Little things


This morning, I was reading the blog posts for the This Week in Ontario Edublogs, watching the morning news, and eating breakfast when I got a notification on this Chromebook that there was an update. I’m on the Beta Channel and Google wanted me to upgrade to version 104.0.5112.23. https://www.googblogs.com/category/google-chrome-releases/

What the heck? It only takes a minute or two and it’s nice to be running the latest and greatest. If there are bugs to be fixed, this is the place to go! If there are new features to be had, I want them. They call it being on the bleeding edge.

Now, having said all that, usually I don’t get to use the updates right away. Often, they’re a feature or a problem that I didn’t know I needed.

Upon rebooting, I noticed that things looked a bit different. It took me a minute or two but finally I noticed it. It was another icon on my shelf.

29? 29 what?

This was pre-coffee so excuse me for being a bit slow.

Today is June 29. Did they just add a calendar there? I’ve always had a bookmarked shortcut for that. A click revealed that, sure enough, there was a calendar!

Now, don’t be too excited about all the dots. I do have a regular Wednesday ahead.

The little flyout is a bit less intrusive than having the calendar open in an application or in another tab. So, that’s good.

The release notes indicated that there’s easier access to settings and a screen saver. I don’t really have a need for a screen saver but I set one anyway.

The “What’s New” isn’t updated as I write this so I don’t know what else I might just have acquired. Time will tell.

Or exploration.

Lacros


As a result of the latest Google announcements, there has been a lot of talk about the Lacros browser. It’s freely available to test so, if you know me, I was all over it. After all, you can’t have too many browsers on your computer! In this case, it’s on the Chromebook.

This is interesting reading – Lacros

Since its beginning with Chromebooks, basically what you saw was the Chrome browser as the interface that let you do everything. Chromebooks have matured over the years and now you can run Linux and Android applications which open up a lot of options for software, particularly browsers. On mine, I do have Opera, Firefox, and Vivaldi Android versions installed and they work fine, if you want to work like you’re on a phone.

At one point, I had installed Firefox on Linux and played around with it. As with the Android applications, it was pokey. Functional, but pokey. There was nothing that actually ran on the ChromeOS. Until I read about Lacros, that is. If you read the link above, you’ll know that the master plan is to uncouple the Chrome browser from the ChromeOS and Lacros will be the answer. Ultimately, I suspect, it will be renamed Chrome and the old Chrome will go away.

Right now, you can install and have both on your Chromebook. It’s kind of cool to have both icons stuck to my shelf.

These are the flags that I used to make it happen.

Just like ChromeOS, there are different channels that you could choose – Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary, Since it’s all in the testing anyway, I went with Stable.

After setting those flags, I had to restart the computer and ended up with Lacros on the shelf. I started it; and all the extensions that I use had to be logged in again as the web applications like Twitter, Flipboard, etc. Interestingly, Lacros stole all the extensions from Chrome so I now have them all there and nothing if I load the Chrome browser.

I made the switch to Lacros as my default browser on my Chromebook and it works nicely. The theme and all the settings from Chrome came over nicely. Most everything works nicely.

One of the things that I use on Facebook throws an error…

I would have thought that message was reserved for Internet Explorer. The other issue that I’ve noticed so far is that screen redraws are considerably slower than in the Chrome browser.

The version number is the same as the version of Chrome that I use but interestingly, it indicates that an update is available but it doesn’t actually update.

There is a qualifier than it’s “Experimental (alpha-quality)” so I’m sure that will change at some point. You have to smile just a bit at the name of the browser; it’s not called Lacros but is labelled Google Chrome. So, it’s a hint of things to come.

It was fun to play around with something that will be coming sooner or later when it’s deemed to be ready for prime time.

Are you interested enough to try?

It’s fixed


If you’re a follower of mine, you know that I’ve been complaining and unhappy about one thing in my Chromebook. In Twitter, during replies or looking at my private messages, the text has been pixelated for quite some time.

I wrote about it in one of my Sunday summary posts.


Technology Troubleshooting

I have this issue with Twitter on my Chromebook. For the most part, things are working well but there’s a problem with the text being pixelated in the overlay windows. Replies, Messages.

It doesn’t hurt the functionality but it is annoying. I’ve tried everything I can think of; the best suggestion, it seemed, was to turn off hardware acceleration. That didn’t work. I can run Opera or Vivaldi on the Android side and it works fine.

I thought that maybe it was an extension that was interfering but I’ve tried Chrome with no extensions with no success.

My solution is one of:

suck it up
magnify the screen size to 150% and the problem goes away
Neither are really attractive and so I continue to search for a solution.


It was tough talk, I know, but it still bugged me every time I used it. I bounced between blaming Twitter and Chrome and found that if you’re looking for anything negative about either, you can easily find it. But not a solution for this problem.

Last night, I was curious as to why the Chromeos on my Chromebook hadn’t had that big security update that is making the news. On my other machines, there was an update to fix whatever the problem was but not on the Chromebook.

So, I thought that I would force an update. After checking and being assured by Chrome that I was up to date, I asked it to reboot and switch to the Beta Channel. It only took a couple of minutes and I think I probably forgot why I did this until I went in to reply to a Twitter message and the content was crystal clear. No pixelation at all! How about Messages? I popped up that menu and it was perfectly clear as well.

To be honest, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. This morning, I turned the computer off completely and rebooted and the fix remained. I read the release notes and it hadn’t been noteworthy enough to comment about. I sure wish I knew what they did but I’d so glad that they did what they did.

I’m one happy camper.

Some Chromebook dark things


One of the defaults on my Chromebook drove me crazy. Everything was so bright that it was almost painful to use in low light conditions, particularly in the evenings. For years, I’ve had Windows and Macintosh OS display things in dark mode. I just find it so much easier on the eyes.

A long time ago, the only option was to choose a dark theme to apply to the browser but it only applied to the browser. I wanted more.

I was happy when the same sort of functionality became available on the Chromebook. At this point, it’s a flag that’s accessible from chrome://flags and specifically the flag that is here.

Just go to the flags and search for “dark” and you’ll get there quicker.

It’s just a matter of changing “Default” to “Enabled”, rebooting the computer and navigating to the setting where you’ll find this toggle.

Tapping it immediately switches the menus, tabs, and shelf to show as dark. Tap it again in case you forgot how bright the default can be!

My choice, as you can see from the screen capture above, is to have the Dark theme turned on.

There is another setting that overrides remote defaults on webpages and makes them all dark as well with white and contrasting text.

To be honest, while I’ve tried this, I find it just TOO dark and Chrome makes some decisions about what the contrasting colours are. I prefer to leave it off.

The above looks like this…

When I think about it, I guess that it makes sense. Dark Mode is something that ChromeOS has total control and when you ask it to apply dark to other webpages, it just applies its own rules.

While I prefer dark where I can, I find it nicer to let the application adjust itself. For example, I like the fact that Twitter offers a couple of dark options in its configuration. The designers on the remote end will have done the heavy lifting and arranged things that make sense to them.

I like “Dim” instead of “Lights out”.

Who am I or the Chrome browser to override their design decisions?

I do tend to muck about with settings for things that I use regularly. I’ll admit that I’m kind of partial to a dark background except in the WordPress editor and display. I guess that I like the metaphor of screen display as a substitute for paper.

What are your thoughts about dark mode? Do you use it at all? Do you have a philosophy about what works better for you? I’m not a designer so, if you are, I’d be very interested in your insights.

Chrome 100


Geeky me, I was waiting for this milestorm to drop. In a perfect world, this would have been time for big features to be added to the browser. This time, it wasn’t earth shattering but, with all the security warnings running around, it’s something that needs to be done.

The Chrome update came to Windows first and a few impatiently waiting days later, I was eligible for my Chromebook. I was starting to get worried that maybe it had aged to the point where Google wasn’t supporting it any long. Fortunately, it did land here and I got the update.

There were two things that had me really curious. With the revision moving to 100, the version now has three digits instead of two. There was lots of speculation that we might be in for another Y2K, this time websites checking for two digits instead of the now three. So far, it has been another non-issue for me.

There were a few other changes that were interesting to read about and probably have good features but didn’t reach out and grab me.

The big thing on the user end was that the Launcher was changing. Instead of a full screen coverup with all of the available applications launchable, it was to take on a more of a Windows pop up look. Quite honestly, that wasn’t going to be new for me since it’s been an experiment on my personal unit that I’ve turned on for a while.

Besides the smaller footprint and the ability to see what’s under the menu, picky people like me could right click in the open window and sort the icons by either colour or alphabetically. I went alphabetically which is the only option that made sense to me.

I turned off the experiment and did the reboot and was hoping that there was more to be enjoyed. I was quite surprised when it didn’t work. So, I did what any superstitious computer user would do – I shut the entire computer down. Maybe a harder reboot was needed. No go. I wasn’t a fan of the old launcher so I went in to the experiments and turn the new launcher again. Maybe my Chromebook wasn’t ready for that feature officially but it has always worked and it continues.

So, eventually, I got the update and I was happy that my Chromebook was still supported and I started to poke around. It’s working well, my blog is still available – what’s not to like?