Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Offline Gmail, Docs & Calendar + New Blogger Interface!

Today is quite a day for ChromeOS and the Chromebooks. Today Google announced a new web app called "Offline Google Mail" which does pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Yay for Gmail offline! This is really the biggest news of the day. Offline Gmail access is killer! Now thanks to Google we have a snappy and beautiful new web app to use it with! I love web apps! It makes me feel like my Chromebook is a tablet LOL.

That is not all though! They are also slowly rolling out the ability to access Google Calendar and Google Docs 
Offline as well. Once you get the feature rolled out to you, you can go to the gear icon on the top right of the screen and enable offline access. It is still rather limited though. For example, Google Docs is read only offline which means no offline editing (BOO!). Google promises that is in the works though so take heart! All and all today was a good day for Chrome/ChromeOS/Chromebooks!

Check out the Google Chrome Blog for all the deets!

The new Blogger interface which was previously in beta just went live as well! Go get your changes on! =)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Adobe Flash + Linux/Chrome OS = FAIL

I have tried my best to stay totally objective while doing this blog. I believe I have done that. With that said there is a hemorrhaging issue we as Linux users can NO LONGER IGNORE. Adobe Flash Player has never worked well at all on any Linux distro. As you all know Chrome OS is built from Linux therefore it suffers the same issues as all the other Linux distros. 

Any issue I have ever had (Crashes, freezes, slow/sluggish web pages, choppy streaming video performance, etc.) on the CR-48 and the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook have ALL been Adobe Flash Player related. It's truly AWFUL. If I disable Adobe Flash it runs like a cheetah in heat! However, I miss out on a TON of the web (Like 98% of all web pages use some sort of Adobe Flash) so its a lose lose right now.

Google needs to put some SERIOUS pressure on Adobe to work hard on improving on their flash plugins and give us a half way decent plugin for Chrome OS and Linux as a whole. Until then Chromebooks as well as any other machine running any type of Linux will SUFFER greatly in performance on web pages that use Adobe Flash.

I have switched to the HTML5 player on YouTube and it truly makes a HUGE difference. So if you are a Chromebook user I urge you to switch over now. That way you can get the best performance out of your device! =) 

On the bright side... Chromebook prices have already came down on Amazon! Head on over and check em out! The Samsung models are now $399 (WiFi) and $449 (3G). 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Google "Bubble"

Something occurred to me yesterday that I cannot believe I am just noticing. Google literally is a part of almost everything I do online. Whether I access the web from my Droid or my Chromebook. Hell even if I use my old Windows XP machine I ALWAYS browse with Chrome. Google services are a part of almost everything I do online and off.

Google is my OS, my dominate social network, my chat client, my email, my search engine, my smartphone OS, my GPS navigation, my voice mail and VOIP, my video and audio chats, my picture sharing and editing, my music storage and player, my video player (YouTube), my office applications (Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.), my blogging service (Blogger soon to be Google Blogs), my source of news and updates (Google Reader and Google news), my calendar and event planner, my ebooks and shopping source, and many many more that I can't even remember at the present moment.

Google has created an internet inside the internet. A bubble if you will. I for one love this. Most everything I do is synced across my devices automatically and secured by Google. I can access all my content from my Droid, Chromebook, or regular desktop PC running the Chrome browser. It is truly wonderful to say the least. Pretty much ANYTHING I want or need to do online, Google has a service for.

It doesn't do everything yet though. I would still like a music store from Google (Coming soon if the rumors are true) and not EVERYTHING syncs between devices. However I am encouraged. Google has a track record of rapid and active development on most all it's services and products. I see a future of all Google all the time for everything I do. Online and off. So keep it up Google! I welcome you and your services to rule my life one beta service at a time =)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Games Games and Oh Yea More Games!

If you are at all a fan of mindless time wasters (Such as Angry Birds) then rejoice! Google Chrome and now Google+ both have games built in! They run smoothly and load instantaneously. They are tucked away in your new tab page (For Chrome) or in a separate stream and notification center (In Google+). This means they are out of your way and not in your face when you don't want them to be (i.e. Facebook and its mess of games and app notifications.) Google Chrome had games available in its Web Store for awhile now. However, with the addition of games to Google+ it got me to go back and check those out as well. Perhaps someday they will merge. For now however they are two separate entities.

I myself do not spend much time playing games. However, the way Google went about this was intelligent and beautiful. They are essentially there when you need them and out of your face when you don't want them. Google+ has done almost everything right. It's still a beta project and just keeps getting better. Just like the Chrome browser and Chrome OS. They only get better with time. So stay tuned and invite all your friends to Google+ today! Tell them it's time to leave Facebook in the past with it's ugly twin brothers Myspace and Friendster (I still got love for Twitter though!).

*If you do not see games in Google+ yet please be patient. Google is rolling them out to everyone as we speak.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So What's Next?

Now that Netflix has finally landed on ChromeOS it got me to thinking. What is still left as a major complaint/issue with ChromeOS? Below is a list of the most highly requested/whined about features I have seen in the Chromebook Central forum. 

1. Offline Google webapps (Docs, Gmail, Etc.) - Google has stated time and time again that offline support for some of their most popular products will in fact launch by summer's end. 

2. A better file manager - In the latest Dev channel release they have added the ability to copy/paste. It is just the beginning of an "Improved" file manager. They have set no time frame or given many details about what they mean by that. All we know is they are working on adding more features to it. 

3. Zip support - Google Docs now supports Zip files. It is a step in the right direction for sure!

4. Subtle UI changes - There have been a few minor UI tweaks in the latest Dev channel as well. It appears that Google is giving many of it's products face lifts right now and ChromeOS seems to be no exception to that.

5. Chromium OS (Google ChromeOS's open source cousin) has some early tablet support designs in the works. Whether we are a fan of that OS on a tablet or not, it appears only a matter of time before there is a full blown version of Chromium OS running on a tablet. Will ChromeOS follow suit?

So now the question is simple. What's next? What features does ChromeOS still lack that it truly needs to greatly improve it's worth and usability while not compromising it's original premise and design purpose? Sound off in the comments below and let me know! And while your at it... Submit a feature request to the big G!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Netflix and ChromeOS Together At Last!

Oh yes it's true! Netflix now plays on ALL Chromebooks (Including the CR-48). It plays on all channels as well (Stable, Beta, Dev). I tested it on my CR-48 (Dev) and on my SS5 (Beta) and it worked flawlessly. What a truly wonderful day today is. Now if you will excuse me... I have some Weeds to catch up on =)

*Netflix does work in Dev mode for obvious reasons. Gotta keep that DRM intact =) Remember that the Dev channel is not the same as Dev mode. Dev mode is when you flip the developers switch.

Wishful Thinking: Gtunes or What Google Music Should Be

What can I say? I am a dreamer and a big thinker. Today was one of those "Oh how I wish" moments. My favorite of band of all time Evanescence released it's first single in 5 years. They released it on iTunes with Amazon to follow up very soon. Seeing as how I own a Droid and use it for all my media needs iTunes does nothing for me and Amazon is subpar at best. 

That is when I closed my eyes and dreamed of Gtunes or rather Google Music that ACTUALLY SOLD MUSIC. I dreamed of a web based store where I could purchase a song or album that was just released and have it synced to the cloud and thus synced to my Android phone automatically. It is so disappointing that Google Music does not have a music store built in. I understand that they would have to ink a deal with the labels but c'mon it's Google after all. They have the power, influence, and money to get what they want. So make it happen Google! Wipe iTunes and Amazon off the map =) 

BTW if you are interested in purchasing the new single "What You Want" by Evanescence then click here and hit up iTunes. The brand new self titled album will be released October 11, 2011. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Google +: The Social Network You Should Be Using

If you are an internet user at all you have undoubtedly heard about a little project called "Google +". It is THE Facebook killer. In fact it makes Facefail look like Myspace. So if you haven't been invited to join the project simply click this link and you will be sent an invite from yours truly. Know it, use, be social! =)

Here are my favorite Google Chrome Extensions for Google +.

1. GTools+
2. Replies and more for Google+
3. Usability Boost for Google Plus
4. +Comment Toggle
5. Plus Minus

These make Google+ even better! So go now, join Google + and leave Facefail behind in the dust with Myspace and all the other old and dying social networks.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Google Chromebook: A Godfather's BFF

Being a Godfather is a blessing beyond words. I have a beautiful God Daughter who I love as my own. Today was the longest amount of time I have ever baby sat anyone. I am not the best daddy and this was really my first rodeo when it came to taking care of a kid all day long. 

However, I didn't fear because I had my trusty Samsung Series 5 Chromebook waiting to help me out! So first came lunch. I Googled what the most popular foods were for a girl her age as well as healthy and organic options. I am no chef but Google Chrome has a few recipe apps and besides that Google search worked just fine for everything else. 

Then came after lunch entertainment. My God Daughter Ella really loves Mickey Mouse. So off to Youtube and Sidereel I went for her to watch for a few hours. She actually feel asleep to it. Nap times are the best LOL. During her nap I had some "Me" time on Google +, Twitter, and caught up on the latest episode of Torchwood. 

Then came pre-dinner time. I hit up the Grooveshark App and found some good jams for me and her to dance to as I made dinner. Thank God for microwave ovens LOL. I actually kept the Chromebook running during dinner so we had some good background noise to drown out the rest of my loud and crazy family. 

Finally I finished the night with some more Sidereel and a few rounds of Angry Birds (Every kid needs to be exposed to Angry Birds!). All and all the Chromebook was a perfect companion to have with me all day long to help me survive being a Godfather for a day! =) I wouldn't wanna live a day without it! 

Oh and PS,
This thing is still going strong on a single charge. Yay 11 hour battery life! And thanks to Verizon 4G LTE I can stream whatever I want without having to wait for it to buffer. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What On Earth Is a Web App?

So what the heck is a "Web App"? The word App is being thrown around everywhere these days between Droids, iPhones, and tablets alike. Apps usually refer to small applications you install on your smart phone or your tablet. They are now even bleeding over into the computer market (See Mac OSX Lion and Windows 8). 

However, Google has started a whole new type of app. Enter the Chrome Web Store. It hosts apps (Mostly FREE) known as web apps. The main difference is that these are simply links to websites that look and feel like an app. They are usually coded in HTML5. It is a fairly new thing and there aren't many good ones as of yet. My favorites that I use daily on my Chromebook include Tweetdeck, Grooveshark, Google Music, Google Docs, Amazon Cloud Player, Flixster Movies, and WeatherByte. Pandora is also set to release an HTML5 powered web app here very soon. 

So as you can see the web app era has only just begun. Hopefully more websites will be designed to look and act like an app in the near future. Together it will make the web and Chromebooks much much better indeed. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Netflix? No Problem!

Lets be honest. As a Chromebook user it sucks that we still don't have the use of Netfilx on our Chromebooks. To add insult to injury Netflix just doubled their pricing! So this means some if not most of us are going to look other places. There are paid routes... But there are also free alternatives as well.  My favorite free site is sidereel. It has my favorite show "Weeds" on it. It also has a huge selection of other TV shows and movies. It works by linking you to other websites where the videos are hosted for free. They are usually high quality and usually always work just fine on the Chromebook. So if you lost your patience with services like Netflix then head on over to sidereel and check it out for yourself. You will be glad you did =)