Vista Redux

I wasn't expecting to be running Vista this soon.  Last Wednesday I was coming back from a trip and decided I had had enough with the way my current system was running.  I've had this system for 15 months -- the longest I've ever had a ThinkPad since joining this organization.  Over those past months, it's developed its own little quirks and random errors.  Some were partially my fault.  I should have never tried to update our security software from version 7 to version 8.  In doing so, I completely destroyed my install of our password manager and despite uninstalling and reinstalling it, it seemed to always find my old settings.  (Those problems prompted me to ask our security team for a "scorched-earth, nuclear-bomb” uninstall routine for our security software.) Now I had to choose my machine.  I couldn’t find a T61 model that I liked, so in a move that surprised even me, I decided to make my old machine my new machine.  I had a copy of a Vista license, so I obtained a copy of our recovery CDs for my T60 (2007-64U) and plunged in.  In getting my old documents off and preparing for the install I realized that I was only running 1GB of single channel memory, so I took my own advice and upgraded to 2GB.  I didn't want to be completely stupid about the whole process so I made a complete Rescue & Recovery backup to DVDs first.  That way if it went horribly wrong, I’d be up again without too much trouble. The install took much longer than I expected it would -- nowhere near the 30 minutes I had heard from others.  The base code and drivers copied from our DVDs quickly enough, but it took 3.5 agonizing hours with multiple reboots before I finally had a system that was up and running. I stared installing software.  First, our email client -- Lotus Notes.  Notes is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE email program to try and move from one system to another, but since I had had experience doing it before, I was able to wrestle it into place.  Next came our official company virus -- a.k.a. our instant messaging client.  Since I was going to take a complete productivity hit anyway, I went ahead and installed Office 2007.  One by one I kept adding applications and slowly got everything loaded.  I rebooted and finally decided to start trying to work. My first snag was that my wireless would not function.  I could see access point names, but it just simply wouldn't connect.  I did some reading in the various forums and decided that my Intel a/b/g card was to blame.  First I tried updating to a new driver from Intel's website, but that didn't work.  I then swapped it out with an Atheros based card from another machine.  After a reboot, everything worked perfectly.  In addition to having a working connection, I was getting consistently stronger signals as well as faster wireless profile switching.  I should have swapped it out a long time ago. There are a few things that still perplex me.  To call the new Vista control panel daunting is an understatement, and I miss being able to right click the desktop to change my display and power settings.  Another mind boggling thing –- I have a 100GB drive in this system, but now with less 10GB free!!  There are about 20GB of video recordings that I keep to watch when I'm on the road.  I have also done a Rescue and Recovery backup.  Even accounting for the space that those take up, I can't seem to figure out where all of my disk space went.  I've even gone so far as to put System Restore on a diet and it still doesn't help much. My other quibbles have to do specifically with some of our ThinkVantage utilities.  When I initially started using Vista, Presentation Director worked flawlessly.  That did not last.  I was embarrassed the other day when presenting in front of a country sales team and it wouldn't switch resolutions at all.  It gives me a cryptic error and then reverts to my normal display settings.  The only thing I can think of is that Vista Mobility Center and our Presentation Director are fighting with each other.  Vista seems to be winning, but it is a Pyrrhic victory at best. Access Connections and Vista seem to fight from time to time, but I've largely been able to work around those issues with a reboot when necessary.  The old adage of "If it doesn't work right, reboot" still applies. I HATE that Windows is constantly accessing my hard disk drive.  The system is responsive enough, but seeing that blinking light is driving me crazy.  To help with this, I turned both Super Fetch and indexing off.  I may be sacrificing some performance and functionality, but I don't care.  I just want to work. Oh, and I've lost one hour of battery life per charge. The question that really needs to be answered is whether moving to Vista has made me more productive.  If we exclude setup and install time, my answer (for now at least), is no.  I’m able to get most of my work done, but I find myself waiting for the operating system too much.  I spend time searching for features that are in different places than they were located in XP. If you ask the question another way, “Since you’ve got an escape route back to XP, are you going back?”  No, I’m not.  Vista itself hasn’t made me more productive, but there is a lot to like about this operating system.  I just don’t consider it a compelling upgrade.  On the other hand, I LOVE Office 2007.  Upgrade as fast as you can.  It works great, even accounting for the learning curve of the new interface.