Projects: Chromebook, Writebox, and Writing on the go!

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and it’s because I’ve been gone the past week on a ‘spring break’ trip with my boyfriend (his spring break… I guess just a normal week for me!). He was invited to interview with a company in Florida, and we were able to make an almost week-long trip out of it.

Now, for anyone who writes often, taking vacations can be difficult. You have to decide if you’re willing to take a break from writing or not, how you want to write while you’re gone, and how to save your writing. I prefer to write using my laptop, but it’s old and has only about a 20 minute battery life at this point, so not ideal for long car rides or days without guaranteed electricity access.

For graduation, I was given a Chromebook. I love the lightness and the long battery life, and have been working on how to adapt my writing to more easily use the Chromebook (I really only love using my laptop because it has all my documents saved to it and I don’t have to alter my formatting). So here are the pros and cons I’ve found to using a Chromebook:

Chromebook Pros:

1) Long battery life. You really don’t need to worry about a charging cable unless you’re going to use it for more than four or five hours, and that’s with doing a lot of internet surfing and keeping the screen brightness up. If you were to turn off the wi-fi completely and turn down the brightness (plus other battery-saving habits), you can get even more time out of it.

2) It’s light, so easy to carry around with you. I walked two miles from my hotel to the beach with it in my shoulder bag. I shudder to think of the back pain I’d get from doing that with my 17 in. laptop!

3) Easy access and upload to Google Drive. As long as you have wi-fi, the Chromebook syncs automatically with your Google account, which allows easy access to documents on your Drive. You can also set up specific documents to be able to be viewed offline.

4) Offline functions. I haven’t fully explored these because I almost always have internet, but the Chromebook has an assortment of offline options. You can compose emails, documents, and do an assortment of other activities once you’ve fully set up your offline features. Here’s a full list of the offline functions: Use your Chromebook offline.

Chromebook Cons:

1) Formatting issues. I’m used to using Microsoft Word to write in. I love all the options I have for formatting and editing, and just got used to it. As far as I have found I can’t really get an offline version of Word for my Chromebook, so I’ve had to look at other word processing application options. Google Drive tends to mess up any Word formatting if it’s converted to a Drive document and while I can view a Word document in its original formatting, I can’t edit it. In addition, since all my previous work has been saved as a Word document, I have to transfer all my Drive documents to Word on my laptop later.

2) Original Apps. The Chromebook comes with an app called Scratchpad, but it’s not so much a word processor as a note-pad. I knew I couldn’t use it for writing anything of length.

After using my Chromebook for a few months, I love it! I still prefer the ease of saving and organizing my documents on my laptop, but as for just writing, I love to use it. And now that I’ve been exploring word processing apps, I can say that my love for writing on my Chromebook has only increased now that I use Writebox. For some reason I really dislike writing with Google Drive; it just seems slow and the formatting always seems to mess up somehow. I have started using Writebox to do my word processing, and it seems to work a lot better. Here’s why:

Writebox Pros:

1) Offline access. No matter where I am, I know that I have access to a blank Writebox page. Saving is a bit tricky without internet, but you can write however much you want.

2) Syncing to Google Drive and Dropbox. The way Writebox works is you compose in the application, then use the syncing feature to save the document to your Google Drive or Dropbox account. You can manipulate the file name and saving location within each account, and it shows up immediately. I like to use this to copy-paste into a Google Drive document for future editing, while saving the formatting structure that can easily transfer to Word.

3) Simple and Distraction-free. Maybe the reason I don’t like to write with Google Drive is because it’s too busy for me. I’m used to the business of Word. Somehow, I don’t see all the little buttons and features while I’m trying to write. But put me on a Google Doc and I keep having to check to see when it last saved, click through several buttons to find the cord count. Also, my go-to font, Times New Roman, looks different both in spacing and design on Google Docs, and that throws me. But Writebox is absolutely no-frills. There is a small toolbar at the top that gives options for opening a document, creating a new document, seeing recently created documents, a preview button, a short menu (save, download, settings, etc), and the sync button. At the bottom of the screen is a breakdown of word count, characters, and lines. Nothing else. I LOVE being able to see the word count as it grows (which you can’t do with Google Docs), and I’m not distracted by anything else. The text looks the same as in Word, and it’s easy to use.

Writebox Cons:

1) A bit too simple. There’s not real option to alter the formatting. I like it, but anyone who doesn’t like the Writebox formatting is SOL. You can’t double-space, you can’t center any text, and you can’t change the font at all. Again, not a big deal for me, but it might be for someone else.

2) Saving. From what I understand of it, you have to either have a Google account or a Dropbox account to be able to save anything. Not really a problem; who doesn’t have a Google account anyway? Both are free and easy to set up, and if you don’t have one or the other for document saving you probably should. (If you don’t know about Dropbox, check it out here. It’s a great file storage and sharing site.)

So for my readers here’s a question: What are your opinions of the Chromebook? And if you’re a writer, have you used a Chromebook and/or Writebox? What are your favorite online file sharing/saving/editing websites and apps?

Happy Friday night, and GO SHOCKERS, JAYHAWKS, and WILDCATS!

Edit: Thanks to twitter, I found this blog post about the Four of The Best Text Editors for Your Chromebook. Check it out and tell me what you think of the two alternate options that Mr. Price discusses.

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