Hardware

The Myths About Chromebooks

Yes, I have written often about Chromebooks but my latest article has generated a lot of comments. Permit me at least one more article to answer some frequently-asked-questions…

lenovo-thinkpad-13

There are lots of myths concerning the $150-to-$300 Chromebooks. You will hear people say (or write online) “Chromebooks are just a browser” or “Chromebooks don’t work offline” or “Chromebooks don’t perform many tasks” or “Chromebooks aren’t secure” or similar nonsense. Lenovo has a video that dispels those myths.

Manufacturer Refurbished Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA

c100pI have written often about Chromebooks. They are excellent low-cost laptop computers that do most of the tasks that most computer users want, although they cannot match the power of the laptops that cost five or ten times as much. You can see my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at: https://goo.gl/9yDkl2.

Now StackSocial has the Asus Flip C100PA Chromebook on sale for $199.99. That price includes shipping. I have an Asus Flip C100PA and love it. The 2-pound laptop with 9-hours battery life has become my primary traveling laptop. However, I had to pay more than today’s price of $199.99 when I purchased it more than a year ago.

Barnes & Noble $49.99 7″ Nook Tablet

This should be a great gift to gift under the Christmas tree: Barnes & Noble has announced that its new Nook Tablet 7″ will be available on December 9, 2016 and will sell for $49.99. This 7-inch tablet computer should be able to run any Android genealogy app. (See https://goo.gl/gD281U for a list of all the available genealogy apps for Android devices.)

barnes-nobles-new-nook-tablet-7

The tablet is a plain-vanilla Android Marshmallow device that will come pre-loaded with Android Nook software and the usual suite of Google Play apps, including the Google Play Store. Unlike its low-cost competitor, the $50 Amazon Fire, the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet runs standard, plain-vanilla Android, with Google’s own Play Store built right in.

An Acer Chromebook for $109.99

acer-cb3-531-c4a5

UPDATE: The sale has ended.

I have written often about Chromebooks. (See https://goo.gl/9yDkl2 for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.) I recently used my Chromebook daily on a trip to New Zealand and to Singapore to write articles for this newsletter, send and receive email messages, surf the Web, and I might admit to playing a few computer games as well. I find I am using my Chromebook more and more these days and my “big” laptop less and less. While the Chromebook isn’t as powerful as my more expensive laptop, I prefer its convenience. It boots up in seconds, never gets viruses, and everything is fully backed up in the cloud within seconds after I create or save something new.

Chromebook prices are getting insane. Now Groupon is selling a refurbished Acer Chromebook 15.6” Laptop for only $109.99 at https://goo.gl/SziahF.

Beware the Flash Drive Scam

Did you see an advertisement for a flash drive with 1 terabyte of memory or some other large amount of storage selling for about $10? If so, don’t fall for the scam. It isn’t what it claims it is.

Hackers in China are listing flash drives for sale on eBay and elsewhere claiming the drives contain huge amounts of storage, 500 gigabytes, one terabyte, or even more. Prices are unbelievably low, typically $10 or so. There is but one problem: it is fake.

A Chromebook that will Soon Run Android Apps for $159

UPDATE: The sale on this Chromebook appears to have ended and it now has reverted to the normal price of  $205.99.

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptops that perform all the more common tasks that most computer users want. In fact, I just spent about two hours using my Chromebook to write an article for this newsletter. You can find my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at http://goo.gl/1qwGzO.

ASUS C201 Chromebook

Now Amazon is selling one of the more popular Chromebooks, the the 11.6-inch ASUS C201 Chromebook, for just $159, a savings of $40. Best of all, the ASUS C201 Chromebook features 4 gigabytes of RAM memory, not 2 gigabytes as found in most other low-cost Chromebooks. The extra memory will make a significant difference when running Android apps when Google releases the update later this year. Strangely, this pricing is only available on the blue model, though you can get the others at a lesser discount as well.

Chromebooks are Built to Run Anything and Everything on the Web

I have written often about Chromebooks. (See https://goo.gl/AAaOZr for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.) One of the most common questions asked by readers after those articles is, “Will a Chromebook run my favorite genealogy program?” In most cases, the answer is “No.”

Chromebooks will run a lot of programs when offline (see http://goo.gl/8pr4dd for Everything You Can Do Offline With a Chromebook by David Nield). However, all Chromebooks are really intended for use when connected to the Internet. A Chromebook will run applications hosted on web sites, including MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, Werelate.org, WikiTree.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building, WebTrees, as well as non-genealogy apps such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, thousands of online games, and most email services.

Jerry Hildenbrand has published Should You Buy a Chromebook at http://www.androidcentral.com/should-you-buy-chromebook. He writes:

A Windows Laptop for $149.99

I have written a number of times about low-cost Windows and Chromebook laptops. (To find my earilier articles, go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+%22cheap+laptop%22+OR+chromebook&t=hb&ia=web.) As a follow-up article, I will point out a bargain being offered today by BestBuy in the US: a 2.2 pound Lenovo Ideapad 100s 11.6-inch laptop with Windows 10 Home for $149.99 plus your local state’s sales tax, if any. My local BestBuy doesn’t have them in stock but can order one and deliver it within a few days with free shipping. Another option is to order it yourself online, bypassing the local store entirely.

Lenovo Ideapad 100s$149.99 is an attractive price for a laptop but Lenovo sells them for only ten dollars more: $159.99. (See http://goo.gl/4Zn4Jj.)

To be sure, the Lenovo Ideapad 100s will never be described as a powerhouse. You probably won’t want to use it as your only computer, unless perhaps you are under the age of 15. However, as a second computer that will only be used for occasional trips outside the home, such as to a local genealogy library or archive, it should be more than “good enough.”

A $199 Windows 10 2-in-1 Computer

UPDATE: The below article was written when the Acer Switch One 10 laptop was first announced, before it was available for sale from merchants. The laptop is now available from a number of vendors. Two newsletter readers have reported buying an Acer Switch One 10 laptop from Amazon at http://goo.gl/YDSOcG.

I have written a number of times about Chromebook laptops. (See https://goo.gl/EjXA0n for my past Chromebook articles.) I love my Chromebook and use it often. I am enthused about Chromebook systems because they are low-priced and perform most of the functions that computer owners desire— checking email, surfing the web, playing games, spending time on Facebook, and, oh yes, reading the latest news in a certain genealogy newsletter. However, a new laptop from Acer may cause me to change my mind about low-cost laptops.

Switch_V10_1

Acer’s Switch One 10 is a Windows 10 laptop that will go on sale next month. It will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249, but most discount retailers are expected to sell it for $199, plus or minus a bit. That’s a great price for a Windows 10 computer that will run any modern Windows genealogy program, including Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Heredis, and others.

You Shouldn’t Spend More than $300 on a Computer

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers designed primarily for use with the cloud. (See https://goo.gl/AAaOZr for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.)

Asus Flip-1Last year I purchased an ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2 in 1 Touchscreen Chromebook and it has become my primary traveling computer. I paid more for it when it was new but I see the price for it has dropped to $249.99 on Amazon and that includes 100 gigabytes of FREE storage on Google Drive and UNLIMITED music from Google Play Music. (See https://goo.gl/0dT4uG for the details.)

This 2-pound computer includes a “flip screen” so that it can be used either as a laptop or as a tablet. It boots up almost instantly, never gets a virus, and the battery lasts 8 to 10 hours on a single charge.

Another Reason Why a Genealogist Might Want to Buy a Chromebook

Acer_ChromebookI have written a number of times (see https://goo.gl/TsSWQ5 to find my earlier articles) about Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers that boot up quickly, are simple to use, never get viruses, and perform the computer tasks that many computer owners want.

Chromebooks also have a long-life battery life. A Chromebook does not slow down over time and there are no long boot times — just flip it open and get busy doing anything other than waiting.

Because Chromebooks safely and securely store almost all data in the cloud, nothing is lost if you break or lose a Chromebook. It’s all in the cloud, no matter what. As a result, a thief can steal your Chromebook but will not gain access to any of your personal information or documents. And because the technical requirements for running Chrome apps are so low, you still get reasonable performance, even from a sub-$200 laptop.

One of the weaknesses of Chromebooks has been the lack of good genealogy apps. That is now changing.

QromaScan version 1.6 is Now Available

I wrote about the QromaScan photo scanner several times in recent months. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+qromascan for my articles. Now the producing company has released a major new update.

The following announcement was written by Tony Knight of QromaScan:

I am very happy to let you know that we have just released QromaScan version 1.6 at the iOS App Store. This is our biggest release to date, and I hope you enjoy the new features. They include:

How to Improve Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner: Add a Mobi Wireless Card

flip-pal-scannerThe Flip-Pal mobile scanner is one of the favorite tools of genealogists. This battery-powered scanner will make digital images of photos, documents, medals, personal letters, and much more. I use mine when visiting relatives who have significant collections of old family photographs. I suspect most of these relatives would not be receptive to my borrowing the photos for a few days or weeks to have copies made. However, every relative I have asked so far has allowed me to make digital copies with a Flip-Pal scanner while they watched. Of course, I also give them a thumb drive containing a digital copy of everything I digitize before I leave.

The Flip-Pal mobile scanner will scan any photograph or document up to 4-by-6 inches. For larger items, it is possible to scan each section of the item and then use the included software to later “stitch” the segments together into a single larger image. The process works well although is a bit time-consuming. “Stitching” is a great solution for a few scans, but I wouldn’t want to “stitch” together several hundred of them!

Windows and Macintosh software is included with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. All data is stored on a SecureDigital (SDHC) card. That means that no cables or special drivers are needed. In fact, it isn’t even necessary to have a computer when scanning items. After scanning, you simply remove the SDHC card from the scanner and plug it into your computer or into one of the many inexpensive SD adapters that plug into an available USB connector on your computer.

96 Terabytes in a Personal Computer

Less than a month ago, I wrote about my recent purchase of an external 6 terabyte hard drive. In that article, I wrote, “I’ll never fill this one up!”

That hard drive is now spinning 24 hours a day on one of my Macintosh systems. A couple of weeks later I purchased a similar hard drive only with 8 terabytes of space. That second hard drive is now making backups and storing thousands of photos, videos, and MP3 music files on another Mac. But  I purchased these drives too early. (sigh)

LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3

LaCie has just announced a new hard drive that is available with several different storage capacities. If you have the funds, you can purchase drives with up to 96 terabytes of storage space! The drives will work on any Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer that has a Thunderbolt connector. (All newer Macintosh computers include a high-speed Thunderbolt connection but most Windows and Linux systems do not.)

Six Terabytes in a Personal Computer

In the 20+ years I have been writing this newsletter, I have repeated one statement over and over: “the price of hardware keeps dropping,” and that has never been more true than today. This morning I added a six-terabyte drive to one of my computers. You can do the same within a minute or two and at a reasonable price.

I made a mistake. I stopped at the local Best Buy store. For me, that is like being a child in a candy store. I walked in with the intention of buying a 4-terabyte Western Digital external hard drive that was on sale. I quickly found the drive that I had in mind but then noticed the external disk drive right beside it on the shelf: a Western Digital SIX-TERABYTE external hard drive. Oh oh, I had to have it.

WD_6tb_drive

Of course, justifying the purchase was easy. The price for the six-terabyte drive was cheaper than the 4 terabyte device when I calculated the price per terabyte. I pulled out a credit card and soon walked out of the store with the larger capacity drive, feeling only a little bit guilty.

QromaScan version 1.5

QromaScan is a low-priced “scanner” designed to digitize boxes of old photos you’ve got gathering dust in the attic. One caveat: it only works with an iPhone.

The QromaScan Lightbox and the matching QromaScan iOS app work together to form a photo scanner that works by voice control. Tell it the date, place and people that are in your photo, and QromaScan tags your photos as it captures the highest quality image. You will end up with searchable, high quality images that will organize themselves whenever you import them into your photo organization software. When you are done, it folds right back up like a book in a second.

Best of all, genealogists can even import a GEDCOM file to provide additional information about the people shown in the images. Not bad for a $50 device!

I have a QromaScan and wrote about it at http://goo.gl/vpwH96 and at http://goo.gl/E2eiEp. Now I notice an update is available for this device.

Version 1.5 adds bug fixes, improvements, and one or two really great new features. Among them are:

Remember When?

This photo shows Martin Cooper, inventor of the first handheld portable cell phone, and his invention. Cooper created this device in 1973 and the world has changed a lot since then.

Martin-Cooper-first-cell-phone-ever-invented

Cooper’s first phone call on the new device was to his competitor, to let them know that Cooper had beaten them in the race to create the world’s first handheld portable cell phone. Cooper reports there was silence on the other end of the line when he told them about the new device he was using.

Store All Your Data in Your Pocket – Forever

Genealogists are obsessed with the longevity of stored data – and for good reasons. We depend upon old records, and most of us wish to save today’s records for several more centuries. That includes the genealogy records we store in our computers. Floppy disks don’t last all that long, CD-ROM disks only last a little bit longer, and even paper produced today will be unreadable within 50 to 100 years. Then there is the problem of “disappearing” ink used in today’s inkjet printers and the toner used in laser printers that starts to fade within a very few years.

Several solutions have been created but have gained little acceptance amongst genealogists. M-Disks should last for 1,000 years (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-DISC for details) while sapphire disks should be able to store terabytes of information for several million years. (See my earlier article at http://goo.gl/ZAA0BD for information about sapphire disks.) The problem is that the technology is great, but few people have ever purchased these devices.

Now researchers have found a way to store the entirety of the world’s history on tiny slivers of quartz, not much larger than a quarter. Forever. Yes, forever. Well, at least for 14 billion years, and that is close enough to forever to meet my needs. The technology to do this is available here and now. The question is: “Will anyone buy it?”

Get an Acer Chromebook 11 CB3 for $90

Acer_Chromebook_11_CB3UPDATE: This apparently was a very popular offer. It apparently sold out within a few hours. There are none left.


I have written a number of times about Chromebook laptops. (See https://goo.gl/EjXA0n for my past Chromebook articles.) I love mine and use it often. Chromebooks are not for everyone but they have become very popular, amongst the hottest-selling laptops on Amazon and from other retailers. As of the time I write these words, a Chromebook is the third most popular laptop sold by Amazon. (See http://goo.gl/y7TWud for the sales figures.)

Writing in the CheapSkate Blog, Rick Broida now describes the Acer Chromebook 11 CB3 for $90, plus $5 for shipping. In my opinion, that is a GREAT deal, especially as the normal retail price of this Chromebook  at http://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/NX.MQNAA.001 is $199.

A Windows 10 Laptop for $150

I have often written, “the price of hardware keeps dropping,” and that has never been more true than today. Lenovo, a well-respected manufacturer of laptop and other computers, has just announced a Windows laptop with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $199. Of course, retailers are always able to discount retail prices, and BestBuy has done just that. The Lenovo IdeaPad 100S is available from BestBuy for only $149.99. The BestBuy web site lists that laptop as “on sale” but does not list a sale ending date.

Lenovo IdeaPad 100S

This is not a Chromebook or some stripped-down tablet computer. It is not a refurbished computer. Instead, it is a full-sized Windows 10 laptop, capable of running any Windows genealogy program available today and probably most other Windows program as well. It is available today from BestBuy.