Farewell chromebook

Sad day today. I’ve had to return my beloved HP chromebook.

HP Chromebook 11
HP Chromebook 11 (Photo credit: Stratageme.com)

I got it a couple of weeks ago, and instantly clicked with it. Now, I’m a Google guy through and through – GMail, Google Docs, G+ all form part of my regular daily online life so having a machine which was so closely tied with my Google account was perfect.

I know there are a bunch of nay-sayers when it comes to the chromebook. “Oh, it’s just a toy,” they say. “Why not just buy a cheap laptop? It’s only got a browser. You can’t install stuff!”

I love that I can’t install stuff. My PC at home is ridden with ‘stuff’ that’s been installed. Bloatware that comes with Windows. Stuff my kids have downloaded and installed – the amount of times I’ve had to clear out weird search bars from my browser, or unpick something that’s happened to the machine. Anti-virus scans or ‘important’ Adobe updates which churns to life just as I’m trying to do something.

A cheap laptop you say? Have you tried running Windows on a cheap laptop? It takes ages to boot, then you’re getting system updates which can run to the hundreds of megabytes.

The chromebook boots, from cold, in about 10-15 seconds. Close the lid to go off and do some stuff, come back and boom. It’s ready. Pick it up, do what you need, when you need to do it. Perfect for doing some writing, blogging, surfing. Watching YouTube or NetFlix, catching up on Twitter, FB or G+

I’ve been using a PC for twenty years. I’m not new at this stuff. I spend a lot of time online, and most of it in a browser. I reckon that 90% of what I need to do with a computer, I can do with a chromebook, and the other 10% I do so rarely (upload/edit photos, move some mp3 files from my music archive to my iPod) that I’m more than happy to switch the PC on to do.

I’d tried a few different chromebooks before I settled on the HP. The Samsung was nice, but the screen was mediocre at best and was still running £199 at a year old.

I loved the design of the HP, the sleek white chassis with the blue accents. I liked the fact that it wasn’t riddled with ports and fan holes. I thought the idea of charging via USB was brilliant – no more lugging a power brick around.

Battery life is pretty good too – easily four and half hours of fairly sustained use. My kids both loved it – my eldest has a google account and just logged in and away he went. My youngest hasn’t, but she was able to log in as a guest on there and watch her (seemingly endless) YouTube videos.

So then, why did it go back? There’s been a much-discussed issue with the HP charger which has meant that HP and Google have ‘paused’ sales of the HP chromebook until they come up with a solution. It wasn’t that though – I could (and was) charging the chromebook off my phone charger quite successfully.

Nope, my ‘book just… died. Stopped charging. Tried all sorts – hard reset, different chargers, nothing. The charger worked, but the little light wasn’t coming on to show it was charging up. No amount of poking and prodding could resurrect it.

You get duds from time to time, no matter what it is. The guys at PC World were more than happy to give me a refund – I had been thinking about exchanging it for the newer Acer C720 – it’s got a better battery life (quoted at 8.5 hours), and a faster processor, but it’s just not as pretty as my HP was. The C720 is a dull grey and the lid feels cheap and plasticky. It’s heavier than the HP and has fan vents. The keyboard just isn’t as nice to type on.

So, I think I’ll have to wait for HP to sort themselves out.

I miss my chromebook already. Come on, HP!

life online

I’ve been thinking about blogging recently and how it’s changed over the years.

Image representing LiveJournal as depicted in ...

I started blogging on Livejournal ten years ago. The thing I loved about it was the sense of community that existed – I’d arrived there along with a bunch of others from another online forum, and before long I’d made some really good friends there. In the early days there were times when the conversations going on in the comments on a blog post were often more entertaining than the original post itself.

But a few years ago something changed – people started drifting off to other sites, predominantly Facebook. The one thriving hub of activity that was my LJ friends page started to drop off.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

I was as much to blame as anyone, I’ll be the first to admit. The lure of the shiny meant more time on Facebook and the weird kid on the block Twitter, with its odd insistence on 140 characters or fewer.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

It made sense, in a way. Livejournal was a place where groups of friends would congregate for a chat. Facebook made it easier to share photos and find your real-life friends to go with your online friends. People who’d never have gone near LJ in a million years were now online. It had the now ubiquitous ‘like’ button, which meant that you didn’t need to actually interact with the poster, a quick click to show you’d been there and move on. Times were changing.

I miss the old days of LJ. My friends are now scattered across different social networks. Some now live exclusively on FB, some go between that and Twitter, some still hang out on LJ and some have ventured into the side new world of Google+

Me? I’m all over the place. Facebook for people I know in real life, or who only live there – often for them Facebook *is* the internet. Twitter for the random stream of consciousness. LJ for the occasional post. Flickr for photos, GoodReads for books, the list is ever-growing.

I’ve also been tinkering with G+ since it started and am starting to get a real feeling of community there. Could it be the next LiveJournal? Should it be? G+ has its quirks too – it doesn’t like you cross-posting content *out*, but is more than happy to pull content in. I can’t use automation to post to G+, whereas I can to Twitter, WordPress, Livejournal and many other sites. My posts on espressococo get automatically tweeted out and cross-posted to LJ. I have to manually add them to Google+, for now.

G+ seems to have the most potential in terms of posting significant content (like blog posts) and interacting with people. I get a few people posting comments or likes here on WP, but nowhere near the level I used to see on LJ.

So, dear reader. Where do you live on the internet? Are you a digital nomad, wandering from site to site? Or have you set down roots?