Playing with a Chromebook

For the past few days I have been playing with a Samsung Chromebook,  We got it at work to see how useful it would be as a second device or shared device.  I have been a little skeptical on how useful it would be as I can’t imagine not having my PC.  In reality I couldn’t use a Chromebook exclusively, I need tools like Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, VMware, and others for work.

However, I do a lot of volunteer projects (swim team, basketball, soccer, etc.) where I think something like a ChromeBook could be useful and keeping all of the information “in the cloud” would be really useful for transitioning ownership from one person to another.

For the past couple of months I have been using Google Docs exclusively for the church basketball team I am coaching.  I did it sort of as an experiment – can I do everything I need to do using Google Docs?  Not using Excel is a big step for me – we use Excel at work for a million things and I am pretty proficient with it.  It is my go-to tool for many things including, for the past couple years, managing my basketball roster.  Over the course of two seasons I created a spreadsheet which allows me to set my line up.  I can quickly change which players play when and it keeps track of playing time requirements so I make sure all the players meet the playing time requirements.

This season I moved my spreadsheet to Google Docs.  I wasn’t sure all of the formulas would work but they did as did the data validation I had set up to let me select players from a list.  The data validation from a list works a bit differently than Excel does but it is close enough and it is doing what I need it do.

So for my evaluation of the Chromebook, I am trying to do all of my basketball work with it. So far it has been a non-issue.  Now I haven’t add to do anything more complicated then sending email, updating spreadsheets and creating simple documents.

I thought the Chromebook would be pretty limited in what it can do but it isn’t too bad.  I actually like the Samsung machine quite a bit.  It is light and responsive.  I really like the keyboard, it is actually quite a bit better than the keyboard on my Sony Vaio Z1,

While I have had several people login into using their GMail account (no issues there), it doesn’t seem to switch users very well.  When switching users it seems as though it logs the current user out instead of keeping that user’s state in memory.

I’ll continue to play with it over the next month or so.  I can definitely see a use for it in the education market.  If a school uses Google Docs then it is a no brainer and I’d give each of my kids one.  As it is, my kids seem to like it quite a bit.  They’ll pick it up and login with their email address and use it to browse the web.  It will also come in pretty handy on a family vacation as it will allow everyone to keep up with their email pretty easily.

Less clear is how useful it will be at work.  We have a corporate Google Docs account but very few people use it.  I’ll probably give it a try in the next day or two.  If you have Google Apps for your own domain then a Chromebook is a pretty good solution.  It is too bad Google has eliminated the ability to get Google Apps for free.

Understanding Email-Users Settings

Periodically I receive Help Requests (either from the WordPress Support Forum, a comment on my blog, or an email) for Email-Users.  Most of the requests involve why some users do or don’t receive email.

Each user has two values associated with their user id:

  1. Does the user receive mass email?
  2. Does the user receive post and/or page notifications?

The ability to control these settings by the user from their User Profile page was a feature of Email-Users long before I got involved.  I have enhanced this functionality to allow an Administrator have the ability to change the settings for a specific user as well as adding the ability to bulk change the settings for a large number of users.

The bulk change feature appears under the Email-Users menu as “User Settings”.  Looking at this page will show you the current state of each user with respect to receiving mass email and post/page notifications.

The administrator can also remove the ability for a user to change their own settings through the plugin settings.

When using the “Send Email to User(s)” or “Send Email to Group(s)” feature, the list of users or groups is extracted from the database based on the settings for their user id.  You can always send email to a single user regardless of their setting however if you select more than one recipient, the Mass Email setting for a user is honored and they will be dropped from the recipient list.

Here are some screen shots to illustrate the points made above.

What is holding up the next wpGForm update?

I’ve had a couple questions about the next version of WordPress Google Form.  I have had a beta version of the next release of WordPress Google Form available for a number of weeks.  So what is holding up the release?  This is a pretty busy time of year for me at work (my real job) and combined with the holidays, I just haven’t had a lot of time to work on it.

This next update really changes how I recommend using the plugin and I want to make sure my Help and Support form can support it and right now it doesn’t.  So until I can find a few minutes to update the Help and Support form, I am going to hold off on the release.