12 Months of Chrome OS

For the last 12+ months, Chrome OS has been my daily driver. And for the most part, it has treated me okay for all that time. Recently, some issues have cropped up.

I have successfully used my PixelBook in my day to day life doing things. Telecommuting to work a few days a week. Taking online training for work. Doing basic photo editing. Talking with the family whilst traveling. Helping launch a great father/child program. I can run Linux apps, android apps, commercial apps, in addition to web based apps. It has been great.

And, the hardware is awesome. Thin, light, and has a battery to last all day working on it unplugged. The screen has served me well .

My problems started to come in one of the strengths of the platform: the automatic updates. Chrome OS will automatically download in the background any updates to the apps (besides the Linux apps, but I can deal with that), and will either install them and let you know in the case of apps, or will let you know that an OS update is ready, and I all need to do is reboot.

This is great, when it works. For most of the year, the OS updates came at a reasonable pace. They also added new features and fixed bugs without changing things on me without warning. However, this fall, the updates started getting few. I found odd since the PixelBook is the Google flagship for Chrome OS. There were even a few updates which skipped the PixelBook.

Then the last one hit, and performance took a dive. The worst part is, it is only sometimes. Sometimes I will move the mouse, and it takes a few to catch up. Video is choppy. Switching tabs or to a different app might take a few seconds. And no word from Google when the fix will come.

The performance issue would not be enough for me to stop using Chrome OS as Google does have a good track record of fixing things. Without any news on when it will be fix, I may have to start weighing my options.

The area this is really impacting me is my photography work-flow. As I mentioned last time, I am trying to get back into photography a bit more seriously and the lag makes it hard when I am trying to process more than a handful of photos.

My main concern for finding a replacement is to find a laptop of similar specs as the PixelBook, preferably without paying serious money for it.

A look behind, and a look ahead

As 2018 draws to a close, it is the way of things to look at the year past, and then look ahead.

A look behind…

My main tech experience this year has been using the PixelBook as my main computing device. This for the most part has worked out well. Everything I needed to do I figured out a way to do it under ChromeOS, and most of the time it was as easy to do as under Linux.

The only place that I feel it was a struggle was with photo editing. If I chose to only use GApps, then it works well, but since I have 10+ years of photos not in the Google ecosystem, I need something else, and this is where ChromeOS currently hits a limit. While using AfterShot Pro, I notice that the Linux container struggles with both memory and disk IO. Given what I am planning on in the coming year, this may become bigger issue for me.

In playing around, I installed Ubuntu 18.10 on my HP R810 to have a look, and surprisingly, I liked what I saw. If I do move back to Linux over ChromeOS, then 18.10 is the answer. I doubt the R810 will be the platform, as while I love the size, the battery is only good for 3-4 hours at best, and the PixelBook will run 8-10 hours, and is about 1/2 as think as well.

Looking at news from the $JOB, due to a co-worker moving to a different group, I find myself back in a managers role again. This is in addition to my normal work. My new team is US based operations folks (I work in Engineering), who thankfully all sit near me. Their day-to-day will be managed by someone currently on the team who has a deep understanding of the operational concerns. I should be more of the HR manager approving time off, helping with reviews, and that sort of fun.

..and a look ahead

I have come up with a few areas I am planning to work on in the coming year.

Professionally, I want to take the team management and use it as a catalyst to learn what being a manager in the 21st century looks like. I plan to use both resources from the $JOB and from reading that I am planning to do. Traditionally, I only read fiction books in my down time, so this will be a big shift for me there.

I also have looked into what it would take for me to get a promotion at work, and there are many areas in pure tech, tech management, and people management for me to explore and learn.

Personally, I have two areas I want to focus on: Photography and my health.

In photography, I want to get back into the habit of taking pictures every day, and looking at the world in terms of light and textures. To do this, I am planning on doing what is called a ‘Project 52’ which is posting one photo per week for 52 weeks. I am planning on working 12 themes, one per month, to help me focus on what I am shooting.

For health, I want to train to run a 5K by Thanksgiving. This will help me in many areas, and seems to be a very doable goal. First step is to get up and get moving!

Keeping it (me) real

I will try to post check-ins on how I am doing on the various projects and goals. The $JOB ones will have to be vague, but the personal ones I should be able to give more details.

I also have plans to be more active here, and try to post at least monthly with something real to share.

TRF 2018 Photos : People

This is the first of a few posts on the photos from the second weekend we went to TRF.

This time around, I brought my main camera and took more photos.  Lots more.

This is a few of the people pictures that I think turned out well.  There were some others I took, but I was not happy with the results.  Photographing people is not something I normally do, so it is an area I do need to explore and work on.

Through the Window

Hawker Looking

All Hail Cthulhu!

 

Gemini PDA

Gemini PDA
Gemini PDA

Last year, I backed Planet Computer’s Indiegogo campaign for the Gemini PDA. Now, if I had this nice PixelBook, why would I need something like this?

Well, for one thing, I have always been a sucker for PDAs.  While I never had the original PDA, the Psions, I have owned a few over the years.  An Apple MessagePad, a Sharp Zarus, a WindowsCE device (forget which one), and many, many Palm devices (including a PalmPilot, Palm III, Palm IIIx, Palm V, Palm Vx, Palm m505, Tungsten C, and Tungsten T2 (which I still have)).

The main reason I liked them was the ability to carry my calendar, and have active reminders.  When I used a paper-based planner, I would miss things because I would be working on something and not notice the time.

However, with the advent of not dumb-phones (like a Sony Ericsson K series) which you could send an email to the phone, and have it show up as a text message let me only carry one device (the phone vs the phone and a PDA).  Then, about 10 years ago, the true smartphones hit the market with full integration into both work and personal email and calendars, and a fully functioning web browser, plus working turn-by-turn GPS based navigation.

Most of my employers in the last 20+ years provide me with a laptop for use both in the office, and on the road.  However, the current and former employers have a different model, and do not provide me with a laptop for travel.  So, I need to carry my own.

Now, while the PixelBook is thin and light, it still takes up space on a desk.  And, when I am visiting other offices for my current employer, desk space is at a premium, and the PixelBook does not really fit.  And, I have long made it a personal policy to not use my employer’s machines and network for personal emails and network use.

Enter the Gemini.  Why not use my phone  to read email and such?  The main reason is while I am pretty decent at using the on-screen keyboard, I find it lacking for long typing sessions.  That is where the Gemini is different.  It has a physical keyboard, and even though it is smaller than any laptop I have used before, I still find I can use it pretty well and type reasonably fast on it.  And the battery is pretty decent.

My last trip I ended up using the Gemini more than the PixelBook.  Things like Skype, uploading and editing photos, email, etc.  It worked pretty well.  I am thinking about the next trip, not bringing a laptop and just use the Gemini.  The display is nice, and when I am in the hotel room, I can hook it up to the TV over a HDMI cable.

Yet Another Trip To The UK

A while back, I was transferred to a new team at my $JOB.  This team is more aligned with what I normally do, so this is a good thing.  Plus, I know all other folks on the team, and I like them, including the manager.  The only drawback is that I am the only US-based person on the team, as the rest of them are in London.  Upside, I got to go over for some training and planning.

I had a bit more down-time in the evenings this trip which I knew about in advance, so I brought over my big camera and my travel camera, a Panazonic DCM-ZS40, and a Gorilla-pod and had some fun walking around.