Contemplating Another Computer

Howdy, y’all. I had to take a break for a bit so I could step back from the edge of the stress cliff. My day job has been undergoing a huge transition from the rubble and remnants of one company to the promise and potential of a new company. It’s been a rough ride. Okay, that said, this post is about my core geekery – computing. I tend to switch things up, and like my job situation, I’m wanting to switch out my Chromebook for a “real” PC.


This switch is directly related to my job transition. As I was forced to work from home on my work laptop, which is a very capable Windows 10 machine, I decided to use it as my personal machine too. It was easy to do because there was nothing to set up. Having been solely using a Chromebook, everything I did was cloud based via web apps. So with Chrome installed on my work laptop, I logged into my Google account. And that was it; all my stuff was there.

My work laptop (which I can’t use anymore – that’s another bump in the rough transition road) is no slouch. It was used for CAD design, having quite a mobile spec load out: 32GB RAM, core i7 CPU, SSD storage. Given all that horsepower, it made my personal computing fly compared to my Chromebook. Plus, since it ran Windows 10 instead of Chrome OS, there were no limitations. I could do pretty much anything with it since it ran desktop apps and not only a browser.

The capability and flexibility of that Windows 10 machine has made me want my own. So I’d like to switch off my Chromebook and replace it with a desktop PC. In fact, I’ve already been on NewEgg building a custom PC wish-list. I have found that it’s hard to save money when building a PC of your own. There are areas where you can save a few dollars, but overall it still adds up to a lot. In my case, I need to also buy Windows 10 software and not just PC hardware, which adds a good chunk to the cost. Anyways, it’s fun to custom build my own PC hot-rod. I make a budget build, a dream build, and then I build something in between that’s neither compromised nor crazy. You can buy just a new RTX GPU that costs as much as an entire computer! As much as I want to run Minecraft with real-time ray-tracing, that will have to wait a long time.

Being mostly an Apple guy when it comes to mobile computing, there’s a question: why not get a Mac? Because I want to do some PC gaming, stay more compatible with my wife’s Windows PC, and be able to use my own PC in lieu of my work PC if the need arises.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to buy anything for a while. But that’s no big deal. My needs are basically met. But I’ve got some wants and maybe some future needs to consider. Even a budget-friendly Windows PC offers greater flexibility than my Chromebook, and that alone is enough reason to switch. That said, I did learn a good lesson years ago: never buy an entry level Windows machine. Not only is the build quality sub-par, it’s not future proof, and it’s also painfully sluggish.

Here’s the rub of all this. I also still really want an iPad and plan to buy one. So I figure I’ll be replacing my Chromebook laptop with two things: a desktop PC and an Apple tablet — a computer and a mobile computer. I’ll probably keep the Chromebook around too and let the kids use it for school, so I’ll still have access to it if the switch-a-roo bug bites me again. And I’m sure it will.

The EdgeBook Is Born!

Microsoft is doing a thing. It looks interesting and exciting to this tech nerd. A new OS is coming along soon, called Windows 10X (poor name IMO), but more important are the new devices along with it. Basically, we’re talking about Windows powered Chromebooks, which I’m calling EdgeBooks.


I’ve used four different Chromebooks over the last few years and really like them a lot; they’re so simple! And they’re super affordable. Did I mention reliable? They run ChromeOS and all the Google stuff like Drive and Docs. Also, the Chrome broswer, in case it wasn’t obvious.

What excites me is that Microsoft is making their own version of Chromebooks using a new and modern version of Windows. Why the excitement? Because…it’s Windows-ish! And it’s Chromebook-ish at the same time. Somehow it looks attractive, like a good fit. It helps that I actually like Windows 10.

What stands out about Windows 10X is that it’s based on Windows 10. But 10X is modernized, fresh, and above all, it’s super simplified. The legacy stuff from years past – cleaned out. Also, it runs the Microsoft Store, which has simple modern versions of Microsoft Office.

The main feature is, of course, the browser. Instead of Chrome, you get Edge. I use Windows 10 with Edge on my work laptop. It’s really good.

With that in mind, what might these new Windows 10X devices be called? How will they be marketed? Here are a few ideas:

  • WinBook – because it’s a Windows laptop.
  • EdgeBook – because it’s a Windows laptop mostly to run the Edge browser.
  • CloudBook – because it’s a CloudOS laptop, or a CloudPC.
  • SurfBook – because of “Surface” laptops. So why not also SurfOS?

There are two bits I find very interesting about Win10X:

  1. No resizing windows (unlike Chrome OS)
  2. No local file storage (unlike Chrome OS)

First, I love the simplicity of always full-screen app windows; they’re like tablet apps. This removes one of the three icons in the upper right corner of regular Windows 10 app windows.

And this might mean that many or most EdgeBooks will be quite small. They’d have to be just big enough to squeeze in a full-size keyboard. Like many Chromebooks, I think EdgeBooks will have 11.6 inch screens. That’s great for Mobile Computing.

Second, a lack of local file storage sounds like the antithesis of Windows. But in our modern computer world, it also seems normal thanks to cloud computing. I think most of us are used to this nowadays. On my Chromebook, I default to storing everything in Google Drive. On an EdgeBook, you would do the same using OneDrive.


A big attraction I have not mentioned yet about a Windows version of a Chromebook: privacy. I would lean towards using an EdgeBook in order to distance myself from the data-harvesting Google ecosystem. Microsoft might be similar in this regard, but I think it is much less so than Google.

Check out what Microsoft says about Edge and your privacy.

The Edge browser defaults to Bing search, which uses a web indexing engine by Microsoft, not Google. My current search service now is privacy-centric DuckDuckGo, which uses the Bing search engine, among others, for results. It’s quite good.

All in all, an EdgeBook with Windows10X has me excited. If nothing else, it will increase competition for Chromebooks, in turn making Google innovate them more. If I wasn’t planning on buying an iPad later this year, I’d likely get a new “EdgeBook.”

Watch the video below to see a demo of Windows 10X.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Android Attraction

Smart Switch

Last Summer, when I ditched my iPad and switched to Chromebook, I started thinking about doing the same with my phone – iPhone to Android. Naturally! It just makes sense to go all-in with the Google stuff. But I hesitated, finding it a bit concerning to fix something that isn’t broken. My iPhone 7, despite its age, is working great. I’m comfortable with the quality and reliability; also, there are a few key apps/features that I would miss.

A few months later, I found myself re-visiting the idea of switching phones. The iPhone has a lot going for it, but my mind has changed. I’ve decided to move over to Android! So what’s the big deal?


Android Attributes

As I mentioned, one of the big draws to an Android phone is that all the Google apps I use daily would be the default apps! Click a link: Chrome would open instead of Safari. Heck, I could have Firefox open if I wanted instead! Sharing via mail: Gmail would open instead of Apple Mail. And best of all: Google Assistant would default instead of Siri. You get the idea. Overall, Android’s flexibility (and openness) is more efficient than iPhone.

Also very attractive is Android’s customizability. Get bored with the way your phone looks? You can totally change it up…but not on iPhone. Want to see the nice photo you set as wallpaper? No probs! Just move your app icons anywhere you wanna! Heck, you can have zero apps on the screen too and just dive into the App Drawer where all your apps reside. Nice!

I know these features first-hand because I used Android for several years. I’ve already switched back and forth between iPhone and Android. So another reason I’m wanting to switch back now is because of the novelty of it. I’m ready for something new.

Now, onto one of the grandest Android features of all! Affordability. Even though $1,000 Android phones exist, you can also get a great Android phone on a budget. But are they worth it? Yes! I love how there are a number of phones competing in the market at the entry-level and also at the mid-range phone level. You can say that mid-range Android phones today are the affordable versions of the flagship-level phones of yesterday. Since smartphone tech has advanced so much now, you can get an Android phone without compromising or sacrificing all that much. And without emptying a bank vault.

Because there are truck-loads of Android phone makers producing multiple phone models for every budget, there’s another cool aspect of shopping for one instead of an iPhone: variety. Beyond the simple glass rectangle of a phone, in the Android space, you’ll find different sizes, colors, features, and benefits. While this abundance relates to a downside called “fragmentation”, which can be a mixed bag, I find it really nice to have so many phone options. In contrast, the only iPhone variety you have is: the new one or an old one. Or plain, plainer, and plainest. Or costly, more expensive, and exorbitantly priced. No thanks.

Finally, I recently found a bonus feature of Android phones. It’s called the Google Family Link app. So let’s call this feature, Family. This app from Google allows a parent to easily control multiple aspects of their kid’s phone. Yes, Apple has something similar, which I currently use. But the Google Family Link app appears to offer better or more granular control than Apple’s set-up. The fact that I can also keep tabs on my kid’s Chromebook activity in addition to their phone habits is salsa on the chips!


Hello…Moto

There are other areas to consider about Android versus iPhone. One of the biggest and trendiest these days is the two-punch combo of Privacy/Security. In some ways, I still think Apple and iPhone are best-in-class for this. But Google and Android are also great; I consider them trustworthy enough.

So now I’m saving up my pennies and dollars to make my next smartphone purchase a shiny new Android. I’ve set my sights on the reduced-price Moto G7 to replace my iPhone 7. The cool extra benefit to this will be the similarity and affordability of also replacing my kids’ iPhone 6 with the Moto G7 Play. If it all works out, I may blog about it in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking of the future, here’s another good example of Android variety. Microsoft has announced they plan to release a two-screen Android phone called the Duo. It looks so cool! Will it be practical? Time will tell.

(For the record, I once was the proud owner of the Moto Q feature phone. And in my former Android days, I used the Moto X followed by the Moto G4. No, I never owned the flip phone Moto Razr…but have you seen the new flip-smartphone version?)


What smartphone do you prefer? Have you lived with both iPhone and Android before? Write below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Shout Out To Chrome Sites

Chromebook Metaverse

When I was all into using only my iPad for everything, I enjoyed a few websites dedicated to that. But now that I’ve switched to Chromebook, I like some new sites; they helped in my transition process. And they’re good to fuel the Chromebook fun.


See The Sites

Chrome Unboxed

First up is Chrome Unboxed. This one has been around for several years now. It’s run by a handful of guys who geek out on Chromebooks. They’re passionate about the product and encourage its adoption and proliferation. So if you’re thinking about switching to Chromebook, this website is sure to give you a boost.

In addition, the Chrome Unboxed team runs a podcast called The Chrome Cast. It’s like an audio version of the website. Sound quality is great. It’s informative, and you can hear the enthusiasm for Chromebooks in the speakers’ voices.

About Chromebooks

Next up is a site called About Chromebooks. It’s headed by one person: Kevin Tofel. I like this site for Kevin’s opinion articles about Chromebooks and tablets and technology in general. He has good insight into trends in the tech industry, having worked on the front lines for years. He was at Google working on Chrome, and he has written for different websites covering Chromebooks.

OMG! Chrome!

This last site, OMG! Chrome!, is a good one for general news and info about Chromebooks. It’s well organized and has been around for a long time. It posted several new articles over the Summer, but it looks like it went on hiatus for a long time beforehand. So I’m not sure how reliable it is for being up-to-date.


All The Chrome

I’m sure there are other good websites out there to get your Chromebook fix. But these three were the main players that helped me make the move to using a Chromebook. When I first switched in 2017, I came from Windows. And when I transitioned last month, I left iOS on iPad.

Both metamorphoses required learning what Chrome OS was all about and if I could depend on it completely for all my computery things. So I found the mentioned Chrome sites instrumental in the change, rewiring my brain for life with a Chromebook.

If you want to explore Chromebooks for yourself, go see the sites. Then come back here and tell me what you think.


Do you Chromebook? Thinking of switching? What do you use now? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Switch From iPad To Chromebook – 2

Typing Tool

If you don’t have the right tool for the job, you try to make the most of what you’ve got. I tried to use my clunky bluetooth keyboard for a long time, pairing with my iPad to use it like a laptop. It wasn’t the best fit, so I searched for a better tool. And…you’ll never believe what I found!


Finding a Laptop

After my wife brought home her shiny new Chromebook, this tech-geek saw the solution: an elegant unified device, a display and hardware keyboard designed to work together, always attached and connected. The fundamental form-factor was all there; it was a typing machine!

I was techcited.

Chromebooks are very good affordable laptops for many people and most computing needs. They even match some of the best qualities of a tablet: simple, fast, all-day battery. So I was attracted, admitting the temptation in a recent blog post.

Then I began to realize that the whole time I’ve used an iPad plus bluetooth keyboard, the proper mobile writing machine I’ve longed for is a laptop.

Because the iPad is so nice to use, I tried to make the tablet do more and be more than it was designed to do and be: adding appendages or adapters, transforming its form-factor from slate to laptop. But it wasn’t the right tool for the job. It’s capable yet not optimal for long-form writing simply because it has no mechanical keyboard.


Apple to Google

I couldn’t just ditch my awesome tablet, upend my computing workflow, and run out to buy a laptop! I’ve been all-in with Apple: just an iPhone and iPad. Chromebooks are Google-centric; Windows laptops are by Microsoft. The problem with switching from iPad to Chromebook is you’re not just swapping out a device, you’re moving to a new ecosystem. And just like in the wild, that means you must adapt.

If I were to flip-flop to using a Chromebook, I’d have to test out the Google-verse, dipping my toe into the water before taking the plunge. Ever the tech-geek, I became curious enough to do it. The thought alone helped me begin to escape Apple’s Reality Distortion Field.

 

Going Chrome

The thing about switching to Google is how easy it is since Google’s apps and services are on the web; you don’t need to buy a special device. Google’s native computing platform is the web! So any computer you have – smartphone to desktop – lets you step into the Google-verse with a click or a tap.

After some initial yet futile resistance, I started assimilating into Google’s machine. First I Google-fied my iPhone, downloading all the Google apps I wanted to check out. I still had the empty shell of my previous Google account, so logging in was easy.

Second, I took my budget Windows laptop and downloaded the Chrome browser. Then I made all the Google web-apps into shortcuts, which open in their own windows, so they also have icons on the taskbar. This made my Windows laptop become a pseudo-Chromebook!

Enveloped by Google’s online apps, I started re-thinking my writing work-flow. I was reluctant to switch everything, but to me it just makes sense to go all-in and reap the benefits of a holistic computing paradigm. For example, this meant using Gmail instead of Apple Mail and stepping back from the Ulysses writing app to using Google Docs!

Overall, I was surprised and delighted by the capability and aesthetic of Google’s cloud computing platform. So in earnest, my hunt for a good deal on a Chromebook kicked off. Good timing too, because early August is the season for back-to-school sales.


Chromebook Replaces iPad

In short time, my primary computer has changed from tablet to laptop because I needed and wanted a better mobile web-writing machine. I found an awesome deal on an excellent Chromebook and have been typing away – loving it! This blog post is the fourth I’ve published from my new Chromebook – directly to WordPress, using the convenient WordPress Add-On within Google Docs!

For this blogger, compared to a tablet, the clamshell laptop is the right tool for the write-job: big self-supporting touch-screen at any angle, full web-browser, and a full-size mechanical keyboard – and this one’s also backlit!

The iPad lacks a physical keyboard, the most basic tool for modern writing. You can add a keyboard, but that doesn’t mean you should. I’ll let the iPad be a terrific tablet, that third category device Steve Jobs said could live between a smartphone and a laptop.

I’m smitten with this new Chromebook, so I’ll probably post more about it and the whole switch-a-roo. Whether you’re a writer or you pursue a different occupation, be sure and use the right tool for the job. Don’t be afraid to change it up if that’s what you need to do. You’ll be glad you did.

If you want to read the first part of this post click here: Switch From iPad To Chromebook – 1.


Are you a writer? Do you prefer a tablet, laptop, or pen and paper? What’s the best tool for you? Write below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!