Seven Days with Chrome OS

Da Box, and my Cr-48. I named him 'Crate'.
I wrote a somewhat scattered writeup of my first weekend's experience with Chrome OS Last Tuesday.  While Lifehacker did an excellent article detailing six days with the nice shiny new Cr-48 and the chrome OS their experiences are not mine, especially since I need larger than average fonts to see what's going on.

First off let's talk about The Box. I didn't get stickers. Pretty sure I wouldn't have decorated Crate (my book) even if I did as the matte black rubberized finish is very nice. Didn't even get the leaflet about the pilot program (though it is included in virt form in the 'getting started' app.)

Unpacking went well in spite of this. Once I managed to get a bailing wire and duct tape solution to get Cricket 3g piped through the home desktop through a router I had so it would be a usable wifi signal things were easy to get set up..

OK not quite true. I had to do a 3g via wifi routine because plugging the USB modem/antenna thing into the Cr-48's lone USB port yielded nada. Zip. Nothing. Hopefully that will get fixed soon, or a method of using the SIM card slot made available, or something because not everyone wants Verizon. I still haven't activated my free 100MB because I don't have the money to extend that into something more usable (holidays. Meh.) and since I managed a home solution and the only other places I routinely go have wifi. I'm covered on that count.

So bootup and setup completed (I opted to skip photo making as I looked pretty horrid.) Sync was painless, though I did have to retype in a few passwords, which is meh, but livable. The theme I had picked out, apps I'd grabbed. Yep. Everything's there.

My New Tab Page. Hard not to call it a Desktop though.

"On the CR-48 you hit Ctrl and the Next Window button it will take a screenshot! Ctrl-O will then bring up your downloads folder to see your screenshot file.:
Thanks Kevin, Random Internet Person you for that helpful tip. Now I can get screenshots of what I'm doing put to blog from picasa. Yay!

Those that know me understand that I write, or at least try to, often. So one of my first acts with my new notebook was to head to Google Docs. New docs work fine. Bit of lag, which is a headscratcher but fine it's beta. I'll live. Turns out the book I'd been working on failed to convert. So couldn't work on it. Best suggestion I heard was the file was too  big. A couple hundred pages. OK great, don't really buy it but Fine. Bug reports filed on the matter.

See, font sizes seem to only be suggestions.
Next on my do list was an attempt at at making the fonts a little bit more readable. Low vision sucks. Not only can you not drive, but the web's a very very visual place. Can't really complain though since most times upping the font does the job. Trouble is this time font resizing is a bit... unpolished. Maye it's page style elements overriding browser preferences on the matter. Hopefully there will be a way in the future to add some options o have user display settings override page defaults. Maybe there's already an extension out there that does this.

Sadly no matter what zoom level or font size you have the UI elements remain the same  size. I understand that the chrome devs want most of the screen to be taken up by the web itself, but even hover text for links, system messages, and the like are in sizes I have to get nose to screen if I want any hope of reading. Granted I'm fairly light on the disability scale of debilitating problems (comparatively speaking) and the issue might not even come up for average users, but it's something of a Big Problem for me.   Fortunately it's not a total deal breaker since I have to accommodate and work around regardless. Just something i hope Google will keep in mind as the beta progresses.

Yes I Facebook. Shun Me Geeks of the world.
Font issues to one side general usage is a fairly breezy matter. Granted Flash is sometimes a pain, but even when I've loaned the hardware out to family they seemed reasonably happy with the experience. This tells me that from the non-techie's perspective (you know, the people that just wanna surf, go to facebook/myspace/wherever, craigslist, and so on without worrying about the innards... people that Chrome OS would be a good fit for) things Just Work. Hit button. Log in. You're on the web.

This makes me happy. Less legwork for me to do once the finer points of seeing the files on removable media are concerned (so you can offload pictures without using a desktop.) Chrome OS would work for most of my family's current needs. Granted the trackpad takes getting used to and the matte finish on the keys means a dark room means you're almost guessing if you don't have the keyboard memorized but these are mostly hardware concerns so I'll wave them aside for the moment.) It's still at least as complaint free as average surfing. I haven't heard any complaints other than net speed, and that's probably the connection's fault more than anything, so I"m going on the basis that they are reasonably satisfied so far.

Minecraft no work! :(
What about me though? I've been digging through apps. Finding interface oddities (like inconsistent font applications or extension behavior that just ain't right) and even with these headachs I'm reasonably happy. Oh it's not perfect by a long shot There's lag when you're offline (even more so if you turn advanced file system on in about:flags), wanting more offline capability so between hotspots or network resets I can get things done, and more of those things that most people will hopefully not have to deal with when we get past beta.

This review was typed on a Cr-48 and other than the desk shot all the photos in this review were proided with the included screen capture command and hosted on picasa. With a little help fom Google Labs and HTML5 Youtube is useable, and I'm able to do the things I normally do... except Game. I want more and better games. I want a Doom Source Port. I want MINECRAFT.

Next week? I discuss Apps!
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