Two weeks into my Chromebook experience and my only regret is I didn’t buy one sooner. My MacBook is always tethered to my desktop by cables for external drives, hub, monitor, printer, etc… but the Chromebook is light, easy to swoop up and carry, and perfect for anything you want to do on the web. If I had kids in the house, this would be their daily PC. Google Docs does MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint compatible documents. No anti-virus software to keep up. And it’s cheap.
As far as usability, the keyboard and trackpad feel great to me. The battery will last about 4 hours of continuous use, depending on what you’re doing. Full screen streaming HD video will run it down in about 2 hours. In actual use though, it lasts me all day, because I use it for email, check the news, then close the lid. Later I may stream a podcast, check email again, close the lid. I am finding I turn to it more and more because it’s so convenient and fast, it’s private (unlike the shared iPads our grandkids use), and it is instant on when I open it. The Chrome browser synchronization across all my computers and devices also makes it easy for passwords on various sites. The screen is very good for what this computer does, but you need to have it lined straight up in front of you. The viewing angle up and down is pretty narrow.
100 GB of cloud storage for 2 years is also included – $120.00 if you paid for it outright. That makes this a $79.99 computer essentially. So after two weeks of Chromebooking, I find myself hoping this is not a fad that will fade away like netbooks, or if it does, something better on all counts will replace it.
I’ve been using the E-PL3 for a couple months now, leaving my DSLR at home. The small Olympus is really proving to be versatile and more than capable for the walk around and family photography I do. This picture was taken with a standard kit lens, not altered other than cropping.
“He doesn’t do much, he’s just a platypus”, is the frequent comment about Perry the Platypus (Agent P) on Phineas and Ferb. I’ve heard that about Chromebooks too. The $199.00 Acer C7 Chromebook is the Agent P of laptops. I couldn’t be more pleased. It does much more than one would think.
In the first hour I popped in an extra 2 GB of ram and had Ubuntu dual booting. I played with that for a while and realized I really didn’t even need Linux on this machine. My planned use for the Chromebook is:
Most web related activity like email, blogging, surfing, etc…
Ultra portable laptop for photo jaunts – for backing up SD cards, quick edits via Pixlr if necessary.
Light travel laptop I can tether to my iPhone when needed.
All of these things I can do in the native Chrome OS, so I restored the original factory OS and regained the 320 GB hard drive all in one place rather than partitioned out into two OS’s.
I have a seriously schnell MacBook Pro for real photo editing which dual boots into Linux already. My job supplies a Windows laptop for work use. But the MacBook weighs a ton compared to the feather light Chromebook, and the Chromebook is $200 to replace vs. $2000 plus!
Wendy’s iPhone 3G has been a great phone, but it’s definitely dated. The iPhone 5 just doesn’t seem worth it, so we decided to try something new. The Nokia Lumia 920 recently dropped down to $99.00 with a wireless charging plate to boot. I must say, it’s a gorgeous phone. I’ve spent the weekend playing with it, learning it and setting it up (for Wendy of course). Like any system there are some things I’m not crazy for, but all in all I think it’s great.
The camera is no doubt heads and tails above the iPhone at night and low light. In daylight or good lighting, I think the iPhone still looks better. Below are a few initial shots. The night shots are phenomenal, even handheld. None of these shots were edited except for slight cropping, clarity, and brightness, all in the Lumia phone.
When the Chromebook was released in February, article after article accused Google of losing their minds… What were they thinking releasing a web-browser based laptop for $1200-$1500?! A few lone voices liked it. Then on March 5th, Linus Torvalds said on his Google+ feed that he liked it and was going to adopt it full time. Suddenly it was cool. Everyone began to “see the light” and Google went from crazy to insightful, and the Chromebook went from crazy to cool. Now I want one, dammit.
This is a wonderful time to be alive, watching more and more companies taking tech and creative chances, moving technology ahead in leaps and bounds, trying to be the Next Big Thing. I hope Hans is seeing this from Heaven.
Every now and then I happen upon a deal at Best Buy that really is a best buy. The Panasonic Lumix ZS8 camera has less features than the more expensive ZS10, but has the same lens and most other specs. What’s missing mainly is the GPS and touch screen, but what’s different is the sensor. The ZS8 actually has an arguably better CCD sensor than the ZS10′s CMOS sensor. Most reviews say the ZS8′s image quality is as good, if not slightly better than the ZS10, and I can do without the GPS and touch screen for an extra hundred.
But… the best buy part of the deal is this – I got it on a double sale, 50% off normal price, an additional 10% off for open box items, and my price was $112.00 … The box had been opened, but the camera never even had the battery inserted or even unpacked from it’s plastic bag. Even now that this camera is officially last years model and out of production, it still regularly sells for over $200.00 (see picture).
I’ve had a chance to do some shooting, and I can say it takes very good photos for a compact. The big winners for me on this camera are that I have full manual control, 16x optical zoom, and excellent macro capability. Not to mention the extreme portability, easily pocketed and light. Marvelous.
I love my little Olympus Pen E-PL1 so much I added an E-PL3 to the family. Also added a couple new lenses, flash, electronic viewfinder and a few other goodies. Now I have a fairly complete Micro Four Thirds kit. Check out that sexy leather… God knows I love cameras way too much.
Speed is not over-rated… Since installing the 500 GB SSD and 16 GB RAM, my MacBook Pro screams! It’s the fasted computer I’ve ever used. 30 MB images fly across my editor like they’re mere kilobyte sized. Startup is about 6 seconds with Ubuntu 12.10, and only 2-3 more with OS X. I have become so spoiled my old laptops never get used anymore. With 3 TB of Linux NAS on tap, 2 more TB attached via FireWire, it will be at least 6 months before I outgrow this system. :^)
Some hacks are so easy to prevent, there is no good excuse if you’re a victim to one of these. Car thieves will ALWAYS be able to find a car that is already unlocked, and even some with the keys in it. Would you leave your car open with the keys in it overnight, night after night? How long before your car gets taken? Yes, some cars get taken regardless, but you don’t have to make it easy for the amateurs.
If you did not change the default password on your router, it may already be too late. All routers come with a default password like “admin” or “0000″ or whatever. All someone has to do is put an invisible frame or image into an email, and if you just look at it, you’re infected. How? It changes your Domain Name Server addresses to a bogus one that is set up to intercept your passwords or credit card info or anything else you ever do on your computer, tablet, or phone. You know those emails we get that someone passed along that usually have amazing pictures or some amazing story about a veteran? Yes, it’s those or any other email.
This is SO simple to prevent. First, if you changed your password, that’s a good step and should protect you for a while. For better protection, use a good, hard, long password with no dictionary words, mixed caps and lower case, numbers, and symbols. The coding could easily have hundreds of common passwords in it. Then, you can also change the DHCP IP address range within the router setup away from the default which was usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1. You can get more on usable IP addresses here.
Computers are very complex and very powerful. They should be used with care and responsibility. Somewhere along the way of almost all technology, consumerism rules the day and the uninformed consumers always suffer.
As the de facto family help desk employee it usually falls on me to fix and/or restore laptops, PC’s, etc… Usually the item has been used for 6 months or more without one update, either to the OS or security. Yesterday it was pretty easy, although lengthy. I brought back to life a Compaq laptop circa 2006. Luckily I had ram to upgrade it from 512 to 2 GB, and an HDD to boost it to 100 GB at 7200 RPM. I also lucked out in having the restore disks and Office 2003 Pro disks that were all once registered on it. It all did go back on seamlessly. It just took about 8 hours to cycle through the various 250 or so updates. But it works and works very well.
13:00 — Today, I have been wrestling with an Acer Aspire One (D257-13450) for about 7 hours so far. It would lock up within 2 to 5 minutes of logging in to Windows. I managed to get most updates on it, update the Anti-virus, between restarts. I could not complete a scan due to it locking up. There was nothing much on it, so I opted top restore to factory settings. After about 50 minutes of waiting for that to run, it locked up during the first login and the mouse pad suddenly quit working. I restarted it, and still no mouse. I popped in a USB mouse; nothing. Restarted and the USB mouse worked. Great. It froze again on my way to restore the mousepad hardware. This time on the restart, it would not start. The error message suggested a restart or repair. No matter which I chose it came back to this. I did the F8 to Safe mode, no deal in any mode. So, now I await the restore again. (Alt-F10 on restart brings the built in system restore menu)
20:30 — I’m beginning to think there is a hardware issue, that may require a BIOS flash. There is a new version on the support website… guess I’ll try that next.
22:03 — BIOS flashed with latest version, chipset and other updates downloaded just in case. Beginning to test…
22:35 — Still running 30 minutes later (knock knock knock on wood) and 51% complete with all the Windows 7 update BS.
23:55 — Looks like the BIOS flash did the trick. All updates are installed. Full scan with MS Security Essentials completed. Sleep mode works, everything works as expected now, and is 100% updated.