This week I am exploring my digital world through the lens of Google’s Chromebook. Our school has brought in one machine to test for next year. This may become our platform and/or device for our High School 1:1 program (Acer C710). My only issue continues to be getting used to this keyboard. The keys feel fine – I can type freely…but it’s the Shift and Return/Enter buttons that catch me. They are small and one key farther to the outside of the keyboard than I am used to.
Like day 1, day 2 was very positive. I did have to open my MBP and I will explain my reasoning below.
Today I dealt more with the mechanics of how this Chromebook is working to store my data and how it handles new files.
Question: Where does this machine store files? How does it handle attachments, photos, screenshots, etc.? Chromebooks add everything into a folder called Files. This is located inside the apps list icon. Clicking on Files brings up a folder with your locations or options where your machine can store information. Yes, the Chromebook wants to do everything in the cloud, but it also can make a local copy of our GDrive on your machine and can also store any files you are creating.
You will see Downloads at the top of your list. This means it is being stored locally only. If you are logged in with your Google account, you will see Google Drive as a second option. Additionally, if you have USB or SD media attached, they will also be options.
Here are my options. Folders can be created, files can be copied, renamed, moved, etc. Drag and drop worked well. In settings, you can change where Chrome saves files by default, or it can ask you for a location each time you try to save a file.
Question: How much space do I have on this computer? I wasn’t sure if this machine was one of the 16GB or 300GB ones. But, I also had no idea how to check that… So, of course, I Googled it. (Funny or not so funny that I’m Googling on a Chromebook?) Turns out you check the size of your devices in the Settings options in the File window.
This is what I saw – This Acer C710 has 285GB of local storage left. Wow. I suppose this could be useful if many users were on this machine at once. Each one could store a local copy of GDrive on this machine. But, the whole point of a Chromebook is to have <<< stored in the cloud. I am in iCloud, GDrive, Dropbox, Evernote, Omnifocus…but there’s no way I’m even close to nearing 100GB. For people who keep a clone or updating mirror of their entire system in the cloud, 300 GB makes more sense. But, this isn’t me.
Question: Local, or GDrive for storage? I’ve downloaded 35 items in the past two days of using this machine. Most have been screen shots for this Blog or to send/show people who are looking on beside me. Other files are attachments from email or .pdf/.docx, etc. from Moodle for testing. My question is do I store these locally or do I upload everything into GDrive? I’ve gone back and forth with this a few times. For now, I’m back to storing everything locally. Then I rename things I want to keep and file time into a folder. I also quickly delete things I am finished with. These folders I copy into folders in GDrive so I have my working files everywhere. What have you done on your Chromebook? Or, similarly, how do you handle files on your mobile devices?
Issues: Yesterday I found out that Chrome does not naturally play .flv files. I found this out after having converted an .avi into an .flv for uploading into Vimeo and then into our LMS Moodle.
Here is the warning message. The file still exists – it just cannot be played. Perhaps the Chrome store can direct me to a website (what they often call an app) where I can play this. So, from here on in it will be .mp4 on this machine. Here is the .flv file (30% of the original file size, but terrible quality IMHO) and here is the .mp4 file (about 50% of the original file size, but much better quality).
Network Database: This is an email I received yesterday. I regularly need to approve payroll on a networked database in our local system. My regular workflow is to either sit down at another administrator’s system, or to boot into XP on my MBP via Parallels (but, this is really slow…). But, how could I do this on the Chromebook? Perhaps I’d have to remote desktop into a machine that is running? It won’t be my MBP because it’s always sitting with lid closed if I’m not on it. Hmm…I’ll keep thinking about this one. So, I used my MBP for this.
Confession: So, I used my MBP for this local database. I also used it for the Pages document I needed to push out yesterday. But, after I had finished the document…I just stayed on my MBP to upload it to our school website and to push to Facebook and Twitter. I was under time crunch and it was just faster. Could I have accomplished these tasks on the CB? Yes, probably…
Further Questions: a few things I’d like to begin to explore are:
- Testing / exploring answers from the posted questions on the previous Day 1 blog
- Can I tether this machine to my iPhone like I do for my MBP and iPad?
- I want to more fully explore Gmail, GCalendar, GNotes etc. so I can see if this Chrome world can do what my iCloud world does.
- Again, are there any things I can try answer for you?
Second full day with this machine is in the books. I’m pleased to report that most of what I am doing can be done in the cloud.