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Posted in Announcements

PCWorld Exits Print, and the Era of Computer Magazines Ends

I honestly can’t believe it. RIP PCWorld Magazine.

Tech

The news isn’t shocking. In fact, it’s sort of a shock it didn’t happen several years ago. After slightly more than thirty years in print, PCWorld magazine is ceasing publication, effective with the current issue, to focus on its website and digital editions.

If I have to explain why, you haven’t been paying attention to the media business for the past decade or so. The web has been awfully hard on magazines, and no category has suffered more than computer publications. Both readers and advertisers have largely moved online. Many of them did so years ago — especially the sort of tech-savvy people who once read PC magazines. At the end, PCWorld was about a quarter the size it once was in terms of pages and had lost two-thirds of its readership. I don’t even want to think about what had happened to its profits.

PCWorld
PCWorld

The last issue…

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Posted in News

Learning Code? Try Codeacademy! (Lightening Review)

Screenshot 2013-07-12 at 1.08.18 AM

Introduction:

There has been an incredible push by school districts and by organizations such as the ever-popular Code.org to get anybody and everybody to learn how to code. Be it HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, Ruby… it’s there, and you can learn it pretty quickly with a lot of different apps and websites that act as full-blown coding courses for everybody- even somebody who has never seen basic HTML or BASIC (see what I did there?). Codeacademy is an online course site that teaches all of the above languages, and more: and this is why you should try it out.

What is it?

An awesome, web-based course site that teaches many programming languages in a easy to understand format without any unneeded clutter and the ability to run in basically every browser (although as a Chrome/Chrome OS fanatic I must suggest you opt for something of a Googly taste).

Who is it for?

Everybody. And their brother too.

What is your favorite thing about it?

It’s easy to use, understand, and best of all, learn from. I like that the lessons speak in a vernacular that I’m familiar with as a human being, and not a ton of overly complicated words that I’ve never heard of crushed into one big lesson. Granted, I know HTML, but I love relearning it and refreshing my knowledge with this app in an easy and free way. By the way, it’s FREE. As in free beer.

What don’t you like about it?

I don’t like that it isn’t the most popular way to code yet. This shit is amazing.

Wrap-up.

Honestly, if you’ve coded before or never coded at all, this site is for you. For the experienced coder, it’s a fun refresher. For the newbie, it’s definitely a new way to learn how to program, or at least, how programming languages operate. There’s a lot to like and not really anything to dislike, and for free, it’s all worth it, right?

Access Codeacademy RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, and check back here all day every day for the very latest in Chrome OS news, reviews, and the always fun article I will randomly slap up here.

Posted in Reviews

Chrome OS App of the Day: Blackboard

2013-07-10 13_34_35-black boardIf you’re any kind of tutor, or if you like to get your art on, this is the best app available right now for Chrome/Chrome OS! Blackboard provides anyone with the chrome browser (or any browser) with an awesome way to type and draw content and erase it with ease.

You can check out the app RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Remember, it’s free!

Posted in Tech

My New Blogging Project

Google-Chrome-new-logoIntroduction:

In case none of you have come to figure this out yet, I have gone gun-ho on Chrome OS, namely, the Chromebook. I have replaced my broken machines with two Chromebooks: one provided to me by my High School (The Samsung Series 3 ARM-based unit) and another I bought myself (the C7 with a 4GB boost to the RAM). For the next school year (2013-2014) I have made the decision to leave OS X and Windows in the name of experimentation. That’s right, I will not use either OS for the rest of this school year.

Why are you doing this?

I have a lot of reasons for this transition. My main reason is to break away from the tradition desktop space and see how feasible it is to live solely in the cloud. I feel that the future in desktop computer, like mobile computing, is about to see drastic change, and I don’t wish to be left behind. Instead, I want to jump ahead, make the change, and move on to the cloud. Google is the first company with the balls to cut the cords of the desktop and move on to fast, light, responsive, care-free, and easy-to-operate computing as their selling model. I think this is amazing, and I want to see what it is like to take on a life completely on the web.

The other big reason I’m making the jump is for the sake of ease-of-mind. I have had many different personal computers throughout the years. Everything from Macs and PCs to desktops and laptops running every version of each OS imaginable has been in my arsenal. Every one of these devices has a major flaw. For every one, I struggled with at least one major technical issue. For my iBook, it was Hard Drive failure. For my second iBook, the logicboard simply gave out, for my MacBook, it was a lot of things (although I have been able to resurrect it for the time being), and finally, for my beloved Dell Vostro laptop running Ubuntu, the parts surrounding the screen gave way and it became too costly to have the labor done (or do it myself) on the laptop.

When I first used a ChromeBook, it was a Cr-48 Google shipped to me. I kinda liked it, but there were too many issues. For one, the trackpad was total shit. Also, the processor simply didn’t have the power that any of my other machines did, and as a result easily failed from simple online multitasking.

The Samsung Chromebook was a different story. It allowed me to love Chrome OS again, and after a while I became so accustomed to using the OS, that it didn’t make sense to do it any other way. It’s cheap, thin, light, easy-to-use, fast, and best of all, it gives me peace-of-mind. If anything happens to it, replacement is affordable. Everything of importance is online, so I don’t need to worry about losing anything. If I need to, I can refresh the OS, bringing it back to factory state, in only a few minutes.

This is everything computing is meant to be. Fast, easy, seamless, and safe. That is Google’s model with Chrome OS. Although somewhat limited, I have found a solution to (almost) everything I need to do on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and yearly basis with a computer. The only thing I can’t do is game (thanks, Xbox) or burn discs. But again, this isn’t what the laptop is meant to do, so this is extremely excusable.

The Conditions.

For everything I do, I must involve the Chromebook somehow. I mean everything: browsing the web, email, word processing, enjoying media, running my site, editing images, coding, reading… you name it, it must be done on either of my Chromebooks.

I will blog all moments of Chrome weakness: because Chrome isn’t perfect, and I will get frustrated sometimes. But there will be a solution, and it will be on the Chromebook.

There are some things I still need my MacBook for: I still need to burn discs, I still need a way to access and update my iTunes, and I still need ways to access bittorrent clients. I will use the MacBook, but ONLY for these purposes, and nothing else. Or else, this isn’t a break away, now is it?

Also…

Leave a comment below, send me a message, follow me on twitter, and read this site EVERY DAY for my latest updates on this project. As expected, most of the usual content will be here, albeit without anything involving PC reviews (my MacBook still works if I find anything worth reviewing).

Posted in Announcements

Acer C7 Chromebook Lightning Review (4 GB of RAM)

promo-landing-heroWhat is it?

This is the latest update to Acer’s line of Google Chromebooks, running Google’s own Chrome OS- a super light, super fast, and very focused operating environment that brings web apps and the best browser available to the forefront to be the ONLY application available on the system. Despite this “limitation,” the device allows users to do the same things (pretty much) that you can do on a full-fledged desktop. Web, email, word processing, spreadsheets, music management, photo management, social networking, news, movies, tv shows… it’s all here, and it works well.

Who is it for?

This isn’t for everybody. Let me repeat myself. THIS ISN’T FOR EVERYBODY. In fact, if anything, this is only for those who can handle the reality that you will ONLY be able to use the device with web apps. This isn’t the same as a Mac or a PC. It’s very different. But if you’re pretty much or completely living your computing life in the cloud (like most of us), then this is your solution. And by the way, this also makes an amazing secondary computer if lugging around heavy laptops or relying on a stationary desktop computer isn’t your thing.

What is your favorite thing about it?

I love how fast it is. It blows every browsing experience I’ve had OUT OF THE WATER. The way the hardware compliments the web-focused software makes it the complete browsing experience I didn’t know I wanted. 

What blows about it?

I really am irked by the keyboard. It feels cramped a lot of the time, and although it will take time to get used to, this CAN be a deal-breaker for some. I’m willing to deal with it if that means I can use a snappy machine. I wish Acer would have taken a cue from Samsung, who actually put a full-sized keyboard in their Series 3 Chromebook. Sigh.

Wrap-up.

Over all, this thing is fast, easy to use, and pretty much headache free. I love how it really shows the Chrome OS we were needing the whole time. And for a mere $219 on Amazon (this does NOT include the 6-cell battery, although it is easily upgrade-able), it almost makes too much sense to pick one of these bad boys up.

Grade: (back when I reviewed games, I used this graphic)

techgamescore

Pick this up, but be very weary of the keyboard and battery. If you need a long-lasting laptop with a beastly keyboard, the Samsung Chromebook is totally for you. If you need something zippy and cheap, the Acer C7 is definitely your guy.

Posted in Reviews

How Google Chromebooks Replaced My Need for a Traditional Laptop

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you’d know that I was one of the thousands of early Chromebook adopters, being sent one of Google’s Cr-48 laptops back in December of 2010. I’ve also used many of these devices since the unveiling of the official first model about two years ago at Google I/O. Since then, I’ve tried, tested, and used four different Chromebooks. It has taken me sometime to formulate a concrete opinion about the units, but I have since decided that these aren’t just toys anymore: they’re real, usable, and affordable for what they are capable of. Needless to say, Google has hit a home-run with the latest rendition of Chrome OS, and the current line up of Chromebooks satisfies almost every sector of the laptop buying market.

For the past three months I have been rocking Samsung’s Model 3 Chromebook. It is perhaps the fastest, cheapest, and most versatile Chromebook I have ever used. As Chris Zeigler of The Verge put it a couple of  months ago with his review of the device, “it’s $1000 worth of design made with $100 worth of materials.” This holds very true for the entire unit. While there are some tiny annoying creeks in the device, the unit looks and feels like a solid laptop that should cost a lot more than it does. The keyboard is also incredible. It has the same amazing feeling of a MacBook Pro keyboard, without the $1200 price tag. What’s more, the unit, weighing in at a paltry 2.2 lbs, is extremely easy to tote around in a backpack or briefcase (or purse if you’re of the female classification). Overall, the device is very solid.

At the end of the day, while I enjoy some good design and a device that is easy to bring with me, the thing that either makes or breaks a notebook computer is functionality? Can I get done what I need to get done without hassles on my laptop? Is it reasonable to use it as a main-device. For most people I’d say yes. You can get everything done without any problems, but for others, the Google model of computing can be an endless headache that results in a thrown Chromebook.

Here are some of the things I need to be able to do (or want to do) with my laptop that can make or break the experience:

  1. Access the Internet (the Chromebook is MADE to do this as a primary function)
  2. Be able to freely check my email whenever I need to (Gmail)
  3. Create and Edit documents with some word processor (Google Drive)
  4. Be able to constantly access and edit a calendar of events (Google Calendar)
  5. Able to do my homework (everything for MyMathLab is on the web, thankfully)
  6. Read news and collect RSS feeds to stay updated with the world (Feedly, my Google Reader replacement)
  7. Listen to and manage music collection (Google Play Music)
  8. Watch movies and TV shows on Netflix (Netflix for Chrome OS)
  9. Edit and manage my websites (WordPress)
  10. Graph polynomial, rational, exponential, trigonometric functions (Desmos Graphing Calculator)

There are a few things I am simply unable to do with my Chromebook, but I have a desktop computer running Ubuntu to fix these needs. First off, I need to be able to edit HTML, Javascript, and CSS often, so I have a few applications on Ubuntu that make such a thing very easy. And to be honest, I never have to do this on the go. Another thing I need to be able to do is Print. I hate printing on this thing because it is so freaking difficult to do. Because of this, I’m currently shopping for a Chrome OS Google Cloud Print solution that I can afford. One last thing I need to be able to do that I simply cannot do on this Chromebook is play games. That is what my Xbox and my Linux PC are both for. They both do this well, so I really don’t care if I can’t do it when I’m supposed to be productive elsewhere.

Recently, I purchased a more spec’d out Chromebook: the Acer C7 with 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB HDD, and 1.1 GHz Dual-Core Intel Celeron Processor.  For my needs, and for everything I said I want to be able to do, this is more than enough power. And for the price I was able to snag it for ($219), it more than satisfies what I need. It is worth mentioning that you can still pick one of these up on Amazon and get free shipping on it if you use Amazon’s Prime service.

Listen closely… are you listening? Good. Do yourself a favor, and try one of these suckers out for an extended period of time before you jump into anything crazy like, say, buying a Chromebook to replace your main laptop. I did it because I knew I was able to. Don’t do it just because I told you to. It can be a scary thing making the big jump from a traditional desktop experience to a Chromebook. All the same, for the low price, high power, and versatility with web apps, you simply can’t go wrong.

Posted in Editorials, Reviews