What do you need help with?

I have a range of technical and Informational knowledge that could be useful to you.  But you need to say “I need help with…” or “How do you solve…” or “Talk about….” to me.

I recently bought a manufacturer refurbished HP 15-ba009dx laptop from Ebay.  It cost less than $200 USD for a 15.4″ laptop.  This is the “Desktop Replacement” form factor. Once I got it, they were right.  I have never had a laptop with such a large screen. I have had “old iron” laptops that weigh this much (about 5 lbs) but never one so thin and with a seperate 9 key number pad.

I ran across a review of the laptop in “best under $300 gamer laptops” at the Laptop Ninja website.  Then a few days later I saw Office Depot/OfficeMax offering it for sale in my area.  So I went looking on Ebay to see if I could beat their price.  The main thing that the refurbished version didn’t have was a 1 year license of Office/365.  This wasn’t a problem, for me, since I have a copy of MS Office 2010 for Home and Professional Office.  I also have been using an ASUS Chromebook 300MA which had gotten me very used to using the Google Docs wordprocessor which is available through any modern web browser (http://docs.google.com)

This is not a “high end” machine.  It is powerful enough for everyday tasks like Word processing, doing research on the Internet, watching videos, taking the majority of online courses at small and large institutions etc.  It doesn’t have the keyboard of a Ibm Thinkpad/Lenovo but who else does?  It has 4 logical cpus and a integrated video system (an AMD R4) so it is pretty good at juggling things (lots of tabs open in the Chrome browser while also typing in Word etc.  It has a built in DVD drive a reasonable selection of ports (usb, rj-45, hdmi etc) and a SD card reader.  In some ways it feels like an “overgrown” Netbook.  It’s not very fast (I have been running the Boinc/Seti project on it, believe me, it’s not very fast) but it works nicely for straightforward office tasks.  It has the DVD drive and a full sized keyboard with the  seperate 9 keypad on the right just like a typical desktop keyboard.  Those are not things you find on any Netbook I have used/owned.

Like way too many users once you have had any laptop or laptop appliance (my Chromebook) with a really high level of endurance (like 11-12 hours to a charge) you do get spoiled.  This one runs 3-5 hours per charge (depending on how bright I set the screen and how hard I work the machine).  Since I have had “old iron” that run 2.5 hours or less per charge having a machine that regularly runs 3+ is nice.

So how can I help you?





RISC vs. Intel cpus in the Chromebook world

One of the original main advantages of a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) was that it used less power than a CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer).  The Intel cpu that is at the heart of most Windows and newer Mac’s is a CISC.

When the Chromebook first came out and began to sell like hot cakes some vendors were taking advantage of the RISC cpu/motherboard to sell systems with longer battery times and lower costs than the Intel/AMD-based cpus.

Intel has been designing lower power draining cpus/motherboards for laptops for years.  They apparently got busy and created something for the Chromebook line(s).  That is why you have Intel-based Chromebooks with 10+ hour battery times and lower costs than the RISC-based systems.

Tom M

Turn your older laptop or desktop into a Chromebook clone

Recently I received great news.  “CloudReady has a Chrome OS platform ready for your non-chromebook hardware”  If that link to the article on Tech Republic doesn’t work, here is the website.  You are probably interested in an individual copy of the Chromebook clone product.  It is free for individual use.

If you have an Intel PC hardware platform (usually a windows laptop) that is 8 years old or younger that you would like to run a fast, robust operating system on but it isn’t up to running say  Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, then this is a turnkey solution.  I have successfully installed it on 2 out of 3 laptops and a desktop I tried.  It failed on a non-standard old SSD netbook.  They have a list of tested hardware that is quite extensive on the website.

The User Interface is exactly like my ASUS Chromebook.  You will experience the Chromebook exactly except for two things.  1) If you are used to the 7 second boot time for many Chromebooks, you won’t get that.  It will boot exactly as fast as a Linux distribution would on the same hardware (around 30 seconds on mine).  2) The hardware-based security features are mostly not present.   For most people, School districts or Companies neither of the above will be deal breakers.

You will need a 8 GB Flash drive to install the Chromebook clone OS from.  The native setup only supports standalone booting and UEFI “dual booting”.  If you choose, standalone booting, all the previous information on the hard disk is deleted during the install.  With UEFI “dual booting” the previous operating system remains and is also bootable.  You will need either a fairly fast internet connection or quite abit of patience to download the operating system.

If you have a Chromebook or a Chrome browser and sign in with a Google id, CloudReady will download/clone all your extensions, applications and allow you to access your Google Drive-based data on your “new” cloned Chromebook.

Because I have an ultra-thin Chromebook I have not been motivated to move over and use this product full time.  I have one very slow (1 GHz) sub-notebook that “barely” runs Windows 10.  I may turn it into a CloudReady notebook again.  I have turned a Dell Optiplex 760 (desktop) into a Chromebook.

If you have been wanting to experiment with a Chromebook or have wanted a Chromebook but couldn’t afford a couple hundred bucks for a new/used on on E-Bay this is your path.  Educational and Commercial licenses and support are available.

If you are a school with obsolete laptops available this is an excellent, very low-cost way to repurpose them into Chromebooks.  Both Educational and Commercial licenses and support are available.

Any questions?  Post a comment.

Tom M