Monday, March 30, 2015

Part 5 of Who are you designing for? Or, thoughts on the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon. Or, trying to buy some more happiness.

So, I bought a ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2nd Generation, which had a horrible keyboard design, and while I had my own peculiar reasons for liking the rearranged keys, I still found the replacement of physical mouse buttons and function keys with touch strips unworkable.  After I'd had it for two months, I learned that the 3rd Generation had been rushed to market and undone these changes.  Too bad the return policy was only good for 1 month.

Here's where things actually get happy.  I called and complained and Lenovo offered a full refund, conditional on buying another laptop.  That seemed pretty reasonable so I went for it.  This time it took about a month, not two weeks, of driving myself mad by checking the manufacturing status page every day, many times a day.  But at least there was an explanation to be found out in the fringes of the internet:

... I've ordered X1C3 22/01/2015, made complete payment, during checkout it estimated 7-9 busyness days for shipment. 1 month passed already since that moment and I still did not receive anything ...
I'm pretty upset with Lenovo's delivery methods and estimates too at the moment. But before I rant, I'll let you know what I've been told.
The past week was the Chinese New Year so Lenovo's plant has been closed and will not open until tomorrow the 24th (I think).

Okay, I can live with that.  The saga wasn't over, since the laptop then got delayed briefly when a massive snowstorm shut down the state of Kentucky, which is the UPS hub airport, but these are the very definition of first-world problems.  I got my third generation, and ... well, the physical keyboard has been fixed, but who are you designing for?  Windows users, of course.  Restoring the buttons was apparently a rush job, and the Lenovo engineers took shortcuts in the hardware that they compensated for in the Windows software.  The Linux community was left to figure it all out and compensate for it on their own.
So in short, Lenovo has decided to wire the newly re-introduced trackpoint buttons to the touchpad, not the trackpoint.
In case you've heard of Linus Torvalds but don't know what he actually does all day, here's a taste.  He spends his days adjudicating proposed changes to Linux such as this:
[Update 19/03/15]: The patches queued in Dmitry's for-linus branch re-route the trackstick buttons in the kernel through the trackstick device.
And it's Linus's job to look at that code and decide if it can be put into the official Linux kernel.  Fun.

Okay, I think that covers the whole keyboard debacle, when Lenovo went insane and tried to destroy recklessly innovate with the core feature of their most famous brand.  The X1 Carbon 2nd Generation was released with self-congratulatory blog posts and marketing videos.  Was there a blog post mea culpa for the 3rd Generation?  No, there was not.  In the next installment, let's talk about the similarities between designers and architects.  Hint: hubris.

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