Chromebook the third!

I bought my mother a Chromebook in 2012 and again in 2014. That one lasted longer and here we are five years later. It’s time to replace the Chromebook with her third one. Definitely a happy customer.

I went the Best Buy like the last two times. The number of Chromebooks on the market exploded! I think they had nine in the store. I went with the Acer Chromebook 15. It’s a basic machine with built in speakers. Like actual speakers, not embedded ones.

Comparing the stats from 5 years ago

My mother wants to listen to music now. This means I care about the hard drive now when I didn’t five years ago. Everything is better on this machine except the CPU. The computer is never CPU bound though so that seems ok

Asus (2014)Acer (219)
Screen size13.3″15.6″
Price$299$240
CPUIntel 2.16 GHzIntel 1.6 GHz
RAM2 GB4GB
Hard Drive???16GB
USB1 USB 2.0 and 1 USB 3.02 USB 3.0
HDMIYesYes
Weight3.1 lbs4.41 lbs
Headphone jackYesYes
Battery life???12 hours

Setting up the Chromebook

  • The Chromebook was set to Sept 18th 1:00 on May 15th 10:21. Maybe that’s when it was built/packaged? It got fixed automatically when I connected to wifi
  • I chose “let’s go” on the welcome screen and connected to my home wifi.
  • I then got the ChromeOS terms page. For about a minute, it showed me a cert invalid page. Then the screen loaded with the terms. Weird.
  • I chose not to send data to Google and accepted the terms. (My mother is bandwidth constrained so don’t want to use up any helping Google.)
  • Signed in. My profile was automatic. Since I signed on as my mother, I got her giant accessibility cursor
  • I accepted Google Play/Google Drive since I want to use an app. I did not enable location services.
  • On settings
    • disabled Bluetooth
    • disabled sync for passwords/addresses/google pay
    • changed time zone to Pacific
    • turned off check if have payment methods saved
    • on site settings, disable microphone and camera
  • Installed Keep Awake browser extension
  • Covered camera
  • Right click desktop and choose “set wallpaper”. Choose light blue under solid colors
  • I tested the USB, HDMI headphones and that a Kensington security lock works with

Editing eps files on a Mac

Scott and I need to edit some .eps files. Scott has Adobe Illustrator. I do not. Adobe no longer sells Illustrator. Instead Adobe offers a subscription for $21/month. They also offer a free trial. Given that I edit documents infrequently, I don’t want to pay for a subscription. (It cost over $200 before they switched to a subscription which is also more than I want to pay for my infrequent access.) For a while, Scott was editing all the documents to get around this problem.

Viewing eps files

This is easy. Viewing eps files works in Mac Preview

Creating/editing eps files

Inkscape allows creating/editing eps files (and svg files and other formats.) It works on most operating systems.

Here’s how I installed it on my Mac. (I donated money to Inkscape. But not $20 a month!)

  1. Install XQuartz
  2. Install Inkscape
  3. Log out and log back into Mac

Using Inkscape to create a file

The basic tutorial on the tutorials page gave me everything I needed to get started. It took a little time to get used to zoom mode being enabled when I wasn’t expecting it and selecting elements. But I was quickly able to create my image and exporting it to an eps file.

Using Inkscape to open a file

Inkscape gives an error when trying to open a file:

Failed to load the requested file xxx.eps

Luckily, there is an easy workaround. Macs can open an eps file in preview mode. You can save that to PDF and then open the PDF in Inkscape. I was able to edit the shapes and text from the imported PDF. Thank you to this blog post for the tip!

converting word to markdown

Scott and I used Microsoft Word for our Hands On Lab at Oracle Code One. This worked “mostly” fine. The quotes are because we had a one merge conflict when writing the instructions.

At the conference, an attendee (Barry Evans) said he had some improvements to the docs and he’d submit a pull request. Less than useful in Word so I asked him to email me with change tracking. i thought better of that and decided to convert to Markdown.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought:

  1. First, I used the Word to Markdown converter to do a first level pass
  2. Then I manually split it into a page per step (cut/paste) and changed the table of contents to links.
  3. Next, I converted the images to local ones in the repo.
  4. Finally, I did cleanup on code that didn’t format right, lists that were broken and using better code tags.

I used Visual Studio Code as the markdown editor. (I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with VS Code). I learned:

  • Having the markdown file in the left pane and a split view with the preview is nice. They even stay in sync with content/paging.
  • Command up/down goes to the top/bottom of the doc.
  • Home/End goes to the beginning/end of a line.
  • You can test markdown links directly in the preview editor.
  • The preview editor shows images so I could easily spot typos.

I tagged the repo version with the Word doc in case I ever want to go back to what it looked like.