Just another shameless review: Acer Chromebook


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Chromebook C720 from Acer

For many years I was anti-Chromebooks out of loyalty. That was a huge mistake. I had a Samsung Chromebook for the past two years and with all the changes going on in my world decided it was time to invest in a new one. I looked online at all the various Chromebooks that were available and decided on the new Acer series.

The unit is stark white – simply cool looking. The screen and graphics are improved over my old Samsung (which is two generations old now – but still completely functional).

What I love:

  • Setup was a breeze – connect to my wi-fi and type in my Google account and all my chrome settings (PC/Macintosh and old Chromebook) were pulled in within 2 minutes.
  • I love the keyboard –
  • SD slot support the new SDHC cards – 128 gigs of additional storage!
  • 32 gig SSD drive on this system is extremely useful – I am already down to 23 gig.
  • Touch screen – It really works!!!
  • USB 3.0 port
  • HDMI port
  • Chromecast (which is another product I love) works perfectly!
  • (battery life is only two charges) roughly 8.5 hours of use between charges so far.

What I didn’t like:

  • Nothing against this product – I am not a big fan of touch pads

Video playbook (YouTube and off of the SD slot) was smooth. Touch worked very nicely with the browser. The solution comes with 100 gigs of Google drive for two years which is a nice touch. Not sure I have enough data to put there but we will see. I got all of my cloud drives connected and operational very quickly.

Overall the experience with the device is incredibly impressive. From email, document creation to interacting with the web and Chromecast the experience is smooth and frankly flawless. What once was an afterthought has now become a viable technology solution. Each time I use a Chromebook I find more to love.

Overall if you are in the market for a device you can have on instantly, easily connects to wi-fi and has great battery life – the Chromebook is a great tool.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

A day trip filled spring break plan…


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Now is the winter of our discontent.

Well it may be our discontent but Dylan loves snow. He loves to bounce around in the deep snow and show off his four wheel drive (compared to puny humans and our two wheel drive). I look forward to our walks every day. Not as much as Dylan does. He waits for me by the garage door ready to go the minute I get home from work.

For the boys spring break we are doing a mini-vacation this year focused on Civil War monuments near us. This includes the C&O canal that Dylan loves as well as a number of walking parks. The four of us will explore a little of a smaller history of the area.

Often when you go someplace you explore the big history (Gettysburg, Bull Run, Mount Vernon) but you don’t always go to the little places. We have decided the little places would be fun.

For those interested spent last evening cleaning out my office a little more I decommissioned by old Active Directory box. I haven’t turned it on in more than a year so away it goes. I am officially now down to only 6 computers. The least I have had in more than 20 years. That of course not not count VM’s I have running in AWS for learning – or VM’s running on one of my machines at home. That is simply the overall physical number of computers I have. One of them (my home server) is going away this weekend. I just need to figure out what to do with all the data connected to that system.

Perhaps I should buy another WD cloud drive.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Initial thoughts on Samsung TV’s…


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On the back of whimsy.

I find myself struggling sometimes to reconcile a lot of different things. So today is reconciliation free day. I will not attempt to make sense of anything today. I am simply going to move along my path and see what happens without trying to bring things back into focus or stare at them for hours wondering if in the end I missed something.

Quick Review:

I am a huge Samsung TV fan (I own four – I know overkill). We added a new TV for the living room (we are slowly redoing the house making it fit us perfectly). Through this process I was looking at TV’s and frankly I bought a Samsung again. They have the best picture by far although I have to say the new ambient light feature is something I have to think about a bit.

I love the newer, thinner screens and the Samsung apps are fantastic. I need to finish setting up the new tv as we no longer have a game system in the living room I will have to run the Samsung apps for Hulu, Netflix and Amazon video (I don’t know if there is an Amazon app – I hope there is).

In the end I suspect I am a geek. I do love the ability to take any device and push the content of that screen to my television. I suspect the concept I talked about on my other blog (Screen as a Service) is but hours from being real. There are even Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects that get you close to that dream.

I will do a full review later on – this was just an initial thinking about TV’s.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Innovation does not live inside the box…


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Innovation on a timetable. If you wander around Kickstarter and Indiegogo you will see people taking dreams and trying to make them real. From the initial concept to the final product they are trying to make something better, improved or just fitting a specific need. When they start their projects they work hard to create a timeline.

Some, make that timeline.

Most do not.

Why?

Innovation isn’t something that fits neatly into a little box. Its sloppy and unrefined. If you invite into your house for dinner expect a belched thank you. Its messy at its best. There in lies the interesting reality. First off innovation fixes problems one way. It isn’t the panacea that will solve all problems in a specific space for all people. It does, open the door for others to innovate.

Some projects that are truly innovative must create not only a whole new solution but the software and hardware that goes into that process. New things cause other companies to heavily evaluate them before releasing them which adds time. When you are making things a specific way you also have issues in the manufacturing process.

So, if you back a project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo don’t expect it on time. Expect it when it arrives. You will get an automated email asking you to confirm your shipping information and then you will have your new idea.

Innovation doesn’t live on timetable. It’s a game changer. When you change the game you change the rules. The rule that breaks first is estimation. But in the end you get what you wanted.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Improving my home office.


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I don’t have enough desk space. I realized that yesterday when I was thinking about cleaning up my office. Each of my tables has a specific function in my office and frankly I need to get rid of a couple of PC’s and add another table. I can run everything I want on my big laptop and the desktop systems haven’t been on in a year – which by my wife’s rule means they need to go away.

Murphy’s law corollary: work on something long enough to improve it and it will break. Hopefully that doesn’t apply to my entire office.

Its going to need a day spent running the P to V tools for the machines but then I suspect the best thing to do is retire all three. I don’t use the home server except for backups of one machine anymore. I really only use the AD boxes to play on occasion – I haven’t built a VM on Hyper-V in more than  year.

Having a lab used to be critical for my job. Now its just taking up floor space.

There was a time when I had three server class machines, and several desktops running the server OS in my basement. I spent roughly 90 bucks a month on electricity alone for those devices. My how things have changed.

A lot of that is the improvement in virtualization. With a laptop, an SSD drive and enough memory you can easily house and host any number of systems. From UNIX (I have Redhat and Ubuntu running), Windows (I have 8.1 and 2012 running – testing and seeing if I am ready to upgrade). I also have a VM with ChromeOS and one with Android running. I had one with Windows Phone, but I didn’t keep it.

Sometimes it is amazing what you can do.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Incomplete Sunday thoughts…


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I am geeking out with the Sonos system.  It produces crisp sound no matter what you are using. I can play an LP, CD, Tape or stream XM music (or for that matter play the full XM through my home theater receiver). What did we do before music systems like this?

My next project (once I get the current ones done) is to evaluate wire maintenance systems. I have a ton of wires on my desk, which isn’t horrible but I would like to have a cable management system so that they are hidden from view. Back in the day that didn’t used to bother me but for some reason it does now.

There is an interesting trend going on in the tablet world right now. There are ads from a Microsoft perspective that focus on business enablement. They offer a last second (and works for games as well) but the focus is business. Apple and Samsung are focused as much on enabling the user as anything. The apple commercials are stylistic and drive to enabling the best of each of us. The Samsung ads focus on things we do every day made easier. I am not sure which of the ad types I like better. I have over the years owned tablets from all three. I started carrying a windows tablet with the release of Windows 7 and all the interesting tablet hardware that entailed. I switched to an iPad in 2011 because it offered a different view of how to interact with the world around me. Recently I’ve noticed that the newer Windows Tablets are actually feature even with the iPad – sad because they started out ahead and had fallen behind.

The ability to interact with your monitor, your tv and your entrainment services moves things more and more away from the Windows Experience. Its not that windows doesn’t support entertainment its that as a device it doesn’t offer the freedom of the other tablets. I got an iPad air nearly a week ago and used it every day for about an hour to and hour and a half. I didn’t have to charge it until today. Windows Tablets run out of gas quickly they are better but don’t understand the tablet metaphor, still.

Still they have moved to feature equal for the first time in a long time. From there it is always a question of who wins. There are as I said three distinct camps. Each one has a huge advantage and sadly each one still has a fatal flaw. I guess in the end the determination of victory will be the acceptance of a specific devices flaw. Or one of the three fixes the flaw and wins.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Stuck in Whatville…


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Interesting experiment this morning. I took my iPad 3 (I need the 30 pin connector for some devices) and my iPad Air and upgraded them both to 7.0.6 today. Both devices had the download and install button rather than the install. My iPhone 5s had predownloaded the update so it won’t add it to the list – it was rebooted and updating in less than a minute.

I started updating the iPad 3 first. I clicked the download and install button. It began that process and I put it on my desk to finish the update. I then got into my bag, got out my iPad Air and did the same exact process. There was about a 45 second head start for the older iPad in this process.

The Air downloaded, loaded and restarted more than 5 minutes ahead of the iPad 3. Want to know what the value of the Air is? It is significantly faster than the older iPads. Speed matters!

Personally the last three weeks have been a blur. I need to take some time to get back and centered. I’ve let my mediations be taken over by inner thoughts I can’t quell. Time to take back my inner peace.

Sometimes you just have to consider the what why and how.

Sometimes you just consider the what.

I am stuck in whatville the past three weeks and need to get out of the rut.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A writer who loves writing…


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when I was 20 I was first introduced to ee cummings. his writing intrigued me in particular the non-use of capital letters. Unique is an interesting trait and one that in the end is very hard to maintain. He was successful because his writing as well as different was unique. I am also a huge fan of the expat TS Elliot. His poem the portrait of the artist as a young man has spoken to me for years.

Over the years a number of writers have influenced my writing but also my reading. I have spent time with Asimov and Heinlein. Ben Bova in particular when he was the editor of Omni was a favorite. I had the pleasure of meeting Ursula K. Le Guin once many years ago and loved her books in particular those set in and around Earthsea.

By the early 70’s I was a huge (and remain) Tolkien fan. But Star Wars interrupted my Sci-Fi world in the mid-70’s and for a time I loved all things space related. I had loved NASA from the first time I saw a launch (1965) on our old television set.

I enjoy reading what others see just over the horizon. Or what they see when two people sit in a bar and relive a life 1/2 lived. James Joyce, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf and others all took me wandering within my own mind. Wondering if in fact I was crazy at times.

Sometimes I miss those dog eared books of yesterday. Loved so that the corners were worn and the covers torn. My Kindle my friend always presents them new and fresh sometimes as Audible books, sometimes as books I read. Certainly as a reader I can consume much more with with Kindle around than with other devices but then I do miss the dog ears.

A good book isn’t just a friend once. It is a journey you can take again and again. Each time I read the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings I find nuances and things that I had missed before. Books add to your experience and to your life.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Reflections on age and winter


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Sometimes its really hard to get going in the morning. Today has been such a day. I used to be a morning person. But as the days get shorter and the nights get longer (winter) I am not as much of a morning person as I used to be.

Yes I know that the journey that is your day cannot begin without the first step. But I prefer stepping down onto a warm floor not a freezing cold floor so the first step is delayed. That is wholly due to the reality of cold.

That and my back hurts a little. Walking on snow the past 6 days in the evening has tweaked my back just enough that it hurts just enough to remind me that I am over 50. When I was younger it had the courtesy not to do that.

Lots going on today so it’s a short wishing I were in a warm climate blog.

PS. To those who believe Rodents – I hope you are wrong. To old man winter isn’t it about time you pack it in and head off to your winter home?

.doc

Before me lie a fork in the road…


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The concept of loyalty is one I have chased my whole life. I am not sure if I am broken or just slow anymore. I have however learned that you have loyalty to family and if you can achieve that then all else is moot.

Unlike Phaedrus chasing quality I do think I am safer in my reality.

The snow is melting. Interestingly that means that what were difficult walks with the boys are now going to be worse for a couple of days. Slogging through the snow was tough but slogging through mud will be even tougher. Because of the snow piles there will be no way to avoid the mud.

There is a path ahead that leads us to where we wish to go. Like Frost we come to a fork in the road. To the right leads us towards the light and within the light a vision of what may be. Away from the light, the rougher trail leads to an unseen future. The conundrum which should we choose?

In the poem the author choose the path less traveled. From that he was all the better have taken the trail less beaten. But there are times you have to wonder if the harder trail isn’t in the end the easier route to take. Bound to a path that leads away from conflict and people you will always find solitude and peace but can you achieve your goals and dreams by taking the harder road? It is only physically harder. You have to be bound by challenge, by emotion and in the end physical as well. In becoming a whole person do we in the end need to choose a different path? Perhaps one that doesn’t reveal itself until we take one step forward and then two steps back.

I wonder that, sometimes.

But then I wrap it all back up and put it in the box that sits in my closet. The option to choose remaining but untaken, unfulfilled and in the end quiet in a box with a bow still loosely clinging to the lid. I can always choose.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow