Reviews – Thinkpad and Crashplan

I don’t normally write review posts, this will in fact be my first.

This post isn’t really going to be a proper review about my new ThinkPad and the backup service Crashplan, to do real review I’d have to be subjective and raise all the positives and negatives, I’m not going to do that, this post is about what I like.

After my next contract the Mrs and I will be moving into a new house further to the north of where we are now, assuming I continue to contract in an around London (very likely) I am going to spend quite a bit of extra time commuting to a from work. Unlike most people I actually enjoy the travel to work, gives me plenty of time to read whilst I am sitting/standing on the train. During my last contract I managed to re-read the Dark Tower series and the first two Game of Thrones books :)

Because I’m likely to be spending so much more time on the train I’m going to lose development time at home on my main machine, I will need to find more time to work on my own projects, for this reason I decided to purchase a small light laptop.

After reviewing the options I opted for a Lenovo ThinkPad X121e, it fit the bill on so may counts, 11″ screen, light, sturdy and an amazing battery life, 9 hours verified. The ThinkPad was already ahead of the pack, Lenovo’s 50% deal just made it even sweeter.

A few days after placing my order online I went into town with the Mrs and saw some 11″ laptops in John Lewis and House of Fraiser. Although I knew how small my laptop was going to be it took seeing it to realise just how small, I started wondering if I had made a mistake, how could something so tiny be usable.

Within a few hours of setting up my new toy I realised how good the keyboard is. I’ve no idea what they have done but typing on the ThinkPad is amazing, I can’t quite understand how they have managed it but I am quicker and more accurate than I am on my 15″ HP laptop and the feedback from the keys is much nicer.

If you are looking for a portable check out the Lenovo ThinkPad X121e Intel, I can’t recommend it enough.

Whilst setting up the laptop I installed all the usual suspects. I use two backup programs, Acronis True Image and Crashplan. True Image handles my full backup and system restore should it be needed (not happened yet), Crashplan is my offsite (online) solution.

I used to use Mozy Pro but it became tedious to use, the client software was painful to launch if I needed to restore anything.

A few people suggested Crashplan so I let my Mozy Pro subscription expire and gave Crashplan a go. The Crashplan software is a dream to use, you just choose a backup location and off it goes, you really don’t have to set too much up, there aren’t any silly file sets, you just choose a directory and off it go.

As nice as the interface is that wouldn’t be enough for me to recommend it, what sets Crashplan ahead of the pack is where you can backup too. In addition to selecting a folder on another drive you can also choose any machine in your home to backup onto (single click), each of the machines in our house is now not only backing up online, it is also backing up to every other machine.

Some may say 6 backups is too many, for me there is no such thing as too many.  I’ve lost data before and it isn’t something I plan on allowing to happen again…..ever!

Slow progress

At times progress with Dlayer can appear frustratingly slow but it is all an issue of perspective. I’m not going to defend Dlayer not being at alpha stage, I’d love to be able to open it up to external testers but it just isn’t there yet.

All the work over the last year related to just one aspect of Dlayer, working out how the layout system needs to work. There are three main areas to Dlayer, the layout system, content and site management.

The layout system is not finished, I still need to do quite a bit more work before its finished but that isn’t the point.  It took several iterations but I do believe I’ve managed to solve the problems with regards to working out how to solve the problem. The approach I have devised is both simple to use yet still exposes enough functionality for users that want more control.

There is only so far you can get with a layout system before you need to stop working on it, I was a little too close to see that I could in fact stop and move onto the next part of the project.  The next part obviously being content, what good is developing a layout system if you have no content to display.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to wrap up development on the layout system and move onto the content system. Unlike the layout system I don’t need to work out how to approach the system, I will just use the same approach as the layout system.

The first part of the content system will be a form builder, after all, what point is there to Dlayer if you can’t crate a form for your website.