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7 Days With a Google Chromebook

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the potent-portables dept.

Cloud 127

jfruhlinger writes "Now that Chromebook laptops are finally here, the question is: can you really do serious work with them? The only way to find out is to dive on in, and so Steven Vaughn-Nichols spent a week using a Chromebook for all his daily computing tasks. In the end, he was mostly positive on the experience — but was frustrated by a number of rough edges, including poor documentation and a failure of some components of the system to work together."

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127 comments

Chromebook are faget laptop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804138)

Only faget use Chromebook. It is best laptop for sucking faget dick because it have built in gloryhole haha faget laptop fagets

Re:Chromebook are faget laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36808346)

I am sad that Apple is now so mainstream that the "faget" jokes are targeted elsewhere. Stick a "$" in the name somewhere and the transition will be complete. Or perhaps just talking about Steve Job$ will do the trick?

"Documentation"? (3, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804140)

That's so twentieth century. Isn't everything supposed to be "intuitive" now?

Re:"Documentation"? (4, Informative)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804186)

The only intuitive interface is the nipple. Everything else should have documentation.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804216)

According to Apple, if your iOS app needs documentation, you did it wrong and you need to fix it.

I tend to agree with them.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804414)

I guess they're doing it wrong too. http://manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/iphone_user_guide.pdf [apple.com]

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804470)

Not really; most people never need to read that.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804966)

Most people won't read Google's either, so what was your point exactly?

Re:"Documentation"? (2)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805058)

I think his point is that he likes Apple a lot.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36806844)

I think it was that apples can look like womens breasts sometimes...

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807012)

His point is Apple is doing it less wrong than Google.

Specifically, you never hear a review of the iPad lamenting the lack of documentation. Yet that's one the issues the reviewer had with the Chromebook.

Re:"Documentation"? (2)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 2 years ago | (#36810530)

I've got two issues with your comment.

One: the GPPP(whatever) was comparing the entire ChromeOS with and iOS app. It was ridiculous to begin with.

Two: I was exactly in the same situation as the author of the article - how to do a screen shot. For me it was on my iPod Touch. How the hell do you do that? I had to Google it to discover that Home button + Sleep Button will put a picture in the photos app. Not the most intuitive combo and there's no way you would figure that out without help or documentation.

And when iOS added "multitasking", I double-pressed the home button expecting to see the music player controls pop up. But I see this row of icons appear beneath the dock. What the hell was that? Some googling gave me the answer. Turns out it was the Task Manager [engadget.com] .

The fact that the user base of the iOS is orders of magnitude larger than ChromeOS might account for the dearth of documentation. Word just gets around on how to do certain things in the iOS. But it's certainly not because it isn't needed.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807034)

Bah! Apple's first iPad releases certainly had rough edges on it. Even still suffers in some places and to say Apple got it right is certainly not my opinion.

Chromebook no nothing about it, but my issue with Google as a whole is their lack of collaborative process with their applications, you can tell even to this day that Google Analytics was built completely different to Google Docs ad that Google Maps and Google Docs are not built the same way and that Google Mail and Google Maps is not built in the same way.

Google as a whole needs a complete rewrite, having said that the job to do so would be so big no one team would know where to start.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

CapuchinSeven (2266542) | more than 2 years ago | (#36809594)

I'll be honest, this is one good reason why I love using Apple products so much. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fanboy and I love me some Linux on my servers, I'll use and support open source all I can but there is always this feeling behind Apple products that a department actually talks with every other department.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36808606)

There are four kind of user applications:

1) Those that you can figure out by exploring on your own, nowadays usually by clicking or pointing randomly at shiny things, the learning curve for those increase worse then exponential (factorial?). As they get impossible to learn the more you have to do with them, they usually have very limited capabilities, especially when it comes to automation, and require a lot of interaction from the user (if they where people they would have an IQ around 70 and a memory of a senile and ask you how to do the same thing every half minute). Most of Apples and Microsoft's end-user applications belong to this group. Be aware that there is always some things that need to be learned by a teacher or by observing an already experienced user, e.g. the computer isn't intuitive at all, neither is the touch screen, they require that someone show you how they work (even if it just takes seconds) and a lot of training to achieve the motoric skills needed.

2) Those you can't figure out by exploring on your own, at least not initially, you need help from a tutorial, manual, teacher or some other outside source, and where the learning curve decrease exponential. They tend to be very capable and able to do very advanced tasks, often with very little manual work for the user. Often they have very good built-in help systems, like WordStar like help screens (you can learn someone to use WordStar in 2 minutes, basically show them how the help screens work, then the help screens do the rest of the work from there), the vimtutor and help system in Vim (a help system that, unfortunately, have a very high first learning step to learn to use), or the man-pages of the traditional Unix systems. Some good examples are, the UI based on Basic interpreter used in old home computers like Vic 20 or Commodore 64, Vim and all the Unix-like systems (as long as you don't use a GUI).

3) Those application that try to guess what you want to do. There are a few good ones in this category, but the only good ones I know of is search or analytic tools for data (like Google search). For other tasks such an application usually get hated and feared by its user very quickly.

4) Those applications that can not be understood or learned at all, sometimes they are intentionally designed that way. The only way to use them is by sheepishly, and without any deviation, follow a minute procedure learned by heart (or from an instruction sheet). There are a surprisingly large group of software in this category, and even more applications that in some part work like this (Apple have it's fare share, with all it's hidden, magical key presses and points to click, like: "click on the second inner pixel left from the right upper corner of the window and you will get the advanced UI").

Re:"Documentation"? (4, Insightful)

tyme (6621) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804342)

take the word of one who has procreated: even the nipple is not an intuitive interface. A shocking large number of newborns (including my own daughter) need to be trained to nurse!

Yeah, it shocked me too.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36806436)

Did you show her how?

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804400)

In hentai there's a disturbing freak tendency for an antagonist to bang the girl's nipples (as if it was an orifice... WTF...) so clearly some authors somewhere thought that nipples weren't intuitive. Rule 34 I suppose.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804540)

And yet there's thousands of books about breast feeding. People take classes on it. People struggle with it because the baby won't latch on properly. Heck people make a living as a "lactation consultant".

So nothing is intuitive then?

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36805772)

You're thinking about it from the wrong direction. The mother would be the developer, the breast+milk would be the end-product, and the baby would be the end-user.

All the instruction you've mentioned is being given to the mother (developer), the end-user (baby) usually figures it out without having to read the documentation.

The amusement of the analogy likely falls apart if it has to be explained, but c'est la vie.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807192)

No.

The baby doesn't figure it out that's why it's such a damn struggle for some mothers. If the baby did then the mother wouldn't have to do anything but shove her breast near its mouth.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807410)

Yep. The effort is needed to teach the mother how to teach the baby how to do it. And lots of mothers and babies find it all very challenging.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36806334)

Nipples aren't intuitive. They're instinctual. Which is why you have to be re-taught how to use them once you have teeth.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36806612)

The nipple is not an intuitive interface - have a look at breastfeeding techniques and the level of work for lactation consultants sometime.

Re:"Documentation"? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808482)

Oh, so that's why the author called for laptop/netbook makers to ditch the touchpad and replace it with the IBM/Lenovo style pointer. I was already wondering why he had so much problems rubbing his finger up and down that pad instead of having a single point to fondle.

Re:"Documentation"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36809312)

Hate to break it to you but the nipple isn't as intuitive as you would think. Babies have to learn how to suckle properly otherwise the milk doesn't come out properly and they end up frustrated. *Insert something about massaging with the chin to help the milk flow here*

(New father here)

Questions... (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804156)

If you have to ask 'can you really do serious work with them?' the answer is NO. If you answered anything else, your standards for 'serious work' are too low. I mean, can it run Crysis at 50 FPS, full screen, across two 24" LCDs at native resolution? How about calculate pi to a billion digits in 1 second? Solve the national deficit, make you a sandwich, and build itself a new body from spare parts found in your garage, interface with the internet, and spread its consciousness to all computers, everywhere, sparking a massive revolution? Yeesh. You people and your limited imaginations.

Re:Questions... (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804410)

f you have to ask 'can you really do serious work with them?' the answer is NO.

I know you're being facetious, but...

The device sounds great for travelling with its light weight and long battery life. It's a really good job that trains never go through tunnels or have sucky mobile reception. It's also good that all planes allow mobile phone usage and etc...

As for "real work", if your real work includes basic office-like tasks, and email via a webmail client, then sure. If not, then this doesn't sound like a great laptop. And I say that as someone who does real work frequently on an eee 900.

Re:Questions... (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804824)

The device sounds great for travelling with its light weight and long battery life.

It's still half again the weight of a Sony Vaio X + extra battery, which could last almost 10 hours [engadget.com] .

Why don't they make them anymore? I was looking for a replacement for my Eee PC 901 (1.1 kg); the 2009-vintage Vaio X sounded great (0.7 kg, or 1 kg with the larger battery), but the best I found currently on the market was the MacBook Air (1 kg, half the battery life, not worth the change).

Re:Questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36805272)

Why not another eeepc? Asus revealed a new one at Computex earlier this year, the X101, which should be available in the next month or two. The X101 weighs in at 950g and with a 6-cell battery it should have a comparable battery life to the Vaio; it should get you what you seem to be looking for at a much, much smaller bill than the MacBook Air.

Re:Questions... (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807228)

How about a Let's Note R9 or J10 (J10 has wider screen and much faster CPU)? Both are less than 1kg (the J10 just barely less), and get looong battery life even without an extra battery.

I use the next larger model, the S9, and get about 7 hours of real-world usage with Ubuntu.

Re:Questions... (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 2 years ago | (#36809586)

How about a Let's Note R9 or J10 (...)?

Interesting, thanks. I couldn't find detailed specs in English, but they indeed seem lighter than the MacBook Air.

However, what I'd really been drooling about when checking out the Vaio X was the 0.7-kg weight without the extra battery. Even the R9 is over 0.9, and (to answer Anonymous' reply) so is the Eee PC X101. That's not light enough that I'd consider changing my current Eee PC.

Now, only tablets seem to be really lightweight, but they don't have a physical keyboard, and suffer more or less from the same problems as the ChromeBook in terms of usability. Though I could imagine working on an Android tablet if I could find a LaTeX distribution for it (not just an online compiler)...

Re:Questions... (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808976)

The device sounds great for travelling with its light weight and long battery life. It's a really good job that trains never go through tunnels or have sucky mobile reception. It's also good that all planes allow mobile phone usage and etc...

Anybody who's serious about writing an app for Chrome OS should be using the offline storage APIs that are part of the HTML 5 family. I suspect the problem is not the deficiency of Chrome OS itself, but the fact that nobody is serious about writing apps for Chrome OS.

Re:Questions... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36809126)

Well I would agree with you IF the unit was in the $100-$150 range, then putting up with loss of functionality would be expected. But this things is $500 which can buy you TWO Atom netbooks or a really nice AMD netbook and leave nearly $200 in your pocket.

I'm sorry but the thing ain't THAT cute. I'm willing to bet Samsung ends up with a warehouse full of these things as guys who know what ChromeOS is will have enough skills to simply install it on that $250 netbook, and the ones who don't know what ChromeOS is will pass it by for that shiny new AMD netbook running WoW for $180 less.

Having to put up with less powerful hardware and a machine that is pretty useless without a net connection shouldn't equal a price premium folks. Samsung ur doin it wrong.

All you need is a command line (2)

Riskable (19437) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804758)

I dunno, while I don't have a Chromebook I *do* do serious work with Chrome (the browser) every day and I'm not talking about web development. All you need to do serious work, is a decent terminal program:

http://vimeo.com/24857127 [vimeo.com]

Gate One should be available for public consumption soon. I hope to make it the best damned terminal program/SSH client that ever existed. It is already superior to PuTTY (as long as you don't need port forwarding or X11).

Re:All you need is a command line (1)

growse (928427) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805056)

I dunno, while I don't have a Chromebook I *do* do serious work with Chrome (the browser) every day and I'm not talking about web development. All you need to do serious work, is a decent terminal program:

http://vimeo.com/24857127 [vimeo.com]

Gate One should be available for public consumption soon. I hope to make it the best damned terminal program/SSH client that ever existed. It is already superior to PuTTY (as long as you don't need port forwarding or X11).

Unfortunately, port forwarding (specifically dynamic - using putty as a SOCKS proxy) is 95% of what makes PuTTY useful to me. Hell, it's what makes SSH useful - an SSH client which doesn''t support these functions is, in my view, not a terribly useful piece of software.

Re:All you need is a command line (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808086)

Who would have imagined, the major selling point of a computer is that it has... a terminal program. Yeah, that kind of says a lot about the mass market potential of the Chromebook. Meanwhile, this is the year of the Linux desktop...

Re:All you need is a command line (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36808624)

I dunno, while I don't have a Chromebook I *do* do serious work with Chrome (the browser) every day and I'm not talking about web development. All you need to do serious work, is a decent terminal program:

If that's the case, save money and buy a 10 year old notebook and run Linux without X.

Re:All you need is a command line (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36810324)

It's interesting, it seems the author once to monazite the product. While that's his right and I wish him luck, I'm not paying for something that is free on every other OS I use.

Sounds like the PlayBook (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804164)

So will all the pundits in the world now scream about the impending death of Google?

Note, the iPad 1 on launch day needed just as much polish as all the new tablets do. Apple has had a long time to fix stuff, which they have. Kudos to them! They also haven't had the panic pressure of trying to play catch up feature-wise and fix issues at the same time. Sometimes first to market *is* a good thing.

Sounds like the PlayBook (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804192)

So will all the pundits in the world now scream about the impending death of Google?

Note, the iPad 1 on launch day needed just as much polish as all the new tablets do. Apple has had a long time to fix stuff, which they have. Kudos to them! They also haven't had the panic pressure of trying to play catch up feature-wise and fix issues at the same time. Sometimes first to market *is* a good thing.

(repost: seems this terminal dropped my cookies)

Re:Sounds like the PlayBook (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804290)

No doubt both Google and Samsung will rapidly improve the Chromebook. In a year it might be a pretty good machine.

That being said, it should never have gone out the door with some of the bugs TFA describes (.doc is an unknown file type? Really?) Google's "eternal beta" approach is okay for some things, like Gmail because, you know, it's an e-mail server. Also, free. For an entire not-cheap hardware/OS combination, it may not be such a great idea.

Re:Sounds like the PlayBook (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808306)

No doubt both Google and Samsung will rapidly improve the Chromebook. In a year it might be a pretty good machine.

How? As long as it can only run a web browser, there's only so much you can fix. One of the most fundamental limitations of web based applications is a lack of integration with the desktop. Something you take for granted like double-clicking on a file and opening up the appropriate application is a really big deal when your only application is a web browser. How do you unzip files? How do you watch downloaded movies? These are all things that we take for granted on regular system but suddenly they become big problems on Chrome OS. You can't easily fix that sort of thing. The problem isn't Google's eternal beta mentality. Their problem is that they've deluded htemselves into thinking that people don't need anything other than a web browser. There was a time when Apple thought that Safari on the iPhone would be the killer app, but they were smart enough to leave the App door open. Turns out people really want to run native software. The web is just not there yet. And it won't be for the forseeable future. HTML5 will be lucky to knock Flash and Silverlight off the proverbial mountain.

Re:Sounds like the PlayBook (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808264)

So will all the pundits in the world now scream about the impending death of Google?

Of course not because everyone knows that their business does not depend on Chromebook. They're not even trying to sell it themselves. They just wrote the browser and integrated it with a LInux kernel. Google doesn't have a whole lot to lose, really. Of course, they don't have a lot to gain either.

Note, the iPad 1 on launch day needed just as much polish as all the new tablets do.

First, Chromebook is NOT a tablet. People will be comparing it to a laptop. And by those standards it fails miserably. Netbooks have been out for years and they are far more capable than a Chromebook. Chromebook has no place. It does not fit in with the tablets and it can't compete with a Netbook. So why buy one?

As for iPad 1 needing polish... Apparently it didn't matter. People snatched them up like mad when they came out. Chromebooks... not so much.

Apple has had a long time to fix stuff, which they have.

And how are you going to "fix" a system that is inherently crippled like a Chromebook? As long as Chrome is the only application you can run, there's only so much you can do. The only way they're going to fix it is to convert CHromOS into a proper OS and give it apps. And even then it would be too little, too late. I mean, if Linux can't break into the mainstream desktop, ChomeOS won't.

Can you develop on it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804248)

Thats the only question I care about, can I work on my projects?

Re:Can you develop on it? (0)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804308)

Thats the only question I care about, can I work on my projects?

Why would you want to?

It's called using the right tool for the job.

Re:Can you develop on it? (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804438)

Why would you want to?

Because it looks like a pretty nice netbook.

It's called using the right tool for the job.

The tool in question is a generic CPU connected to all the usual laptop extras (screen, keyboard, mousr, USB, etc). In other words the machine is a fully featured laptop. This tool should be able to do anything that a similarly specced tool can do. If not, then it is artificially limited by poor software.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1, Offtopic)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807106)

Why would you want to?

Because it looks like a pretty nice netbook.

That begs the question. He's asking why you'd want to work on such a computer. Netbooks aren't exactly a pleasure to use even for the simplest of tasks, and software development is far from being the simplest of tasks.

It's called using the right tool for the job.

The tool in question is a generic CPU connected to all the usual laptop extras (screen, keyboard, mousr, USB, etc).

That's why a C64 and a quad Xeon workstation are wholly interchangeable.

In other words the machine is a fully featured laptop. This tool should be able to do anything that a similarly specced tool can do. If not, then it is artificially limited by poor software.

No, it's not a "fully featured laptop". And software *is* a spec. Is the Chromebook "artificially limited" if it can't read .doc files? No. An artificial limit (the way you seem to be using it) would be if it could, but that functionality has deliberately been disabled.

ChromeOS is a solution looking for a problem. Or, more specifically, a solution for a problem that *Google* has, but that their customers don't. ChromeOS is about getting people to see more Google ads, but there's no compelling reason to run such a lame device. Once you have the notebook form factor, you might as well run Windows or Mac OS X.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36809124)

That begs the question. He's asking why you'd want to work on such a computer. Netbooks aren't exactly a pleasure to use even for the simplest of tasks, and software development is far from being the simplest of tasks.

That's your opinion. I travel frequently and use my eee 900 for software development when I do. It's good enough for the task.

That's why a C64 and a quad Xeon workstation are wholly interchangeable.

Those are both examples of entirely generic somputer systems. Sure, you wouldn't want to trade, but both are unrestricted and both can and have been used for software development.

No, it's not a "fully featured laptop".

In terms of hardware it is fully features, albeit not terribly speedy.

And software *is* a spec.

For a generic computer, only in the loosest possible sense. I've never had a computer come with the software I want installed.

Is the Chromebook "artificially limited" if it can't read .doc files? No. An artificial limit (the way you seem to be using it) would be if it could, but that functionality has deliberately been disabled.

OK, I agree with you here. It souds like one can scrap the OS and install whatever one wants. So no artificial limitations.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807196)

You can always hit the developer switch on the bottom and load Ubuntu on it if you need...
The stock software *is* limited deliberately, and for good reason: It almost completely eliminates all virii and malware, and it certainly prevents it from persisting past reboot.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808330)

You can always hit the developer switch on the bottom and load Ubuntu on it if you need...

So why not just get a netbook then and whatever OS you want? As I understand it, the underlying system on a Chromebok is NOT a full fledged LInux distribution.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36810506)

Well, you're getting it as a lightfweight, SSD-based netbook. You can either run it in limited but completely safe mode, or unlimited but dangerous mode. Take your pick.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808096)

So, why not just get a netbook? You get the size and economy of a Chrombook with added functionality. And it will run Chrome too.

Re:Can you develop on it? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804336)

You probably wouldn't want to compile things directly on it, but it does have a terminal you can use to SSH into a better dev environment.

Re:Can you develop on it? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807114)

You probably wouldn't want to compile things directly on it, but it does have a terminal you can use to SSH into a better dev environment.

But when someone suggests doing that on an iPad, they are a fanboy...

Why would you go with a Chromebook and SSHing into a text-only development environment over a proper solution? Oh, because it's from Google, so it's chic around here. Talk about the ultimate in form over function!

Yay cloud! er... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804262)

It seems like this cycle is due to repeat itself yet again.

Didn't the latest iteration come from Apple deciding that the iPhone was going to have only HTML, then relenting because it is a terrible idea?

Eventually they will realise that the chromebook will be lacking because it doesn't have native apps that start quickly and run quickly. Then after a while it will get native application support.

But the hardware sounds quite nice. Does it run a proper distro yet? How much RAM does it have?

Re:Yay cloud! er... (2)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804482)

But the hardware sounds quite nice. Does it run a proper distro yet?

Yup. Tonnes of people do it. There's a switch behind the battery to set it to developer mode, and it opens up the computer to all sorts of fun. IIRC, it's just an intel atom proc inside...

Re:Yay cloud! er... (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807138)

But the hardware sounds quite nice. Does it run a proper distro yet?

Yup. Tonnes of people do it.

I assume you are referring to people by mass and not by unit numbers.

There's a switch behind the battery to set it to developer mode, and it opens up the computer to all sorts of fun. IIRC, it's just an intel atom proc inside...

Atom is the bottom of the barrel. This thing is woefully underpowered to be called "fun".

Re:Yay cloud! er... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808534)

But the hardware sounds quite nice. Does it run a proper distro yet?

Yup. Tonnes of people do it.

I assume you are referring to people by mass and not by unit numbers.

There's a switch behind the battery to set it to developer mode, and it opens up the computer to all sorts of fun. IIRC, it's just an intel atom proc inside...

Atom is the bottom of the barrel. This thing is woefully underpowered to be called "fun".

... Yup. I was clearly talking literally about tonnes of people. Though I don't share your definition of "fun". Last I checked, "fun" and "powerful" were not synonyms.

Re:Yay cloud! er... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804538)

Actually, HTML only apps were never the long term plan and that was pretty clear right from the start. Maybe you are thinking of something else.

It is true, however, that when the iPhone first came out, HTML apps were the only ones you could develop, but that is mostly because the SDK was not yet finished.

Re:Yay cloud! er... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36804826)

Didn't the latest iteration come from Apple deciding that the iPhone was going to have only HTML, then relenting because it is a terrible idea?

Do you think that if an idea doesn't work at one point in time, it will never work in the future? A few things have changed in browsers since the original iphone. The two big issues with web apps on the iphone are solved in chrome:

* Offline support: The app cache, in browser database, localstorage, etc. allow a web page to be usable without an internet connection.
* Decent graphics: CSS3, WebGL, 3d canvas, and javascript being fast enough to make impressive graphics without polling.

Eventually they will realise that the chromebook will be lacking because it doesn't have native apps that start quickly and run quickly.

I see, you have not used it. Take a look at http://code.google.com/chrome/extensions/apps.html to see how you can make apps that load as fast as a web page from local flash. See the chrome web store for what people have built.

Re:Yay cloud! er... (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805254)

With I had mod points. Totally right.

Hell, even Microsoft will try it with Windows 8...?

Serious Work... (1)

Shaddow0001 (1577985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804320)

I can see this doing the masses like iphone, iwhatever.... and maybe some biz apps, but to do serious work like software development? I just can't see this being a viable tool to get the job done. Problems include at LEAST:

a) limited screen space
b) limited input interface

i keep waiting for a star trek style interface, or maybe matrix style...... but no matter how many times I talk, yell or otherwise verbally abuse my computer, it NEVER complains and NEVER does what I ask.... stupid keyboards... so limiting...

Re:Serious Work... (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807246)

Anyone who needs more power can simply flip the developer switch on the bottom and load a real OS / mess with root, etc.

Summarize for you (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804578)

I'll summarize the article for you to save time:

Sunday: Had a problem with a website I like to access that has nothing to do with this hardware, but I felt like blaming it anyway. Kind of like kicking the dog when the local corporate owned sports team loses a game.

Monday: I'm the only person in america who prints stuff at home instead of forwarding it to work and I also pretend I only have access to exactly one computer, this one. (WTF?) And in an industry that only supports printing on winders, and sorta tolerates macs, oddly enough this didn't go too well. Kind of like buying a xbox360 game and whining that it doesn't work so well on my Wii.

Tuesday: I hate all touchpads made in the last decade and this has a touchpad therefore I hate it. Umm, OK. The rest of us don't really care. I hate hitting my thumb with a hammer, and this week I decided to hit my thumb with a hammer, and it did in fact hurt, and I hope you feel educated and informed WRT this point.

Wednesday: To do something complicated, I had to use google to look something up. Un-believable, I'm sure no one has ever done something like that with any other technological artifact, I am The One. Also a minor bug that I didn't report wasn't fixed, furthermore I believe the mind control USB dongle is not working or it would have read my mind. Or perhaps the time travel dongle failed thus it wasn't fixed before I reported it.

Thursday: I found a single missing MIME type. A legit complaint.

Friday: I know this is a netbook for online work, so I'm gonna trash it for not doing local stuff very well. Next up, standard /. car analogy, I'm going to savage my sports car for not having a pickup truck bed and trailer hitch, right after I finish complaining about how poorly the gas engine runs on diesel. Maybe later today I'll flame my diet soda for not tasting like root beer; despite its having a "diet coke" label, all diet sodas are supposed to be diet root beers, right? No average soda drinker could survive the shock, but I'm brave.

Saturday: Kind of like how my wife loves to bring old arguments up over and over when there's nothing new to complain about, and despite apparently being a man based upon my name, I'm gonna do the same thing my wife does. Just re-read Sun-Fr and pretend not to be annoyed at the title "7 days in the cloud" and only getting 6 days. Hope my editor doesn't notice or I am so busted. Well at least I got to play with a new toy for a week.

As a hatchet job, it was fairly well written. As a technical standpoint, its basically a bug report about a single missing MIME-type that somehow dragged on to a 6 screen wall of text. I don't think this is gonna win the pulitzer, nor he gonna get fired, but this is probably in the bottom quartile of his journalistic career.

Re:Summarize for you (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804644)

As a hatchet job, it was fairly well written. As a technical standpoint, its basically a bug report about a single missing MIME-type that somehow dragged on to a 6 screen wall of text.

As a hatchet job, your post is fairly well written. As a summary of, or even a reasonable response to, the article, it's basically a spew of straw men, unsupported assertions, and mockery that isn't nearly as clever as you think it is.

Re:Summarize for you (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804696)

Buddy, you hit the nail on the head.

I guess we've long passed the point where you can take any review or opinion article of any kind at face value without trying to suss out the agenda of the author.

There's so much money in corporate hands right now, I'm not sure if there's a single writer, blogger or journalist left in America that isn't doing public relations, astroturfing, hit pieces or "reputation rehab" for one corporation or another. Nobody seems capable of just giving their own opinion any more. Or maybe nobody can afford it.

Re:Summarize for you (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804818)

Sunday: Had a problem with a website I like to access that has nothing to do with this hardware, but I felt like blaming it anyway. Kind of like kicking the dog when the local corporate owned sports team loses a game.

It has everything to do with the hardware if the only way to access POP mail on this specific hardware is to set it up to work with Gmail (or some other Webmail service). Real-world users may have to confront this issue.

Monday: I'm the only person in america who prints stuff at home instead of forwarding it to work and I also pretend I only have access to exactly one computer, this one

You may find you have not yet met everyone in America. I print stuff at home, and I would even if I didn't have a home office. I also have more than one computer. I have a networked printer that lets me print wirelessly from any device with the correct drivers, which are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (yes, from the manufacturer). There are no drivers available for the Chromebook. Instead I have to use Google Cloud Print, which means leaving some other computer running as a print spooler for my (already-networked) printer. That's dumb. You also lose all of your controls for the printer when you print that way -- you can't set print quality options or anything like that. If you print often, the Chromebook is lame, period.

Tuesday: I hate all touchpads made in the last decade and this has a touchpad therefore I hate it.

That's not what he said. He said the Chromebook's touchpad is lame, and he's right. It's big, but fidgety. It's multi-touch, but it doesn't support any kind of gestures beyond clicking and scrolling.

Wednesday: To do something complicated, I had to use google to look something up.

I think he points out succinctly how poorly designed the Chromebook UI is. If you have to go on Google to find out some obscure Ctrl-sequence to do something, because there's no manual and no online help to point you in the right direction (you even have to Google the hotkey to bring up the list of hotkeys), then the device is not intuitive and casual users -- probably the only kind of users this type of device will ever have -- will have problems with it.

Thursday: I found a single missing MIME type. A legit complaint.

It's not a missing MIME type. The Chromebook file browser can't browse files. The only file types it understands, that I can see, are JPEG, PNG, MP3, MP4, and OGG. AVI is not supported. Neither is DOC, PPT, XLS, or the OOXML equivalents. Even ZIP files don't work. Pretty much every single file type you might save on the Chromebook's drive shows up as a simple grey icon, and double-clicking it achieves nothing but a message telling you the file type is unknown.

Friday: I know this is a netbook for online work, so I'm gonna trash it for not doing local stuff very well.

Really? And here I thought he was complaining that it wouldn't work with Dropbox, which is an online service. He's also right about the local file handling. Are you really telling me you don't ever expect a coworker to hand you a USB drive with a few files on it? With the Chromebook, you won't be able to do anything with those files until you upload them to Google Docs, and if they're in a Zip file on the USB drive, you're going to have to find another computer or ask someone to open it for you.

As a hatchet job, it was fairly well written. As a technical standpoint, its basically a bug report about a single missing MIME-type that somehow dragged on to a 6 screen wall of text

So kind of like how your wife doesn't listen to a thing you say, throws out straw-man arguments, and keeps repeating them over and over when there's nothing else to disagree with, you're gonna do the same thing your wife does?

Re:Summarize for you (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807022)

It's not a missing MIME type. The Chromebook file browser can't browse files. The only file types it understands, that I can see, are JPEG, PNG, MP3, MP4, and OGG. AVI is not supported.

Actually, it supports quite a few file formats (not sure exactly which). The problem is that it only supports a few file EXTENSIONS. As long as you rename your media files to have an extension that for some bizarre reason Google likes, it works fine most of the time.

So yes, it is lame, but not for the reason you think.

Clearly Chrome has a way to go. However, I do find mine fairly useful. Not sure I'd pay $500 for it unless I had a small business that was largely based on Google Apps.

Re:Summarize for you (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36805756)

I'll summarize the article for you to save time:

You mean you'll attempt to discredit it so your precious Google's image remains intact? You sound like a Google devotee who will throw all your money at them, advertise their products for free, and defend them against bad press, no matter what garbage they put out..

Hate to break it to you, but the complexity of dealing with non-Google email is a ding on Chrome OS, and is a design decision they made, and is an important criteria. People do print stuff. At home too. Missing MIME-types for some of the most common file formats is a big deal. It's in fact the #1 concern that everybody voiced when Google made the original Chrome OS announcement. The 'local stuff' as you put it is a big deal. A review that fails to point that out is an incomplete review. A buyer reading that review can see that scenario, decide if its important for them, and then decide accordingly. That's the point of having reviews -- to highlight the plusses and minuses so the buyer can make an informed decision. Not to slurp the manufacturer's dick.

One task a day?! (1)

Kuranes (610880) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804852)

I think that if God had wanted us to still put marks on paper he wouldn't have given us a computer display.

I don't know about that, but my "computer displays" come from factories and nothing prevents me from using a pen, paper, and binder clips.

One task a day? It really takes one day to set up an email address? One day to try Dropbox?
I don't enjoy much TFA, this is just about stating how things work for a particular use and out of the box (can I ssh into the book? how "closed" is it? does ChromeOS allows me to install command line programs? how does it handle a webserver+mysql? and as a development laptop? etc.).

But perhaps I have this opinion because I'm mostly using and messing with linux since a decade so when I read "Hate the touchpad." I immediately think synclient might come handy if it's Synaptics. For file types, I'd search for a way to login on a console and look for the mimetypes files, etc. temporary fixes until the official fix, etc.

For the issues, I'm sure the Chromium and Google teams will work on them but they have to be reported and anyway can be viewed on the bugtracker.
I'm sorry but to me all this article states is: I HAS CROMEBOOK

Cloud Print on linux (4, Informative)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36804874)

FYI, Cloud Print service:

$ git clone https://github.com/armooo/cloudprint.git
Cloning into cloudprint...
remote: Counting objects: 109, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (107/107), done.
remote: Total 109 (delta 47), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (109/109), 31.77 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (47/47), done.

$ cd cloudprint
$ root python setup.py install
[snip]

$ root pip-python install daemon
Downloading/unpacking daemon
Running setup.py egg_info for package daemon

Installing collected packages: daemon
Running setup.py install for daemon

Successfully installed daemon

$ cloudprint -d
Skipping test-raw
Updated Printer test-1020
Updated Printer test-c310dn
Updated Printer mc2530
Updated Printer mc1600Wc
Updated Printer aaaa
Updated Printer mc2300c
Updated Printer test-1500
Updated Printer test-okiC110
Updated Printer test-clp315
Updated Printer cp1025nw
Updated Printer test-p1505
Updated Printer xrx6110
Updated Printer test
Updated Printer test-Oki-C3100
Updated Printer p1505n
Updated Printer test-p1102
Updated Printer test-cp1025
Updated Printer test-C3300
Updated Printer test-1680MF
Updated Printer clp315
Updated Printer test-hp2600
Updated Printer hp1020
Updated Printer p1102w
Updated Printer HP-LaserJet-Professional-P1102w
Updated Printer hp2600
Updated Printer cp1215
Updated Printer p1102-hpcups
Updated Printer Cups-PDF
Updated Printer test-clp300
Updated Printer GnomeManualDuplex
Updated Printer p1005
Updated Printer test-m1319
Updated Printer HP-LaserJet-1000
Updated Printer test-p2035
Updated Printer mc2530c
Updated Printer xrx6110c
Updated Printer test-CLP-610
Updated Printer test-KM-1635
$

Then:
   $ firefox http://www.google.com/cloudprint/manage.html

And on your Android tablet:
   https://market.android.com/details?id=com.pauloslf.cloudprint

Works good here.

Re:Cloud Print on linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36807550)

Grandma is going to have to learn to use git and python packaging tools so that she can print a document! And this garbage is supposed to compete with Microsoft and Apple? It's not even cheap. LMAO.

Re:Cloud Print on linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36808568)

You don't understand.

This is the year of ChromeOS on the desktop!

persistant WiFi? yeh right (1)

marxzed (1075971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805332)

Author's love of the ThinkPad's cl*tstick pointer interface almost stopped me from taking the article seriously... somebody not just uses that but expresses preference of that over a trackpad? I know there are some dreadful trackpads out there but after 15 years of supporting several hundred thinkpad users I personally know no one who actually likes the cl*tstick... I suppose it takes all type to make the IT world go round.

back on subject, I'd like to see a test done in the real world were there isn't persistent WiFi or reliable G3 or mobile broadband... even within my work environment there are significant dead spots (whole wings of some buildings where you can be 20 meters from a wifi point and have no reception) and there are whole suburbs (such as the one I live in) that are G3 deadzones.

Re:persistant WiFi? yeh right (1)

marxzed (1075971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805634)

sorry ... I meant "3G network"... I never do my best thinking/typing at 6 am... doubly so 6am before coffee

Re:persistant WiFi? yeh right (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36807344)

I have a Lenovo laptop with trackpoint and trackpad. I, for one, *always* use the trackpoint for pointing, as it's way more precise and quick to use. Trackpad gets used for scrolling, though - it's great for that.
I will never voluntarily buy a trackpad only laptop. A touchscreen, on the other hand... That's fine. But a trackpad just isn't a good option - Not for gaming, not for web browsing or anything else.
I can play FPS games with a trackpoint decently well; I wouldn't even *think* of using a trackpad for that(though I know some do).

As far as internet go, that's a valid complaint. I, for one, can barely even get GSM cell phone access, let alone data at my home. Wifi I have, but when not at home I generally don't have that... Though, aside from some simple coding, I need to have Internet access to get much work done - Or at least preload a bunch of documentation pages.

Arrogant journalist....that has no meat. (5, Insightful)

PrimalChrome (186162) | more than 2 years ago | (#36805548)

Normally, I'm not the kind of person who reads documentation. You see, I make a living from analyzing technology. In an hour, I can get the hang of a new operating system. In four hours, I can tell you what's wrong with it. That said, there are some times even someone like me needs documentation. And, boy does the Chromebook not have documentation.

So Mr. Vaughan-Nichols has a very high opinion of himself.....and yet somehow with one of the simpler platforms it took him seven days to figure out what he can nail in 4 hours with a complex OS. Read the article....wasn't impressed. Sounded like journalist drivel. All fluff and no meat.

Re:Arrogant journalist....that has no meat. (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808822)

Yes. i also thought that he has a too high opinion about himself.

It starts by seeing himself as a typical test case, despite having computing habits which are not typical at all (dual-boot instead, using POP instead of IMAP etc.).

It is especially tragic that he tests for a full replacement of his desktop OS because its obvious that chrome OS is *strictly mainstream* for a *specific purpose*. Its not meant to be a replacement for a fully fledged desktop OS, but a streamlined web browsing and web application machine.

And if you find a feature which is marked experimental (like the VPN access he criticizes), why don't you test it. It would be interesting to know if its marked experimental because its completely messed up of because it has some hiccups in strange situations.

(That being said, i found most of his experiences to be what i expected)

Google Docs is not used that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36805624)

Why does he think double-clicking a file is going to work on a web-centric OS? What he needs to do is SAVE the attachment and UPLOAD it to Google Docs.

"Now that it's finally here"...? (4, Informative)

TheBrutalTruth (890948) | more than 2 years ago | (#36806872)

Really? Have had mine for 8 months... And all of you haters - USE ONE. Really. Please try before you comment on it - about it's limitations, it's unsuitability, it's not good for daily tasks, etc... Maybe it's because I don't play WoW or some shit in my parents basement - but for what I do, email, surfing, music - it's perfect. Instant on, and iPad battery life (the cr-48 anyways). And free wireless for 2 years? Even at a paltry 100MB/month - perfect for when the bloodsuckers known as PEPCO or Comcast go down. Just enough web use for emergency usage. And it tethers to my phone just peachy. It DOES have local storage, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. Just get r00t, weenies... Most of all - it's WIP folks. My cr-48 updates constantly (reboots faster than you can blink) and it's been neat to see it evolve - rapidly - over just 8 months.

Re:"Now that it's finally here"...? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36808208)

Maybe it's because I don't play WoW or some shit in my parents basement - but for what I do, email, surfing, music - it's perfect. Instant on, and iPad battery life (the cr-48 anyways).

Must be you because at any given time, I have half dozen programs running that are NOT a web browser. A netbook would be the closest approximation to something useful for me. A Chromebook is just stupid. A $500 web browser. I could buy a $500 netbook that will run most programs I need including a web browser.

It DOES have local storage, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. Just get r00t, weenies...

What good does local storage do you if it doesn't have the software to do anything useful with the files? And if you're just going to root it to run apps locally, why not get a netbook and run Chrome on top of a proper operating system? You're crippling yourself for NO GOOD REASON. I'm not a hater. I just know a stupid concept when I see it. A computer in this day and age that can only run a web browser. Insane. Even mobile phone these days can do more than a Chromebook. Fuck Chromebook.

Most of all - it's WIP folks. My cr-48 updates constantly (reboots faster than you can blink) and it's been neat to see it evolve - rapidly - over just 8 months.

The speed of booting is such a ridiculous metric. I reboot my computer no more than once every couple weeks. I can wait an extra 5 seconds (I have SSD, so I boot pretty fast). What exactly do you think the Chromebook is going to evolve into? It has set some pretty hard limits on capabilities. Only runs a web browser. At best it is only going to run a newer version of a web browser. Maybe it will get Java support?

Re:"Now that it's finally here"...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36808656)

You only reboot a notebook once every couple of weeks?

Sureeee...

Keep on hating. It's the cool thing to do on obsoletedot apparently.

Re:"Now that it's finally here"...? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36810328)

Why should I reboot more often than that? I put it to sleep when not in use. And it is OS X. I don't get system updates very often.

The cool thing to do on Slashdot is drool over anything that Google puts out.

Re:"Now that it's finally here"...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36809186)

I still feel tempted to use one. A 500$ netbook is in no way so fast given the bloat of Windows. And don't forget that anything you have is saved on the cloud. You loose your netbook and you loose quite a bit of information. Not so with Chromebook. Of course, I know, you can alos use Chrome browser on your netbook but I still think not at the convenience and speed offer by the Chromebook.

All in all, I think that for most people the balance of features and convinience ist in favor of the Chromebook.

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