Reducing boot times on PCs — Lenovo’s Howard Locker

Howard Locker carries the wonderful title of Master Inventor at Lenovo and is one of the more engaging and smart people I know inside the company. We recently announced our Enhanced Experience initstive to optimize the upcoming Windows 7 release on our ThinkPads and IdeaPads. I admit I was a little skeptical — was this “Ammonia D” marketing? — then I saw Howard quoted in ComputerWorld talking about the actual steps he and his team did over three years to drive every millisecond out of the boot sequence.

Kevin Beck and Kevin Walker in Lenovo Training Solutions pointed a camera at Howard this morning and got him to explain some of what he and his team did to reduce boot times.  Getting wireless drivers down from five seconds to a few milliseconds ….. I love this stuff. Matt Kohut at our Inside the Box blog also delves deep into the boot time issue.

Windows 7, Lenovo, and the Death of Crapware

“Lenovo’s additions, by and large, actually increase the value of their PCs to users. This is not usually the case with PC makers, in my experience.”

Interesting piece on Crapware — the software applications, trials, and other non-OS software PC makers put on their PCs to subsidy costs; and the suite of system level utilities Lenovo puts on ThinkPads – ThinkVantage technologies. Win7 puts an new emphasis on our system level tweaks to improve boot and shut down times.  My X200 can take up to five minutes (I need to time it) to fully boot (and longer after than to light up enabling applications such as my VPN) so boot time is a major issue with an “always on” experience.

This time Lenovo is hammering hard on stuff the user will never see, but will experience as drivers are streamlined, and system level tweaks are making a huge difference.

via Windows 7, Lenovo, and the Death of Crapware.

Sounds I can do without

I have moved out of  my old office in a dark ancient living room — a great winter office due to the cheery little woodstove — but it is a place filled with Civil War sabers, sextants, quadrants, old smelly books and dark oil paintings of long dead ancestors. Given my recent eye surgery and need for some great light, I moved into a sunny room surrounded by windows on three sides — an old summer porch we converted to year round use a decade ago.

I sit in a corner with the windows open, and realize there are two sounds filling the center of the village that I could do without.

  • Leaf blowers. These offend me to no end. They burn fossile fuels, they are whiny and loud like a jet ski, and they are horribly inefficient. The days of handymen with bamboo rakes and smoking piles of leaves are long gone — so even the fall doesn’t smell the way it used to. I can remember raking and burning leaves and burying big potatoes in the ashes for a late afternoon reward on the lawn with my grandfather. Now it’s all whining and blowing as the landscape squads move through the waterfront estates and put things to bed for the season.
  • Back-up horns: The center of the village is under construction. Once Labor Day arrives the off-season road work begins and since Cape Cod essentially has the same roads it had in 1950, doing road construction or repairs during the summer crush is insane. The  Sagamore Bridge is a good example of the off-season construction phenomenon. A Depression-era steel structure sitting a couple hundred feet above the salty Cape Cod Canal and it needs some serious work. So the traffic on and off the Cape is worse now than it is on a Sunday night in July.  Here in Cotuit the second biggest avenue — Scho0l Street — is under construction and the old gas station at the corner of Main and School is being demolished to provide more parking. All day long — beep, beep, beep. I know it’s good safety: a poor policeman was killed in Centerville a decade ago when a dump truck without a backup horn crushed him. But — between the leaf blowers and the back up horns ….. As the Mission of Burma song said, “That’s when I reach for my revolver …”

Sounds I like?

  • Ten feet behind me, in the grape arbor, hangs a ripening crop of purple Concord grapes. Under the white framework, in the dark shadows under the vines, is a collection of bird feeders. I am a big bird feeding person, and because the arbor is in an alcove formed by my porch, the house, and the front porch, it is a very secure place for birds to hide from hawks and cats. Because my wife and I feed the birds year round the feeding tubes are very busy and a flock of at least 100 English sparrows has taken over — moving off of the birdseed and into the rose bushes and morning glories with a huge whooshing exhalation behind my back, like an immense lung. The sound is amazing. The birds will probably eat the grapes before I can harvest them and try to make jelly.
  • I miss the cat-like peeping and screeching of the ospreys cruising along the bluff behind the house for snapper bluefish, menhaden and herring. I realize today they have left — on the way south for the winter. I love watching them over the baseball field in the summer, gliding overhead with a fish in their talons.

Can you tell I am procrastinating?

Cape Cod Technology Council — I speak

Leslie Fishlock at Genevate and the Cape Cod Technology Council has invited me to give a talk on Friday the 2nd of October.

I’m going to talk about my favorite subject — me — and my second favorite subject — Cape Cod — and my third favorite subject –geeky things.  Autographs and photographs with me will be available for a nominal donation to the Dave’s-New-Boat-Trailer-Fund.

Seriously — when I first moved here as a telecommuting “knowledge worker” in 1991 I moved into a dilapidated house with knob-and-tube wiring, short-circuiting phone lines, and things like Federal Express, fax machines, and MCI Mail e-mail were considered the “web 2.0” technologies of their day. Getting an ISDN line installed by NYNEX involved men in white coats and goggles standing on Main Street staring at my house and wondering what weirdo would want such a strange thing. In 1992 I filed a story from the deck of a Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institution research vessel demonstrating the first nautical integration of GPS with chart plotters using an AT&T laptop (AT&T once made laptops) connected to a beta cellular data modem called a Mobidem.

Working from Cape Cod was actually pretty easy in the early 90s. Running was not, and so ensued six years of Colgan Airlines and the Flying-Cigar-Tube-of-Death from HYA to LGA. The McKinsey Experiment in 2000 involved actually driving 80 miles every day to a depressing office park in Waltham on Route 128 which persuaded me that nothing in the world is as terrible to the soul than commuting to work and listening to another NPR fund drive.

The question is given all the wonder and hype about the telecommuting revolution — remember we were all going to move to the sticks and live amazing lives on Martha’s Vineyard and the hills of Vermont? — why is Cape Cod not overrun with so-called knowledge workers?

I guess I have to stand up and talk about it.

Friday, October 2nd, Hyannis Golf Course, Route 132. Fees and other info here.

Heading into the post-season

The past few weeks has seen my world confined to an armchair, a ThinkPad, and a Blackberry.  Blogging has not been a priority when most of the news is personal, medical, and tedious. However, I have tried to keep up my reading, albeit slowly. Television has been banned, so I listen to the Red Sox via the radio stream and keep score on my laptop using a new application called PC Scorebook. Anyway – a limited what-I-am-reading


The other day I did the pathetically maudlin move of walking up to the Elizabeth Lowell ballpark to stare out at the vacant diamond and feel sad that the Kettleers are gone until June.  The Cape Cod Baseball League was a highlight of this past summer and with it gone I fill the hole with the end of the Red Sox’s regular season the nailbiting wonder of the post-season to come.

I ordered a couple actual books — as opposed to Kindle texts — on the CCBL. The first was The Last Best League by Yankee Magazine editor and former college ball player Jim Collins. (there is a Kindle version). Collins spends the season of 2002 with the Chatham A’s — the team featured in the so-so movie about the Cape League: Summer Catch, and gives an amazing look at the transition of a handful of talented college ball players from sophmore prospects to top professional draft picks.

The second book is a lot less polished but more detailed in the overall history of the league — I am picking my way through it now — Beach Chairs and Baseball Bats, by Steve Weissman.

Getting into the college baseball and world of scouts has driven me to actually pay for a subscription to Baseball America, the bible of amateur ball and prospects.  With a nephew down in Florida lighting up the high school circuit with his pitching, I find myself more and more interested in the system that identifies and tracks talent at a young age. Moneyball and Prophet of the Sandlot got me very interested in the scouting and statistical systems that identifies and tracks talent at an early age. Some of the insights from The Last Best League includes the discovery that some professional teams rely on a personality test called the “Caliper” that was developed to predict success in sales people. It sounds somewhat Myers-Brigg’s like, but to see the degree to which professional baseball discovers, measures, and analyzes talent — from MRIs to personality to box-score statistics is interesting, particularly as I just came off of a rigorous internal human resources process at Lenovo that tracks and identifies up and coming talent.

But I digress …

More to come as my vision improves. Big strides since the weekend as the bubble of inert gas has been absorbed and I am now adapting to my “field” of vision. The left eye is similar to looking through an antique pane of glass — distorted, some fun-house mirror effects — and mid to long distance sight is crossed and hard to bring together with the “good” right eye. I am semi-active — no jump-jacks or back-squats — mowing the lawn and walking, and today see the surgeon for the week-three post-op exam and perhaps an indication of when I can fly again and return to Morrisville and Beijing.

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