Google Chrome, ChromeBooks and ChromeOS

By | July 15, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • Google Chrome, ChromeBooks and ChromeOS – what a difference two letters make
  • My favourite printer ever (I know a “favourite printer” sounds daft – but wait until you see it)
  • Laura’s tip from next door – only if you have Windows 7.

Toys and cake! Wednesday was Alastair’s birthday so I’m still all… I mean he’s still all excited about playing with his new toys. (For anyone who’s interested, there are a few birthday photos at – and I’ll shortly be putting some video we took up there, too.)

Anyway, this time I’ve got news about laptops, a Windows 7 trick and chocolate from Exeter for you. Let’s start with the laptops and save the chocolate ’til later…

What’s a ChromeBook… and should you have one?
You just might have heard about “Chromebook” computers in the news. And it might seem a bit confusing – they seem to be a laptop – but you might already have Chrome on your PC. It’s an alternative to Internet Explorer and I quite like it – I tend to use it more than Internet Explorer as it seems a little quicker and less likely to crash.

But that’s not what a ChromeBook is – at least, not quite.

A ChromeBook is a laptop specifically designed NOT to run Windows. Instead it runs an “operating system”, created by Google, that they’ve called ChromeOS, which is not quite the same thing as Chrome, also created by Google

ChromeOS looks a bit like Chrome, but here’s the difference:

Chrome itself is a program you run on a PC that runs Windows. It does the same job as Internet Explorer (but in my view ever so slightly better – but only slightly)

ChromeOS is an “operating system” – you can use it instead of having Windows at all.

And a ChromeBook is simply a laptop that uses ChromeOS instead of Windows.

The advantage is that it’s much quicker to start up – 7 seconds is the number I’ve heard. It’s also supposed to be more secure against viruses and not to crash and have problems as often.

So should everyone switch? I don’t recommend it for most people. Here’s why:

ChromeOS works by you doing everything on the internet. So you don’t have (say) a photo editing program on your laptop, you use one that’s on the internet. That’s fine normally, but what if you’re having trouble connecting to the internet? Well, then you can’t edit your photos… or use your PC for anything else at all.

And since all your information is going down the internet every time you do anything, if you use your PC for things that involved lots of information (editing home videos is the classic example), it’s going to run pretty slowly.

So for now, at least, I’d recommend sticking to Windows.

It is a bit confusing – if only Google hadn’t used almost the same name I think it would be clearer. But Chrome is the program like Internet Explorer and ChromeOS is an alternative to Windows itself. And ChromeBook is a laptop that uses ChromeOS instead of Windows.

THIS is the printer I’d like…
I mentioned about “3d” printers a while ago (/NL010511.htm). But this one (developed by Exeter University) takes the biscuit… or rather takes the chocolate – quite literally.

It’s a printer that actually prints objects out of chocolate. The idea is you’ll be able to buy chocolates in whatever shape you want. Whether it’s just taking an existing shape and adding a name to the front or designing a completely unique shape, it’ll be able to make chocolates in whatever shape you want.

For example you might be able to draw a caricature of someone and have it made in chocolate as a birthday present!

There’s more detail and some photos here:

It’s not the first time I’ve heard of computers and food being linked, though – this was my 8th birthday cake: /computercake.htm

Tip from next door – Laura
It’s sometimes handy to have 2 different webpages open side by side, for example it’s useful if you’re comparing the price of something on 2 different websites. If you’re using Windows XP or Windows Vista, the only way to resize each screen is to click and drag the bottom left or right corner of the screen so it only fills half the screen, then do the same with the other one so they’re open side by side. A bit of a fuss really…but when Windows 7 came along they made a handy shortcut…here’s how to do it if you’re using Windows 7.

    1. First open up a couple of webpages in separate windows.
    2. Look for the Windows key on your keyboard, it’ll look like the round Windows icon, with 4 little wavy squares (usually in the bottom left hand corner of your keyboard.)
    3. Now hold down the Windows key and press either the left or right arrow key, depending which side of the screen you want to move the webpage to.
    4. Now do the same with the 2nd window you have open, but this time move it to the opposite side, so if you moved the first window over to the right hand side, move this one over to the left by holding down the Windows key and pressing the left arrow key.
    5. Now you should have 2 screens sat side by side.
    6. To reverse this hold down the Windows key and press the up arrow button to maximise your screen back to full size.

You can also do this with word documents or any other type of file you may find useful to have side by side – but remember, it only works in Windows 7.That’s all for now – I’m going to go and play with Alastair’s new toys… I mean, er, I’ll go and make sure he’s having fun with them. Honest.

Tim Wakeling

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