those browsers. My browsers were Internet Explorer 9 (IE), Firefox 14, Google Chrome, and Opera. For IE, the solution was to page down on the Do Not Track Test Page and click on a link to add an empty Tracking Protection List. (I had to do that in IE itself.) Apparently that worked: when I refreshed the Do Not Track Test Page in IE, it said, “You have expressed your preference NOT to be tracked.” In Firefox, I went to Tools > Options > Privacy > Tracking > click the “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked” button > OK > refresh the Do Not Track Test Page. On that webpage, Firefox, too, now showed that it detected my expressed preference not to be tracked. For Chrome, a search led to a page suggesting that I go to Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic. That gave me a notice that, as a result of this setting, I might be seeing less relevant ads, and some sites might just ignore the request. One critic indicated that this was a problem with Google in particular — that IE “clearly halted traffic from my browser to these trackers” in instances where Chrome failed to do so. Translation: Google sells advertising and isn’t in a hurry to make its browser ad-resistant. There was an option to install an add-on that might do a better job. I went with the Do Not Track add-on, though I was not sure whether it did anything more than Google itself had already done. Finally, in Opera, I went to Settings > Preferences > Advanced tab > Security > check the “Ask websites not to track me” box.
While I was working with my browsers, I also changed their cache settings to speed things up. The details on that adjustment appear in a separate post.
Items Suggested by User Guide & Hardware Maintenance Manual
I looked through the laptop’s User Guide and the Hardware Guide for anything else I might want to adjust. These were long documents. I didn’t go through them word-for-word. One thing I thought I might change was to add more RAM, possibly for use in a RAM drive. On the laptop, I used Crucial’s System Scanner. It said I could install 16GB for $80. This surprised me; everything else had said I had a system capacity of 8GB. I tried to chat with Crucial about that, but their chat thing didn’t work. Gabriel Topala’s System Information for Windows (SIW) agreed: I had a capacity of 16GB. At this point, though, I didn’t think I needed 16GB. Short of that, Crucial offered alternatives for an additional 4GB or 8GB on top of my existing 4GB. The general concept was that I had two RAM slots, one of which was filled; so unless I wanted to toss the existing RAM to free up the second slot, I just needed one more of whatever I already had. In that case, taken in combination with the specifications I had printout out at time of purchase, Crucial said I needed a stick of DDR3-1600/PC3-12800 (non-ECC, non-parity), 204-pin SO-DIMM memory. SIW didn’t specify timings, but CPU-Z did: reading down its output from CAS latency (CL) as advised, my existing RAM was 9-9-9-24. Crucial was willing to sell me a matching stick for $21 with free shipping; Newegg’s Power Search offered a stick of highly regarded Corsair Vengeance for $25 with free shipping (along with two other cheaper choices that hadn’t been extensively reviewed); Amazon offered a number of relevant items, but was not always clear on the timings. I decided that, since I was not installing a pair of identical RAM sticks, it probably did not make sense to worry too much about getting top-notch RAM; the main thing was just to get good RAM with matching timings. A quick glance turned up nothing tempting at eBay. So I bought the Crucial. Using their website was a hassle: it kept screwing up my address. Then they told me it was out of stock. No bets on when, whether, or where the RAM would arrive.
Later, I would install an mSATA drive, so as to boot Windows from a solid state drive (SSD). A separate post discusses that project and its outcomes.
The User Guide recommending registering the laptop. It also advised on how to configure and use the touchpad. It prompted me to check the camera. I found I had no idea how to turn it on. The F5 key, suggested by the User Guide, did not seem to be doing anything. A search led to a suggestion to use Lenovo’s Easy Capture program for pictures, but I did not seem to have any such program installed on my computer. Control Panel > Programs and Features did have an Integrated Camera Driver Installer Package. I tried its Modify option. Oops, spoke too soon: I was using F5 rather than the Fn-F5 combination to turn on the camera. Some people were recommending Yawcam rather than the integrated camera program, so I downloaded and installed that.
The Hardware Guide prompted me to try the built-in diagnostic programs. I found these by going to the appropriate shortcuts in the Start Menu. These included Lenovo Solution Center and Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools. The Solution Center had numbers indicating that I had 1 problem in the System area and 1 problem in the Check-up area. The System problem had to do with backup. To get rid of that, I launched the Microsoft Windows Backup tool. It saw that I had Acronis installed; I declined to replace it with Windows Backup. I was already comfortable with my backup arrangements, so I declined to perform the suggested backup. There did not appear to be a way to shut off the reminder. In the Check-up area, I ran a Hardware Scan. In the ThinkVantage Tools, I configured the System Update, and set a day of the month to check for additional updates, but decided not to use any of the other tools.
The previous post details some additional adjustments. Here, I just have a few further notes on those items, for the ThinkPad in particular.
I cleaned up the profusion of shortcuts scattered across desktop and Start menu from all those program installations. The Start menu for the laptop was not going to be exactly similar to the one on the desktop, as I could see from the blank shortcuts that were not finding the relevant program files and coloring themselves in. With the aid of DoubleKiller and Beyond Compare, I made relatively short work of the process of merging the new shortcuts with the existing ones. I also used Beyond Compare to reconcile the customized Start menus from the laptop and desktop, to some degree. (There were things that had to be different.)
I installed my Microsoft Word AutoCorrect entries. I had saved these on the desktop, and could now install them on the laptop, using AutoCorrect.dot. Subsequent experience suggested deleting the existing AutoCorrect items before adding my preferred list, so that items I had deleted would not be remembered.
I decided that ReadyBoost wasn’t worth using, and therefore didn’t configure it.
Having installed my programs, I ran the Win7RegEdit.reg file again, to include the registry edits applicable to programs that hadn’t been installed yet when I ran it previously. I copied over the daily and weekly batch files that would open various webpages and programs on a scheduled basis, and I set up scheduling (and, where applicable, exported the saved task as a new .XML file for future installations) as described in the previous post.
That substantially completed my process of configuring and customizing the ThinkPad. To some extent, I may revise this post as additional adjustments occur.