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As I watched the video below, I thought about the importance of being precise and nuanced.


Video source

Hank Green was upset that news pundits and headlines were blindly declaring that the Amazon rainforest was burning, i.e., natural wild fires. He made the point that many of the fires this year were started by people to clear the land — the forest was being burnt.

For me, this was a good example of precision and nuance. It was not about nit-picking the use of burning vs being burnt. Anyone dismissive would point out that both had fires in common and that the immediate end result was the same.

However, Green’s point was that wild fires are natural, cyclical, and balanced. Man-made fires for the purpose of clearing forest were not. The processes are different — one is natural and the other is forced. The long-term results are different — one sees a natural recovery or evolution while the other sees damage.
 
Life is not black and white; there is some grey nuance to it. -- Pilou Asbaek
 
I try to be precise and more nuanced about why I do not like to merely engage my learners and why I prefer to empower them. I do not restrict myself to flipping a classroom; I choose to flip the learning. I do not simply use technology for teaching; I integrate it for learning.

The precision and nuance lie in this principle: I focus on the learner and learning, not just the teacher and teaching. This is a lot more difficult to do consistently, but it is also more rewarding in the long run.

My first major note about Chromebooks was over two years ago. Back when they were new, I wondered if Chromebooks were the new netbooks.

While Chromebooks evolved, I waited. And watched. And waited some more.

I added the Toshiba Chromebook 2 to my Amazon wishlist last year after reading how it topped many reviews. I had also tried one out when I visited a Google Store in London.

Then I bought it. It arrived at doorstep two days ago.
 
Toshiba Chromebook 2
 
I have a new Chromebook baby. I am a Chromebook baby. Here are some things I have learnt about it.

Freebies

Chromebook owners are eligible for “freebies” and this is the official place to check. There were three on my list.

  • I was expecting an additional 100GB of Google Drive space for two years and I got it.
  • Google Music is not available in Singapore so I do not benefit from the deal.
  • I am not in the US so 12 GoGo in-air Internet passes on domestic flights there are useless.

Hardware

I have been spoilt by the trackpad and keyboard of MacBooks. The Chromebook’s trackpad in tap mode is good, but to click it requires too much depth and force.

I paired the Chromebook up with a Logitech bluetooth mouse. While I could change the trackpad scrolling to “Australian” mode (Apple calls this natural mode, where up means up), there was no option to change the mouse scroll direction.

The keyboard is too sensitive with some apps (e.g., typing in Google Docs can rrrrresult in repeeeeeated letttttterrrrs.) and not enough with others (e.g., the ported Android version of Evernote). The keyboard also picks up and shows off fingerprints too easily.

The Chromebook has an HDMI video out port which I tested with an HDMI cable and an HDMI-to-VGA adapter (important as VGA projectors are still more common).

I discovered that some HDMI heads are a very tight fit for the port. Once connected, both HDMI and VGA video outputs default to extended screen. I had to manually switch to mirror mode.

Wireless@SGx

Yesterday I decided to test the Chromebook at a library and use Singapore’s Wireless@SG and Wireless@SGx wifi networks. Wireless@SG requires manual logins and is older. Wireless@SGx requires a one-time set up, typically with phones, and it connects automatically.

Wireless@SGx is more convenient and I wondered if anyone here had tried this on a Chromebook before. I was not disappointed. Here is a detailed guide by Geek Bryan.

I found out that I could only set up the connection on-site and not in advance. I also had to use a “long form” version of my user ID instead of the simple one illustrated in the guide.

I only realised this option would work because my normal user ID — the one I use to manually log in to Wireless@SG — did not work when I tried. I had generated the long version of my user ID for my iPad several months ago using this SingNet/SingTel site and choosing the Type 2 option.

The longer version of my user ID coupled with the instructions by Geek Bryan helped me connect to Wireless@SGx.

Battery life

I spent about two hours at the library getting some work done. The battery gauge let me know that the Chromebook could go on for another 6.5 hours. Only my MacBook Pro could offer that sort of run time, but it is a heavier beast.

The Chromebook does not gulp. It sips.

Coming up next

It is unwise to spend any amount of time on a public wifi connection. So tomorrow I share how I set up my Toshiba Chromebook 2 for a virtual private network (VPN).


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