Lenovo B570: Ruined by Keyboard Layout

Look at this thing:

It’s an awesome laptop. Especially for the money. I bought mine off of Lenovo’s Refurb/Outlet store for a bit over $400. With a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM, SD card reader, DVD/CD Write/Read, big touchpad with two-finger scrolling, a decent 15″ display, lots of USB ports, HDMI port and a full number pad on the keyboard, this is a great machine.

The build quality is good. It’s at its worst when it’s folded up and you’re carrying it around. There’s a lot of flex in the screen and it feels pretty chintzy. But when it’s open and running, the keyboard keys are very responsive and the keyboard is very firm itself.

There’s just one problem: they cheated the right-shift key by squashing full-sized arrow keys into the rectangular outline of the keyboard.

This serious problem is easy to overlook when you are shopping, ogling all of the goodies mentioned above at such an amazing price. Unfortunately, if you are a touch-typist the last key you want to press while touch-typing – and not looking at your screen or fingers – is the UP arrow key. And due to the idiocy of this damned cheapskate tradeoff I spend way too much time considering the purchase of a Thinkpad – which all have a similarly great keyboard but with a non-compromised right shift key – to replace it with. Every time I have to type anything longer than a few words I am sending the cursor up, up and constantly not where I want it to be.

I bet this machine could have been made for the same price with arrow keys in the style of the Thinkpad keyboards. Is Lenovo intentionally doing this to push certain people into buying a Thinkpad instead of one of these Essential-line and IdeaPad machines?

Also, it runs Linux like a dream. Everything but the fingerprint reader is working. Though I do wish it had dedicated volume and brightness keys.

Sauvignon Blanc with Apples & Gooseberries

This batch made from a 96 oz. can of Vintner’s Harvest Gooseberry Fruit Wine Base ($47), wild apples (about the size of a clementine) and a Vintner’s Reserve: Sauvignon Blanc 6-gallon kit ($70). I am basically following the kit’s instructions aside from mixing the must with the gooseberries and apples in a nylon bag. And instead of adding the yeast to the must right away, I stirred in 6 crushed campden tablets and waited 12 hours. Continue reading “Sauvignon Blanc with Apples & Gooseberries”