Monthly Archives: June 2016

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad x220

This is my review of the Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop

front view of x220

Last summer I was testing out an HP Stream 11 laptop. While I loved it for its price and portability, it sometimes choked under a heavy load. This led me to search Craigslist for something a little beefier.

I had used a Lenovo ThinkPad T430 with a quad-core i7 Intel processor as my work laptop for a few years and had grown to respect it. So, when it came time for me to replace the HP Stream 11 (which went to my niece), I ended up going with the T430’s smaller and older brother: the Lenovo ThinkPad x220 (released in 2011). I picked it up from a local Craigslist seller for $230 with Windows 7 and Office 2010 installed. I immediately swapped out the hard drive with an SSD with Ubuntu GNU/Linux. I have used it for a year now and I must say that it is a great little laptop.

What I like about the x220

  • small – Its footprint is about the size of a sheet of paper which makes it very portable.
  • battery – The replaceable battery lasts 6 to 8 hours. A full-day battery is also available.
  • cpu – Even though it is 5-years “old”, the quad-core i5 processor hasn’t choked under load yet.
  • OS – Ubuntu GNU/Linux works great on this laptop …everything just works.
  • modular – Since this was a best seller for corporate computer rental fleets, many spare parts and repair guides are readily available. I have replaced hard drive and wrist pad.
  • multi-monitor – The graphics card can support an external monitor in addition to the built-in LCD screen. Theoretically, it can even support 2 external monitors (built-in LCD must be disabled) with the use of a docking station – but I haven’t tested this.
  • on/off switch for WiFi – This allows you to quickly and easily turn WiFi on or off.
  • ethernet jack – It has a full-size (not fold-down) ethernet jack for fast network transfers.
  • keyboard – I LOVE this keyboard. The spacing of the keys is perfect for touch typists. Specifically, I love the gaps between function key groups and comically large Esc and Delete keys. The placement of the PgUp/PgDn and arrow keys means that I almost never have to look at my hands.
  • video ports – The x220 has both an old-school VGA port and a new-school full-size DisplayPort to connect to older and newer monitors. Together with my DisplayPort-mini DisplayPort adapter and mini DisplayPort-to-everything adapter I can connect to almost monitor.
Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop

view of the x220 keyboard

Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop

view of left-side ports

Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop

view of right-side ports

Modifications

Here is a listing of the modifications I made to this laptop.

  • 16 GB RAM – Although the spec sheet lists the maximum RAM at 8 GB, I can confirm that 16 GB of RAM is recognized and used.
  • 250 GB mSATA drive – I added this sweet, tiny mSATA drive as the boot drive – it really makes this computer FLY! Startup time is on the order of seconds.
  • 240 GB SATA SSD – I added this 2.5-inch SSD about 6 months ago to store virtual machines that I spin up for testing or one-time use. The fact that it can fit both a 2.5-inch SATA drive and an mSATA drive means that you can have 2 TB or more of storage on this tiny computer.
  • 3M Privacy Filter – I travel a lot. That means a lot of nosy people on buses, trains, and planes try to sneak a peek at what I’m working on. While I have nothing interesting on this computer, I still don’t feel like anyone has the right to invade my privacy. Luckily this privacy guard makes it impossible for anyone not sitting directly in front of the computer to see what is on the screen.
  • dock – I was able to buy a dock on eBay for less than $40 bucks. This enables me to quickly connect an external monitor, mouse, keyboard, power, and ethernet …soooo convenient.
Lenovo ThinkPad x220 laptop

x220 with 3M Privacy Guard on the screen

Conclusion

If you are looking for a cheap, tough, powerful, upgradable, easy-to-fix laptop (especially one that runs GNU/Linux), look into the Lenovo ThinkPad x220.

ISO/RTO TWG 2016 – List of things mentioned

Here is a partial and unorganized list of some of the stuff mentioned at the ISO/RTO Training Working Group meeting.

  • International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) – certifying body for standards-based training program …blesses you to grant globally-accepted continuing education hours to learners
  • Checklist Manifesto – great book by Dr. Atul Gawande about how the use of checklists can help even the smartest people from making needless mistakes
  • International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (ibstpi)lower case acronym intentional …this is the body that creates the standards upon which many learning industry certifications are based
  • Xyleme Author – XML-based content development that encourages a more atomic approach to content development that encourages reuse, helps with version control, and acts as a central location for the storage of content …cool because it allows export into deliverable formats such as PDF, web, PowerPoint, Word, etc.
  • Bottom-Line Performance – outside contractor for computer-based training (CBT) development
  • proofhq.com – online proofreading tool
  • imeetcentral.com – online project management, collaboration, and workflow tool
  • Articulate Online – online delivery of content made with Articulate learning content creation tools
  • e-Learning and Science of Instruction – book containing research-based recommendations for how to design learning materials for better understanding
  • Mindmapping – using mindmapping to see the connections when designing and developing training is very helpful …although this book wasn’t specifically mentioned, it is the one that I can vouch for that describes the process really well

Please make add the things I missed in the comment section.

ISO/RTO Presentation: Mindset

I gave a talk about mindset at the annual ISO/RTO Training Working Group meeting in Toronto today.

Here is a list of some of the resources I used in my presentation.

Resources

  • Carol Dweck’s Stanford Bio Page – includes listing of PDF versions of her academic research papers
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck – link to the her very readable book
  • Mindsetkit.org – contains lots of ideas (easily re-purposed adult education) for incorporating growth mindset in learning
  • My Favorite No – YouTube video showing how to use mistakes to reinforce learning and promote growth
  • Mistake Game – post on high school physics teacher, Kelly O’Shea’s, blog detailing a game that uses student-inserted intentional mistakes to promote growth class-wide
  • Growing Your Mind – YouTube video by Khan Academy’s Sal Khan explains how the mind can grow

[EDIT 2016-06-23T12:27Z – added descriptions to links]

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology

It has been a long road but I finally finished my bachelor of science in nuclear engineering technology. Even though I already have a bachelors degree in accounting and I am working on a masters in instructional design I just had to finish this BSNET that has been hanging over my head, uncompleted, for years.

I buckled down and took the last class this spring. The capstone class for this degree ended up being the hardest class I have ever taken. It was rough but I made it.