After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Chromebook after a Week - November 2012

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: November 29, 2012

I got my Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 from Amazon a 9 days ago So how has it gone?

To be brutally honest and in a word - GREAT!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been without some scratching my head, muscle memory lapses and “He’s Dead Jim” screens, along with a LOT of experimenting to see what works for me.

However, this is also the kind of stuff that I love doing, trouble-shooting, trying out new apps and discovering how something new like my Chromebook fits into my work-flow and life.

What have I learned?

What I have discovered so far? That my Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook is an amazing computer, that made me stop and really take a look at how I was actually using a computer in today’s world.

I did this from the perspective that I didn’t have pretty much unlimited storage on the machine itself, no native applications to fall back on, that I would be reliant upon Wi-Fi to use it properly and I would have to do some things differently to properly use this computer.

Have I got everything under control yet? No, but at this point the only thing that I have used another computer for is to have Pandora playing in the backgound and using Janetta in full-screen for my Twitter feed on my large monitor. I just haven't had a real need or desire to use either the Mac or PC.

Speed - It is fast! It boots-up fast, opens apps fast, logs out fast, shuts-down fast and wakes up fast. For a computer with such “awful” specs, it is faster than other computers I have used. I haven’t had to wait to be where I want to be and haven’t had any of the apps that I have tried have any lag time (no I haven’t done video editing on it yet, that is this weekend’s project).

This is also the reason that I wanted the 4GB Ram version and would take more if I could, I really think that a 2GB RAM machine wouldn’t be as fast and be able to handle the number of “windows” or apps I typically have open.

Portability - It is small, light (around 3 pounds) and doesn’t heat up too much while on my lap.
Peripherals - I have attached my USB keyboard, USB trackball and external hard drive with no problems. I still have to get the correct video connector so I can connect my Chromebook to my large monitor and take advantage of the recent changes that support dual screen use. That will happen soon.

Apps - There are a lot more web applications in the Chrome Web Store than I imagined and you can probably find one that you can use to do just about anything you want.

If you are a programmer, work a lot with videos or other high-end computer needs, then you are not going to use the Chromebook as your primary computer, a Chromebook will not do what you are looking for, right now it is too basic for that.

However, if you are like me and much of your time is spent blogging, on social media, checking email, etc. I haven’t been disappointed at all or limited on what I want to do. About the only thing that I can’t really do is play NeverWinter Nights 2, but there are other RPG games that I can access and will be looking at for a replacement for NWN2.

The best part of all the Apps that I have tried so far (which quickly and easily install or uninstall) almost all of them have been free, only one have I decided it was necessary to move up to the pro version, but that will be in another post.

Maintenance - I don’t have to do any of the maintenance or back-end work that other O/S make you do to keep your computer up-to-date. Most of the updates appear to be done in the background and will be better taken care by Google than by most computer users.

Keyboard - The keyboard is one of the best ones I have ever typed on, I would like it if it was backlit, but that would be an added expense. Now that I have a pretty good idea of where things are located and am starting to develop muscle memory, things are a lot better. Finding where the keys are placed, is a typical thing when changing brands, most have their own keyboard patterns beyond the normal QWERTY board.

The only thing that I am really having any issues with is the Caps Lock key not being there - I am always hitting the search key to do Caps Lock - that will be my toughest habit to break. However, when I plug in my old USB keyboard, it works like a charm and everything is where it is supposed to be.

The other key combination I am finally getting the hang of is using Alt-Backspace to forward delete (which is an awful lot like the Mac). However, I have been hitting ctrl-backspace which deletes the previous word, because that is where the forward delete key combination is on a Mac.

Offline - There are ways to work off-line with my Chromebook and yes they are limited in capability, but seem to be getting better. To be honest it is very seldom that I don’t have access to either Wi-Fi or a Network Cable.

This complaint that I hear so much about Chromebooks not being useful if they are not connected to the Internet, really isn't that new of a problem, because having a web connection meant so much to me on both my Mac and PC.

I complained just as much when I couldn’t connect with my PC or Mac, because most of what I do and how I work now is done over an Internet connection. I am used to working in the web and not as much on the laptop, so having an Internet connection in order for my to get work done has been necessary for at least 3-4 years.

This complaint that I hear so much about Chromebooks not being useful if they are not connected to the Internet, really isn't that new of a problem, because having a web connection meant so much to me on both my Mac and PC.

iPhone - This is the one that bothers me the most - the Chromebook and my iPhone 4S don’t like each other and will not work together. The Chromebook will slowly charge the iPhone, but that is all it does, I can’t download/transfer any photos or files, without using my old MacBookPro or TheWife’s Windows PC. I am wondering if I eventually, I will need to move to an Android based phone to integrate my computer with my phone and make my life a little easier. Yes I am doing some work-arounds, but this is something that I will have to resolve at some point.

Printing - While I don't usually print that often, there are still some things that I have to print-out. I don’t have a Cloud enabled printer, I have one of the “older” classic printers and needed to set it up to Cloud Print through Google. However, I found that I have to be signed into my account on the computer the printer is connected to and that printer has to be added to the cloud from my Google account not somebody else's account. If I want to print, no one else can use that computer or printer.

The printer is hooked to my wife’s laptop and she definitely wouldn’t be very pleased if I was signed into her computer all the time. Best solution right now is to use my MacBookPro to connect with Google Drive and print using that machine. This works but...it is not a permanent solution.
If I am wrong on this I would love to hear what I need to do to set up the Cloud Print correctly, so I can print to it while it is connected to my wife's laptop, while she is signed in to the computer.
Saving to Google Drive - Sometimes saving to Google Drive, just doesn’t work correctly and you have to save to the download folder instead and manually drag the file over to gDrive. This is probably a just a bug in the code somewhere, but I want this to be more stable. If I attempt to save a file to Google Drive I don’t want to have to do extra steps to get it there.

Dropbox Integration/sync - I have to use Dropbox for my work and there doesn't seem to be any real easy way of getting files (Word, photos from Picasa or Google+) from the Chromebook to Dropbox, other than manually downloading and then uploading the file. Drop and drag doesn't work from Google Drive and I can't download directly to Dropbox since it is in the cloud. I do get my files there, but there are extra, unnecessary steps to get there that I don't have to do on a Mac or PC.

Battery - I would like to have about another hour of battery life, but it already a LOT better than my MacBookPro or Dell computers. I have been using it so much at different places around the house, that I just have to remember to plug it in once in a while to keep it charged up during the day.

There are a lot more pros and cons, but these were the major ones that I found for me over my first week as a new Chromebook user. As I get further into this journey, I am sure that I will explore many of the less critical ones to me more fully in later posts.
The reality is

that after only one week on my Chromebook, I don’t want to use my other computers. They feel slow and too bulky. I am quickly learning the Chromebook way, which is different from using a Mac or PC. Actually the different ways of doing things, are actually starting to make a lot of sense to me and as I continue to use them, they will become even easier.

Overall, is my Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook a perfect computer? No it is not for everyone, but it does what I want and sorry Apple but right now for me.

It just works.

However, all I know is that I am enjoying using my Chromebook
What are your experiences with a Chromebook?
What are some things that you would like me to talk about as a new user who is learning the ropes as I go?

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