Chromebook Chronicles, Part 3

Staunton Media Lab (SML) has concluded its three-week workshop series on Chromebook via live broadcast on March 16. The workshop was held on Google Hangouts and streamed on YouTube. Chromebook is a cloud-based netbook computer with a WiFi connection and limited storage. Last week’s broadcast covered security, storage options, accessibility settings, among other features.

Below are a few key points that were covered this week.

Touchpad or mouse?

As MaryKatherine Feehan, SML’s social media volunteer coordinator, explained, the Chromebook’s touchpad has no left- or right-click button, so you can use a mouse, or you can try some tricks using your fingers and the touchpad:

  • move one finger to move the cursor
  • use two fingers to right-click
  • use two fingers to scroll it up and down the page
  • move two fingers left or right to go back and forward on a page
  • if you move three fingers up and down it will minimize the screen

Productivity suite options

Chromebook isn’t suited for using Microsoft Office (MS), but you can use its cloud-based productivity apps that approximate those of the Microsoft: Docs (corresponds to MS Word), Sheets (MS Excel), Slides (MS PowerPoint). “Google Docs works great if you start and edit in Google Docs, but can be buggy when you transfer to a different platform,” added Steve O’Keefe, SML’s Executive Director.

Zoho as a standout

Zoho is another option. It is an online, cloud-based productivity suite, similar to MS 365. Zoho has such useful built-in features as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Contact Manager, Sites (build your own website); Help Desk (you can run your own customer support center); Mail, Docs (similar to Google’s); and Chat (Zoho’s version of Skype).

O’Keefe noted that while Zoho is definitely worth exploring he wouldn’t recommend moving all of your operations into Zoho before you test the waters. Still, Zoho syncs really well with your mobile devices, like Android, he said, especially the CRM and Contact Manager features.

“I think the connection between phone, cloud, and your Chromebook is better with Zoho than it is with Google,” O’Keefe said. (Zoho also can do things like logging your calls).

Once you commit to a system it’s hard to switch, and it may not be worth it overall, O’Keefe pointed out. For example, when you transfer your contacts from your mobile into Google some fields will be missing. Along the same lines, exporting and importing contacts between Zoho and Google isn’t seamless either.

O’Keefe noted that he prefers to keep the company contacts in Zoho, which does have a good export option, using “something that looks like an Excel spreadsheet.”

“There is a lot of cloud software available, and the nice thing again is that Zoho is like Switzerland in this way between Amazon, Google, and Apple,” said O’Keefe. “They all allow you to use Zoho with their services.”

A good approach it to mix and match suites, add-ons, and platforms. For example, you can use Google docs to create word-processing files, maintain your contacts in Zoho, and use MailChimp to send your marketing email. MailChimp is a cloud-based newsletter and direct email program that, in O’Keefe’s experience, syncs with Zoho “very nicely.”

More recommended features and add-ons

Recommended by the SML team, these are available as add-ons:

  • Enable remote access by using No-IP
  • Consider using TeamViewer, a team productivity suite
  • Use TechSmith for screen capture
  • Screencastify (screen video recorder) can record both video and audio (unlimited recording time; a yearly subscription is available)
  • AdBlock is always recommended, for all users
  • The Google Cast extension enables you to send content from other devices to a monitor/TV/speakers
  • Google Translate can not only translate into many languages but convert speech to text

Last word

Since Chromebook has limited storage you can use external drives, SD cards, or memory card readers to upload and store files.

Please connect with us on social media to be notified of new workshops, tutorials and video releases. For more information on the Chromebook Chronicles or Staunton Media Lab, please contact Steve O’Keefe at .

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