Monday, May 11, 2015

Chromebook Vs. Windows 8

I had a class assignment that required the use of Java to complete (I had to build a web page with a java applet on it). Unfortunately Java does not run on Chromebooks. So I powered up my Windows machine to do the work I needed. Unfortunately I never got to it. My Windows machine was so slow and full of bugs I couldn't even get a browser to work right. I ended up having to re-install Windows. Since that takes a few hours on the machine I have, I will have to find another way to do my assignment (since it is due soon).

Though I would love to have Java on my Chromebook, I am glad I don't. Why? Because of what happened to my Windows 8 machine. The machine was so full of bugs and problems that I had to start from scratch with it. In the two years I have been using Chromebooks (I am on my second one now) I have never had any of the problems I have had with my Windows machine. I have had no viruses. I have had no crashes. I have had no issues when I boot up. I have so speed problems. In fact, I am writing right now on my Chromebook as my Windows machine is re-installing the operating system!

So, though I would like to have Java, I love my Chromebook so much more the way it is. I would rather not have any problems and live without Java (and anything else I can't do), than live with the mess Windows (and sometimes Mac) ends up being.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cheaper Chromebooks

Over the past couple of weeks there has been an announcement that there will be 2-3 Chromebooks becoming available that will be selling for about $150. Now they will be using a slower chip and will not have the highest of quality components, but they will be running Chrome OS and will do so efficiently. I have read a couple of reviews and no one is terrible disappointed with the new cheaper Chromebooks.

What do I think? I think if you can afford an extra $50 buy a Chromebook that's a bit faster with better components. On the other hand, if you are strapped for cash or you need to buy a truckload of laptops, then you might want to give a look at the cheaper Chromebooks. Them seem to run well (though not as fast), and they do everything a Chromebook is supposed to do (which is not everything to start with). I wonder how much lower will things go? Will we eventually have a usable laptop for $99? I think that might be possible one day, but I am not sure how much you will be able to do with it. It is great to know that prices are going down rather than up (in spite of inflation).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Using the MS Word app on a Chromebook.

I just started using the MS Word app on my Chromebook. Up to now I have used Google drive and a couple of other apps. I started using the MS Word app because it is the only one that I can use on the WIFI network at work. The school district I work for blocks all Google sites (must be because they have a contract with Microsoft for much of their IT).

So far I like what the app can do. First, it's free, which is great. Second, it is a web application, so you need access to the internet and it doesn't work offline like Google Drive does. Since I have a robust WIFI network at home and a decent one at work, I have no issues with being online (other than not having Google access from work). I also have a hotspot on my iPhone, so I am never without some kind of access to the internet. Third, it is a full functioning word processor, but it does not have all the functions found in a full version of MS Word. That does not bother me as well since I do not use all the functions anyway.

Finally, the app works well. I like all I can do with it. I also like how it saves my documents to the cloud automatically. I can also access my documents from several of my other systems and edit or add to them. Having this app on my Chromebook makes it highly functional. One of the biggest drawbacks to using a Chromebook is not having access to many of the standard software packages (Like Office and the like). This app is a fully functioning version of MS Word, so that is one software package that is not an issue in using a Chromebook.

So, can you use MS Word on a Chromebook? You sure can and it's free!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Become and Idea Machine

I read a book today called "Become an Idea Machine". The whole point of the book was to come up with 10 ideas a day, every day for the next 180 days (six months). Why? Because after that point coming up with ideas will become a habit. But why do it in the first place? Because ideas are what create value and wealth. It is ideas that create "currency". It is ideas that make your life amazing. Just think of anything in your life that is positive and at the root, there is an idea. for example, I am using a Chromebook at this moment. The Chromebook came about because a software programmer at Google needed something that booted quickly in order to see if the changes he was making were working. So he decided to boot an operating system (Linux) from ram instead of a hard drive. In doing so he developed the seeds of having a computer that booted from ram and worked only in a browser. Google ran with the idea and developed the Chrome OS. Thus I have my Chromebook and an inexpensive way to do all I do on a computer. It all came from an idea.

Ideas rule the world!

Now, what ideas to I have that I can use to make the lives of others and myself better?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is it time to get out of California?

Congestion and urban sprawl are at their worst. Taxes and governmental fees have never been higher. Crime is increasing. The school system gets worse every year. There are fewer and fewer good paying jobs. Prices keep going up and the cost of living is one of the highest in the nation (and probably the world). Gasoline is expensive. Electricity is expensive. And now with the drought, even water is expensive. Yes the weather most of the year is terrific and the laid back California lifestyle is great, but is it enough? I am starting to think it's time to get out of California. Things are getting worse and the future does not look very bright. In fact, it is staring to look bleak. Thanks to miss-investment, liberal and socialistic policies, unchecked immigration of all sorts, miss-management, cronyism, labor unions, and just plain bad luck, the future of California does not look to be better than the past. In fact, they might get a lot worse. Yes, I think it's time to get out of California before it is to late and everyone and their grandmother is trying to get out.

What do any other California residents think?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Using my Chromebook

I have had my new Acer Chromebook 11 for about three weeks so far. Today was a banner day in using it. First, I used it at work to take attendance. I teach Jr. High music and we take attendance on a web based service. I use a USB ethernet connection to hook up to the internet at work (though there is WIFI, the attendance system can not be accessed through it). While online I checked my email. I had no problem checking all my accounts (all 3 of them). When I had breaks I did some internet surfing and I also did some writing using Google Docs. On my lunch break I finished up creating a web page for my web development class. I used the text editor Caret to create HTML and CSS code. When I was done I used an ftp extension in Chrome to upload my files to the college server. Everything worked flawlessly. At the end of my day I took my car in to get serviced at the local Toyota dealer. I spent about an hour listening to music on Rhapsody and I also did some reading for a class (my text is an ebook). Finally, I spent some time playing solitaire and tetris as the night wore on.

Now I did this all on my Chromebook and I did not have to charge the battery at any time. I am able to do all I do and still have plenty of battery left. The battery life on the Chromebook is awesome (6-8 hours). I am continually surprised at all I can do on my Chromebook Considering that I paid less than $200 and I did not pay for anything else I use, the Chromebook is a great machine!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tax rant

I did my taxes this past weekend. Like usual, I had to pay extra even though I don't take very many deductions. That was expected. What I did not expect was it to be way more than I usually have to pay. My wife and I are both teachers and we make good livings here in California. Over the last 10 years we have consistently made a bit more every year (even during the cuts that happened after the last recession). But, all the increase has gone to pay for taxes and health insurance. Our take home pay has not increased at all in 10 years! This year we are on track to bring home less for the first time! This is so infuriating. The more we make, the more we pay. Now I don't mind paying for the things that make all our lives better (clean water, power, good roads and schools, fire and police, etc…), but at some point it has to be enough!

At this point it is very tempting to file for bankruptcy, have my wife stay home from work, and move to another state where there is no state income tax. I might not have that much less after I pay all my bills!!!!

What does that say about the state of our economy that when you make more money, and you end up with less? Why bother working harder? Why bother seeking to make things better? Why bother going to school to make yourself more valuable? There is no incentive to become more than you are.

Is anyone else in this situation? What are you doing about it?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chromebook 11 v C720 update

I have now spent a couple of weeks using my new Acer Chromebook 11. So far I am well pleased. Battery life is as good (or better) than my Acer C720. The issue with build quality (it's not as nice as my C720) has not been an issue at all. In fact, it is nice to have a lighter laptop to carry around. My Chromebook 11 is all white and I thought it might get dirty quickly, but it has not. I have had no issues running all my favorite apps. I still think my Chromebook 11 is a tad bit faster, but it is imperceptible most of the times. I look back and see that I had my C720 for about a year and a half without any issues (in fact it still is working perfectly). I can see myself having my Chromebook 11 just as long (unless I have money to burn on a new one next year).

My recommendation? If you can get a good price on an Acer C720, pick one up. But, if you can get an Acer Chromebook 11 for less, it's a good deal.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Acer C720 vs. Acer Chromebook 11

I just went out and picked up an Acer Chromebook 11. I had some money from my birthday and I decided to get a new Chromebook. I have an Acer C720 which I used for over a year, and bought a new one not because I needed to (the C720 is still working perfectly), but only because I had some money and had nothing else I wanted to spend it on. I think that is what's great about Chromebooks. You can go a buy one with your birthday money (hey, my family is cheap, what can I say).

Here are my first impressions. I bought the Acer Chromebook 11 (CB-11) for about $20 less than I originally paid for the C720. Unfortunately, when I went to boot the new laptop up, it would not boot and I had to return it to the store and get another one, which is working well. Moving all my old files over from the C720 to the CB-11 took just a few minutes. Making sure all the apps I use where downloaded took a few more. Making an image of the OS took about 20 minutes and that was all I needed to do to have my new Chromebook up and running with everything I had on the older one.

The build quality of the CB-11 is not a good as the C720. The CB-11 is lighter, but the C720 is sturdier. The keyboard and trackpad also feel sturdier on the C720. When it come to performance though, the CB-11 feels slightly faster. Also, the quality of the screen seems better to me. So which one is better? If you want something sturdier, try and pick up a C720 (or stick with the one you own). If you want something lighter, just a bit faster, and with a better quality screen, then pick up the Chromebook 11.

So far I am disappointed that the Chromebook 11 does not have the same build quality, but then again, it is faster, lighter, and with a better screen quality. I also paid just a few dollars less for it, so I guess I can say that I am getting what I paid for. In the end, I enjoy using Chromebooks, and I am not disappointed with the Chromebook 11 in that regard.

Just a note, I would not recommend the Acer Chromebook 11 for school use. I doubt they would survive the abuse. Now the C720 probably could and I would recommend it as a possibility.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Technology - iPads out at LAUSD

The Los Angeles Unified School District has capitulated on giving iPads to every student. It was a poor decision to begin with. First, iPads are too expensive. Second, students will hack them, steal them, and find some way to keep them. Third, the software that was provided for them is way too expensive. Fourth, the on going cost of using iPads was not sustainable. The district should have opted for Chromebooks. First, the cost would have been half (or more) than using iPads. Second, there would be little or no theft, hacking, or student shenanigans because Chromebooks are not "cool". Third, the software is free. Finally, there little to no on going costs to using a Chromebook.

Chromebooks are not all that great, but they are cheap to buy, cheap to use, and cheap to replace if needed. Chromebooks provide everything a student would need to use the internet and all the resources that are available through it. The goal should be to introduce every student to the digital world with a starter model, not provide them with a high end luxury model and bankrupt the system.