As a guy that is a proponent of, and who makes cloud-based software, I felt it was only prudent for me to try a little experiment. What would it be like to live my life in the cloud? I’m not talking about spending the month of October in the high elevations of Nepal like some people I know. Rather, I am talking about limiting the software I use in my day-to-day life to only cloud based software. I tried this once before, but it was too easy to fall back into my old habits of relying on resident applications when things go tough. Since the software my team and I are building is fully capable of running non-resident, I thought the ony sane thing to do was to rip off the (resident app) band-aid and get myself a Chromebook.
Last week the Samsung Series 5 550 arrived at my house. Its a nice little device (little, like a 12.1″ screen), but its still thicker and heavier than my MacBook Air (even though it has all those resident apps stuffed inside). The device feels solid, and looks nice. I fired it up, and after a few seconds of booting, I had to wait ten minutes for an operating system update to be applied. Not too bad for a first boot. Subsequent boots have been wicked fast (under 10-seconds for a cold boot, and instant for coming our of sleep).
I pretty much stayed away from it over the weekend, with plans to turn off all of my other laptops (Windows X220 with two 27″ monitors, a MackBook Air with Thunderbolt display, etc.) and go exclusively cloud for two weeks. And then reality hit. I had a morning full of meetings and I simply wasn’t ready to begin my day on a new laptop. I needed Skype (which isn’t supported on ChromeOS), and I needed to access my corporate Exchange server, etc. I did my first meeting as normal, and then made the switch.
My second meeting got off to a rough start because I couldn’t get imo instant messenger to make a video call to one of my Skype contacts–I wasn’t able to get my headset to work with ChromeOS, and the video call crashed. We quickly resorted to a Google+ Hangout (chalk one up for Google–it was so hard to use the stuff we we were accustom to that we had to use their solution).
Before I knew it I was back at my Windows PC for a couple follow up meetings, etc. By the afternoon my resolve was stronger. I decided to disassemble my existing desk setup so that I could position the Chromebook front and center, and turn off the other laptops for the next couple weeks. Since the Series 5 550 has an on board DisplayPort I decided to connect it to the center monitor (which I turned back to horizontal from its normal portrait position–see below).
After discovering the Ctrl + combination I had the screen projecting on my 27″ monitor (at 2550 x 1440). Life is better now.
So far I have installed many of the apps I use regularly (the Chrome Web App versions) and some that are new to me that will take the place of old resident apps.
I also found a great list of tips for new ChromeOS users.
My next series of steps is to get all of my work applications up and running before tomorrow morning. I need to ensure I can access Outlook Web Access and Google Docs (which we don’t use, but I will need to switch to for the next few weeks). I will also need to get Google Drive and DropBox synced – I use DropBox extensively and I am not willing to give it up (especially since it’s also cloud-based).
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and what obstacles I encounter. It’s worth noting that my product works just fine on ChromeOS :)
Here’s my old desk set-up (I had to use my MacBook Air to get this photo off of my Canon 40D–I couldn’t figure out how to do it with the Chromebook in 10-minutes and gave in):