Tag Archives: chromebook

Mom’s Chromebook: Update

I got my mom a chromebook for Mother’s Day to replace the laptop I got her for Christmas several years ago. Teaching her how to login and navigate Chrome was significantly easier than teaching her the intricacies of Windows XP. We bookmarked some sites she was likely to visit. I’ve tested her a couple times and she is able to login and find information on desired websites without my assistance…and those are the only two times that she has cracked the thing open! She may have fired it up when my sister was home, but sister’s almost as technology averse as my mom (but at least she has a Kindle).

Oh well, mom seemed to enjoy browsing antiques on eBay and at least it’s there if she needs it.

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Got Mom a Chromebook

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My Mom and Dad have always been wary of technology. I finally taught Mom to text a few weeks ago and she’s doing great…except that she calls me to make sure I received her text…but I’m not complaining. She can text now!

Mom is starting to realize, though, that she needs to have an email and be able to do some basic web browsing. I explained to her how a Chromebook works and asked if she would be interested and she enthusiastically said yes.

I decided to get Mom a Samsung Chromebook with built-in 3G. It comes with 100MB of data per month and 100 GB of storage on Google Drive free for 2 years. This is perfect for Mom. She won’t have to worry about getting internet for the house and if we see that she needs more data we can bump her plan up.

Newegg and Amazon appear to be the only places you can get the 3G model so I went with Newegg because it was the cheapest. Unfortunately, when the Chromebook came in and I began setting it up, it didn’t take long to realize that the sim card was missing. New egg is in the process of sending me a replacement.

I’ll let you know what Mom thinks.


Helping My Mom Become Technology Literate

I’m a middle aged high school math teacher and lifelong technology fanatic. I’m also the daughter of two lifelong technology haters. When I was a kid, they wouldn’t even let me use my own money to buy a Commodore 64 computer because it would, “be obsolete in no time.”

I shouldn’t be too hard on them though. When I was in college, Mom bought me one of the first graphing calculators without me even asking. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that they don’t hate technology as much as they fear it. I got them a laptop several years ago, and initially my Mom was very excited. But when she, a woman who had zero computer experience, was confronted with Windows XP and Internet Explore, it was too overwhelming. I guess I was a little too zealous and tried to teach her too much at once. If I wasn’t right there with her she wouldn’t even turn the thing on.

A few years have passed since the failed laptop attempt, and I’m trying a new approach. I gave Mom my old iPhone 4. She can make phone calls and I think she can take pictures. I was surprised to find out recently that she’s also using a few apps that I left on the phone: the weather channel and a couple of news apps.

Since my daughters and I also have iPhones and my nephew has an iPod, I decided to teach her how to text. Since we all have Apple products, we can exchange iMessages for free. Mom was apprehensive at first, but I made her send texts to everyone, and they sent her messages back. She feels pretty good about it now. We just have to send her messages every so often and encourage her to reply so that she gets comfortable with this new mode of communication.

Now that she’s getting comfortable with the whole concept of launching and closing application (that was a major hurdle), she’s actually expressing an interest in using a computer. I took the old laptop (wow it’s slow) and I’ve ordered her a 3G Samsung Chromebook. It’s scheduled to be delivered in two days and she seems genuinely enthusiastic. After I placed the order, she and I sat down and pick out a username and password for her Google account. I got her all set up so that when the Chromebook arrives she can sign in and be ready to go.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.


Toshiba z835 Ultrabook

Best All Around Ultrabook!

     I got a new gadget over Christmas break.  This is going to have to be my last gadget…for a while anyway…as in more than a year.  I got a Toshiba z835 ultrabook – and I love it.  Instead of being a distraction that keeps me from work I need to be doing, it is a beautiful effective tool that makes doing my work fun.
     I sold my Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Blackberry Playbook Prior to getting my new laptop.  Samsung’s 1st generation Chrombook was a nice device – felt kind of cheap, but looked nice, worked well, but Google docs was not working to my satisfaction.  I would type a test or worksheet and get it formatted the way I wanted, then when I printed it, the formatting was totally different.  The 7″ 16 GB Blackberry Playbook is a nice tablet – perfect size, high-end feel, nice OS, but the selection of apps is horrible.
     I’ve tried other options, but I keep coming back to a Windows 7 device running Office 2010 and Dropbox.  This is the most efficient way for me to create and edit/update lesson plans, grades, and other documents at home and at school.
Toshiba z835 Pros:
  1. boots fast – around 20 seconds
  2. very light – 2.5 lbs
  3. long battery life
  4. back lit  keyboard – didn’t know I needed it until I had it
  5. reasonable price – $799
  6. doesn’t get hot
  7. looks nice
Cons:
  1. The extreme light weight of the z835 makes it feel fragile, thought I don’t know how fragile it actually is.
     Though the individual specs don’t stand out as super awesome, when considered together, the Toshiba z835 is the best all around Ultrabook for using around the house, or in my case for a teacher.  I let my 9 year old daughter borrow mine, but she knows she has to be careful with my gadgets, so I don’t know if it’s sturdy enough to stand up to students use.  I did read a user review (I think it was on Best Buy) from a student who claims the z835 travels well in his backpack.
The Bottom Line:  I think you get the best bang for your buck with the Toshiba z835.

The Latest Chrome OS Update

I liked the old boot screen

I updated the Chrome OS on my Samsung Series 5 yesterday. I thought chromebooks were supposed to update automatically when you turn them on, without the fuss and interruption that you associate with updating a Windows machine. However, when I went to the About Chrome OS page in Settings, I saw that there was an update available. I had to manually click a button to begin the update. Since this was the first time I had gone through this process, I didn’t try to open any other pages or do anything else until the update was complete. It took several minutes and reminded me of Windows updating on my school computer. Oh well, no big deal.

When the update was complete, the first thing I notices was the new boot screen. Instead of the black screen with “Chrome” in the center (which I really liked), the new screen is white and any graphics look pale against it.

Once I logged in, I noticed that the app icons on the New Tab page were huge. In the old New Tab page, I could adjust the size of the icons, but I haven’t figured out how to do this since the update.

For the past month, Google Docs has given me the option to use the Classic or the New view. I’ve been using the Classic view since the New view is pale, like the new log-in screen, and difficult to read.

On a brighter note, I like the features of the New Tab page and the new format of the Chrome Web Store.


Chromebook – 3G Test

Always Connected

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks come with 100 MB of data per month from Verizon – FREE!  This feature played a significant roll in my decision to trade in my netbook and iPad for a chromebook.  I’ve tested the Verizon 3G from my house and it worked, but the wifi at home is fast and reliable, so I haven’t had a reason to really use the 3G…until today.

We spent the day at my in-laws, and AT&T’s data coverage there is not good – no 3G, just Edge.  My iPhone 4 drags when loading web pages.  I fired up the chromebook, disabled the wifi, and enabled 3G.  I was impressed!  The indicator showed that I only had a bar or two of service, but web pages loaded quickly and Google docs ran smoothly.  However, when I loaded a You Tube video, it stuttered a bit.  To be honest, though, with only 100 MB/month, I doubt that  a person would be watching much video without a wifi connection.

Bottom Line:  The free 3G was great for viewing web pages, checking email, and editing documents.  I wouldn’t recommend watching video because of the limited amount of data available and the lag.


The Appeal of a Chromebook’s Simplicity

I enjoy writing lesson plans on my new Chromebook.

What drew me to getting a chromebook was it’s simple design, which led to ease of use.  A Chromebook is definitely a niche product.  You have to do your research before you buy one, but this is true of any tech purchase these days.  Analyze how you use your current device.

I got an iPad 2 to replace my netbook because the netbook was so slow starting up and launching software.  If I needed to check the weather or shoot out a quick email before school, I wouldn’t have time because it took so long to fire up the old netbook.  After using the iPad 2 for a couple of months, I noticed that I used it for:
1) School-word processing, spreadsheets, email, and online research
2) Blogging & YouTubeing
3) Entertainment-Netflix and surfing the web

The iPad 2 was perfect in every area except it wasn’t practical to type a math assignment in Apple’s word processor-Pages.  Again, I like things simple, and Pages is a simple, yet powerful word processor, but it lacks an equation editor for typing math problems.  Before purchasing the iPad 2, I did my research and found a way to work around the lack of an equation editor, but when I put it into practice, my workaround just wasn’t practical.

I had looked at Chromebooks briefly before I got the iPad, but chose the iPad because it was more portable.  Samsung’s Chromebook is instant on, has a great battery life (8.5 hrs), I can type math tests in Google Docs, and while I’m at it, I can update my calendar, and consult my lesson plans that I keep in a Google spreadsheet.  I can email my lesson plans to my principal directly from the spreadsheet, and I don’t have to worry about keeping my school computer synced with my home computer.  Everything is on Google Docs-I can access it anywhere.