Chromebook Midterm: Incomplete

I can’t work like this, which is why I haven’t. Yes, I’ve been remiss in updating this blog for some time now, and for that I apologize. I have an excuse, though: I hate my computer! 

Well, “hate” may be a bit strong. I’ve got to say, though, that my relationship with the Chromebook has so far been a tumultuous and angst-ridden affair, one I’m having second thoughts about and that, even as I write this, is giving me fits.

The machine itself as a piece of hardware is fine.  It’s lightweight, sturdy, boots up in seconds, and runs all day on a battery charge. The problems all lie on the other side of the curtain, so to speak, with the limitations of its web-based operating system and the vagarities of wireless internet (sorry, I’ve got to go refresh my music player, it timed out while I had another tab open) connectivity.

First of all, for a machine- indeed, for a workflow paradigm- that revolves around multitasking and having several tabs open and multiple applications running, it sure hiccups a lot. Pages freeze, processes stall, the cursor locks up, and the user wants to commit acts of violence out of sheer frustration. This is not conducive to productivity. I almost lost an early draft of this post. Clearing the browser cache helps…for a few minutes. Nothing has been effective over the long term yet.

Secondly, the internet connection itself is a bit wonky. Now, this may be a by-product of our home wifi setup, as we have 3 other computers working the wireless and one plugged in via ethernet. Yet I’ve had it happen when I’m home alone and the little Chromebook is the only machine going. The connection will drop, stall, or slow to a crawl. Again, for a web-centric device without an ethernet jack, this is far from an ideal scenario.

The third, but by no means least significant, issue lies with the cloud-based concept behind the Chromebook. For someone whose dominant computer tasks are writing words and listening to music, things are surprisingly difficult. Uploading music from my iTunes library, for instance, hasn’t happened yet. I would have to reset the machine to factory basic settings, boot into developer mode, and install a version of the Linux operating system on the computer in order to install and run a program that would let the Chromebook talk to my iPod. That’s not likely to happen, is it? (Answer: no.)

Uploading music from other media (USB drive, CD, etc.) requires I log into another Windows or Mac computer; install the Chrome browser, if it’s not already there; log in to my Chrome account, often with either an application-specific password (don’t even ask) or a two-step verification process ( an access code texted to my phone) or both! ; download, install, and open the Google Music Manager; then search for the music I want and upload it. Figure half an hour or so for those steps, then x-amount of time for the music itself to upload.

Fortunately, the Google Play app for playing the music stored in “my personal cloud” never has the skipping, hanging, freezing problems that streaming apps like Jango or Pandora do…unless I was lying just there. Okay, I was lying. The bigger problem with Google Play is, when it does finally recover from those glitches, it doesn’t go back to the song it was playing when the glitch occurred. That would be far too dull and linear behavior.

Now, as to documents…this should be the easy part. Google Docs is fairly easy to work with; there are just a couple of minor glitches. One is a strange coding or formatting issue that eliminates all spaces between words when  a Google doc is synced to a more useful organizing platform such as Evernote. Another is a rather unimaginative set of page-formatting options, which (sorry- have to reset Pandora again! There it goes.) don’t seem to include multiple-column text. Oh, and when a Google doc is downloaded and opened in Word, the title is reformatted as a table. A big one. Good times.

The real trouble is that I don’t have the money to go out and get something better. I’d be looking at the neighborhood of $500 to $1000, and that’s not an option right now, even if I could get a couple hundred for the Chromebook. At least I have access to the other Windows machines in the house, but I sure can’t tote any of them to the coffee shop.

I’m just glad I don’t have to print this, because I can’t do that from the Chromebook now either. Now please excuse me while I go back and re-insert all the paragraph breaks that disappeared while I was out looking for that video link.


About poorlocavore

Welcome to one family's journey towards a smaller food-mile footprint on a small food budget. How do our choices affect the environment, and what influences our choices? Read on and find out what I'm learning.
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3 Responses to Chromebook Midterm: Incomplete

  1. Sam Young says:

    Makes the nightmare coping with MS DOS and my ancient Compac That I uset’a use just a bad dream.!

    • poorlocavore says:

      Oh, the progress that’s been made in a generation is incredible. Even ten-year-old machines are virtually obsolete; they’re just not fast enough for modern content. For someone on a tight budget, though, the sweet spot of versatility, portability, durability, and price can be elusive.

  2. Pingback: Eye of the Beholder | The Poor Locavore

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