Retro ThinkPad Follow-up Surveys

David Hill of Lenovo has posted another blog article. He’s asking ThinkPad fans to fill out a survey indicating which features would be most important in the proposed “retro” ThinkPad.  There will be a series of these surveys.

Here’s your chance! Take a minute to speak your mind.

Weigh in on Retro ThinkPad

Retro ThinkPad Survey 2: Displays, Keyboard, and More

Retro ThinkPad Survey 3: What’s Under the Hood?

Retro ThinkPad Survey 4: Miscellaneous

Retro ThinkPad: Time to Think

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ThinkPad Time Machine?


Lenovo is contemplating a “retro” ThinkPad” 😀

…Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LED’s, and more…

Join the conversation!  Add your support and participate in shaping the specs.  ThinkPad Time Machine?

Title, text, and image shamelessly borrowed from the Lenovo blog article.

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A FOB STORY: some notes on bootable flash drives

I admit it: I’m a little obsessed with bootable flash drives.  Especially multi-boot flash drives. It’s replaced my obsession with multi-boot PCs.  It’s an interesting challenge, and the end result can be useful.  They’re great for forensics, data recovery and operating system repair, and these days with the shift to ultrabooks and tablets, they may be the only way to install an operating system.

As I mentioned back here Bootable USB Flash Drive Tools there are tools that can help or fully automate making a bootable flash – but I prefer to roll my own.  Please double-check anything I suggest below.  I’ve given it my best shot, but can’t guarantee it’s all correct – or won’t b0rk your computer.

This article discusses hand-made bootable flash drives using grub2 as the bootloader that can be legacy-bootable, UEFI-bootable, multiboot, or all of the above on the same fob.  Some side trips on chain loading and persistence tossed in for good measure.

Legacy bootability testing was done on a Lenovo T400, UEFI testing on a Lenovo Twist.  (The Twist has some issues when booting Ubuntu.  See page “Stuff that doesn’t work…” at the end of this article.)  Flash drive creation, file copying, grub2 installation, etc. on whatever was handy. Ubuntu 14.04.1LTS 64-bit is the live CD ISO used, both in its entirety (as a “vanilla” live CD) and as a source for grub2.  Grub2 documentation can be found here:  GNU GRUB Manual 2.00

There are no doubt several ways to skin this cat, and countless articles – so please forgive one more.  This is a first pass and a little disorganized.  Corrections and additions welcomed.  Let’s go prep the flash drive…

Continue reading

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Polenta With Chicken And Wild Mushrooms


It’s chanterelle mushroom season in the Pacific Northwest.  They grow wild here and are starting to show up in the market.  They’re mild-flavored and I never thought much of them until SWMBO came up with this excellent recipe.  The subtle smoky mushroom flavor goes very well with the polenta and chicken, and the feta adds a nice counterpoint.

Bake approximately one pound of chicken breast (two individual breasts) with a sprinkling of black pepper, oregano, and basil.  Cool and shred.

Chop a small onion and two cloves of garlic.  Saute in olive oil and 1 TBSP of butter until softened.  Cut 5-7 chanterelle mushrooms (more or less, to taste) into chunks and add to the onion and garlic.  Continue to saute until the mushrooms begin to wilt.  Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper.  Add the shredded chicken.

Bring 3 cups of chicken broth to a low boil.  Add 1 cup of polenta (quick-cooking polenta if you can find it) in a small steady stream.  Cook until thickened.  Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese when done.

Combine the polenta, chicken mixture, and 1/4 cup of feta cheese.  Mix well and transfer to a casserole dish.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

Now all you need is some warm French bread and a glass of good pinot noir.


1 lb chicken breast (more or less)
1 cup polenta (quick-cooking if available)
5-7 chanterelle mushrooms (more or less)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup feta
1 TBSP butter
olive oil as needed
black pepper, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper to taste
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Salt Water Mooring: don’t believe everything you read in Chapman

15 years ago – or so – we had the good fortune to acquire waterfront property with a boat ramp.  All it needed was a mooring to make things complete.  Out came the copy of Chapman, and I built a mooring per the conventional wisdom.  Something like this:

MooringCroppedThe anchor was a massive concrete hemisphere with an iron ring.  The guy who delivered it on-site had attached a 6 foot log boom chain with a 1-1/2 inch shackle.  I added a 3/4 inch swivel and 25 feet of 1/2 inch long-link chain.  A 24 inch float with the chain passing through the middle, and a 5 foot pennant completed the setup.

Just like the image above, and hell-for-stout.  Not so much.  It didn’t survive the first winter.  The lower portion of the lighter chain was almost completely gone, and one of the swivel shackles had failed.  The real excitement: the weight of chain kept the float in more-or-less the same place I had set it.  I tied up my 21-footer, took the trailer off the truck, and built a camp fire.  A little later noticed that the boat was gone!  It had drifted almost onto the rocks by the time I got organized and retrieved it.  Needless to say, that was it for the fishing weekend.

Here’s the deal:  it isn’t the big waves, weight of the boat, passing logs, kelp, and other junk that tears up the mooring.  It’s the constant little riffles.  Whatever chain link is just at the bottom (where chain goes from lying flat to vertical) gets its galvanizing rubbed off.  It rusts, and the rust gets rubbed off.  The length of chain that’s subject to this (given the tidal range) dissolves pretty quickly.

My solution (modified from a set-up a local diver described to me) is to use nylon rope instead of chain, and try to minimize motion in the places where metal must be used.  That and use the heaviest parts available.  The rope does the wiggling, and hopefully reduces the scuffing action on the metal.

The setup, from the bottom up:  anchor, 1-1/2 safety shackle (heavy enough to just lie flat most of the time so it doesn’t wear the anchor ring), 1 inch shackle (more or less vertical so it doesn’t wiggle much), 3/4 inch swivel (stands vertical),  3/4 inch shackle, 20 feet of 3/4 inch 3-strand nylon with 3/4 inch wire rope thimbles at each end, a mid-water float (trawl ball or similar to hold the swivel vertical and isolate the lower parts from the riffles) 6 feet from the bottom of the rope, 5/8 inch shackle, 7 feet of 1/2 inch long link chain through the float (the chain weight snubs some of the yank on the other parts), 24 inch float, 5/8 inch shackle, galvanized ring (for convenience), and a 5 foot pennant with stainless snap.

I replace all the metal and nylon every three years – with the exception of the 1-1/2 inch safety shackle, which seems to last 15 years, more or less.  One could argue that the swivel should be at the top of the rope so the bottom shackle could stand vertical.  This might be a better setup, but I’m worried about wearing out the anchor ring.  Once that’s gone, it’s game over.

The “upper swivel” setup would look something like this:

mid_float_mooring_croppedjpgThe original sketch:


And what the 2016 version looks like:


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