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Dave Tansley
Works at EasySharePoint
Attended University of Manchester
Lives in Guisborough, UK
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Dave Tansley

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I recently bought a Chromebook - a Toshiba Chromebook 2 with the 1080p screen, in case you're interested. It's no surprise that this has happened, I'm so deep into the Googleverse that it seemed inevitable at some point. In fact, I'd considered buying one since the day they were announced at IO in 2010, but Chromebooks have traditionally been an exercise in compromise. Want a decent processor? Fine, you also need to put up with a shitty low res TN panel. Want a decent screen? No problem, but enjoy your slow ass ARM processor. Want an affordable model that does everything well? Tough, buy a Pixel. Even worse, the UK seems to be the arsehole of the world for Chromebook models, missing out on any device with 4Gb, or an i3 processor, or a nice screen.

In all this time, there's never been a decent mid-range Chromebook that ticked all boxes. That is, until the TCB2 came out. This model has a nice 1080p screen, an Intel processor (albeit a relatively slow Bay Trail one), 4Gb RAM, a decent battery life and costs about £250. So leveraging the excuse that we're going on a long trip next month and needed a cheap laptop to drag around with us, I imported one from the US (this model is perpetually out of stock in the UK) and finally entered the world of Chromebooks.

Now, this post is not a recommendation to buy this Chromebook. If you don't already want to buy a Chromebook, then this is not the laptop for you and I wouldn't dream of trying to persuade you otherwise. Chromebooks are like the Matrix: you can't be told that you want one, you need to see it for yourself. You need to sit up on your couch one evening and realise that increasingly, everything you do on your laptop is on the web - your files are in Drive or Dropbox, you use Gmail or Google Calendar, you rarely play games anymore, you mostly spend your time getting angry at web page comment threads. You need to have the perfect moment of clarity where you see that if you had to reinstall Windows right now, it wouldn't be the trauma it was ten years ago because you use Windows for little else than a browser launcher.

If this isn't you, if you're still hooked on your Word or your Excel or your iTunes, then seriously, a Chromebook isn't for you. If you need to lovingly edit videos of your kids or code up humongous .NET applications or spend weeks at a time in World of Warcraft, a Chromebook isn't for you and you can probably stop reading.

Maybe this is you though? Maybe you've had your moment of realisation? Maybe you've gone on to wonder why you're waiting a minute to boot into your full Windows environment, with its 30 years of history, patching, splicing and fixing? Why are you worried about viruses and system vulnerabilities? Why do you spend most of your life figuring out which process has gone mental causing your fan to sound like a hovercraft starting up? If so, then you don't need to be told a Chromebook is a good fit for you, since you probably already know it is.

Now, if you've stuck around and you haven't yet considered a Chromebook, you're probably hopping from foot to foot, finger in the air, desperate to interject with "but, it's just Chrome!"

You'd be right! But because you haven't yet had your moment of zen, you still see that as a bad thing. What you're not seeing though is that "it can only run a browser" is not the limitation it would have been in 1998. It's not Netscape Navigator! Web applications are so rich and varied these days that you're no longer limited to just "viewing web pages". You can listen to music (Spotify, Play Music), edit pictures (Pixlr), edit documents (Docs, Office Online), play games, store files, do most of the things you would want to do in a desktop environment. Granted, some of the options are currently pretty basic, but I'd wager that the average user would manage just fine. 

And look at what else you get by cutting loose from 30 years of legacy - since it is "only a browser", it is very efficient and can run on low end hardware. It can run low power CPUs that no longer require a fan. The footprint of the OS is small and easily managed, so updates are frequent and fast (it takes around 5 seconds to apply an update to ChromeOS). You reduce your virus vulnerability surface area radically, and no longer need to worry about anti-malware or anti-virus. It boots from cold in under 10 seconds, and this never degrades. If you do install a rogue extension, then resetting the system is a simple 5 minute job and you don't lose anything since it's all stored in the cloud.

Am I sounding evangelical? Apologies for that. I tend to be because I've cleared out so many crufted up Windows laptops in the last decade that I sometimes wonder why everyone isn't running a Chromebook. Earlier this year, I cleaned a relative's computer that had 700 separate malware infestations on it. They didn't use the laptop for much of anything, nothing dodgy, but had probably just failed to untick a box when installing an apparently reputable piece of software and had ended up inviting the malware vampire into their abode.

Enough rant, how is the device to use? Well, it's fine. It's a 250 quid laptop, so it's never going to melt your brain with how wonderful it is. The case is a bit plasticky, but doesn't look that different to a Macbook Air when you open it up. The stand out feature is definitely the screen, which is probably the nicest screen I've seen on a laptop. It has enough CPU and RAM that it feels broadly similar to my 2011 Air when browsing, but it does tend to chug a little when you're loading multiple tabs at once. Scrolling is smooth, it doesn't seem to get bogged down with my usage pattern (around 10 tabs open at any time). 

It's basically a nice laptop, and it has taken the place of my Macbook Air as my couch laptop. This is primarily because the Air has become a bit of a fan monster these days, with them being inexplicably on more than they're off. 

And ChromeOS? Well, it's a bit difficult to say much about Chrome, since "it's just Chrome". It's slightly different to Windows Chrome in that it looks like a "proper" OS with Windows and wallpapers and icons and stuff. But it's still just Chrome, you browse the web with it. Reviewing ChromeOS is like reviewing Britain's motorway system - you run the risk of sounding underwhelmed by it, but hey, consider all the places you could use the motorway system to get to!

But that's the point about ChromeOS. It's a tool for consuming the web, nothing more. Unlike other OS's, the destination is more important than the journey. You don't end up talking about metro tiles, or start menus, or built in anti-virus, or task managers, because all of those are just obstacles in the way of you using the internet. ChromeOS is the "thin client", reborn.

It's not for you, yet. It's not for most people. But it is maybe for your mother or your granddad, because it simplifies their life and removes some of the anxiety and weirdness of owning a computer.
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I love my TC2. I'm a bit disappointed though to see how it handles Google Drive. Since my students all use Google Docs, I always open several tabs to edit their work. Unfortunately, I found out that have to type slowly. Otherwise, it will skip letters. 
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Science!
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heh, just noticed the actual pin-hole shadow in the middle there - thought this was more of a humorous "look at the eclipse of my plate" - but no, you've actually got an eclipse on yours ;) All we had down here in London was clouds - yet another reason to move out...
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Things that are surprisingly still things #1

People still make and release new games for the ZX Spectrum, including this amazing new Castlevania game. Looks far better than most commercial Speccy games from back in the day!
Download this nostalgic 8-bit action platformer for your shiny new ZX Spectrum. Find out why Belmont clan mysteriously disappeared for many years!
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It's awesome that people are still writing those, but you need to come to terms with the fact that the Speccy's lack of sprites makes it shit for games like that. C64 rules!
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This arrived, several weeks early, as if by some kind of Christmas miracle! It's a Retron 5, a fancy console device that takes SNES, Megadrive, NES, GB and GBA carts from all regions and spits it all out onto an LCD screen via HDMI. Under the hood, it's really a fancy interface for reading the content of cartridges into a series of Android emulators, so has all the usual emulator options like save states and scanlines.

I was a bit worried about how well it would work, but luckily it plays wonderfully! Every game we tried worked, about three from each system, and the Megadrive Sega Master System adaptor even allowed SMS games to be played (Psycho Fox!). They look amazing on a big screen TV, considerably better than composite output from the original consoles. The console comes with a bluetooth controller, which is fine, but also allows the original controllers to be plugged into the system and used.

Now, this device has a bad rep - partly because there's some controversy over whether Hyperkin properly licensed the emulator software or not, but also because people question why you'd bother using carts when you can just as easily plug a PC into your TV and use ROMs. Conversely, purists question whether this is even an authentic experience compared to using the original hardware.

Personally, I like the feel of carts, the idea of pulling something off a shelf and plugging it into a machine. Far more satisfying than scrolling down a long list of ROMs and selecting 'Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo [ue].smb'. We also own the original consoles already, which are great and everything, but are limiting in the kind of TV you can play them on - unless you have space for a monster 32 inch CRT somewhere. And let's be honest, the NES loads games approximately 20% of the time on a good day - having a reliable means of playing Mario 3 is very welcome.

So the Retron 5 seems like a great secondary device to sit in the living room and take advantage of a big LCD with.
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+Fernando Maldonado you can use all the original compatible controllers.
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Some awesome coffee table books - A ZX Spectrum book from Kickstarter and a history of Fighting Fantasy Books from +Shell McShellister!
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I like the look of that book
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Today I modded my PAL Megadrive to run at 60Hz, and now feel as though Sega cheated me out of 20% of my childhood.
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Did that to my pal snes. Best thing I ever did. 
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Dave Tansley

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Dove into +Shell McShellister's beloved C64 box today and discovered it contained some stone cold classics. Decided to give the old enemy a fair shot and hook it up for a quick play.

Sadly, time seems to have got the better of it. While it would happily boot to basic, it seemed to struggle doing anything else. Sound didn't work, graphics were glitchy and we only managed to get one game to load. So in that respect, the experience wasn't a lot different to what I remember 8-bit gaming was like originally.

Back in the loft for now, but maybe we'll undertake a summer project to restore it.
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That's also some late model C64C thing too.
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Things that are surprisingly still things #2

Nintendo still make and sell Gamecube controllers. Admittedly more for Wii U than Gamecube, but the controller is identical to the originals and works great on a Gamecube.
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You can never have enough Gamecubes!

Funnily enough, I just bought a copy of Freeloader to be able to play NTSC games on ours, since they seem cheaper.

What do you want for your yankee cube? And what games do you have?
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Adam Curtis ("Power of Nightmares", "Century of Self") has a new documentary, "Bitter Lake", that the BBC has decided to hide on iPlayer.

Actually, they probably hid it there because it's a two and half hour self-indulgent montage, telling a story that could be told in about 45 minutes. Nevertheless, if you like Curtis' style, you'll really enjoy this.
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If I find it on Netflix, ok ... not the iAnything ;)
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Christmas done right.
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We're on singstar & Harry Potter scene it now! 
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If I ever felt the need to justify my life choices, the last 25 hours would serve as a compelling argument for having no children in your 40s.

Sat down at 8am yesterday and played through the whole of Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past on the SNES. A couple of meal breaks, a brief moment of wondering what the hell I was doing, and about six hours sleep and I finally finished it this morning.

What an amazing game. As good today as it was 22 years ago. A masterclass in game design, it is always challenging enough to keep you interested, but never so hard as to be frustrating. Like all Zelda games, it drip feeds items and abilities and themes levels around their use, but never overwhelms you with options. It still looks great to this day and plays wonderfully.

For those that do have kids, I genuinely think you should start their gaming lives with classics like Zelda and Mario, rather than the endless in-app-purchase freemium nonsense that fills phones and tablets these days. There's probably no need to go to the same lengths as this guy:

https://medium.com/message/playing-with-my-son-e5226ff0a7c3

(starting his son off on an Atari 2600 and gradually advancing through the generations year by year) but you could probably do a lot worse than getting on ebay and picking up a 30 quid SNES and a copy of SMW or LTTP.
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Yeah cool i just played zelda a link between too world's on the 3ds 
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Dave Tansley

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It reads a bit hipster ("I was into music before it got really popular") but this article perfectly encapsulates my own relationship with music, five years into the Age Of Spotify.

Streaming music is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to someone who enjoyed listening to and collecting records.

I don't know how I could live without it, to be trapped within the confines of a few hundred CDs. But at the same time, I mourn that I no longer have the investment that caused me to stick with a difficult third album until I found something to love in it. 

--

Before Spotify solved the problem with music forever, esoteric taste was a measure of commitment. When every band was more or less difficult to hear by virtue of its distance from a major label, what you liked was a rough indicator of the resources you had invested in music. If you liked the New York City squat-punk band Choking Victim, it was a sign you had flipped through enough records and endured enough party conversations to hear about Choking Victim. The bands you listened to conveyed not just the particular elements of culture you liked but also how much you cared about culture itself.
Now that nearly every song is as easy to find as any other, what are we music snobs to do?
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Oh man, I'd forgotten all about Alan Fernley's! Spent many happy hour there (or at the record shop in Forbes building) myself :)

I think time and age is one thing - but as a dude with no kids and plenty of free time, I don't think it's the sole reason. When I used to buy an album, it was a ten quid hole in my finances and I felt as though I owed it to myself to get the most out of it. So I made damned sure I gave it plenty of listening before I gave up on it.

And it turns out that a lot of the music I really liked from back then wasn't instantly accessible, it wasn't something you hummed after one or two listens, you had to really put the effort in. But without the investment - without almost a sense of guilt - I never would have.

I sometimes wonder how much good music I'm missing out on these days because I'm prepared to ditch something if it isn't instantly enjoyable?
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Work
Occupation
Web Developer
Employment
  • EasySharePoint
    Technical strategy director, 2014 - present
  • Clerkswell
    Web Developer, 2015
  • Logica
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Guisborough, UK
Previously
Guisborough, UK - Manchester - Bristol - London
Story
Tagline
Shut up crime!
Introduction
Ahoy there fellow traveller!

There are many Daves, but this particular Dave is a bit of a nerd, a bit of a science geek, he likes videogames and arcade cabinets and Star Wars and will talk for hours on Rat Kings and their threat to civilisation.

He likes beer.

He has a Phd in astrophysics but sold out to The Man and currently works as a web developer. There's a novel in him somewhere, but it would probably be rubbish.

He never made it 6ft, to his eternal chagrin.
Bragging rights
Found all 200 pigeons in GTA IV. Without a guide. Finished that particular long weekend brimming with self-satisfaction and lousy with shame.
Education
  • University of Manchester
    Physics BSc, 1993 - 1996
  • Jodrell Bank
    Radio Astronomy MSc, 1996 - 1997
  • University of Bristol
    Infra-Red Astronomy PhD, 1997 - 2000
Basic Information
Birthday
December 18
Dave Tansley's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Hotel Leifur Eiriksson is a basic, no-frills hotel that makes up for a lack of sophistication with charm, personality and above all, location. The staff are very helpful, and the hotel is well served by tours and shuttle buses. The general feeling is one of a backpacker's hostel than a city centre hotel - not necessarily a bad thing. Our room was on the fourth floor, in one of the corners and it wasn't massive. In fact, I initially had head-room issues in the sloping roof ceiling, but soon got used to it. It was generally clean and well stocked, albeit very basic. Breakfast was good enough, offering buffet-style continental and cereal options, as well as tea and coffee. In fact, tea, coffee and cold drinks were available all day round - just help yourself from the machine. Something we and other guests used a lot. As for location, the hotel is a stone's throw from Hallgrimskirkja, which means you'll never have trouble finding your way back (the church is visible from all over the city), and you'll see a constant stream of fellow travellers wandering up to take photos. One word of warning - if free wifi is important for you, then you may need to look elsewhere. Hotel Leifur Eiriksson does have wifi, available on all floors, but it seems to work intermittently.
• • •
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Our only regret with booking Hotel Edelweiss was that we didn't stay longer. Everything about it was perfect - it looked charming, the rooms were large and well maintained, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. The hotel itself is about five minutes walk from town, through a lovely park, on a very quiet road. It has free wifi for guests, and a lovely garden in which to enjoy your breakfast or a late night drink. Highly recommended.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
The food was great, especially the sheekh kebab that I had as a starter, and it seemed relatively inexpensive. However, I had the feeling we were a little rushed through it, with courses appearing even before the waiter had finished writing our order down!
Food: ExcellentDecor: Very GoodService: Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
8 reviews
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Food: Very GoodDecor: GoodService: Very Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago