Will Google and Chromebooks Replace PC’s

Chomebooks

I was walking through Wal-Mart the other day and seen this rather large display of Chromebooks. If you don’t know what a Chromebook is or how they work I will give you a little insight.

A Chromebook runs the lite version of a FREE operating system. When you open the Chromebook it will turn on and be ready in seconds. You log into the Chromebook with a Google account or just think of this as your Gmail account. So this is not Windows or an Apple Mac. It is a Chromebook. With the Chromebook, almost everything you do will be online. This means you will work on documents or spreadsheets on a browser.

I often get asked the question. Can you install Windows games on the Chromebook? The simple answer is NO! But you can play thousands of online games. The next question. Can you install any programs on the Chromebook? Well, the good news is YES! A few years ago Google opened up the Play Store on the Chromebook and now you can install Android Apps on the Chromebook.

So your last question would be why would I buy a Chromebook? This question is easy. If you don’t need large powerful Windows programs or some program that runs on a Mac then the Chromebook can be for you. If you never want your computer to slow down again and never get a virus or pay for anti-virus than the Chromebook is for you. If you would like to pay as little as $150.00 for a laptop that will last you for years then the Chromebook is for you!

My final thought is that you can even now use Microsoft Office Online. Of course, you need a paid subscription but it works well. I need to look into buying another Chromebook for myself. Since I am not working in schools at this point I don’t get to get my hands on them enough.

Microsoft Office 365

Office365Online

Many people that I talk to think that Office 365 is only the online component of the Microsoft Office package. The truth is Office 365 is really a label for the subscription model of Microsoft Office. Once you pay for a yearly subscription you will not only receive the benefits of using Office Online you will also be able to download the full package of Office to install onto your computer. We refer to the installed package as the FAT client. Also with the subscription model you are licensed to install Office on five machines. You can even mix and match Windows and Mac. You can also log into the Office apps on your tablets.

Everyone remembers when you were working on an important document or maybe a presentation at your office desk and saving it to a flash drive to do some touch up at home. Once you get home and plug in the flash drive into your home computer you find it didn’t copy? With Office 365 this becomes a thing of the past. When you are logged into either the online version or the desktop client all of your work is saved onto the Microsoft Cloud. With this, you will never forget your work at the office or at home. Whenever you want to work on your projects just log into Office Online and pick up right where you left off.

I also enjoy using the Outlook Online. Once I set it up the way I want it to look with folders and contacts I can be anywhere and check my email without missing a beat. My last thought is when you were almost completed with that large power point for that important meeting in the morning and your computer crashes or freezes? Well, there goes hours of your hard work! This will not happen with Office 365 as you are working it is doing an autosave in the background. Even if your computer dies all you need to do is log onto another computer with Internet access and pick up where you left off.

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.

Does Operating Systems Matter

Operating Systems

I have been working with computers since the early day’s of DOS, yes we didn’t even have a graphical user interface. When you wanted the computer to do something most of the time you would have to be able to write a program and then do the project.

Then came Apple and Windows with their pretty point and click graphical user interface. You wanted to open an application you simply double clicked on it and it opened. What was even more impressive was the fact that you could have multiple applications opened at the same time. Which I believe was the beginning of giving all of us a little OCD. This is because we could be working on one project and quickly switch to another application and look at the news. You may do this today? You are working on a large project and you open another tab and check your email or facebook?

At one time the operating system meant that you choose it because of the application you are used to using. Such as running Microsoft Windows because you are a Microsoft Office user. Or using a Mac because you enjoy using Final Cut Pro. Or you might have been a FREE type of person and you went with Linux?

In today’s modern computer world the operating system is really the less important thing on the computer. Why is this? Easy most software vendors have found that programming for the web is the best choice for their applications. I am working on a large database program now and after careful consideration, I decided to write it for any web browser. Why would I choose to do this? I am like the big guys. I want my application to work on any operating system as well as any device that may could be invented for years to come. As long as there is a way to view the Internet I can adjust my program to run on that device.

We see in schools today most of the daily work is done inside of the browser. We have Google Suite and Office 365. Kids take their tests using a web browser. Teachers are teaching from the web browser. So you can see that the operating system basically boils down to what you want to look at all day.

One last thought of today’s post. This is why when Google released the Chromebook it is such a great hit. Because people who use a computer know that the only place they will be spending their day is inside of a web browser and most people choose to use Google Chrome so why not buy a full function laptop for a few hundred dollars and put the saving into some other form of technology.

Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage

When it comes to cloud storage I often ask myself which one is the best for your day to day working environment? The truth is they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

As many of you know I work in a public school setting and we are always looking for ways to better serve the students and staff while still maintaining a balance of reliable technology for everyone.

I look at my own cloud storage and find that I am using four main ones. Google Drive for all my school-based work, Onedrive for all of my company work, iCloud for most of my personal work and then DropBox just because I have had it the longest and I still have a lot of my work on their servers. So how do you pick just one?

I have been struggling with this for some time and I think I have found the true direction to guide people in. Use whatever ego system you are working with the most. If you are a 100% Microsoft shop and work in the Office products all of the time then you would use Onedrive. This will allow you to work on files on your computer and then on the road jump into Office 365 and pick up where you left off. If you use Google Apps all the time then use Google Drive. If you are using a Mac most of the time I would suggest iCloud and also suggest buying more storage from Apple. If you use many different apps and don’t relay of web-based apps then I would suggest DropBox or Box. The real trick is to work within the ego system you choose.

At the end of the day, all of the companies out there providing cloud-based storage are very good at what they do. Your work will be safe and sound no matter where you keep it. I would however always suggest using some form of backup. I dump my files onto an external drive for safe keeping. In today’s world, nothing is beyond hacking.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Drop me a comment and let me know what if any cloud-based storage you may be using?

The Power of Google Suite

We all know that Google Suite is the tool for educational institutions everywhere. I think this is because Google started off on the right foot when the allowed all educational institutions to use Google Suite for free. When Microsoft first got into the game they were trying to charge per student. Microsoft then wondered why everyone was not running to 365? I know working for schools for over 20 years that they are strapped for funds. If you can teach typing, spread sheets and presentations for free how can you go wrong? I am with a new school district now and find myself deep into Google Suite once again. I am also proud to say I am a certified Google Admin. Today I will dig into renaming accounts using the balk tool GAM or Google Administration Management. 

Our school still teaches Office and will continue to do so since students need to learn more then one tool. Think of it this way, in shop class we don’t only teach the student to use a hammer. Schools have also embraced Google Chrome books but that thought will be a post for another day. 

Google Chromebook or Windows Cloudbook

ChromebookorCloudbook

I have been reading across the web that Microsoft is releasing a Chromebook killer their words not mine on May 2, 2017. Will this be a knife in the side of Google or a knife in the side of IT Administrator in schools trying to rush to buy this new product? I wanted to give you my thoughts from the IT Administrator side. I have been working in the IT field in education for the past 20 years. Again these are my views on the subject.

I have been using Microsoft products since I started in computers some 30 years ago. I have watched the company struggle to innovate on every level. I am not saying their software is not great, I am saying they normally are not the first ones to the table or playing field. Does anyone remember Bill Gates saying “The Internet is just a Fad”? Well that statement didn’t work out to well. To catch up to other big players in the Internet field Microsoft began to give Internet Explorer away with Windows. If you can’t build something better then NetScape, just giving yours away and try to crush the computation.

Now let’s move forward some 20+ years. Google releases a Chromebook, at first not a promising product. I remember watching their product release and the Chromebook didn’t boot well and sometimes hung when trying to use it. After some years of work and getting the Chromebook to shine they started getting the attention of people like me, IT Administrators in schools. Why not give this device a try? Google has been supplying our education market for years with Google Apps and FREE email services, which I jumped on that wagon 15 years ago. This is a company that is building on a foundation and building slow and steady. Now let’s jump to today.

Now on May 2, 2017 it is said that Microsoft will launch a Chromebook killer? Microsoft has always tried to do this build off of everyone’s success. Remember they don’t innovate! I really don’t think the schools that have adopted the Chromebook will drop them to run back to Microsoft. I also don’t think that a brand new product to hit the market will be accepted with open arms by very many IT Administrators in schools. Will they get a few nibbles? Maybe? But I know the field well and I know the people doing this very stressful job and none of them need or want a new player in the field of Internet based devices.

A final thought on market share for education. The Chromebook has played a major role on cutting Apple and Microsoft into lower shares of the education market. Is it only price that sets these devices apart? I as a person who has had the pleasure of managing Chromebooks have to say it is also the ease of administration. I can go into one web based console and manage every aspect of the Chromebook. Recently we looked at changing from iPad’s to Chromebooks as a budget move. In our final minutes of crunching numbers Apple made a smart move, they lowered the price of the iPad. This will help them maintain some market share. Microsoft made a move such as this a few years ago by giving Office 365 to education for FREE. This will keep office products in the reach of shrinking budgets across education. But bringing a Cloudbook to the education market might just prove to be a little late to the game? Anyone remember the Windows Phone?

Google Suite Or MS Office 365

Google and MS Office

I remember not long ago we were talking about Mac or PC, before that we talked about Netscape Browser or Internet Explorer and longer before that we were talking about Beta or VHS tapes. Now we get a new debate that is on the minds of every technology person and director in the world. Should we be using Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365? We are now talking about more then cloud storage we are talking about the applications people use everyday. As a long time manager of Google Suite which use to be Google Apps I understand how to manage the platform. And with a Chromebook I find it the perfect match for schools either K-12 or Higher Ed. But then you need to listen to the students. Still today most high school students grew up using Microsoft Office. If you introduce Google Suite into your Elementary schools you have a chance to allow those students to grow up in the Google Suite fashion. But what would you want to use for your business? Both of these services act and work almost the same. We can use any computer platform we want and be able to access all of our documents and spreadsheets anywhere and at anytime we have an Internet connection. I have seen a lot of colleges moving over to Google Suite, I would like to ask colleges that have made this move one simple question. Why? I think as a person who has been working in education for almost 20 years I enjoy change. I really believe that if you are in the technology field and can’t change you might need another line of work. But we as people working in education have to make the correct decision for the students future. If you are reading this and you have made the choice let me know why you made the choice you did? My last question is would you just supply both and allow your students and staff choose which one they would like to use?