Chromebook Mobile: 2014

Cloud Computing and Blogging w/ Chromebooks, Chrome, and the Google Chrome OS: ChromeBook.mobi - Simplify your life!

Reviews: Popular YouTube Extensions

View some of the highest rated and most downloaded Chrome extensions for YouTube


These Chrome web browser YouTube extensions are among the most popular, as ranked by total user count (and positive product reviews), in the "Chrome Web Store". In general, these browser extensions add functionality and (or) styling to your YouTube video experience.

Black and white YouTube logo in a circular button with shadow under
Image Credit: WebTreatsETC via findicons
Basic YouTube info: It's wildly popular with over one billion unique visitors per month! Eighty percent of the visitors are from outside of the United States. It was created in 2005 by a trio of ex-PayPal employees. Google took ownership in 2006.


PSY - "Gangnam Style" music video

We've included this super-popular YouTube video example but nearly all functions on the following extensions are designed to work only within the actual YouTube.com site.

 

Most popular Chrome "extensions" for YouTube:


Turn Off the Lights ("The Browser Lamp"):
The "Turn Off the Lights" Chrome web browser extension is incredibly popular with almost two million users. For the most part, Turn Off the Lights is a tricked out and customizable program that darkens the web page area around the Flash and HTML5 videos you're watching. Many people wonder why you would want to do this instead of just watching them expanded to the full screen setting; Well, by darkening the background instead, you can continue to concentrate on other things you might be doing in your browser, plus, sometimes you just don't feel like being immersed in a full screen video. When you're done, just click the background and it goes back to the standard unmolested view. It includes shortcut-key options as well.

Magic Actions for YouTube:
"Magic Actions for YouTube" is another very popular Chrome browser extension for customizing YouTube that has over one million users. It includes a web page background diminishing (or backlighting) feature similar to the previous (Turn Off the Lights) add-on. Magic Actions for YouTube also includes a "Cinema" feature that will enlarge the video to your preferred size while also giving you the option to dim out the background automatically and simultaneously. To exit the embellishments, just click the background. Magic Actions also includes an auto HD option as well as a hide the advertisements setting. Personally, we enjoy some advertisements, plus it's an easy way to ensure your favorite sites survival, but on the other hand, if a site's downright spammy it's a good indicator to just move on to find that content on a better site, but that's an argument for another day. Magic Actions is a brilliant YouTube customizer and is part of our personal browser toolkit.

Auto HD For YouTube:
"Auto HD For YouTube" is a simple and straightforward program with almost half a million users and one mission: it allows you to automatically set your YouTube videos to play in various HD resolutions. Perfect... Nuff said!

SmartVideo For YouTube:
"SmartVideo For YouTube" has well over a quarter million users (plus excellent reviews) and is praised for its great selection of buffering (or 'Smart Buffer') feature settings which are very useful for spotty or slower Internet connections.


There was another YouTube extension with almost a quarter million users called "YouTube Options" (dev page | web store) which we had planned on testing, but since Google's recent push towards tightening up developer protocols, the extension seems to have slipped into limbo, so we couldn't test it and are just mentioning it in passing for now.

As far as the big picture, the outlook for new superior quality Google Chrome web browser extensions coming your way is excellent. By May 2014 at the latest, nearly all Chrome extensions will be subjected to a higher standard of oversight and quality control, especially in regards to "spammy" and malicious software.

Reviews: Top 5 Text Editors for Chrome

Reviews: Highest Rated Text Editor Apps for Chrome (Notepads for Chrome)


Looking for the best text editor Chrome App for your Chromebook? There are simple notepad type replacements (if you're coming from Windows) on up to more complex programming (source code) type editors in Google's Web Store to cover all your needs. In this article we're mainly looking at the best simple text editors for Chrome.

Antique mechanical ribbon typewriter front overhead photo
Image Credit: petesimon via cc
Note: Originally one of our main criteria was to find a text editor that worked from within Google Drive, that was a flawed way of thinking, and the Google Drive text editors we tried that worked that way were buggy. Plus, every time you give a program rights to your Google Drive you're exposing yourself to unnecessary security risks. If you're managing a text app from within Google Drive, we recommend you "disconnect it", uninstall it, and also remove its rights under your "Google Account Permissions" to restore maximum security if you're at all paranoid. Really, all you need to do with a good Chrome text editor is to open the text editor first, and then open your file from within the text editor instead of opening Google Drive and then opening your text file directly from within it with a "connected app". We'll make a note in the app description if a text editor App asks for "permissions" on your secure G-drive.

Good: open the text editor > then open a .txt file from within the text editor   
Risky: open Google Drive > then open .txt file from a "connected" text editor

Top 5 Text Editors for Chrome:


1) Caret (tabbed professional text editor):
"Caret" is a beautiful professional level tabbed text editor app for Chrome. It also works offline. Caret has all the features, functions, and menus you're used to finding in a full-fledged text editor, plus, instead of trying reinvent the wheel (like many developers are doing w/ Chrome apps), it's set up in a traditional style that's a snap to master.  It's clean, customizable, and fast loading. Just open the Caret text editor app, and then locate a file on your online Google Drive or from within your Chrome hard-drive mounted "downloads folder" and you're off and running. If you had only one text editor on your Chrome OS, Caret would be an excellent choice. This is hands-down our Chromebook Mobile top pick for text editing!

2) Write Space (fast and simple auto-save text editor):
If you use notepad type apps to jot down notes throughout the day and night, "Write Space" may very well be your go-to tool. Write Space features persistent auto-save, so you can enter some info and open or close the app at any time without losing your notes because when you open it back up it's right where you left off. We use this for all kinds of note taking. Write Space runs offline as well. It's also lightning quick and customizable and is always part of our Chromebook Mobile toolkit. Perhaps most importantly, it's devilishly simple for a basic text editor.

3) Quick Note (ultra popular text editor):
The "Quick Note" text editor is brought to you by Diigo (best known as a social bookmarking website), so you can rest assured there are some top-notch developers keeping things tuned-up with this one. Quick Note is one of the most popular and highly rated text editors for Chrome with about a million and a half users. You can also easily set this app to sync with Diigo.com so your notes are always backed up. The Quick Note interface is very nicely designed and includes a list of your notes on the left column. There is also a right-click (2 finger tap) Chrome OS menu entry that allows you to pop-up a slim right screen edge mounted notepad for adding quick notes. Quick Note is a keeper! Diigo likes to state that Quick Note is quick to access, add and edit, and search your notes. Try it, you'll like it.

4) Text (full featured tabbed text editor):
"Text" is a popular and quick loading Chrome OS text editing app that runs offline and includes beautiful left column (panel) mounted function (new, open, save, and save as) and setting (such as theme, wordwrap and line number) shortcuts as well as a well designed tabs navigator that allows reverse (previously used) tabbed navigation via the Ctrl + Shift + Tab keys. "Text" can also save files on close (to reopen at startup), includes a search function, and allows easy keyboard navigation (for more than we've described here) via various shortcut keys. Text might very well be your choice as the primary text editor (Notepad) for Chrome.

5) Writebox (basic text editor):
"Writebox" is another simple, basic, fast and free text editor for Chrome, iOS, the Chrome OS, and Android. Writebox works offline and includes an easy save to Google Drive or Dropbox function. Writebox likes to refer to this program as the "Distraction-free text editor". This might be your choice if basic and simple are part of your requirements for a text editor.


Honorable Mentions:


Neutron Drive (supercharged code editor plus):
If we ever wanted to really love a Chrome app, "Neutron Drive" might be the one. We keep a close eye on this developer tool (and text editor) because it has the makings of an ultimate Chrome app, but for now it's a little slow and shows a few errors from time to time, though none are serious in nature. Neutron drive even includes a tabbed "Windows Explorer" type file browser built into its interface for easy access to all your G-drive files. It also has an FTP-client, auto-saves, and allows for web page editing among a boat-load of other functions. For now, if you want a code editor, most people are using ShiftEdit, but we're holding out for an improved version of Neutron Drive.
* Neutron Drive must be "connected" to your Google Drive for full functionality.

Drive Notepad (Google Drive connected editor):
You'll likely see "Drive Notepad" show up in many reviews, especially for those who don't fear directly connecting apps to their Google Drive. We've had a few unpleasant experiences with Drive Notepad (none of them serious), but realize that many people love using Drive Notepad as their primary text editor so we're not leaving it out as a contender for one of the best text editors for Chrome. 
* Drive Notepad wants to "connect" to your Google Drive.

Check back soon because we're always on the lookout for great Chrome tools!

Make Blogger Faster with a CDN

How to Add a free CloudFlare CDN to a Blogger blog or any website for faster page-load speeds


Can you use a CDN to speed up Blogger? Yes, you can! We'll share some page speed stats to make you a believer in the performance gains you'll reap by doing so. The main requirement is that you have your Blogger blog "MYSITE.blogspot.com" default URL changed over to a custom domain like "www.MYSITE.com". If you were on the fence about whether to get a custom domain name, you won't be now.

If don't have a custom domain name, it's easy, just follow Google's custom domain setup instructions (for Blogger). Once your custom domain is in place, or if you already have your own .com, .net, .org, or .anything, you're ready to implement the single most important thing that you can do to make your website faster (speed up page-load times). The CloudFlare CDN will work with nearly any website, CMS, or blog (WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, etc).

Picture of graph showing much faster page load times after installing a CDN or content delivery network
Chromebook Mobile Blogger site page-load speeds b4 & after adding a CDN
The above graph shows a our page-load speed test a few days before adding the CDN, and then the page-load speed results after adding the CloudFlare CDN. They claim it can take 24 hours for your site to reap the full benefit, but in our case, the website speed increase was pretty much instantaneous and impressive, leaving us with a 4 or 5x faster website. This site's still not anywhere near the fastest site in the world, but we're very impressed with the CDN implementation results!

A great thing about CloudFlare, besides the faster page-load times and nearly automatic setup, is that CloudFlare is free. They have paid services, but they are mainly for top-dog super high-traffic or corporate sites. We're using the free version. If you decide you like CloudFlare, they have a $20 a month plan (+ $5 each for additional sites) that includes tweaks for your mobile visitors, a "cached static content" feature, and access to more detailed SEO and performance stats on your web site(s). Beyond that, the other plans are for big-business and include a boatload of advanced security features that your average website is not really configured to make good use of.

Now, as far as Google's Blogger goes, to the best of our knowledge, Blogger uses a version of the "Google PageSpeed CDN" automatically. We love the Google CDN, but with Blogger you can not use their PageSpeed CDN control console, or sign up for the PageSpeed service in the way everyone else does (because you're already on an intertwined Google service and they probably don't want to risk making the simple Blogger platform complicated for the average user). Either way though (with or without Google PageSpeed) the CloudFlare CDN service claims to compliment and work alongside any other CDN you have running, and in our experience, this is true. Also, as a side note, it's easy to get Google's "PageSpeed Service" and "PageSpeed Insights" mixed up in your mind. The PageSpeed "Service" is the actual CDN. PageSpeed "Insights" analyzes or tests website speed and performance kind of like "Pingdom" or "GTmetrix" does. While we're thinking about similar services, Amazon Web Services has another excellent moderately priced CDN called CloudFront.

Anyhow, the fact that we couldn't use Google's PageSpeed Service in the standard way is what led us into rediscovering the CloudFlare CDN. Years ago we looked into it, but most users were a little confused with their service back then, so we decided against it. Well, fast-forward to now, and CloudFlare is a slick and easy to use content delivery network. Actually, one of their claims to fame is the level of security their service allows you to implement into your site, but for our purposes, we're after the need for speed via their CDN and have no realistic use for the advanced security features.

CloudFlare was super easy to set up and is nearly automatic in its implementation, and the default settings are nearly perfect with no need for you to go in and change a bunch of things around. In our case, we signed up for free, entered our website address, and the only thing we had to do (that was anywhere near technical) was to log-on to our domain name registrar and simply change 2 simple nameserver settings. 10 or 15 minutes (no BS) and we were fully integrated into the CloudFlare CDN! Hopefully it goes that smoothly for everyone.

We would give you a step-by-step guide to setting up CloudFlare for your site, but their setup is so intuitive and automatic that we would end up doing nothing more than making it seem more complicated than it is. Just go to the CloudFlare CDN website, check out their features, and use their process for setup if you're interested.

This Chromebook Mobile site runs CloudFlare and if it starts screwing up, or we have difficulties, we'll let you know in an article without delay. So far, it's been a seamless and pleasurable experience. Also, we wrote this article, and every other article, to share great things with you and we're not going to hold back on any great finds to stay one step ahead of the competition by trying to keep something secret. Even if someone offered to pay us to say a crappy product was good, it not going to happen, because we want everyone to have a great website if they want one.

Lastly, we're not affiliated with CloudFlare in any way other than in using their CDN services, but when we find great stuff we'll make it known.

After: Migrating to Google's Chrome OS

Making the Apple and (or) Microsoft switch to Chrome via Google's Chromebook (Pixel) Laptop


Have you been wondering whether it's possible to switch entirely to a Chromebook (or Chrome and the Google Chrome OS) from Microsoft Windows or the Apple OS? Join our adventure into computing exclusively from a Chromebook Pixel (or any Chromebook) from the largely cloud based environment to see if it's for you!

PCs and workstations are morphing into terminals networked to the mega-computer known as the "cloud" which envelopes nearly everything we do in the world today. Cloud computing gives users access to resources they could never afford otherwise. How far are you or your company integrated into this communications network which is moving towards the speed of light?

Chromebook Pixel 64 laptop pictured on desk with accessories plugged in
Google's Chromebook Pixel 64 laptop
Since the beginning of 2014, 100% of our computing has being accomplished via the relatively expensive Chromebook Pixel pictured above, but the majority of mainstream Chromebooks cost between 200-300 dollars and can achieve nearly identical results. That's probably a fraction of the cost of what most people end up paying just for their software alone with other OSs!

Author's note: In my case, computing with Microsoft was getting so expensive that it wasn't even pleasurable anymore. Google's Chrome has changed all that. It's been an experience making a total switch to Chrome, but computing is actually fun and affordable again. The Google Chrome OS is the best thing that's happened to personal computing in the last decade. If you search the internet for articles about people making the switch to Chrome you'll find much whining and complaining, but in 99%+ of the cases it's simply because those authors are unwilling to find new ways to do the things they do on the PC, unless of course they have terribly slow internet connections holding them back from the full Chromebook experience because, after all, Chrome is cloud computing.

OK, if you're curious about the exterior connections on this laptop (on the left, from front to back): 1) standard 1/8" stereo cable running from the headphone/ microphone jack to a set of powered monitors 2) Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter connected to router 3) Mini DisplayPort to DVI Cable for external display 4) power cable to PSU (charger). Note: this was all "plug & play" with no hassle or configuration difficulties. We're kind of sticklers for wired connections around the office, but you can yank all these cables out and get power from the battery while getting your network access (or Internet) via the 4G LTE from Verizon (on the Pixel 64) or, more commonly, by just using the standard Wi-Fi found on nearly any Chromebook. Note: we can max out our ISP's 90 Mb/s download speed on either the dual-band Wi-Fi or USB 2.0 Ethernet connector (neither is faster in our case). Also, a VPN (virtual private network) is a breeze to set up on the Chromebook if you want to tighten the security up to avoid snoopers.

If you're looking for more details on any of the externals hooked to the Chromebook in the photo you can view more info via the links below (these are our Amazon affiliate links).


Looking for an entire Chromebook Pixel laptop? Unless you're prepared to purchase a new one from Google Play, we recommend using eBay. Amazon lists new ones also, but as of this writing they were more expensive than the ones you could get directly from Google via Google Play. The main thing we recommend when buying laptops on eBay is 1) the seller has at least a dozen sales with +98% positive feedback 2) the seller is not raping you on shipping charges 3) you pay via PayPal so you're covered by their buyer protection policy 4) the seller has great pictures of the item and not generic photos taken from the web 5) the seller is offering the minimum 14 day return policy 6) the seller is not trying to downplay any damage to the unit. Assume the Google warranty on the Pixel NOT going to transfer to you as the second owner, so check it out closely.

We've mentioned this elsewhere, but you don't even need to run out to buy a Chromebook if you want to see if it's for you. Just use Google's Chrome web browser combined with "Google Drive for your desktop" exclusively. You can also use G-drive via your web browser, but the "desktop version" is going to more closely emulate what you'll experience with your Chromebook. Oh, and don't worry if your hard-drive crashes, or you loose your computer, everything you copied to Google drive will still be there unless you went into G-drive in the cloud and purposefully deleted files, in which case, it'll still be in the G-drive trash unless you went in there and deleted that too. You can also backup or sync your G-drive (and more) to other online drives for the ultimate in redundancy, but that's the content of another article.

So, let's say you've got the Chrome and G-drive combo up and rolling: Do everything you normally do completely from within the Chrome web browser (Chrome control center) and G-drive. If (when) you run into a problem, search for the solution that works for you. Use Google's Web Store to find Apps and Extensions (we've listed a few here). You'll also discover that there are website based solutions for nearly every mission you're trying to carry out. Move (copy) your files over from your computer to Google Drive and get it organized and customized just how you like it. Experiment opening all the files you use (within G-drive) without using a Windows (or Apple) application so you can figure out what your alternatives are going to be in Chrome. If you're a Linux user you probably know the Chromium and Google Chrome OS is a lightweight and lighting quick Linux build.

The computing world is progressively moving into the cloud these days as Internet connections pick up speed. Google is the leader while Microsoft is arguably scrambling to keep up in the cloud computing environment for the average end user. If must use Microsoft, VMware is working with Google to bring Windows applications to your Chromebook. There is also MS Office Online but, for now, it's really just a companion to the expensive Windows PC retail version. We're not going to spend much time with that solution on Chromebook Mobile, because then you're heading right back towards the expensive operating environment we've freed ourselves from. For the most part, those lamenting the loss of Microsoft are going to be looking for their beloved Office products, so while you're experimenting with Google's cloud computing spend plenty of time giving Google Docs or their "Apps for Business" a try, it's a bit different, but fully effective once you become proficient. There's also "Zoho" online office which is a beautiful alternative. Zoho's also free for your basic to mid-level users, plus you can use your web domain name for your email address (username@mydomain.com) for free.

Some see the Chromebook as consisting of not much more than a web browser. Actually, in the Google Chrome operating system, the Chrome web browser doubles as the "Chrome control center"; it's a web browser / combination control panel for the Chrome OS and all the software you'll install. Also, most of the "software" you add on is, in large part, yet another group of interfaces connected to much more powerful and constantly updated web-based versions. Simply installing nearly everything on the "outside" of the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS (automatically) helps protect and shield your computer's core operating structure, plus, you're leaving the bulk of your web-based software's security worries to the people you trusted to design it in the first place. Windows 8 has masterfully done nearly the same thing (though most of its software is machine installed vs. cloud based) but you can pretty much wipe any corrupted or unwanted software (apps) off the top of Windows 8 leaving the core operating system rock solid and unmolested.

Back to your Chrome G-drive combo experimental setup, and here is the great part; after you're fully setup and configured within the Chrome browser and Google Drive combination, just go to any computer or a Chromebook, logon to Google, and presto... an editable duplicate of your preferred operating environment will load right up. You can make changes from anywhere. This includes your personal settings, bookmarks, extensions (software), and what have you. Just make sure that in the Chrome web browser (aka Chrome control center) in the "Advanced sync settings" you've marked "Sync everything". Generally, the only exceptions in your problem free transition will be with a few isolated incidents where you didn't realize Windows or Apple software was still assisting one of your tasks, but the fix will be simple. When you're satisfied with your customization of the virtual Chromebook OS (Chrome browser Google drive combo), just make sure you've logged into any Chromebook with its Chrome OS to verify your setup with absolute certainty before you commit and put all your Windows and Apple gear on eBay.

Also, think about this... if your Chrome device breaks (or is misplaced, stolen, or you just want a new computer), you can drive down to Walmart, buy an inexpensive Chromebook, plug it in, log-on, and presto!, you're right where you left off in no time at all. No muss, no fuss, terror, nightmares, or huge time expenditures. Try that with a Windows, Apple, or another Linux machine! Oh, yeah... livin' large in the cloud baby...

Back to Google's Pixel Chromebook: The Pixel is pretty much a functional work of art (yeah, we know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder). They're much more costly than nearly any other Chromebook available today, but you can find them on eBay with the "like new" ones averaging about half of what they cost new. Sometimes, you'll notice people mention that the Pixel doesn't sell like hotcakes and that Google must be disappointed in the sales figures. The Pixel is a showcase Chromebook and wasn't designed to be a big money-maker (90% of Google Chrome related sales will be budget tightening based expenditures, whereas a Pixel purchase would generally be considered splurging). You might also worry about not getting the 1 or 2TB Google Drive offer when buying a used Pixel (most sellers linked into Google and cashed in on the "free" online storage offer that came w/ a new Pixel, and it's non-transferable), but don't worry, Google is dropping the G-drive prices continuously and as of this writing, 100GB is 2 dollars a month. Ultimately, there is an ever-growing selection of excellent Chromebook choices besides the Pixel. You can also buy a secondary ultra-cheapo or used Chromebook and toss it around wherever you go, for anytime access (in a modernized environment) to your computing needs. Two Chromebooks can easily be had for what you'd normally pay for a single mainstream PC, and that's not even considering the massive software savings coming your way with Chrome.

After reading some other reviews of the Pixel 64 we shuddered at the thought of the 64GB SSD. Well, it turns out that nearly everything is in the cloud and the Chrome OS takes up almost no space at all. The 32GB Pixel would have been plenty. We moved and converted everything from Windows and Mac (including all personal files) and are only using about 10GB locally on the Chromebook (that's with everything set up and installed!). That's 10GB total on the Chromebook; All other data is in the cloud via G-drive even though it operates like it's all stored inside the machine. On our last Windows 8 Pro machine we consumed 35GB on a fresh install with just the OS and factory installed bloatware, nothing else! Then, the SSD factory minimum recommended over-provisioning (for reliability) sucked up another 25GB. That's 60GB consumed on a fresh Windows install with not a single file or preferred software program even installed yet! When comparing a Chromebook to your typical Microsoft or Mac notebook it's like comparing apples to oranges if you're boasting about the hard-drive capacity on the latter.

Also, speaking of storage media; we had some Windows external back-up HDDs lying around, and the Pixel reads every standardized file on them without issue when plugged into one of the USB ports. You can also use USB thumb-drives (though the Pixel ports are 2.0 vs the faster USB 3.0 available on some Chromebooks). But wait! There's also the SD/multi card reader slot and (if you have the money and just have to have extra compact physical storage space) with cards like Toshiba's 16 & 32GB SDHC EXCERIA PRO memory card hitting the market, you're in like flint with speed to burn! In other words, your storage options seem limitless with a Chromebook.

The Chromebook Pixel boots in a snap. Reportedly it's about 7 seconds, but in reality, it just boots up with no delay unless you're wired out as hell and a second seems like an eternity. The 12.85" Pixel 2560 x 1700 screen is drop-dead gorgeous! It's touchscreen as well, but we disabled that function. In our opinion, the Pixel is not realistically functional as a touch device and this feature was intended to showcase the technology for upcoming Chrome touch capable hardware and software (Google also has a beautiful virtual keyboard and input tools that are nearing perfection). The Pixel laptop is smaller than we expected (0.64" x 11.72" x 8.84") because it always looks big in the pictures and we prefer larger laptops, but most people do not and will love its just under the average Apple 13-inch MacBook like dimensions.

The next thing you are going to notice, after the screen, is the etched glass touchpad. It seems a bit odd at first, but after a couple of hours, or days if you're going to master it, you won't even consider using a mouse. We would go into all the details about using the Chromebook Pixel, but that would be idiotic since Google wrote up a better "Tour of your Chromebook" article than we are going to come close to here. The link goes to the touchpad section, but move forward or back in the Google article for the full tour.

The Chromebook Pixel keyboard has excellent feel and the backlit keys are a pleasure to use in diminished light conditions. The Chromebook has a multitude of well designed keyboard shortcuts, and unlike Windows, we actually feel they're intuitive and compliment the system and are fun to learn. Visit Google's page on the Chromebook keyboard shortcuts or on a Chromebook press Ctrl+Alt+/ for an interactive keyboard map.

All surfaces are superior on the Pixel: The glass touchpad, beautiful and crisp backlit keyboard, the glass 12.85" high-res display, the machined aluminum chassis, and so on. The internals include an Intel Dual Core 1.8GHz i5 processor, 4GB or DDR3 RAM, and a 32 or 64GB SSD.

Then, on any Chromebook you are going to get automatic updates for your software, which includes Chrome, the Chrome OS, and all the software you install via the Chrome Web Store. Your other Chrome operated software applications like Zoho, VMware, or whatever else you choose will be secured and updated by the cloud based vendors as well. This means no more worries over the latest and greatest software updates or concerns over your antivirus arsenal. The Chromebook is easy to deploy; You're good to go 24/7.

This article isn't intended to be a Chromebook Users Guide, but here's a list of authoritative Chromebook links for some of the best info you'll find on Chromebook basics. On this site we'll present you with an end users experiences in moving towards Chrome as a primary operating system and will cover the specifics in our articles. In this article we're just generalizing the overall experience of migrating from Microsoft Windows using a Chromebook Pixel as our new platform, and these ideas apply to any Chromebook.

Anyhow, migrating to the Chromebook has been the most pleasurable computing experience we've ever had. It's not for everyone yet. There is the 0.01% of computer users who actually need some type of superior super-processing power locally that is not yet readily available to the average Chrome user. For the most part, this relates to heavy graphics users, like "serious" beyond the basics video editing for pros. There are also the heavy-duty video gamers that play games like "Battlefield 3", "Crysis 3", or "Far Cry 3", and for now, you can forget about the Chromebook. Note that the majority of gamers play only browser-based games that they mistakenly think could take advantage "gaming PC" specs when in reality those games operate perfectly (or even better) on the Chrome OS and don't even come close to requiring expensive and resource intensive top-tier hardware. In a few years the most immersive alternate reality video game fantasy experiences will be based almost totally in the cloud with sensors, switches, and robotics reacting in real-time to your input while simultaneously incorporating whole body experiences for all of your senses, but for now, a Chromebook is not going to replace a heavy-duty (mainly graphics card dependent) gaming, or an entertainment industry type editing rig. Lastly, if you're unfortunate enough not to have easy access to reasonably speedy internet you'll be limited. Let's put it this way, if you can watch Hulu or Netflix over your connection, you're good to go.

The Chromebook does everything that over 90% of the people actually use their computers for. Just go back to the exclusive Chrome web browser and Google Drive combo test we talked about earlier to see where you really fit in. Obviously, you'll be choosing some new tools, but it's fun discovering them, and, to your delight, many will now be free or incredibly inexpensive.

For us, a used Chromebook Pixel, or even a new one for that matter, was less than we would have laid down for another laptop or desktop we like as much, and that's not even including the huge investments we would have had to make in software purchases and updates when using something other than the Chromebook. Using a more typically priced Chromebook like those from HP, Acer, Toshiba, and the others will leave you even more money for use elsewhere. Right off the bat, we're saving hundreds of dollars a month. As software junkies, with Microsoft and Apple we always had a costly software wish list that was never fulfilled. With the Chromebook, the software is either chump change, or free. Then there is the Microsoft and Apple hardware never-ending wish list. Let's not even get into the expenses of a good backup system for Microsoft or Apple, if you even bother. With the Chromebook things are affordable and we actually have money left over for more responsible expenditures, and on top of that, the Chromebook is actually a pleasure to use.

Speaking of hardware, the only problems we've run into so far have to do with connecting or communicating with our GPS, camera and a few other devices, and these issues could all be resolved by simply using a portable android device (like a smartphone) as a replacement. Cloud printing is a snap once you've decided how you want to configure your printing, but if you want to print locally you may need to upgrade to a "Google cloud print capable" printer. Your new network will be via the cloud.

If you're thinking about advanced studio quality audio or graphics manipulation you're going to likely run into multiple hardware communications problems until things advance a little further, and you'll likely need an Internet connection starting at just shy of fiber optic speeds. We'll be covering compatible Chromebook hardware and software possibilities in detail, so stay tuned for articles on "beefing up" Chrome and the Chrome OS by subscribing to our newsletter. No SPAM ever, only notices of new articles when they become available. Finally, even though we're huge fans of Chrome as it ships, we will "Never Leave Well Enough Alone" and we'll keep you up to date on available security and performance improvements of all kinds.

Before: Migrating to the Google Chrome OS

Welcome to [Chromebook.mobi] Chromebook Mobile! 


This page is just to let you know how we look at the Chromebook, Chrome, and the Google Chrome or Chromium OS. If you enjoy our content and way of thinking, thank you, and enjoy your visit! If not, just "Google it" again and happy trails...

Google Chromium logo artwork in shades of blue with Apple logo shadow on background
Image Credit: mr.throk via cc
Note: the shades of blue logo above represents the experimental "Chromium" projects;
the multi-colored green, yellow, red & blue you're used to is for consumer "Chrome"releases.

Everything we do on the PC from this point onward will be accomplished on the Chromium based Google Chrome OS, and not in just in building this site, we mean everything, work and play included. When we run into problems we'll talk about it. Before you consider making the switch it's simple to see if it's suited to you. Try to do everything you do, computing wise, in Google's Chrome web browser combined w/ Google Drive. Now, every time you need to open a "Windows", "Apple", or any application, search for an alternative via someones web page based solution, or with one of the Google "Webstore" Extensions or Applications. Yeah, it can be agitating changing the way you're accustomed to doing things, but it's well worth the trouble in the long run!

Now, "Extensions" are like mini software add-ons for the Chrome web browser, and "Apps" or Applications are basically links to interactive web pages. There's also themes to dress things up (or skin) the mega-browser with.

When you're working completely from within the "Chrome control center" (or Google Chrome web browser) and your Google Drive (also available for your Android, iPhone & iPad), you'll be in a near duplicate of the environment you'll be in with the Google Chrome OS on your Chromebook. In fact, if you make the switch to Chrome computing, for the most part, all you'll have to do is log in with your Google credentials (in the upper right hand corner of any Google page or Gmail) and all your Chrome web browser and Google Drive settings (plus apps, extensions & bookmarks) will duplicate themselves on the alternate device you're using. Just make sure you have "Sync Everything" enabled in your Chrome web browser under "Settings" > "Users" > "Advanced sync settings..." > ...and then in the drop-down box check "Sync everything" or make the individual selections that suit you.

As far as our switch-over to the Chromebook; lately we've spent the majority of our time doing "in the cloud" style computing, so the change was comforting, but making a total switch wasn't without its difficulties, and we're here to simplify that for you and have some damn good fun along the way. Also, one of the greatest and most important things about Google related hardware and software is that it's free or relatively very inexpensive, though they are beginning to monetize some of the purchases in the web store, but that's OK, because no one can expect a good developer to work for free forever! Plus, it seems unlikely that Google will allow their end users to be mercilessly raped with ungodly software pricing like that which some of the other bloated giants convince you will make you a rock star. It's just never been part of their business model. Advertising is a big profit maker, and Google ads are well-regulated, but they're not the only fish in the pond... just the biggest and most appealing one to most people.

Speaking of some of the other Google alternatives; we're not going into a big discussion on it and believe me, it's fully understood that everyone likes different things to a degree, and that's what makes life interesting, but following is our opinion as to how things stand now. Also, understand that ultimately it comes down to financial savings and simplicity in our decision to go with Chromebooks, Chrome, and the Google Chrome operating environment.

Microsoft: We love Microsoft, and at its core is a relatively good and decent company for the people and the overall present day king of workforce based PC software. Unfortunately, it's also very expensive for the average working stiff. They are also presently at a point where they are in the no-mans-land between "touch" based vs. keyboard style computing while simultaneously being in the same realm with their "cloud" vs. "traditional" style of computing. All in all, for us, Microsoft has turned into a relatively unpleasant experience on just about any device, though Windows 8 is an incredibly robust OS. They will pull things back together, but we feel they may have bit off a bit more than they can chew for the time being.

Apple: Back in the day, Apple vs the PC (or IBM and Microsoft, if you see it that way) was basically like a "Yin and Yang" or the artists vs the business types kind of decision. Even today, though it's possible to accomplish virtually the same tasks on either OS; writers, musicians, and the general trend setters take pride in displaying the Apple logo. Apple has some of the most beautiful hardware on planet earth. The software for their big machines is altogether another story. Ultimately though, in our view, every time we go the Apple route, nearly every click has the big Apple hand popping out of the screen asking for money, and on top of that, you are nearly always required to be within one terrifying click from an instant credit card charge. It's kind of like looking at all those goodies or impulse buys surrounding you in the check-out line at the market.

Adobe: It's incredible to us that they have essentially turned their PDF reader into something that nearly demands its own operating system in just allowing the typical end-user the ability to read a crummy file. There is generally a fool in your company if they authorize Adobe licensing expenditures (without considering the alternatives). The PDF file is good and has excellent security features built-in, it's just not "that good". Then you have Dreamweaver for the web designer/ developer and we're not going to knock it because it's damn good software. On the other hand, our favorite software albatross (besides the PDF "Reader"), is Photoshop. Nearly every writer on the web talking about alternative operating systems laments over the loss of life without their overpriced Photoshop. Now, we don't want to break any hearts here, but out of thousands of Photoshop examples, we've only seen a small handful of creations that even remotely warrant its use. Last, but not least, the Adobe Flash Player won't be leaving us anytime soon and is an integral part of the Chrome experience for most users.

We could go on and on, and there are many other alternatives to Chrome computing, many with missions that could not be easily accomplished elsewhere (until the masses are up to fiber-optic networking speeds), but ultimately, using the web as your PC with its ever-increasing bandwidth generally puts to shame anything you can afford to install on your own hardware. Anyhow, even though most people hate to admit it, if the web is unavailable they're busy catching up on other tasks they've put off. Google based most of their end-user functionality in the cloud from day one and now the others are scrambling to catch up. Finally, it's almost always going to come down to the spending power of the masses and Chrome and the Google Chrome OS is just downright economical for the largest percentage of users.

The latest and greatest colossal software is addictive, and we're confirmed software junkies, always have been. That's why it's almost a relief switching over to the deceptively simple environment that the Chromebooks offer. Also, we love fooling around with system settings (tweaking) in our need for speed, but we're not going to dick around with the Google Chrome OS other than in ways which are easily accessible to everyone. You can easily operate your Chrome OS device in "Developer Mode", but it's not going to happen here, and if it does, we'll make a big deal of it.

If you enjoy working and playing with the Chromebook anywhere near us much as we do, we'll be looking forward to seeing you back here at Chromebook Mobile. Also, we've exposed enough of our opinion that now would be a good time to bail out if our way of thinking rubs you the wrong way. If not, welcome!, and it's a pleasure to have you here.

Now, to simplify things, around here we're generally only going to refer to "Chrome" (or the Chrome control center) as being the web browser based portion of the system, and the "Chrome OS" as being the sleek and compact operating system that helps run your "Chromebook" portable or other cool devices like the "Chromebox" mini PC and upcoming "Chromepad" device. There's also the Google "Android" mobile devices that rule a large percentage of that market.

Back to Chrome, actually, Google defines "Chromium" as their open-source based browser development project which refines the "Chrome" browser, and the "Chromium OS" as their open-source project geared towards developing their OEM shipped operating system which adds Google for the "Google Chrome OS". This OS is basically a simple and lightweight Linux version that provides the framework for the Chrome web browser from which 99% of your computing experience will be controlled from.

If you want to dig a little deeper, visit Google's "The Chromium Projects" page or "The Chromium OS FAQ" for a bit more info on how things are defined.

Lastly, we are not without a few major concerns in turning our computing life entirely over to Google's cloud computing platform.

Of those concerns, what is sure as hell NOT a concern is "The Man" or "Big Brother" looking over our shoulder! You can't expect to have full access to everything about everything on the web and think you can sit in a little private shell somewhere in your "Own Private Idaho".  You can always go back to pen and paper and hard-back books from the swap meet. It's a fact that some of the more paranoid people are going to hit the roof over this thought, but in the good ol' US of A "Big Brother" doesn't give a crap about your love life or anything else that isn't outright criminal and to the detriment of the good people. It's possible that things as we know it could disintegrate if many parts of our world came to an end simultaneously, but if you're a survivor, you, and/ or the people on your side will be prepped for the ongoing information warfare that always existed anyhow and you'll likely notice well before the "wrong" people take control.

These thoughts do bring us to a gripe we have with Google packaging. Most importantly, when your entire computing life is stored in the cloud via services like Google Drive, it seems paramount that higher levels of user operated security schemes (like separate containers for user encrypted files) should be widely available to the end user, and as it is now you are one simple mis-click away from sharing your financial data and so forth with the general public with many Google products. Again, we are not talking about "Big Brother" because any method, or level of encryption, that would make your information "uncrackable" to the authorities would verge on being illegal in itself, and at the very least would draw interest from those trying to protect and serve the public simply because you might be a "bad guy" and they're highly interested in how things work.

The ones that will cause you the most damage are the common thieves and malcontents that get a rush out of doing to you what they would be deeply offended at if done to them, but this could even include a scorned lover or what have you. Google claims a great level of security which in the scheme of things is absolutely true, however, in the end it basically comes down to one password and maybe a cell phone text message if you've authorized Google "2-Step Verification", especially if you're NOT using an operating system outside of Chrome to encrypt a container for your sensitive files. In its simplest form, as previously mentioned, there should at least be a secondary secured folder area on G-drive that could be protected with an alternate set of logon credentials should others have access to your general information via your permission (or by looking over your shoulder, etc.). There are companies working on it, but so far, every method we have examined is flawed and leaves strong enough possibilities to ultimately make your data unrecoverable, or, just as badly, recoverable in the wrong hands by allowing too many outside permissions on your Google account in order for the other companies stuff to work.

The second main problem we see with the way Google is setting things up is in how they try to intertwine all their services too closely under some kind of ideal that everyone always wants to be very sociable on the web and share this and that with anyone that gives a damn. It's information overload for most people, and one of the problems lies with the Internet "stalkers" that just want to use your stuff to cause discomfort of one kind or another.

Simple examples are taking their "Picasa" photo albums and twisting it into Google+ which started out Google's Twitter (but has evolved into a mega communications channel). I don't know that everyone wants to be so close to sharing all their photo albums with every Tom, Dick and Harry. Yeah, I know there are settings to control the data flow, but they are a pain in the ass to navigate through and many of the default settings are often inappropriate.

Tying your YouTube account so closely into your Google+ "social" program is also another lousy default setting (that's changing), though the new Google+ commenting system on YouTube seems appropriate. It just makes commenting anonymously more difficult, and many people do get a kick out of reading the belligerent "flamer" comments, but, just as in most Internet forums, a responsible person has to make some kind of attempt to make a public place somewhere you would not be terrified to have your children playing in. There will always be other adult type areas of all kinds willing to take on the responsibility of attempting to police certain kinds of subject matter, you just have to be careful because many feel invincible behind the privacy of their computer screen and do things that otherwise would never happen.

Also, Google's version of "Office" called Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc, on Google Drive, Apps, or where-ever you might navigate to it from, could benefit from being a little more tightly bundled and separated instead of bleeding into their other programs so readily. There are excellent alternatives like Zoho that integrate very nicely into the Google online experience, but we're trying to stick with Google products on this site. In the end, perhaps Google's interest in VMware, which allows you to fairly seamlessly use Microsoft Office products (and more) in the cloud will be your answer, but then we're back to making a sizable personal financial investment (and using non-Googleware) which is anti Chromebook Mobile thinking. We'll never be hardcore Linux dumpster divers, but we are absolutely after the best value for our hard-earned dollars.

In wrapping this segment up, one last thing that always comes to mind, especially for those accustomed to having a physical hard-drive backup to hang on to, is the worry of not having your stuff "properly" backed up in the cloud. In reality, it's backed up many times over across the Google network, and in Google Drive, if you don't haphazardly empty the trash, there's also a copy of everything you deleted ready for restoration. Also, G-drive keeps copies of your revisions on most files which can be accessed via the R-click menu or 2-finger tap on most types of files. You can also physically copy your G-drive cloud data over to your physical hard-drive. Also, there are services that will sync your G-drive data over to other cloud storage services via a variety of schemes, so your data backup choices are greater than ever on a Chromebook. Read our "Backing up G-drive and Gmail online" article for more info.

Well, a little wordy perhaps... from here on out we'll (try to) drill straight down to the point. If you made it this far, thanks for your time!