James J Griffin

Investor. Writer. Philosopher. Social Entrepreneur.

Have Chromebook – Will Travel

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of remote work. Hiring talent where talents available, being a manager of one and working when you feel you’re most productive. Basically everything you could find at 37 Signals (www.basecamp.com). Chromebook hardware has fundamentally changed how I think about workplace travel. It’s the little piece of hardware that could.

ReWork and Remote reshaped my life. They changed the way I do business, the way I manage overhead, the way I think about running a business and what’s really necessary. Those two books turned work on its head in the best ways possible.

The only downside I’ve come across is a constant nagging feeling of having to be connected. I haven’t yet mastered how to unplug and ignore the daily, minute to minute demands, of running a real estate investment business. It seems that if you’re not connected, you’re not doing business. That’s a little neurosis I’ll have to work on in 2016, because it sure as hell ain’t healthy.

This was the same little nagging thought that had me sweating as we prepared a weekend getaway to Baja California a few months ago. For a budget vacation, I really didn’t feel like having a $2,200.00 Macbook Pro go missing somewhere along the way, but I couldn’t be without a computer either. The other current option was a $900 macbook air which seemed similarly disappointing should it go for an unsanctioned walk.

Enter the Chromebook.

I’ve been a big supporter of the always on laptop since its inception. I mean, the vast majority of what I do on a computer, any computer, is refracted through the lens of a chrome browser. I’ve had the first iteration of the Samsung Chromebook, the Acer Intel Chromebook and the HP 11 Chromebook before. Each had it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Where I love the sleek look and light weight of the HP 11, not to mention it’s stunning keyboard, I can’t abide by it’s battery life. Maybe 4 hours if I’m really cranking. Not nearly enough time for a long train trip or cross country flight.

Not exactly an enticing theft target

Not exactly an enticing theft target

Another issue with the Chromebook is Google Sheets. As far as I’m aware, Google Sheets doesn’t support iterative functions like Excel does. I’m not sure if they’re going to change that or not, but as of now, it’s a huge impediment to getting my real analysis work done. I’ve been stop gaping this when working on Chromebooks by using Excel Online. As that tool becomes more refined, I imagine I’ll be able to step fully into the cloud.

Going to Mexico though, the cloud wasn’t always available thanks to limited wifi in our particular dwelling.

The work around solution that I ended up going with for the trip was the Lenovo N21 Chromebook running both ChromeOS and Ubuntu through Crouton. The Lenovo has excellent battery life, nearly 9 hours of real world writing and number crunching. That’s phenomenal for sitting by the beach getting some work done. The keyboard is it’s only real short coming and that’s not a deal breaker.

Baja Sunset

Evening Sunset in Rosarito, BC

Running Ubuntu means I can side run Libre Office and it’s full power office suite. That crushed the only real issue I had with Chromebooks full time. The experience has been surprisingly smooth and I can see why some writers have moved to this platform entirely.

The trackpad, like the keyboard, isn’t spectacular and it has some issues tracking finger movements while running the ubuntu interface. But when using a mouse, there’s really no issues whatsoever.

What I love about the Chromebook

The real killer app though, and one I don’t think Google is doing enough to promote within the Chromebook family is the Chrome Remote Desktop app. When Wi-Fi was flowing like a fountain, I had zero issues remote logging into my Macbook from Mexico.

Logging in on Chrome Remote Desktop to my Macbook at home was a breeze.

Logging in on Chrome Remote Desktop to my Macbook at home was a breeze.

It was seamless, it was fluid, the home router didn’t crap out over the weekend. It was great. I was able to grab files off my hard drive backups for whatever wasn’t stored on the cloud. I was able to go back and get files I didn’t think I would remotely need. It’s a killer app. Full stop.

In the future I don’t see why my next upgrade for work will be a killer iMac system that’s covered by my homeowners insurance and a Chromebook running a power sipping Intel chip with 4gb of ram. I think the cloud has honestly come of age, especially when paired with the mobile digital accouterments we’ve all started using.

Aside from the sleek and sexy new macbook, because, honestly, who can deny that beauty, I can’t see myself buying another laptop that isn’t in the Chromebook family. That Macbook though… oh boy.

Do you have experiences remote working or travelling with a Chromebook? I think it’s a great solution, but I’d love to hear what you think as well. Hit me up in the comments or on twitter @jamesjgriffin. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates as well.

About James

James is an investor, itinerant philosopher, startup entrepreneur and writer living in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @jamesjgriffin or on Google Plus +JamesJGriffin. He is also the founder of DesignYourJoy.co, a community focused on self-development and self-actualization. James lives with his wife Kate and giant beagle, Libby.

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