Google-less

Google (or should I now call it “Alphabet’s Google”?) as a service and as a family of products have essentially taken over the Internet in terms of how many people use it. We’re constantly told to diversify ourselves and never put all our eggs in one basket in every facet of our lives; pensions, banking, news, information etc. Yet when it comes to online presence we’re more than happy to lay ourselves entirely at the doorstep of Mountain View, CA.

For years we’ve said ‘Google it’ instead of ‘Look online for it’. Nobody says that a product is part of ‘The Alphabet Inc. Family’, but a part of ‘The Google Family’, despite the former being truth because of the name recognition alone, and the mindset the brand name evokes. We’re a long way past the days of ‘Don’t be Evil’, and given the recent firing of Jason Damore over his emotionally bland (but factually correct) memo that was circulated internally and then leaked (as an aside, how much is on the table for the person responsible never being fired over this?) alongside the outright, thankfully temporary, Google-wide ban of Jordan B. Peterson, it gives the wary pause for thought.

But it shouldn’t be just the wary that are taken aback by the brashness and blatant leanings that the web’s largest company has, both politically and ideologically; it should be everyone. The poster declaring that ‘You’ve had a bit too much to think!’ is becoming chillingly accurate. Every person that has all of their online eggs in the Google basket should be concerned about the G-Man potentially knocking on your door with the G-Ban.

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So… I bought a Chromebook.

I’ve been wanting to get a laptop again for a while. With neighbour issues seeming to want to escalate I’ve wanted to be able to make a lot of what I do online as portable as possible. If I want to go into the bedroom and talk to people, or post on forums and such I should be able to, if only to get away from the problem temporarily. As much as I love having my Bluetooth keyboard and a tablet available, it’s not the same as having a laptop. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a laptop that has too much, but I was also painfully aware, thanks to tablets with keyboard attachments, that not spending enough and not doing enough research was going to hurt my purchasing in the long run.

I had been eyeing up a Chromebook for a while, purely because I spend almost all of the time I am not gaming, or video editing (i.e. things that I wouldn’t attempt on a laptop anyway) in Chrome in some way or another. Even when I’m in Discord it’s a version of Chrome with a few things attached. After doing research, it turned out that the cheapest Chromebook I could find was perfect for my needs; an Acer Chromebook 11 (2016).

I’ve not had a new laptop since mid-2010 when I bought from the first iterations of Dell’s Inspiron 1545, and the low-end version at that. That was six or seven years ago, and frankly I expected similar specs. I know that Linux and by extension ChromeOS would run on a lot of hardware (it was just about usable on my 2007 EeePC 901 with spinning HDD) and as such I expected the specs to be low to match. What I had missed was that with SSDs becoming cheaper to produce and more in demand thanks to the speed differences inherent in the design they remove a significant bottleneck in cheap notebooks at a decent price point. SSDs are no longer a gimmick in laptops; they are the norm.

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Pokémon Go – Niantic is killing the Golden Goose

I was in quite early on Pokémon GO (if only GO stood for Global Offensive) as far as the craze in the UK; I was the first that I knew of to sideload the files needed onto my new Nexus phone and was playing along with everyone else. I had a moment of total nostalgia when my parents got me Blue and I was one of the ‘in kids’. More of that is in this entry but my point is that I was on the bleeding edge and learning with everyone else. We learned how to catch, how the gyms worked and until everyone else had it, I felt like I was part of a club. Yes, a very nerdy club, but an exclusive club all the same.

I was ecstatic when the game finally hit the UK, despite the servers still being more unstable than your typical psychiatric patient, everyone was talking about it. I’ll even admit that GO was the tipping point for me to upgrade my four year old Nexus 4 to a Nexus 6P.

Nintendo’s stock went up by 30% to the point where it’s company value was higher than Sony’s, this despite Nintendo only licencing the assets and such to Niantic, a company under Google/Alphabet’s umbrella that developed the AR game Ingress prior to taking on GO.

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