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All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS
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29 Apr 12 Google Chrome offers no-hassle alternative


There’s a new kid on the block, and it’s easy. If you’ve had it with Windows maintenance and aren’t a Mac fan, the new Google Chrome operating system, Chrome OS, is something to consider. We just bought one of these new-fangled Chrome laptops.

Don’t confuse Chrome OS with Chrome, the Web browser, though it’s easy to do. The “OS” stands for operating system, which is what runs the machine; plain Chrome is a Web browser. It’s as if Microsoft decided to name their Web browser “Windows” instead of Internet Explorer. Or Apple named theirs “Mac” instead of Safari. (Who knows what strange decisions take place in corporate meetings?)

The Chrome OS works only on Chrome laptops, called Chromebooks. It is hassle-free and stone simple. Forget about anti-virus, anti-spyware, defragmenting programs and other system utilities, this thing takes care of itself. And it’s fast. Push the on button and boot-up is almost instantaneous. Unlike Windows and Mac, updates to new versions of the software are free. For the upcoming Windows 8, for example, due out this summer, we would either have to buy a new computer with the software already installed or pay Microsoft’s price for the upgrade package. But we’ll get every new version of the Chrome OS for free, automatically updated every six weeks. We like the new “beta” version. Now the desktop looks like a Windows, Mac or iPad screen.

Almost everything the Chromebook can do takes place in the Google Cloud. Printing, listening to music, doing email, photo editing and playing games were all easy to do and use. The Chromebook can send a print job to any printer connected to a laptop that’s online, after a simple set-up. The print job first goes into Google’s Cloud Print, and is then downloaded to the printers you designate. In our tests, it worked perfectly.

Chrome OS has a “file manager” that organizes whatever you download. The file manager can open Word docs, PowerPoint files, spreadsheets, zip files, PDFs, html, MP4 and other music formats, and almost all image formats. Google Docs works offline, so you don’t have to be in Wi-Fi range to compose your manuscript.

We bought the Acer AC 700 Chromebook at Amazon because it was cheaper than Samsung’s model. We got the version with both a cellular 3G connection and Wi-Fi for $406. There’s also a Wi-Fi-only version for $300. The one with 3G comes with 100 megabytes of data per month for two years. That’s enough to send 200 emails a day when you’re out of range of Wi-Fi, and there’s no contract if you splurge on more. (NOTE: If you have a 3G or 4G phone, you can tether it to the cheaper Chromebook, saving yourself $100 while still enjoying the convenience of a cellular connection.) The Chromebook weighs 2.7 pounds without the charger and has about six hours of battery life. There’s a built-in camera for video conferencing and a port for connection to an HD TV. The trackpad is lousy, so plug in a mouse.

If you like your Windows programs, however, stick with them. Joy, for example, loves her Web editing software, greeting card programs, SnagIt and CaptureWiz and wouldn’t want to give them up.

FUNDRAISING ONLINE

Kickstarter gets a ton of publicity as a way for organizations to raise money online. For individuals, Crowdtilt might be a better option.

We saw examples of people who raised money for a baby gift, an urban garden, a party, a high school reunion and so on. You set a goal and invite friends to donate. Their credit cards are charged only if the campaign “tilts,” meaning you reached your goal. The funds either get deposited in your bank account or your PayPal account. Post videos or photos to provide a little enticement for your fundraising. The site uses Facebook accounts so potential donors know who they’re donating to. The downside is that Crowdtilt collects 2.5 percent of the amount you raise. Still, this is a fairly nice way to put your hand out.

BUSINESS APPS

A free iPhone/iPad app called FileMaker Go 12 runs iPhone/iPad apps you can create with the Filemaker popular database. It’s been downloaded over 100,000 times in the first week.

It’s often a good idea to create your own apps. The Berklee College of Music in Boston created an iPad app to manage audition data for 7,000 musicians worldwide. Instead of lugging heavy laptops, the faculty and staff now use their iPads to follow 300 domestic and 30 overseas auditions. They organize schedules, view videos and bring in student ID numbers from the old database.

Filemaker Pro 12 is a $300 program from filemaker.com. There’s a free trial. A cheaper version called “Bento” sells for $49 and is for Macs only. (Bento is Japanese for box.)

APP HAPPY

Listomatic has got to be the simplest list-making iPhone app we’ve seen. There’s a plus sign for adding a task and an “edit” button to delete or change it. You can email the list.

MagicPlan for the iPhone measures your rooms and draws floor plans from the pictures you take of your place. (Attention screen writers: possible plot gimmick for high-tech caper movies.)

Happly for the iPad has free educational games, videos, books, “how-tos,” animal lessons and cartoons. Under the “weird and wacky” category, we learned that the longest nose on a living person is 3.46 inches. (Who measured all those noses?) The “how to” section has instructions on how to make a telescope out of reading glasses.

Kidfolio is a social network scrapbook for parents. Track your child’s growth and look back over a timeline of memories. And of course don’t forget to send photo cards.

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Article source: http://www.telegram.com/article/20120429/COLUMN81/104299972/1002/business

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