Showing posts with label Netbooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netbooks. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Turn Your Old Netbook Into a Chromebook

A couple of months ago I shared some news about Kevin Jarrett's Project Chromebook blog on which he's sharing his experiences with Chromebooks in his elementary school. In Kevin's school they leased Chromebooks for a sixty day trial. Over the weekend I realized that there is another way that you can try the Chrome OS, install it on an old netbook. So that is exactly what I'm going to do.

I'm installing the Chrome OS on an Acer Netbook that I bought in 2009. I haven't used that netbook much over the last year so it's the perfect candidate for an OS facelift. To install the Chrome OS I'm following the directions that I found on Lifehacker.

Applications for Education
If your school is considering acquiring Chromebooks and you have some older netbooks kicking around, install the Chrome OS on them as a trial. Give them out to the tech savvy and the not so tech savvy people in your school and get some feedback. Bear in mind that depending upon the netbooks you have, the Chrome OS may not function exactly as designed, but it should give you a good sense of the experience.

Another way to test out the Chrome OS is to run it in a virtual machine. Chris Pirillo has a video about this. The video is embedded below.

Learn more about this on

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Buying Stuff Won't Fix Your or My Problems

Reminder: This blog does not represent the official position of my employer or any other organization with which I'm affiliated. And for the record I like and use Apple products everyday. This isn't a rant against Apple.

A couple of days ago I finally got a chance to handle an iPad. As I shared on Twitter, I left the experience feeling underwhelmed. Posting that comment sparked one of the best Twitter conversations I've been a part of in the last few weeks. The conversation revolved around the idea that while the iPad may be a "magical" device for some consumers, it probably is not a good purchase for most schools. On the heels of that Twitter conversation I came into school today and was asked by a colleague if I had heard about another district in our area that is purchasing iPads for its students and faculty. My colleague thought that purchasing iPads for students and faculty is a wonderful idea while I replied with something to the effect of, "they'd be a waste of money for our school."

There's really no denying that the iPad offers some fantastic applications. In fact, if I had a spare $500 (which I don't) I'd be very tempted to buy an iPad because I think it would be a wonderful way to consume information while sitting on my couch or while on a plane (even my netbook doesn't open all the way in most coach seats). And if my school had money to burn (which it doesn't, does any school?) I'd probably recommend purchasing them, as a secondary device, too.

We've just completed our first glitch-filled year of being truly 1:1 school-wide. (I piloted various other laptop and 1:1 systems during the previous two years in my classroom). This year has seen some of our teachers take great strides toward integrating the use of netbooks into their instruction. At the same time, other teachers didn't change a thing other than having students type their lecture notes rather than write in a notebook. Putting an iPad into those teachers' hands isn't going to change that. More time working with me and some of my other colleagues will change that.

What really makes me cringe is hearing about schools that aren't 1:1 plunking-down thouands of dollars for iPads instead of netbooks or consumer-grade laptops. The limitations of the iPad when it comes to creating content makes it a poor purchase if that's the school's attempt to improve their students' learning experiences. Furthermore, if you still have faculty that struggles with fundamental skills like creating presentations or searching the web, how's an iPad going to change that?

Bottom line: I think the iPad is a neat device, but I won't be buying one anytime soon. Nor will I be recommending that schools buy them instead of netbooks or laptops. That said, I think I do understand why schools would buy them as secondary devices for students. What I'm curious about is schools that are buying iPads to be the primary device in a 1:1 environment. If your school is doing that, please leave a comment. Why are schools purchasing iPads instead of netbooks or laptops for 1:1? What am I missing in this picture?

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Earth View Available in Google Maps

Earlier today Google released new imagery for Google Maps. You can now view Google Earth 3D imagery and more in Google Maps. To use Earth View in Google Maps simply click the "Earth" button in the upper-right corner of Google Maps. You can share Google Maps Earth Views just as you would share any other view in Google Maps. Likewise you can create placemarks while using the Earth View. Watch the video below to learn more about the new Earth View for Google Maps.

Applications for Education
The new Earth View in Google Maps could be a great resource for schools whose students use netbooks that cannot run Google Earth or do not run it well. Now, although they won't be able to create Google Earth layers, those students will be able to view locations in 3D as well as use 3D imagery in Google Maps tours.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
How to Embed a Map Into Blogs and Wikis
Google Maps Labs - Try the Newest Options

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buying a Netbook or Laptop on Black Friday?

There are many excellent deals to be had on netbooks and laptops during tomorrow's Black Friday sales. If you're not sure which deals are actually deals and which netbook or laptop is best for you or student, check out the following two articles from TechCrunch and CNET.

TechCrunch: Gift Guide 2009: Netbooks

CNET: Who makes the most reliable laptops?

For what it's worth, I haven't had any problems with and really enjoy myAcer Aspire One 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook which is now listed $50 less than it was six months ago.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Unveils Chrome OS - A Netbook OS

There has been a lot of announcements from Google this week, but the one that is getting the most buzz in the blog-o-sphere is Google Chrome OS. The Chrome operating system is designed to be completely cloud based with all applications running inside a web browser. All applications that you would typically install on your desktop will run in the browser. Google claims that this will significantly reduce computer start-up times. Perhaps more significantly, Google claims that having everything operate in the browser will significantly improve security. The improved security will be the result of the operating system's code being verified every time your computer is rebooted. To learn more about the Chrome OS security functions, watch the video at the end of this post.

Chrome OS is not ready for the market yet and won't be ready until next year. In the meantime Google has decided to open-source the project and release all of the code to the public. Anyone with an interest in the coding can learn more about it here.

The video below provides an overview of the general concepts of Chrome OS.

The video below provides an overview of the security concepts used in Chrome OS.

Applications for Education
If it works as intended, the Chrome OS seems like it will be perfect for netbooks that use a solid state drive. As an open source project the Chrome OS will be a cost effective alternative to using stripped-down versions of Windows products on your school's netbooks.

Update: If you'd like to try Chrome OS right now (in a very, very, very beta stage) TechCrunch has directions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Net(book) Effect on Professional Learning

As some readers know, my school recently deployed nearly 1300 ASUS Eee PC netbooks to our students. This is an exciting time at our school because the creation of a 1:1 environment is leading to some excellent conversations amongst colleagues about what we're doing in our classrooms.

Last Thursday at a workshop run by two excellent educators from South Portland, Maine I spent the day with some of my colleagues (all from different departments) talking about what we were doing in our classrooms and how we can integrate various web-based technologies into our instruction. The first part of the workshop was an introduction to basics of what teachers can do with blogs, wikis, and websites. After the introduction some of my colleagues were very focused on asking questions like, "do I want to make a blog, a website, or a wiki?" Rather than attempting to directly answer the question, I used a tip I got from Marco Torres and asked my colleagues what they were doing in their classes right now. Based on those conversations we were able to determine if a blog, wiki, or website would best help them meet their classroom objectives.

I truly believe that the best lessons are developed through the exchange of ideas with colleagues. The workshop my colleagues and I attended was a great excercise in sharing ideas and learning from each other. Since my colleagues and I received the official announcement that netbooks were going to be distributed to our students, the sharing of ideas between colleagues has been one of the better immediate gains of 1:1 computing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Acer is giving away a computer lab or a set of netbooks to three randomly selected schoosl that participates in its Seed program. The Seed program allows schools to evaluate an Acer netbook for free for 30 days. After 30 days you can return the computer or purchase it at a discounted price. One condition of participation in the program is participating in two conference calls with Acer sales staff. Read all of the details of the Seed program and the drawing for the free computer lab here. All applications for the Seed program must be received by August 30.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Should You Spend Your Computer Budget?

In the video below I share my thoughts on a CNET article comparing a $300 notebook to a $300 laptop. In the comments section of the article someone noted that it's not a good idea to buy the best computer you can. I've linked the article below the video. Please add your comments to the video or on the article itself.

Here is the original article.

Here are a couple of related items that may be of interest to you:
Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision
Make the Most of Your Netbook's Screen

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Make the Most of Your Netbook's Screen

As I've shared a few times, I'm very pleased with the netbook that I purchased last month. That said, there have been a few times while browsing the web that I wish my display was just a little bit bigger. Today, on Tekzilla they shared a tip for maximizing your viewing area in Firefox using an add-on. Check it out in the short video embedded below.

Applications for Education
If your school is considering getting netbooks for student use or it already has netbooks, display size is important for some applications. This Firefox add-on could expand your viewing area just enough to make a difference.

Here are some related links that may be of interest to you:
Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision
10 Things Teachers Should Know Before 1:1
Acer Netbook After Two Weeks

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Acer Netbook After Two Weeks

As many of you know, two weeks ago I purchased an Acer Aspire One netbook. I bought it just in time for NECC 2009. At that time I posted about my decision to buy a netbook rather than an inexpensive Toshiba notebook at roughly the same cost. After two weeks after my initial review of the netbook I can still confidently say that the netbook is worth every penny I spent.

When reading this evaluation of netbooks, bear in mind that I do 97% of my work online. Over the course of the two weeks since I purchased the Acer Aspire One I've only opened my old laptop four times. Of those four times, only once did I "have" to use my full size laptop. That instance was when I was using Google Earth. The ten inch screen on the Acer Aspire One is just a touch too small for accessing the full functionality of Google Earth.

The three cell battery (6 cell wasn't in stock when I was shopping) has consistently lasted for close to three hours when running just Firefox. When I run TweetDeck and Firefox simultaneously the battery life decreases to roughly two hours.

Overall, during the last two weeks using a netbook for all of my daily tasks like writing blog posts, watching video, and creating videos on Viddler has been a good experience.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook - Part II

As many of you know I purchased an Acer Aspire One netbook earlier this week. To read about my decision to purchase the Acer, please click here.

After 2.5 days of using the Acer Aspire One, I can safely say that it is an excellent machine despite a few drawbacks.

The good stuff. The size and weight of the machine continue to please me. I can use it anywhere and I hardly noticed the weight in my carry-on bag. The size makes it possible to comfortably type and view while resting the Acer on the airplane tray table (in fact that’s where I’m typing now). The screen clarity is outstanding. The sound is adequate. The webcam offers clarity as good as that on my MacBook. (Now I know that some people will comment with technical specs about the screen and webcam, but I’m going with the naked-eye test).

The drawbacks. The screen is just a little too small to view all elements of Google Earth. If you install the Google Earth browser plug-in it’s less of an issue. To get the most out of my Acer Aspire One netbook, I stripped all of the unnecessary software that came loaded on it. By doing this I was able to run Google Earth faster and increase the available memory overall. I haven’t yet stripped MicroSoft works from the machine, but I plan to very soon.

Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase of the Acer Aspire One. If you do 97% of your work online, as I do, for less than $300 you could probably make the Acer a full-time computer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

As some readers might already know from my Twitter postings, I bought an Acer netbook this evening. Judging by the replies on Twitter there is some interest in my decision process so I'll highlight some of the factors that influenced my decision.

I don't make very much money and therefore don't have very much money to spend so price was a key consideration for me. Netbooks met my criteria for being relatively inexpensive (although anytime I spend more than $50 it's a major purchase in my mind). After researching them on the web, asking for comments on Twitter, and emails with people I trust, I was 90% certain that I wanted an Acer. Three stores in my area Radio Shack, Staples, and Walmart carry the Acer so I set out this afternoon to test the Acer and find my best deal. (Notice the being thrifty pattern developing). After trying the Acer I was sure I wanted to purchase it. But, then I stopped into Best Buy. Best Buy was running a sale on the base model Toshiba Satellite. For $50 more than I had planned to spend I could have bought the Toshiba with a 15" screen and DVD drive. That was where my shopping trip got confusing.

At the end of the day I bought the Acer Aspire One. I have a computer (Macbook) when school is in session that is provided by the district/ state. But during the summer I'm relegated to my very old Gateway at home. I wanted the Netbook to serve as my on-the-go blogging tool and web surfing tool. The Acer Aspire One with the 10" display seemed to be perfect for that. The Toshiba Satellite on sale at Best Buy was a much bigger machine in screen size and weight. Approximately 97% of what I do with a computer is done in the cloud, not on the computer itself. Getting the bigger Toshiba and spending $50 more was not something I could justify when I considered my original intent for a small, light blogging tool.

If you're considering buying a netbook for your personal use or your child's use here are a few things to consider.
1. If you don't have any other computer to use, a netbook might not be what you want. The 10" screen is a little too small to see the entire field of some websites and programs.
2. If, like me, most of what you do is online then a netbook could be a good choice for you.
3. For some people the size of the keyboard is a consideration. This wasn't a consideration for me because I never learned to type properly and have a "speed hunt and peck" technique.
4. To get the most out of your netbook you may want to consider stripping away any unneccesary programs that come installed on your netbook.

I've had my Acer for only a few hours now and so far I am happy with it. I've already written two blog posts with it. I will update this post tomorrow evening after I've had a full day of working with it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Win a Free Computer Lab

I'm a little behind the curve in posting this, but I just learned today that Acer is giving away a computer lab or a set netbooks to three randomly selected schoosl that participates in its Seed program. The Seed program allows schools to evaluate an Acer netbook for free for 30 days. After 30 days you can return the computer or purchase it at a discounted price. One condition of participation in the program is participating in two conference calls with Acer sales staff. Read all of the details of the Seed program and the drawing for the free computer lab here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Free, but Relatively Cheap

I typically don't post stories or link to anything that is not 100% free for the end user. However, in this case I will make an exception.

The CNET Cheapskate posted a very good deal for a Linux - powered netbook from HP. The price is $299 marked down from the normal $499. If you're in the market for a cheap netbook, this might be the deal for you. You can find all of the details and a review of the netbook here.