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To the web… with the Cr-48

I’ve used Google’s Chrome Cr-48 notebook for the past week, and it handles almost everything I need a mobile computer to do. I’m really pleased with the device. With Chrome OS, Google seeks to move us from “device specific computing” to a “login to your account anywhere” world. With my own computer use, I’m already mostly there. Over the past few years, I’ve moved most of my life to the web: Google Apps for email and documents, Sliderocket for presentations, Dropbox and Evernote for files and information, DimDim / FuzeMeeting / Join.me / TokBox for web meetings, MindMeister for mind mapping, Freshbooks for billing, WordPress for website managment, Diigo for bookmarking, and so on. Even backup of local files goes to the web with Mozy.com. If there’s a browser-based application for something, I’ve probably tried it. That said, in the past week I’ve learned a bit about the current quirks with the Cr-48.  But there are also a few tricks that make using the Cr-48 workable for me in daily use. 1. Quirk: Web apps should accept URLs. On Windows systems, I use Aviary to take screenshots of a website within the Chrome browser. I save the screenshot online with Aviary, then import the image into a Sliderocket presentation. With the Chrome browser on Windows 7, Sliderocket accepts an “http://” address and imports the image. With Chrome OS, Sliderocket only accepts a file stored locally.  Oh, the irony!  I’m sure this will be fixed, but it’s a good indicator that we’re still in the early days of so-called cloud computing. Trick: Save screenshots to the Cr-48 file system. Take a screen shot by going full-screen mode, waiting a second for the “Exit Full Screen” message to disappear, then clicking “Ctrl-next window” (the key to the left of the dim brightness key on the Cr-48). When importing the image, dig through the file system to chronos/user/Downloads/Screenshots. 2. Quirk: Printing from the Cr-48 requires Windows. Setting up printing from the Cr-48 required installing the developer track version of the Chrome browser on my Windows 7 desktop. Once configured, it worked well. Trick: Use a printer with an email address. My HP D110, part of the ePrint.com family of printers, has its own email address.  So I simply email items I want printed to it. This is also how I printed from my iOS devices before Apple released AirPrint. 3. Quirk: Web conferencing apps don’t recognize the webcam. I use web meeting tools a lot. I tested DimDim and TokBox, which both support video within Chrome on Windows.  Webcam video didn’t work in either DimDim or TokBox in Chrome on the Cr-48. Trick: Edit Adobe Flash settings. After digging around in various forums, I learned that there are some online Adobe Flash website privacy settings that can be edited. Who knew? I went to the Adobe Settings Manager site online, then changed the website privacy settings to “Always Allow” for DimDim.com and TokBox.com. Web video worked! Long version of the link:
http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager06.html 4. Quirk: Creating a local file on a device doesn’t mean the file will be accessible via Google Docs. This isn’t a Cr-48 quirk — it’s a human quirk: old habits die hard, even for devout beta testers like me.  I needed to write a script for the audio track of a training presentation I am developing.  I created the presentation in Sliderocket on my Cr-48.  I started writing the script using Pages on my iPad. The next day, without thinking, I pulled up Google Docs to edit the file. It took me about five minutes to figure out that the file was stuck on my iPad and not online. Trick: No more local files! I’m resolved to remove apps from my iOS and Windows devices that don’t sync to the web automatically — Dropbox and Evernote are OK; Microsoft Office by itself isn’t, but Office with Offisync or Google’s Cloud Connect are acceptable. (Split-screen browsing in Chrome OS would be nice. I know plugins to Chrome offer split-screen browsing, but this is the sort of thing that I think is optimally handled at the operating system level.) 5. Unsolved quirks: Scanning, iTunes and iOS, screen sharing. There are still a few issues I haven’t completely resolved with the Cr-48. The most important is scanning. I currently scan most documents to a PDF format in Evernote with a Fujitsu ScanSnap S300.  I’d like to be able to scan directly to Evernote without going through a local machine.  I think some Lexmark printers can do this, but I’m still researching this.  Any advice in the comments would be appreciated! Resolving the need for iTunes is more difficult.  I’m already using MP3Tunes to sync my music library, so I have access to my music from most web-connected devices.  The problem is that iTunes is the only reliable way I know of to update and backup iPhones and iPads. I know a solution is to move to Android devices and sync directly over the web. But I’m not quite ready to ditch my iPhone or iPad. I can see centralizing all iTunes syncing on one computer in the household, though. Finally, I haven’t found an easy-to-use web based way to provide remote support.  I’m a big fan of Join.me, which is the simplest way I’ve found to do screen sharing and remote control on Mac and Windows systems.  I can use Join.me on a Cr-48 to view and support someone else’s system, but I can’t use it to share my screen from the Cr-48: doing so requires running an executable file locally.  The same is true for screen sharing with tools such as DimDim or FuzeMeeting.  Any solutions that don’t require the sharer to install any code and work on the Cr-48? I absolutely love the Cr-48 and look forward to watching the OS evolve — and seeing it on even more impressive hardware in 2011.

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