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Friday, February 27, 2015

More Fun with Chromebook

What we have here is a Chromebook connected to a Dell keyboard and a Samsung video display. The Chromebook lid is propped open with a 3-hole paper punch. If you close it much further it will shut off. The three-hole punch has a nice wide base that spans the evil touch pad, and it is tall enough to hold the lid open. The mouse is a little weird. Sometimes it disappears, but since it's a big screen and a small cursor I'm not sure whether it really disappears or I just fail to track it. But I circle around for a couple of seconds and we sync up, so not perfect, but good enough.
     Open up the Files app (which accesses files actually stored on the Chromebook, not in the Cloud), and the big screen goes dead. Now you need to open the laptop screen to see what you are doing. I went through this rigamarole to get this picture up here, though I'm not sure I needed to. Too many places to put stuff, too many places to get stuff. Whether you can get by without making use of the Files app remains to be seen.
     Meanwhile, over on, I was working on a program to deal with the Teads programming puzzle. I had gotten my program to successfully deal with most of the test cases, but there were two where it timed out. Timed out? Hmmph. Must be a glitch in the coding games site. So I tried it on my Zotac Zbox running Mint Linux (that's it sitting under the left hand edge of the monitor with its cool glowing blue circle). It took over two minutes to deliver an answer. Hmmm. Program did run to compeletion, but two minutes? That is a heck of a long time to run for a simple academic exercise. I mean this isn't a Windows program that is spinning its wheels mindlessly while it tries to figure out what it should do next, this is a heads down, running full tilt, adding the numbers, making the calculations, marching down the lists, no dilly-dallying around here, and it's taking two minutes? That's enough time to count the population of Earth. Twice. Something is not right.
    Okay, enough the with mental gymnastics (programming) for a bit. Let's see what else we can do. Well, I got my Chromebook out this afternoon to talk to my daughter (on Skype). Let's see what else it can do. So I plug in my Chromebook, just for grins, see if it will work, and lo and behold, it mostly does. But can I compile a C program here? Well, yes, you can. Seems there are several websites that will let you write, compile and run programs, just as though you were sitting at a regulation Linux terminal. Okay, let's try out our test case. I'll be durned. It compiles and runs, and it only takes seconds to complete. How can that be?
    Now the Zbox has an Intel Atom processor, which is like the cheapest and feeblest Intel processor from 3 or 4 years ago, but it is still a 32-bit processor running at some number of giga-hertz. This website ran this program ten times faster. What kind of processors are they running? This is just a little unnerving.

P.S. I wrote this post with the help of a bottle of cheap grocery store Champagne. Coincidentally,  Detroit Steve sent me a this link today.

P.P.S. A couple of development websites. Might only work with Chromebooks.
Update: Google's already been here. Adjust the settings, leave the power supply plugged in and you can even dispense with the paper punch.

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