Chrome OS for web mapping delivery

01 Dec 12 Two years with the Cr-48! Meta-Chromebook in the house…

Although I didn’t find the little Cr-48 on my doorstep until about 9 December 2010, some aspect of the machine have just turned two years old.  I last used the bundled 100 MB/month Verizon data on 28 November 2012, and when it didn’t work on Friday 30 Nov., I had a word with the Verizon folks and learned that my two year Cr-48 data plan expired on 29 November.

It’s not like I rely on the Verizon plan very often, but I’m using 3G right now—at a mildly remote youth camp in Marin County that doesn’t have WiFi in the building.  I realize how accustomed I’ve become to having that little backup of 100 MB/month, and although my phone is humming with Android 4.1.2 Jellybean, the T-Mobile data just doesn’t cover this area so hotspot wouldn’t help.  But here’s how much I value the old plan: it was always there with no marginal cost.  Now that my two years of Cr-48 pilot use is up, my only data options from Verizon are $20 for 1 GB over 30 days, and I think it’s $30 for 5 GB over 30 days and something even more.  So it’s not like I use 3G often enough to even get much value out of the $20/month plan.  Everywhere I use the Cr-48 the most, I either have WiFi access, or I have a wired connection that I can plug my router into.  It’s these remote camp-out weekends where I might want to use either Verizon, or T-Mobile through Android mobile hotspot.  I actually found one camp where Verizon data didn’t work, but T-Mobile did—and I was very happy to have the hotspot capability!

Anyhow, I really have gotten to like this Chromebook.  When I’m teaching, it’s getting heavy use every week.  In the past semester when I’ve had a teaching hiatus, I use the Chromebook to read manga almost every night—probably seen over 10,000 pages in the last four months.  Basically, I’m using it like it was a Kindle  ;^)

But I was so pleased to see that the Chromebook $250 price point has been pierced with the Samsung Series 3.  I was bowled over to see Acer take one of their Windows chassis (Pentium, 320 GB local disk, and Windows-style keyboard) and blow it out as a $200 Chromebook.   Perhaps best of all has been to see the Samsung show up with Verizon 3G for 2 years at $329—suggesting that the Verizon plan has a marginal cost of $35/year for two years.  I truly wish that Verizon would offer something like an “extended warranty” where subsequent years of 100 MB/month for third and fourth years with Chromebooks.

Here’s my key observation about Chromebooks after two years on the keyboard: by turning over much work to the Cloud, and not relying much on the performance of the local hardware, the machine gets obsoleted more slowly.  Where a power workstation is a fine candidate for replacement after about three years, and smart mobile phones are downright stale after just 18 months, somehow the Chromebook paradigm has got the little device in an “ageing gracefully” sort of state.  Sure, I’m ready for something new (see below), but my Cr-48 is just about ready to start its new life as a kitchen internet appliance.

What should one call it if a (Cr-48) Chromebook is used to order a new (Acer) Chromebook through the Google Play Store?  Is that how Chromebooks reproduce?  Will the new Acer, already arrived, be considered a meta-Chromebook?  So many angles to ponder.  ;^)

The long-discussed convergence of Android and Chrome OS really seems like it would take a step forward in an interesting way when we start getting hardware that makes the transition from netbook-grade (like the Cr-48 and its descendants to date) to ultrabook-grade (as with a touch screen).  Since as of this holiday season we are starting to see some nice Asus touchscreen 11.6-inch Windows notebooks at $500, just maybe the WiFi-only touchscreen Chromebooks can drop in at around $350.  One can always hope!

Anyway, to maintain my ongoing logging, here’s where the Cr-48 has gotten to at this point:

Release:  3196.1.0 (Official Build) dev-channel x86-mario
Processor: Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N455 @ 1.66GHz
Hardware Class: IEC MARIO PONY 6101
WebKit: 537.19 (@134183)
Build Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So this is the dev channel, and now I wonder if Cr-48 updates will go on hold, in favor of a dev channel on the newer generations of hardware.  I wonder, will there be something like a Nexus Chromebook to follow on the Cr-48?  Will this be the touchscreen version?

One last thought this evening:
What will the next two years bring?  At this point, we’re transitioning from pretty much having a single Chromebook device available, to having the first couple of ones from Samsung, and now there’s two new ones from two manufacturers.  Think back to what this stage was like for Android and there’s a point that matches.  I’ve watched too closely to believe the hyperbole that Android has been on track to stomp iOS since 2008. It wasn’t like that from my perspective—it was a really slow start with just the G1 phone.  I got mine in 2009 and it was a piddling user share that we had.  Then there were a couple of models, maybe the Motorola Droid to really boost popularity, and that was when, 2010?  I guess my point is that these new $250 Chromebooks are analogous to the arrival of the Moto Droid in Android world.

‘Nuff for now.

27 Oct 12 Chromebook usage intensifies — blogging suffers


It’s surprising to note how quiet my writing has been since August.  The Cr-48 did a fine job on the road, receiving an update and returning to functional use of Verizon 3G along the way somewhere in southwestern Colorado. A few days later, the Cr-48 took in a beautiful sunrise from the Cal-Neva Inn on Lake Tahoe, and then came home.  There, things got intense.

But it wasn’t for work or practical use!  It was the diversion of reading free Manga from a variety of web sites.  Where chapters might have page counts between 12 and 30, from the time the Cr-48 got home until now it’s served up 640 chapters of one, 340 chapters of another, and 250 chapters of another (which averaged 32 pages per chapter).  In short, the Cr-48 has had more hours of use as a content delivery system than ever before in the past three months!  Yes, the hinge is a little wobbly on the right-hand side, but the machine gets taken everywhere but in the shower, so it gets set on its side at times.  It’s also gotten regular treatment with sanitizing wipes.  ;^)

Fact is, although the usage is sort of monotonous (it’s mostly been serving up content through free websites) the physical treatment has been intensive.

Cool apps have appeared like Camera, and the upgrades to system have been very regular.  I continue to use dev-Channel for Chrome OS.  As of today’s update, I’m up to

Google Chrome 24.0.1305.3 (Official Build 163672) dev
Platform 3083.1.0 (Official Build) dev-channel x86-mario
WebKit 537.16 (@132013)
JavaScript V8 3.14.5

Holy cow, that is soooo much easier to share than it has been for the past 22 months!  I’ve been quietly appreciating and not blogging about the UI updates that have become a steady stream as Chromebooks become more properly commercialized.
Where in the past it’s been a copy-and-paste exercise for each feature, my favorite status items to share have been stood up on a new
chrome://version/ page and the information there can be copied readily.

Other new stuff that I really like:  On the login screen, a pressure-touch on the touchpad will focus on user for password input, rather than the full button click.  The concentration of system status icons in the lower-right is evolving, and I look there with the same frequency I do in Ubuntu’s Unity interface (in the upper right) on my main workstation at home.

The collection of favorites along the lower left reminds me of system tray items that I look at in Windows 7, and they are really useful to the extent that they’re my most-favorite destinations.   The nine-square icon down there to launch an apps pop-up reminds me of the apps button in Android—and it even has scrolling windows that mimic a graphically flattened version of what I see in Jellybean.

It’s not purely Chrome OS, but the performance of Google Drive has ramped up noticeably in the past three months as well.  I am using G Spreadsheets to handle much of the logging tasks in my regular work that involves spatial data engineering.  In that, multiple tasks are set up and run, and progress or failure noted for each workflow thread.  At capacity, I make use of 15 threads on a (Windows 2008 Server) server through RDP and 12 threads on a (Windows 7 Pro) workstation with a dual-head display.  The problems that need to be solved are vague and mostly related to capacity issues of the ESRI Desktop software that I’m using, so I never really know what will work when I start out, and then I break things up in a quadtree to make them small enough to fit through all the limitations.

Tracking input data, output data size as items make it through a work flow, and logging completion is quick and easy.  I’ve been a major fan of Excel keyboard shortcuts since the mid 1990s, when I had to learn them to work spreadsheets on laptops during airline flights; to this day they continue to be so fast that its actually painful for me to watch people mousing their way through a spreadsheet.  Of course, having all my favorite Excel-style keyboard shortcuts working and functional within G Spreadsheets just melted my heart—Spreadsheets are my favorite Google Drive item at this time.  (Presentations will return to the fore when I’m back teaching next semester)

Did I mention that on my 12-thread Windows 7 workstation, I can launch Chrome Canary browser, then open Drive, and then open my G Spreadsheet and make a new entry within it faster than it takes Excel 2010 to launch on my workstation?  Well, I can. YMMV.

Details aside, I’m using G Spreadsheets for more than 80% of all my spreadsheet uses now, and that’s because I started using them with Chrome OS.  I’m using G Documents to contain text that needs to get pasted into web apps, so that I avoid the heartbreak of lost writing and also to keep a record.  I expect to return to use of G Presentations to set up class slides when I get back to teaching next semester.  And finally, I’ve make use of G Forms for something completely different: the Household Technology Grant Program (HTGP).

The HTGP is how I’m dealing with the chatter around the house by certain individuals of diminutive stature who now desire Chromebooks of their own.  Using some questions adapted from a college technology grant form found on the web, we simply ask the interested parties to fill out the form and justify their desired technology.  Without specifying how much support they might be getting for any acquisitions, in the attractive and simple-to-format G Form they spell out the Hows and Whys of their need for funds to augment our household computer herd.

It’s been a blast watching the Chromebook advertising campaign as we keep an eye on baseball’s World Series progress.  For as long as I’ve been pounding away on the Cr-48 it’s seemed as though $250 would be a catalyzing price point for a browser-centric system.  But in the past three months, I’m excited about Chrome OS’s interface evolution more than just the price.

The assemblage of UI styles from Unity, Windows 7, and Android reminds me of that long-ago time when I saw an amalgamation of desktop shortcuts and UI phrasing in NeXTSTEP.  I really liked it then, seeing how shortcuts from the Mac and early Windows and X desktops were all there on the NeXT screen at the same time.  (And in a first for Steve Jobs, there were two mouse buttons!)  Sure, Chrome OS is not as complete an OS as NeXTSTEP, but my point is that there was strength in that amalgamation.  Anyone who doubts that need only examine OS X and start counting the NeXTSTEP features that have persisted for 20 years.  I think that there’s something very solid about Chrome OS’s UI changes that have taken place in the past couple of months.

So I’m getting the sense that Chrome OS is taking a polish that suggests its ready for the larger world, and I’m seeing devices for sale that hit the sweet spot where even those who (probably wrongly) imagine that they use browsers only 30% of the time would still see the economics work versus a $1000 MacBook.  Perhaps?  If not, then how about versus a $1600 MacBook?  ;^)

21 Aug 12 On the road with Cr-48 in tow

Much of the past week has been a road trip, of the wagon-er-SUV heading east on Route 66.  The location with natural wonders and familiar overcast weather has been a big attraction.  Every day has had small blessings of rain (with a few sparkles of lightning thrown in when we were in Arizona,) bringing out the fragrance of high desert sage.

Anyway, out in the countryside there’s been some familiar roads, plenty of paper maps from AAA, MyTracks and Google Maps.  The GPS works fine (as does Sirius/XM radio) in the open skies, but data connectivity has been sporadic outside of towns.  Every night there’s WiFi, although in some places it’s a meagre thread rather than true broadband connectivity.  Usually, I’ve enjoyed the diversity of T-Mobile or their data partners and Verizon on the Cr-48—but not for the first part of this trip.  Somewhere along the lines one of the dev channel builds seems to have lost a way to navigate to Verizon, or the 3G wasn’t being polled for connectivity.

But no more.  Out here in the northern San Juan Valley I just restarted the Cr-48 to finalize an update.  The start-up was wicked fast and qualitatively seemed like only four seconds to login screen.  And lo!  Verizon is back and working.  Just in time for some road adventures, or at least a Google Maps supplement to the AAA maps.  It’s kind of amazing to see traffic reports on some of the obscure back roads, yet I’ll bet it’s pretty useful to the folks who live around here.

12 Feb 12 Back on track with PDF viewer! The Cr-48 heads to the woods…

My Cr-48 got a weekend trip to the mountains, and
I experienced the slowest connectivity that I’ve ever had with it…

But first, my thanks to Ken for posting a work-around for last week’s viewer.  When I use the Cr-48 to show slides during a lecture, I only give attention enough to the machine to push one keyboard button for the next slide.  Usually that’s a right-arrow key.
This afternoon I returned from a couple of nights in the barely-snowy Sierra and was happy to find an update staged.  After downloading and a restart, I’m able to view the PDF slide shows that I’ve got locally and open through FileManager.  It’s an enormous relief to know that I can have the Cr-48 back as a tool for classroom use!  The latest build numbers:

Google Chrome  18.0.1025.29
Platform    1660.20.0 (Official Build) dev-channel x86-mario
Firmware   Mario.03.60.1120.0038G5.0018d
WebKit   535.19 (@107116)

For reference, this afternoon’s current build of Google Chrome Canary on Windows is 19.0.1040.0

Up in the mountains, I took the Cr-48 with me to a cabin by a lake at about 1600 meters elevation.  It’s not far north of I-80 so it’s a very easy drive.  Most years it would be nice and snowy.  Last year, I’m told, there was more than 2 meters of snow accumulated by Spring, and people had to dig down to get to the cabin door.  This year, there was barely 10cm of snow when we left this morning.
Normally, I wouldn’t expect to use the Chromebook up in the hills, but last night some conversations turned towards things that my mapping colleagues and I have posted, and I tried to bring up a public site that we have  to help folks.  (  It was very difficult.

In all of the lower 48 states, the coterminous U.S., a.k.a. CONTUS for federal folks, there must be only a tiny handful of locations like the one where I took the Cr-48 this weekend.  We were blacked out for Verizon coverage, but both T-Mobile and ATT worked, although only at GPRS speeds for data.  So after noticing that we had no WiFi to scavenge (no surprise there) and nothing detectable from Verizon on the Cr-48, I confirmed with folks who had Verizon phones that they couldn’t even get voice connectivity. Since my mobile phone is on T-Mobile, I was able to power up the Nexus S’ Android 4.0.3 hotspot and connect the Cr-48 to it, and the phone’s meagre but existent GPRS data link got the Chromebook online.

That worked fine for Google Talk, but when I connected to the map viewer applications, I recognized at once that we were in the slow lane.  I had plenty of time to chat and reflect on days perhaps 15 years ago when I worked in Romania and moved to a select apartment just to get an “International” direct-dial phone line.  I used that so that I could call dial-up Internet services and also have an answering machine in my apartment.  Ordinary phone lines were coupled in pairs, effectively as two-unit party lines—a very bad scenario when an unsuspecting foreigner hooks up an answering machine!  Anyway, in mid-nineties Romania, I was able to get at best a transfer rate of 7 MB/hour.  Plenty good enough to develop a habit for reading the fresh new site, but not so good for downloading software updates.

Those were the days I thought of as I watched my mapping application, which has an interface tuned for broadband, image its screens.  I opened another tab and saw Google Map draw far faster, but it did not have the overlays that I needed, so I was stuck trying to make something work on a bandwidth shoestring.  I gave up after an hour, but by then I’d had some nice oblique views of the site in Google Maps, and a much greater sympathy for those who still rely on dial-up and its associated connection speeds.

Back at home, Comcast is stomping out about 5 MB/sec right now (40 Mb/s).  I like it that way!   Never before have I had a reason to use the Android ICS (4.0) WiFi hotspot where T-Mobile worked for data and Verizon did not.  Always before I have used the ICS hotspot to avoid local WiFi policy restrictions or to listen to a streaming radio channel so as not to burn through my monthly 100 MB of Verizon data in a single afternoon.  This was a case where Android 4.0 had the Chromebook’s back covered.

09 Jan 12 Cr-48 updates – Chrome Canary numeric threshold reached

The Cr-48 is trucking along with its every-few-days updates.  Currently at

Google Chrome    17.0.963.27
Platform    1412.64.0   dev-x86-mario
Firmware  Mario.03.60.1120.0038G5.0018d
WebKit     535.11   @103967

That’s all well & good, I continue to have an even better Cr-48 experience being able to use scavenged WiFi, or Verizon 3G data,  or T-Mobile 3G data via my personal Android 4.0.3 hotspot. That extra little bit of connectivity, plus making use of the data plan that I’m already paying for, was a nice boost on the road around California during the holidays.

The Cr-48 hardware is fitting into an ever-clearer space in my usage.  Yes, it’s been about 13 months now for me to figure it out, but in that time I’ve grabbed a new Android phone and installed 4.0.3 on it, and had the big workstation upgraded as well, so there are a few moving parts to my use case.  Now, the Cr-48 has platform as become a useful intermediary between my phone and my dual-screen workstation.   The Cr-48 helps me keep school or personal communications off of the work computer in a more productive way than the touch-screen keyboard can handle.

But back on Windows 7 workstation this morning, I saw a Chrome Canary threshold that I’ve been keeping an eye on for the past few days (possibly missing a build over the weekend).  It’s now at:

Google Chrome  18.0.1001.0  Canary

Chrome builds have surpassed the 1000-mark.  Meanwhile there’s already

Chromium  18.0.1002.0  dev-116865-Windows

and its Google Chrome derivatives to look forward to.

20 Oct 11 ChromeOS versions return with new dev update

This morning my Cr-48 decided it needed an restart to complete its new version push.  And version numbers have returned!

Now at ChromeOS dev channel 1169.7.0  featuring Google Chrome  16.0.906.1  with WebKit  535.7 @97251  and V8 at for now.

In the past week, when plugging the machine into a projector, which I tend to do three  to five times a week, I’ve had the Cr-48 appear to balk at syncing with the projector.  It could have been the projector, but I’m rather certain that it gets fewer firmware updates than my Cr-48 gets OS updates ;^)   In any case, it always resolved itself by my unplugging the projector for a few seconds then reconnecting.

It could be that I’m impatient and am inadvertently testing different startup sequences.  Plugging in the to the Cr-48 always makes the onboard screen dark (perhaps this is a power savings for the Cr-48 battery?) No matter for me, as I just position myself so that I don’t strain my neck while looking at the projected screen along with the class.   Anyway, the glitches appear to happen somewhere between my opening up the Cr-48 screen and having it wake up, connect to my wireless router (which is always booted up and has received its DHCP address before I open the Cr-48), and sometimes even get myself logged in.  The Cr-48 hardware continues to do a fine job of negotiating the highest possible undistorted resolution possible from any projector it’s met.  Pushy little Chromebook, it is. ;^)

Whenever my screen is not quite ready to be projected (like it is showing a full list of Google Docs items, or the class grade list) I just disconnect the projector.  In many ways, it has been a helpful safety catch to have the screen go dark, as it utterly prevents me from looking at my screen and inadvertently projecting some grading details to the class.  Chalk it up as a feature, IMHO.

During the day at work, I really enjoyed a beta update to Google Maps+Street View integration, mostly run with Chrome Canary build.  It has really gotten slick and the transitions between vertical orthophoto (“satellite”), oblique imagery (“45-degree”), and Street View are extremely fluid in the new GL interface.

The new interface is really helping me to extract certain public infrastructure features *in bulk* running standard GIS software on an adjacent screen, with both GIS and Google Maps running full screen.  Yea Maps team!

On Ubuntu, this evening Chromium browser has attained version 17.0.915.0 — so there’s something to look forward to in the next week on Chrome OS, perhaps?

01 Sep 11 Fresh build, new month

Last evening, it was easy to see the crescent moon over Mount Tamalpais, haze and all.  It’s a new month, and a time of reflection with some personal loss in the mix.  But with loss come touchstones of new direction, too.

The little Cr-48 got its regulation dev build updates this week.  Verizon 3G is still working fine when it needs to, and yet the new Cisco / Linksys E2500 is turning out to be a great resource for visiting.  It’s always on in the office and at school, and now works both in the classroom during lecture time and in the College office during other hours there.  Fine 5 GHz connection for the Cr-48, and 2.4 GHz connection for the Nexus S.

The latest build is Chrome OS 972.0 of 2011 08 31, with Google Chrome 15.0.867.0, just a few tens of hours behind the Windows-centric Chrome Canary 15.0.868.0 today.  On Chrome OS now it’s WebKit @94073 or 535.2 and V8 is now.

I’ve been adding some redundancy to the domain name servers for the root of this site’s domain, so there might have been a bit of inconsistency in the past week—sorry about any apparent lack of presence, the content was still there.  So the registrar in Belize and name servers in Texas and New York all need to be copasetic in order for this content from California to show up safely on the web.
Isn’t it all just a little bit amazing?  (did my Cr-48 just yawn??)

In terms of usage, the Cr-48 has gotten plenty this past week.  Lectures Monday and Wednesday, and a lab on Monday, plus an off-site talk in Sacramento on Friday, and plenty of lecture prep over the weekend.  I have taken to downloading PDF versions of talks just in case I’m ending up in some bunker without either Verizon 3G or a public network for the E2500 to get out on the Internet.

One of my colleagues was asking about some sort of map of the body, and I remembered the Google Labs body browser to share with him.  It was OK to see that site image semi-adequately on the Cr-48.  But checking how it looks on a modern graphics workstation is a world apart.  Anyway, nice 3D mapping site for humans!

I think that the twitchiness of the track pad has lessened with this build.  That is a very welcome development, or if not a development, a very welcome refinement!


04 Aug 11 Crawling forward, this time with 3G

Thanks to my ChromeOS Ninja, I’ve had Verizon reset my DMU and things instantly started working.  The longest, slowest aspect of this move was waiting in phone queue for the Verizon rep.  Once in contact, the issue was resolved in under five minutes.

So to let the adventure return, I’m going up from CrOS 433.257  on toward Beta channel.  Although Comcast is testing out tonight at 32 Mb/s down and 4.7 Mb/s up, it still is taking a few minutes to grab that GB of CrOS goodness over the net.  Maybe 12 minutes of downloading time.

Now tuned in to Beta channel CrOS 587.100  with Google Chrome 13.0.782.108   and Verizon’s still working OK.   Might be crazy, but why stop?   I really like the way that multiple cros> shells open up on a single screen ;^)   And thanks to having a big Ubuntu screen behind the Cr-48 right now, I’m not too stressed about waiting another 12 minutes of downloading…

So now the moment of truth – although the dev switch is still on the Signed image side, I’m trying to get back to Dev channel without loss of the Verizon 3G connection.   So here goes: I’m back at CrOS 811.18 of 2011.08.04  with Google Chrome 14.0.835.19 and V8 is and I’m just a little bit worried, because it is so painful to roll back—time-wise.

Cool.  The little green 3G icon comes on in a second after I’ve disabled WiFi.   Welcome home from Hawaii, Mario!

As a little extra boost of happiness, the Cr-48 just scored a Comcast speed rating on to L.A. of 40.1 Mb/s down and 4.24 Mb/s up, a new household record.


03 Aug 11 Back to Beta! The road more traveled…

Well, the dev switch is off for a bit.  I’m heading into a new semester of classes, and I want to have Verizon 3G working as much as possible.  That means more than never.  So I followed the recovery steps here and used the Ubuntu workstation to burn a fresh recovery stick.  Using a paper clip on the reset button, I got a green reset screen that patiently waited for my stick to burn.  When it was rebooted I found myself at Google Chrome 12.0.742.105  with CrOS: of 433.114 from 2011.06.15  and ended up with a Cr-48 that was very anxious to snag a system update.  Even before I reached the Sign in screen, it slurped updates.

Wow, that took about 12 minutes—maybe twice as long as burning the recovery stick.
Anyhow, now I’m ready to log in to a Stable build on a Cr-48 for the first time in months.   I’m at Google Chrome 12.0.742.130  with CrOS: 433.257  of 2011.07.12 and V8 of  – but why be Stable?  During the day I’m typically using Chrome Canary build, where things are already up at 15.x.x.x so off to Beta…

Just on the Tools > Settings > About Chrome OS and the More Info link — in other words, at chrome://settings/about  – I select the drop-down and plop it on ‘beta’ then down at the bottom Check for Update has got stuff going.  At least compared to the Stable update, I get a hint of downloading progress.  let’s see now, I’ve downloaded a fresh recovery image once, built the stick, booted off the stick, installed a bootable image, and then downloaded a Stable update, and am now downloading an update that I expect will put the Cr-48 on a Beta build.  I’m on track for it taking another 12 minutes, but at least I get an update every couple percent of download progress.

And so I’m rebooted really fast (like 7 seconds) and have attained a backwards progress to Google Chrome 13.0.782.108  with CrOS 587.100 of 2011.08.02  Fresh!
Firmware is Mario.03.60.1120.0038G5.0018d   V8 is now.
But as I log in to Beta on a Cr-48 for the first time in months, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to get Verizon 3G working again.  Here goes…

It’s a bit annoying to have the Ctrl-Alt-T shell window swipe away the whole screen!  It’s very easy to get used to having it only take up half for the first one, 2/3 for the first two, and 3/4 for the first three.  That’s an elegant finesse of screen usage.  Seeing the whole screen go black seems, well, DOS-like, it does.
Hmm. Well, that didn’t work.  So much for my optimism just stepping back to Beta!
at the crosh> prompt, I try a ‘modem status’ and see that I’ve got a -65 dBm signal strength, better than the -85 dBm minimum needed, according to the Ninja.

Even back at stable, I still can’t get a Verizon connection.  Must wait for Ninja!

26 Jul 11 Verizon 3G – Not for the cutting edge builds

Just for the record, today’s build is Mario dev channel Chrome OS  774.0 with Google Chrome 14.0.825.0 and V8 of

For the past several months, I’ve been using dev channel builds of Google Chrome OS here on the Cr-48.  Part of my motivation to not stay on a home-built Chromium OS trunk was that I was able to keep the Verizon 3G connectivity working OK.  But since my Mario made a trip to Hawaii earlier this month, the 3G connectivity just hasn’t been the same.

This week, I asked for help and learned from the Chromebook Ninja that my configuration of dev channel builds isn’t supported for keeping connected with Verizon.  Each new update (and there sure are plenty of them) will require patching the Verizon data to get the Gobi going again.  The fix: back down to the beta channel builds, and the 3G will work again.  And the beneficent Ninja sent me the sequence that I’ll need (under guise of Ctrl-Alt-T  crosh shell) to reauthorize my Verizon connection myself—once back on beta.

This seems like some sort of progress, actually.  It’s as though the stable space where I have been working, and making ever more dependence on my use of Google Docs and just having the Chromebook around, that space is now beta space.

For the moment, I’m still OK with the dev builds, and I’m just foraging WiFi as best I can.  Between home and work, campus and convention centers, that just isn’t too much of a challenge these days.

In another matter, I’ve just stumbled on the easy-as-pie use of to generate QR codes.  Apparently this has been available, however non-obviously, since at least 2010.10 — simply add  ‘.qr’ to the tail end of your shortened link, paste it in a browser and you get its QR code.

For example, this interactive map viewer application  can be pasted into a browser with the .qr tail as “”  and one gets the corresponding QR code image just like this

created at

Demonstration of adding ".qr" to the tail end of a shortened URL at