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Click to see full-sizeAfter my HP notebook burned out a month ago, I debated with myself over what to replace it with. Finally, I decided to order an Acer Chromebook. It arrived just after I posted the previous issue of CompuNerds.Net-News. Click on the thumbnail photos to see them full-size: the first thing that strikes you about the Chromebook is its size: it's enough larger than a netbook so that it can have a full-size keyboard. The keyboard on the netbook that I got for my wife about four years ago was about 92% of full-size, which made it difficult to type on for any extended length of time, so we finally just gave the netbook away. And the Chromebook's 11.6" screen is noticably larger and easier to work with than a netbook's 10.1" screen. Yet the Chromebook is just a bit more than half the size of our 15" Toshiba laptop... and weighs only 3.3 pounds, which makes the 10-pound Toshiba feel like a boat anchor. The Chromebook's outside dimensions are about 8.5" x 11" so that letter-size papers fit nicely in the slipcase with the Chromebook.

Click to see full-sizeBefore buying a Chromebook, I googled for "run LibreOffice on Chromebook," and found the must-have, "killer app" that clinched my switch to the Chromebook: "Install Free Nexus with LibreOffice." You'll find it in the Chrome Web Store by searching for "LibreOffice." It integrates right into Google Drive, and is uncanny how fast LibreOffice starts up with my *.doc, *.docx, *.xls, *xlsx, *.ppt and *.pptx files! You can generate PDFs from your documents and do everything else you can do in LibreOffice, including saving your files in Microsoft Office formats. (If you'd like a PDF copy of this document, click here.) The right-click context menu gives you formatting options in LibreOffice. In addition, the Options tab on the right shows how you can share your documents as you edit them or after you save them. I can easily imagine that if Google promotes this app as a way to open, update and save Microsoft Office files on the Chromebook without having to buy Microsoft Office and an expensive Windows 8 ultrabook for ultra-portability, Google would see a stampede of folks snapping up Chromebooks. (If you just can't live without the Microsoft Office 2010 "ribbon" interface, you can use "Install Free Nexus with Microsoft Office.")

Click to see full-sizeTo get at your Google and third-party apps, click on the square containing nine little squares on the "launcher" (the "taskbar" in Windows OS). The apps screen is a new feature in Chrome OS: the first version of the Chrome operating system had everything in the Chrome browser, but now the apps display looks more like an Android phone or tablet. Several of the third-party apps and all the Google apps are the same as on my Google Nexus smartphone, but some are unique to the Chromebook. One app that was sort of promising is "Codeanywhere" - it connects to my Dropbox account which contains the HTML and JavaScript code for all four of my websites. Codeanywhere has built-in FTP access to my websites, runs on Chrome OS, PCs, Macs, Android devices and Linux. Using it, however, proved cumbersome on the PC, nearly unthinkable on my smartphone, and I couldn't get it to work on the Chromebook... but I kept looking. Finally I found another app, "ShiftEdit," that works better for my website development. It becomes the default editor in Google Drive for HTML, JavaScript and text files, meaning I had to move these files from my Dropbox to my Google Drive folder on the PC and sync them with Google's "cloud." Being a web-based development environment, it's much slower than an installed program on a PC, but it works well enough to make minor code changes if I'm away from the PC. For uploading from the Chromebook to my websites, I use the web-based "www.net2ftp.com" FTP client.

With Dropbox you can always access your stuff from any device when you need it: your documents, photos, HTML files and music. Use this referral link to sign up for 2Gb of space free, and get an extra 500Mb: http://db.tt/Ul9t6eGf. Then grab your own referral link so you can get up to 16Gb free by inviting others to join Dropbox! You can keep stuff private, or share files and even whole folders with family, friends or the whole world.

"Don't criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins..."
...because then you're a mile away and you have his shoes!

Click to see full-sizeThe next impressions are the startup and ease of setup: it started up in eight seconds flat, as advertised! I entered my Google username and password, then those of my wife, and our Chrome browser tabs, bookmarks and other settings were imported automatically in seconds: we were ready to go! This sure beats the countless hours it takes to set up a new Windows PC. Cheryl's and my personal homepages, Google Plus, Google Drive, Google Play Music albums, and Google Picasa photos were all right there in our Chromebook logins, just like our Google apps on our notebook PC. Battery life proved to be as they claim: six hours. After setting up Google Cloud Print, we could print to our network printer at home. In this photo I've clicked on the full-screen key (located above the number 5) to make the tabs, omnibox and bookmarks bar disappear.

Click to see full-sizeOn the right side are the power-in port and a USB port, and on the left side are USB, HDMI, audio-in and audio-out ports. The Chromebook has a built-in webcam and microphone as well. A one-finger click anywhere on the large "Touch-Anywhere" touchpad equals a left-click in Windows, and a two-finger click anywhere equals a left-click in Windows. Two-finger swipes let you scroll horizontally or vertically. The top row of keys let you switch full-screen on and off, adjust brightness and volume, and turn the computer on or off. The Acer Chromebook has Bluetooth in the hardware, but it appears to not be activated yet in the Chrome OS software. So if we need to transfer photos from my wife's cellphone, for now we must connect to my smartphone's Bluetooth.

Click to see full-sizeHere you can see all my tabs across the top of the screen just like on the PC, of course, because it's the same browser and settings. My online Russian course I teach came up normally, and it was easy to go into Chrome's Settings and add a Russian keyboard: now I can keep up with my online students using the Chromebook. Switching keyboard layouts is the same as in Windows: press the Alt+Left Shift keys. One difference with the tabs, though, is that clicking on the New Tab shows your most used web pages. I've set up the display so the launcher only appears when I move the mouse pointer down to the bottom of the screen: this plus the full-screen mode gives me more screen real estate for the browser and applications. If you click on the right end of the launcher, you'll see a menu that gives you options to shut down, sign out or lock the Chromebook, change WiFi and Bluetooth connections, set up the keyboard for different languages, adjust volume, brightness and other settings. To sum it up, the Chromebook is a lightweight computer that promises to be a heavyweight for getting things done!

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

The Security Blurb:
See the article GoDaddy goes down, taking countless websites offline; Anonymous claims responsibility to learn how a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack can bring down one of the largest website hosting and registration services in the U.S. The development websites - registered on GoDaddy's DNS servers - where I work went offline for over half of the day on September 11, along with thousands of others. Later GoDaddy announced (whether true or not) that it wasn't Anonymous, but rather an error in its software that caused the outage. Regardless, DDOS attacks can bring down major websites, and have done so in the past.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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