New computer, old monitor

New computer, old monitor

New computer, old monitor: I see questions fairly frequently about using a new computer and older monitor together. More often than not, it’s possible to do, but you may need to know where to look for the cables and adapters you’ll need.

Here’s some help.

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Lenovo and Best Buy team up for a $149 laptop this year

Cheap laptops are nothing new this time of year–they’ve been practically a holiday tradition since 2002 when Sotec released a decent laptop for $900, which was jaw-droppingly low for the time–but this year, Best Buy is selling a Lenovo Ideapad 100s for $149.99, which, while not jaw-droppingly low given the number of $199 laptops that were available last year, is still the cheapest name-brand laptop I’ve seen. Note: Best Buy has since raised the price to $199, but Ebay has limited stock of the same item for $129.

I’ve seen some reviews, but there is one thing I haven’t seen anyone bring up yet: This is a netbook in every way, except I think we’re supposed to call them cloudbooks now. So keep that in mind. The machine is probably worth $149.99, but it made some compromises to reach that price point.

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‘PC Does What?’ seems doomed to fail

A coalition of Dell, HP, Intel, Lenovo, and Microsoft are trying to figure out how to reverse the downward trend of PC sales, and what they came up with was a marketing campaign called “PC Does What?”

The problem is it’s not 1995 anymore, and it’s going to take more than a marketing campaign to change that.

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Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

The Commodore brand is back again, this time on an Android smartphone. For a premium price, you get an Android 5.0 phone with the Commodore logo on it, preloaded with VICE and an Amiga emulator, which, between the two of them, emulate just about everything Commodore ever made, except, perhaps, the products that can be emulated with the Android calculator app.

But I don’t expect this attempt to be any more successful than earlier efforts to resurrect the brand.

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Taming Office 2013’s appearance

A couple of months ago I upgraded to Office 2013 at work. I liked it, but around the same time, my eyes started burning. I never made the connection, but then last week, when a coworker upgraded, he mentioned his eyes were burning, and he made the connection.

He found this guide for toning down Office. We both recommend the dark gray scheme, which is much easier on the eyes than the default harsh white scheme.

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The missing Lenovo Thinkpad scroll lock key

The missing Lenovo Thinkpad scroll lock key

One of my coworkers accidentally enabled scroll lock on a Lenovo Thinkpad L440 the other day, which is bad news when you do it accidentally and can’t find the missing Thinkpad scroll lock key.

Recent Thinkpad laptops have no scroll lock key marked on the keyboard, but we found that the <Fn+K> key combination works as scroll lock. On other Thinkpads, it may be <Fn+C>. I found later that the <Fn+K> combination also works on the Thinkpad T440s and T450s. So it’s likely that on recent Thinkpads, <Fn+K> is a safe bet.

missing thinkpad scroll lock
This recent Thinkpad is too svelte for Scroll Lock, SysRq, Break, Pause, and other keys you probably haven’t used (at least not intentionally) in 20 years.

The design decision makes some sense. The public demands ever smaller laptops but still wants full-sized keyboards, so jettisoning keys that some people never use is one way to accomplish that goal. Sometimes I live in Excel for weeks at a time, yet I rarely use the Scroll Lock key. At least half the time I use it, it was accidental. The missing key makes accidents more rare, but it makes them more problematic when they do happen.

Believe it or not, there are some keys you’ll use even less often than Scroll Lock. Lenovo squirreled those keys away to save space too. Here are the other keyboard shortcuts for the L440 and other Lenovo Thinkpads for other little-used keys that are present on a traditional PS/2 keyboard.

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Lenovo is penitent, but its customers aren’t out of the woods yet

After having an incredibly bad week last month, Lenovo started saying the right things, and perhaps doing some of the right things too. But some laptops with the Superfish malware preinstalled on them are still in the supply chain, which means some people are unwittingly buying them.

This isn’t terribly surprising. But there are a couple of things you can do about it, and they’re things worth doing anyway.

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How to use the lock in your web browser’s location bar

How to use the lock in your web browser’s location bar

A commenter asked me last week if I really believe the lock in a web browser means something.

I’ve configured and tested and reviewed hundreds of web servers over the years, so I certainly hope it does. I spend a lot more time looking at these connections from the server side, but it means I understand what I’m seeing when I look at it from the web browser too.

So here’s how to use it to verify your web connections are secure, if you want to go beyond the lock-good, broken-lock-bad mantra.

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Lenovo’s preinstalled Superfish spyware: A post-mortem

So, if you haven’t heard by now, last year Lenovo experimented with preloading its cheapest laptops with spyware that subverts HTTPS, allowing a third party to inject ads on any web page, and providing a convenient place for an attacker to hide behind while messing with your secure transactions.

By the end of the day yesterday, Lenovo had apologized, sort of, and after several sites had provided removal instructions, Lenovo provided its own. After spending much of the day downplaying the security concerns, by the end of the day they were at least reluctantly acknowledging them.

This was really bad, and I’ll explain why in a second, and I’ll also try to explain why Lenovo did it.

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Why we can’t have nice things: The reaction to IBM’s big black and blue quarter

IBM announced yesterday that it had a terrible quarter. They missed earnings, the stock plunged, and Warren Buffett lost a billion dollars.

Everyone assumes Warren Buffett is worried, or livid, and selling off the stock like it’s on fire. Read more