Monday, April 23, 2012

Chromebook: Gateway

When my Chromebook came I was so excited I missed a step; I just plugged it in and watched the incredibly fast bootup; mere seconds. It didn't mind that I had forgotten to put the battery in.

While I turned it off and plugged in the battery later, my mistake served as an illustration of concept. There's nothing else in there. It is simply a gateway to the cloud.

It's a browser, not a laptop.
I showed a techy friend my new Chromebook, which he had heard of, but not seen. Even so, there were several times in the course of the conversation where his understanding of "it's only a browser" was shaky.

It's not aligned to our usual ways of thinking about computers. It should be especially difficult for me and my friend, since we remember computers before the Internet.

Yes, children, once upon a time, there was no World Wide Web. There was a bit of email, and I remember banking with a 300 baud modem, as part of an experiment. If we knew the right numbers and passwords, we could use our modem to call into a giant mainframe where lurked The Adventure Game. You are in a maze of twisty little passages...

But usually the way we did stuff on the computer was to do stuff on the computer. I remember potlucks which began with me putting the cassette in to load Sword of Fargoal. Twenty minutes later everyone would take a turn. Back in the 1950's, it was the first television in the neighborhood which became the object of fascination. Our household experienced this phenomena as "the one with the first computer."

But I find the transition ridiculously easy. Perhaps because of my circumstances. My friend has a high-end netbook which is vital to his work in IT. It's easily four times as expensive as my Chromebook. He got it when I asked him to heft my new purchase. "Nice and light!" he said. "You get six hours of of this?" He meant battery life.

"That''s right," I said. "I can't afford this in a computer. I can afford it in a browser."

And I saw the light go on in his face.

  • 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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