Monday, December 28, 2015

Chromebooks still selling well

I was just looking at stuff over on Amazon and I noticed that the best selling laptop is the Acer Chromebook 11. How can that be? I keep reading how Chromebooks are not selling as well as they could be, or that they have a small market share, but I think that Chromebooks are selling well and will be for the foreseeable future. I also noticed that most of the reviews are positive. How could that be considering that you can't do everything on them? I think Chromebooks fill a niche and that is why they are doing much better than anyone expects.

The niche Chromebooks fill is the one for an inexpensive laptop. Chromebooks are the least expensive laptops you can buy (currently $159 on Amazon). They also have all the free applications you could ever want and need. In other words, once you buy a Chromebook, you never have to spend another dime to use it. They never get a virus or malware. They also have amazing battery life. Now you can't do everything on them, but you can do all the basic stuff. I own several other laptops and tablets, but I keep coming back and using my Chromebook. It just works great for me.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tim Cook dismisses Chromebooks

There is a story out that Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) dismissed Chromebooks as just cheap “test machines”. I think this is very interesting. The last time a major CEO dismissed Chromebooks was when Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft) did back in 2009. Since then Chromebook market share has grown. This is especially true in the education sector where Google has estimated that Chromebooks will outnumber all other devices in schools by the end of 2015. Since Steve Ballmer is no longer the CEO of Microsoft, does this mean Tim Cook will eventually be out as well? I think it is not a good idea to underestimate Chromebooks. They fill a need no one else is addressing and thus they will continue to increase market share especially in the education sector where they are well suited.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chromebooks in the classroom catch on

I just read an article that 50% of technology sales to schools were Chromebooks last quarter. I am not surprised. Chromebooks get the job done and they are all that is needed for schools. They are also inexpensive to buy and use. I think we will see a lot more Chromebooks in the classroom and I think that is a positive trend. We will finally have a generation that knows how to use computers productively (and not just smartphones). Here is the article if you want to look at it:
What do you think?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The best part of using a Chromebook

I could list some apps here, or some other thing I enjoy doing on my Chromebook, but that is not what I like best about my Chromebook. The best part about using my Chromebook is the battery life. I have been using my Chromebook for more than an hour and have only used 96% of the charge. How awesome is that? According to the the battery charge graphic, I have over 9 hours left to use my Chromebook. No other device (even my iPhone) last that long! The best part is that even when I am doing something like watching videos, the battery life is still longer than any device I own. So I basically get a fully functioning laptop with amazing battery life. Yes I have to be connected to the internet for full functionality, but at least I know I can go all day without worrying about how long I can continue working on my Chromebook Not bad for something that cost me less than $200.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What is a Chromebook good for?

A Chromebook is essentially an internet terminal. In other words, a Chromebook uses the internet like a terminal uses a server. So what ever you can do on the internet, you can do on a Chromebook. It turns out that you can quite a bit on the internet. You can create all forms of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can do basic photo and video editing. You can write music. You can build web pages. You can write code. You can do just about everything you can imagine. Is using Chromebook just as good as using a regular laptop or desktop? No, but it comes close enough. The best part is that you can own a Chromebook for less that $200 and do all I mention basically for free. You can also do all that without worrying about getting a virus or malware.

So I guess you can say that a Chromebook is good for just about anything.

What do you think?

Monday, November 16, 2015


I think hat one of the biggest reason many of do not experience as much success as we possibly can is because of fear. It is fear that keeps us from trying. It is fear that keeps us from putting those words on the page. It is fear that keeps us from playing the notes in our souls. It is fear that keeps us from creating thae masterpiece within us.

So how do you conquer fear? First, recognize it in all it's forms. From paralysis to procrastination, from platitudes to blame, from fault finding to anger, fear takes on amy forms. If something is keeping you from moving forward, it probably is a form of fear. Second, after you recognize the fear, take small steps forward into what ever it is that you are thinking of doing. Put some words on the page. Pick up the phone and dial. Play that first note. Pick up that brush and make a line. Just start taking steps. Finally, keep taking steps until you get there.

The reality is that you will never be rid of fear. You just have to learn to act in spite of it. \

Oh yeah, that's called courage!

What do you think?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Is the music industry dying?

I would not say that the music industry is dying. What is happening is that it is changing or better yet, being transformed. In the past (before the digital age) large music labels controlled the music industry. In order to make it as an music artist you needed to be "signed" by a music label and your fate was in their hands. In other words, to produce and distribute your music, you needed a label to make it possible. There were few options (if any) for independent artists. Today things are much different. Though we still have the labels with us, you do not need to have them "sign" you to make it. You can produce and distribute your music inexpensively (and free in some cases) and keep all the profit for yourself.

I think what is happening to the music industry is amazing for artists, not so amazing for the corporations that profit from them.

One trend that I think is not so positive though is the advent of digital instruments. You can actually create music for a whole symphony orchestra (or just about any other instrumental group) without any live musicians. Is it as good as a live orchestra (or any other instrumental group)? Surprisingly, it almost is. I can produce some great sounding stuff just with a laptop and some sound samples. Unfortunately that sucks for professional musicians since there is less and less work for them. In fact, it has become difficult to make a good living as a musician. On the other hand, as a composer, it sure is nice to be able to write for any type of instrumental group and not be concerned with the cost of having it performed or produced.

Overall, the music business is not dying, it's just changing.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Future of Chromebooks

I can't say anything definitive on this because I do not work for Google and have absolutely no knowledge on what is truly going to happen. I do have an opinion though.

There are rumors that Chrome OS will be merged in some way with Android. Now that is a distinct possibility, but I am not sure it will happen. Chromebooks have not taken off as a consumer device. They are not the hottest thing on the market and the fact is, they do not pose much of a threat to Windows machines or Macs. They do have a small market share, and that is nice, but I do not think it will expand that much in the future. That is just reality.

But there is one market where Chromebooks are doing very well, which is in the K-12 education market. More and more K-12 schools are adopting Chromebooks, and sales are growing. There are several reason for this. First, Chromebooks are inexpensive to buy and inexpensive to use. Second, software is all web based and inexpensive to use. Because Chromebooks are web based, they are easier to control from an administrative point of view, especially at the school site. I think this is the most important reason why Chromebooks are making nice inroads in the education market.

Smartphones are the new curse of education. Why? Because they are cool and you can do some really fun things with them. You can text, surf the internet, and you can especially download play many of the most popular games on them. How can any teacher compete with that? Now, schools are doing their best to overcome the distraction, but if you give a kid a device that can do all the cool things smartphones can, they will immediately load them with games and all the other things that they love to do. Then you will not only have to deal with the curse of the smartphone, you have to deal with the curse of the device provided by the school itself! At least with Chromebooks, there are fewer distraction wile still being a functional computing device.

So, because of the education market, I think Chrome OS and Chromebooks have a good future. Since I like using my Chromebook, that is good news for me.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Writing more

I started keeping a journal digitally once again. I seem to bounce back and forth. I had been writing in paper notebooks, but I stopped once I got my new iPhone 6s. I just wanted to put it to greater use than just texting, surfing the internet, and checking my email. By keeping a journal on it, I have the ability to write anyplace I want to and anytime I want to. I can also take what I write and post it to my blog with ease. I have also started to use my Chromebook more. I think it is because when there is WIFI, it is just easier to write using my Chromebook. As a result I have been creating blog posts once again. I have also become a bit of a writing machine. I am writing and average of over 2000 words a day in my journal. I think that is awesome and credit it to being able to write that much to having access to a device 24/7/365. Also, I have no excuse not to write since my iPhone is always with me.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chromebook functionality

I have been playing with several the "productivity" apps that are available for Chromebook. First I used Google Docs and Sheets. I found that they work great on my Chromebook, but not so great on any other device. Then I used Microsoft Word and Excel. They worked great on my Windows laptop and Mac Mini, but were just okay on my iPhone, and not so great on my Chromebook. Finally I used Apple's iCloud and Pages and Numbers. They worked great on my iPhone and Mac Mini, and are actually not to bad on my Chromebook. On my Windows laptop I use iCloud, which is exactly like it is on my Chromebook.

Now all the apps are free to use online and usually free on a smartphone or tablet, but the Microsoft products are not free on a Windows or Mac platform (you used to have to pay for the Apple products, but they have been free lately). Also, all the online versions of the apps do not have the full functionality of the offline versions (except for Google which is basically online for all platforms).

Which one is the best? I actually like using Apple's software. The experience on my Chromebook and Windows laptop is pleasant, and it works very well on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac Mini. In fact, that is what I am using right now to write this post.

These apps also prove a point about which platform you use. It does not make that much of a difference anymore because you can get versions of each one for whatever platform you are using. So why spend hundreds on a Mac or Windows platform when you can have access to the same basic apps on the Chromebook? If you are looking for a way to do basic computing and save a lot of money, Chromebook is the way to go.

What do you think?

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Chromebook

There does not seem to much going on in the Chromebook world. There was a rumor that Google was going to merge Chrome OS with Android, but Google has dispelled that rumor. There are a couple of new Chromebook models on the market, but nothing earth shattering. My trusty Acer is running perfectly. It can now be purchased from Amazon for $149.99, which is a fantastic price. Where else can you get a functioning laptop for that price? I love mine because it is ultra fast online and it is the perfect machine for a writer. I also love the fact that I do not have to spend another dime to do all I want to do and I will not get a virus. I also love the fact that all the software updates from Google are free. I think the Chromebook is a great machine. Does it do everything? No, but it does enough and for only $149.99. That is awesome.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Chromebook

I started using my Chromebook once again. I was using my Android tablet, or my Windows laptop, or my Mac Mini or my new iPhone when I got it (yes I have a lot of devices), but I came back to using my Chromebook. Why? It is the fastest device I have for the internet. I also get the full version of websites and not the mobile ones that are not as robust. I also do a lot of writing and my Chromebook is perfect for all I do. I use the Word web based application for my writing so that I can access it from any other device if I want to. I also keep coming back to the fact that I spent less than $200 on my Chromebook while all my other devices have cost much more to have the same functionality. Now the only drawback is having to be online to have the full functionality of my Chromebook, but that does not seem to be an issue as it used to be. I have access to WIFI just about every place I go (which is quite nice). I also have a hotspot on my iPhone if I need to access the internet and I don't have WIFI. In the end, I just like the ease and simplicity (and the low cost) of my Chromebook over all my other devices.

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.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chromebook - Pay Once And You're Done

After using just about every kind of device on the market (Windows laptop, Apple Mac Mini, iPad, Asus Android tablet) I have settled back into using my Chromebook. Why? because of the speed of which it turns on (less than 10 seconds), the speed it navigates the internet (even faster than my i7 Mac Mini), and the battery life (better than even my iPhone). Yes I wish I could write music on it and also use Office, but I can do that on another device and will just do all the basic things I do on my Chromebook. It is the best $200 I have ever spent. Also, I have not had to spend another penny to do everything I want to do. Maybe the new slogan for Chromebook should be "Pay once and you're done". I like that. Maybe Google can pay me for it?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The News - Terror

News - Terror in France
There was a terror attack today in Paris. Several people were killed by heavily armed attackers as they stormed into a newspaper office. There is chilling video of a police officer being killed out on the street. This is the new reality we live in. I think the era of large terrorist attacks may be dying down, but we have a new era of lone or small group attacks just beginning. This attack in Paris is now one of several across the western world. We have the attack in Canada and the one in Australia. How do you protect against these seemingly random attacks? Do we need to have armed security at every office building and every retail location? Maybe we all need to look at ow Israel does security? Yes, they still have attacks in Israel, but they seem to have minimized them as much as possible. The reality is that we are at war across the globe and no western society is safe. Wait till there is an attack of this sort in a major U.S. city. It is not a matter of if, but of when.

On the other hand, how many people were murdered in the U.S. this past week? There are over 1000 homicides in the U.S. every month, so last week there were about 250 people killed in the U.S. (over 35 a day). But most murders are not so dramatic and caught on video. That does not change the fact that the world is in a religious war that will go on for many more years, if not indefinitely.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Economy - Stocks

Stocks were down considerably yesterday. So far stocks have been down for the first two trading days of 2015 (and are down thus far today). The big news though has been oil, which is still falling. Oil is now bellow $50 and still falling! Lower oil prices is good news for those of us who do a lot of driving (and anyone else who needs a break in gas prices), but the sudden collapse is not good for the rest of the economy. Just today US steel announced that it is idling two steel plants and might be laying off hundreds of workers all because of the fall in oil prices. Yes, oil was too high, but the high prices were driving a boom in everything related to the oil business (and many other sectors of our economy as well), which included a lot of great paying jobs. Now the layoffs and idling will begin, which will spread across the economy and cause a recession. The last thing we need right now is a recession. If the price of oil stays below $50 for any prolonged period of time (six or more months) things will get ugly. I think these down days on the stock markets will not be our last.