Remote Login Using Google Chrome Desktop

August 2, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 5.25.19 PMSometimes when I’m away from home, I need to access my desktop computer system remotely to transfer a file or check on something. I’ve used a variety of products and services to do so, but most of them were cumbersome to use. I’m now using Google Remote Desktop which works absolutely great from my Android phone and/or tablet.

It’s very easy to setup, and is quite secure. Amazingly, it runs very quick, even from my Android phone using AT&T’s LTE wireless network. So, if you need to remotely access your home Windows or Mac computer system, check out Google Remote Desktop. Best of all, it’s free!

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.

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 »

Google Play Music

August 5, 2012

If you’re a Google Android Smartphone or Tablet user, you can take advantage of a service called Google Play Music which allows you to stream your music from the Internet to your mobile device. It’s like your own personal Pandora app, where you can upload all your music to the Google Servers and have it streamed down to your phone or tablet. So if you have unlimited data (like I do with my Sprint cell phone service), streaming music is great since it eliminates the need to store the music files on your mobile device’s local storage.

So I’ve been using Google Play Music while driving in my car, with my music being streamed from my Google account to my phone and through my bluetooth connection with Ford Sync. Works very nicely!

Pandora Radio’s Limited Skipping Rule

March 25, 2012

During the work week, I have a 1-hour freeway commute from home to work and I often listen to Podcasts to keep me from going insane. When I can’t find a good Podcast, I’ll often use the Pandora Radio app on my Android Smartphone to listen to music tracks since I hate using my car radio (with all commercials, commentaries, etc). Unfortunately, you can only skip 6 songs per hour with the free version, and I also learned this limitation applies for the subscription version ($36/yr) as well.

As an alternative, I discovered that the service called Spotify has similar capabilities as Pandora Radio, but it has unlimited skipping of songs. I tested it out on my iMac and Android smartphone and it seems to work pretty good. The big issue I had initially with Spotify is that it was trying to use my seldom-used Facebook login details to log into Spotify. I suspect Spotify can be tied into Facebook where all your “Friends” will know what music you’re currently listening to. A bit too Big-Brother for my taste.

So, I’m going to give Spotify a try and see how well it works. One thing I immediately noticed is that you can very quickly skip songs as compared to Pandora Radio which takes about 5-8 seconds to skip a song.

My Kindle Fire Review

December 4, 2011

When the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet was announced, I was intrigued. A small 7 inch tablet sold by for $199? Was the hardware any good, and is a 7 inch screen sufficient for a tablet? I already have a 10 inch Acer A500 Android tablet (which works great, by the way), so do I really need a 7 inch tablet also? Luckily, my intrigue and an October birthday made it an easy choice to pre-order the Kindle Fire which I received the 2nd week of November.

My big justification for getting a Kindle Fire was to test Android apps which I current develop for the Android smartphones and tablets. However, my plan would be to use the Kindle Fire as a personal tablet, as my larger Acer A500 tablet is a bit too bulky to tote around with me on trips to Starbucks or Panera Bread. So here’s my personal review after owning the Kindle Fire for about three weeks.

First, the Fire is well built and constructed of good components. The unit looks like a generic black-slab tablet with a very nice 1024×600 color screen. The device uses a variation of the Android OS, and runs very smoothly. As an average consumer, you’d never know it was running Android under the hood as Amazon has placed a nice, easy-to-use layer between the user and the OS. It can be limiting for advanced Android users, but works great for the general population to make the Fire much easier to use. As an advanced user, I have no complaints, as you can easily “side load” Android apps on the Fire with very little difficulty (and no need to root it). Read the rest of this entry »

Syncing Apple iCal with Google Calendar

June 24, 2011

Now that I’m back to using my Palm Pixi smartphone, I’ve got to re-evaluate my personal and work calendar syncing options. I’ve got my Apple iMac (running the iCal app), my Palm PIxi smartphone, and two different calendars to sync (along with my contacts). So, what’s the best solution?

After exploring several different options, it seems my best solution is  product called SpanningSync for the Mac. This app runs in the background on my iMac system and periodically syncs my personal and work calendars in the Apple iCal app with two different calendars in Google Calendar in the cloud, of which my Palm Pixi has the ability to sync with. What’s nice about SpanningSync is that I can control which specific calendar in Apple iCal will sync with which specific Google calendar. I’ve setup 2-way syncing, so wherever I make an addition, deletion, or change all the calendars are updated. SpanningSync also will sync my contacts between Apple Address Book and Google Contacts, and subsequently the contacts on my Palm Pixi.

This system works surprising well. I’m currently running the 15-day trial version, but if all continues to go well I’ll pay for the $25/year subscription.