Initial impression: Samsung Chromebook

New ChromebookI am the proud owner of a brand new Samsung Chromebook that my wife so generously left for me under the Christmas tree. Clearly I’m a lucky man, for more than one reason.

There’s no shortage of Chromebook reviews on the internet, and you’re likely to get more out of them than you will by reading this, but I thought I’d put my initial thoughts on paper nonetheless.

The Samsung Chromebook is an attractive little machine. I didn’t know what to expect, but it surprisingly small and light. It has a nice 11.6-inch LED HD screen, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of drive storage. That’s not a lot of physical storage, but it has an SD card slot and comes with 100 GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years. What’d you expect, it is a cloud based device after all.

My new Chromebook was stupid easy to setup. I simply turned it on and logged into my Google account. When I opened the browser – which is the entire computing experience in this case – all my familiar extensions, bookmarks, etc were all exactly where they should be an ready for use. I’ve been an avid Google user for quite some time so everything feels pretty natural. Browsing the internet, interacting with social media, and so on is exactly the same as it is on any other computer.

I’ve already had people ask me about using a “cloud-based computer” and what happens when you lose connectivity. Well, it’s a lot like using any other laptop when you don’t have WiFi connectivity. Google has done a good job of making certain functionality available when you’re offline. I’m able to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentation while offline. I’m also able to manage my email and calendar. As soon as I’m able to hop back online everything syncs up as it should. In addition there is a section of the Google Web Store that contains applications for use when offline.

Battery life is as advertised, i.e. it’s great. Not exactly scientific but I started using the Chromebook on and off around 11:00am on Christmas Eve morning, December 24 and didn’t need to recharge it until this morning about 9:00am. So I got a couple of good days use on a single charge. Not continuous use mind you, but my typical couch surfing, emailing, social media type sessions. In comparison my work laptop would require three charges over the same period of time with equivalent usage.

The keyboard is solid on the Chromebook. I’m composing this post on it and haven’t had any problems. Spacing is good and there’s no flex when I type. Overall, it’s a good experience. I will say that I find it odd that the keyboard is missing some keys that I use quite often: home, delete, page up and page down. That will take some time to get used to.

The only major complaint that I have is regarding the touchpad. I hate it. I prefer physical buttons on my touchpads. I like to rest the fingers on my left hand on the buttons and drive with my right. The Chromebook has a multi-touch touchpad, which means that it registers my hands as multi-touch. Go figure. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but so far I’ve found it quite irritating.

That’s it, my initial thoughts on the Chromebook. I’ll be using it as my daily driver while I’m on vacation so I should have more to report in another week.

The insidious nature of ignorance and my curiosity

There’s been a Tweet flowing through my Twitter stream for a few days now and I’ve avoided clicking on the link because I knew it would be something totally ridiculous, misleading and meaningless. Unfortunately it was a quiet Sunday morning, and while I sipped my coffee and waited for the rest of my household to come to life, I succumbed to human nature and clicked the link.

Grrr! I knew it. Something totally ridiculous, misleading and meaningless. What was I thinking? Why do I torture myself this way? One can only speculate.

Continue reading The insidious nature of ignorance and my curiosity

Father’s Day gift becomes FrankenNook

I don’t consider myself a technology geek, but I do consider myself a power user. I like technology, but I’m not typically the guy who goes rooting around in the assembly of an operating system.

Recently I’ve been thinking, out loud, about getting an Android tablet. I’ve also been bemoaning the fact that I’ve never rooted an Android device. I’ve thought about rooting my Droid, but haven’t done it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of purchasing a Barnes & Noble Nook Color just so I could root it.

Continue reading Father’s Day gift becomes FrankenNook

Opinion: why the Google Chromebook is not a bad idea

Anyone that knows me personally or has read this site must realize that I like technology and think that the cloud is the future for a great many things. While I don’t necessarily think the cloud is ready for primetime for everyone, I believe that we have yet to realize the full power of moving away from the desktop storage model.

Google recently unveiled the availability of its Chromebook, a laptop “optimized for the web”. I haven’t had an opportunity to see one in person, but I have every intention to purchase one of these machines and give the concept a shot. Based on internet chatter it may be easier said than done as I believe the Chromebook will be a hot commodity when it becomes available.

Continue reading Opinion: why the Google Chromebook is not a bad idea

I think it’s time for a new mobile connectivity model

I fought this one for a while, but I think I’ve experienced the need enough lately to change my tune. It’s becoming increasingly common for new devices – tablets, netbooks, laptops, etc – to be offered with cellular antennas build in. These can be activated through various carriers to provide continuous connection to the world around us.

I originally found the idea silly. I’m not sure why, but I just felt that there wasn’t really a need for such device specific connectivity. After all, I have a USB access point through Verizon. With that said, it’s become increasingly obvious to me that that isn’t the answer. I find it cumbersome to use at times as it sticks out the side of my laptop like some unwanted extra appendage. Add to that the fact that I can’t use it on my wife’s iPad secondary to a lack of USB ports and my frustration only grows. Oh sure, I could purchase a MiFi-like device, and that would solve some of the issues like lack of USB port, but it doesn’t help me if my wife has the MiFi-like device in Florida and I’m in Kentucky. Get my drift?

The problem with purchasing devices with cellular specific access is the cost of activating all those data plans. Can you imagine paying for data plans on several devices that only occasionally get used? I can’t. If my wife and I were to purchase separate data plans for each device in our armamentarium of electronics we’d certainly go broke trying to pay for them all.

With the nature of connectivity changing, and the way the world has begun using mobile devices, I believe it’s time for companies like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc. to evaluate personalized data plans that follow the user around. Think of it as applying the idea of data in the cloud to your cellular service. Regardless of device, simply log into your cellular account and the antenna in the device would use your phone number to access service. Would that really be that hard to do? How about extending the idea further to include a family based data plan with similar features, i.e. a group of numbers assigned to individual family members that follow them around based on device. I know I’d be willing to pay a little extra for such a plan. Just sayin’.

Don’t dismiss the potential of Chrome OS just yet

The Cr-48 is Google’s first notebook sporting their Chrome OS. While the hardware is nice, it’s really the operating system and the concept that’s raising eyebrows and generating interest. The operating system is designed to make optimal use of “the web”. The features of Chrome OS include instant on, fast load times, cloud storage and recover, etc. A full list of features can be found at the Google Chrome OS website.

I’ve read several reviews of the Cr-48 and for the most part users haven’t been all that impressed. The reviews interest me because I don’t believe the people using these machines get it. First and foremost, the Cr-48 is clearly a work in progress as is Chrome OS. Second, the idea of an internet based, fully cloud enabled system is ideal for creating a hardware agnostic future. It appears to me that Google is testing the waters and collecting data for a future run at something bigger. Do you really doubt Google will continue to develop a better cloud concept for an operating system? It would be a mistake to do so.

I remember similar thoughts from the so called experts when the Android OS rolled out, and now it’s slowly becoming the most prominent operating system for mobile devices. I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future.
Continue reading Don’t dismiss the potential of Chrome OS just yet

AirStrip OB now available for the Android OS

I first wrote about AirStrip Technologies back in December 2009. At the time all the AirStip applications were availble for the iOS. That’s all changed as the company recently announced that AirStrip OB is now available from the Android Market.
Continue reading AirStrip OB now available for the Android OS

A new laptop plus the cloud equals bliss

I recently started using a new Dell Latitude e6510 for all my computing needs. It’s a significant upgrade from my old Dell Latitude 520 laptop, which was showing its age. The new e6510 has an Intel Core-i7 processor, a backlit keyboard, 128 GB solid state hard drive, 4GB of RAM, a beautiful 15.6” wide screen display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, Windows 7 Professional and so on. It’s also the size of a small sports car, which has me second guessing my choice of machine. I broke my own rule for selecting a laptop, i.e. keep it portable. I actually prefer laptops with 12″ – 14″ displays. I don’t know what I was thinking. Kind of like a moth drawn to light – “Look! It’s so bright and shiny”.

Anyway, it’s always a headache setting up a new laptop as most people like me have to transfer gigabytes worth of data from the old machine to the new one. Not this time.
Continue reading A new laptop plus the cloud equals bliss

Verizon, you gotta love ’em

eWeek: “Not only did it recently experience a win over disgruntled competitor AT&T, in being allowed to continue airing some cheeky ads, and then enjoy a jump in consumer opinion, but in a Dec. 1 statement, Consumer Reports revealed that Verizon was named the preferred carrier by the people it surveyed in 26 cities for its cell-phone-focused January issue.” – T-Mobile was second, while Sprint and AT&T tied for third. This is consistent with what I’ve heard around the hospital. I was previously assigned a Verizon mobile broadband card. Unfortunately our facility decided to move away from Verizon a couple of weeks ago and go with AT&T and Sprint. I am now using a Sprint 598U Wireless USB Plug and the performance and connectivity are terrible. While in Vegas last week I was unable to connect to the hospital VPN secondary to poor coverage and lack of speed. I couldn’t even check my email. I ended up using the browser on my Droid. My Verizon card never gave me any problems, ever. I spoke with a nurse today in our IT department who was assigned an AT&T mobile broadband card after previously using one from Verizon. Her story was similar to mine; bummer. It looks like I really need to set up my Droid to tether.

iPhone as a mobile healthcare device? “A community medical center near Philadelphia, Doylestown Hospital relies on a mobile workforce of 360 independent physicians to provide a highly responsive healing environment for thousands of patients. Those physicians stay connected 24/7 to colleagues and hospital staff with their first responder: Apple iPhone 3G. With iPhone, doctors get access to patients’ vital stats, medical reference applications, and breaking health alerts to provide collaborative and efficient patient care.” The article goes on to describe how the iPhone has physicians linked to the hospital’s exchange server and also allows them access to the hospital’s electronic medical records system (MEDITECH Client/Server 6.0) via the phone’s Safari browser. The mobile access certainly doesn’t have to be from an iPhone, but the popularity of the device has certainly sent creative minds in the right direction.