Tag Archive for laptop

Enter the Chromebook

I’m going to be testing and evaluating the Google Chromebook for the day job, so of course I’m going to take advantage and evaluate it as a writer as well.

The attached photos are of the Samsung model we purchased. It has an 11″ matte display, USB, HDMI, and SD card ports, and a full-size keyboard that, so far, is comfortable to type on. For comparison purposes, here’s a photo of the Samsung Chromebook sitting beside a first-gen iPad.

Light and portable

Light and portable

So far I like it. From first boot and setup, I had it fully up and running in just over 90 seconds. This includes the few seconds I waited for the text code from Google for my two-factor authentication. All of my desktop/laptop Chrome extensions and bookmarks showed up within a minute or so. I played a YouTube video full screen, and it looked and sounded fine.

My editor has one, and my first impressions upon seeing his and upon starting this one up are the same: this is a nice little machine. I’ll be hammering on it for the next couple of weeks to get a better idea of what it can and can’t do. Because it has offline storage for Google Drive built in, Google Docs will be my default text editor when I’m writing.

I’ll let you know how it goes in a few weeks, either way.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Public Service Announcement

Phear the Stickers
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

When you purchase a laptop computer, it’s yours.

You do not need to keep the store display stickers on the machine. These are on every laptop because the manufacturer has no way of knowing which one a retailer will open for display (and conversely, a retailer would have no way of knowing which unit is stickered for display without some rather inconvenient tracking methods).

You are not voiding warranties by taking them off. You are not harming the computer by taking them off. You are making a gunky, disgusting mess on your laptop.

If it doesn’t bother you, well, more power to you. It just surprises me how often I see this. I think geeks are the only ones who peel these. And even then, only about half the geeks remove the sturdier, metallic Windows-capable and Intel logo stickers.

Of course, I also have no qualms about slashing open those “do not remove or we’ll void your warranty” stickers that hold desktop cases closed, either.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Writing on the Road

Road Warrior

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.


Circumstances aside, I often welcome the chance to write on the road.

At home, I’m surrounded by distractions. If I feel like procrastinating, there are home projects to be done: seal off the attic fan, bag & board the last several months’ worth of comics, or clean out the utility room. If I’m feeling lazy, there’s the tube and a stack of DVD’s I haven’t watched yet. Then of course there’s the rugrats and the pets.

On the road, there’s little else to do with my downtime. I take care of the travel business and then I’m either in a car or in a hotel room. On this particular trip there were no real sites to see, and even if there were I was far too tired to get out and see them. So I fire up the laptop, log on to the free wireless, and go to town.

Tap-tap-tapity-tap until I’m too tired to move my fingers. Edit and post in the morning, and back to trip business.

The car’s a nice place to write, too. We had an hour to the kid drop-off site, and then three hours to our destination. I conned the wife into driving that second leg, propped the laptop on its namesake anatomy, and went to town.

Trips go so much faster when you lose yourself in your writing. You don’t even notice the radio, which can be helpful when the wife’s in the mood for country music. If I could have left my internal editor home and just let the fingers fly unrestrained, I’d probably have gotten even more done.

Hmm. Maybe I need another vacation.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Xubuntu Impresses

I’ve pretty much written off my good old Dell Inspiron 8000 as an obsolete clunker doomed to crawl along, but I keep it around because I can still run Linux at a reasonable speed on it, connect via wireless in various places, and get some writing done on the road. I most recently ran Fedora Core 5 on it with Fluxbox loaded up as the window manager. Fluxbox is very sparse and minimalist, but it works, and I figured that install would take me through to the laptop’s end of life.

That end of life is looking farther and farther off, however, as I can’t afford to just go out and pick up a cheap laptop, much less a shiny new MacBook. I may as well get the apps as current as possible, so last night I installed Xubuntu 7.10, a spin-off of Ubuntu 7.10 that installs Xfce as the default desktop. Xfce is supposed to run better on older hardware than its more-popular cousins KDE or GNOME, but I saw a negligible difference between it and KDE on my laptop under Flux/FC5.

Not so under Xubuntu. I didn’t see an improvement in boot time (not unexpected), but the desktop did load faster and I didn’t experience a lot of the drag I did before, even under Fluxbox. Flux got the job done, but it’s nice to be back into a fairly modern desktop again.

After that, it’s all Ubuntu candy. The Synaptic package manager impresses me more every time I use it. Firefox and Thunderbird are both current, and the Ubuntu folks didn’t make the idiotic decision to skip Firefox 2 like the Fedora gang. The Software Sources (the sites Synaptic downloads its software from) are much easier to manage, and within five minutes of first login I had Flash 9 up and running. Sound worked out of the box.

Wireless threw me at first. My Orinoco card had a green light to indicate it was running, yet I didn’t have an established connection. Then I spotted the network management applet up by the clock. Click, click, click, voila! At least as easy as using Windows XP’s wireless manager (and easier than some of the vendor-supplied managers).

I started surfing around, and it was a good ten minutes before I noticed the fonts. The fonts are sharper and clearer than I’ve seen on Linux in a while, and they’re at least as sharp and clear as the new IE fonts (which, admittedly, look pretty damn good). It’s not that there was anything wrong with the fonts under FC5, it’s just these are much cleaner and clearer, even under the high resolution. Then it dawned on me that Xubuntu managed to figure out my display resolution on its own, too! I used to have to select a better resolution by hand on this laptop. Under Slackware it meant tweaking X by hand, and under Fedora I had to choose the correct display.

In fact there was zero configuration on this install, period.

The installer asked maybe a half dozen questions: what language I speak, how to partition the disk, my timezone, who I am, and for a password. It then cooked along and presented me with a working system minutes later. People talk about the difficulty of installing XP all the time, but I never saw a major difference until now. This installer runs circles around just about every other installer I’ve ever used.

I still have to dig around and see what else is in there, but it’s looking like I’m going to be an Ubuntu convert. The sticker goes on the laptop chassis this evening, I’ll be installing Ubuntu (or more likely Kubuntu) on the home PC sometime soon, and I look forward to testing Xubuntu on some of the old hardware I’ve got floating around at work.

Linux doesn’t get much more ready for the desktop than this.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.