Something borrowed

Well that was a week of disasters. To say that anything has been resolved would be incorrect. Now, this should be an entry about the fourth part of my photography endeavors (‘price’ – as disappointing a topic as can be imagined), but instead …

Ignoring all that I’ve been through for sake of both reader and writer, let’s skip to today’s subject: the Chromebook. Borrowed for purposes of evaluation.

Old Asus netbook on top of new Asus chromebook.

What’s good about it? Let me put it this way: I’m writing this on a pieced-back-together, 12-year-old, failing Gateway laptop that locks up and goes into random video flickering that can induce epileptic seizures. Faults aside, it is able to do the job when it deems to work.

The chromebook doesn’t live up to the hype, which only proves the manufacturers are out to sell stuff not make good product. See the above photo? That old, now burned-out, netbook had 320 GB of storage and 4 GB of memory. It could run programs and store files locally in addition to connecting to the Internet. The chromebook can only connect to the Internet. It has a measly 32 GB of storage, no ability to add programs, and local storage has to be done via a USB drive if you desire it.

It can’t connect to my printer or scanner either. Not “it can’t connect to any printer/scanner” but specifically the equipment I’ve got. Lack of drivers. There are some for Brother printers, but not the particular one I have. That figures. Just the way things go for me. Of course the Canon scanner won’t connect either: seems they only support Windows OS.

In short it’s like the old computing terminals: can’t do much without being connected to the mainframe (Internet in this case). So no choices for how you want to do things: it’s “my way or the highway” for everything. This is absurd because but for the built-in storage capacity and the severely limiting OS it could be a netbook.

 

In order to replace my ‘main’ laptop with something modern and viable I’d need to have these specs:

Quad core processor (the dual core keeps maxing out).

4 GB RAM (I’ve tested my current laptop on 2 GB and it still works, but slows down. 4 GB would be a minimum and 8 GB would be better even though not used 90% of the time).

256 GB HD (either mechanical or SS; either works fine for me since I don’t do video and thus don’t need high speed read/write). There is a temptation for 500 GB, but since I managed two identical copies of my whole system and files on a drive that size with space left over I guess I’m not in danger of filling it up anytime soon. Especially as I am keep far fewer images these days due to the high rate of failure.

15″ screen minimum, preferably with higher resolution display like 1920 x 1080. I think that might help with the eyesight problem. (BTW I have a 17″ laptop and it’s a bit unwieldy as it’s heavy. Also the screen has failed on it and barely presents an image).

Around here even finding a computer that meets those specifications is difficult: they want to sell the cheap stuff which has the maximum profit margin. As such they scrimp on performance hardware and try to make up for it with promotions wherein every model is described as “perfect for all your computing needs”.

Oh one of the funniest things I’ve come across is pushing chromebooks by extolling their ease of cleaning and resistance to spreading germs. That’s what they learned from the pandemic: how to use disease to sell product.

I can’t complain too much about the old Gateway giving up because it is 12 years old and has done a lot of work in that time. Eventually heat gets to the components and makes them unstable, which is what is going on here as near as I can determine. Laptops aren’t very well-designed in that respect: the first one I ever had needed an ice cube on the processor at the end of its life to keep it running long enough for me to pull all the data off the drive.

But I can complain about the lack of suitable replacement laptops available, and the price of the few that exist.

Well what do you know? This post got around to being about price after all.

 

More … whatever the last post was about

I am sparing you a rant about everything going on these days. It requires a huge amount of effort on my part to restrain myself from going on at length. Especially the bit where the word “stupid” appears over and over and …

Anyway.

You will not be spared this rant about the computer problems. In the last episode I updated from Mint 17 to Mint 18 in order to be able to run a certain graphics program that I had used in the past on a Windows system and enjoyed. Now then. Install program. Okay!

Uh-oh. It doesn’t look the same as the version I remember. Gone is the obvious intuitive interface. Gone is the functionality. In the true sense of the word. Id est, it doesn’t actually work. Why not? It just doesn’t. Not even half works. As though the ‘buttons’ aren’t connected to anything. Click -this- and … nothing happens. It took me eight hours to upgrade to OS version 18.3 and the one program I wanted to use doesn’t work anymore even though it should? Okay, there’s a couple of other similar programs so let’s try them.

Ha, ha, ha, ha. Whatever made me think they would work? They don’t. One is just dysfunctional crap that won’t even load a file, the other works as poorly as it did when I tried it on version 17 OS. I suppose my first clue should have been that before I tried any of these programs the computer locked up completely under Mint 18.3 requiring a power button restart. Of course it would do that on the older version too, along with a lot of other little glitches. But at least most of it worked most of the time.

So maybe 18.3 is too old. After all, the first message I got when firing up Firefox (to download Chromium) was “EOL” – end of life – about the OS. Right. Upgrade to the latest and greatest, Mint 19.

It only took me six hours. Well, it took the computer six hours. I watched a couple of movies and occasionally typed ‘y’ and the password as needed to keep it going. After it was done …

First hint: the key transposition is still there. Second hint: the program I was going for still doesn’t work. Third hint: the other two haven’t magically gotten better. Fourth hint: the interface now looks suspiciously like that crappy Windows/Chrome/Android dumb smartphone graphics. Fifth hint: one of the programs I used daily no longer functions correctly.

This is better, is it?

Don’t these people ever test anything before releasing it? I realize that Linux is open source, volunteer developed and costs nothing but … come on! How about a little pride of workmanship? If you’re doing something isn’t it worth doing the best you can? Even if you’re only doing it for yourself? Perhaps especially if you’re doing it for yourself.

Good grief we have a world full of this kind of garbage going on. Oh, I wasn’t going to do that rant. But my recent software experiences are a microcosm of the bigger problem.

Now what do I do? This may be a case of the hardware being too far behind the times to handle the software (I did see some worrying error messages as the upgrade progressed, but nothing that should prove fatal). Even if I could afford a new computer I doubt it would work any better.

So it looks like I get to spend who-knows-how-long regressing the operating system back to 17 when at least what I had worked and I knew what flaws to expect. Easier to put up with those flaws than does-not-work-at-all combined with works-even-worse-than-before. Maybe I have a different idea of “improvement” than other people. It just seems as though all the software upgrades were a case of change for change’s sake and altering the look-and-feel rather than fixing problems or improving performance.

All told, I seem to be swearing a lot these days – and it is not in my nature to swear.

In Space No One Can Hear You Bark

In case you think this is just my opinion: Linux is getting worse