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.

 

That wasn’t fun

It’s complicated

My computer was becoming ever more erratic. Not a chance of replacing it due to financial constraints. What was more, I’d have to spend money for Win10 – and then delete it because it’s crap. Win11 is even worse as it is specifically designed to lock out old hardware and force sales of new machines. Imagine that: you just bought a Win10 machine and then you ‘upgrade’ it to Win11 and the next thing you know it doesn’t work worth a damn and you’re told you need to buy a new computer. Oh some will take the change, but better find out before you make the switch.

Anyway I’d just delete Microsoft’s bloated Spyware System and install Linux. Which is sort of what I did yesterday, except it was install Linux over Linux – or rather alongside it.

See here’s the thing: there was a program I wanted to use which would not work on Mint 17.3. There is no upgrade path from 17.3 to 18.3 except either deleting and starting over or doing a dual-boot install. As it is I had to backup everything anyway, so I did the dual-boot thing in case I didn’t like 18.3. That took all afternoon and into the night. I can only imagine it’s worse with Windows.

(Comic Note: in Star Trek: Lower Decks one of the characters has a cybernetic implant. In one episode it needs to be ‘updated’ and so it keeps rebooting as it installs progressive increments of the update, causing the character to black out and not know what goes on during that time. It is so much like the Windows update process … The funny line is: “Installing Klingon Fonts” What?! Why do I even need that?!)

Anyway after getting it up and running I then installed the updates and then installed the updates and then began updating it … That is to say transferring the massive number of data files and making sure I had the same programs. Whoops. After the solitaire and mahjong games that got a little dicey. Seems Chromium (the open source version of Chrome) is a bit different. In fact it’s better but hey the included outdated Firefox had to go. Then I need the extensions. Then … Well, you get the picture. (In fact over 20,000 pictures). It’s a good thing Linux does not itself consume massive amounts of drive space. I now have two versions of it with duplicates of my data files – on a 500GB drive with plenty of space leftover. I hear Windows alone can eat that much space.

So the look is slightly different but not so far off it’s unusable. I haven’t had time to fully test it of course, and no I haven’t got to installing that one program which started me down this rabbit hole. It does appear that the video has stabilized and possibly the computer itself (it had developed the habit of locking on boot or shut down or just mid operation). We shall see if it remains so.

There is one tiny little annoyance, though: for some reason the [@] key and the [“] key are now transposed in operation. So far that’s the only glitch and it doesn’t make sense as I thought ASCII codes were standardized decades ago. Yes, I tried changing the keyboard language designation but it isn’t any different on any version of English. If anyone can explain this weird deviation I’d like to know what’s caused it.

Note to self: check and see if the printer and/or scanners now work.