Chromebook Mobile: July 2014

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

Before: Migrating to the Google Chrome OS

Welcome to [] 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!