In Praise of my CR-48 Chromebook

Here it is over two years since I received a free Chromebook from Google and wrote about it here. I still use this device everyday. I keep it at work and at lunch time I take it out and check my e-mail, Twitter feed, etc. It continues to handle these tasks as well as the best computers on the market. But the thing the prompted me to write this post was the frequent updates Google pushes out to these devices. While the hardware is still notably low-end, the software keeps getting all of the improvements that are going into the new high-end Chromebooks.

iPad vs. Nexus 7 - My review

With the rumored iPad mini due to be announced this week I thought it would be a good time to reflect upon my experience with both the iPad and the Google Nexus 7.

I've had an iPad (second generation) for over a year, and a Nexus 7 for a few months. Long enough to get to know them pretty well. I originally got the iPad as a "family" device, and it seems to serve that purpose quite well. My wife and I use it to read news and our 3.5 year old granddaughter plays game and watches cartoons on it. It does all of this and more very well.

Drupal on Rails - Part 2

So it's Friday and the University is closed due to all the flooding that is happening. Time to work on my apps and see if I can complete the circle. In part one I had had Drupal working as a consumer of data from a Rails app. I had speculated on a way to get the data from Drupal to Rails but hadn't implemented anything yet. Today I set out to accomplish that part.

Drupal on Rails

My job at Oregon Sate University Central Web Services has me mostly focused on Drupal. We use Drupal for most of the university websites, and it does a great job. However while I've been slogging trough old PHP code, the rest of our developers have been working on state-of-the-art Ruby-on-Rails apps. So, not to fall too far behind I've been working on building my own Rails apps.

Ubuntu Auto Upgrade

When I got up this morning the last thing I thought of doing was upgrading Linux on my laptop. After all upgrading Linux can be an all day affair. First you've got to download the .iso file, then burn a CD or 2, or 3. Then of course you'd better back everything up before you start. In fact some server distros don't even let you upgrade, but require a clean install each time. Then prepare for lot's of stuff not working, and to have to reapply all your preferences etc.

Enjoying my CR-48

When Google announced that they were giving away laptops for testing Chrome OS, I immediately went to the website to sign up, not really expecting to get one. The word was that Google would ship 60,000 of them, but figured they'd probably get millions of requests. I expected I would receive an e-mail from Google if they were going to send me one. Imagine my surprise to find it sitting at my door last Monday!


There has been much talk lately about privacy on the web, and who does what with your data. Most of this of course has centered around Facebook or Google. New technology from Facebook makes it easy for any website to tap in to your Facebook data when you visit their site. The idea behind this is that people will be interested in stuff their friends "like". Facebook knows a lot about it's users, but Google might know even more. As users of this technology we may be concerned about who knows what about us, and who owns this data.

Chrome OS

I've been using Chrome browser almost exclusively on my Linux netbook for a while now so I've been curious to try out Chrome OS to see how it's progressing. I've tried two different distributions of the open source Chromium OS version. The latest is called Flow from Hexxeh, which has had really good reviews. Supposedly they've done a lot of work to support various hardware. Unfortunately not much supports my Intel GMA500 (Poulsbo) based netbook. Flow was too slow to do anything with, even slower than the first Chromium OS version I tried.

Tip - using whatis

I recently came across the Linux 'whatis' command. whatis just displays the short description part of a man page. For example:

$whatis dig
dig (1) - DNS lookup utility

A standard Linux distribution comes with hundreds of commands and utilities in the /usr/bin/ directory. Want to know what they all do? You can use whatis in a loop with ls to do the trick.

for f in `ls /usr/bin`; do whatis $f; done | more

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