Bizarre crashing


I’m like many people, I suspect. One of the first things that I’ll do when I get a new device is change the background image. There’s this built-in desire to make the device mine.

For some reason, a previous release of Ubuntu came with this background image. https://wallhere.com/it/wallpaper/933540

It’s an image of a train station in Copenhagen. I’m not necessarily infatuated with trains or have a fondness of brown things. But taken all together and thinking about how important that mode of travel is, the image has become my current favourite.

I never thought that any image might cause problems with a device. But, recently, there’s been one image that is allegedly crashing Android smartphones when people use it. Many stories have appeared in my news feed warning against using this one image.

What’s so special about it?

I don’t know that anyone knows the one specific answer. But, today, this article takes a run at explaining it. Android: Why this photo is bricking some phones

If you visit the story, you can see just what the image in question looks like. As I look at it, there’s nothing that really stands out. I’ve seen similarly composed images that come with Macintosh upgrades. Ditto for images on the login screen for Windows 10.

And yet, this one image is causing the grief. The explanation in the article makes sense, I guess, but of all the smartphones and all the background images in use, it was this one that made the headlines.

I know that we’re advised daily to be safe when online. It’s still good advice. Don’t click links in email messages unless you are sure of the source.

Who would have thought that that logic now extends to background images? Maybe I’ll just stick with this one forever. It hasn’t crashed anything on me yet.

Virtual desks


I’ve been a longtime user of virtual desktops on my computers. It’s my way of trying to stay sort of organized and not get confused with what I’m doing. Or at least minimizing that confusion.

Up until now, virtual desktops weren’t available in Chrome OS but a recent release now makes it possible. Here’s how.

Enable it. It’s actually something that you need to make happen before the magic happens. It’s easy enough. By now, you should know that there are many things available in the chrome://flags screen when you type it in your address bar. Search for desks and enable them.

You’ll have to reboot your computer to make it active.

Show windows. I’m not quite sure what this key is actually called. You can use it to take screenshots and also to see all the windows that are open. It’s the key just above the 6 on your keyboard! Press it.

Create a new desk

In the top right, there’s a + New desk option that lets you add a new desk to your computer. A thumbnail of each desktop will appear centred on the screen. Above, you’ll see that I have three desks open.

Choose your desk

Once you have as many desks (up to 4) that you want, select the desk that you want to use and away you go. As you work, subsequent show windows actions will show you up to date thumbnails.

Alternatively, ALT+TAB will let you cycle through desks just like you would normally switch through windows. And, if you have content on one desk that you want on another, just drag and drop it where it’s needed.

Personally, I typically have three desks in operation. Two instances of Chrome – each isolated on a particular task, and an instance of Opera open. Periodically, I’ll open another desk to run another Android option if the urge comes.

Try it yourself


If you’re like me, you probably hear and read a lot about this.  “Chromebooks aren’t real computers”.

I always like to challenge back with a why?

The answers are typical – it doesn’t run Photoshop.  Or, I’m not always connected to the Internet.

So, I’ll add a reply to that – “When was the last time you used Photoshop?”  “Did you buy your current computer just because of Photoshop?” “If you could install a program on your Chromebook and could run it offline, would that change your perspective?”

Now, the misconception of a Chromebook’s capabilities undoubtedly stem back to the beginning when it really was a browser in a box needing an Internet connection.  It’s just that it’s come a long way since then but the Internet never forgets.  Neither do some of the silly people who still maintain that it’s just a browser.

In fact, the whole concept like the Chrome browser and Chromebook has come so far.  And, you’re not limited to just that; modern Chromebooks run Android and some are experimenting with Linux.

And yes, it’s not the product of universal choice in schools.  I’d be up in arms if someone indicated that a Computer Science or Drafting or Visual Arts program would be equally as served.  But, there are so many other areas where the Chromebook does a terrific job.

So terrific, in fact, that we’re now seeing that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows to put computers at the same price point.  That’s going to be interesting.

In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to get yourself up to speed.  To that end, you should check out the Chromebook Simulator in your current system.

chromebook

Even if you are a Chromebook user, there’s always something new to learn.  Maybe a little time in the simulator will change the opinions of some or make others more sophisticated users!

Need to know more


Right off the bat, I’ll admit that I don’t own a dedicated personal digital assistant. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested; I just don’t have a need right now. At least, one that I know of. That can always change.

If I’m within listening range, I can say “Hey, Google” and the Assistant comes to life on my phone. I would estimate that I use 1/1,000,000 of the possibilities that it offers. My needs typically are to ask questions. Like last night when Clint Black was on the ACM awards show, my wife wanted to know how old he was.

I could have started typing but it was just so much easier to ask my phone. I turned up the volume so that we could both hear the answer and then move back to watching the show.

The Google Assistant is certainly in a number of places.

But, what else can it do? Curiosity got the best of me so I went looking. A gold mine of ideas can be found here.


Not every option is available on every device, so this is helpful.

There’s lots to poke around with and to learn.

What’s your favourite use of the Google Assistant?

I’d really be interested is ways that people are using the Google Assistant in the classroom.

Windows on Android


A day of freedom for me was having to turn in my iPhone to my employer.  Like the Blackberry before it, the thing was functional.  It made phone calls, connected to the internet, and let you install and ran applications.  You know, the stuff that you have one for.

And, it was customizable.  You could put a desktop image on the background.

Those of you who know me and/or my blog wouldn’t be surprised when I said that I felt handcuffed.  I got my first Android smartphone and realized that there was a whole different world out there.  Part of my frustration before was flipping through screen after screen looking for an application.  (Yeah, I install a lot.  That’s what memory is for.)

One of the nice features about Android is that you can change the Launcher.  This is the application that makes access to your other applications possible.  And, there’s a LOT of them.

Now, a big of a caveat here … I haven’t tried them all.  It’s just that when I read a review of yet another one, I read about a neat feature that I have to try out.  So, while I haven’t tried them all, I’ll confess to having tried a bunch of them!  And, surprisingly to me, I’m intrigued by launchers that try to work like Windows!  It actually shouldn’t be that big a surprise – Windows 8 was designed for touch and so is your smartphone.

Here are a few that I’ve poked around with, and quite frankly, enjoy the Windows experience with

Launcher 8 WP Style Themes

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.15.19

Computer Launcher for Win 10

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.18.32

and the one that is currently installed comes from Microsoft itself.

Microsoft Launcher

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.21.16

The new wallpaper every day plus the access to all the apps versus a scrolling page has caught my fancy – at least at this point in time.  No advertising is nice as well.

But, ever fickle, I caught a glance at a Windows XP launcher theme.  You know, back when computers were computers…

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