Chromebook Nation

Chromebooking It

I was able to, at the beginning of the semester, to get a Chromebook and it has really helped me to be far more productive.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still an Apple MacBook Pro fan. However, for general web browsing and research, the Chromebook has been a godsend (something I should have gotten over the summer and I would have been far more productive, but hindsight is 20/20).  A Chromebook, as long as you use web-based apps, and have an internet connection, is a perfect, cheap, alternative to most computers.  Is it as sophisticated and versatile–no, it isn’t.  However, it does the one thing that I need/want it to do: basic access to the internet and web-based platforms WITHOUT having to use Microsoft’s Windows.

Alternatives to Windows

Basically, until Microsoft stops 1) criminalizing users of its Windows Operating System by making them register copies of the operating system with a license that they can’t alter and 2) forcing draconian licensing agreements on users of its X-Box systems, I will NOT support them in ANY form (to the best of my ability).  In the age of corporate conglomeration, it is almost impossible to truly boycott a corporation’s products in order to affect change in any meaningful way.  However, Microsoft (along with Electronic Arts) is the poster-child for corporate machinations that I simply do not agree with no matter how much money their shenanigans make for their shareholders.  As such, I refuse to purchase Microsoft products or products that I know will directly or indirectly benefit Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, EA).  As such, I use Macs and Chromebooks because they 1) do what I need them to do, 2) allow me to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and 3) they DON’T benefit Microsoft.

Basic Web Browsing

My school (MTSU) uses a web-based platform (D2L) to help students and professors move into learning in a digital environment.  Since my wifi adapter no longer works on my 2008 Macbook Pro, it is very difficult to find places on campus where I can use an ethernet cable to “plug in” and find places where I can help my students become stronger students through grading and discussions online. However, the Chromebook helps me to achieve this as it is robust enough to handle the web-based nature of D2L.  Also, since most “apps” now have an Android app and/or a web-based presence, it is much more useful than one would think it might be based on the specs alone.  The true strength of the Chromebook is that, as long as you have an internet connection, it is pretty much a full featured computer and analogous to its “bigger” brothers–Windows PC/Macs.  Now this is really true if you’re not into gaming or any other processor intensive tasks, but if most of what you do/use it for is web browsing, streaming, light audio-visual, then it functions pretty much as (at least for me) a fully functional computer–allowing me to leave my MacBook Pro at home.  I’m able to MOST everything I want to via the web or web apps, it has long battery life (up to 2 – 3 days of medium to heavy use on 1 charge cycle), and it is highly portable, so it is the perfect solution where I have WiFi 90% of the time.

This isn’t a permanent solution, but it is A solution.  One that is helping to at least stay current in my graduate school and creative writing lifestyle.  Without it, I would be losing ground instead of treading water.  So, I say, until I can Macbook Pro it, I’m going to continue to Chromebook it.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

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Microsoft HATES Cross-Play Too; They Just Don’t Want You to Know It.

crashfm

CrashFM logo.  Image Source: UStream.com

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @3500 words
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Cleaning this up–I’m only going to list the ones that I’m currently writing (actually putting words on the page).  Expect to see 2-3 projects per month at the most.
Goal = 170 words (5000 words by July 1), added approximately 200 words.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 750s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy atMTSU’slibrary and I’m reading it now.   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

Microsoft Doesn’t Like Cross-Play Either

So, this post has been building for long time, but I’m finally sitting down to write it based on the internet “hate” Sony is getting for its stance on Cross-Play this week.  For those who don’t know, Cross-Play is the burgeoning idea that their should be no “borders” between gamers and that certain popular games are allowing their players to play with other players on other competing platforms.  This console generation Sony doesn’t want to do it as they are way ahead and they want to control over their ecosystem and Microsoft has been accrued a ton of goodwill as they’ve jumped on the Cross-Play bandwagon as a way to promote their Xbox over the Playstation.  But in the past, Microsoft hasn’t really liked Cross-Play either.

Burnout Paradise Podcast Reveals All

What gamers this console generation don’t realize is that Microsoft isn’t as altruistic as they appear.  They HATE the idea of Cross-Play as well.  Early in the Playstation 3/Xbox 360, the developers of games were really into podcasting and many devs had some sort of podcasting presence.  Burnout Paradise developer Criterion Games was one of the many devs that had such a podcast.  It was called CrashFM after their famous (or infamous) fictional “radio station” inside the game.  You can find out more from this wikia post: http://burnout.wikia.com/wiki/Crash_TV.  Most germane to this post, on one of the episodes, the devs were discussing how hard/easy it was do Cross-Play between the two systems.  I distinctly remember him saying in the podcast that  it was extremely easy and here is the important point.  The devs said that it was so easy that Microsoft had language in their CONTRACT THAT PROHIBITED Cross-Play and they had to ADD IN CODE to prevent it from happening.  He went onto say that interestingly, Sony did not have any language in their contract either way or the other (not a direct quote as I no longer have access to my iTunes subscription with these podcasts to do my due diligence to provide a time-stamp for this assertion–I’m doing this all from memory).

So, wait, Microsoft, that paragon of telling players that they LOVE Cross-Play,  had language in a contract (allegedly) that prohibited Cross-Play?  Methinks, I smell a rat here.  Yes, I understand that positions change over time, but for the fans and the media to rake Sony over the coals for something that Microsoft has (allegedly) done in the past is more than hypocritical on Microsoft’s part.

In Microsoft We Trust–Until They Screw Us Over

Microsoft has been getting a lot of love lately and I just don’t understand it.  Have we forgotten how Sony was able to get a big console lead this generation?  They wanted an console that would need to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours so it could validate your games.  Their idea of game-sharing was abysmal and they were $100 more expensive even though their system was “less powerful” than the Playstation 4.  This is the future Microsoft wanted for gamers.  They tried to do the same thing as last generation by locking down Titanfall (what they thought would be the new conception of Halo).

I may be coming on thick here, but Microsoft is all about control.  This morning, I walked into our Graduate Teaching Assistants’ office and found a Windows computer complaining that its Windows version might be counterfeit (this is a LARGE university–I’m pretty sure their licenses are up-to-date).  All the way back to Windows 3.1Microsoft has tried to legislate how users of their software will use it and not counterfeit it.  With Win 3.1, they tried to this with a “cardstock” license, but the Xbox One was just the same ideas revisited, but with actual technology to enforce their dictates rather than words written on cardstock.

Sony may well deserve the censure that their getting based on what I seen/heard about the latest controversy of them locking down accounts that have been associated with their Playstation account–not cool.  However, Microsoft does not deserve the amount of praise that gamers are heaping on them as it will just encourage them to retry their dictatorial licensing practices at a later date.  Gamers keep shooting themselves in the foot by allowing themselves to be swayed so easily by Microsoft’s tactics in regards to Cross-Play.  Gaming sites like IGN and gaming pundits such as Jim Sterling aren’t doing the gaming community any favors by over-emphasizing Sony’s stance without doing research to find out what Microsoft’s history on this matter is, both current (positive–now that they are behind) and historical (negative–when they were ahead).

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

“. . . Went and Spent the Money to Make to that Happen”

E3_Videogames_Guide

Images of a several games, a couple of which appeared on Microsoft’s E3 stage.  Image Source: Videogames.Guide

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3365 (+324)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Changed the way I write.  I moved back to Scrivener in order to utilize the word count tracking feature in the program.  I tried to find a web version (& I did), but it seemed silly to try to wrangle three different websites when I have an all-in-one solution in Scrivener.  Once I did, I was able to to get writing done.  I also reconfigured my workspace so let’s see if that helps.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 400s in terms of page count–probably reading too much based on my schoolwork, but it is so good.)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Rereading the Sophists: Another book on the history of Rhetoric (finished–had to read this in two (2)! days.
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’slibrary and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”

    I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

“A Display of Dominance”

So, I’m just going to go ahead and say it without any preamble–I didn’t really enjoy this year’s E3.  By now, I’ve watched all of the major conferences (except the PC Gaming Show as even though I have a Steam Account, my computer isn’t “beefy” enough to run these modern games) and I have to say that this year’s E3 was far more lackluster than usual.  In my next post, I’ll give sort of a breakdown (mini-mini review of them) and then I’ll probably do one or two posts a week highlighting games that I really like until I run out out of games that I’m personally interested in.  The general consensus is that Microsoft (aka Micro$oft) won E3 (presentation-wise), although Sony and the other companies had better games.

“With a Ton of ‘Big Names,’ even if none of them–very few of them–are exclusive to our platform”

So, this was the comment (as are ALL comments that are in this post) of the Giant Bomb contributors as the “Talked Over” Sony’s E3 Showcase.   While they tend to be a jaded bunch, they are also industry veterans who have worked in the games media industry before so I generally like their perspective (not always though, but in most cases, their commentary is pretty good).  They noted what I noted a long time ago.  Any time Microsoft feels threatened, they just pull out their proverbial “checkbook” and just start writing checks to cover their deficiencies.  Most people don’t notice (or don’t care) as they just want to back a “winner.”

Buying Your Way to Success

So, Sony has had to build up their 1st party studios.  Yes, they acquired them and brought them into the fold, but the difference is that Sony liked their work enough to bring them in, not because they already had successful IPs, but because they make/made good games.  Sony makes an “investment” where Microsoft is just looking to buy a successful IP.  It worked with Halo and Gears of War and they tried the same strategy earlier this generation with Titanfall (Xbox exclusive) and Rise of the Tombraider (1 Year Excusive), but because of their crappy business model at the beginning of the generation, Sony’s lead in console sales made it financial suicide not to release a PS4 version of a game (hence the reason we got Titanfall 2 on the PS4 and Shadow of the Tombraider without the Xbox exclusivity period).  In many ways, Microsoft is like the sports team who can “buy” a competitive team that will win the world series, while Sony is the team who “invests” in a “farm system” and helps them become successful.  Sony will close studios if they don’t perform (Evolution Studios), but they haven’t needed to purchase any studios in years based on the strength of the talent they’ve invested in earlier.  So, its like a baseball team that “buys” its way to a championship vs a baseball team that has had to work hard to get to the championship and hit it out of the park.

I have theories on why Sony chose to do things the way they did, but more on that later.  Have a good day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Decisions, Decisions–Chromebooks, Apple MacBooks, or Windows Laptops

chromebookvsapplemacbook_YouTube

Word Count

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, yesterday I had the best of intentions–I wanted to write, but I didn’t.  I only managed to “think” about writing.  I intend to do better today.  I’m going to at least “outline” page 13 of the Ship of Shadows project.  Based on the high view rates for Monday’s post–“finishing” projects is what I really need to be working towards.

Currently Reading

  • For Fun: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novella)
  • For School: (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
  • For Research/Personal Development: Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Need a New (Wi-Fi) Laptop for the Summer

So, I have summer classes this year as well as a summer “assignment” to work on during my time at the Writing Center.  While there are computers in the Library that I have been using (including Laptops available for check-out), this still leaves me without a Wi-Fi connected computer while I’m in class, which is a major disadvantage because I can’t look up/refer to PDF documents online, or bring up other websites that might be germain to the discussion.  I love my MacBook Pro (even as old as it is), but the lack of Wi-Fi is a major detriment and deterrent to my being able to write (creatively or otherwise) in “spare” moments.

Chromebook

Right now, I’m leaning towards a Chromebook.  I’ve used them before when I was at East Lake Academy and I understand their limitations.  Basically, Chrome OS is just an upgraded browser with some other features added on to it.  As I really only envision using it as I did at East Lake Academy, for accessing Web Apps, the Web, and viewing/showing video, I’m thinking that a Chromebook should fit the bill.  The only downside to a Chromebook is that it has both limited presentation capabilities and its printing service is terrible.  As I have this computer (& the ones at MTSU’s library), I’m not so concerned with this particular limitation, but Google’s Cloud Printing service just doesn’t work for me.  Of course, neither of my printers are “Cloud Printing” compatible, coming out before this was a thing, but I usually have to connect directly to the printer or “sneaker”-net the file to my printer (or DropBox it, or use a similar solution) in order to be able to get it to print.  As someone who is often writing the document right up to the very last minute, that can make for some very stressful deadlines.

Apple MacBook/Pro

So, all things being equal, this is what I would be buying.  My computer is a 2008 MacBook Pro.  However, I’m in money-saving mode at the moment, and Apple’s products, while great from a usability and aesthetic standpoint, are NOT generally good for the cost conscious.  My plan is to get something that will get me through the summer and then upgrade this laptop to a newer model in the fall (hopefully from the WWDC announcement that should have aired by the time this blog post is published–if there is no Macbook/Pro announcement, then I may look into purchasing a *refurbished* 2015 Macbook Pro model as I can’t justify paying the cost of a 3 year old computer at the exorbitant “new” prices that Apple charges).  I love Apple’s products and their software platform (Independent Developers) create software that I like to use, but I simply can’t justify the expense at the moment.  I have too many other things that need to taken care of first and as a student, money is ALWAYS an issue.

Windows Laptops

So, I understand Windows 10 is doing much better than Wiudows 8 and, by all accounts, is a rock solid operating system.  I just do not like Microsoft as a company and so try to give them as little money as possible until they change their corporate ways (during my first draft of this post, I went into a long diatribe about Halo and the acquisition of companies/technologies, to the detriment of all but Microsoft, but suffice to say, I just don’t want to support MS as a company).  Having said that, if I could find a Windows 10 computer with full functionality, but at a price rivaling a Chromebook, I might look into the it, but the feature set would have to be extremely compelling, and it still wouldn’t be my main “driver” as I still would be looking for a MacBook/Pro in the Fall (either new or old, depending on June 4th’s WWDC announcement).

Anyway, I thought I’d detail some of my thoughts on trying to find a new Wi-Fi “laptop” as I head into the summer.  I’ll keep you posted on what I ultimately decide in a future post.

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.