Chromebook Chronicles, Part 2

The Staunton Media Lab (SML) has launched a series of copyright-free workshops, first announced in February, on using  Chromebook computers. The first installment aired March 1; it was a disaster and the video was quickly removed. The second session on March 9 went much better. The Google Hangout on Air ran live on YouTube and the video is now archived there.

The live, online workshop included a live transcription window. Theoretically, hearing-impaired participants could watch the transcript unfurl live online. In practice, the transcription software had trouble keeping up with four different participants. The service used, http://speechpad.pw, is free and is still highly recommended by the Staunton Media Lab for the hearing-impaired.

In the future, SML is working to add live ASL to the workshops, so that hard-of-hearing participants can watch the ASL screen and participate in the workshops that way. SML is also looking at adding an ASL translation to the video after it airs. If you know ASL and are interested in helping sign our webcasts, please contact Steve O’Keefe today. Thanks!

Getting Started With Chromebooks

Coley Evans, Audio Director; Steve O’Keefe, Executive Director; and Max Cross, SML’s volunteer who handled the live stream, outlined Chromebook’s main features, with emphasis on security and accessibility.

As Evans pointed out, Chromebook “is accessible right out of the box and comes with its own screen reader called Chromevox.” To start using your Chromebook, you can either sign into your Google account, or you can browse as a quest. Activate your Chromevox by checking that it’s on in your Settings.

As O’Keefe noted, since Chromebook “latches on to your Google account,” it may be a good idea to use an alternative Google account, not the one you have your sensitive information tied to, such as credit card information. Another issue to consider is that when you use your Google account and it’s synced with other devices, a lot of information and files are automatically uploaded in the cloud and various devices, like images and saved bookmarks. If you don’t want this you can dis-attach other devices in Advanced Settings, under Privacy.

Below are a few key points Evans, O’Keefe and Cross went over.

Chromebook Accessibility Settings

  • Chromevox
  • high-contrast mode for visually impaired
  • screen magnifier
  • onscreen keyboard
  • Speech Pad

Chromebook Security

Unlike Windows or Mac, Chromebook is web-based, Cross said, and this has both advantages and disadvantages. Because it’s web-based and therefore storage is limited, it’s hard for browser highjackers to work with limited storage, because hacking requires writing and storing vast amounts of data. The bad part is that storage is cloud-based and is vulnerable.

Even if you don’t link your sensitive information to your Chromebook, it’s a good idea to download an anti-virus program. Cross recommends checking out a free 30-day trial first, from reputable vendors like AVG.

Chromebook Settings and Advanced Settings

Those include Appearance, Device, Search, People, etc. O’Keefe brought the attention to a feature called Powerwash, which allows you to reset to default or erase the search info and other info stored on Chromebook (useful if you’re hacked). All settings, he noted, could get reinstalled from the cloud if you synced your Chromebook with your Google account.

Chromebook Storage Alternatives

Because of the limited storage mentioned above, you may want to consider storing your files in the cloud, like Google Drive, or using a device for external storage like an external drive. Chromebook has a SD card slot and two USB ports.

When you’re uploading large chunks of data, both Evans and O’Keefe pointed out, don’t expect miracles. It’s best to upload in bits and pieces, a few files at at time. Also, compress your files (for example, audio files are best moved in MP3).

File-Naming for Cloud Storage

Because the files are moved in the cloud and across devices, use simple filenames, and avoid unusual characters like vertical bars and colons and ampersands. Limit capitalization, and use hyphens instead of underscores.

Printing From a Chromebook

You can print from your Chromebook in several ways. First, you can directly connect to a printer through a USB port. Second, you can print wirelessly if you have a printer with wireless capability. Third, you can register any printer with Google Cloud Print. If that printer is compatible with Google Cloud Print and connected to the Internet anywhere in the world, you can send the print job to it over the Internet.

Use this link to see an updated list of printers that are Google Cloud Print compatible. To set up a printer, look in Settings under Devices: change printer options and manage your device.

Using Chromebook to Stream Live Video

  • Screensharing: Use mute buttons if you don’t plan to speak
  • Use a headset to best audio. To switch back and forth between headphones and speaker, press Shift S, tap down to volume slider, press Enter to get sound options, check boxes for speaker, check the output.
  • To attain the best lighting when you are onscreen, face a strong light source, per O’Keefe, and maybe add a clip-on light on top of the computer and aim it at your face too. Reveal bulbs are great to creating a flattering skin tone as they reduce the yellow tones and increase the pink ones.

The third and final workshop in the Chromebook Chronicles series will run live at 3:30 p.m. Eastern US Time, Wednesday, March 15, on YouTube. Topics on the agenda include:

  • audio editing
  • video editing
  • editing photos
  • screen capture
  • Google docs
  • Zoho docs (cloud based)
  • conferencing
  • team sharing

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 to join the online user group, please contact Steve O’Keefe at .

We’ll see you Wednesday for the final installment of Chromebook Chronicles!

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