The Chromebook has now been with its real owner for a month. Mostly positive experiences.
Issue #1 – Adding bandwidth when almost out of bandwidth
The Chromebook gives you a warning when you are about to run out of the free 100MB for the month. This is good. It gives you time to register for the 1GB plan. Successful so far. Unfortunately, the 100MB ran out DURING this transaction. In particular, it ran out between the payment and the acknowledgement screen. Which made the acknowledgement screen say “waiting” forever.
What went well: You can pay by phone which means you can upgrade your plan even after you run out of bandwidth.
What could have gone better: When calling, the answer was that the plan had already been upgraded (from the online attempt) and the solution was to restart the Chromebook. Which could have been done without the phone call
Issue #2 – “Old” version of Chrome
The Chromebook is currently on Chrome version 21. One website required “Chrome 22 or later.” Chrome 22 came out in September. The problem occurred in November. I don’t think it is reasonable for a website to demand the very latest browser. This isn’t a technical website – people shouldn’t have to upgrade constantly. Plus you can’t upgrade the Chrome browser until the Chromebook itself is ready to upgrade. It’s only one website so I find more fault with the website than the Chromebook.
Solution: I used the website on my Mac reading it over the phone to the Chromebook user.
A good thing
When I used the Chromebook, I’d get “dropped connection” type issues and need to refresh the page. Apparently I was pushing the Chromebook too hard by having two tabs and changing pages often. The Chromebook’s real owner never does that and hasn’t had any such issues. This does make sense – we are on 3g and I’d never seek to do so much on my phone.
Hook up my mother’s old tv to the Chromebook as an external monitor and use the new tv for tv.
Back in NY, I tried to setup the Chromebook to use an external monitor and failed because I needed a display port to VGA adapter. So I ordered one.
Why this still wasn’t trivial
When the adapter got delivered, I encountered some other problems. Fir st a surprise. I paid $2 extra to Amazon for fast delivery. It came via the Postal Service in 3 days. It was fast, just odd because it said the package was coming via Fed Ex.
Anyway, I tried testing the Chromebook and new adapter with the new TV to make sure the adapter was good and the Chromebook could handle an external monitor. It could of course.
Challenge 1 – DCI vs VGA
The old TV I wanted to connect it to had a DCI-I port and not VGA. It didn’t even occur to me this might be a problem. Radio Shack doesn’t sell a converter. Suprisingly Staples does. Which I found out when Radio Shack suggested I look at Staples.
Challenge 2 – The missing remote
This particular TV had a lost remote. And a remote is needed to change from TV mode to DCI or PC mode. We found a universal remote and the instructions for it. Then we switched the mode.
Challenge 3 – The TV isn’t long enough
The VGA wire plus adapter is longer than the horizontal space in that part of the tv. In particular the stand blocks it. Hmm. What to do about this. I tried shoving it in to no avail. I then tried unplugging the adapter from the VGA cable. I inserted just the DCI adapter into the tv and screwed it in tightly. I then inserted the VGA cable into the adapter at an angle and screwed it in as tight as I could. Amazingly this worked!
It was a lot harder to do this than it should have been. But the result was an external monitor and a new tv. Interestingly, setting up an external monitor for my mac was trivial. I already had a mini display port to vga adapter from when I used to plug the mac into my real tv. From then on, it was plug and play.
I bought a Chromebook and have been using it/testing it out before actually giving it to my mother. This weekend, I tried to create a recovery disk and hook it up to an external monitor. Here’s how it went.
The Chromebook help page covers how to create a USB drive with a bootable ChomeOS recovery disk. It took me a few tries though:
- Inserted 8GB USB flash drive into Chromebook and went to chrome://imageburner. A third of the way through the 300-400 MB download it would fail with an unclear error message.
- Tried Chrome OS Image Creator on Mac. However it asks for a model number like “Sams Alex2 Gamma0-US 1234.”. I emailed the “Chrome Ninja Team” (google support) as I would like to know the answer to this. I then guessed one and tried to download onto USB. Same error. I’ve used this USB drive for other things but maybe it is the drive.
- Tried a 4GB USB flash drive and created recovery disk successfully.
How to find your chromebook model #
Per the Ninja team, if your machine still works, you can enter:
chrome://system (which shows a lot of interesting other info too; at least interesting if you are a geek)
How to find your chromebook model # – approach 2
Per the Ninja team (parens are mine)
- Follow the steps 1 – 4 via this link http://support.google.com/chromeos/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1360642 (I didn’t feel the switch move but it clearly did. I hadn’t shut down fully (or knocked into the power button while doing this and had to do this twice.)
- Step 5) Press the space bar and then you will be able to see your model number. (This worked.)
- (Flip switch back and restart – I got prompted for my internet connection again and given the welcome message so I think it did a partial reset. But all settings are in the cloud so this isn’t a big deal.)
My goal was to hook up the tiny 12.1 inch Chromebook screen to an external monitor. I already have a VGA cable. The Chromebook does not have a VGA or HDMI port. Check what your model has. Mine has a Display Port. I learned it isn’t easy to buy a Display Port to VGA adapter. Here’s what happened:
- Radio Shack: Sells mini display port adapter because Mac’s use it. (I already have one of these)
- PC Richard: “That doesn’t exist; tvs use wifi now.” (Not true and useless advice)
- Best Buy: Sells same things as Radio Shack. Recommends buying it online
- B and H: I suspect B and H does have this adapter in stock. The trains aren’t fully running yet so I don’t feel the need to go into Manhattan to find out. And they were closed today anyway for the holiday.
- Amazon: I bought this on Amazon. Will find out how it works in a few days.