Sunday, May 25, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 22

"The Two Doctors"
Season 22 of the classic Doctor Who series marked a couple of changes in the show. BBC returned it to once-weekly, but increased the length of each episode from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. Keeping in mind that putting two 25-minute episodes together, removing the opening and closing credits from the middle, and omitting the cliff-hanger and recap, meant that each 45-minute episode contained almost exactly the same amount of show content.

The season consisted of six serials comprising 13 episodes, or what would have been six serials fo 26 episodes. Looking ahead, I saw that the series would return to 25-minute episodes the next season.

There was no cast change in this season. Colin Baker had assumed the role of The Doctor in the previous season, and his companion, Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) would remain the entire season. This is the first time since Season Eight that there was no introduction or farewell for either The Doctor or any companion during the season. In every other season, at least one companion or an actor playing The Doctor had a first or last episode.

Around this time, there were movements in the UK opposed to violent television shows. Doctor Who was one of the shows targeted. And, there was a lot of violence in the show. Tegan's character had left The Doctor, complaining of all the violence, so the show did acknowledge that. But what did they do about it? Why, they stepped it up a notch.

The serial Attack of the Cybermen (2 episodes) featured Cybermen killing people with their bare hands, something that was not common on British television. The attack by The Doctor (6.0) on Peri in Colin Baker's first serial was roundly criticized, because it was consider so shocking to the audience. Attack of the Cybermen also featured the return of a villainous henchman, Lytton, who had worked for the Daleks in the previous season serial, Resurrection of the Daleks. By the conclusion of the serial, he was redeemed, and The Doctor regretting misjudging him in the end.

Vengeance on Varos (2 episodes) reminded me of The Running Man in a way. The residents of the planet are entertained by a steady stream of violence, torture, and execution. There are a couple of characters that don't interact with any other, just watch all the happenings on the TV, and comment. Kinda like a Greek Chorus. Vengeance on Varos introduced the worm critter Sil, who would show up again.

The Master made a return appearance in The Mark of the Rani (2 episodes). The referenced his last appearance and apparent death at the hands of The Doctor (5.0), but said he wasn't dead after all then went on about their business. Oh, and the Rani is another evil renegade Time Lord. There are a lot of them. The Master, The War Chief, The Monk, The Rani, Morbius, Barusa ... well, let's just say there are a shipload of them.

We get treated to evidence of a story that never aired. Timelash (2 episodes) makes mention that The Doctor (3.0) and Jo Grant had visited the planet Karfel before. In fact, portraits of The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo (Katy Manning) are seen. Oh, and H. G. Wells shows up.

The violence continues up through the final serial, Revelation of the Daleks (2 episodes), in which there are disembodied heads, limbs blown off, and general mayhem. There are Daleks, after all. Oh, and "synthesis of food protein is people!"

The season was so-so. Nothing against Colin Baker as The Doctor. I thought he was fine. And, the violence wasn't an issue for me. I was a fan of Breaking Bad, after all. No, it's just that the stories were a little tiresome. But not all of them.

The Two Doctors (3 episodes), which was the fourth of the six serials to air, was a treat. Patrick Troughton reprised his role as The Doctor (2.0), along with Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon. I liked the opening effect of the serial, which featured The Doctor (2.0) and Jamie in the TARDIS, and in black-and-white. The scene shifted to color, and the story got underway.

Two separate stories ran, featuring The Doctor (2.0) with Jamie, and The Doctor (6.0) with Peri. They eventually ran into each other, and saved everyone, defeating the Sontarans along the way.

The Doctor and The Doctor
The writer, Robert Holmes -- who had contributed many characters and concepts to the series over the years -- was a vegetarian and used the serial to promote the absence of meat in a diet. With a hammer. Over the top. At the conclusion, The Doctor and Peri adopted a vegetarian diet.

Still, it was a treat seeing Patrick Troughton as The Doctor again. It was his last appearance in the role, and he would die less than 25 months after the serial aired, at a science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia.

There was one more aspect to Season 22 that was unusual. Airing as part of the BBC series Jim'll Fix It, a short adventure featured The Doctor, Tegan (Janet Fielding), and a child named Gareth Jenkins defeating the Sontarans. It was presented as a short episode of Doctor Who, complete with opening credits. The ten-minute presentation was part of the show where Jimmy Savile make children's wishes come true. He's "fix it" so things they wanted could happen. Young Gareth Jenkins was a fan of the show and had his own outfit that resembled that of The Doctor (6.0).

By the way, Jimmy Savile was a pedophile and used his position as host of children's programming to gain access to children. Most of the reports of his perversion came to light after his death in 2011.

And, on that sorry note, we'll leave Season 22 behind, and head to Season 23.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Typical Doctor Who fans, um, enthusiasts

This is how some people imagine Doctor Who enthusiasts are.

[The YouTube]

It's totally not true. We wouldn't turn out the lights.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Doctor Who - The Pitch

Last year, I decided to watch all of the old Doctor Who episodes. Not the current series that began in 2005, but the old one that began in 1963. Finished it earlier this year, though my weekly wrap-ups of individual seasons haven't all been published yet.

If you've been following them, and have decided you want to watch it, well, then, I'll welcome you aboard the TARDIS. If you still aren't sure, or if you want to offer something to friends to help them decide if they want to watch the old show, let me offer this. It's the original sales pitch to the BBC for the show:

[The YouTube]

Now Who can argue with that?


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 21

The Doctor regenerates
For a while now, I've been watching all the classic Doctor Who episodes. I've had several people tell me how much I'd like watching Doctor Who and that I should watch it. So, I said I would. Only, they were talking about the current series that started up on 2005 with a bunch of pretty boys as The Doctor. So, I said I'd watch them. Only, since it's not a reboot (like Battlestar Galactica) but a continuation years later with the previous series as history (like Star Trek spin-offs), I decided to watch the older shows first.

Well, that's taking a while. I started with the first episode of the first season from November 1963, and am now up to Season 21, which originally aired from January to March 1984. And, unlike the current series, the original episodes of the classic series were 30 minutes long. Actually, a little under 25 minutes each. Season 21 has 24 episodes, making up 7 serials. Oh, and what I said about the 25-minute episodes? That's mostly true. One of the 2-part serials from Season 21 had 45-minute episodes. I read that the BBC did that for the Olympics. I don't know who The Doctor competed against in the 1984 Olympics. Probably that hot chick from V, the car from Knight Rider, and Manimal.

This season was also the last with Peter Davison as The Doctor. Patrick Troughton had told Davison to not stay in the role longer than three years, much like he had done when he had the role from 1966 to 1969.

The season was rather lackluster, up until the next to the last serial. I'm not the only one to think so. Davison himself has said that the writing of many of the episodes during his tenure was sub-par. He felt that the writers weren't fans of the show and were just churning out stories. And, he was pretty much right.

The first serial of the season, Warriors of the Deep (4 episodes), continued the pattern from the previous season of returning villains. The Silurians and the Sea Devils showed up, and, despite The Doctor wanting to help them, as he had in two previous serials, they were doomed.

I did find one interesting aspect from The Awakening (2 episodes). Tegan (Janet Fielding) was, as a plot point, assigned the role of the May Queen in some throwback town in England. Led Zeppelin fans might be wondering if there was a bustle in her hedge row. There wasn't. And, there was no spring clean for the May Queen. To her alarm, she was to be burned. The Doctor saved her.

Davros and the Daleks made a return appearance in Resurrection of the Daleks, the serial with the two 45-minute episodes. A not-so-interesting story involving cloning. It did feature the departure of Tegan, who said she was tired of all the killing. It also featured a near-death scene for The Doctor, in which he (and we) saw all of his previous companions, from Susan, Barbara, and Ian, all the way up to the recently-departed Nyssa. Except for Leela. Word is that she was omitted by mistake. We also got to see images of the previous incarnations of The Doctor. But, apart from that little trip down memory lane, it was another so-so serial.

Planet of Fire (4 episodes) saw the introduction of Perpugilliam Brown (Nicola Bryant) as a new companion. She went by Peri. Saved everyone a lot of time. It also saw the return, and apparent departure, of The Master. Anthony Ainsley's contract was up at the end of the season and this serial was to be the end of that character. It also was the last episode of Turlough (Mark Strickson), who I never took much of a shine to. Nothing wrong with the actor, but the character seemed like a long-term guest character. Strickson thought so too, and decided to not return after the season ended. That also saw the end of Kamelion, who the writers seemed to have forgotten about since the character's introduction the previous season. One actual reason the character wasn't used was that some stories were prepared before the introduction of Kamelion. The other reason is that the prop's builder died in a boat accident, and didn't leave good documentation on how to make the android work. Really. So, they finally killed Kamelion off. As much as you can kill a robot.

Peter Davison's last serial as The Doctor was actually a good one. The primary reason was the return of Robert Holmes to the stable of writers of the show. Holmes had written for the show from the Patrick Troughton years up through the Tom Baker years, including serving as script editor for the show. After he left, the level of writing was generally poor, although some good serials were produced.

At the end of The Caves of Androzani (4 episodes), The Doctor regenerated, having sacrificed his life to save Peri's. He gave the last of the bat's milk to her -- no I'm not making this up -- so she could recover from some deadly illness they both had. The Doctor then regenerated and ended up looking a lot like an actor named Colin Baker (no relation to Tom).

Remember when I said I had seen some Tom Baker and Peter Davison episodes back in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Baker to Davison regeneration? Well, I was wrong about that. It was the Davison to Baker regeneration I had seen. You see, when I saw Baker to Davison, I thought, that's not how I remember it. But then a later scene as The Doctor 5.0 was recovering, made me think I had seen the regeneration, fallen asleep, and woke up on that later scene, making them, in my mind and memory, one related scene.

Turns out the Davison to Baker regeneration was exactly how I remembered it going. So, it must have been Davison's last scene, not his first scene, that I had seen all those years ago. Now, I can sleep at night, knowing that's now straightened out.

One other thing. The Doctor 6.0 tried to kill Peri early in The Twin Dilemma (4 episodes). The idea was to make us think The Doctor was going nuts and having a difficult regeneration. Having him collapse or call people by the wrong name wasn't enough, I suppose. A little homicidal mania was needed, in the writer's eyes. It wasn't needed.

Now, after ten seasons (seven for Tom Baker and three for Peter Davison), I'm back to seeing episodes that I know I had never seen before. Though I didn't remember any of the other episodes, except bits and pieces, I won't have these bits and pieces any more.

It's all uncharted waters for me from here on out. And, that means only five more seasons. That's when the classic Doctor Who series ended. I suppose I'm about to find out why the show ended. On to Season 22.

Friday, May 16, 2014


No particular reason for this, other than it's cool. I love movies, and have seen a bunch of the films in this. But not all.

[The YouTube]

I have several of the early Georges Méliès shorts. Some of his effects still hold up well. Some don't. But it's all fun.

Come to think of it, I need to post some of his works. You might not care about it, but I'd enjoy it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 20

It doesn't seem like it's been 20 weeks that I've been spending time watching classic Doctor Who episodes. But I'm up to Season 20, and, well, you do the math.

Season 20 was a treat. The actual season consisted of six serials, made up of 22 episodes. BBC was still broadcasting the show twice a week (like they used to do Batman in the U.S. on ABC back in 1966), so the season only ran from early January to mid-March 1983.

But, late in the year, another episode aired. It was actually not part of Season 20 nor Season 21. It was a 90-minute special called The Five Doctors. More about that in a bit.

The season began with the return of Tegan, who had been abandoned by The Doctor at the end of the previous season. In Arc of Infinity (4 episodes), Tegan was brought to The Doctor by Omega, who was making a return appearance. Other past villains returned in the show's 20th season, including the Mara (who appeared in Season 19's Kinda), the Black Guardian (who first appeared in Season 16's The Armageddon Factor), and The Master (who has been battling The Doctor since Season Eight).

Villains weren't the only characters to reappear. Brigadier (retired) Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart appeared in Mawdryn Undead (4 episodes) and helped battle the Black Guardian. Mawdryn Undead featured the story advancing in two different time lines jumping from 1977 to 1983. I think they took the TARDIS into the future and stole the two time lines idea from Lost.

Mawdryn Undead also features The Doctor explicitly stating that he can only regenerate 12 times, which means he can have 13 lives. He also says he has regenerated four times already. Remember at the end of Season Six, when the Time Lords forced The Doctor (2.0, Patrick Troughton) to change his appearance (3.0, Jon Pertwee)? Well, I had wondered if that truly was a regeneration. Well, it was. It cost The Doctor a life. Which means they executed him. They ended his second life, and brought on his third. Pretty severe stuff.

That serial also introduced Vislor Turlough as a new companion of The Doctor. Initially, he was working with the Black Guardian, although reluctantly. He became one of The Doctor's companions at the end of the serial, although he continued to work with the Black Guardian during the next two serials. At the end of Enlightenment (4 episodes), the finale of the Black Guardian trilogy, he actually helped defeat the Black Guardian, and was freed to travel with The Doctor.

Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) left the series at the end of Terminus (4 episodes), the middle serial of the Black Guardian trilogy, in order to work with with the disease colony that was a part of the main story. Behind the scenes, the character of Nyssa wasn't owned by the BBC, and they had to pay royalties when the character appeared. They had tried to write the character out several times before, in order to not have to pay the royalties, but Peter Davison intervened, because he liked the character so much. I've found nothing to indicate that Sarah Sutton was unhappy with her role.

The highlight of the season was actually many months after the end of the season. Since the season ended in the middle of March of 1983, it was over eight months until the show's 20th anniversary in November. A 90-minute special, The Five Doctors, was broadcast. Interesting thing, though, it aired on the show's 20th anniversary, 23 November, 1963, on PBS in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it aired on 25 November on BBC.

Though he had died in 1975, William Hartnell was seen in The Five Doctors in a cold opening. A clip from his farewell speech to Susan from Season Two's The Dalek Invasion of Earth was used:
One day, I shall come back — yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.
During the actual episode, the role of The Doctor 1.0 was played by Richard Hurndall in his only appearance in the series. Hurndall died around five months after The Five Doctors aired.

From left to right: The Doctor, The Doctor, The Doctor,
The Doctor. Not shown: The Doctor
Hurndall did an excellent job as The Doctor, I thought. His portrayal was reminiscent of Hartnell's appearances as The Doctor, plus the "Dandy and a Clown" attitude from Hartnell's last appearance in Season Ten's The Three Doctors.

The special also featured another return appearances of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, as well as appearances by Sarah Jane Smith and Susan, both of whom were kidnapped along with The Doctor, The Doctor, and The Doctor -- but not The Doctor.

The previous four incarnations were all kidnapped by [SPOILER ALERT] Barusa, president of the Time Lords, who was seeking immorality. The Doctor (4.0, Tom Baker) was trapped in a time eddy, or something, since Tom Baker refused to appear in the episode. They accomplished his kidnapping by using scenes from the unaired and uncompleted serial Shada. The other incarnations were kidnapped by using scenes specifically filmed for the special. The kidnapping of the companions were all shown on-screen, with the exception of Susan's.

Other previous companions also appeared in the special. Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury), Liz Shaw (Caroline John), and Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) all appeared without their kidnapping being shown. In their cases, though, The Doctor realized they were not really there, but were images placed as obstacles to The Doctor's path. Susan, though, was actually there, though her kidnapping wasn't shown.

The Cybermen and the Daleks also made brief appearances, but were not significantly involved in the plot, other than as minor obstacles to overcome. The Master also appeared, but as an attempted ally of The Doctor. The Time Lords sent him to the Death Zone to assist The Doctor. At the end, of course, he tried to defeat The Doctor.

It was good to see The Doctor, The Doctor, and The Doctor in action again, and unfortunate that we didn't see much of The Doctor. But, they did help The Doctor defeat Barusa and save the day.

On to Season 21, and another Doctor.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Guess who leans right more than the Koch Brothers?

Wonder Bread!

Actually, it's Flowers Foods, the company that makes Wonder Bread.

The details of this are that, since 1984, no company has given a higher percentage of its political donations to Republican candidates than Flowers Foods. The New York Times reports that in that time period, only three Democrats have received money from the company, and no Democrats in the last 20 years.

What about the other side of the coin? Who gives money to Democrats? Royal Bank of Scotland.

Citizens Financial Group (properly, RBS Citizens Financial Group Political Committee) has, over time, given a greater percentage to Democrats than Republicans. The gap has been closing, though. In 2008, RBS gave 84% to Democrats and 16% to Republicans. So far in 2014, it's been 56% Democrat, 44% Republican.

But, no company on either side give as much to one side as Flowers.

Will this change my eating habits? No. I've eaten Sunbeam, Durst, and Merita for years. Natures Own, Cobblestone, and Wonder Bread are all brands I've bought regularly. Well, not a lot for Cobblestone, but the others.

But, I gotta wonder. Will the left jump on this as a reason to attack Wonder Bread? Of course. It's what they do. And, the article in the New York Times focused on the right-leaning companies, while barely mentioning the left-leaning ones. Particularly the foreign-owned bank that heavily supports Democrats.

Is there a point to all this? Only that I'm glad to see that a company that I've been buying stuff from for years isn't turning around and giving it to folks that are trying to make my life a living hell. And, that when I'm buying bread, I'll do like the guy on TV used to tell people: say it with Flowers.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

If you love your computer so much...


I'm wondering if I should just post a link to this story and offer "sigh" or something similar as a comment and leave it as that. If this was teh twitterz, then that might be the best thing to do. But it's not. Twitter, I mean. It still might be the best thing to do.

But, I'm well past that point, so here goes with the long version.

Some guy in Florida wants to marry his computer. Really.

Okay, maybe not really. It's kinda hard to tell.

Normally -- which loses more and more meaning every day since nothing seems to be normal any more -- I'd think this was satire. And, it might be. But, these days, you never can tell.

Chris Sevier did file a lawsuit saying he wanted to marry his computer. But, whether or not it's a real thing or if he's just using a lawsuit to try to make a point ... well, I'm not sure.

He says his computer is so full of porn that he enjoys using it as part of his sex life.
“Over time, I began preferring sex with my computer over sex with real women,” he told a court in Florida.
That's another thing I'm not sure about. That he had sex with real women. Maybe he did. But, from the looks of things, it may have been proceeded with his using the phrase, "It puts the lotion on its skin."

Anyway, it could be that he's taking a round-about way to make a point against gay marriage. He'd be better served by some other method of displaying his opposition.

Then, again, maybe he really does want to marry his MacBook Pro.

If he does, though, what will happen if he's seduced by a slimmer, trimmer MacBook Air? Who will take care of the discarded MacBook Pro? And, what of the children? Maybe they've had some little iPads or iPods. Who gets custody?

It's a slippery slope. Probably from all the lube.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Classic Doctor Who Season 19

I started watching the classic Doctor Who episodes, beginning with the very first episode from November, 1963. As I mentioned earlier, it was because others kept telling me that I ought to watch Doctor Who and how great Doctor Who was and that I'd really love Doctor Who. They were talking about the current show, that began airing in 2005. Since the new series was considered a continuation of the original show, and not a reboot (like the 2004 Battlestar Galactica), I decided to watch the show. But not pick up in the middle. Rather, I'd start at the beginning.

Of course, that wasn't what they meant. And, of course, I didn't care. I'll watch the new show. When I get to it. After I'm done with the 26 seasons of the classic series. And I'm up to Season 19, Peter Davison's first season as The Doctor. There were seven serials, totaling 26 episodes.

The Davison era got off to a rocky start. The serial that was planned as his first adventure was shelved at the last minute, and the script wasn't ready by the time filming was due. So, they produced the second serial, Four to Doomsday (4 episodes), first. They first serial, Castrovalva (4 episodes), was the fourth produced, after they finally finished the script. The broadcast schedule also changed from a weekly BBC broadcast on Saturday to a twice-weekly, weekday showings.

Finally, "The Doctor"
The first episode of Castrovalva began with a cold opening, the first time that happened in the series. And, it ended in a different way than every previous episode: there was no one credited as "Doctor Who." Rather, Davison wanted to be credited as "The Doctor," and was. Which is how many Doctor Who fans prefer it. It was also the conclusion of a trilogy with The Master. He was brought back and gained a new body in the first of the trilogy, the penultimate episode of Season 18. He was responsible for The Doctor's death in that season's final serial. Castrovalva concluded the trilogy, with The Doctor defeating The Master, leaving him to die in the destruction of the city. Of coure, The Master returned at the end of Season 19.

Kinda (4 episodes) was kinda boring. Little weird. Lot of Buddhist words and names in it. If I was Buddhist, I might have cared. Instead, it was just weird, with dream worlds and giant snake puppets. The lame story wasted a great performance by Academy Award nominee Richard Todd. His was the only interesting character. Maybe the blind lady or the little telepathic girl. No, it was Todd's performance as a blustery, British military type that was best. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) had nothing to do in the story. They actually wrote it before they cast three companions, so they had Nyssa faint and spend the entire series in the TARDIS recovering. Lucky her.

The Visitation (4 episodes) saw the destruction of the Sonic Screwdriver, which made its first appearance in Season Five's Fury from the Deep. It also fulfilled an historical event by having the events in the serial start the Great Fire of London (1666), which is often credited with helping end the Great Plague, which had killed one-sixth of London residents.

The Doctor's new outfit, which looked a lot like a cricket uniform, fit right in when he was invited to play cricket in Black Orchid (2 episodes). That episode, though not generally thought of as an historical episode, had no science fiction elements, apart from the TARDIS, The Doctor, and his companions. The story itself was a murder mystery set in 1925 Cranleigh (about 30 miles south of Heathrow).

The serial also contained the first instance of the "Doctor Who?" running joke in the Davison era. The running joke, by the way, usually involves The Doctor being introduced as "The Doctor" and another person asking "Doctor Who?"

There were many variations on this prior to Season 19. The first instance was actually a reversal of the joke. It happened in the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child. Ian, knowing that The Doctor was Susan's grandfather, and since Ian and Barbara knew her as Susan Foreman, called him "Doctor Foreman." The Doctor responded with "Eh? Doctor Who? What's he talking about?" That line was actually ad-libbed by William Hartnell.

In Season Three came one of my favorite instances of the joke. It happened in one of my least favorite serials, The Gunfighters. Needing to identify himself to Bat Masterson, The Doctor introduced himself as "Doctor Caligari." Masterson asked, "Doctor Who?" to which The Doctor replied, "Yes, quite right?"

Adric kills the dinosaurs.
One bit of science that Doctor Who got right -- well, not really right, but they has certain aspects right -- was the K-T event. It was 1980 when Luis Alvarez, Walter Alvarez, Frank Asaro, and Helen Michel discovered the layer of iridium, suggesting an extraterrestrial source (iridium is rare on earth, but 100 times more common in space). It took a while before it was generally accepted. The serial Earthshock (4 episodes) concludes with a crash into the Earth that destroyed the dinosaurs. And, they were pretty close to the actual point where the K-T asteroid hit.

Oh, there was one other plot point: Adric was killed in the crash. While he wasn't the first of The Doctor's companions to die in the line of duty, he was the one who was with The Doctor the longest before he was killed. Katerina and Sarah Kingdom both died in Season One's The Daleks' Master Plan. Katerina had joined The Doctor at the end of the previous serial, and died in the 4th episode of The Daleks' Master Plan, making a total of five episodes. While Sara Kingdom was in just one serial, she was in nine episodes. Adric was in 38 episodes as a companion, plus the 4-episode serial that introduced the character before he joined The Doctor on the TARDIS.

The season ended with the return of The Master in the 4-episode Time-Flight, which was kinda like The Odyssey of Flight 33 from the Twilight Zone, with a modern plane going back in time. Only, Time-Flight had an ending, and a happy one. Well, all except for Tegan. During the season, it was sort of a running joke that The Doctor kept trying to get her back to Heathrow and her job as a stewardess. So, when the adventure ended, and she was back at Heathrow, The Doctor left. Only, she wanted to stay with The Doctor and Nyssa.

Peter Davison's second season, and The Doctor's 20th -- and a big event -- are next.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Google Chromebook

Well, I got a new toy. I bought a Google Chromebook. They're cheap. I didn't get the cheapest, though. I bought an HP Chromebook 11 with LTE capability (Verizon) from Best Buy. It was on special for $250. You can find some cheaper -- some a lot cheaper -- but this was the one I decided upon, and it's the one I'm gonna talk about.

The Chromebook is a pretty good little device. If you have a Google account, like a Gmail account, and use the Chrome browser, you'll feel right at home using one.

Essentially, it's a laptop. It helps to have Internet service. In fact, it pretty much depends on your having Internet access. That's why I got the LTE version, so that if I want to use it away from a WiFi network, I have full functionality. Of course, if you have a phone that can also work as a hotspot, you can save a few bucks and get a WiFi-only device. Of course, those cost less.

Everything runs in a browser. Sounds odd, I know, but they make it work. I can't speak to your everyday computer usage, but mine is pretty much browser-based. But, I do use Microsoft Word and Excel on a regular basis. Chromebook works with Word Online (that's a Microsoft-supported thing) and Excel Online (again, Microsoft). I'm writing this review using Word Online, and will copy it into WordPress when I'm done for posting on the blog.

One thing is something that I really don't use a lot is a printer. It's been over a year since I printed anything. However, I did set up and test using Google Cloud Print via the Chromebook. And, it works. One drawback is that a printer can only be tied to one Google account. I suppose that's fine for most people, but that would also be an issue for a family Chromebook, where it has multiple users (and accounts) in the household. Or multiple Chromebooks.

Suppose Dad was logged in to the Chromebook and registered the family computer to use his Google account. Then, he logged off, and Mom logged on. She can't use that same printer. Then if Junior logged on, he'd run into the same thing. Sissy, too. Google needs to come up with a solution to that.

I use iTunes. However, there is no iTunes for Chromebook. I can upload my music to Google Play Music, but not movies or TV shows. And, to be honest, I really don't want to hassle with copying thousands of songs to Google Play; I'm not going to drop iTunes.

While I don't use Skype much, I do use FaceTime. Neither are supported. Google Hangouts works, though, and actually works okay. I had never used it before testing it out on this Chromebook. So, it is an option. Kinda. But, really, who uses that?

There are also image editing tools available. The tools work as well for standard image editing. It's not Photoshop, but neither is anything else. Well, except Photoshop.

So, many of the applications I use (and many people use) have equivalents, but not all of the equivalents are what I want to work with. Primarily, it's Google Hangouts and Google Play Music that I'm not too fond of. The others are okay.

The 100 GB Google Drive account (online storage) that comes with it is pretty nice. And, you can save some content locally. How much depends on what size drive you get. I got 16 GB; most come that size. They've done a good job of making it not just possible, but easy to save photos, documents, and such.

What all that means is the Chromebook won't work as a primary computer for all my needs. But, for many users -- those that primarily do the Facebook and the email thing -- it's perfect.

I've been using it as a travel computer. I went out of town a couple of weekends ago, and took the Chromebook and my MacBook with me. None of the computer stuff I did for myself needed the MacBook. I did all my personal computer stuff on the Chromebook.

For the past week, I've been using the Chromebook as my regular computer. I've written all my blog posts, checking out the Facebook, reading and writing email, and everything else I would normally do with my MacBook, and it served well.

The battery works well. I've not run it down all the way yet, but I have been charging it each night. Or most nights.

As it stands now, it's my new travel computer. And my quick, go-to computer for sitting on the couch. I like it.