Thursday, March 13, 2014

New experiment (Chrome OS)

I have played with Linux a lot over the years (and in the last 12 months). Been running Windows 8.1 on a few computers since it came out. I’ve used Macs exclusively for about a 10-year stretch.

It used to be about the technology. It was fun. I liked trying different things. But anymore… how much energy and time do I really want to spend so that I can do things that pretty much any $299 computer will do out of the box? I mean really?

At some point it should no longer be about the technology, but about what one can do with the technology. Short of setting up computers with different operating systems and playing with all kinds of different configurations… I don’t actually DO that much with computers.

Maybe it’s time to focus more on doing things and less on the means involved. Rather than continuing to go through the endless number of ways I can setup a computer to do the basic stuff I normally do, I’ve decided to dumb down.

The fact is, I just don’t do that much on a computer anymore that is outside my browser. So I’m going to try an experiment. Yesterday I pre-ordered the new ASUS Chromebox. This will go nicely with the Acer Chromebook I bought a few months ago. And Google just announced a huge price cut for their Google Drive cloud storage options. I think my life is about to get a lot simpler.

My plan is to put pretty much all my data into the cloud on Google Drive. And because I will be running Chrome OS, I will essentially be doing without anything that won’t run in a Chrome browser. I think I can do this. There are a few loose ends and known concerns.

1. I’ll give up Quicken. Not really a big deal. It’s been messing up my transaction downloads for the last few months anyway. My custom-designed spreadsheet (in Google Docs) is better.

2. I’ll need a different backup solution. I’m thinking about using something called “Spanning Backup”. It’s essentially a cloud-to-cloud backup solution designed to backup one’s Google data. It will backup all my Google stuff for me (gmail, calendar, contacts, and Google Drive stuff) to some other location in the cloud.

3. I’ll need to think about no longer using iTunes. I could leave it running on a spare Windows machine just so I can use it from my Apple TV. Might do that, might not. All my music is already available on Google Play. So no compelling reason to stick with iTunes except for the movies and TV shows I own and never watch that are DRM-locked to only play in iTunes (yay).

4. I need to figure out printing and scanning. There is something called Google “cloud printing” which would be perfect except that my printer won’t natively do it. New printers will. I might be able to get mine to work. Or I might just pop for a new printer.

I have no need to do this. I have a Windows desktop machine and a Windows laptop. Both are happily running Windows 8.1. My wife also has a Windows 8.1 desktop machine. But I like the idea of an experiment. I want to give Chrome OS a whirl to see if it might be enough. Honestly we’re talking about less than a $400 total investment in the equipment necessary (Chromebook and Chromebox).

I do understand the irony of setting up yet another computer configuration while at the same time saying that I’m doing it because I’m tired of playing with all the different computer configurations. We’ll have to see about that. Will this be the final iteration? Probably not.