Microsoft’s “Scroogled” Ad Campaign

December 7, 2013

Microsoft has a new ad campaign which specifically attacks Google, called “Scroogled”. You can buy coffee mugs and T-Shirts from the Microsoft store that say, “Don’t Get Scroogled” or “Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data” with the Google Chrome logo on the mug. I find it amusing that Microsoft says this, while they seem to charge high prices for their Windows OS upgrades and Surface tablets.

Microsoft also has some YouTube videos directly attacking Google: video 1 and video 2. In these videos Microsoft assumes most people want or need to run apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Microsoft Office (for Word, Excel, Outlook). Which, of course, the Google Chromebook cannot do. I can personally say that I don’t use Microsoft Office on my iMac at home, and I’m doing just fine. Instead, I’m using the Open Source freeware called ApacheOffice which works just as good as Microsoft’s Word/Office/Powerpoint and is compatible with the Microsoft counterpoints.

I own a Samsung Google Chromebook and I do have to admit I don’t use it much. Actually, I don’t use any laptop for personal use, but instead use my Nexus 7 and Acer A500 tablets at home and while on the go. I suppose I reserve all my serious typing activities for my home iMac and only need to web browse or view emails while being mobile.

What I do like about my Chromebook is that it was very inexpensive, has relatively long battery life, and boots up within 60 seconds. It also automatically downloads and upgrades the OS in the background without me having to deal with it (unlike Microsoft’s constant and annoying OS updates). Yes, the available Google Chrome apps are not as powerful as those designed for the Apple Macs or Windows PCs, but they are sufficient for my needs.

Web Browser indexDB = Sucks!

February 18, 2013

The Javascript programming language has become so powerful that really good applications can be developed and run inside a web browser. Free Javascript modules are also available with great widgets to make your ‘web browser-based’ app look and act like a real native application. After developing such a web browser app, I decided to convert it to a Google Chrome Packaged App so it can be installed and run on the Google Chromebooks.

As I discovered, there were lots of pitfalls with regards to writing Chrome Apps. Here are a few that I ran into:

  • WebSQL disabled – It turns out that the Web Browser consortium (whomever they are) decided to dump the WebSQL (SQLite) database system for HTML5 and go with something called indexDB. From what I can tell, indexDB is not a relational database system, but rather an indexed named-pair flat file concept. I think it was a bad move dumping the SQLite database system (which is well established) for some less featured system that is more complicated to code up.
  • Security Policies – There are lots of policies in place for security that handcuffs Javascript development with Chrome Apps. For example, I’m trying to use some Javascript modules that use the eval() function and they are prohibited in a Chrome App. As such, I can’t use those modules and have very limited tools available to me.

Because of all this, it seems you can only write Chrome Apps that are very limited and follow the strict protocols defined by Google. I understand the need for security, but these policies really limit what you can do. That’s too bad, since Javascript app development can really produce some great, functional apps!

My Google Chromebook Review

December 15, 2012

imgresMy Birthday came up (again!) and my wonderful wife asked what I would like as a birthday present. Since I’m a man that already has everything, I couldn’t answer her question. I already have a iMac as my desktop computer, a small Windows 7 laptop, two Android tablets (10″ and 7″), a Android smartphone, etc. I really had all the gadgets that I could want.

That same week, I heard about the impending release of the next version of the Google Chromebook, so I decided to investigate a bit. It was very intriguing to me, so I mentioned to my wife that a Chromebook might be something she could get me as a birthday present. As such, it arrived on my doorstep (albeit, a week after my Birthday) and I had one more new gadget to play with and ultimately write this review.

First of all, I’ve only been using this for a day now, so you’re getting a review from a fresh new user’s perspective. But none the less, I felt compelled to write this review since it would give me the opportunity to test out the Chrombook’s WiFi connection, keyboard, etc.

I’ll start with the positives. First, the Chromebook is well constructed and looks very much like a Macbook Air. The keyboard especially looks and feels very close to an Apple Macbook (which is a good thing). If I covered up the “SAMSUNG” label on the bottom of the screen frame and slapped an Apple icon sticker on the top of this device, you would probably mistake it for a Macbook Air.

When I first started up the device, it immediately wanted to connect to my home WiFi, and then followed by downloading and installing a software update (which took about 15 minutes). After the update, the system came up asking for my Google login name and password (which was my Gmail account). After typing that info in, within a few seconds my Chromebook was up and ready to go! In fact, one of the best features of this device is how fast it boots up. From being completely turned off, the system is up and ready in just 8 seconds. That’s super fast in my book!

The system is basically a very light version of Linux, but the only thing you see is the Chrome web browser. You do everything in the browser, which is probably the biggest limitation you might have if you’re use to running native applications. So if you want to run Microsoft Excel locally on your Chromebook you can’t; you’ll need to use a comparable spreadsheet program that can be run from a web browser in the cloud. Read the rest of this entry »