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John Blossom
United Methodist Church ministries, facilitating vision & execution, with deep experience in media and technology
United Methodist Church ministries, facilitating vision & execution, with deep experience in media and technology

John Blossom's posts

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What an amazing few weeks it's been already at South Meriden Trinity UMC! The story of what's happened, plus links to my first few sermons. #FaithFriday 

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A Chromebook User with his First MacBook Pro

It's not that I absolutely hate Apple products. I give them credit for being the first mass-market Unix-based personal computer that caught on with the public. True, they had to wrap it in a lot of "it just works" consumer ooh-ahh, but at its heart it's a good machine. But now that my new vocation requires me to use a Macbook Pro, it's a strange experience to be having to live with it after years of 99 percent of my desktop and laptop computing life taking place on Chrome OS.

First off, the looks. OK, we know that the Chromebook Pixel was designed in part so that Google engineers wouldn't feel punkish when others on their campus were booting up on MacBooks. So it's a bit odd to think, "Wow, this looks almost like a Chromebook." Of course, it was Google's intent to get us to think the opposite - and, overall, I think that the Chromebook Pixel has a more premium feel to it. Honestly. This MacBook Pro, now a fee years old, feels very dated, though quite solid.

You can see where Google self-consciously emulated many of the MacBook's best qualities for the Chromebook, but also surpassed them greatly. Chromebook bootups are super-fast. This MacBook, with hardly any special software installed, and near-zero local files, chugs to the starting gate.

Once booted up, there's a separate login for iCloud services. That seems to be kind of an old-fashioned way of doing things. But then, cloud services are not really Apple's specialty, so I suppose that's understandable.

Then there are updates. And more updates. And more updates. get the picture. They are painfully slow, and such a waste of time. You never experience this on a Chromebook - you cough, look out the window for a moment, and your Chrome OS machine is ready to fly again after a quick restart.

The user interface on MacOS Sierra is nice enough, but, just different enough to be annoying. Why do the window controls have to be on the left? It's a style thing, Apple thinks left-handedly, or whatever. I am left-handed, but nevertheless I find that to be annoying, more for the sake of culture than function.

Instead of three buttons to control MacBook functions, there are four. To get a presentation in to full-screen mode, you have to press Fn-F5. For some very basic functions like keystroke-driven cut and paste, you have to use the command key instead of the control key. No need to do it that way, but they do.

On the other hand, the MacBook Pro on Sierra MacOS does share some Chrome OS gestures (or vice versa), like a two-finger tap to get a right=click function, so it's one step removed from Windows annoying-ness on that front.

Other than the annoying left-hand window buttons, navigation on the MacBook is natural enough, and largely not annoying, though there are vestiges from legacy versions of MacOS that are annoying ot a first-time user. When you install software, for example, there are little icons that pop up on your desktop that look like little floppy or CD drives. I had no idea why these existed, and they were removed after my next reboot. Seems like a vestige, but if you have to try reinstalling software, I suppose that it's handy.

Because I use +Faithlife​​'s Proclaim presentation software, I am wedded to this machine for some of my work, now, but if FaithLife were to publish a Chrome OS-compatible version of their presentation editing software, I wouldn't have a need for this machine at all. Our church office has a new secretary, and we're trying to do everything possible in Google Drive-driven apps.

So, overall, MacOS Sierra is in many ways a relic from a bygone era, but just competent enough to be a far better choice than my nine year-old Dell Latitude laptop for editing and presenting Proclaim slides. Other than that, I'll be on my Chromebooks, and Chromebox. Thankfully.

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Will Chrome OS build Eve herald the next-generation Chromebook Pixel?

Sure sounds like it.Same screen aspect ratio, chockablock with bells and whistles, top-of-the-line Intel processor. With Android apps in tow, makes sense again for Google to roll with a super-premium version of CrOS.

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My farewell sermon at First UMC Middletown.. Next Stop, +SMTrinity UMC. Be well, be whole, be at peace always! 

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Thoughts on a 2017 Bole EV Test Drive

As I was going home through Middletown, CT, a tire-kicking mood came across me ans so I spoke into my phone, "2017 Chevy Bolts in Connecticut" - and just as I was coming to +Jackson Chevrolet, their ad popped up saying that hey had ten on the lot! One quick (but safe) turn later, I was poking my head into the showroom, and hooked up with the local Bolt EV sales specialist.

I had heard that Bolts were coming to my nabe some time soon, but as with the rollout of the Volt, dealers don't seem to go out of their way to trumpet the fact that they're available. Most ads and marketing head towards the profit-heavy vehicles like SUVs and pickups, I guess. After a few minutes I was behing the wheel of a Kinetic Blue Metallic Bolet EV LT (A far cry from my Miidnight Blue Metallie Chevy Vega GT of legend).

Fit, finish and trim were as expected, and fine by me - tasteful, and in spite of a lot of complaints about the feel of materials, overall they felt just fine by me. I agree with some reviewers that the front seat side bolsters are a bit low, but given the angle of entry into the relatively high interior (not quite an SUV, but higher than a sedan like a Volt), perhaps that's a practical thing.

My only real complaint about the interior is the shifter, which is...funky. Push and hold a side button, then fumble a bit, and eventually you are in drive. Hmm. The "L" setting adds regenerative braking whenever you remove your foot pedal, which makes sense, but the "L" seems to not quite fit the real function name. This is typical Chevy parts-bin engineering, and it could use an upgrade.

It was a hot day, and as I was waiting for the sales rep to get a licence plate for a test drive, I was blasting the aircon whilst the car was still on the charger. Interestingly, at full tilt, the charging went from 4Kwh to 1Kwh when the aircon kicked in. You can see how cooling down a car whilst still on the charger will be important to maintaining range performance.

Once unplugged, we went for a typically short dealer test drive, but it was fun - a peppy car, amazingly quiet, given its size, and handles well, given its height. The battery pack under the car's interior seems to make the car "stick" to the road like a slot car. I was so excited that I forgot to try the regenerative braking.

Would I buy one? I haven't owned a store-bought car since my Vega - buying a new gas-powered auto seems like a total waste of resources, including my money - but the Bolt EV is certainly the first car that catches my attention as a new-car buyer in a long time.

I think that the main obstacle for Chevy to overrcome is the right set of options. The steering wheel heater and seat heaters are in the most expensive levvel of options - Premier - and these are the options that help you to boost range on cold days through avoiding the use of the cabin heater. Why spend thousands of dollars more just to get that feature? That makes me lean heavily towards considering a Bolt EV as a used car coming off a lease or whatever.

So oeverall, I am impressed that we have an EV-literate local Chevy dealer, and I hope that down the road a car like a Bolt EV will be a good purchase. Sooner would be better than later, but, you know, I tend to drive cars into the ground, so....

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Apps as channels is the new mantra for Android TV - the long-underheralded video streamer from Google. Now, if only they can do what they should have done ages go - make it a stick that you stick into an HDMI port. So many have taken the great ideas of Google TV and Android TV and run with them more aggressively. 

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Google is getting closer to making +Nkommo​ phones...

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One one level, the Amazon Echo show is a completely mundane appliance - a tablet with a microphone and a very chunky speaker that just sits there. Like a television. And that's the point - Amazon is appliance-izing tech at least aas well as the traditional bigs - and getting better at solving basic problems.

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+Ars Technica managed to grab a sneak peek at some of the pieces of Fuchsia, Google's codenamed prototype for an Android/Chrome OS replacement that uses a devkit which will allow one-time development for Fuchsia and iOS apps. Probable bait for I/O demos this year, but we'll see...
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