Thursday, September 13, 2018

My Chromebooks Keep on Ticking


by Tony Thomas

Tick...tick...tick. Can you hear that sound?

That is the sound of my Chromebooks approaching their expiration date.

Unlike many other computers, Chrome devices have an expiration date baked in. For older models, it is five years after the date of introduction (not the date of sale). Newer models get a date of 6.5 years.

That means that if you were an early adopter of the Chrome platform like me, chances are that time is running out for your Chrome devices.

What happens when that day arrives? According to the Google AUE (auto update expiration) website:

“Chrome devices receive automatic updates regularly that enhance both the device itself and the software on the device. However, advances in hardware and technology eventually make devices out-of-date; and as time goes by, we cannot indefinitely ensure that older Chrome devices will receive updates to leverage new OS features.”

“When a device reaches Auto Update Expiration (AUE), it means that the product model is considered obsolete and automatic software updates from Google are no longer guaranteed.”

That doesn't mean that the devices will suddenly stop working. It just means that they will not get any more updates or new features. At some point, they may cease to function correctly as new web technologies are created and added to Chrome. More troubling is the fact that security updates may also cease when the expiration date is reached.

Does this mean that you should discard a perfectly good device? Not necessarily. If you are technically inclined, you can install Linux on the device by reflashing the device to wipe ChromeOS and replacing it with SeaBIOS. However, that is not for the faint of heart or anyone who lacks some serious technical chops. In addition, this will only work for devices with Intel CPUs (not ARM).

A simpler solution is to enter developer mode on the Chrome device and install Linux via Crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment). It is a much simpler process and is easily reversible as it does not make any permanent changes to the device. Crouton gives you the option to install a number of Ubuntu variants and update them as needed. If you install Chrome on your Linux distribution, it mirrors much of the functionality inherent in the Chrome operating system while also enabling you to run Linux applications such as Libre Office even while not connected to the Internet.

If you are buying a new Chrome device, it would be wise to check the AUE expiration database To find out how long the device has before it reaches its expiration date. There are many older Chrome devices (especially used ones) still on sale that are close to or even beyond their expiration date. Buyer beware!

Here is a link to Google’s AUE database:

https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?hl=en

And a link to the Crouton GitHub page:

https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Are Chromebooks Getting Pricier?











by Tony Thomas

When they were introduced, Chromebooks were seen as a low-cost alternative to a notebook PC.  How things have changed.  

I visited my local Best Buy yesterday and noticed that the prices of Chromebooks are moving on up.  At the very top of the line is the Google Pixel - the flagship of Chromebooks.  Even with its impressive specs, at $999, I think the Pixel has very limited appeal unless the buyer is a Chromebook fanatic.  

Bolstered by the high price of the Pixel, other manufacturers, like Samsung, Asus, and HP, are coming out with new Chromebooks in the medium-price range of $500 to $750.  At the lower end of the pricing scale, there are fewer offerings to choose from.  I think this is because the recently introduced Android functionality requires more RAM and storage space to be used effectively.  

Personally, I find the dependence on Android troubling as I am a big fan of the offline native apps on Chrome OS that have apparently been deprecated.  Google will be adding Linux functionality which may help to fill in the gap between mobile apps and more powerful desktop computer programs.  They are also betting heavily on Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) that are beginning to appear but have not gained much traction or acceptance yet.

The problem with the more expensive Chromebooks is that they lose their advantage of being a low-cost solution and have solid competition from lower-end notebooks and tablets like the iPad.   And, speaking of the iPad, I will be watching with interest how well the new ChromeOS tablets will do compared to Apple's new affordable base model.  

In any case, ChromeOS is still a strong option for anyone looking for a secure web-based computing solution.

Check out my YouTube Video:








Thursday, July 5, 2018

Teknet Laptop Cooling Pad


by Tony Thomas


I recently purchased a Tecknet laptop cooling pad from Amazon.com to provide cooling for my aging Lenovo T410 14” laptop computer. The Tecknet pad is made out of plastic but seems to be solidly built. It houses two 110mm cooling fans which seem to do a good job of providing needed cooling to the bottom of the laptop. The fans are illuminated and provide a cool looking blue glow. It is slightly angled to make typing more comfortable. It supports laptop sizes from 12-16”. At $21, it seems to be fairly priced and has received a lot of good reviews.

Power is provided via an available USB port and there is an extra port available for another device. It only seems to pass power and not data so it cannot be connected to a USB drive or other data device. I was able to successfully run it from an open port on my unpowered USB hub so it does not draw much current.

Since I installed a 7200 RPM hard drive, it had been running pretty hot -- as high as 60-70 degrees C. Using the cooling pad, I have been able to reduce my temps by 15-20 degrees. I am very pleased with the performance of the Tecknet laptop cooling pad and highly recommend it to those who need additional cooling.

Buy it at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IXsbKh

Check out the YouTube video: https://youtu.be/zuHDht6je-8

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

u-he Repro - A Second Look




I am taking a second look at u-he Repro. It is a great sounding VST but uses a lot of CPU. Don't say I didn't warn you. - Tony Thomas




Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sound Forge Audio Studio 12.5 Review



Sound Forge Audio Studio 12.5 Review 

by Tony Thomas




This is a review of Sound Forge Audio Studio 12.5 by Magix for Windows. Thanks to Magix for providing me with a review copy of this program.

More info here: https://www.magix.com/us/