Using a Chromebook

Around March of this past year I was in the market for a new laptop. My laptop had seen better days and I was getting frustrated with the fan continuing to come on for, what seemed to be, no reason at all. I was also frustrated by spending way to long letting the thing update which added to the general slowness of the system.

I had tried cleaning off unneeded programs and also did a clean install. It seemed after adding only a few programs that I needed, the computer would, once again, be too slow to be a non-frustrating experience.

About that time my daughter wanted to get  a new laptop that she would end up taking to college. We had purchased her a Chromebook, but it ended up with a cracked screen and she wanted a windows computer.

She purchased a new laptop and I took over her Chromebook with the cracked screen. The screen took a while to get use to, but I loved the computing experience. Most of what I do can be done online and a Chromebook is perfect for that. I loved the experience so much, I ended up purchasing a new Chromebook (Toshiba) the next moth. I have not looked back since.

I still have my Windows PC and use Chrome Remote Desktop from time to time to do Windows specific computing, such as Logos Bible Software. Most of my time is spent on my Chromebook.

I have been actively using this laptop for seven months and I still love the experience. I am much less frustrated. On the rare occasions when there is a problem or crash, it literally takes 7 seconds to boot back to where I was. The updates take about 10 – 15 seconds. I love how light it is and how easy it is to take just about anywhere. The price wasn’t bad either!

For many people a Chromebook would probably be all the computer they need. If you are doing powerpoint, graphic editing, or have a specialized Windows program, then a Chromebook makes a great second computer. You will probably find you are using it most of the time and only using the Windows machine when you have specific projects.

Transitioning to JoliOS

The Computers / Background

From time to time I become discontented with my computing situation. I’ve moved away from having the latest and greatest PC. Now I would much rather have a cheaper PC and find ways to get it to run well.

My life is surrounded by four different computers. I have a computer at the office, a family computer at home, my main laptop, and an older (perhaps 10 years or so) laptop that is making the rounds in my family.

My computer at the office has always been underpowered. I purchased it used because I wasn’t going to be doing any complex computing on it. While it ran Windows XP well for a while, over time it ran slower and slower and slower. The degradation of Windows based OSes is well known. Wiping the computer and reinstalling is an option, but also a pain, especially if there are a lot of windows programs to reinstall. Continue reading “Transitioning to JoliOS”

Drupal 7, Organic Groups, & Forums

I’ve been trying to incorporate Organic Groups with Forums in Drupal 7. What I’m wanting is a private group where group members can post various types of content and also have a private forum for discussion.

OC has changed a bit from Drupal 6. It is now recommended to use Panels as well. I’ve been trying to sort though the various issues and I found this page that outlines the process. I still have a bit of work to do (Forums), but this page is pretty concise. I’ll update this post as I get further.

Here’s the link:

Rewired – A Review

Rewired  I received copy of Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World for review. Even though my background is in technology, and I love technology, I have found it, at times, intrusive. I’ve also wondered if my connection to technology has, in some ways, affected my ability to concentrate, and, as odd as it sounds, be productive.

Dr. Camille Preston is a psychologist, organizational consultant, and leadership coach. In Rewired, she suggests that many people are not just wired, but they are overwired. Being overwired causes us to feel stressed, burned out, and as if we are always “on” 24/7.

Dr. Preston makes a strong case that it is time to step back and unwire so we can rewire and be “purposely productive.” The problem, she writes, of being overwired is, “the inability to do one thing, properly, at a time.” I agree with her assessment. The distraction that technology provides harms the ability to focus and think deeply. As I read the book, I realized there are times when I check my email, phone, etc. even after I checked a few moments earlier. I find myself turning to my technology as a way to be distracted, not realizing it hurts my ability to be focused.

The book is broken into four main parts: Overwired, Unwiring, Rewiring for Wellness, and Success! Overwired gives evidence of the effects of technology to our productivity, relationships, and our brains and bodies. Preston gives steps in part two, Unwiring, on how we can unwire our tangled technological lives. In part three, she discusses how we can be purposeful with technology and use it as a tool to actually make our lives better. Part four of the book, Success, contains accounts of those who have successfully unwired and rewired their lives and the changes they’ve experienced.

Preston was successful in making her case that technology, while promising to make our lives better, has caused some harm. Her prescription is also strong. It was evident that her experience as an organizational consultant and  leadership coach helped her not only see the issues involved with being overwired, but also gave her the insight to see how to become “rewired” or, in other words, allowing technology to make us purposely productive.

I appreciated the “Takeaways” after each section because they highlighted the important information. As I read the book, I recognized elements of strong presentations. She let the reader know what was going to be covered, covered it, and then reminded the reader what was covered. This, I believe, was extremely helpful.

On a more negative note, so much repetition made the book seem smaller than its 88 pages. While the material in the book was strong, I wanted more, especially in the first part  of the book. She did quote some studies and research, but I felt there could have been much more in regards to what technology does to our brains, bodies, and relationships. It seemed that she interviewed a couple of experts and they become her main “go to” researches. I found I wanted more.

That being said, the book is extremely valuable, especially for those of us who find ourselves fixated and focused on technical tools so much that they cease to be tools, and become toxic. Preston not only gives hope, but help in getting our lives rewired and back on track to purposeful productivity and a more meaningful life.

Is it Time to Switch from Google?

This is from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) concerning the new Google privacy policy:

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

via How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Let me say at the outset that I love Google. I use quite a few Google products. However, this news, well, seems a bit creepy to me. I’ve had web history turned on since 2005 and I found that I’ve had a lot of searches. Sometimes it was even nice to go back through “memory lane” and see what I searched for and when.

There wasn’t anything I wanted to hide in my search history, but this article from EFF did cause me to pause. Then I went and deleted almost seven years of search history. I was a bit sad to do it. Yet, I didn’t want my search history connected to my YouTube account, and my Picaso account, etc., etc., etc.

I don’t know that Google will do anything wrong with the data, it’s just that it seemed…a bit…creepy. To realize that at some point all the dots of data could be connected to create a type of “profile” of who I was, what I liked, etc., just made me feel uneasy.

Started to make me wonder if I should switch from my current search engine, to something different.