Personal Thursday: Chromebook Blather

Oct 16

Since it’s come up a few times on Twitter and people ask: Yep, I have a Chromebook. A bright teal HP Chromebook with a 16GB SSD and a Rapunzel sticker covering up the HP logo. In fact, my first non-rectangular sewing project was to make a nice slim bag to put it in.

It’s not my primary machine. As a lifelong computer addict who lives with a professional programmer/sysadmin, I have a tendency to collect and hoard electronics. My main machine is still my trusty Macbook Pro, followed by my homebuilt Windows 7 gaming box and my Windows 7 work laptop.

So with all that stuff lying around, why did I get the Chromebook? Well, my other machines were bought for power. But sometimes, you don’t want power. Sometimes you just want something to eff around on the internet with and maybe get some simple writing done. Sometimes you want a laptop where, if you break it or lose it or it gets stolen, you just go “damn” and deactivate it from accessing your Google account, instead of having a Very Bad Day. I snagged it for about two hundred on a Woot deal, and (like all HP Chromebooks) it comes with a moderate amount of free T-Mobile internets for life. I spend most of my laptop time in places with wifi, but knowing I have backup internets in case that doesn’t work out is nice.

What the hell is a Chromebook, you may be asking. Well, think of it like this — it’s a laptop that runs a web browser, and that’s all. Oh, there’s some apps and such, and they’re working on getting Android apps to run on it, but everything is based around the Chrome browser. The thing is, you can do a lot with just a web browser these days. Games, streaming video, writing, spreadsheets, etc etc etc blah blah blah. I have a ton of stuff open on my Macbook but what gets 75% of my time? Chrome. What gets the rest? Mostly my IM client and iTunes. And if I’m sitting at Starbucks, with an iPod for my music and Trillian for Web handling my IMs … yeah, I pretty much just need the browser. So the Chromebook works great for that.

If you’re wondering whether to get one, my advice is this — think very carefully about what you need it for and how you would use it. Try running your regular computer with nothing open but Chrome, and get everything done that you need to. Think about how often you are around wifi, and how much mobile data you might need. Figure out how much you would want to actually keep locally on the machine, instead of grabbing it from the internet. These things have very limited storage; you can get some extra with an SD card, but if you need to keep a ton of stuff handy for instant access it may not be enough.

Chromebooks are inexpensive, but a two hundred dollar laptop is only worth two hundred dollars if it does what you need it to. I could never use this as my main computer — no Skype, limited multi-client IM options, limited desktop-like apps, no Scrivener (what I wouldn’t give for cloud-based Scrivener!), none of the big video games I like to play, cheap-feeling keyboard, no place to put the tons of TV shows I’ve gotten from iTunes or the digital copies that came with some of my Blu-rays.

But when I just want to, oh let’s just say, sit at Starbucks typing up a quick Personal Thursday blog post with minimal distractions … it fits the bill pretty well.

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Once more unto the breach, with feeling

Sep 14

Yep, another “hey I’m still here” post!

For the past several months, all my creative juices have gone into creating this:

Tiny human

The tiny human, not the blanket.

I swear, I haven’t been able to write damn near anything while the baby was incubating. It really is as if every ounce of creative energy in my body was focused on making her little cells divide instead of making words come out my fingertips. But after a truly Sisyphean labor (which I may blog about at some point, without too much graphic detail), her journey from “tiny bundle of cells” to “independently breathing human being” is complete, so hopefully I can get the words out of my fingers again.

Don’t worry, this won’t become one of those dreaded “mommyblogs”* — I’ll still be posting about coffee-related stuff, mixed in with random personal stuff as it strikes my fancy. I have trouble remembering to use this blog for mundane personal posts, the way I used to use LiveJournal, but I’m working on that. You can see in the “Crap I’ve said lately” section in the sidebar, I still tweet random useless thoughts at random hours.

Posts currently brewing in my head include: the (in)famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, bits and bobs on the new audio show I’m working on (stalled out during the great Babyfication process), and possibly the story of the Sisyphean labor. I might also copy some of my favorite posts over from LiveJournal. Any other requests, loyal readers**?

* Gotta say, I don’t like the derision usually aimed at “mommyblogs”. People should blog about what interests them, and for many women (and men!) that’s their children. I don’t see anywhere near as much internet scorn directed at, say, car blogs or movie blogs. That said, my kid will not be the main focus of this blog.

** All two of you

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Still here!

May 22

Jeez, five months since my last post. How’d that happen?

Have patience folks, this blog isn’t dead. It’s just … uh … resting? It’s been a busy year at my day job, and I’m dealing with the medical issues associated with incubating a new human being in my torso, so I haven’t been able to update as much as I should have. Plus, well, the aforementioned human being seems to be draining all my writing mojo.

But the best way to regain writing mojo is just to write, right? I will be attempting to do that by hook or by crook.

I have a few coffee-related posts planned — e.g. a mini-review of the Verismo espresso machine Starbucks is selling right now, and a review of their new bottled iced coffee. Plus maybe reviews of some other random coffee/tea drinks I get around town.

I’ll also be trying to use this for more actual bloggy stuff, by which I mean blathering about things in my life that pretty much nobody else gives a crap about. It lets me look back over my old words nostalgically, and gives this site some signs of life.

Hopefully by forcing more words out of my fingertips, I’ll regain some of that vanished writing mojo and I’ll be able to write more betterful, like I usedta. And if you miss me, you can always check out my Twitter feed for whatever random thoughts and/or cat pictures I’ve come up with lately.

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How Blinkie completely lost her groove

Nov 23

One thing has become abundantly clear to me as I’ve spent time staring at a blinking cursor over the past couple of months — my writing flow is pretty much gone.

I’ve been making sure to update this blog a couple times a week, but each entry just seems to be a bunch of disorganized thoughts haphazardly blathered into the text editor. There’s no hook, there’s no logical progression, there’s no flow to anything. My non-Starbucks stuff pretty much only gets traffic via pityclicks from friends, but that’s no excuse for being boring. Plus, I’m not exactly gonna get any new readers with these yawnfests.

Likewise I’ve got a monthly podcast stalled out mid-script, because I just can’t get any momentum on it. I’ve got ideas, but I just can’t get them into words on the screen. And I find myself spending much more time going “I need to write something” than actually writing.

The usual recommended cure for this sort of thing is more writing, which for obvious reasons is easier said than done. Or maybe I need to spend more time planning things out, so that when I do start making words they’re in a logical order.

Or maybe there’s just something missing somewhere that’s throwing me off. All I know is, it’s taken me forever just to write a blog entry about how I can’t write these days.

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Putting up posters, figuring out what the light switches do …

Nov 06

So I’m still poking around with this blog.

As you can see from the front page spam, I’ve moved most of my old Starbucks content here, so I won’t lose those sweet unmonetized search result clicks. I plan to update the content and add more, maybe drink reviews, stuff from other coffee joints, stuff like that. If I didn’t have a day job I’d totally be an obsessive coffee reviewer.

But I’m also planning to use this to replace my old LiveJournal blog, which I’ve had for roughly a hundred million years. Way better interface, much more up to date, my own domain name, not owned by The Russians … what’s not to like?

That means I face the hardest question facing any person with a keyboard and an internet: what the hell do I write? Generally I look at my life and say, “pretty much nobody but me gives a crap about any of this.” But on the other hand, the internet is made of things nobody but the writer gives a crap about*.

Let me know what you think — and by “you” I mostly mean “the friends I will pester to look at my shiny new blog”, since the non-coffee stuff hasn’t had a chance to build any real traffic. What should I write about? Does this theme look nice, or does it smell like Ikea? What does the peach symbolize in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”? Does my ass look fat in these jeans? Who does your hair? What will I do if my cat figures out he’ll never actually catch the laser dot?
* Bolted to a solid foundation of cat pictures.

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