Google Chromebook

HPChromebook11Well, I got a new toy. I bought a Google Chromebook. They’re cheap. I didn’t get the cheapest, though. I bought an HP Chromebook 11 with LTE capability (Verizon) from Best Buy. It was on special for $250. You can find some cheaper — some a lot cheaper — but this was the one I decided upon, and it’s the one I’m gonna talk about.

The Chromebook is a pretty good little device. If you have a Google account, like a Gmail account, and use the Chrome browser, you’ll feel right at home using one.

Essentially, it’s a laptop. It helps to have Internet service. In fact, it pretty much depends on your having Internet access. That’s why I got the LTE version, so that if I want to use it away from a WiFi network, I have full functionality. Of course, if you have a phone that can also work as a hotspot, you can save a few bucks and get a WiFi-only device. Of course, those cost less.

Everything runs in a browser. Sounds odd, I know, but they make it work. I can’t speak to your everyday computer usage, but mine is pretty much browser-based. But, I do use Microsoft Word and Excel on a regular basis. Chromebook works with Word Online (that’s a Microsoft-supported thing) and Excel Online (again, Microsoft). I’m writing this review using Word Online, and will copy it into WordPress when I’m done for posting on the blog.

One thing is something that I really don’t use a lot is a printer. It’s been over a year since I printed anything. However, I did set up and test using Google Cloud Print via the Chromebook. And, it works. One drawback is that a printer can only be tied to one Google account. I suppose that’s fine for most people, but that would also be an issue for a family Chromebook, where it has multiple users (and accounts) in the household. Or multiple Chromebooks.

Suppose Dad was logged in to the Chromebook and registered the family computer to use his Google account. Then, he logged off, and Mom logged on. She can’t use that same printer. Then if Junior logged on, he’d run into the same thing. Sissy, too. Google needs to come up with a solution to that.

I use iTunes. However, there is no iTunes for Chromebook. I can upload my music to Google Play Music, but not movies or TV shows. And, to be honest, I really don’t want to hassle with copying thousands of songs to Google Play; I’m not going to drop iTunes.

While I don’t use Skype much, I do use FaceTime. Neither are supported. Google Hangouts works, though, and actually works okay. I had never used it before testing it out on this Chromebook. So, it is an option. Kinda. But, really, who uses that?

There are also image editing tools available. The tools work as well for standard image editing. It’s not Photoshop, but neither is anything else. Well, except Photoshop.

So, many of the applications I use (and many people use) have equivalents, but not all of the equivalents are what I want to work with. Primarily, it’s Google Hangouts and Google Play Music that I’m not too fond of. The others are okay.

The 100 GB Google Drive account (online storage) that comes with it is pretty nice. And, you can save some content locally. How much depends on what size drive you get. I got 16 GB; most come that size. They’ve done a good job of making it not just possible, but easy to save photos, documents, and such.

What all that means is the Chromebook won’t work as a primary computer for all my needs. But, for many users — those that primarily do the Facebook and the email thing — it’s perfect.

I’ve been using it as a travel computer. I went out of town a couple of weekends ago, and took the Chromebook and my MacBook with me. None of the computer stuff I did for myself needed the MacBook. I did all my personal computer stuff on the Chromebook.

For the past week, I’ve been using the Chromebook as my regular computer. I’ve written all my blog posts, checking out the Facebook, reading and writing email, and everything else I would normally do with my MacBook, and it served well.

The battery works well. I’ve not run it down all the way yet, but I have been charging it each night. Or most nights.

As it stands now, it’s my new travel computer. And my quick, go-to computer for sitting on the couch. I like it.

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Amazon Fire TV

Got a new toy. Yay!

This week, Amazon introduced a streaming box. They call it the Amazon Fire TV.

Now, I already have a Roku. And an Apple TV. And a Chromecast. Oh, and a TiVo. So, why do I need another streaming device? Well, I don’t. But I got one anyway. And, I spent a good deal of last night looking it over, trying it out.

Unboxing the Amazon Fire TV

Unboxing the Amazon Fire TV

I opened the box, hooked up an HDMI cable (not included), plugged it in, and was ready to play.

Of course, there’s the updates that it has to download. Seems even a brand new item — released on Wednesday, connected on Thursday — has to have updates. So, there’s that irritant.

But, the device itself? Yeah, it’s a good little streaming box.

Couple of things I noticed. The remote has no dedicated 10-second rewind button, like you get on Roku. Rather, the standard rewind mode is in 10-second leaps. To rewind 10 seconds, you have to hit rewind and then very quickly hit Play. At least, on Hulu Plus and Netflix, you do. On Amazon content, pressing Rewind a single time (a single click) achieves a 10-second rewind. Not a major deal, just something to get used to.

The selection of apps is kinda sparse, compared to Roku, but it has more available than Apple TV, although there is not a complete overlap. It does have Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Vevo, Vimeo, YouTube, Crackle, Bloomberg, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Showtime Anytime, TuneIn Radio, Plex, plus a decent selection of games.

Some major missing channels include Sky News (Roku, Apple TV), The Weather Channel (Apple TV), PBS (Roku, Apple TV), WWE (Roku, Apple TV), Yahoo! Screen (Roku, Apple TV), HBO GO (Roku, Apple TV), Watch ABC (Apple TV), MLB.TV (Roku, Apple TV), VUDU (Roku), Dailymotion (Roku), and some others.

Oh, about the games. I don’t care about games. But, if you like playing games, it lets you. There’s an optional game controller you can buy, if you want to play games. I don’t. But you go ahead.

Again, Roku is king of content. It has almost everything, including a lot of stuff with limited appeal. Apple TV has limited content, but most of it is good content with wide appeal. Amazon Fire TV is closer to Apple TV in the limited content, but most of the good stuff, but it seems it really wants to be Roku.

Hulu Plus and Netflix, two of the biggest subscription services, don’t come pre-loaded. But, they’re easy enough to find and add. Especially if you already have them installed on a Kindle Fire tablet. Even if not, they’re easy to find.

Both work similar to the way they work on Roku. The experience of navigating the menus is consistent. Once difference is that, unlike Roku, you do have the “Play from beginning” option on Netflix content.

The Amazon Fire TV is also very responsive. You press a button, it responds. Quickly.

They do a very good job of integrating the non-Amazon content in the menus. For example, on Roku, if you go to Movies or TV on the Main Menu, you are essentially in the M-GO app. However, on the Fire TV, while the emphasis is on Amazon, you also get access to non-Amazon content.

For instance, I’ve been watching the old Doctor Who episodes. So, when I go to TV, then scroll to “Your TV Shows” section, I see shows I own or have in my Watchlist, including The Mentalist, Star Trek, Major Crimes, and, of course, Doctor Who. When I select Doctor Who, I see episodes that are on Amazon Prime, and episodes that are on Hulu Plus. I didn’t see any Netflix episodes, but I think that’s because all the episodes available on Netflix are also available on Amazon Prime.

Again, they did a good job of integrating non-Amazon content into the menus, but only for content that other services offer they Amazon doesn’t.

Let’s get right to it: is it worth it?

Well, if you already have a Roku or Apple TV, it would be hard to make the case for a Fire TV box. It makes more sense to add it to an Apple TV setup than it does a Roku setup. But replace either? I wouldn’t give one up for it.

If you were interested in your first streaming box, I’d still recommend a Roku (particularly the Roku 3), if I had to pick just one. But, if you chose an Apple TV instead, you’d be making a good choice. And, now I’m comfortable saying that if you chose Amazon Fire TV, you’d be making a good choice.

Before this week, online streaming boxes were Roku, Apple TV, and then everybody else. Now, it’s Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and then everybody else.

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Sex: ur doing it wrong

SexPhoneAccording to one survey, 20% of Americans 18-34 have used a smartphone during sex.

Now, if that involved using the smartphone to look at porn with one hand while …

I kinda don’t think so. I think the survey was talking about actual two-person sex:

20% of US 18-34 year olds have admitted to having used a smartphone during sex (Harris Interactive) and Twitter users on average have shorter relationships than non users (OK Cupid) – is tech just turning us off?

A recent poll for Durex (OnePoll) on the UK’s sex life revealed shocking statistics including 12% of people had answered a phone during sex, one in ten had read a text and over 5% of respondents had even checked Facebook while making love.

Answering the phone? What’s that about?

She: “I’m sorry, I need to take this.”
He: “Um, isn’t that what you were just doing, Sweetheart”


He: “This might be for me.”
She: “So was this.”

Checking Facebook? Going at it all hot and heavy and suddenly you’re inspired to see what recipes your mom has posted? I think you need to make an appointment with Dr. Freud, there, Sparky.

Promise me this. If you are one of those people who find other things to do during sex, you’ll do your partner a favor and set her (or him) free. Really.

I like tech. I really like tech. But there’s a time and a place for everything.

If your phone rings during sex, and you decide to answer it, trust me when I tell you it’s not Ed McMahon wanting to give you a million dollars. Ed McMahon is dead. And so, apparently, is your relationship.

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Robot musicians

RobotGuitar - 1Robots have been doing scary things.

There have been robot snakes, pee-drinking robots, pizza-deliverying robot killer whales, killer surgeon robots, …

The list goes on and on. Because robots are taking over the world. Not like we humans have done anything good with it, but still. Robot overlords? Not sure I’m crazy about that idea.

But, maybe not all robots are bad. Maybe they can be here to amuse us. Like the robots that make music.

In Japan, there’s a thing called Z-Machines that will be releasing a record in April called “Music For Robots.” Actually, it’s music by robots. Here’s a sample:


So, robots aren’t all bad.

Unless this is a plot to keep us entertained while they take over. If so, at least we’ll be entertained while soulless beings with no regard for human decency make the decisions. Kind of like the Democrats in charge. But with entertainment.

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A great-grandma phone

FlintstonePhoneMy mother is thinking of getting a smart phone. She has one of those indestructible flip phones that makes and receives calls. Does it very well. But, she wants more.

She likes to text. Yes, there’s a 78-year-old woman in southeast Georgia that stays in touch with her daughters and grand-daughters (and grand-sons, too, I suppose) by texting. Of course, on one of those little flip phones, If she wants to say “Thank you,” she has to type 88,444,22,666,555,###,9999,6966,888. And, if she accidentally goes too far, she has to keep pressing until it goes back around. You remember those days, right? Well, that’s called “Wednesday” where she’s from. It’s also called “Thursday through Tuesday.”

Well, she thinks she wants a smart phone. Everybody else has one, and she don’t want to be left out. And she’s not sure what she wants to do.

She’s thinking about an iPhone, but they’re just so expensive. So she’s wondered about one of those Samsung Galaxy S4 phones. But they’re expensive, too. Her oldest daughter has one of those DROID MAXX RAZR things. One of those phones where words are spelled all capitalized and wrong. She doesn’t want one of them, because she sees where my sister is always on the Facebook complaining about it, and she doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on something to complain about. There are lot cheaper ways to find something to complain about.

Now, last summer, I sought out some advice for myself and many of y’all suggested the Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4. Of course, some other phones were suggested, too, and they sounded good. I ended up getting an iPhone 5, but not because I ignored the suggestions. It was because I went with a smaller carrier that had a limited selection. I actually got a Samsung phone from the carrier, but they didn’t have the really good ones (no Galaxy S3 or S4) like y’all suggested. And, boy did I find out there’s a difference between the Samsung Galaxy and the Samsung SomethingElse. Ended up replacing it with an iPhone 5, and been happy.

Well, my mother is on Verizon. And they have a good selection of phones. I just want to make sure she’s happy with whatever smart phone she gets. I’m going to suggest an iPhone (based on my personal experience), or a Samsung Galaxy S4 (based on the rave reviews y’all and others I know have given). I’m also going to show her the rest of the suggestions y’all made last summer. But, since that was nearly a year ago, and lots of things happen in a short time in the technocracy world, I’m going to ask y’all again if there’s currently another phone she needs to consider.

What, if anything, should I add to the list:

  • iPhone
  • Samsung Galaxy S4

What else goes on this list?


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Voting for Obama proved that

GodzillaFacepalmSome Website called VoucherCloud did a study recently, and it showed Americans don’t know stuff.

Now, I didn’t need some coupon-aggregator Website to do a study to tell me that. I’ve met a lot of Americans. Related to several. Am one. I know Americans, and I know a lot of them are stupid. There’s no other reason than stupid that explains how Obama got elected. And that the stupid is a long-term condition is proven by Obama getting elected twice.

Okay, back to the study. It seems that 11% of Americans think HTML is a sexually transmitted disease. And, the study showed some other things, too:

  • 27% identified “gigabyte” as an insect commonly found in South America. A gigabyte is a measurement unit for the storage capacity of an electronic device.
  • 42% said they believed a “motherboard” was “the deck of a cruise ship.” A motherboard is usually a circuit board that holds many of the key components of a computer.
  • 23% thought an “MP3” was a “Star Wars” robot. It is actually an audio file.
  • 18% identified “Blu-ray” as a marine animal. It is a disc format typically used to store high-definition videos.
  • 15% said they believed “software” is comfortable clothing. Software is a general term for computer programs.

Yes, I sit here and laugh. But, is it really a laughing matter? Shouldn’t we try to help these poor people?

No. We need to laugh at them. Just like when you see a car with an Obama sticker, you point and laugh.

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Girlie things

GirliePhoneApparently, I have a girlie phone.

CNET reports that a recent study shows that women prefer iPhones, while men prefer Android phones.

That’s really not a surprise. Because studies have been showing that for a while, just nobody ever made a big deal about it. For example, Business Insider reported in 2010 that iPhone was the choice of women, while Android phones were the choice of men in a study by Nielsen.

There’s also a survey from 2011 that indicates women prefer iPhones, while men prefer Android.

So, this latest report shouldn’t surprise anyone. My phone is an iPhone, which makes it a girlie phone. And I’m okay with that.

You see, there’s nothing wrong with girlie things. No, I’m not trying to act like some metrosexual — which is, I think, someone who’s sexually attracted to the public transportation system. No, I’m simply okay with stuff being girlie.

Like Secret deodorant. I use Secret. Well, not all the time. But, if it’s on sale, yeah, I’ll pick it up. Started doing that in the Army. You see, on a field exercise, a lot of soldiers will forget stuff, or run out of stuff, and want to borrow yours. So, after my first field exercise, next time I went to the field, I took my wife’s Secret deodorant. They stopped asking to borrow it. And, Secret works. So, if that’s what’s on sale, I’m picking up some Powder Fresh Scent solid.

Or Lady Bic shavers. They used to come in pink. And, they used to be the only disposable razors that had that strip that made shaving more comfortable. When you’re in the field, and it’s cold and you’re standing next to a HMMWV looking into the mirror trying to get yesterday’s facial growth off, that little strip helps. Plus, others quit asking to borrow a razor blade from me, because mine were pink. The Lady Bic razors come in other colors now, but they still make some pretty pink ones.

So, no, I’m not afraid of using a girlie phone. My iPhone does just fine. And, if you have an Android phone, it probably works just fine for you, too. But, I like my iPhone, and my next phone will likely be another iPhone.

So what if it’s a girlie phone. Think about it, fellas. Don’t you like girlie things? Really, admit it. You like girlie things. Like girlie parts. You know, the parts the girls got that the guys don’t got. You like the girlie parts. And so do I.

And if that includes an iPhone, I’m okay with that. And, if it helps with getting access to other girlies things, I’m more than okay with it.

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More things I don’t have to do

FlappyRobotJust in time for the pulling of the Flappy Bird app from Apple’s App Store …

Hey! I’ve figured out where Frank J’s been! He’s been so upset that Flappy Bird is no longer available that he’s holed up in a room somewhere, not wanting to deal with the world. But, he’ll be okay. He’ll be back soon, I’m sure.

Anyway, just in time for the pulling of the Flappy Bird app from Apple’s App Store, two guys in China built a robot to play Flappy Bird. Really. (via Dan Collins/Facebook)

How does this impact you? Or, more importantly, how does it impact me?

Well, it doesn’t. Not really. Because they’ve now built a machine to play a game that I don’t have time to play.

That means the Chinese have finally caught up to where I was in 2008, when the TiVo was recording shows I never watched. Then I’d delete the shows because I wasn’t going to watch them.

So, in 2008, instead of me watching all that TV, I just had the TiVo watch it for me. They’re building cars that drive themselves. The NSA reads my emails so I don’t have to. And, now, I don’t have to play Flappy Bird because I can have a robot play it for me.

Pretty soon, I won’t have to do anything. I’ll be able to do nothing, and be good at it.

Of course, I’ve had wives tell me I’m good for nothing, so once again, I’m ahead of the curve. Y’all catch up when you can.

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Why you don’t let the 17-month old play with your iPhone

I’ve used the Guided Access feature on my iPhone for when the grandchildren want to play with it. I have some games that one grandson really likes, but although he’s only 17 months old, he knows perfectly well how to use the Home button to get out of the game and get to the rest of the phone.

That is why I use the Guided Access (triple-click Home) feature to lock the app and protect areas of the screen. If you have an iPhone and aren’t familiar with this, it’s Settings > General > Accessibility > [Learning] Guided Access. Once you set it up, you triple-click Home to activate it, and triple-click Home and enter the passcode to turn it off.

My daughter taught me that one. And, I use it when I let my youngest play on the iPhone. I also stay with it and watch, so he doesn’t hide it behind the couch or flush it down the toilet. I mean, he’s 17 months old. That what boys that age do.

So, I am thankful that my daughter taught me that trick. I’m thinking that she should have taught her husband the same trick. Because the boy got hold of his father’s iPhone. Here’s how it looks now:


Yes, that’s in November 2057, nearly 44 years from now. Do the math if you don’t believe me. (And just why don’t you believe me?)

The child got his intelligence from his parents. And his sense of humor from his grandfather. I am so proud.

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Pick the kids up about half past Jon Pertwee

PebbleWho3I have a cheap watch. I have some expensive ones, too, but on a normal day, I wear a cheap watch. One of those throwaways you can pick up from Walmart for around the same price as a cheap watch band. I did the math one time, and realized that if something happened to a nice watch on a normal day, I’d be out a boatload of bucks, and for that same money, I could buy a shipload of cheap Walmart watches. So, when the battery runs down or the band breaks or I just get tired of it, I toss it and buy a new, cheap Walmart watch. And I save the expensive watch for occasions where I want to wear a nice watch.

What all that has to do with anything is because I have found a kinda expensive watch (any watch over $100 is kinda expensive) that’s pretty cool, but one that I don’t think I’ll be getting. Because it’s not something I’d wear when I’m going somewhere that a nice watch would be appropriate. And I wouldn’t wear it for every day.

The Pebble Watch runs around $150. And up. And, a lot of you are familiar with it, whether you have one or not. But, if you’re not, it’s a smart watch. Runs its own operating system, but can work with iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth. And, I suppose that’s cool and all, but I’m not ready for a smart watch.

But, if I was…

I’d get The 12 Doctors. It’s a customization for the Pebble Watch that offers the face of The Doctor as an indicator of the time. At 1:00, you get the face of William Hartnell. At 2:00, you see Patrick Troughton. At 3:00, Jon Pertwee. At 4:00, Tom Baker. And so on. It even takes into account John Hurt, according to Cnet.

Yeah, that’s kinda geeky cool. And I may end up getting one. Need to finish watching all the episodes of Doctor Who first, so I can understand what John Hurt has to do with anything. Maybe later this year. If I find that I have more dollars than sense.

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