10″ Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Fire

I recently turned in an iPad I was using from the job location I was working at. I told my wife that we should go out and buy an iPad of our own. We used the iPad every day while walking on the treadmill. As I was doing some research on tablets I ran into something that I knew was out I just didn’t know if it could replace the trusty iPad. While move over iPad I found a tablet that will do everything I need it to do at a fraction of the cost.

Meet the 10″ Kindle Fire. Instead of spending $350.00 for the iPad I found the 10″ Kindle Fire on sale at Best Buy for $119.00. It comes pre-loaded with most of the apps I use, Amazon Video, Amazon Music and a few others. My wife likes to watch programs on NBC and it was easy to install that FREE app as well. I even found a FREE HD YouTube app that I installed.

I am not writing this to do a full review but I can say I used it this morning on the treadmill and was able to watch the series I am watching on Amazon Video with no issues and the HD screen looks really good. I was even able to connect my Bluetooth headphones up just like any other device.

I will be doing some more testing with the device but for what we bought it for it works very well. So if you mainly consume on your tablet such as watching videos or checking email or even reading books and checking FaceBook than this might just be the device for you and you are going to save a lot of money. I give this device ten thumbs up and would recommend it to anyone.

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Word Processing Programs

Office Map

I can never get over how many college professors tell their students that they will only accept Microsoft documents! They should be telling their students they will only accept Microsoft formatted documents such as .doc or .docx. This will save the students and their parents a ton of cash. They will not have to run out and buy Microsoft office just because a professor is uneducated with all of the other programs out there. The simple truth is that all of the major word processing programs in the World today can export to a MS Word formatting of .doc or .docx.

Our middle daughter has been using her Chromebook for 4 years of college and now 2 more years of a masters program and she submits all of her work in Word formatted documents. Her professor never knows or has to know that she is writing all of her work using Google Docs. Oh NO WHAT! Yes Google Docs. She just selects email as an attachment and selects send as MS Word Document.

If you don’t want to use Google Docs download the FREE LibreOffice program. It works on every operating system and will cost you nothing, yes FREE! Before you run out and buy any software look at free open source solutions. I am starting to enjoy using Linux more and more. It just feels fast and it seems not to get viruses or spyware.

I hope this post will open your eyes and save you some money. Even for your business you can use these tools to get the job down and save on the bottom line.

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Using The iPad Day to Day

I was asked why I didn’t do my experiment for one week with the iPad? The truth is I didn’t get the video connector until this Friday. So why did I need the video connector? I wanted to increase my viewing size as you can see and put the iPad screen on a larger monitor. I am also using the on-screen keyboard to type this post because I can not use Grammarly with the external keyboard.

I am much more nervous using the iPad for a week then I was using the Chromebook. I think for things like email and web surfing I will be fine. I even found a tool that will allow me to work with Active Directory. It could be a great test to see if it could be done? But am I brave or crazy enough to give it a try?

To connect the iPad to the monitor I am using a lighting to VGA or HDMI unit we found on Amazon. At first, it was a little slow to connect but is now working fine. You do have to plug it into USB power, I plugged it into a USB port on my laptop or you can use a power block from any of your devices.

You can see from the picture that you can connect your iPad or phone to the device and send it to many places.

I am now wondering if I could edit video on the iPad? I know we have iMovie but how would I get my GoPro video to the device? Well, time will tell. And I hope I can use this iPad this week to give you more of my thoughts? And since I just completed this post using nothing but the on-screen keyboard I think I can do just find touch typing!

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Buying A Laptop

 

Laptops

Buying a laptop these days is a scary adventure. I think one of the reasons for this is that there are so many on the market. And with each laptop brand, there are so many prices. There are also so many sizes and weights to think about. I wanted to point out a few key points that you need to consider when buying a laptop.

First, let’s talk about pricing. Many times I see a person going out to buy a laptop based only on price. If you do this you will be very disappointed. Did you ever hear you get what you pay for? Well, cheap is cheap. That’s not to say you may not find a deal but make sure it is a deal on the laptop for want for the following reasons.

Second, is that screen. This is what you will be looking at for hours at a time. You need to find a screen that is easy on the eyes and has good depth and colors. You also have to make sure the screen is a comfortable size to view all day. I normally shop for the 13″ size screen. I find the 11″ too small and the 15″ too big and bulky to carry around.

Third, is the keyboard. You are going to be spending a lot of your time typing on the keyboard. You have to make sure keys don’t stick and have the right amount of travel. You will better understand travel when you test out the laptop at the store. Also, make sure the keyboards keys fit your fingers. If you have a larger hand you don’t want a keyboard with cramped keys.

Forth, battery life. We all hate when we are using a laptop and you are in the middle of a great creation or some work project and the battery dies. A good rule of thought for me is that the battery should get me through the normal 8 hour work day.

Fifth is the amount of RAM and hard drive space and today it should be a solid state drive or SSD. These drives are super fast and will make your laptop startup faster and the programs load quicker. Ram should be at least 8 GIG. Windows 10 likes to have room to breath and using only 4 GIG you will find times that the laptop seems to just sit there when you want it to be doing work.

Sixth and final thought. The weight of the laptop. You don’t want to break your shoulder every time you toss your bag over it. I have also seen many people choose not to take their laptop off their desk because it is too heavy to carry to a meeting. I normally work all day and everywhere on my laptops so it has to be light and portable.

At the end of the day buy a laptop that fits the way you work. Don’t buy a laptop to be part of some in a crowd. And don’t be afraid to spend a little more money to get a laptop that will last you for 3-5 years. And never skimp on the warranty you want to protect your investment.

 

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Chrome Book Day 7

Open Apps

Well, day 7! 1 full week of using only a Chromebook for all of my computing needs as a technologist. Pictures above is what you see when you hit the tile apps button on the Chromebook keyboard. I found this very useful and it can be found on just about all mainstream operating systems. I did use Beagle Term yesterday to program a new Cisco firewall using a serial to USB cable and it worked great. And I have said before now that you can install Andriod Apps the Chromebook feels more like a full computer. You have to watch because some of the Andriod Apps are written for a phone screen but many will go full screen.

Using this Dell 3380 has been fine. I do wish that they would have put a better screen on this machine. Reading the text is a little looking at the old VGA graphics of the past. But when I connected it to a good monitor I found that the resolution was great and more readable. Everything that you are going to do with a laptop of any maker will be fine using a Chromebook. So why on earth is anyone spending major dollars on other machines? I am still partial to my Macs at home because of my workflow in creating my videos and podcasts. And I still like my MacBook Air for the great keyboard. But workflows can be changed and buy a better Chromebook would solve the keyboard issue. Remember you get what you pay for. But as for the Chrome OS, it will and is a major player in computers. And I have seen in the hands of students they are doing great things with their Chromebooks.

So overall if you have been following this test you can see that the Chromebook is a machine that can be used every day for any type of computing. I will still be testing it out to see if I can use it for photo and video editing? If I come upon something to report about in these two areas I will report it here.

Thanks to Google for giving all computer users another outlet for computer usage. And if you are on the fence about buying a Chromebook, don’t be. Just grab one today you will be happy to live virus and spyware free.

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Chrome Book Day 6

Server Connect

I did a little experiment with File System For Windows which can be found inside of the file manager on the Chrome Book.

File System For Windows

You will need some information about the server you are connecting to. I found that using the servers IP address was the best way to connect. Leave the port number as the default. Use your network username and password, add the domain name and then the shared folder name. You can get all of this information from your IT department. Once all of the information is added click on the mount button.  Now when you open your file manager on the Chrome Book you will see the shared folder. You now can open any of the files from your server share just as you would from your Google Drive.

All of the items that I have shown so far are items that come with every Chrome Book and Chrome OS device. When you work with a device every day you will find ways to make it fit your daily computing needs. I have been so impressed that I am really looking into buying myself a shiny new Chrome Book. I am leaning towards the Asus C302CA. This Chrome Book is a 2 in 1 which means that it is a laptop and a tablet in one unit. You can find cheaper units but I want something with a great keyboard and now that we can install Andriod Apps it will also replace my iPad. I am sure I will give you more updates if or when I buy the unit.

Asus 302CA

The only drawback I see with this unit is that it has no standard USB ports and I have to buy some dongles. It also does not have an HDMI port so I will have to buy a USB-C to VGA and HDMI dongle. But from what I am seeing it is sleek and light. To be honest I still have to play with some video editing and photo editing tools so that I can take it with us on those long motorcycle trips and produce my videos.

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Chrome Book Day 5

Skype

I had to use Business Skype today and found a little quirk with the Andriod App. When I had the app open on my second monitor which I use in extended mode I noticed that when I bought the mouse on the laptop screen the Business Skype went blank. When I moved the mouse back onto the extended monitor the message came back.

This is still not enough reason to say not to get a Chromebook. You won’t always be using the second monitor and may never use the Skype Andriod App? But as I report to you the good points I felt it was only fair to report the bad findings.

I also tried to connect to our local shared drive off of one of our Windows servers. I only gave it a few minutes but could not connect. I will give that a little more attention today and see if I can connect to the local shared folders. I will give you more on that tomorrow.

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Chrome Book Day 4

SSH

On day 4 I had to work on one of our switches in a networking closest. So I grabbed the Chromebook off my desk and headed to the networking job. Once we got the wiring completed I opened the Chromebook and then opened the Andriod App Termius which is a telnet and SSH client. I added the address for the switch in a very nice interface and clicked on connect. The screen opened as you see above. I was able to work on the switch using SSH just as I would on any machine using Putty.

I feel really strongly that with Google adding the Andriod Apps it opens the Chromebook up to working just as an everyday computer. There is no reason for professional technologist that you can not use a Chromebook. One of the selling features to me is that it is instant on and fast to load a program. But even more than that you can just get work done.

This Chromebook I am using is the Dell 3380. It is the same one that we hand out to our students. I am not a supporter of handing out 11″ screens to the students, this one is 13″ and has a very clear screen. The keyboard is okay but the keys are a little noisy. It does have two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and HDMI out which is nice to connect to an external monitor which is how I use it on my desk. If I think in our next round I might look for one with a better keyboard? But overall this model has been holding up and the students really enjoy using it because it is fast to start and they say they can get work done faster.

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Chrome Book Day 3

Evernote

First, let me say the more you use anything the more you will become familiar with whatever it is. I wrote my Monday Tech Tip for work using Evernote and the screenshot/clipping tool built into the Chrome OS. To use the clipping tool hold down Ctrl/Shift and tap the windowed key.

Once I created all of my screen grabs I was able to open Evernote on the web. The Android client is not great and really not even good on the Chromebook. I think it made more for a touchscreen. But the web version of Evernote works great. I was able to get my Monday Tech Tip completed and then emailed it to all of our users.

With each day my nerves and worry about using only the Chromebook/Chrome OS for one week is diminishing. I am almost to the point of buying one for myself. Some pointers would be, but it with 64 Gig Storage and 4 Gig of ram. If you have to settle for a 32 Gig model you will be fine but with installing Andriod Apps you may fill it quickly.

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Chrome Book Day 2

On day two I started digging into some of the applications that I use on a daily bases. Since I can now install Android Apps on the Chromebook I was happy to find MS Word. I was really excited until I tried to use the Android version of Word. It is very stripped down version which makes sense it is for a tablet or phone screen. The first picture is the Andriod version of Word.

Android Word

As you can clearly see from the toolbar it is very stripped down. I guess in a pinch it will work but for real work, I would suggest that you use the Office 365 online.

Word Online

You can see from this toolbar that it is more of a normal view of what we get on the desktop version of Word.

I am also creating YouTube videos of key points about the Chromebook. I hope between the blog and the videos it will help you better learn more about using the Chromebook and Chrome OS on a daily bases.

 

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