Consider a Chromebook if you travel a lot

Discussion in 'Chrome OS' started by fcuco, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. fcuco

    fcuco

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    If you travel a lot, specially by plane, and need to carry a computer with you, a Chromebook is the ideal buy for a few reasons:


    • Almost all the storage is cloud based, so if your machine gets stolen you can rest assured that it is going to be difficult for a thieve to steal your information. Even if you password protect your regular laptop, with physical access to the machine a person can simply live boot with a different operating system or simply remove the hard drive to read your data somewhere else, there is nothing stored on the Chromebook aside from your passwords maybe, but you can quickly change those.
    • For the price of a Chromebook if you can't carry it with you into the plane the decision to check it in as luggage is never going to be as traumatic as checking in a 2 grand MacBook Pro or something.
    • It is better than a tablet for content creation simply because you have an actual physical keyboard and you can plug in other accessories like a mouse. If you only consume data, maybe a tablet is better but if you are actually going to be doing serious work consider a Chromebook
    • There are a couple of RDP clients that you can use on a Chromebook to connect and work to your main computer over the internet, so basically you would be carrying a thin client.

    All this being said, it only makes sense if you get the really cheap models, not something like the Pixel, for the price of the Pixel you may as well get a full fledged laptop that can run other software besides the chrome browser.
     
    fcuco, Mar 25, 2016
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  2. fcuco

    IBMPC8088

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    Those are all reasons I wouldn't consider a chromebook for, except for the use of a keyboard oever a tablet model.

    I don't think people understand that your data is no longer private or yours once you put it into a vulnerable, distributed, redundant, unsecured, and uneditable storage system that retains the originals of what you uploaded forever with a cutesy name like 'cloud'. I do not want that. That is not an advantage, it's an attack on my privacy and my data. No thank you.

    I would never buy a 2 grand Macbook pro. I wouldn't even spend 1 grand on a Hackintosh that does everything with PC Intel or AMD hardware that an Intel hardware system running OS X marketed by Apple would. I just emulate OS X anyway, so I never have to worry about buying or losing those things to any questionable attacks on my freedom through harrassment by TSA at an airport.

    I am actually going to be doing serious work as usual. I would never use a tablet, and I would never use a chromebook. Neither one is for serious work, or for anything that isn't to be instantly public. If you are using those devices, you are using the mobile-device equivalent of a library computer. I would never do my work on one of those, and neither should anyone who cares about their privacy, their data, and others not having instant access to it without their consent to modify, copy, capitalize on, or steal. That's not computing...that's passive-aggressive espionage.

    If you think that someone can simply 'live boot' a machine I use and be able to mount an unknown encryption system to access the files here, you're going to be mistaken and leave empty-handed.

    Even people using the off-the-shelf encryption for NTFS, ext2/3, HFS+ (Apple), XFS, and others are not going to have an easy time, if they get anywhere at all. EFS (encrypting file system) has existed for even Windows users since NT 3.0. The only people who can use a live CD session to get anything out of that are on systems which do not use encryption at all (which is not safe). Consider the fact that not only do people use encrypted file systems to encode the entire drive's contents, they also use secondary encryption on individual file streams on top of it. So even if you somehow managed to get past the drive encryption itself, you would then have to figure out what form of encryption is used to encrypt individual directories or files on the system after that from there. The likelyhood of either being done in a hurry or with weeks or months of time to try is near zero. It stumps even the 3 letter government organizations most times (as you've seen with the Apple fiasco and decrypting just the phone lately in the news). So if you were to do this to your systems, then you and only you are able to do recovery on them, just as it should be, eliminating the premise of someone simply using a live session to try and grab the data.

    For the price of a cheap netbook under $100, you can have more than the chromebook can ever offer, on your own terms, with any OS you choose (not limited to Chrome OS like chrome is, or annoying limits on linux with a chromebook), you can use RDP or TOR + encrypted VNC sessions for greater security which standard RDP isn't going to allow for with a VPN (it does some, but not enough).

    You can use encryption then and keep your data safe without giving it to the world on distributed servers you can never reclaim or take back again under any circumstances through a Chromebook.

    The only thing that is a 'cloud' is the puff of smoke that your security and chances of keeping your data private just became.

    If you're storing cat pictures, memes, the greatest hits of Justin Bieber, quotes of wisdom by Nicki Minaj, movies from Netflix, Windows 10, a list of things Kanye West has to say to the world, or anything else the public has access to but does not want, then those things are fine to upload to the cloud.

    If you have a cure for a rare disease, the next best-selling novel, proprietary source code for a new program or game development, prototype schematics for advanced hardware, government documents, private information for others, military strategy information, or anything with scanned documents for identification or anything of the like, then you do not want to use cloud storage for anything unless your intent is to compromise it all and sabotage it on purpose for everyone else to see and have as their own.

    It doesn't make sense to me to get any Chromebook model or anything with a 'cloud'. You should instead have a private home server or trusted friend with a server that you connect to through encrypted sessions to send encrypted data over them to and from machines. The security then remains persistent between origins: You have security at the endpoints for the connection, and another layer of security by the files themselves being encrypted again, making it closer to impossible for even a man-in-the-middle attack to get a hold of any useful portion of it. Even if there is any form of weak 'cloud' endpoint encryption, there's just one layer of it and the method for breaking it is already available despite Google running closed joke campaigns to try and act as if it's not. Their offer to blackhats recently was not enough for them to say 'sure Google, here's how we get into those cloud servers instantly' like Google thought they would. It can be done and it is done daily which is why Google went to such lengths to try and quiet it and ran their fake challenge to try and get insight to the ways they haven't yet been able to stop private groups from doing it. And why should those groups comply when the value of information from people willingly uploading their most private and personal information is worth billions instead? Google and those companies want to be the only one who can steal your ideas and information...they don't want competition, but either one of them having your data means you lose if they do.

    So if you need storage while traveling, then set up a private server at home or a friend's house, secure it, and then just make it activate the file transfer system with a password and not until or unless it is correct.

    Even if someone manages to get onto the server then (and unlike distributed global cloud systems they have to know it exists first), they still have to get past the file encryption of directories and files that store it if they even manage to know it is there.

    You're better off with a cheap netbook and a private server on your own internet connection than you are with any chromebook or cloud service out there. Less cost, more security, and less control and intrusion from Google and others that people who use chromebooks may not even realize exist.
     
    IBMPC8088, Mar 25, 2016
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  3. fcuco

    nytegeek

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    I wouldn't waste money on a Chromebook. For me a phone and or a tablet would suffice for anything I would use a Chromebook for. If you are concerned about privacy I don't advise something so heavily integrated or reliant on cloud services.
     
    nytegeek, Mar 25, 2016
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  4. fcuco

    rz3300

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    Oh yes. I love my Chromebook, and I had a period where I depended on it solely for everything. That was a little difficult, but it can work if you know how, which is good. But in terms of being lightweight and convenient to carry around they are perfect, and they are just cheap enough where they are not a huge investment. I would definitely recommend one for anyone looking for something smaller.
     
    rz3300, Mar 26, 2016
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  5. fcuco

    fcuco

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    Consider yourself lucky if you are able to have a home server that begins to approach the up times and upload speed of what Google has to offer, that means that you have a reliable internet connection, probably redundant, with an ISP that actually delivers on its promises on upload speeds and that can't get away with throttling your connection, going down a lot and implementing data caps. That means you are one of the lucky few that has access to more than one ISP option where you live. Add a power grid that's not that reliable so you'll need some serious UPS game. Not to mention all the additional storage and scripts you will have to put in place, offsite backups included to achieve something that begins to resemble the redundancy of data that a google's data center offers. Once again, if you have the coin for the hardware and the electricity, the expertise and the reliable connection, more power to you if you can pull something like that, I will never trust my home's internet connection for any type of mission critical task, so that leaves me with the option of carrying a computer with all my encrypted data or a Chromebook that uses Google services, if my computer gets stolen the criminal may not be able to access my data, but, yet again, that means that I lost that forever unless I have some kind of cloud backup, since I can't trust my home connection I have to end up using some cloud service, so why bother?
     
    fcuco, Mar 27, 2016
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  6. fcuco

    fcuco

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    It is not about privacy, it is about convenience and price. I simply can't do any type of serious work unless I have a mouse and a keyboard, and I can get a Chromebook for the price of just the keyboard attachment of the iPad pro, plus if I my iPad gets destroyed or stolen is something that's going to hurt much more than simply losing a Chromebook. Besides, wi fi is not as ubiquitous around the world as people thing, so having an actual Ethernet comes in handy all of the time, I have even relied on good old flash drives to share heavy design specification documents on the field where not even a LAN was available.
     
    fcuco, Mar 27, 2016
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  7. fcuco

    Corzhens

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    That cloud storage is interesting to me. Although I have used a dropbox and lately our home computer has Google Drive, I may be missing something on that cloud storage. Is it because the Chromebook has small storage only? And what makes Chromebook different from Netbook or laptop regarding the storage? Pardon me for this ignorant question, I just want to clear my inquisitive mind of queries.
     
    Corzhens, Mar 27, 2016
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  8. fcuco

    fcuco

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    No problem. Chromebooks have a limited internal storage (you could expand this though as they usually have a couple of USB ports so you could attach an external Hard drive without issues). They lack a big storage because you are supposed to only work online with them, even though you can do some offline work as well. Basically, if you were to write or edit a Word document you would use something like Google Docs. You use your google account to log into your Chromebook, so your user is linked to all the other google products: drive, docs, gmail, youtube, and so on, so any work you do there is saved into your google drive storage. They used to give you an additional 100 GB or something like that for a year for your google drive storage when you purchased a new Chromebook.

    That's the main difference, it is basically a computer that only runs Google Chrome and all its extensions, you are not going to be able to install Microsoft Word on it, but somebody could send you a .docx document or even give you one inside a flash drive and you can open it inside your Chromebook using google docs. If you add another a file to your google drive from another computer then that file is also going to be available in your Chromebook.
     
    fcuco, Mar 27, 2016
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  9. fcuco

    UpgradeMe

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    Wow, what a magnificent writeup. I had considered a chromebook for a while, but this is just one of those iconic posts that I think people should read about before they invest their money. I wish there was a more appropriate way to thank you for the time that you obviously put into this, but hey, a like is about the best I can do :)
     
    UpgradeMe, Mar 28, 2016
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  10. fcuco

    IBMPC8088

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    If you are really strapped for a good connection and being able to connect to a basic home server and have only dialup, then you could use a cheap web server with enough space or a VPN and dual-encrypt that instead. It wouldn't be nearly as safe as running your own system and machine from a secured location where few or no one else has access to it over the internet deliberately or in an intentionally distributed form that is insecure, but it would be better than trusting info-harvesting companies to keep it safe when they make money off of harvesting, analyzing, and selling it instead while charging you monthly for them to do that.

    I've been setting up servers and using them even over dial-up and ISDN connections since the 1980's, and I understand that it used to be harder to do. Times have hanged though, and its become simplified and available to the point that anyone can do it now at nearly any skill set from above basic to intermediate. So I don't know what to tell you if you prefer to use a Google service or Chromebook that intentionally sets you up to get hacked rather than using or exploring any other option available to you that isn't going to do that.

    The fact that people don't care enough to secure their own data or information on their own private servers and instead trust it to unknown corporations is the reason why they are losing it a million people at a time online anymore.

    That's just 1 good reason why people should bother, unless they care so little about themselves and what is important to them that their laziness comes before their own safety and protecting themselves from threats online now.

    One thing I have definitely learned the hard way when younger is to never trust the reliability of others with irreplaceable data. Back when people tried to steal floppies or zip disks or CDs, it was a lot harder for them to do when it was physical. You would know when someone was trying to steal it. When you upload it to the cloud, sure it's 'fast and convenient', but it's fast and convenient for millions of people to access and steal without you ever knowing now, too.

    I'd rather save data in encrypted form to flash drives instead of using something intentionally hackable like a Chromebook, and if the netbook gets damaged or destroyed while I am out somewhere for a personal or business meeting, then the data that I saved to the spare copy encrypted and in my bag at my hotel is still perfectly fine and saved the day for a grand total of $8 out of pocket...much cheaper than any chromebook, too.

    There are some things I will compromise on, and some things I won't. The integrity and safety of my data is never one of them. So no hackable cloud servers for me. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
    IBMPC8088, Mar 28, 2016
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  11. fcuco

    IBMPC8088

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    You're very welcome, UpgradeMe. Glad I could help. :) There's always a lot to consider and different choices to make even when choosing to go about it in the alternative ways, but most of those can be made to your liking and the changes to hardware or software when you do things with it is going to be flexible for you.

    When people jump into the cloud head first from all the marketing without realizing the dangers, it becomes a one-shot deal to where their data can no longer be their own. I have seen so many people make the mistake of accidentally uploading something just one time to a public server or cloud system, and then wondering how (even years later) the data became a google search result, ended up on a black hat site, or in archives of multiple web sites.

    Although there are ways people get info they shouldn't, a lot of it (most of it even) is happening through bulk uploads of raw user data to cloud servers that are easily hacked without the users ever knowing it (and the for-profit companies sweeping it under the rug to prevent it from hurting their business if people knew when they felt they didn't have to).
     
    IBMPC8088, Mar 28, 2016
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  12. fcuco

    Corzhens

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    Gee, what a very relevant information. Thanks very much for the added knowledge. This is the first time I've heard of a hardware such as Chromebook that disallows installation of Microsoft products. I am using Open Office on my laptop so that's no issue with me but my husband wouldn't agree on that because he is a Microsoft user through and through. Now I know why it is called Chromebook, an exclusive portable computer for Google products.
     
    Corzhens, Mar 28, 2016
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  13. fcuco

    UpgradeMe

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    So much truth here. The biggest issue, the source of all of the issues with the cloud and systems like this that don't justify the cost, is that it is so much easier to market something than it is to undo the ramifications of half-truth marketing. The thing is that it is always smart to spin and sell your product from the best light and ignore its shortcomings...learn it in sales within the first week - spin the cons as pros. See enough of that in society and you end up with I don't know...mindless consumerism maybe....
     
    UpgradeMe, Mar 29, 2016
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  14. fcuco

    fcuco

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    Yeah, well, it is not the hardware, it is the actual operating system. There is nothing particularly different about the hardware itself, so much so that you can go ahead and install another operating system on the machine and ditch Chrome OS. it is a little tricky but they show you how to do it.

    It is also not limited to Microsoft products in particular, it's all Windows and OSX software that you can't install, just like you can't install Microsoft Word on your iPad (at least not the Windows desktop edition).

    You just need a google account to log in into the machine but, after that you are free to use any online service, including the Microsoft ones. If they went ahead and excluded Microsoft products in particular I am sure that Microsoft would sue because that has to be some kind of anti trust thing.
     
    fcuco, Mar 29, 2016
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  15. fcuco

    fcuco

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    Of course, you will never lose your data if it is quite conveniently tucked away in some flash drive at your hotel. I guess that you are going to tell me that if somebody robs all your bags while going to the airport that's ok too because you also carry another flash drive under your hat.

    Then, if, the nature of your work requires you to store protected health information, like mine, and your laptop containing that is stolen you will also have a nice time having a chat with the FBI agent that's going to investigate the HIPAA breach that just occurred. You will then have to explain him why you refused to use a HIPAA complaint cloud service like google drive (once you review and sign the HIPAA Business Associate Amendment that they offer) because it was "hackeable", in favor of carrying all that information on your hard drive. Then, since you can't prove that the data was actually encrypted, you sit down and pray that they can't prove negligence on your part, because then you are going to prison.
     
    fcuco, Mar 29, 2016
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  16. fcuco

    Corzhens

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    Oh, that means I got it all wrong. Well, if Chromebook is an operating system as you said then it has nothing to do with the hardware. Am I correct on that? Or maybe the dealer of the laptop has a suggested specification for the Chrome OS which is a smaller memory and smaller disk storage. How about if I would settle to buy a laptop with Chrome OS to make it Chromebook and then I shift to Microsoft, that means the specs of the dealer is not that relevant. I can buy a fully loaded laptop running on Windows and then I can shift to Chrome OS. Am I correct on that assumption.

    Pardon me if my questions seem ignorant. This information is precious to me.
     
    Corzhens, Mar 29, 2016
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  17. fcuco

    fcuco

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    Absolutely no problem. Chrome OS is the name of the operating system, Chromebook is what they call laptops that come with Chrome OS installed. As far as I know you can't obtain a copy of the Chrome OS to install it on any machine, just like you can't simply download iOS and put it in another device, at least not legally.

    Also, I don't know if you can install Windows on a Chromebook, at least not directly, I know for sure that you can install Linux and even switch between linux and ChromeOS without rebooting, you could then run Office using Wine on Linux, but this is very convoluted. If you need Microsoft software for your work don't go with a Chromebook.
     
    fcuco, Mar 29, 2016
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  18. fcuco

    IcyBC

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    My daughter has the Chromebook and she isn't traveling a lot, but she loves it just the same. She does some online work and it seems to run very smoothly.
     
    IcyBC, Mar 30, 2016
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  19. fcuco

    IBMPC8088

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    I never wear a hat in the airport. It's too suspicious. ;) At least to the TSA.

    The nature of my work often requires sensitive information that, depending on the contract, who it is for, or what it entails, could go that route very quickly.

    Part of making sure that it never does go that direction is living it and working with it on a daily basis intimately to where you know it from head to toe, and not just of it or how to do some things with it while leaving other aspects a mystery still.

    That's the problem that the government has unleashed upon itself as well as the rest of the private sector. They have a lot of people who can be trained to use something that they give them and follow rules and orders, but actually knowing how to rebuild, remake, or adaptively protect and control those features and every aspect of the security directly if necessary is not always up to par or is lost on many whom it is crucial that it not be.

    When they turn people loose with 3rd party tools and things that may seem secure enough to the agencies but are already easy to get into for blackhats privately, that becomes a fatal mistake. They can (and often do) pass the buck and the blame on to someone else, but in truth the blame is just as much with them for electing to use and do security of the data and the information the way that they do.

    Any system that connects to the internet in any form rather than a closed, always-monitored, and always protected network with proprietary protocols that no one else is allowed to use outside of a tightly-knit group...any system like that can and will violate HIPAA's own policies if the timing and the situation is favored by it for a hacker tasked to get that information from the systems they reside on. They seem to think that it is a matter of IF. Being a blackhat years ago (since the 80's but stopped to protect users instead since 2000)...I can honestly tell you it's merely a matter of when instead.

    They should not be holding people to HIPAA when its very design for communications allows it to be violated indiscriminately with or without the people holding onto the user data having known of it. They need something better if they expect to. It's like blaming a dog who goes pee in the house because everyone was too lazy to let them outside to go when they scratched at the door, and punishing them for not knowing how to unlock the door and move past it to go outside on their own.

    In the past I used to allow for special conditions on terms of contract to where a company could have me implement only their approved protocols to do a project, but anymore I make it mandatory that they do not, and that I am allowed to use my own methods instead. If anything were to happen, it would be on me then. But for 26 years and plenty of attempts, it hasn't happened yet. If you close off what can be used, then it can't (or at the most reduces those who can down to about 2% if that). The only time it did prior to that was when I let them do it their way using 3rd party protections and risky strategies that were insufficient to keep them safe. If they don't agree to the terms for my project and contracts now, I just walk so that I'm not responsible for whoever they have that does follow along and ends up on the hook for it.

    I've had to deal with doctors and other professionals that must follow the HIPAA laws and guidelines to a T, but there's things I see them doing without realizing it that creates backdoors to their own systems and violates this all the time. There's moments I want to pull them aside and say hey, by the way...this is going to be an issue later...but then I might be liable for what they're doing or not doing somehow. Sucks, but it's their responsibility to know better I guess.

    The HIPAA laws should change in light of this. At the very least, for who is responsible for any breach if nothing else. I don't see how you are or should be responsible for their errors with this that they not only enforced, but created the problem for before enforcing it as it is today.

    I guess I'll let them do what they want to do on that while I keep a usb drive spare strapped to my wristwatch or wallet instead of my hat ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
    IBMPC8088, Mar 31, 2016
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  20. fcuco

    martinearletara

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    I own a Chromebook.. hell I'm on it right now. And I'll admit it's not the best alternative for storage or definitely documents, but when it comes to bringing a traveling companion, I can understand where the poster is coming from. I do believe he went a bit too in-depth to where his post was shredded. But I also believe he's right about a few thing.

    From my point of view, I look at the Chromebook as a comfortable tablet. I love my phone but I don't love it enough to stare at it all day. It's about about preference. I'd feel more comfortable on the Chromebook just checking my email or updating something through the browser. But I wouldn't do too much more with it. That's what my Dell is for.

    Note: I have survived off of a Chromebook in my freelance hay-day. It's a good cheap alternative until you get on your feet because not everybody can afford a big ticket laptop... and the ones that criticize that notion need to let me hold $20.00. :)
     
    martinearletara, Apr 22, 2016
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