Fixing Lenovo IdeaPad function keys
Note to self: you actually can turn the function keys on your Lenovo IdeaPad back into actual function keys. It's just a BIOS setting.
For anyone else who comes across this, Lenovo's IdeaPad series of laptops (at least the version I have) does weird things with the function keys. You've probably seen those keyboards where the F1 through F12 keys have alternate functions. They often have a "function lock" button that's equivalent to caps lock or scroll lock and you can turn it off to access the alternate functionality.
What Lenovo does is similar, except that the alternate functionality is on by default and there's no function lock button. There's just an "Fn" button that you have to press and hold to access the normal function button keystrokes. So on my laptop, F11 and F12 turn the screen brightness up and down and I need to press Fn+F12 to do a regular F12 keystroke.
This is probably great for "regular" users, most of whom wouldn't miss the function keys if they went away completely. On the other hand, for a developer, this adds a second keystroke to a row of what were previously absurdly convenient hotkeys. Granted the volume and brightness keys are convenient, but when I'm coding I use F11 and F12 for my IDE keybindings much more often than I need to change the screen brightness.
But luckily, as I found in the link above, you can turn that off in a BIOS setting.