As many of you know, Google has been giving away thousands of free laptops to help promote and troubleshoot their upcoming “Chrome OS” operating system. In a nutshell, the entire operating system is just a browser. No files, no “desktop”, no real programs – just a browser. It’s an ambitious move to say the least.
I’ve been a big fan of Google Chrome since day one. It’s amazingly fast and stable, I use it as my primary browser on every computer, and I’ve mentioned it in various posts a number of times. If you don’t currently use it on your PC/Mac, I highly recommend that you download it and try it out. That being said, I wasn’t sure how well it would function as an operating system.
To confuse things further, Google already has an excellent operating system — Android. While it’s mostly just on phones right now, it’s beginning to show up on various laptops and tablets. With that in place, where does Chrome OS fit in? After playing with the laptop for a few days, I’m beginning to see the light.
The laptop is pretty cool to look at — rough black, with not a single sticker or logo anywhere on it. The specs are very minimal, and virtually identical to my netbook; an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM, etc. There is no hard drive in here either – just a 16GB solid state drive, similar to what you’d find in an iPad. Since you can’t save anything to it, 16GB is more than enough.
Here’s a quick video that shows some of my thoughts on the device:
And here are a few more videos, both from Google. This first one gives a rough overview of how it works and why you’d want a computer like this:
The last video is a fun look at why saving your data in the cloud can be so useful, as Google destroys a handful of laptops:
It’s not too late to apply to get your own, which you can do at this site. They’ve probably given most of them away by now, but it can’t hurt to apply. Good luck!
The first retail laptops with Chrome OS loaded on them are expected next summer from Acer and Samsung. I’ll certainly let you know as I hear more details about those.
I’m finding one of the keys to being productive is to be able to take advantage of the small breaks of time during the day. If you found yourself with 5 extra minutes, could you use them? How about an extra 60 seconds?
Those small breaks of time can add up to quite a bit over the course of a day. I have two main suggestions:
Be able to do a lot from your phone.
Keep things open on your computer.
:: Be able to accomplish a lot from your phone
I discussed this a bit in part one of the series (“get control of your email“), but it’s worth mentioning again; a good phone is worth far more than the initial expense. During the day, many of your small breaks of time are found when you’re away from home. Some examples:
Waiting for your child after school/dance/sports
Waiting to see the dentist/doctor
Waiting for food to arrive at a meal
Waiting in line for tickets/check-out
I’m sure you can think of many others, but that’s a start. When I have extra time in one of those cases, I do one of the following on my phone:
Process some email. I don’t usually convert any into tasks (I leave that for when I get home), but I can read, respond, archive, delete, etc.
Catch up on Google Reader. I can knock some reading off my list, and “star” items for later if I need to read them more in-depth or write about them.
Read some Tweets or catch up on Facebook. You can access Twitter and Facebook from almost any phone. If those are important to you, then this gives you a chance to catch up.
Right now the iPhone is still your best bet, but some of the Android phones (like Verizon’s “Droid”) are catching up really quick. Ultimately, any decent smartphone will do the job for you.
:: Keep things open on your computer
If you find yourself with a spare minute or two, you don’t want to waste a chunk of that time opening programs, logging in, etc. If possible, leave those programs open all the time. When you find a spare minute, your tools are right at your fingertips and you can get things done.
The problem with this is that leaving too much stuff open can slow down your computer and cause other issues. I wrote a long post about this back in January, but here are some tips:
Leave it on. Don’t shut down every night. Reboot once or twice a week to keep Windows fresh, though.
Use a fast browser. I use Google Chrome 90% of the time, and Firefox for most of the rest. They use less memory and run much faster than Internet Explorer.
Buy more memory. RAM is dirt cheap, simple to install and will make a huge difference. At this point, you should have at least 2 gigs in your computer. If not, go get more. Not sure what you need? Go to crucial.com and use the “scan my system” tool. They’ll tell you exactly what you have, offer some choices, and they’ll sell it at a fair price. I use them quite a bit.
Get a new computer. This is last on the list for a reason, but it’s worth mentioning. If your computer is more than a few years old, you can get a new one that is much faster for $500 (or less). It’s something to consider.
If you find yourself with a bit more time and you’re caught up on email/reader/etc, Chris Brogan has a list of things to do if you have an extra half hour. It’s got some good tips to try to keep you ahead of the game.
What else do you do to take advantage of those small breaks of time?
I purchased a new desktop yesterday. My old computer was better than three years old and starting to show it. The new one is quite a powerful little beast — Intel Quad Core i7, 8 GB ECC3 RAM, terabyte hard drive — and I got a great deal on it. Tossed in a second video card and it’s running all three monitors quite nicely.
As it was going through it’s initial start-up, I made a list of the software I’d need to load. So much of my life is in the cloud (Gmail, Google Calendar, Nozbe, etc) that it was fairly easy, but it was still a pretty sizable list. Here’s what I loaded:
Firefox — Much better browser than Internet Explorer
Google Chrome — This is actually my primary browser, though I use Firefox a good bit too.
Ultramon — If you have more than one monitor on your system, this tool stretches your taskbar across all three, then only show icons for the programs open on that particular screen. It’s superb.
It’s a great time to be a web user — the new browser wars are meaning more great features for all of us! Firefox has been hard at work on version 3.1 for a while now, and they’ve just released the second alpha version of 3.1. So what does it bring to the table?
Dragging tabs between windows no longer results in a page refresh.
The next few months will be interesting for Firefox and Chrome. Most of these new features (other than the video element) are things that need to catch up to Chrome. On the flip side, Chomes next big release will likely have a lot of features to try to catch up to Firefox (plug-ins, for one). By the time they both catch up with each other, we should be looking at two amazing browsers!
As of today, Google Analytics is now showing “Chrome” as a browser type in Google Analytics. Visits from Chrome users over the last few days will be retroactively updated to show their use of Chrome over the next few days.
We’re showing Chrome usage at over 10% on this blog for the last three days, but webmaster/SEO blogs would certainly be skewed a bit high for something like that. It’ll be very interesting to see what the numbers look like in a few weeks.
What percent of visitors on your blog are using Chrome?
One of the most talked about features of Google Chrome is the rather innovative home page. It shows your nine most often viewed sites, along with some goodies along the sidebar. The sidebar can include quick-search boxes for sites you often search. As often as I’m searching our church site, I thought it’d be great to have it listed there but I couldn’t make it show up. After a bit of tweaking, I got it to work. Here’s what I did.
First, it’ll help if you have a true on-site search of some kind. From what I can tell, there’s no way to add search boxes if you use the Google custom search on your site. If you find a way around that, let us know.
As for our site, it only took a couple of very small changes:
The search needs to produce a GET request, not a POST request. The difference is that a GET request will put your search term in the URL, which is critical to make this work.
You may need to change your search string variable. I noticed that most sites use “s=whatever” when you search, so I changed ours to that to help Chrome easily figure out what we were doing.
As for getting it onto the sidebar, here is the two-step process that tends to work. Try it with our church site if you want.
Perform a search on the site, just like you normally would.
After that Google should recognize that it’s a search and give you a new shortcut. Start typing the URL of the site in the address bar at the top (“M-T-B-E-T…”).
After a few letters, a small bit of text should appear on the side that says “Press [tab] to search mtbethel.org”. Go ahead and press [tab] and search for something.
You should now have a quick-search box for our site on your Chrome start page. There’s no way to manually remove it, but it will go away by itself after a while. There seems to be a limit of three search boxes on your page, so if you have three already you may need to repeat step #3 (the [tab] search) a few times to encourage Chrome to replace one of the other ones.
That’s it! Chome even uses your favicon to dress it up, and they look very nice. If you have any questions or problems, please let us know in the comments below.
As you may have heard, Google is releasing a new browser tomorrow called Chrome. Based on what’s been revealed so far, it should be excellent, though we won’t know for sure until we get our hands on it. If nothing else, it’s expected to be very fast and very stable, which are the two main jobs of any decent browser.
But what about us webmasters? Will we have to start worrying about another browser when building our sites? Not really. The great news about Chrome is that it’s built on top of Webkit, which also powers Opera (and a few others). This means that the basic rendering engine is one that you’ve probably already checked your site against, so it’s nothing new.
Keep an eye on my SEO site tomorrow to see when Chrome is available for download. If you have a Windows machine, it’ll certainly be worth trying, even if it doesn’t live up to the hype.
Google has accidentally leaked a comic strip that talks about “Chrome”, their new web browser. Google has confirmed that a browser is coming, and will be lauched tomorrow (Tuesday). So what’s the scoop on the new browser? Here’s what we know so far (from TechCrunch and Google Blogoscoped):
Windows only. Mac and Linux support coming soon.
It’s open source, based on Webkit.
It will support Google Gears.
Tabs will look much different. Rather than being at the top of the content, they will be at the top of the entire window.
It will have an “omnibox”, similar to Firefox’s “awesome bar”, with autocomplete and similar things.
The default home page will look a lot like Opera 9, with thumbnails of your favorite sites.
Each tab will live in its own “sandbox”, and each will have its own process. Not only will this help the browser to run more quickly, but if a tab crashes it won’t take down the entire browser.
It will have a task manager to help you determine how much memory is being used by each tab and by each plugin.
You can open a new tab as an “incognito” window that doesn’t record anything you do there, which is very similar to a similar feature introduced in Internet Explorer 8 beta 2.
Chrome will maintain a list of phishing and malware sites to help protect you. Site owners will get notification if they’re added to the list, to help fix false positives.
All in all, it sounds pretty slick. Personally, speed and stability are my main concerns with a browser and both of those have improved greatly with Firefox 3. If Chrome can take it even further, great!