And Then, No More PixelBook

So, when we were last here, I was talking about how I had been happily using my PixelBook for a year, and everything was just fine. Then, life happened, and things changed, and I found myself working out of the house for a while.

Why should this be a problem? Well, the program I use to remote into the office has a desktop client as well as a web-based one. Under Chrome OS, all I could figure out how to use was the HTML5 web based one. The HTML5 one is fine for the getting and checking email and doing web work. However, it leaves a lot to be desired for any development work.

So, I went back to the trusty HP R810 again. This time, I am trying out Ubuntu 18.10 with Gnome. I have been at it for about 6 weeks now, and I am still liking it. Even though this is an older laptop, the performance has been very good and it has handled everything I have thrown at it.

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!