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From the ThinkPad

I am typing this from the Thinkpad 390 I just bought. True to my fashion, the first thing I did with this laptop was format the hard drive and reinstall Windows. That fortunately went through without a hitch, and everything installed exactly as it should have.

The screen is bright with no dead pixels, the sound card speaker sounds as good as it can for a laptop (laptop speakers by nature are cheesy because they are small), and for a 233Mhz it runs surprisingly well. It's not stellar by any means, but it does it what it's supposed to do - which is all I can ask of it.

I haven't tested whether the battery is any good or not. When I received the laptop (a small story I'll get to in a moment,) the battery was stone dead, but, the guy I bought it from on eBay mentioned in plain English that "battery is not guaranteed to work". If it doesn't work after I charge it, no big deal, I will buy another one. Replacement batteries for laptops are a common thing these days, especially for ThinkPad's since there are a lot of them out there.

Before I get to the whole shipping incident, I must say that this is a lightning fast keyboard. I can type super fast on this thing. IBM sure does know how to do keyboards right, that I'll admit. I think this is partially because the keyboard is yesteryear technology and I prefer older keyboards because the feel is so much better than the newer ones.

Okay, on to the shipping thing:

The laptop was scheduled to arrive today. 5pm comes around, no laptop. I go to ups.com and check the tracking. It said more or less that the driver could not find the location and that an attempt was being made to contact the shipper for a more concrete address. I called UPS myself and confirmed that yes, the shipping address was accurate. The driver was a goofball and didn't know where the hell to find my house. UPS said they would contact the driver and then call me directly. Ten minutes went by. UPS called back and asked if I could meet the driver at a specific location. I knew where it was so I said "No problem." I hopped in the car and met up with the driver. I asked him (nicely) "Trouble finding the house?" He simply replied with "The normal driver who does your route is on vacation for three weeks." Translation: "I have no idea where the frig your house is because you live in the woods."

Oh well. I got my laptop. It works fine so far. That's all that counts.

New laptop, selling old one

Recent events have left me feeling a bit blue so I decided to treat myself and buy a laptop. Granted, it's not new but it will run Windows XP and what I got is the most rock-solid laptop avaiable: An IBM Thinkpad (model 390). I won it last night on an eBay auction and bought it for $240.00. Considering what it comes with this is a very good deal. The Targus bag alone is worth 50 bucks(!)

The only thing it didn't come with is a network card. Fortunately I have a spare one. It's old but it'll do the job nicely. The LCD screen is a bit small, but I believe I can upgrade the screen from 12" to a 14.1" - the 390 had 3 models. Mine is the "2nd best" one. The premium one (at time of manufacture) had a 14.1" screen. I've scoped the 'net and have found a dealer of laptop LCD screens so it should be an easy swap. Since I previously worked as a Dell laptop tech, replacing screens is not a big deal. You just have to know what you're doing (obviously).

I will also be selling my old Compaq laptop. I have a Compaq Elite LTE 4/75 CXL, considered to be a premium model in its day. It's running Windows 95 and has a Megahertz modem that still works. The color screen is surprisingly crisp, clean, bright and has no dead pixels or screen lines at all. Because of it's age I will be selling it for around 25 bucks or so. The only thing wrong with it is a stone dead battery, however, I have seen replacement batteries on eBay for this laptop for around 20 bucks (cheap). Anyone who's interested in it can contact me should they want it, else I'll just eBay it.

Just for grins I surfed the web with the old Compaq last night. It actually surfs quite well considering its age. I was surprised and pleased to know that older computers can still "do internet" without a problem. And another thing: Windows 95 may be about as secure as a wet napkin, but man is it super easy to use and SMALL compared to XP (or 2000 or 98 for that matter). '95 didn't have all that integrated IE crap in it and it's so fast compared to later versions of Windows. Ah, the days of old. Windows 95 is a cool OS, I don't care what anyone says. (grin)

Photo tips for rock bands

Rock bands always shoot group shots, individual shots and so on for press packs, wallpaper on web sites, advertising and so on. Unfortunately, many of these bands take shots which more or less make the band look amateur and stupid.

Here are four classic no-no's I see all the time:

1) Woods
For some strange reason, rock bands love to take pictures in the woods. This is really bad idea because a) it has absolutely nothing to do with rock music, b) it takes concentration away from the band and puts it in the scenery in the background, and finally c) NO ONE does it except amateurs. Don't do it.

2) Cemeteries
For that "evil" lookin' thing, lots of bands do the cemetery shot. Again, this has nothing to do with rock music.. and it looks stupid.

3) Railroad tracks
Again, nothing to do with rock music. Same problems as the woods shots.

4) Abandoned buildings
Good for videos. Bad for photos. All this does it make you look like you took pictures in a dump, which is exactly what you did.

Here are some better ideas:

1) Solid color backdrop
Look in any rock/metal magazine. You will see tons of artist pictures that have nothing but a solid color behind them. This puts 100% focus on the artist (the goal!)

2) Planned performance
Go and set up a show strictly for picture shooting - basically a rehearsal made to look like a live show. Go through your set of songs and have someone taking pictures. Make sure all your gear is spotless clean and everyone is in the mood to play. You'll get lots of great pictures.

3) Live performance
Same as above. May not look as good as the planned performance but it does the job.

I'm sure you can think of a few more. But please.. stay away from cemeteries, railroad tracks, the woods and broken buildings. Rock is not about any of those things. It's about you and your group. Have your photos concentrate on that. You are the subject, not the background. Background is, and always will be, secondary.

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