St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why You Should Never Buy Another Computer!

Chromebook example 
(Update since I posted this-- chromebooks do not have cd or dvd players nor can you get one for them, so that is a limitation. However, if you have an external CD reader/writer, you can open files from a CD.  Supposedly you can't write them.  Haven't tried and external DVD yet.)

The last two months have been a busy time as I helped a few of my friends with their failing computers.  A couple were hardware problems (both an IMAC and a Windows Laptop).  Most were just slow having been filled with advertising popups and viruses from folks clicking things that they didn't know what was behind them.  Never click anything that asks you to "check your computer" for anything.  Never download something that pops up on the screen.  Always find a corner with an X to close it-- and you probably will get by without.  

The biggest scam is the message that says "check your computer for viruses" or something like that where you click on the popup and end up with what is called malware (bad stuff) on you computer.  

Would you like to be free from this worry?  There is a way and it is called a "Chromebook."  

I have come to the position that the average person should never buy another computer! This conclusion has also been reached by many school districts who have begun supply students with $200 chromebooks instead of tablets or computers.   No management needed for the software, updates, viruses etc.  

That does not mean giving up your Facebook, email, photo sharing, and reading this blog, but rather I advocate buying a Chromebook instead. 

A Chromebook looks like a laptop computer.  However, it gets its brains off of the internet from Google each time it starts up (very very quickly).   If you have WIFI (wireless internet) at home, this will work for you -- as well as anyplace you go with WIFI--the library, the motel, the restaurant, etc. 

Chromebooks don't get viruses, you can't mistakenly download any bad programs as nothing gets downloaded -- the programs just run of the internet.

Each time you start it up, you are starting with a fresh computer system, devoid of the junk that accumulates on regular computers.  

You switch to a web based email -- such as google, microsoft, apple or yahoo mail or use the web interface into your local telephone company email (I do both).  Your emails never are stored on your chromebook, but stored in the servers at the telephone company or google or yahoo.  This not only is much safer, but lets you read your email on any computer anywhere in the world if you have your acct and password. 

My brother, Ev, bought one to test it out.  After his bout with cancer back in 2007, he got a little less worried about saving for the long term and has enjoyed trying to stay current with technology from bookreaders, tablets, phones and Chromebooks.  

Then my son, Scott, who is quite high tech, bought one to replace his old notebook computer and desktop computers.  

Each spent about $200 to buy one. All the software you need including an office (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation...) come with it as well as a lot of cloud storage. 

What is cloud storage?  On a normal computer with a local email system like Microsoft Outlook, when you go to your mail, the mail is downloaded and erased from the phone company's computer to your computer.  If you read it on the phone company computer and leave it there, it is "in the cloud."   Which really means it is still out there where it was before you brought it to your computer.  You can read it, but you don't store it locally.  

Do you put photos on flickr? on Facebook? or other places on the internet. You are using the "cloud."  They are copied to a computer out there someplace and stored there.  With a chromebook, everything is stored "out there."  

The folks who have the cloud computers, like Google, Apple,Microsoft, IBM and hundreds more, make money by advertising on their displays as well as charging a little for using large amounts of storage.   I pay $20/year for 100 gigabytes that is my personal cloud storage. That is enough for 20,000 high resolution photos.  

Printing is also somewhat complicated with a chromebook -- much like that with a tablet.  You have to set up your printer as a cloud printer.  My latest printer, an Epson WF 2670 (big format scanner and printer) is fully WIFI and can even print a photo I send to it in an email.  So that is a complication that requires a little expertise to overcome.  Best solution -- buy a new wifi printer.  I hooked my old printers up to my router (my router has a usb port and also a direct network cable).  One printer had a network connection and the other used the USB.   Old printers can be connected but it is messy unless you can connect them to your network by wire in your house. 

When my friends take their computer to the repair shop to be "cleaned" it typically costs $100 to $200, and some do this every year.  You don't have to do this with a chromebook.  

For some of the details of what does and doesn't work with a chrome book read this link
Is a chromebook for you?

My next computer will be a chromebook.  Small, long battery life, and does 90% of what I need to do 90% of the time!