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Chromebook Pixel: My First Week Living In Cloud

Was it was some subconscious desire to prove that, in building and pricing the Chromebook Pixel, Google had suffered a temporary bout of insanity? Or a fit of self-flagellation to directly experience the contortions necessary to live and work completely in the world of cloud services and mobile apps? Either way, for more than a week I didn’t touch a conventional computer. No Macs, no Windows, no Ubuntu. Just a man and his Chromebook (and smartphone, of course).

I was planning to travel for several days last week and have previously lived off an iPad for short trips, but for longer stretches, or if I know I’ll have to do some serious writing and editing, I’ll normally drag along a MacBook or old Dell Latitude reinvigorated by Ubuntu. But this time, having bought a Chromebook last fall for some testing, finding it to be quite usable and having no fear of being offline thanks to Verizon’s impressive LTE network along with a data plan allowing tethering (more on that later), I figured why not give the cloud a try? After all, the Chromebook is lighter than either of my laptops and I’d used it enough to have apps and services set up for all of my basic IT needs.

The PC hiatus started on a Saturday as I tweaked the Chromebook, but the real sink-or-swim moment came when I decided there’d be no last-minute cheating, so I disconnected my trusty Mac Mini from its monitor and plugged in a Chromebox I’d picked up on eBay (with the best of intentions of turning it into a YouTube-streaming set-top box, but I never overcame bouts of procrastination and the inertia associated with setting up a new device).

I knew the Chromebox was snappy, since I’d snagged one of the limited edition models running a Core i5 that Google distributed at last year’s I/O Conference (this same basic configuration has recently surfaced as a commercial product), but its performance reaffirmed my conviction to stick with the strategy. It may be overkill for a lightweight OS like Chrome, but like all Chrome devices, the first thing you notice is how fast this thing boots: under 10 seconds (8.43 to be exact as per Chrome’s system diagnostics), while its desktop CPU can handle as many browser tabs you care to throw at it. Having satisfied myself that I wasn’t missing anything important on a local disk drive, I set out, Chromebook and iPhone in hand.

Network Computing

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