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Kain Young

How to FTP from Chromebook

By How-To

Why would you need to FTP from your Chromebook? What are the benefits of Chromebook FTP? For that matter, what is FTP? Let’s start there. (Or go to the next heading for the tutorial.)

FTP Background

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and along with its partner, SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), is a common language computers share. It allows them to send information back and forth. Just as you can’t communicate with a stranger unless you share a common language, computers attempting to “talk” must share a common vocabulary (or “protocol”) to do so.

That’s where FTP and SFTP come in. As the names indicate, the biggest difference between FTP and SFTP has to do with the security of the files in transit. SFTP was developed in the 90s as IT architects sought a more secure method of utilizing FTP principles for transmitting data. This is an essential part of the framework for the entire internet, so it’s sort of a big deal.

Many website designers use FTP to sync up their work on their local computer with the web server.

People who are comfortable on Linux tend to use SSH, but that’s a story for another day.

Common uses of FTP / SFTP include:

  • Transferring large files that aren’t permitted by many email services.
  • Syncing files to your web server or hosting provider.
  • Transferring folders all at once, rather than as individual files.
  • Efficient transfer of large volumes of data from one computer to another (such as music or games).

Chrome FTP Tutorial

To follow this tutorial, you’ll need the following:

  • A Chromebook (obviously)
  • An FTP (or SFTP) server. If you have a hosting provider that allows FTP syncing of your files, you can use that. Find the IP address and your username and password in your hosting company’s control panel. For today, I chose hostedftp.com, which offers a free 21-day trial.
  • An FTP (or SFTP) client on your machine. For today, I chose SFTPClientV2 from the Chrome Web store, which offers 120 free minutes of file transfer to get you started. SFTP File System is a good alternative.

PHASE ONE: Establish a Connection with an FTP Server

We’re going to go through the browser first, since you’re probably most familiar with that. (We could upload our trial file directly from the FTP client, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.)

Go to hostedftp.com and set up a trial personal account. It is free for 21 days, and they won’t ask for a credit card up front.

After your trial account is set up at hostedftp.com, you’ll want to upload a file through the browser. This is the file you’ll later download via FTP during our trial run. That part is simple. Just click the giant “Click here to send files” in the middle of the screen:

Chrome FTP

I chose an image file. It’s a previous version of a logo from my website, and I named the folder “Babalu” simply because it struck my fancy:

Hosted FTP

PHASE TWO: Set Up Your FTP Client on the Computer

  • First, from the Chrome Web Store, download sFTP Client v2. It is free, and offers 120 minutes of free file transfer time up front.
  • It will look like this:

sftp client, chromebook ftp

  • Next, see up top, where it says “Connect”? That’s where you’ll put in the credentials you set up at hostedftp.com. This username and password is what your local computer and the file server in the cloud will use to shake hands, introduce, and agree to swap files and folders back and forth.
  • You’ll need to make sure you have the host FTP address correct. If you log in to your hostedftp.com files page, you’ll see it in the browser bar. For me, it’s us2.hostedftp.com. That is what I type in the field for “Host / IP Address.” (And note that I could also use simply the IP address, if I happened to know that.)
  • You don’t need to worry about port number. That field can be left blank, as FTP typically uses port 21. Because FTP is a standard, your computer already knows this, unless you’re making changes. But if you’re that far ahead, you don’t need this tutorial anyway.

PHASE THREE: Go Get Your File

  • Once I input my credentials and the computer connects with the server, I get this screen:

sftp client tutorial

  • On the left you have the “Local Folder,” which is the folder I’ve chosen to receive and send from on my machine. On the right you see “Remote,” which is the folder we created at the FTP server. You see my “Babalu” folder sitting right there? Our trial file is right there, waiting for us.

FTP Files

  • Now that I’ve clicked “Babalu,” you can see the file icon and “new…log…” on the right. And as you can see, when I clicked there, it downloaded to my Local Folder on the left side.
  • Note that it works both ways: if I select something from my Local Folder on the left side, I can send it via upload to my FTP server on the right side. Try it, and you’ll see.
  • Remember, you’re using a cloud-based service, so by definition anything you send isn’t staying on your device. (To keep all your data in your hands, you’d need to configure a computer you own as a personal FTP server, which is a complex topic for another day.)

You Know How to Use Chromebook FTP!

If all you’re after is a simple way to access large files from anywhere, sending them from Chrome using FTP would accomplish that goal. If you needed to make those files available to others, you could add contacts under the “Contacts” tab at hostedftp.com, and anyone with appropriate credentials could access those same files.

Did you enjoy the tutorial? I hope so. I find FTP to be a great way to work around the attachment size limits of my email service (particularly for large music files).

Be sure to ask any questions in the comments. Take the opportunity to tell us about an alternative FTP server or client. There are multiple options for each, so be sure to chime in and tell the audience which you use and why.

Chromebooks for education changed everything

Chromebooks for Education Changed Everything

By In the Classroom, Making the Switch

In 2011, Google (being Google) disrupted the entire laptop and tablet marketplace with the debut of the first Chromebooks. The new devices operated on the same simple premise as all other Google products: things should be dead simple for the average consumer to use. It didn’t take long for the machines to find their way into the classroom once teachers realized they could leverage the low cost of Chromebooks for education.

Not every classroom has them yet, but Chromebooks are gaining popularity for use in the home to do homework. College students love them, too. Let’s look at why.

Why Chromebooks Are So Popular

Five years after their creation, the Chromebook experiment is officially a success. Chromebooks for education now account for more than half of all classroom devices. More than seven million devices were sold last year.

This trend is primarily driven by four factors. First they are tremendously affordable, with the average Chromebook costing less than $230.

Second, their design is simple, so anyone familiar with Google products can jump right in with no learning curve.

Third, they are super portable; not just the device itself, but the data. If a Chromebook dies, you just retrieve everything quickly and painlessly from the cloud.

And finally, they are easy to manage. Teachers and school tech officers can:

  • limit and monitor usage,
  • push apps to hundreds of devices with a single button, and
  • set up multiple user groups with varying levels of permissions.

Chromebooks for education

From a parental perspective, Chromebooks make it easier to help students out at home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Windows person or an Apple person – everybody who’s conscious in America has at least a passing familiarity with the Google ecosystem. That knowledge bridges the tech gap between you and your child when they ask for help.

 

What to look for in a Chromebook for a student

Want to know how to pick the best Chromebook for school? Whether you’re a school IT worker responsible for hundreds of devices or a parent looking for a single Chromebook for your child to use at school, there are a few simple principles to remember as your shop.

Price: The cheapest Chromebooks on the market start as low as $149; on the upper end, you can spend well over $500 if you choose. Obviously, each price point comes with its own set of technical parameters; most purchases in the education space (IT managers and parents) spend under $300 per single device.

Ruggedness and Spill Protection: Just because you can easily replace a Chromebook doesn’t mean you necessarily want to. More expensive devices are obviously hardier pieces of equipment, with increasingly rugged casings, keyboards, and touchpads.

App Store Compatibility: A revolutionary announcement in the world of Chromebooks for education came just this month, as Google announced it would bring the Android App Store to devices running the Chrome OS. The first slate will include over forty different Chromebooks, with more to follow. This exponentially increases the number of apps available for each device, making Chromebook devotees even happier.

Weight: Some devices weigh as little as two pounds or less; the largest we reviewed was the Dell 3120, which came in at 2.75 pounds, nearly a full pound heavier than the closest competitor. This may be a particular concern for younger children, since you may want to minimize the amount of gear they have to haul around in their backpack each day.

battery

Battery Life: It doesn’t matter how portable the device is if you’re constantly hunting an open plug to charge it; Chromebooks generally run off a single Li-ion battery, and have excellent battery life, but there’s still a wide spread from 8 hours at the bottom to more than 14 hours for top-shelf devices.

Storage: This may not be a concern for most users, as the entire Chromebooks concept is built around the notion that everything will be saved to your Google account in the cloud; that’s what makes Chromebooks so portable. However, you may still want to store some documents on the actual computer, and of course you’ll need storage space for any apps you plan to install on the device.  Chromebooks come with storage ranging from 16-32 GB (not counting the possibility of external storage), so make sure you take that into consideration.

Screen Size: Chromebooks released in the past two years have screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches. The smaller devices will serve most student well; however, students engaged in more visual pursuits, such as art or graphic design, may need the larger screens to adequately complete tasks.

Why Chromebooks Work So Well With Students

We’ve already covered some of that above, but there are a few more reasons. With a Chromebook, it is literally impossible for a student to lose an assignment. Even if they leave their computer at home, they can log in to their account from any other Chromebook and retrieve it within five minutes.

As a parent, you can feel secure about the time your child spends with the Chromebook because it has parental controls built in. There are also third party parental control apps that work on it.

And, as we mentioned above, they are so much more affordable. For the cost of an iPad, you can buy a Chromebook, accidentally destroy that Chromebook, and buy a completely new Chromebook. (This method is obviously not recommended – I’m just pointing out the drastic difference in price.)

chromebooks for kids

Kids forget things constantly, and Chromebooks are easy to borrow. A student who needs to complete an assignment on another computer simply logs into their Google account. Whatever work they complete on the new computer will be waiting on them when they get back to their machine. That means there’s no need for complicated hard-drive sharing software or annual fees.

Finally: Chromebooks have keyboards. This is perhaps the single greatest thing separating them from their Apple competitors. Anyone who types well knows that it is much more efficient than writing by hand, as it enables words to appear on screen as fast as you can think them. This is simply not possible using a touchscreen device. Further, since keyboards in the business world aren’t going away anytime soon, Chromebooks actually prepare students for a business environment more thoroughly than their touchscreen-only competitors.

The Best Chromebooks for Students Under $250

I arrived at this list by looking for the highest rated, most popular Chromebooks on Amazon. All of these models are current (please let me know in the comments if you notice that’s no longer true). I own and love the Dell 11.

Note: I have looked for the best price between Amazon and Best Buy at the time of publication. Please comparison shop your favorite retailers for the best current price. The product links below are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you purchase. It doesn’t affect the price you pay for the item.

  1. ASUS C201:  The C201 is an adequate option. However, its 1.8 Ghz processor is a slight step down from the best options available, and it has the smallest screen size as well (11.6 inches). With a 13-hour battery life, it comes in near the top of the stack on that front. It features one HDMI and two USB ports, which are pretty standard. This is the best middle-of-the-road option.
  2. Samsung Chromebook 3 XE500C13-K02US: This model starts around 200 bucks, making it slightly more affordable than its ASUS competitor above. At this price, you give up a little battery life (down to 11 hours); however, you pick up a spill-resistant design and a slightly improved 2.16 Ghz processor. In addition to the HDMI port, this model features 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port (which is designed for newer, faster connections). This is the best option for young children, in my opinion.
  3. Dell Chromebook 11: This is the most expensive model I reviewed, but it’s still a truly affordable laptop. It’s slightly heavier than some lower-end models. However, that additional weight comes from sturdier materials and a greatly improved casing. The spill-resistant keyboard may end up paying for itself, tool. This model’s keyboard is much more responsive than the others, and simply feels more solid. However, it’s possible your student may not care about–or even notice–that fact, particularly if they are very young and just learning to type.  The Dell has the standard HDMI and USB ports described above. It also has a port for a removable SD card, adding to the portability of files stored on the device. This is best for power users and older students.
  4. HP Chromebook 11 G4: This is the cheapest device reviewed, and it definitely feels cheaper to the touch when compared to the Dell reviewed above. It has the same number of USB and HDMI ports, but it only has 2GB of available RAM, which could lead to performance issues. In its favor, it also has the card media reader.  That being said, none of the negatives would matter to a young student, so this is the best option based solely on affordability.
  5. Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ: The second cheapest, the Acer also comes with only 2GB available RAM.  Added to that, it comes with a mere 2 USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0) However, this model does have an HDMI port and a card reader, keeping it competitive. Battery life on this device is rated at 9 hours, but the charger is well-designed and minimal. The aluminum clamshell, however, simply doesn’t feel like it could stand up to the rigors imposed by a young child. I would skip this one.

You are going to love whatever Chromebook you buy

My job is to pick one, I know. The Dell is the best for adults and older students, while the Samsung is the best option for young children. The HP is the best option if money is the only criterion.

But in the end, I literally don’t know a single person who has given a Chromebook a shot and come away anything other than amazed at the simplicity of concept, minimal design, and magical experience. There’s simply something about logging in to a brand new computer for the first time, and having your entire Google account show up ten seconds later, that boggles the mind.

Chromebook accessories to take to college

4 Essential Chromebook Accessories to Take to College

By Accessories, In the Classroom

Do you have everything you need for your dorm room desk? By now you already have your Chromebook for school picked out, hopefully. But you’ll need a few things to make the most of it.

1. Portable Speakers

The first thing I unpack when I move is a speaker. It’s just way more fun to get settled while jamming to my favorite playlist.

Note: If you find the information on this site useful, please consider supporting my efforts to provide relevant, up-to-date information by purchasing through the product links on this page. The product will not cost you anything extra, but I might receive a little cash to support the operation of this site.

Jawbone Jambox

When I first heard the Jawbone Jambox, I couldn’t believe the music filling my apartment building’s gym was coming from that small box. The Jambox comes in decent colors, too.

JBL Flip 3 Splashproof

If you want to take your speaker outside, or if you’re worried about party fouls, spend the extra 25 bucks to get a water resistant speaker.

2. Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Logitech Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo

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Deny it now, but it’s going to happen. You’ll be writing a paper at 3am and wishing you had a comfortable keyboard. Might as well get a keyboard/mouse combo for playing games, right?

3. External Hard Drive

You’ll want to bring your music and photos with you, and that’s going to take some extra disk space, since Chromebooks come with 16 or 32GB. Not to mention, it’s good to have a backup of your school papers other than Google Drive.

LaCie’s ruggedized mini-USB 3.0 drive holds 1TB and can stand up to rough handling. It’s the best bang for your buck right now, but there’s only 11 left available with Prime right now.

4. Headset

Hangouts makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Most college students have roommates, and most roommates don’t want to hear your conversation with Mom. Get a headset to make it easier to hear and be heard over the sound of your roommate playing Call of Duty.

The Logitech ClearChat Comfort covers both ears and has noise cancelling. There’s no software to install, so it works on any laptop and operating system.

Check out my top pick for wireless headsets.

Other Chromebook/Laptop Accessories to Consider

You’ll probably have a super-fast internet connection, so you can use a high-def camera if your Chromebook doesn’t have one.

If you want to use more than two USB devices, a USB hub makes it quicker to switch. Remember to protect your computer with a surge protector, too.

Now you know all the tech accessories you’ll need for your Chromebook at school. Have fun and remember to call your mother.

Parental controls for chromebook

Do Chromebooks Have Parental Controls?

By How-To, In the Classroom

As a parent, do you face the constant question of how much online supervision your kids need? On one hand, I recognize that learning to use tech effectively and independently is crucial to their future. On the other hand, it’s pretty terrifying to consider all the ways their devices could expose them to corners of the internet I’d prefer they not see. Thankfully, a suite of Chromebook parental controls and third-party apps makes the task of protecting your kids online seamless and simple. Let’s walk through how to set it up.

See why Chromebooks are the best laptops for kids.

Chromebook Parental Controls: Drop-Dead Simple

Like everything Google makes, Chromebooks just work, simply and efficiently. And because everything on a Chromebook flows through the Chrome browser, it’s simple to manage.  However, there is one very important note up front: for any of this to work, you’ll need to make sure you turn off “Allow Guest Browsing” on your Chromebooks. Otherwise, anyone can sit down and use the guest account to avoid logging in, which defeats the whole purpose.

Set up Kids as “Supervised Users”

Now, you’ll need to register the Chromebook with a parent’s email address. This will establish them as the administrator for all family accounts. From there, adding accounts for kids is simple. Each child should be set up as a “supervised user” underneath the parent’s account. This enables the master account (the parent) to control the child’s access and review what they’ve been up to on the Chromebook.  

This video will guide you through setting up supervised users. 

Two notes: first, make sure you are aware that supervised users can see the administrator’s bookmarks and favorites in the browser, unless you take advantage of the “Exit and Childlock” option when logging out of your account each time. Google has provided a step-by-step guide.

Second, be aware that supervised accounts operate underneath the master account’s email address, which means they won’t have an email address of their own, and they won’t be able to create Google Documents, Sheets, or Slides under an individual account; everything will get dumped into the supervisor’s account.

Review Online Activity

Supervised users are unable to delete their browsing history; this means the parent always has the capability to review exactly what’s been done online – no worries about a child trying to cover their tracks after the fact. This is an especially valuable tool as kids get older and more curious.

Restrict Access to Explicit Content

Parents can allow or block any website for any supervised user. Additionally, supervised users can be configured to only browse the internet using Safesearch, a Google tool which prevents explicit text or images from showing up in search results.  

You can also set up parental control on YouTube videos.

Prevent Installation of Apps

Supervised users cannot install apps to their account; they are limited to browsing the web, which means if they need to create a document for school, they’ll have to browse to the Google Docs online site rather than using the device’s native app.

Potential Issues with Chromebook Parental Controls

Safesearch seems to be too aggressive, blocking a great deal of content that older students might need for school; however, if it’s turned off, you obviously don’t have time to individually blacklist every questionable website one-by-one. Some parents dodge this issue by choosing instead to only allow certain sites, handpicking the portions of the internet their child can access.  

Additionally, supervised users can’t install Google apps to their account at all. This means that any apps your child may need for school will have to be loaded onto the parental account, and the child will have to log in through your account to use the app, which is obviously a complicated solution.

Third-Party Solutions

If you prefer not to set up a supervised account, but you would like to control specific aspects of your child’s Internet use on the Chromebook, there are some apps to help. They are available on the Chrome web store.

These third-party solutions provide cloud filtering for all users on the Chromebook, supervised user or not. Multiple third-party services such as Mobicip, Metacert, and Blocksi are now available as alternatives to the pre-loaded Chromebook parental controls.

Blocksi Web Filter: This extension has both free and paid versions. The free version includes a host of features like:

  • Web filtering across 79 rated categories (adult, security, malware, etc.) and 45 million rated websites
  • YouTube content filtering across 20 categories
  • YouTube channel filtering
  • Black & White Lists
  • Limited time use, for e.g. homework access

Blocksi Lite: This extension blocks adult content and access to porn website

Parental Control and Web Filter from Metacert: This extension offers multiple settings for both, adults and children. Options for children include:

  • Filters and blocks search results that are inappropriate for a young audience
  • Removes XXX images and videos from search results
  • Blocks Tumblr pages with adult content
  • Blocks Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts with adult content

In addition to this setting, the Metacert filter offers a setting for very young kids that allows parents to add specific websites and create white lists for safe and controlled browsing.

StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that you can install to keep your teen on task, especially if you want to allow limited access to social media and other websites without completely restricting access. This extension allows you to set a time limit for websites you choose. Once the limit has been exhausted, StayFocusd restricts access for the rest of the day.

Conclusion: Chromebook Parental Controls Are There, But Not Perfect Yet

It’s not clear yet if Google will improve the native parental controls on their Chromebook products. They might simply allow the third-party app market to solve it for them. In either event, my family’s experience with Chromebooks has been phenomenal. For very young children, Safesearch is sufficient to keep them protected while they do young-child things: watch videos, play silly games, and visit educational sites. For older kids, we rely on Blocksi to handle our cloud filtering, so we don’t have to lean on Safesearch.

In my family, the benefits far outweigh the concerns, primarily due to the low cost and the portability of accounts. When my daughter pours orange juice all over the Chromebook, nothing is lost except the minimal cost of the device. The entire family’s data is sitting there when we log in to the replacement device.  

Questions or comments about Chromebook parental controls? Speak up below!

10 Chromebook Sources You Must Know

By News

There are ten Chromebook sources that are must-reads if you’re even a little bit interested in the Chromebook and cloud computing. These sources range from news and commentary to the best tools and how-tos.

These top bloggers and influencers have been dedicated Chrome fans for a long time. Way before Chromebooks were getting a lot of media attention.Their contributions help form and shape the Chromebook community. Here they are:

Joe Sneddon

WebsiteGoogle Plus, Twitter

Top Chrome OS blog

Joe Sneddon is the author of both OMG! Chrome and OMG! Ubuntu. You can count on OMG! Chrome to let you know about news and updates that affect you as a Chrome OS user. You can also find out about interesting and useful extensions.

Chrome Story

WebsiteGoogle Plus, Twitter
Top Chromebook SourcesChrome Story is one of the longest-lived Chrome OS blogs. Dinsan Francis started this blog, and now it has several contributors, including James Welbes and Brent Sullivan. You can expect news, reviews, features, help articles, tutorials and much more.

James Welbes

WebsiteGoogle Plus

chromebookguideJames Welbes is a busy guy. Not only does he maintain Chromebook.Guide and WhichChromebookShouldIBuy.com. He also writes for Chrome Story and is very active in the Chromebook online communities. He’s a moderator of Chromebooks on G+ and a key contributor to the Chromebook Central Help Forum. The guide to printing from Chromebook is where I send people who are having trouble getting set up.

Kevin Wendland

WebsiteGoogle Plus, Twitter
chromebookchallengeThis blog started with a Chromebook Challenge in the first half of 2015. Since then, Kevin Wendland has become a leading voice in education technology and an advocate for Chromebook-based solutions. The articles on Chromebook Challenge provide information to help others Making the SwitchYou can also follow Kevin’s Twitter account for daily news.

9to5Google

YouTube, Twitter
9to5GoogleSeth Weintraub and other contributors over at 9to5Google covers all things Google. They have a dedicated category for Chrome OS that gets a news article about once a week. The news is weighted toward Chrome OS and not the hardware. You are more likely to see news stories about changes to the OS than about new Chromebook models.

Chrome Unboxed

WebsiteGoogle Plus, Twitter
Chrome Unboxed is operated by Robby Payne, with Gabriel Brangers contributing. This blog is updated every few days. The articles are hardware focused, so go here to learn about the latest Chrome device models. I found Chrome Unboxed through its YouTube channel that has unboxings, Chromebook video reviews and how-to’s.

Google Chromium Open Source Project

 WebsiteGoogle PlusTwitter
chromiumblogThe official blog of the Google Chromium open source project is the place for developers to get their Chrome OS news. It provides in-depth, technical information about new releases. It’s updated maybe once a month, so it’s a good candidate to subscribe to the RSS feed. You can get more frequent information from the Twitter account.

Android Central

Twitter
androidcentralAndroid Central has a deep bench of writers to crank out lots of current events and “best of” articles. Friends often send me news from their Chrome OS category page.

Jeff Nelson

Twitter

jeffnelsonThe inventor of Chromebook has stayed involved with the technology after leaving Google. I follow Jeff’s Twitter account to see what he’s thinking.

Chromebook Communities on G+

Two G+ Chromebook Communities stand out as the places to be.

Chromebooks on Google+
ChromebooksgroupThis community was founded by Dinsan Francis and is currently lead by Brent Sullivan, James Welbes, Ken Yeh, and Chris Cox. Join this community, and you’ll see people sharing their experiences, posting interesting announcements, and current deals on Chrome devices.

 

Chromebook EDU on Google+

ChromebookEDUEducators using Google technologies connect in this community to share announcements and what’s working or not working. It’s a nice community where members give and receive help.

What are your favorite Chrome OS sources? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Do you need antivirus for Chromebook?

By How-To, News

Have you ever gotten a computer virus or known someone who has? If so, you know how annoying and time consuming it is to deal with. If you’re considering making the switch to Chrome OS or if you just picked up your first Chromebook, you may be wondering: Do Chromebooks get viruses?

We’ve been trained by Microsoft to install antivirus software because Windows gets infected. But there are no viruses for Chrome OS, which means you don’t need antivirus for Chromebook, Chromebox or Chromebase. That doesn’t mean nothing bad can happen on Chrome OS, but we’ll get into that later.

Why doesn’t Chrome OS need antivirus?

For Chrome OS, Google decided to design a secure system from the very start.  That means they coded the operating system to protect itself from exploitation.

The most important security feature of Chrome OS is process isolation. Bad actors want to exploit a web page you are visiting, and then jump to access another tab where you have sensitive information for them to plunder. With process isolation, even if they can compromise one tab, they can’t see what else is on your computer.

The biggest online security worries for your personal laptop today are:

  • viruses that steal your information and slow you down,
  • botnet malware that makes your computer a zombie and then slows it down,
  • and ransomeware that kills your files.

Chrome OS doesn’t get viruses, malware or ransomware because it doesn’t let them download or run. If ransomware did exist for Chrome OS, the damage would be minimal anyway. Most of your files will be stored in the cloud where the ransomware wouldn’t be able to touch them.

This 15 minute video goes into more detail about Chrome OS protections and why you don’t need antivirus.

The game has changed – it’s no longer just about viruses

Don’t throw all caution to the wind just yet though. Spam email and phishing emails are still a concern on any computer. If you click on a link from an email and then type in your username and password onto a phishing site, you’ve still given away your password.

The other risk with any browser (not just Chrome) is malicious extensions or plugins. Unscrupulous developers collect and sell information about websites you visit.

Don’t just install Chrome extensions indiscriminately. Check if it’s from a reputable source, and check what permissions the extension requires.

 

Screen Shot of Chrome Extension Permissions

Navigate to chrome://extensions/ in the browser, and click the Permissions link to check your installed extensions.

Be wary of extension that can read all webpages and alter data on the page. If the extension needs rights like that, investigate the developer a little, and read the reviews.

When something looks wrong

OK, that’s all great, but what if something doesn’t look right? What if your Chrome device is slow, or you’re getting weird pop-ups? If that happens, it’s not a virus – it’s probably a malicious extension. James Welbes over at Chromebook Guide has written a great article about what to do.

What you can do to keep your information safe

So your Chrome device isn’t going to get a virus. Still, you should still take precautions against having your account information stolen.

  • If your bank allows it, use Chrome incognito mode when doing online banking. This can help because it disables your extensions by default.
  • Make strong passwords, and use a different password for every site. Here’s some great guidance on how to do that, and some tools to help from Cloudwards: How to Set Up a Strong Password.
  • Never open spam emails, and avoid clicking links in emails.

I’ll leave you with some online safety tips that work on every operating system. The folks at Stay Safe Online have actionable information to protect your computer and your personal information: Keep a Clean Machine and Protect Your Personal Information.

What Google Play Store on Chrome OS Means for You

By News

By now you’ve probably heard about Google’s plan to make Android apps available for Chrome OS later this year. As news rolled in from the Google I/O Developers Conference, I saw the announcement and that there were some caveats. I wanted to understand what this is going to mean for us as Chrome device users.

Is now a bad time to get a Chromebook, since not all models are supported? How will the new app store affect how we use our Chrome devices?

I watched the Google presentation to get the information straight from the source. Now, I want to share with you what I learned: how the integration will work, who it affects, and when we can start benefiting from it.

What will the Google Play Store on Chrome OS mean for us?

This change is going to open up a lot of options for us users, and I think it’s going to make Chrome devices more popular. Designers and bloggers will get the benefit of the Photoshop mobile apps, so they don’t have to use Windows or Mac to do quick image edits. Gamers will get access to a bunch of games that have been missing, like Minecraft and Angry Birds. Remote workers get more productivity tools like Microsoft Office and Acrobat PDF Reader.

There’s been speculation that the availability of mobile print drivers will improve the printing process.

I’m interested in the prospect of getting to call an Uber or use other services that have been limited to mobile.  If Instagram works on Chrome, that will be only desktop OS that is supporting it!

Will the Play Store work with my Chromebook?

Based on what I’ve seen, the Android app store should be available for Chromebooks made from late 2014 forward. There’s a list of Chrome devices that Google is planning to support for the feature once it’s widely available. But in June, only Asus 10″ flip, Acer Chromebook R11, and Pixel 2015 will get the Play Store.

I was curious why it’s limited to certain models. I found a reasonable explanation from Joe Ellett in the Google Chromebook Forum:

“The best theory is that models with a kernel of 3.10 or higher will get Android, since container support was introduced in 3.10. Once a model is released, the kernel is not updated. It still gets Chrome OS updates for several years but the kernel stays at the same level. To check your kernel, so chrome://system and look for the line that says uname.”

I checked my Dell Chromebook 11″ 3120, which I got early this year. It shows 3.10.18, and it is listed as a supported model, so I am stoked to be getting access to the Android Apps later this year.

I can now recommend a Chromebook for my Dad’s house. It was a no-go before because they wouldn’t be able to play Minecraft!

When can you get Android Apps?

The earliest adopters can get it on only the three initial models (Asus 10″ flip, Acer Chromebook R11, and Pixel 2015) as early as June 2016. There will be bugs, so it’s not good for your main computer. It’s really intended to give Android app developers a chance to do any updates and test their apps.

The Play Store is slated to go out to the beta channel in August 2016. It’s not clear how many models will be supported at that time. Casual users who like their software finished can get it sometime in fall 2016, hopefully to all the models in the list.

How will the app store integration work? Let’s get technical

I checked out ARC Welder and had limited success getting it to run games. As it turns out, Google found a better way to get Android apps to run on Chrome OS. As James Welbes over at Chromestory also noted, Google is going to use containers, which basically means there will be an instance of Android running in Chrome OS but segregated from it. The segregation is good news because it increases security by isolating potentially malicious Android apps from your Chrome OS instance.

What’s more, app developers don’t have to rewrite their apps for Chrome OS. Google put in a hardware abstraction layer and binary translation from ARM to x86. That takes care of the differences in hardware between mobile devices and desktop ones.

Here’s what else we know about how the integration will work in practice:

  • Apps will keep their offline capabilities that they have as mobile apps.
  • The Android apps will look like desktop apps, complete with resizable windows.
  • The Google Play (Android app) Store and the Chrome Web Store will stay separate. That way, managed Chromebooks in schools and businesses can block access to Android apps.
  • Interestingly, support for the Play Store is not limited to touchscreen Chromebooks. In the Google presentation, they encouraged Android app developers to test their apps with a keyboard and mouse.
  • Not all apps will work though. For mobile apps that require hardware that is not present in Chrome devices (e.g., fine grained GPS for turn-by-turn directions), those apps will not show up in the Play Store for Chrome.

Here is the original presentation video, queued up to the short demo.

Wrap up and future questions

What will Android apps mean for the future of Chrome devices? Will this remove the remaining roadblocks that are causing people to balk about getting one? Which apps will work right away? Will Chromebooks with SIM card slots be able to make phone calls?

I look forward to finding out the answers and sharing them with you. If you know any of the answers or have questions of your own, you can share them below.

This Week’s Chromebook News Roundup

By News

Another week full of interesting Chromebook news, rumors, hands on stories and reviews is behind us. Acer’s hardware announcement this week could signal a stronger showing in Chromebook for the workplace. I also found a couple new articles that will help you get the most out of ChromeOS. I saved the best rumor for last, although it is not confirmed by Google.

Acer Chromebook 14 for Work Heads to the Office in May

PCMag.com

Acer 14 chromebook for workAdoption of Chromebooks in the workplace has been slow. Acer apparently thinks this is because the hardware hasn’t been appealing and are answering the need with this new 14″ Chromebook. There’s a bonus in this news for corporate IT departments. The trend toward mil-spec hardware in Chromebooks is adding value for the workplace because it should reduce downtime due to hardware accidents as well as repair costs. Read the specs at PCMag.


How to use a Chromebook in a more secure and privacy-respecting way

Discours.es

Screenshot from authors ChromeOS desktopIn this piece, Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) discusses some tweaks he’s made to his ChromeOS install. He based the configuration on EFF guidelines and also talks about tools that he uses. I will certainly be trying out the privacy settings myself. See the changes as well as what chat and email services the author uses for better privacy: Discours.es

 

 

 


The Best Chrome Extensions for Google Drive

PCmag.com

Google Drive ExtensionThere are a few productivity gems in this article. There are now extensions that bring much of the functionality of Excel to Google Sheets. Those extensions, by AbleBits are paid, but the rest in this article are free, like the one that lets you play your music directly from Google Drive. This type of article is helpful because I may not realize there is a pain point until I see a solution. Read on at PCmag.com.

 


Google Play Store and “over a million apps” could be headed to ChromeOS

arstechnica.com

Screenshot of fleeting Google Play store dialog in Chrome 51 DevThe hope is that the floodgates to access all Android apps will open following Google I/O developer’s conference in May. Availability of Android apps, beyond those ported with ARC Welder, would explode usability. See the screenshots at ars technica.

 

 

Roundup

That’s all for this week’s roundup. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list and found it to be useful. To get curated news even faster, follow ChromebookHQ on Facebook. I’m also launching the newsletter this week! Here’s the signup form.

The best videos to explain Chromebooks

By Chromebox

When I want the real scoop on a technology, I go straight to video reviews. Videos give you a 360 view of the product and are fun to watch. There are dozens upon dozens of videos explaining what a Chromebook is (and isn’t) and who they are best for. I’ve sifted through hours of Chromebook videos, and these were clear winners when it came to explaining the limitations and benefits of ChromeOS devices.

First, we have some mostly positive reviews that get into the details of the different types of devices and the capabilities. Next, we have some reviews aimed at explaining the difference between Chromebooks and other laptops. Finally, there are some education-focused videos – one from an educator perspective and the other from a college student.

Positive Chromebook Videos

These three videos were the best that had an almost purely positive perspective on Chromebook ownership. These are the videos I would show to someone if they are trying to decide whether they should buy a Chromebook as a secondary laptop.

Chrome devices | Chromebit, Chromebook | The Apps Show from Google shows and explains the different types of chrome devices. The focus in this video is on workplace usage of Chrome devices.

Should I Buy a Chromebook? by Chromebooks Support sums up the Chromebook choices and list all the benefits of ownership.  Chromebooks Support has several videos in his YouTube channel to introduce you to Chromebooks and decide if they will work for you.

Top 10: Reasons to Buy a Chromebook! by TechRightReviews gives a comprehensive overview to help you understand the advantages of a Chromebook over a laptop and how you can do most everything you need. It also mentions the Chromebox. Despite the distracting trance soundtrack, this is probably my favorite video of the bunch.

 TechRightReviews made a continuation from the previous video, focusing on ChromeOS software.

Balanced Reviews

These were the best two videos that showed both pros and cons of a Chromebook versus a laptop. These are the videos I would share with someone who is having trouble deciding if Chromebook is right for them as a main computer.

Chromebooks Explained in Simple Terms – Is a Chromebook for you? – Chromebooks 101 by Lon Seidman compares Chromebook to a low-end Windows laptop. The reviewer is clear that there are limitations and includes ChromeOS walkthrough. This video is helpful because it explains working offline, and it demonstrates how ChromeOS handles photos and videos.

What Is a Chromebook Why Should I Buy One? by Reviewed.com answers common questions about Chromebook in a Q&A format. It’s not highly detailed, but it outlines the differences between Chromebook and other laptops for those new to the concept.

Education Focused Videos

Google Chromebook Review: A Student’s Perspective by John Horn compares his Samsung Series 3 against his Macbook in terms of his usage of the laptops as a college student. The reviewer talks about limitations and offers workarounds. He concludes that the laptop you use all the time is the one that you can carry with you everywhere.

iPad vs Chromebook | EdTech Tuesday from Lesson Planet is a friendly debate that covers the pros and cons of using an iPad or a Chromebook in the classroom. This Chromebook video was one of my favorites because of the fun interchange between the debaters.

Roundup

These Chromebook videos are pretty different from the tone of Google’s introductory videos. From watching these videos you get a clear sense Chromebook’s capabilities without the varnish. I hope this has saved you some time sifting through the many Chromebook videos of varying quality that are available on YouTube. Have fun Chroming and until next time!