A week with Chrome OS
The next thrilling conundrum was how to get access to the magazine’s network storage. With all of PC Pro’s copy, photography and other useful bits and bobs located in a series of shared folders, it’s an integral part of our daily routine.
But with nothing more than a browser window at my disposal, there was only one solution: I had to resort to LogMeIn Free to connect to my Windows laptop. It felt like cheating, analogous to buying a Diet Coke and stirring in spoonfuls of sugar.
My third day with the Chromebook saw it accompany me to a product launch.
Things began badly. While tapping out notes in Google Docs, a dodgy Wi-Fi connection frequently left me staring at the “Trying to reach Google.com” message, while simultaneously preventing me from typing anything onscreen; mildly infuriating, to say the least.
When Google says that it has plans to add offline support to Google Docs, I can’t help wondering why it wasn’t included in the first place. Given the unreliability of wireless networks and mobile data connections, not having to rely on the internet 100% would come as a relief.
When Google says that it has plans to add offline support to Google Docs, I can’t help wondering why it wasn’t included in the first place
Still, it seemed the gods of good fortune were smiling on me. Just before mild panic set in, I noticed the presence of Quick Note, a basic notepad application that I’d previously installed on a whim, hiding among the bevy of installed Chrome applications.
Even without a Wi-Fi connection, Quick Note allowed me to keep typing – and thankfully, when I instinctively shut the laptop screen and carried it next door, it kept all my notes safe and sound, thus saving me from another rollicking back at HQ.
The next step was to post a quick blog of the event. Armed with an SD card filled with product close-ups, all I needed to do was quick crops and minor adjustments.
Slotting the SD card from my camera straight into the Chromebook allowed me to upload and edit my photos in the excellent Aviary Image Editor. Cropping images and adjusting levels was a slow, slightly juddery process, but it was bearable. The trouble came when trying to save the images and load them into our WordPress-based blog.
Neither of the image-editing apps I used – Aviary and the even more fully featured Pixlr – allowed me to save the images back to the SD card for uploading to the blog (Pixlr wouldn’t even open files from the SD card).
In my desperation I also tried Picnik, but that refused to even open the 4MB JPEG files, citing a “low on memory” error.
While it was possible to upload the images to Aviary’s Amazon S3-powered repository and link to the images stored in the cloud, we lost the ability to dynamically resize images; crucial to the fine-tuning of any blog post.
The final solution was less than elegant: I had to upload each image to Aviary, edit them one at a time, then download them back to the Chromebook’s local storage, known as the File Shelf.
While intermittent Wi-Fi connections are something a journalist is trained to do battle with regularly, this was enough to make me hanker for some crayons and a scanner.
“Your device is currently offline.” My decision to work from home and rattle through a now mounting workload wasn’t off to a great start.
The wireless network was up and running, but I couldn’t access any websites, nor could I log into the router’s web interface. Employing the hallowed IT support meme of flicking the Chromebook on and off did nothing to help.
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