IBM Active Protection System in action
I must admit, I felt a bit jealous last March when I read about the cool applications that Mac programmers were developing based on the Apple Motion Sensor, a device that detects if your computer is moving in order to park the hard drive's head.[1] My IBM Thinkpad has similar functionality through its Active Protection System[2], but no cool programs. As the screenshot shows, IBM's program lacks a certain cool factor. Even more annoying, the IBM program is Windows-only. While I was using Linux, I found myself worrying that even the slightest shock to my computer would kill my hard drive and all of my precious data.

Since it is doubtful that IBM will ever support the Active Protection System on Linux, I am glad that kernel hacker Robert Love has created hdaps, a device driver for the APS. With UPEK providing libraries for the fingerprint sensor, it looks possible that all of the hardware in my T43 could be supported under Linux. Since the lack of hardware support was one of the reasons I switched back to Windows, I am enthused about using my T43 under Linux again.[3]

In other Thinkpad news, it seems that the new widescreen Thinkpad Z series will have a Windows key. I think it's completely unnecessary.

[1]Modern hard drives access the magnetic data stored on them through a device known as a "head." The head floats on a cushion of air above the surface of the drive. Sudden motion, such as that caused by dropping a computer, can cause the head to crash into the surface of the drive, corrupting the drive's data.

[2]For more information on the Active Protection System, see a Flash presentation or read the technical overview.

[3]Actually, I was considering switching to Linux again prior to this move. It was only due to the fact I am certain that I will not have enough time during the school year to recompile kernels and the like that I was able to restrain myself.