Chrome-plated blog writing

January 17, 2016

 

CJ and the Chromebook

CJ is displeased that the Chromebook, not she, is my lap.

The hard drive of my trusty old G4 iBook pooped out a few years ago. I briefly made it go again by installed a new SSD drive, but after a few boots, it went back to not working. The iBook was my auxiliary computer that I used mainly for writing, so I didn’t pursue any further repair efforts.

I had been trying to make due with writing on my iPad. I can do okay touch-typing on the virtual keyboard (though I find I downsize to using only three fingers on each hand rather than all four), and I think I probably could have continued that way if only the screen were bigger. I like the writing app that I use, iaWriter, except for the part where it only shows you about six or eight lines at a time. I understand the rationale behind that, so that you focus on the current words spewing forth from your brain through your fingertips rather than always being distracted by going back and editing, but when I write these blog posts, it’s really handy to refer to earlier portions, as I frequently go off on tangents, or because the way forward is often revealed after looking and pondering what has already been written.

The volume of my writing dropped off drastically once I no longer had a real laptop on which to type. I miss writing–though I’m less sure you all miss my ramblings as much–so last week I took action. I drank the Apple kool-aid a long, long time ago, so it pains me that I have settled, due to the unignorable price difference, on a Toshiba Chromebook as my new laptop.

At least I think I have.

It feels zippy and responsive when I navigate around and the display looks crisp and bright. Because the price is so low, I was comfortable splashing out for one size larger than the smallest. It’s lightweight but feels substantial, and as a machine, has impressed me overall.

But what I have quickly become uncomfortable with is the realization that the Chrome OS is just an interface for the online Google environment and that there are no actual applications local to the computer, and certainly none that aren’t Google things. I am uncomfortable having to be logged in to all of the Google universe in order to just write this blog post. I’m not a privacy conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do prefer not to make it any easier than necessary for sites and environments to rake in all that information about me. I log in if I need to, but I log back out of most sites when I finish actively using them. Especially Google properties. Hence, my reservations about this Chromebook.

I figure that if I ordered an old-fashioned, spinny hard drive for my iBook, it would run again. I hypothesize that the SSD drive was simply too-modern technology for the poor beast. Or I could upgrade and spend what I need to for a basic Macbook flavor. This has been a trial blog post, if you will, to see how comfortable I am with this Chromebook.

But I think in my heart, I’ve already made my decision.

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It’s not that I’m into Black Friday shopping, or even shopping, but I needed a new sleeping bag winter coat and today was the day I had the time and cash flow to take care of it. So I set off.

Workout

The first stop was at my new workout place. A couple of years ago I wrote about how I loved going to Curves and how I was feeling the most fit I ever have. But that location closed so I transferred to the next closest one which no longer was conveniently on the way home from work, so I didn’t go much. But then that one closed as well, and for the last seven months I’ve been clubless which didn’t really matter since I wasn’t going regularly anyway.

A month ago, I got off my sorry backside and signed up at a different brand of gym that once again is convenient to on the way home from work. I don’t like it  nearly as well as Curves except for the part where something is better than nothing, so I like a lot because I’m working out again and that feels good. Because I’m just easing into it again, I haven’t initially been diligent about pacing myself to get my health insurance-reimbursable twelve workouts in for the month.

But I find myself close enough that I can still make it if I’m diligent for the next seven days, so I stopped there first this noon, even though my hair was still wet from my refreshing morning shower at home. It’s cold so I was wearing a hat anyway today so the wet ponytail part didn’t really matter, and I set myself up with some positive energy for the ugh part of the day, shopping.

I did a little shopping practice run by popping into the bike-slash-coffee shop a couple doors down from the gym to get coffee, and decided to support Small Business Saturday and purchase one of those under-the-helmet hood/face mask things as well. I’ll go back there for lunch pretty soon, too, because the Foursquare tips all say this place has the best soup and sandwich in the neighborhood. But I digress.

Shopping

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MicroCenter. Lucky for me, MicroCenter and Burlington Coat Factory are in the same strip mall. I popped into MicroCenter to get an HDMI iPad cable. Last weekend I discovered (belatedly) the joy of Netflix online. Happy day! Unfortunately though, the G4ness of my old PowerMac that I have hooked up to my TV isn’t acceptable to Netflix. Then I thought, well, I can hook up my iPad.

I found the cable, then found the iPad external keyboards and was dazzled by instant gratification. Had I been paying better attention, I would have comprehended the ramifications of the one I got (Kensington) being just the stand version, not the case version. But I am sitting here at the bar typing this and the keyboard feels great! I am incredibly faster than I have been with the on-screen keyboard, and because a) half the screen is no longer taken up by keyboard and b) I can turn the iPad vertical, c) I can see about four times as much of my pithy prose with the external keyboard, and that also speeds me up and makes it all easier in general. But I think I will trade for the case version of the keyboard. Must look into this online.

Though I didn’t pay attention to stand versus case, I did realize that I was cutting into my coat budget by buying the keyboard in addition to the HDMI cable. But I did it anyway because I was excited to finally get a keyboard for the iPad because (as I think I’ve mentioned here, but maybe not) now that my ancient laptop is on the fritz I’ve been hoping that iPad+keyboard would be an adequate replacement and it looks like it will be.

So I merrily skipped up to the front of the store where I was greeted by reality—the checkout line. But to MicroCenter’s credit, they were ready. All of the regular registers were in operation, and they had three additional, temporary ones going as well. The line that looked like it would take half an hour only took five or six minutes. I stashed my bag in my trunk/boot and walked over to my main objective.

Burlington Coat Factory. A few years ago, I got the best winter supply I’ve ever acquired—my sleeping bag coat. For those of you unfamiliar with “sleeping bag coat” because you live in tropical Silicon Valley or dreary-but-not-frigid England, this is a coat that is puffy and down-filled and which reaches to your knees or below, and has the shape of a potato sack. It is perfect for one such as myself who walks in the winter. My torso is warm enough because I wear multiple shirt layers, and my calves are warm enough because they’re lean, mean, muscle machines. But my thighs, where the flab is thick and the jeans tight, need extra protection.

My existing big coat gave out at the end of last season when the zipper broke. The tailor said it would cost more to repair than to buy a new one, so today, my goal was a new one.

When I was shopping for the old coat fiveish years ago, I was utterly mortified that the one that had the best combination of fit and unsacklikeness was “by” Jennifer Lopez. Well, whatever. There was a little bit of form with the function. It took me an hour to find that one.

Today, I walked in, found my size, and found a coat in a matter of minutes. There were two coats. One was longer and by some “designer” that I’d never heard of, not that that means anything. One was not as long and by Calvin Klein, not that that means anything. The first one, though longer and probably somewhat more preferable in that regard, looked like fat-drapery. The Calvin Klein coat, though only just to my knees, actually had some tailoring, and I figured it was probably made in China a little bit better than the other one was. It was cut well and had comfortable room for my currently expanded torso regions (beer belly and beer boobs, sad but true). I chose it.

Unfortunately, due to my iPad keyboard transgression at MicroCenter, I had to settle with putting the coat on layaway until next weekend after I’ve received another paycheck. But at least I don’t have to think about shopping anymore. And, as at MicroCenter, Burlington Coat Factory was geared up for business with competent employees and it was all-in-all also an alright experience.

The Four Firkins. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that I love beer. If you’re a local friend, you will be horrified to learn that today was the first time that I have been to the new Four Firkins. By “new,” I mean they’ve been open at their different, larger store for over a year. Their former location was kitty-corner from one of my bowling alleys so it was less inconvenient to my usual activities to go there. Anyway, MicroCenter and Burlington Coat Factory are across the street, so today, finally, I stopped in to see Alvey and his awesome crew in their awesome store. Just fantastic. I mixed and matched a six-pack of beers I haven’t had, except for the Fuller’s ESB. I’ve had that. I love Fuller’s.

Eating

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This is what the day boiled down to, besides getting (putting on layaway) my coat. I learned last night that the new restaurant of one of my favorite food trucks, World Street Kitchen, was soft-opening this weekend, so stopping there on my way home from horrible shopping was to be my reward. Only the shopping wasn’t so horrible, so really, it was just the frosting on the cake. The menu is expanded from the truck plus they have adult beverages.

I was tickled that both brothers Wadi, Saed and Sameh, excitedly greeted me. I had the shrimp po’ boy, which is new to the truck menu, and crispy chick peas and a Summit Säga, and then a second Summit Säga. Bonus, 25% off for opening weekend. I felt loved.

Drinking/Blogging

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So here I am, testing my new iPad keyboard at the bar. I can confidently say that it has allowed me to write with more pace and accuracy than the on-screen keyboard did, despite the beers I’ve been trying (and I’ve tried all new ones here at Acadia). The external keyboard is definitely the way to go with an iPad, and once I get the case version I think the set-up will take over nicely from a small laptop such as my (once again) G4 iBook, as I had hoped, and that’s a good thing.

Conclusion

It is not lost on me that any one of these sections is long enough to have been an entry in its own right. Thanks for hanging with me if you did. Now I shall try out the iPad HDMI on a movie called “The Christmas Bunny.” You read that right.

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Today we had a potluck at the office, which was what I made the Tex-Mex Soup for. I managed to get the two large containers of it to the office intact, despite having to make a dash for the train. I have had liquid disasters in my backpack before due to loose-fitting lids and jostling.

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My soup was met with a fair amount of enthusiasm, but not nearly as much enthusiasm as for what Office Santa left under the tree for each of us. We knew we were getting a couple of the recently delivered new company mugs and probably figured that, like past years, there would also be a little bonus check. Boy, what a bonus. My bosses are getting each of us an iPad—an iPad 3 when they come out in a few months, or an iPad 2 now if we’re just too impatient. 

Patience is a virtue. 

I had been vaguely mulling over the idea of getting one with my tax refund in February but hadn’t yet decided whether to spend that much money on something I don’t really need. Problem solved. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I have the best bosses in the world. There’s a reason why I’m coming up on my seventeen year anniversary.

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There was much gaiety for the rest of the afternoon.

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