My New Computer Is A Chromebook

Specifically, an HP Chromebook


Maybe yours should be, too.

My old Windows laptop is 5 years old, and in the Windows world, that’s ancient. What was once a blazingly-fast machine has slowed to the point that from a cold start, it takes 4 minutes 50 seconds before I can do anything on it.

So while I’m waiting for my MacBook Air next pandemic check, I decided I needed something to bridge the gap. So like any good consumer (I’ve been in the PC dodge since 1980, and worked for several tech companies you’d recognize), I did my research.

Right from the start I ruled out Windows computers and tablets. I was already familiar with that operating system’s drawbacks. The Mac OS was also out of the question: too expensive. But I’m not ruling it out in the future.

That left the Android OS.

And since I wanted a full computer (as opposed to a tablet), that meant a Chromebook.

I set a budget at less than $300 and, armed with my new knowledge, set off to my local Best Buy.*

I saw what was on offer and, based on my budget, opted for a HP Chromebook. It, as  well as a cordless mouse (I never could get the hang of trackpads) and a carrying bag, ended up costing me $425.

Why The Android OS Anyway?

Because it already had most of the software I wanted right out of the box. You need to understand that when Google created the Android OS in the first place, they were trying to break into the education marketplace. And with apps like Google Docs, they already had a reasonably-priced word processor.

Did I say, “reasonably-priced”? Try FREE! 

In fact, the OS came with most of Google’s free apps, like Google Calc, Google Photos, and GMail.

And battery life? I opened my Chromebook at 4:20 pm today and the battery monitor said I still had 10 hours before I’d need to charge it.

All in all, the Chromebook, whatever the brand, is a great bargain.

(*-DISCLAIMER: I get nothing in return for mentioning Best Buy. They just happen to be the only game in my town.)

Drafts, Continued

Yesterday I told you about Drafts, a new note-taking app for MacOS and iOS. Today I’m going to talk some more about its capabilities and limitations.

I mentioned how convoluted it was to get something posted in Drafts into a blog post. But the app has something called Actions, which is essentially a way for you to program new things for the program to do. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to figure out how to export from Drafts directly into Open Live Writer, where I create all of my blog entries.

Or better yet, since I haven’t done any programming since the mid-1980s, I’m going to see if someone has already created an action or something similar to it. I’ll do this by logging into the Drafts Community Forum and poking around there.


Yesterday, I discovered tags and workspaces. Much like Categories and Tags in WordPress, tags are a way to categorize your writings by subject. Workspaces allows you to create virtual folders which can be used to file your writings by tags. That makes it easier to find a particular document.


Here, I’ve gathered all of the drafts with the tag lgbt into one workplace/folder. If I want to see all of my notes, I just have to click on the Show all tab at the bottom of the screen.

And that’s it for Drafts

It’s a simple enough app, but it’s also quite powerful, and it’s going to take me more time to figure it all out.

Until then,

Aisling's Signature" Love, Aisling

Drafts: The App

As a writer, I’m always looking out for The Next Great Tool. And while I’ve pretty much settled on Ulysses for novels and short stories, I’m still not completely satisfied with what’s available for blogging on mobile platforms (I’m looking at you, iPhone and iPad).

On my Windows laptop, Open Live Writer is my program of choice. Unfortunately, it’s not available for mobile devices–they’re just not powerful enough.

This morning I started reading someone’s blog post about a program called Drafts. It looked interesting, so I decided to take it for a spin, which was easy enough to do since there is a free version as well as a paid version.

So I installed it on my iPhone. In fact, I’m writing this entry using it. I already have several writing apps on this phone, so why do I keep looking for more?

It’s quite simple, really: I wasn’t all that smart when I bought my smartphone. I went with the one that had the least amount of memory: 16Gb. Which means I’m constantly searching for more efficient apps so that I can use the fewest number of them as possible.

And yes, I learned my lesson: my new iPad has 128Gb of memory.


Formatting text in Drafts is quite simple; it uses Markdown language which is accessed via the on-screen Markdown toolbar. It’s the same language Ulysses uses, which is pretty cool considering that I can export my writing right into Ulysses.

So today will be a day of research. I’m going to install Drafts onto my iPad, and put it through its paces. My goal is to see what, if any, apps it can replace. I’m also going to see how far I can go with the free version, which will help me decide if I really need to spend money for the Pro version.

I just installed Drafts onto my iPad and it immediately synced to the cloud and retrieved this post. So far, so good! That means that although I’m still going to use GoodNotes on the iPad, I don’t need to keep it on the iPhone, thus freeing up space for those all-too-crucial pictures of cats.

I also managed to export this post to Evernote, then copy/paste it into Open Live Writer, my editor of choice on my laptop. It’s really beginning to look as if Drafts Is here to stay! I’ve already replaced Apple’s Notes app on both of my mobile devices, and between Drafts and Ulysses, I no longer have any need for 53’s Paper or Apple’s Pages.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at a few more of Draft’s operating details.

Is This The Ultimate Writing App for iOS?

Ulysses. Ancient Greek adventurer and explorer. Legendary traveler. And now, a writing app for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Sorry, I just needed to take a break from hair!

Were you starting to get as bored with reading hair reviews as I was with writing them? I don’t always blog about hair, but lately it seems that’s all I’ve been doing.

I discovered Ulysses whilst searching for a new blogging and writing tool. I had several requirements that any system or app had to satisfy:

  1. It had to be reasonably priced
  2. It had to have a clean interface
  3. It had to have a free trial period
  4. It had to be compatible with the apps already in my existing Writer’s toolbox
  5. It had to allow me to sync between my iPad and iPhone.
  6. If possible, I would like it to sync with my windows laptop.

At $4.99 a month or $39.99 annually, it definitely is reasonably priced. That took care of the first requirement. It also comes with a free 14-day trial period, thus fulfilling number 3.

So far, I’ve not found any conflict with my existing tools. That was number 4 on my list.

As far as syncing between my iPhone and iPad, I originally installed and configured it on my iPad. When I installed it on the iPhone and launched it for the first time, it was already synced with the iPad. Since my documents were set to store in iCloud, what I had written on the iPad was already available on the iPhone.

And syncing was almost instantaneous: I started this document on the iPad, edited it on the iPhone, and when I moved back to the iPad, all of the new changes were there!

Syncing to my laptop is a bit trickier: I was able to export this document to MS Word .docx format, download it to the laptop, open it in Libre Writer, save it in .txt format, and then copy/paste it into Open Live Writer. Honestly, it sounds more complicated than it is!

One of the reasons for the clean interface is the fact that Ulysses uses markdown language for all of its formatting. There are only 25 commands to memorize, but if you’re lazy like me, there’s also a pop-up menu to give you access to all of them. And the interface doesn’t get much  cleaner than this:


So that’s Ulysses in a nutshell. Over the next several days I’m going to spend time exploring all of its features, and just learning how to use it. But for now, if you’re interested, here’s the complete features list.