a few more thoughts on writing with a chromebook

I’ve been writing blog posts since 2005, when I created my first official blog using BlogSpot. This was right before it was acquired by Google. I wrote on it until I started this blog around December 2013, and I’ve been writing here ever since.

And for the record, I had a personal website on GeoCities that I started in the late 1990s, using Macromedia’s HomeSite ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macromedia_HomeSite ) to directly edit HTML and nascent CSS. I know that things have evolved quite a bit since then, but I have to credit HomeSite with helping me build a foundation and understanding of HTML and related technologies. Unfortunately for me, Yahoo bought GeoCities and then slowly destroyed it. I had long since left for BlogSpot before it died.

So much for history.

Look around my site and in the past you’ll find me writing effusively about blog writing using an iPad Pro and Ulysses. That lasted a few posts, perhaps a dozen at the most, before I basically gave it up and went back to using the ‘classic’ web-based WordPress editor on that same iPad. Later I dropped away from using an iPad Pro for writing because I discovered the combination of cover and keyboard with an iPad weren’t that good to use long term.

As I came to (re)learn, any keyboard other than a standard PC keyboard is inefficient to use and, for me, will eventually drive me away from using it. I thus have my folding Microsoft portable Bluetooth keyboard, which sits in my bag and only comes out to check and charge it on occasion. I even wrote about using that with my iPhone.

But I like to write. Sure, I can use my notebook to do that, but the problem with a notebook is that it’s got too much on it already, like open source code editors, shells, and special applications. In other words lots of distractions.

A Chromebook doesn’t. It is Chrome running on top of a stripped down Linux distribution created by Google. Sure, if I want to, I can actually start up a small VM on the Chromebook itself and drop into a shell running Debian 10:

But for the most part I enjoy working on an integrated system with a real keyboard while living in the Chrome browser. That’s pretty much what I do already with Chrome on all my other systems, except perhaps when I fire up Vivaldi, which is pretty much the only other browser I personally want to use, and that’s due to some of its unique features, which I’ve also already written about.

This Chromebook I’m using is the next version of the Chromebook I purchased for my part-time project, a Lenovo Flex 5 13ILT6. This Chromebook runs on an Intel quad-core eleventh-generation i3 running at around 3GHz. It also comes with 8GiB of memory and a 128GiB SSD. The whole package makes for a very smooth experience all around, far smoother and faster than any tablet, including an Apple iPad. It’s very thin and lightweight and can run for days without having to even see a charger.

One last reason for this particular Chromebook: Google will update it up to June of 2029, or for the next eight years. And if, by some chance, I don’t want Chrome OS on here anymore, then I’ll install either Debian or Ubuntu, and get on with it. Since it already comes with Linux/Debian preinstalled, I don’t see moving to a “purer” Linux a problem.

Overall I’m finding my way back to writing, due in no small part to having a computer that I would argue is purpose-built for writers and writing. Ulysses tried to achieve that stripped down creative writing environment, but on an iPad, and I don’t think they’ve quite succeeded, at least for me. I’ve made my piece with the newish WordPress web editor, which clears the way for me to use with any Chromebook, especially this one.

The price for this Chromebook was US$450 at my local Orlando Florida Costco, which was $50 more than the prior generation. I know that’s expensive, but it’s a damn sight less expensive than an Apple iPad Pro 12″, which requires the purchase of a keyboard to use it for efficient typing and writing. I’m more than happy with this setup. Now, if I can just get more disciplined (again) about writing. Unfortunately you can’t buy extra discipline at your local Costco.

my apple attitude today

It’s been a while since I purchased anything from Apple. With the exception of my 16″ 2019 MacBook Pro, which was purchased in 2020 to support my consulting work, I’ve not purchased anything from Apple since I purchased my iPhone 11 Pro Max in September 2019. That was the last new item. I’ve got an Apple Watch Series 3 I picked up heavily (really heavily) discounted in 2017. Apple is currently selling Series 6. I’ve got a couple of iPad Pros (9 and 12 inchers) that were purchased well past their release dates because they were on sale and because they still had the buttons at the bottom and 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Nothing spectacular, but even so, and even with heavy discounts, still expensive relative to other vendors. All except the Apple Watch; the Android Watch equivalents are all pretty much garbage, with Google essentially abandoning Wear OS.

My biggest complaint continues to be the sloppy software that runs on everything. Take iOS for example. I still have to reboot my iPhone because it’s the only way to get Shortcuts to work when Shortcuts decides to not work. It’s the only way from time to time to get Siri to make hands-free calls when attached to my car and using Apple Car Play. I have issues with it recognizing my aging AirPods from time to time, which is fixed either by repeating a pairing with my iPhone, or else, in one case, you guessed it, rebooting my iPhone.

But damn, when I try to consider using Windows 10 or Linux desktop or Android, they’re as bad (Windows) if not worse (Linux and Android) than Apple equivalents. I’ll probably stay with Apple and its various operating systems not because they’re better, but because the alternatives are so much more worse.

And while you’re here, listen to Linus tell you why Linux desktop sucks. It’s enlightening.