Monday, April 02, 2012

Chromebook: Acquisition

I actually got two Chromebooks. It turned out I had someone in my life who needed one even more than I did.

Art by Michael Gibbs
My mother-in-law had gotten through successful cancer treatment; but she was worn out. Too exhausted for much activity outside the house, and even in it. Her situation was made for the self-paced, infinite-interest, horizon of the Internet. Yet, she wasn't getting online.

In our regular phone chats, I'd been exploring her difficulties. She was usually too tired to sit at the desktop computer, and it was often being used by others.

Equally daunting was her unfamiliarity with "how it all worked" because of her serious fear of viruses. When I explained the Chromebook was the safest way to browse... I could hear her voice light up with enthusiasm.

For those of us who are long-term computer users, we don't notice a computer's "maintenance aspect." A window pops up, we assess, agree or not, and wait for it to be finished. But for someone who is unfamiliar with the way our software seeks attention, this simple task is fraught with dangerous unknowns.

My brother, also a writer, is following my adventures on this new device with great interest. He had wrestled with a PC for years, resigned to getting it cleaned up once a year, and becoming increasingly annoyed with it as it aged.

While he liked the Mac better, he discovered that any operating system demanded more maintenance than he wanted to supply. Once his auxiliary hard drive went down (it turned out to be a bad power supply) his tolerance was exhausted. When he divested himself of possessions to go traveling he wasn't sure of his next step.

It turned out that his Gmail account, with all his work loaded into Google Docs, was the one piece of guidance I'd given him which matched his new, minimal-tech, outlook. It meant he could pick up where he left off on any computer system. Or, as it turned out, no "computer" at all.

The Chromebook gives him the self-maintaining software and automatic backups that could be the answer for him.

  • This post is one of a series of articles about living with my Chromebook. See all my posts about life in the cloud.

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