Windows 7 on Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet

It’s only been a few days since I’ve installed Windows 7 on my Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet, but so far it’s been GREAT! The version I had installed was the beta (build 7000).

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Windows 7, and it’s not like I didn’t want to install Windows 7, but things had been working fine for now, and I saw no reason to chance destabilizing any of my critical machines. However, I had Vista SP1 running on my Thinkpad and generally it does okay, but once in awhile, after I haven’t rebooted the laptop for a few days, I get into a state where the laptop just becomes unresponsive and slow and has problems connecting to the wireless network.

Jan Lyk had shown me Windows 7 running on his Dell mini laptop and I decided I’d give it a shot. It was pretty much an impulse decision. The same day after I saw Jan Lyk’s laptop, I grabbed the beta, and installed it that night. I decided to do an upgrade instead of fresh install since I didn’t want to bother reinstalling all the applications and backing up the data.

The upgrade actually went pretty well. It did take longer than I expected. In fact, there were certain points in time during the upgrade which I thought it was stuck, especially when it was migrating files, settings, and programs.

The “fun” part came when it prompted me to log in. I swiped my finger and it logged me in.

I started typing on the keyboard. No response. I started moving the mouse. No response. Thinking to myself, I’m !@#$%^. I could use the fingerprint scanner to login, but I needed some other way to actually install drivers if they’re missing. Suddenly I remembered I still had a tablet pen to try out. Amazing, the tablet pen WORKED! Typing using the tablet pen wasn’t that fun though, but I managed to get to the device manager and noticed that the keyboard and trackpoint devices had the little yellow alert sign. I opened both of them and told it to automatically update the driver and amazingly, it found the driver and I was able to use the keyboard. The trackpoint/mouse actually needed a reboot before it started working.

The only other issue was I also needed to update the GEM smartcard reader driver (which was also done automatically). Things were starting to look good.

Moving on, it complained that my antivirus software was not turned on. I use AVG 8.0 and it was turned on from what I could tell. Someone on the AVG forums mentioned that if you disable resident shield and re-enabled it, Windows 7 would stop warning you about it. I tried that, but didn’t seem to work. I thought I’d try reinstalling, but in the end, decided to just switch back to eTrust, since AVG doesn’t officially support Windows 7 yet. This thing also warned me that Windows Defender was turned off, but I think that’s because it was set to delayed start, and the warning would disappear after awhile.

I love the fact that the tablet feature and fingerprint scanner just worked out of the box. It definitely boots up a lot faster than Windows Vista and definitely more responsive. I haven’t had much time to tinker or play around with it much, but it looks like most of the Lenovo applications also work out of the box.

The pinned programs on the task bar is like a merge of quick launch + task bar, which is pretty neat. Usually I have a vertical task bar, because when horizontally, the names of the tasks just take up too much space. Now that they’ve gotten rid of the name and only show an icon, I no longer really need to have a vertical task bar. However, I still dislike the fact that they group same tasks together. There’s probably a way to disable it, or make it more responsive so the moment I hover over the icon, the windows thumbnails would appear immediately instead of waiting a few seconds.

Another cool thing I noticed is that they have a dim screen feature. Usually you have 2 options for your screen: On or Off. I usually set mine to turn off after 5 minutes of idleness, but now there’s an intermediate step where it dims it after 2 minutes of idleness and turns it off after 5 minutes.

I’m going to enjoy playing with Windows 7 on my laptop.

If the IRS were smart…

I saw this article on Digg earlier: Swiss bank to ID U.S. tax evaders

Banking giant UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, agreed to pay $780 million to settle accusations that it helped U.S. customers hide money from the IRS. And in what the Justice Department described as an “unprecedented move,” UBS agreed to provide the names of up to 20,000 Americans who sought to avoid paying income taxes by keeping secret accounts.

This got me thinking… If the IRS were smart, they should make the following announcement:

Attention Tax Evaders:

Before UBS gives us the report, we would like to give all of you a chance to come clean. If you come clean now and admit to tax evasion, we’ll forgo any charges, fines, fees, interest, and penalties associated with the tax evasion. You’ll still have to pay off the taxes you owe us, but we’re going to give you a clean state afterwards. We’re also willing to work with you and/or your accountants to come up with a repayment plan if you’re unable to pay off all the back taxes immediately.

After we receive our report from UBS, the offer above will no longer be valid. We’ll be filing criminal charges for tax evasion on all remaining individuals who have not come forward. We’ll pursue every case to the fullest extent and request for maximum penalty and fines. Not only will you owe us the back tax, you’ll also owe us the accumulated interest, penalty fees and fines, legal fees, and anything else our lawyers can come up with to tack onto the list.

You thought you could fool us. Is it worth the risk to continue trying? Your call.

If only the IRS were smart…

Bank of America Notary Service

So this ordeal all started Friday evening at 5pm, when I received a call from the escrow agent. He said he needed me to sign and notarize some documents by today (Saturday) and mail it back to him. I’ll talk more about the whole refinance ordeal at a later time. Anyway, I was given 2 options:

  • I could pay about $100-150 and he’ll send a notary agent to my house and get the documents signed, notarized, and delivered back to the escrow company.
  • He could overnight me the documents, I could get them signed and notarized, and mail them back on Saturday.

Neither of those 2 options sounded great. I asked if it was possible for him to email me the documentation, I’ll get them signed and notarized myself, and then mail them back. He said that would be great, but he warned me there was going to be about 100 pages. I said that should be fine.

I get the documentations awhile later, so I start looking for places to get it notarize. I thought I might even be able to mail it out tonight.

Turns out I was so wrong. Apparently places that provide notary services have a very fixed working schedule, Monday to Friday till 4 or 5pm. I found out that Microsoft has some people who does notary for us, but all of them were off work by then. One replied saying if I still needed the documents notarized, to contact her on Monday. I tried calling a few places (i.e. Kinkos and The UPS Store). Both are open on Saturday, but both their notary services are only available Monday to Friday. I thought, “I’m screwed…”

The last suggested place were banks, and I had a gut feeling that I was going to get shot down like the others. I mean… they’re BANKS. When they have the worst possible hours for someone like me, how can I expect them to be better than all the others I’ve tried. Plus the fact by the time I decided to start looking at banks, it was past 6pm already (their “closing” time).

Anyway, I decided to give calling them a shot. I called the Bank of America in Issaquah, since the FedEx Service Center was just 5 minutes away and I was given an FedEx account to ship with. After a few rings, someone actually picked up. I asked if they provided notary services, and they said they did, but were now closed. I said I understood and was wondering if they provided notary services on Saturday, and she said they indeed did. I’m like, JACKPOT!

So given that banks close at 1pm on Saturday, which is before the usual time I even get up, I set my alarm clock for 10am to give myself some buffer time just in case. Turns out I was pretty much awake by 9:30am without the alarm going off.

I drive over there and the receptionist greets me and I tell her I’m here to get some documents notarized and she smiles and asks if I was a Bank of America customer. I said I was and she directed me to sit and wait for a bit. Moments later, I was greeted by the notary agent and he asked if I was a Bank of America customer, and I repeated that I was. I asked if he wanted to see my Bank of America ATM card, and he said he just needed my drivers license.

We go over the documents that needed to be notarized and everything went pretty smoothly. I thanked him for his time and asked if there was any fees I had to pay, and he goes “nope, it’s a free service for Bank of America customers”. And to think that they didn’t even need to verify that I was one. That’s the type of trust I don’t expect to ever see in Los Angeles.

You hear bad customer stories about Bank of America all the time, but this was one of those times that Bank of America came through and made the experience that much better!