Saturday, May 21, 2011


Inside the box
Friday afternoon I received a strange package via UPS.  The return address had no name.  I opened the box and inside was another box.  This one had a strange diagram of a mouse-powered rocket engine.

There was also a sheet of stickers inside the first box.  This sheet was my first real clue to what was waiting inside the second box.

I opened the box and inside was my chromebook!  Several months ago I had signed up for the pilot program and had forgotten about it.  I opened the rocket diagram box and inside was the chromebook, if you search the web you can find several pictures and videos out there, so I won't post them here.  What I will give you are my experiences thus far.

In order to log in, you need to have access to a wifi network.  This is because you use your google login credentials on the chromebook.  Setting up the wifi was straight-forward and not a problem.  The Verizon 3g, however, was a different story.  More on this later.

Once logged in, you basically have a specialized chrome browser.  I tested a few websites and they all loaded as you would expect.  The terminal was a nice addition, although you only have a handful of commands at your disposal.

Google talk worked well, and I tried the video chat.  The quality was ok, the camera blurs motion a bit more than on my macbook pro.

I tried a couple of videos on YouTube and it played them well.  After that, I tried Hulu, while the video did play, there was a noticeable jerkiness.  I did try Netflix, but it is currently not available on the chromebook:


The laptop has no marks on it whatsoever, it is basically a rubberized black matte.  The keyboard is a Mac-like 'chiclet'-style keyboard, which makes it very nice for typing.  The touchpad supports some multitouch (two-finger scroll and right click).  It is also like the Mac trackpad, but is more 'sticky' and thus a bit harder to use.

So the 3g...I have not had much time with it.  Initially, when I tried to set it up, the activation failed.  After searching the web, I found some people saying that you could grab the link from the modem status and use that to register, after that, activation would work.  I tried that, but no dice.  The next day I called Verizon and was on the phone with tech-support for a couple of hours.  He was trying to get the system to do a manual activation, but I kept getting a dbus error.  Finally, he said I would have to contact a 'google ninja' and open a ticket there.  I did that, and in the mean-time I thought  I would try some things out.  I had copied down the mdn, min, and system_id that Verizon tech-support gave me earlier and went about trying different combinations of booting with wifi/3g enabled/disabled.

No luck. Then I tried manual activation again---same dbus error. Now, I tried manual activation, but I did not supply any of the parameters on the command line.  This time it said activation failed, but did not give me the dbus error.  I checked the modem status, and saw that it had the min and mdn number were there now (previously they had said 'partial').  I went back to the chrome screen, it still had the 'Activate 3g' option. I went back to the terminal, and typed 'modem connect'.  Success!  3g connected and was working.  I rebooted, just to make sure. I still have the "activate" option in my network settings, but 3g appears to be working.

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