Sunday, September 29, 2013

Teching Down

In March I took a plunge with a Chromebook after reading and researching them for some time. I had converted a useless netbook into a Chromebook and found it useful. The move in March was an all-or-nothing stunt for me as I purchased it the day before going out of town to a conference - and it was the only piece of technology I took with me on the trip.

My initial trepidation evaporated. The more I used it, the more I realized I only needed a traditional computer from time to time when I reached the point that some documents were ready for their final layouts in a program with more features than Google Docs. In the months that followed, I began using the Chromebook almost exclusively for all the work I did.

I even made my staff activate their Google Drive so they could access documents I sent them and my calendar. Every document they receive from me goes through the drive. They were thrilled that I did not pass out stacks of paper, but they were nervous about everything being placed online.

I admit that I sometimes worry about everything being stored in the magical “cloud.” Then again, I put nothing online that would violate any privacy laws if it was lost or hacked or NSAed.

Six months after purchasing my first Chromebook, I upgraded from one with an 11” screen to one with a 14” screen. As fast, functional, and useful as the first one was, my aging eyes struggled to read the screen for long periods of time. Minutes into using the new Chromebook I am thrilled with the larger screen. My eyes are working much less hard than they did on the other one.

I do not mean to sound like a fawning Google fan. My skepticism kicks in every time something becomes centered around a single source ( Google, Microsoft, Apple). I purchased my first computer, a TRS 80 in 1984. I am a gadget geek and spend hours each day with my technology. But after the dozens of devices, I have never worked with a more efficient set of tools than the Google Drive paired with a Chromebook. It simply works and that sells me.

For generations of computers, the next generation surpassed the previous with bells and whistles. On a Chromebook, there is nothing you do not use on a regular basis. Instead of something new, the computer comes with everything necessary. Cleanliness replaces clutter and proves remarkably refreshing. I have everything I need at my fingertips without volumes of extraneous programs to sort through. Even as one who is fairly savvy with technology, I find the minimalism a time saver. For the first time in my many gadget purchased, I have chosen to “tech-down” and I could not be happier about it.
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