I do some (really) amateur web development when I get a chance to. I enjoy building things that make life easier for me, and others, using the Internet to drive the functionality. I’ve also been working more and more on a Chromebook just because it’s easier to carry around than my 15″ Mac.
The big problem with the Chromebook is that it’s pretty locked down. I got permission from our IT department to put mine into developer mode (which is usually restricted when enrolled in a GSuite environment) so I could make things work.
First, this is not the same as working on a full-fledged computer. The RAM available on this machine is minimal, which really limits what I can do. It also partitions the hard drive in really strange ways, which makes it hard to keep a neat filesystem.
I started by installing Crouton, which puts a Ubuntu desktop environment on the Chromebook. It’s run in parallel, which makes it nice for jumping back and forth. You can also choose which flavor of Ubuntu you like, from xfce to Unity.
I used Crouton to run Gimp and git, mostly. But, I wasn’t using Gimp as much as I expected and it really slowed down the device. I ended up dropping it in favor of Chromebrew, which has worked beautifully. It’s a package manager built specifically for Chrome which includes things like Git, Ruby, python, imagemagick…all kinds of things that make life easier working on such a stripped down device.
I use a mix of Chrome apps to work in.
Crosh – Similar to the bash environment, crosh is the Chrome’s terminal emulator. You can get to it by hitting Ctrl + Alt + T. If you’re not in developer mode, most of what you can do is look at system stats. All other functions are locked down. Once you’re in developer mode, you can type in shell and browse the filesystem (Linux-based) just like any other full computer. This is where I run git.
**Secure Shell – Another Chrome app which emulates a SSH client. Really handy for jumping in and out of my own remote server as I need things. Much faster than relying on the cPanel through my hosts’s admin panel.
It’s lightweight, but it works well. Chrome’s own developer tools and console are really helpful with autocomplete and error logging (just like any other browser, really).
I was working on student grades in a Google Sheet last night and I needed an easy way to randomly sort students so I could show some score adjustments. Sheets lets you sort A-Z and Z-A easily, but there’s no baked in random function, which makes sense.
I could have scripted it, but it was late and I was feeling lazy. There’s an easier method.
Grab a column and enter =rand(). This will generate a random number between 0 and 1. Click and drag this down the entire range. Then, sort this column A-Z. Hey presto! Random sorting a Sheet.
Notice that the random column changes every time something else is clicked. This won’t affect anything other than the sorting, but it allows you to resort if it isn’t “random enough.”
I’ve been ruminating on a way to use Sheets and Google Apps Script as a fully-functional gradebook. I’m not there yet, but I can see this being helpful in that implementation.
I feel like I’m on a social networking pilgrimage.
I left Facebook two years ago and haven’t looked back. (Well, technically, like Alan Levine, I’m there, but only to manage a page for a group.)
Twitter is becoming super-broadcasty. It’s still a fun space in some respects because it’s the only space I can connect with some dear friends. Goofiness matters. I check it, but I’m only paying attention to very specific items. I also push out things I’m doing. But, there are fewer and fewer replies these days.
Mastodon is a newer, federated Twitter-meets-Tumblr social space that I’ve poked around in. There are definitely some merits, but some things I’m not super happy with. We’ll see, ultimately, what ends up happening there.
When all is said and done, I think I’m looking for something of substance that can go anywhere. It’s really difficult to find that balance, and I’m not sure I ever will. The need for connections is real and it’s what drove me to pour into Twitter and blogging four or five years back. The desire to connect is still there, but the means of connecting are more and more limited even though we have a number of choices. I want flexibility. I want ownership.
I’ve grown up a bunch, and I’m giving Known a shot again because I think I finally understand the power behind the POSSE model. Hopefully, this’ll scratch the itch.
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