Little buddy of the week: TechMan recently became the proud owner of a Samsung Chromebook.
In size it is a netbook, but it operates on an entirely different philosophy. The Chromebook does everything in Google's Chrome browser with even apps running in the browser.
It is tied into Google's cadre of online tools. For word processing, Google Docs; for storage, Google Drive; for mail, Gmail. But there is a reward -- the Chromebook costs just $250.
The screen is very viewable, and the keyboard is fairly large and comfortable. The machine comes equipped with an HDMI out port, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and slots for a memory card and a slot for a card to allow it to use 3G or 4G data plans.
Battery life seems good and response is snappy, but not as fast as a regular laptop. It has a front-facing camera, a microphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a trackpad for controlling the cursor.
On the downside, to keep the keyboard large enough, some keys have been omitted. Oddly, there is no delete key. The function keys have been replaced by control keys for volume, brightness, back and forward, full screen, and refresh. There are no number pad or home or page up and down keys.
I have had some trouble getting the HDMI out to work on my TV. I can get the image onto the TV but cannot control its size. Messages I'm getting indicate it may be a result of the TV not being compatible, something that might be fixed with firmware or browser updates.
All in all, the Chromebook is a handy little companion and it boots up so fast as to be almost instant-on.
Apple footnotes of the week: We reported in this space several weeks ago that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ended his tax hearing questioning of Apple CEO Tim Cook with a complaint that he dislikes having to manually update the apps on his phone. In announcing the new version of iOS due in the fall, Apple said it would have app updating in the background. Some are calling it the McCain Feature.
Apple also announced that when iOS7 arrives on mobile devices this fall, Microsoft's Bing replaces Google as the default search engine for Siri. Will you be able to tell Siri to "bing" something?
Injustice of the week: Deric Lostutter, 26, who helped post a video on the rape of a teenage girl by members of Steubenville High School football team on the Ohio team's website outing the assailants, is facing up to five times more jail time than the rapists.
"If convicted of hacking-related crimes, Mr. Lostutter could face up to 10 years behind bars -- far more than the one- and two-year sentences doled out to the Steubenville rapists," reports the nonprofit magazine Mother Jones.
Website of the week: If you are interested in security issues, wired.com/threat level gives good coverage and insight.
Geek word of the week: Grok -- Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the 1961 science fiction novel "Stranger in a Strange Land." It means "to know intuitively."
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