Going Chrome

Until recently, the computery things in my house were kinda simple. My wife and kids used Windows machines; I use an iPad. This made my job as household I.T. guy not too hard. But now a Chromebook has been thrown into the mix. So things are a bit more interesting.


Diversified Device-wise

Being a tech-geek, a new computer gadget excites me, like a kid getting a toy and a dad getting a tool. But my wife doesn’t geek out over computers like I do. She wants them to just do what they’re supposed to do. Simple enough. I’d say that’s why smartphones and tablets are so successful. They simply work.

So while adding a Chromebook brings more complexity to my family’s tech-device matrix, it’s interesting because Chromebooks are so simple. The virtue of their simplicity makes them virtuosos in the computing industry. Like the fact that people don’t search for something, they “Google it,” Chromebooks went from niche oddity to mainstream commodity.

Chromebook Strengths

The strengths of a Chromebook still surprise me since the “laptop form factor” usually makes me think of traditional Windows laptops and their drawbacks. But those don’t apply here.

Fast Boot

For example, on a Windows laptop, you get abysmally slow hard disk drives with their boot-up process that affords you time to catch up on reading that book you’ve been meaning to finish. But like a tablet, a Chromebook boots-up very fast – just a few seconds. You might have time to read a Tweet.

Long Life

And their battery life is seriously amazing! My wife’s Chromebook lasts over 8 hours on a charge, and in sleep mode it goes for days between charges, letting her use it here and there. It’s like using a phone or tablet with all-day power supply, unlike using a Windows laptop for an hour and then looking for an outlet.

Low Cost

Besides staying on forever-and-a-day, Chromebooks are very inexpensive. Because they’re so simple, they need only basic hardware to perform well. So they usually sport the cheapest Intel processor yet don’t feel sluggish.

Chrome Shopping

My wife ended up buying hers kind of on a whim. She was staying at her parents’ house trying to use her old Android tablet to do some simple Facebook Group coordination and Google Sheets and Forms collaboration. The old Samsung Galaxy Tab couldn’t do the job.

So she calls me up while I happen to be shopping at my local Walmart and says she’s thinking of running out to get a laptop so she can get her work done. We briefly discuss and rule out a budget or even mid-range Windows laptop. The budget ones are too slow and compromised; you’ll regret not spending more. The mid-range ones cost more than we could really afford on short notice.

Next thing you know, I’m selecting the right Chromebook for her to pick up in the town she’s at. And now, a week later, she’s really liking how easy it is to use her Chromebook.

Her case is not unique. Like many people, 95% of her PC desktop usage was – you guessed it – in Google Chrome. That’s it. So a Chromebook just fits. Most people often use online stuff like social media and Google Drive and Docs.


Throw Windows Out The Window

You have more options than just traditional Windows or Mac computers these days. And these options are better because they’re simpler devices where less is more. They’re even less expensive!

For iPad, get a bluetooth keyboard for it and you’ll have a tablet that acts kinda like a laptop and does most of the same stuff.

For a Chromebook, it’s a laptop that’s kind of like a tablet with its battery life and simplicity. They even have touchscreen Chromebooks now that run Android apps out of the box. So they can do a lot of what tablets can do too.

I won’t be switching away from my iPad back to a Chromebook, but I can’t say I’m not a bit tempted. I can say that I’m happy for my wife to finally enjoy being unchained from her traditional desktop PC, using just a Chromebook.1


Have you tried a Chromebook? What did you think? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. Never-mind the Surveillance Capitalism for now.

The Space Stuff

Did you notice all the news coverage last week about NASA, Apollo, and walking on the moon? I sometimes wonder what it was like to be alive in 1969 during the live event. The wonder of space – so mysterious, vast, out there – gives us much to geek out on.


Documentaries

I love to watch the real deal when it comes to space. The staggering power of rocketry, the bewildering danger of space flight, the overwhelming cost of cosmic exploration – these are very real and unavoidable aspects of going off planet.

There’s nothing small, easy, or simple about space. Everything is big. It’s all a huge risk. All you gotta do is kinda bend a law of physics, you know, defy gravity. No biggy.

Documentaries show us what it takes and how it looks to go to space – whether that’s sending a person to the moon1 or shooting a satellite to the edge of the solar system.

This is for-real-space-stuff! All the star gazing mankind has done for millennia, all the stuff people have dreamed of doing in space, real people really accomplish it. And we mere Earthlings get to observe these wonderful feats in safety.

All this is so awe-inspiring because it’s not science fiction; it’s reality.

If you missed the live event of man first walking on the moon, one way to relive it is to watch Apollo 11, which was released earlier this year. It’s all archival documentary type footage but raw, meaning there’s no commentary over it.

Speaking of movies to watch, I recently bought several space flicks and watched them!

Sci-Fi

While our real space endeavors are truly amazing, who doesn’t love space sci-fi!? The astronomical void of space has filled the imaginations of many!

For people who dislike sci-fi geekery, they’re still aware of pop-culture references from Star Trek or Star Wars. The genre of space stories is so popular that it has created a sort of sub-culture, yet its impact is also mainstream.

Blockbuster movies like Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy with different tones both share the same science-fiction laden space; they spark wonder in their own way. You don’t have to be a sci-fi geek to enjoy these tales of space.

From movies to books, sci-fi sagas that deal with space take on a vast mysterious wonder that’s full of other-worldly objects. It’s no wonder sci-fi is full of hi-tech accoutrements and futuristic ideas from laser swords to time travel.


When it comes to space, sci-fi stories are fantastic by themselves, yet they also fuel the real space stuff.

Space-Fi expresses mankind’s dreams of exploration, discovering more than what’s on Earth. And eventually we begin to realize some of those dreams, like putting a man on the moon.2

We all have a natural curiosity, so the immense vacuum of space naturally draws our gaze. I sometimes go outside at night with an app on my phone that identifies celestial bodies. I look up to the heavens and wonder, is that a star I see, or is it a planet?

I’m not a kid anymore, yet my sense of wonder is not lost. It’s out there in outer-space where my imagination has plenty of room to reach out and go where no one has gone before.


Does space stuff draw your gaze in wonder? Tele-communicate below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. Who will be the first woman on the moon?
  2. If you believe that it wasn’t staged of course.

Good Morning My Muse

Here’s a little update about my writing endeavors. I’m still plugging away at it. No novel in the works, but novella ideas here and there. Mostly I’m focused on blogging. Finding time is usually the roadblock, so I was driven to find a way around.


Morning

I want to write regularly, but my schedule is so regularly filled with other things that writing falls by the wayside. That’s funny, because if I’m a blogger, then writing should be the regular thing my time is filled with.

Since it’s a matter of time, it was time to take action and make a change in course. So now I get up earlier in the morning with the express purpose of just drafting stuff. Just 30 extra minutes of quiet focused solitude. And coffee, of course. There’s always coffee.

I get up early. I get my keyboard, my iPad, my coffee. I open Ulysses. By this time, 5 or so minutes after swinging the legs onto the floor and taking on the vertical challenge, my eyes are mostly open and my brain is starting to fire on all the neurons.

Then I start writing. Usually I draft. Sometimes I’m editing. I almost always have at least a few posts started. They’re ideas I’ve jotted down during random moments throughout the day.

Muse

You’ve likely heard about the thing called a muse. Like it’s some kind of imaginary magical writing fairy that floats into your subconscious and taps you on the head with a word-wand. Next thing you know, the latest New York Times best seller is flowing through your fingertips.

It’s not quite like that.

I don’t get up early in the morning to let a muse visit me for writing. The early morning is my “muse.” The simple solitude and quiet, the time and space for me and my mind to focus, relax, and get into writing mode is all it really takes.

That simply means thinking more deeply than usual. It lets you chase those rabbits all the way to the end of the trail because there’s nothing else in the woods with you, no distractions1. So you get to see where the path leads and fully develop a thought, even approaching it from different angles.

For some people, their writing time is at night. Mine happens to be in the morning, while it’s still dark outside before sunrise. So technically that’s also night I guess. The point is I’ve got to take time and make space to write.


Take Time To Have Time

So it’s kinda simple. I don’t have to be Einstein and know how time and space work. I just need to know they work and then use them to write.

This is a good change of pace. Before, I didn’t know when I’d get to write except maybe during the weekend. But now, I know I get to have 30 minutes a morning, 5 days a week, plus likely on weekends.

It’s like the french dude’s one-liner in The Matrix Reloaded about time. If you don’t take time, then you won’t have time.


When do you like to write? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. My iPad goes into “Do Not Disturb” mode. That’s a handy feature!

Moonshots Of Lego

Fifty years ago, Earth witnessed an incredible feat: man walked on the moon for the first time. I’m still amazed by the fact we pulled this off using 1960’s technology, and I still marvel at documentaries on NASA’s early space program. But now I have a new way to geek out on the lunar landing!


NASA Plus Lego Fit Together

As part of celebrating man’s first steps on the moon, NASA teamed up with another well known company: Lego.

I love Lego!

To coincide with the 50th anniversary, Lego released the Creator Expert set, NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.

Being a Lego and a NASA fan, this is an awesome match! And somehow, I did not know that this set, being so new, even existed. So, to my surprise, I learned about it when my family watched me open my Father’s Day present this year!

To my wonder and amazement, I slowly pulled this big Lego box out of the gift bag and tried to compute in my brain what I was seeing. NASA! Space! Lego! Huge! Over 1,000 pieces! What a surprise! I was half-expecting to open the other big NASA Lego set, the Saturn V Rocket.

The Lunar Lander is my first ‘Expert’ level set. And indeed, it was pretty complex and intricate to build. The challenge was a lot of fun. I always love how Lego surprises me during a build. I wonder how it’s all gonna work out. And as I’m snapping bricks together, I finally see it happen. The connections and features make sense. The creativity and ingenuity of the Master Builders is fun to marvel at! No Kragle required!


The Lego Has Landed

The Lunar Lander is a solid build and does not disappoint. It has a ton of gold pieces! The complex scissor-like legs are strong enough to hold the weight of the rest of the Lego model, being assembled with small rod pieces and some Technic shapes. This set even simulates the first footsteps on the moon using only square 1×1 smooth tiles arranged to create gaps in the lunar Lego surface!

Overall, this Lego-ified moon lander comes in three assemblies: Moon surface, Descent Stage, and Ascent Stage. It’s heavy, solid, and big. And it looks terrific!

The instruction book starts with NASA moon landing history and lunar lander design info! Having a degree in Industrial Design and a career in Structural Design, I love this kind of stuff! Knowing the how and why of things going together is super satisfying. That’s why Lego is so fun; it fosters design creativity and ingenuity.


To learn more about the Lego Lunar Lander and how it came to be, check out this link:

LEGO GROUP COMMEMORATES FIRST MOON LANDING WITH NASA APOLLO 11 LUNAR LANDER BUILDING SET

One thing that remains a question in my mind is, what will be the first Lego on the moon? Or has Lego already been in space?

Of course, the lunar lander couldn’t get to the moon without first being blasted off by the amazing Saturn V rocket that NASA built. And it so happens that Lego built it too! A model set of this famous rocket was assembled by Lego before making the new Lunar Lander set. I talk about it in a recent post: Geeking Out On Lego.

How do you top NASA’s lunar landing? How do you surpass the Lego Lunar Lander or Saturn V Rocket? Easy. You go farther and further. You shoot for Mars instead of the moon. That’s what NASA is doing. And Lego is too.


How are you celebrating the first moonwalk? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

Two Must Have iPhone Features

You might have noticed that new iPhones these days are not as groundbreaking as they were in the first few years. Smartphones have been iterated to ideal form. But is there room for improvement? You bet; more zoom and more room please!


Optical Zoom

The latest iPhones have two lenses: one for wide shots and one for telephoto1. The latter one means it has a 2x zoom. And it’s real zoom, not fake. Optically, it’s like you’re twice as close to the subject. In contrast, digital zoom is like cropping the photo, which makes it look fuzzier.

This 2x zoom is better than nothing. More, of course, would be better. But what I really want in an iPhone is a true optical zoom lens like what’s found on point-n-shoot cameras. It’s a single lens that changes barrel length and the distance between the glass and the sensor.

You’d think the iPhone is too thin to house space for this kind of lens. You’d be right. That thinness is an issue, but more on that later.

Another company has already solved this dilemma. They use a periscope arrangement so that the physical change in space happens along the length or width of the phone instead of the narrow depth. It creates a 5x optical zoom! If someone else can do it, surely Apple can optimize it.

If Apple adopts this approach to adding optical zoom to the iPhone camera instead of peppering the backside with a bug’s eye array of multiple lenses, then I would be stoked! And I’d be ready to upgrade sooner than later.

Optimal Room

So, about that thinness issue. Thin is good. Lightweight is good. But I’m not talking about making the iPhone as thick as a deck of cards or heavy as a brick. Just add a few more millimeters to it – more depth, more room. This would make the iPhone better in two ways.

More Grippy

First, the phone would just be easier to hold. Why do you think so many people add pop sockets to the back of their phone? It’s like a bar of soap that costs around $1,000 and shatters on contact with the sidewalk. It might as well have a lanyard like the 5th gen. iPod touch! Actually, I would consider that, now that I think about it; an iPhone with a built-in lanyard point.

What good is super sleek and elegant iPhone design if, in order to function practically, you must encase the phone in an ugly plastic box and add a protruding accessory out the back? Seriously. Just make the iPhone a bit less thin (which does not mean thick).

Being easier to hold, the iPhone could function better as a point-n-shoot camera too! Turn the phone sideways for landscape shots, and you’ve got the volume buttons acting as the shutter (or to operate the optical zoom feature mentioned above), and the increased non-sliver-thinness of the phone would make gripping it far more manageable without ungainly accessories. Except maybe an official Apple lanyard, of course. Bonus: the camera bump, even with an optical zoom lens, could be replaced with the flush camera of past iPhones!

More Battery

Second, the phone could last longer between charges! Add some depth and increase space for a bit more battery. And it doesn’t have to be so much more that the phone overheats or feels like an anchor is dragging down your pocket. I’m sure Apple’s engineers can make this just work.

This would alleviate low-power anxiety. A whole day on one charge is a baseline, but it would be better if the iPhone could last two whole days with moderate use! That would be a true selling point, something most smartphones have been missing for years.


Even though smartphones have basically plateaued in pizzazz, the iPhone can still attract with just two simple features: optical zoom and optimal room.

The current iPhone 2x zoom is nice, but farther reach would further its allure. Yet adding more lenses isn’t as attractive as showcasing one elegant optical zoom lens.

And the iPhone’s thinness seems too thin for thinness’ sake. With a bit more depth, it would both feel better and last longer.

These two practical features would make the iPhone more winsome, and then it would win some more of my money.


What features do you want to see smartphones add to make you upgrade? Comment below or message me. Thanks for your time!

  1. Funny how that sounds like, “telephono.” As in telephone. Which is now also your camera. Telephonophoto?