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Friday, 13 June 2014

Since Chromebox came into my heart...


What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought!

Yes, I now have my head in The Cloud, albeit the Google one, and pretty much all is well. Knowing the support for Windows XP was ending this year (2014) on April 8th I had planned a steady migration from my desktop PC, starting from New Year's Day. Having used Google Chrome as a browser for a few years that was not really a change. Moving from Outlook Express to GMail was the first major change and am still learning how to make the most of GMail's nooks and crannies.

Alongside the mail migration I moved over to using Google Docs. If you are used to using MS Word / Excel or the OpenOffice equivalents then you might find GDocs restrictive. For me I love the simplicity and whilst the loading time of larger spreadsheets can be sedate the benefits of, say, morphing an inbound document into a PDF is as good as instant.

To retain the file repository I had built up on the PC I purchased a 64Gb USB and copied over all the audio, image and document files and made that drive my default location in readiness for the bigger move which was to come later. One slight spanner in the works is that the range of Chrome hardware earlier this year was quite restricted and future products looked much more suitable for my needs. So to further test my cloudbound vision I purchased the HP/Google Chromebook 11 as reviews indicated this had the best screen despite being utilising older technology. It's a lovely bit of kit, enabled me to test that both my Logitech trackball and a cheapo USB keyboard worked properly and pretty much confirmed I was on the right track. ..

Now April 8th was looming large and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to create a bootable USB with Chromium to tide me over until I could get a new Chromebox from Asus or HP when they became available later this year. However, I managed to obtain an older model used Samsung Chromebox at the end of March, perfect timing! So on April 7th I plugged in my devices and logged on. There were a few things that took a bit of getting used to, but overall it is a joy, especially the 8 second boot up, from cold, any time you need it!

So have I needed to switch on the PC since? The answer is 'yes' although not nearly as often as I had imagined. One of the setbacks was when I bought a Cloud Print ready printer which behaved erratically. I then experienced the rudest, most officious response whilst speaking to the Samsung helpdesk who bludgeoned me into setting the printer up for WiFi using their Windows / PC software. That didn't work either and it transpired, as I suspected, that the printer firmware was, indeed, buggy and was going through a revision which Samsung already knew about. Bearing in mind this was specifically relating to the Google Cloud Printer function I found it extraordinary that when they finally released the firmware update it was ONLY available as a Windows executable file?! However, I did figure that out and since then my PC has remained silent and all systems are go...

Would I recommend moving to Chrome? Definitely! There are other options and, particularly if you work in graphics or audio, then you need to save up ~500% more and go the Apple Mac route. At times I have needed to call on my computer knowledgebase to solve quirks therefore I the Chrome path may not be so enticing for the faint hearted. However, it is very well supported and it is a bit like the early days of Apple computers, it has an enthusiastic user base who are keen to share their findings plus improvements are regularly released. At the end of the day I am able to work efficiently and my computing life is definitely less stressful, that has to be better all round ;-)

P

1 comment:

historyguy67 said...

Good on you, Pete. Though I've been a Mac user since 1986, I'm glad to see another player in the platform game. Should force prices down and innovation up. I've used Google Docs and Drive quite a bit (though I don't especially like using Docs), and they're becoming a real usable alternative. I may have to get one of these Chromeboxes just for kicks.