Dummy meets Chromebook, was it love at first sight?

It has been an interesting journey for me so far, as I got in touch with a couple of different machines for the first time. Yes, I’m one in the classical herd that typically follows Mister Windows every time I participate in the digital world. Can’t help it! They’re everywhere, they’re cheap, user friendly and so on and so on… PC’s for dummies!

This saga starts on the 20th of March when I was given a Macbook while the Chromebook assigned to me was coming from Spain. Yep, the Portuguese Fnac store doesn’t even have these machines yet (I’m sure that’s actually a good sign)!

The shift alone was already something. What can I say? I wasn’t used to it. Had to learn the ropes if I wanted to get something done. Learned it, liked it, would like to have one! Once you step inside the labyrinth you want to stay there, it’s a cosy spot!

Anyhow, this is not the tale I want to share and I confess my ignorance to you. Didn’t know about Chromebooks. I knew there were light and small machines but the Chromebook itself was a stranger on these parts. Our meeting could be named: How to become Homer Simpson in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, D’oh!....

Thursday, the 23rd it arrived. Named it Greeny, since he is black with green edges. I know, original right? So it arrived in the evening, received the proper welcoming by being stripped out of the box, plastics, etc. First feeling: looks like a toy (small, light, colourful)! Put it to charge and started making him pretty. Yes, him. I want to know him and call him by his first name.

And here’s where the first obstacle appeared. I just wanted to change the background image, put a nice and personalized image. So, went online, found the picture I wanted and now what? Now it took me a few seconds to understand I had no clue how to set it up. The basic right click on pc’s wasn’t working. How can I save this image, where do I find that option that says set desktop background image. I was lost until I had a precious help and learned what’s a click (left corner touchpad) and a right click (two fingers in the middle of the touchpad) on this new brave new world. It was my first big D’oh! moment upon Greeny’s arrival.

Second day with Greeny

Dummy’s first date wasn’t brilliant let me tell you. Therefore, I was eager to learn what would happen on the second one. Arrived at the office, said hi and started setting up my bookmarks and other tools I need. And what do you know? I stumbled again. Shocker right?
Why? Because I tried to install a home printer and couldn’t. You need to have an account on Google Cloud print, now add classic printers or add cloud ready printer. One assumes classic printer and bam! another wall! Now what? Printer needs to be connected to wi-fi, yada yada yada…. Nothing. Tried google’s tutorials and nothing… Have to work on this. Note to self: you have homework to do! I couldn’t be delaying other tasks because of this, so let’s carry on.

So far I’m enjoying ChromeGreenyBook but I have to tell you, he has such a toyish look that I feel like a troll using it. I hear my fingers, bang, bang, bang… I wonder, am I smashing the poor little guy?! Can he take it?!
One thing I can tell you, he’s very independent. No strings attached, literally: the charger lasts for the whole day! Awesome!

The 2nd week

Ah, the bliss of ignorance! I mentioned Greeny is independent right? He kinda is but that doesn’t make him very resourceful. I’ll explain:

Remember CD’s? Not to mention all it’s ancient relatives. They were touchable and occupied our space, not the digital one (sorry to reminisce you Cloud generation you, but I’m XX century all over); then the Mp3 files appeared and yada yada yada, you know the timeline. My point is that when you use pc’s you get used to having those virtual files that occupy space, just a different one. You want to install a program and you see it, you download it, you have a file where you click twice.
Well, with Chromebooks we enter a new dimension in virtual space. We’ve passed from desktops to notebooks to netbooks. You cannot download Spotify for example (quite a scare when I tried it at first and there was no compatible version). You have to use the beta webplayer feature and do it through your facebook login. What about people that don’t use facebook!?
Forget about the Spotify example. What about using a simple printer? Remember I told you I had homework to do? Did it and found out that in order to use your regular home printer you have to follow a few steps:

Chrome account login
Printer logged to the same network has your Chromebook
Follow Google Cloud print instructions

Looks easy right? Ah, ah, ah… You’ll still need to use a Mac or PC for this. Ironic right?
Basically you link the printer to your google chrome account through one of these options and afterwards you’re fit to go. You’ll have the printer on your driver and you can start printing through Chromebook.
Simple to do even though you still need another machine to accomplish this. Or isn't?

Followed all steps and was ready to print. Hurray! Nop, not for me. Still can’t print. Now the device appears on my printer’s list but after following all instructions nothing happens. Had to use the mac machine where I first linked the printer in order to print. With Greeny, the printing jobs are in progress but to an alternative universe I’m assuming, because here nothing happens.

Concluding the printer saga:

What if your printer doesn't have the wifi working? First connect it to a mac or windows machine to set up the network, then register the printer and only afterwards you’ll be able to print through Chromebook. (An angel helped me on this one!) If you like puzzles, this is for you!

I’m now on my third week on this new relationship. It seems more of a friendly type then the marrying kind. Like I said before: a toy!
Let’s say I need to make a conference call. It’s doable, works well, nothing to add here. But imagine I need to share my screen? It’s also possible. Tried Zoom. Don’t forget to search for the right version. It works but the machine gets really, really slow. So it is not the best solution for virtual meetings that need this type of usage.

I’ve learned that Chromebooks are around since 2011, their operating system is Chrome OS and it’s based on Linux. They were built to use with an Internet connection and google apps.
From my ‘’normal user’’ point of view, Microsoft was taking over the world until the regular usage of the WEB became current in our daily lives. Now Google is in charge and they are controlling everything, they’re even building robots, drones, etc. I’m convinced the’re becoming Skynet!
Relax, I don’t think Sarah Connor is born yet, we still have time. So, focusing on the present:

I can tell you that this is not the most practical machine you can choose. It’s pretty, light, allows you to have all the basic tools necessary to do simple tasks or just enjoy surfing on-line, at home or at the beach, since you don’t need to plug in anywhere for at least 8 hours.

For a work tool it wouldn’t be my first option. Although, it’s possible to use as the main machine; you have to pass through a gradual process and find other means to accomplish some of your tasks (It can help you gain Macgyver skills since is not built for office daily life routines).

Let’s say you have a Windows or Mac machine as the main computer and you’re someone that travels a lot and needs to have information and perform simple tasks while away like emails, etc. Then you can use it without any issues. It’s fine for simple tasks, light, small and has a long lasting charge.

If you want a machine for domestic usage that you can keep in a drawer? Chromebook is an option. Cheap, light, small, long charge duration.

Your kid really wants a computer. Come on, all his friends have one! Offer him a Chromebook! It’s like Magalhães for adults like someone said:) and it’s cheaper than other market options.

So I wonder, do I prefer having a notebook at the office or at home and a tablet/thinbook to use on the train, on the beach? Or keep it short and buy a Chromebook?

The pros and cons of my new relationship so far:

Usual requirements

  • MS Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint);

  • Printer (easy to set up, last resort use the installation CD);

  • Scanner (easy to set up, last resort use the installation CD);

  • Conference Call (several options: Skype, Slack, Messenger, Hangouts, Zoom, etc.).

Chromebook version

  • Google Drive (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides);

  • Printer (Google Cloud print, suitable for puzzle lovers);

  • Scanner (open challenge, I’ll buy a beer to the person that helps me with it);

  • Conference Call (Web version only: Skype, Slack, Messenger, Hangouts, Zoom, etc.).

Restrictions

Google Drive:

  • If you’re an accountant probably you’ll need more;

  • If you need to prepare a very good presentation probably you’ll need more;

  • Printer & Scan it will give you wrinkles;

  • Conference Call with shared screens will be done on a very slow machine;

  • It only works with Internet connection.

Practical usage

  • In the beginning you’ll waste sometime learning new shortcuts for simple things like right click or printscreen.

Sanity tool

  • Spotify only has a web beta version for chromebooks. Even though it works - you can stop the panic attack - it keeps crashing.
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