Chromebook Diaries – The Chromebook has landed

Andy, checking out websites as part of his work

My trusty Toshiba laptop is coming up on 3 years old and is beginning to show its age. Like its owner, it’s heavy, getting slower with age and just looks too chunky.

I have been agonising over its replacement for a while. I was taken with Windows Ultrabooks, great performance, quality screen and fantastic battery life, up to 5 hours but less than engaged by their prices, from £700 up.

I’ve also been looking at the Chromebooks which are basically small laptops with 11.6″ screens, fantastic battery life and running Google’s Chrome operating system rather than Windows. I even wrote about Chromebooks in an earlier post.

Larger screen Chromebooks are now available and in in all cases battery life is as long as 9 hours, so all day computing without a charger is a realistic aim and they are impervious to viruses and other forms of malware.

Toshiba Satelite NB10 compact laptop

Screen quality is perfectly acceptable but build quality, according to reviews, has been variable. However, since Xmas 2013 more and more manufactures have been releasing models using Intel processors for better performance, compared to the Samsung processors used in older Chromebooks, and manufacturers such as Toshiba and HP have released Chromebooks with larger screens, a 13″ from Toshiba and a 14″ from HP

However, I have been wary of the leap away from Windows and that has held me back, particularly after discovering a Toshiba of a very similar size to the 12″ Chromebooks, with a touch screen and Windows 8 for not a lot more money than a Chromebook, around £300 compared to the typical Chromebook price of £200 to £250.

So, I continued to sit on the fence.

Then Dell released their take on the Chromebook, an 11.6″ screen, excellent battery life, Intel dual core processor, light weight and, more importantly, 4Gb RAM.

With excellent reviews and a keen price, my mind was 90% made up. Then I spotted a great deal on eBay just as the Dell delivery date slipped from days to months, my decision was made and on Tuesday July 8th I picked up my ever so slightly used Dell Chromebook.

Quick Windows shortcuts for keyboard warriors

Keyboard - Windows keyboard short-cuts

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite a fan of keyboard short-cuts Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v and Ctrl-x are probably the most well known and most used making it easy to Copy, Paste and Cut text without lifting your fingers from the keyboard and there’s the reason why some people are fans, speed.

Keyboard shortcuts mean that your fingers never leave the keyboard saving that transition to the mouse for the essential Copy & Paste commands. Of course, there are many more, just Google “keyboard shortcut” for complete lists of them.

However, I stumbled across the following 10 very recently and have found many of them immediately useful. Of course, an ageing memory doesn’t really help, I still have to look at my cheat-sheet to remember some of them but I’m sure that they’ll be embedded in my memory soon.

  1. Command: Win key + Shift + Right/Left Arrow Key
    What it does:
    Moves active window to a second monitor, but keeps the window at the same size i.e. if you have your web browser maximised on one screen, and want to move it to be maximised on the other, this’ll do it. For multiple monitor users it will be a boon.
  2. Command: Alt + Up arrow
    What it does:
    Moves up one folder level in Explorer.
  3. Command: Ctrl + Shift + Esc
    What it does:
    Jumps straight to the Task Manager without having to go through the Ctrl + Alt + Delete screen.
  4. Command: Win key + L
    What it does:
    Locks your computer. Very useful if you work in an office full of pranksters looking to mess with your PC when you sneak off for a coffee.
  5. Command: Win key + T
    What it does:
    Cycles through programs on the taskbar, just like hovering your mouse over them. Enter or space will launch a new program.
  6. Command: Alt + Print Screen
    What it does:
    Print-screens only the selected window. Hugely helpful if you’re running a multiple-monitor setup.
  7. Command: Hold down Shift when inserting a USB drive/SD card/CD
    What it does: Stops AutoRun.
  8. Command: Alt + D
    What it does:
    Selects the address bar, either in your browser of choice, or even Windows Explorer.
  9. Command: Win key + F
    What it does:
    Opens the Windows Search box when you are looking for that file you created but can’t remembered where you saved it.
  10. Command: Ctrl + Tab
    What it does:
    Changes between multiple windows in the same program, Switch between browser tabs, or multiple Word documents etc.

Chromebook Diaries – Chromebooks, an alternative to a Windows Laptop

3 laptop computers

Do you find your laptop’s too big to carry with you and the battery life too short?

Is your tablet not quite large/comfortable enough for more than a little light document editing, email work and web browsing?

Did you know that there’s an alternative that might just bridge the gap, its device that took 2/3rds of laptop sales on Amazon during December 2013 and it’s called a Chromebook.

Chromebooks come in screen sizes of 11.6″, 13.3″ and 14″, currently manufactured by Acer, HP, Samsung and Toshiba and prices start from £199.00 inc.

They are light weight, [around 1kg] have Wi-Fi and a small number have 3G/4G connectivity.

Battery life is typically 6 hours although the HP 14″ boasts a battery life of up to 9.5 hours.

They run Google’s own operating system, Chrome OS, which means they boot up in around 7-8 seconds, don’t slow down over time – unlike some computer operating systems we know – and are pretty much invulnerable to viruses and other malware that’s out in the wild.

Of course, there’s a drawback, you can’t install Microsoft Office, in fact you can’t install most software which limits you to software that’s either available in the Chrome Web Store or applications which run in your browser, because that’s pretty much what Chrome OS is, it’s Google’s Chrome browser that’s been tweaked to run a laptop. You can use Microsoft Office 365 though, because that’s a cut-down version of Office that runs in your browser so all is not lost.

Huawei MiFi

It’s also best if you can be permanently connected to the internet, although a number of apps do run off-line but you can always buy one of the 3G versions, tether your ChromeBook to your mobile phone or use one of the Mi-Fi devices which create your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to the mobile phone network through 3G or 4G

So, if you want a lightweight laptop for email, document creation/editing, web browsing and a little light gaming perhaps you should give a Chromebook a try.

Windows XP – fast becoming a liability

RIP XP, October 25th 2001 – April 8th 2014

Windows-XP becomes a security risk

In a life that’s seen 2 US Presidents, 3 UK Prime Ministers and 3 Popes, Microsoft is finally stopping support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014.

According to a survey conducted by Net Applications more than 30% of computers around the world are still running Windows XP. This is mainly simply because “it works” and for many there’s been no compelling reason to change.

However, that time is NOW and it’s because since 2001 Microsoft have been constantly working away

After April 8th this service ceases so when the hackers find a security hole that will enable them to take over your Windows XP PC, without your knowledge they’ll be able to monitor your activity, read your emails, learn your online banking security codes and be “you” if they want to. behind the scenes to deliver patches that resolve reliability issues and fix security holes.

You may never notice until your bank accounts have been emptied, payment demands for loans that you never took out start dropping through your door, or the anti-piracy police come storming in because your computer has been hosting pirated software, films or something much worse.

Windows XP - RIP April 2014

Anti-Virus software will protect you from many risks but they’re powerless in this scenario.

So, if you’re using Windows XP and are more than a little concerned about your security it’s time to start thinking about moving on and it may not simply be a case of buying and installing Windows 8.

  • What about all those programs that you use, will they run on your upgraded operating system?
  • Is your hardware of a sufficiently high specification to support the new version of Windows?
  • What happens if it all goes wrong?
  • Do you have a Disaster Recovery plan in place that’s more substantial than simply backing up your data?

All of these reasons, and more, mean that the time to start planning is NOW. Check your businesses to see which desktops and laptops are still running Windows XP, we know there are loads out there because our web Analytics shows that more than 25% of visitors to our website are still using Windows XP.

We can help with your migration,

  • we’ll talk to you to understand your IT requirements,
  • audit your XP PCs to see which ones can be upgraded and which ones will need to be replaced.
  • audit your software to ensure that there are suitable versions that will run on a more up to date version of Windows
  • help you implement and manage the whole process to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

So, if you are more than a little concerned about your IT security then drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020 to start the ball rolling and to ensure that your network is secure in 2014 and beyond.