Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why I cheated on Chromebooks...and why I came back

This is a long post so if you have the attention span of a fish, skip to the last paragraph or so.
I was one of the original testers for the Cr-48 chromebook. It was awesome. I still have the same windows laptop I had when I received the C-48. I've upgraded the RAM, but otherwise it's the same now-four year old windows 7 laptop.
After I got rid of the Cr-48 due to a hinge gone bad I was interested in tablets. I got a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and used that for while before getting an OG Nexus 7. Both tablets were good for specific purposes, but they didn't have great apps for note taking. Maybe it's because I've grown up taking notes with pen and paper, but I wasn't that great at adapting to clunky styli with touchscreens that weren't designed with notes in mind.
I was interested in where chromebooks were at, it having been a year and half-ish since I'd said goodbye to the Cr-48 so I bought an Acer C720. One of my classes was using Google Docs and Google+ for assignments and out-of-the-classroom discussions all semester and the C720 performed admirably. It was lightweight, the battery life was excellent, and boot up time/wake time were practically instantaneous compared to my "traditional" laptop; those were the biggest reasons in choosing a chromebook.
Well, why didn't I get a bluetooth keyboard for one of my tablets? I did. But the hassle of carrying two things that needed charging and not have them built together in a laptop form wasn't worth it (I know, #firstworldproblems and all, but still), plus the input lag was slowly driving me nuts.
So I got a Note 10.1 and the aftermarket s-pen accessory which almost, almost, replaced my pen and paper method for taking notes. The screen was great (I don't really care much about resolution, as long as I can do what I need to), battery life was pretty much like brand new, and my virtual notes were piling up. But once again, it didn't suit me (and my professors didn't like tablets in the classroom, but laptops? Sure, no problem...).
I'm rocking a C720P and right now it's the best thing for me. I've read plenty of reviews of chromebooks and it seems like a small but vocal minority always appears in the comments.
Basically people want to know what the big deal is about chromebooks. I take the position that they haven't used one, or are not in the target markets of education or people who just want basic web access and not much else.
The education market values chromebooks for the security, ease of use, and price; the consumer side of the education market values them for the long battery life, the ability to get on the full web, security, quick boot/wake times, and price.
Anyone who provides tech support for their families, especially if it's for the older generation should seriously consider a chromebook. There are great online options for video chatting, take two seconds to Google them. There's no arduous sign-up or log-in process.
I see the vast majority of people using their expensive PC's for things I can do just as well on my much cheaper chromebook (cough thousand-dollar-facebook-machines cough). The only reason I still use my windows laptop is for the larger screen when watching movies or typing up some Office document that many professors still require exact formatting. That first reason may be going away though, as larger-screened chromebooks are released. I've got an external hard drive that I keep all of my multimedia on and with USB 3.0 integration, my chromebook can handle streaming media from it without issue.
I'm genuinely curious as to how much time people spend in their browsers (a ballpark estimate per day). I only know and see a tiny percentage of people who actually use their desktop or laptop pc's for serious "heavy" work, such as media creation.
TL;DR - Chromebooks usefulness far outweighs the downsides in my particular situation.
There's more to say about topics branching off this one, but I'll save them for later. So, what type of things do you use your PC for that aren't in the browser? Do you have a chromebook? Why do you use it and why did you get one?

Monday, December 24, 2012

What is success?

I was listening to the radio earlier and heard something about Louis Armstrong. Ricky Riccardi, an archivist at the Louis Armstrong House was one of the guests being interviewed. The following is my slight paraphrase of one of his favorite stories about Armstrong.

In August of 1967, Louis Armstrong and his good buddy Jack Bradley were in a motel room, not a suite, a rundown motel on the side of the road. Louis tells Jack, "You know, Jack? I've really made it.” And Jack says, “Uh, what do you mean?” And Louis says, “Anytime I’m hungry, I could walk over to the refrigerator, get an egg, and make myself something to eat. I’ve really made it.” And Jack...had tears in his eyes. Jack told him, "You know, you should have filet mignon three times a day,” and Louis just brushed him off. That was the height of his success. By this point, he had “Hello Dolly”, 35 movies, TV every week, but the fact that he can make an egg sandwich anytime he wanted, that was it. He had really made it.”

I just wanted to put this out there, going into the holiday season, and a new year. Ask yourself, what does it mean to be successful, how will you know when you have arrived, and will you be happy at your destination?

 (Original Here and Now article -

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Freedom Means to Me defines freedom as, "the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint." Liberty is defined (from as well) as, "freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control." So in effect, freedom is being able to make your own choices.

Freedom to me means that I have the ability to make choices by myself. I have the capacity to worship a God I believe in, or not believe in one at all. I have the ability to decide whether or not I agree with my country's government and the way it's run. Freedom does not mean I can avoid the consequences of my actions, it does not mean I can live thinking my actions won't affect others around me. I can never take freedom for granted. I respect those who died for the country I live in and will do my best to improve whatever country I may live in.

The Declaration of Independence includes the sentence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mean are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Within that context, freedom means we are given/blessed with the divine right to life, liberty to our own choices, and the pursuit to make our lives what we want. America takes this "freedom" idea seriously, and has become one of the greatest nations in modern history. In the 20th century, through the freedom extended to the people, America became a powerful nation that led the world in science and technology.

Freedom means that we as human beings have the right to make decisions for ourselves and to improve our lives as we see fit. Freedom isn't fully appreciated if you've never lived without it and that is what we should all strive for; a world that allows us to make decisions (and to bear the repercussions of our actions), to better the world around us and for others.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


All Around the World: People are sleeping, eating, working...
All Around the World: People are busy, bored, restless...
All Around the World: People are rushing, waiting, apathetic...

All Around the World, people are living their lives going about their business.
Some want to be re-incarnated into a better life, so they try and live good, purposeful lives now to avoid being bitten in the rear end in the next life.
Some want to go to heaven right after they die, so they also live lives filled with "good deeds" to make up for all their bad actions.

Me? I believe that we all have a simple choice. And even if the non-believers are right and nothing happens to us after we die and the world will end by human/natural causes, at least I have the hope of something better. If nothing happens after I die, I won't ever be aware of it. And living a moral life with good deeds can't hurt anyways.

All Around the World: People are living. Are you living to imitate others? Or are you living to make yourself unique and stand out in a way that will prompt others to ask, "What is so different about that person?"
What will you choose?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Google Cr-48 Experience

Well, I received my Cr-48 awhile ago now and have had time to thoroughly use it. Keep in mind that this is a prototype and the physical system I have will never actually be sold in stores.

The hardware itself is made of sturdy rubber coated plastic. The rubber gives it a nice anti-slip feel and overall, I prefer the all matte black look to some of the flashier laptops available. The matte screen is also good, considering some people want to be able to see their computer screens, should they prefer to work outside. I wish there had been at least two USB ports, instead of a lone one by the power plug.

The keys that replaced normal function keys you'd see on a Windows based laptop are actually quite useful once you get used to them. The hard key for switching tabs is very handy, if you're the type who likes to keep separate windows open for differing sets of tabs. Once I used this on the Cr-48, it became difficult for me to remember I didn't have that key on my R580. The other key that became very useful fast, is the "New Tab" key, which replaces the Caps Lock key. If you really want, you can put the default setting back to Caps Lock.  This key is much more useful than even hitting ctrl+T.

The large touchpad is also really good. It takes some getting used to, having to press with two fingers simultaneously for a right-click function, but it becomes second nature after enough time. Alternatively, you can press alt + one click. Multi-touch features are limited to scrolling with two fingers, but thats all you should need. If you're manipulating photos in any way, you'll be better off plugging in a mouse.

So the software is the Chrome browser. Plain and simple. There are few options in the browser that you won't find in the OS version. Google continually pushes updates, which is just fine with me, because I don't have to worry about security issues. Also, with every update, the differences between the browser and the OS, at least on the surface become less and less.

In regards to the software and USB ports together: there needs to be multiple USB ports, at a minimum 2. One for a mouse, one for a flash drive, or a printer. Even though Google has Google Cloud Print, it kills the whole point of having this as a potential primary computer, if you have to go to a conventional computer hooked up to a printer. Google could work in a print manager on the local device, instead of requiring an internet connection every time you want to print. Conceivably, there could be a database of printer drives that could be downloaded to your Chrome OS device and that could work with any printer you have.

In my opinion, when the retail versions of Chrome OS hit, they have to retain and add the following to make them as good, if not better than the Cr-48:

  1. Good style; I love the simple look and feel of the all-black, rubber coated Cr-48.
  2. Long battery life: This is a must, especially if Google is planning on promoting the "All-web, all the time" angle. 
  3. Matte screen: not much to say there.
  4. More USB ports: Please, who uses just 1 USB port at any one time? I find times when I've had a mouse plugged in, and yet I still need to print something (see above for the printer argument).
  5. SD slot/webcam/microphone: Keep all these components, they're practically requirements for laptops now.
  6. Fast boot up/wake time: Google Chrome OS can't grow like other programs have (iTunes, I'm looking at you), effectively ruining a major selling point. 
To anyone that argues that Google is too powerful, asking us to trust them with all our data and not having any control over any outages that may take place, remember, you don't have to use their services in the first place There are Windows/Mac based solutions that work for lots of people already. Frankly, if you're worried about Google, your probably not the type of customer they're looking for.
-On that note, Google could use Google Gears to allow accessible offline storage of e-mails on Google Chrome OS.

Wrapping up, I look forward to the retail versions of any and all Chrome OS laptop that comes along. I only hope the companies involved don't mess it too badly. 

Jury's Out

Jury duty is an important part of our justice system. Whether or not you think our system works, democracy is the best practical form of government. In all cases, the accused is innocent until proven, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty. In the last few weeks I've been introduced to new shades of gray and the subtle differences between how a law is written and how it should be interpreted. This makes it even harder to unanimously decide on a verdict.

In the case I was involved in, a doctor was charged with 4 counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree. The doctor was accused of inappropriately touching some of his female staff when (in the words of the prosecuting attorney), "they were alone." Just because he was charged and it came to trial, so far, does not mean he is guilty. 3 of the charges were alleged by one woman and the 4th was alleged by another woman. The alleged incidents specifically being charged happened years ago now and the women no longer work for this doctor. As a jury, we all agreed that the 4th count, brought by the single woman was a not guilty plea. There was simply too much "reasonable doubt," that we couldn't lead to a guilty verdict on.

The work relationship between the woman with the most charges and the doctor was extremely unprofessional in his actions and words on the sound recording of a normal work day. While the jury didn't favor either the defense or the prosecution (we couldn't let that be a determining factor anyways), we had the most trouble in deliberation with the definition of criminal intent.

Basically, as it related to this particular case, criminal intent comprises of 3 sub-definitions of the use of force. Also, the use of force had to involve touching the genitals, or the areas close to the genitals, or even the clothing covering those areas.
 Paraphrasing here:
1. It is enough force if the accused overcame the accuser through physical force.
2. It is enough force if the accused, through the threat of force, committed a criminal act towards the accuser.
3. It is enough force if the accused, through the use of concealment or the element of surprise, committed a criminal act towards the accuser.

"The element of surprise." I LOATHE that phrase now. The entire timeline of events, the behavior of all the parties involved and the questionable evidence lead 10/12 of us having enough "reasonable doubt" that lead to a not guilty verdict. The other two, and I'm not bashing them, I respect their points of views, were under the belief that the accuser was surprised, when in the time of day it happened, even though she had shown a tolerance to this type of behavior. The rest of the jury believed that she was "startled" when it happened, much like the way you might pass by a dog that runs out and barks at you. The first few times, you may be surprised, but when you go by enough times, the time of day it happens only startles you. Or, if your car backfires a lot. You're startled when it happens, because in some ways, you expect it to happen. We were teetering on the belief that the accuser had in fact, grown to expect it.

To wrap up, most of the details have been left out, but this is the overall run-down of the case. We, as the jury, believed that the doctor had indeed, at multiple times, inappropriately touched some of his female employees. However, as per the judge's orders, we had to consider all the testimony, give weight to what/who we believed, evaluate each charge individually as well, and be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor was guilty of the charges. There simply wasn't enough evidence to do that. While I honestly hope that doctor never again makes a vulgar comment, or even tries to touch a female employee inappropriately, I know, based on all the evidence that was presented, that he most likely will. As so many of the jurors pointed out, "Sooner or later, you get what's coming."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Take Time

Take time to think
   It is the source of power
Take time to play
   It is the secret of perpetual youth
Take time to read
   It is the fountain of wisdom
Take time to pray
   It is the greatest power on earth
Take time to love and be loved
   It is a God-given privilege
Take time to be friendly
   It is the road to happiness
Take time to laugh
   It is the music of the soul
Take time to give
   It is too short a day to be selfish
Take time to work
   It is the price of success

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How is Internet Piracy going to be stopped?

I thought I had posted this after I wrote it awhile ago, but it turns out I didn't.

Internet piracy, the illegal downloading of movies, music, games, etc., will only be stopped when the makers of said items stop trying to sell solely for profit. The "Big Four" record companies control about 70% of the worldwide music industry and an astounding 80% of the United States market ( The movie studios are similar, with the "Big Six" and the "Mini-Major" companies controlling vast amounts of media that people consume (

When a record label or movie studio pays its biggest stars millions of dollars, not to mention the royalties and percentages of profits from music sales and films, respectively, the people who consume this media have little problem with downloading from torrents, various website, and programs such as The Pirate Bay, Kazaa, etc. Especially in this economy, people have less money to spend.

The solution to these problems is simpler than the record companies, film studios, etc. want us to think. Various "reports" out of the RIAA claim that billions of dollars and "thousands of jobs" are lost every year due to piracy. Exactly what kind of long-term jobs are lost due to piracy?

To battle this, music studios need to recognize that CD's are going out the door, and few people buy entire albums, especially when iTunes offers the one hit song from a popular album for 99 cents. Music labels need to set up their own stores, undercut Apple's pricing, and watch the profits roll in. Movie studios need to set up their own online stores as well, sell their movies for half what the DVD cost (because there is no physical disks and physical transportation costs to pay for), and watch their profits come in as well. And when a user has downloaded a song or movie, that's it. It's in a high quality, non-DRM format, and the user can do whatever they want with it. Meanwhile, the companies, if they wanted, could include a tiny file that connects a downloader to a particular file. If that file ever makes its way onto The Pirate Bay, torrent sites and the like, the user would be responsible for a REASONABLE price to pay the companies in so called "lost revenue." The price paid however, needs to high enough for the downloader to not do it again, but not enough to bankrupt them.

There also needs to be an option for a digital locker. Since many online shops such as amazon/itunes/google play/etc. are selling their own content, why can't it be easier to get all of your media into one place and enjoy it when you want it, where you want it?

These solutions could work, if the companies would be willing to even try it. The short term profits might take a hit, but the long-term benefits would include having loyal, legal consumers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why the TSA is ineffective (and what we can do)

The TSA is really nothing more than "Security Theater." ( Terrorists increasingly devise newer methods and the TSA will forever be playing catch-up. When the failed underwear bomber failed, terrorists didn't insist on trying that method until a plane was brought down, they moved on to other methods. When United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it, when the "Underwear bomber" failed, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it, and when the recently discovered UPS and FedEx packages were discovered before they blew up cargo planes, again, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it. These are just a few examples of how the TSA hasn't been involved in preventing catastrophe.

Many people are opposed to the new body scanners that practically strip search them at airports. Even when people opt-out of the scanners, the TSA has done what amounts to body cavity searches. When the TSA does perform the "enhanced" searches, they have little regard for people's dignity, privacy, or common sense.

If you listen to this (, basically, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has described in detail, in an all-English article how they planned the failed cargo plane bombings in 3 months and how it cost them less than $5000. NPR's guest basically states that AQAP believes in "death by a thousand cuts." By allowing our fear to best us, by allowing the TSA to strip-search us, by allowing ourselves to trade freedom for security that is ineffective we are allowing the enemy to win. 

So, what to do? How do we fix this problem? While I don't have all the answers, let's start with the obvious. Use common sense. Observe people's behavior, stop using such invasive search techniques, stop using the body scanners. Use more bomb sniffing dogs, which by the way, are way better at detecting chemical signatures than machines. Trust the passengers to do the right thing, for they are truly the last line of defense against any passenger-based attack. Divert the resources used in putting the body scanners in airports to better the kind of intelligence that tracked the UPS and FedEx packages. We can keep the conventional metal detectors, and emptying of pockets at the airport, but please, keep it to that.