Refreshing A 10 Year Old Thinkpad

In this day and age, it’s pretty common for folks to consider replacing their phone, laptop, desktop computer every 3-5 years. It’s a terrible model, because it just adds waste and churn, when in many cases, it’s not even necessary.

I’d been hunting around for a Linux laptop to use for a variety of projects. A fellow up at our makerspace sold me a 2013 Lenovo Thinkpad T440s for $80. At it’s root, it was fine. 4gig RAM, a good keyboard and touchpad – it was missing a hard drive, but otherwise the battery was good and was the right size.

I tested out the unit with a USB-booted version of Ubuntu, and that worked just fine. A little sluggish, both because of the USB drive, but also I suspected I was running into memory limitations. 4gig of RAM in a modern OS with a full desktop really isn’t enough.

I decided to invest in upgrading the machine.

  • First, I picked up a Kingston 256gig 2″ SSD drive for about $20. It’s pretty well known that replacing ‘spinning rust’ drives with SSD’s is a surefire way to speed up a machine tremendously. I was a little startled by how low the prices had gotten, but who am I to argue.
  • Next, RAM. This laptop has 4gig of RAM on the motherboard, but has a SODIMM slot as well. I was pretty sure this slot was empty, so I bought an 8gig SODIMM DDR3 module for $12.

As far as hardware goes, that covered the bases.

Thinkpad T440s internals

Installation of the drive and RAM was a piece o cake. The Thinkpad has an internal battery (which is interesting), which needs to be disabled in the BIOS. Once that was done, I was able to just pop the back off, and install the drive and RAM. The entire operation took a whopping 15m.

Powering back on, the machine was like new. Fast, responsive, and Just Plain Worked.

Considering I’ve spent a grand total of like $115 on this, and I’m able to run Slack, Chrome, discord, various other applications, and it’s not even skipping a beat, that’s fantastic. I’m happy.

Up and running!

Now I have to, after many years of not using Linux as a full time desktop, slowly learn the ins and outs of how the Gnome Desktop has changed and how modern stuff work with it. Exciting!

Skiing – I used to love this. Now I’m not sure.

I posted this over on reddit, but this is some personal stuff, so…

I’ve been skiing since I was 4. It was a huge part of our family culture, with seasonal rental houses every winter in New England for large groups of people, weekends spent at the mountain and at the house, and as the kids grewup, we went as well, though it was starting to get expensive.

Now, we’re post-pandemic, and the mountains are… jam packed. Lift prices are astronomical, and you can’t rent a house for love or money (fuck you AirBNB).

I live in the northeast, and my local mountain is charging $75-ish for a 4 hour lift ticket. Note that they do not have sufficient parking, so you can’t actually park and walk into the lodge, you have to park in a remote lot, get on a bus with your gear, ride to the lodge, THEN you might be able hit the slopes.

I’m also hearing of further up-country places charging for parking (sorry, charging for VIP parking. If you want free, youi have to get in line behind the people paying for the better parking spots) – as well as charging $150 for a single day pass.

At my age, I can’t hustle crap around the mountain just so I can get a coupld good runs in. I’m losing the excitement and joy of the sport, as it’s being monetized within an inch of it’s life.

Is it the end of the golden age? Should I just give up on this sport and move on to something that doesn’t have a major corporation buying up everything in sight and hiking the rates through the roof?