Chromebook: First Impressions

Great review, Chipp. Thanks!

Steve Lomas
Web Consultant, Idea Mechanic
615.830.6451 cell

On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 1:55 AM, Chipp Walters <> wrote:
Recently, I purchased a Samsung Series 5 Arctic White 3G Model Chromebook. For those of you who don't know, Chromebook is a notebook computer which runs Google's Chrome OS and is for the most part just a Chrome browser in a notebook. I know, it sounds rather simple and not very exciting. But, knowing how much I depend on Google for business and after doing a bit of research, I became interested enough in it to purchase one and try it out. Here's what I now think of it after using it for three days.


First off, if you want to know more specifically about the Chromebook and it's features, there's an explanation HERE.

Many of you know I already own and use an iPad-- so much so, it's taken over as the computer I use most daily. It replaces my laptop for many tasks including email and web browsing. Plus, it allows me to sketch ideas and diagrams, something not easily done on a notebook. Still, I have to say there are quite a few things I really like about my Chromebook.

Early impressions are extremely positive. It has many of the features I really like of the iPad while also retaining much of the functionality I like in netbooks. I should mention, the Shafer Walters Group is a virtual company and we pretty much run on Google Apps, including accessing email in Gmail, creating and editing documentation in Google Docs, and with most spreadsheet work done using Google Spreadsheet. We aso like Google Presentations as a collaborative tool for creating slide presentations. We use many online tools, including Basecamp, Freshbooks, Quicken Online, Dropbox, FogBugz among others. So, it's fair to say, just like my friend Jerry Daniels, we do a whole lot of computing already 'in the cloud.' In fact, Jerry is an excellent source of new cloud apps and talks about them frequently on his blog. A cloud only device suits many of our needs well.

The implementation of the Chrome browser is great. It looks and behaves exactly the same on Windows and MacOS, which was a bit of a surprise to me seeing how it's based on a Linux kernel. When I first logged in, the Chrome browser already had all my bookmarks and personal preferences setup as I had on my other Chrome installs (PC and Mac), which was a nice surprise. In fact, install was a snap and I was up and using it after a quick OS update. 

The Samsung Chromebook is a bit larger than netbook computers, but smaller than most notebooks. The keyboard is easy to use. It's fairly light for a notebook but still weighs twice the iPad2. The Chromebook display is much higher resolution at 1280 x 800  vs the iPad's 1024 x 768 and the Chromebook has a whopping 2GB of memory versus the iPad2's wimpy 512MB (iPad 1 is only 256MB). Both iPad and Chromebook use solid state drives, with the iPad having three configurations to choose from: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. This Chromebook only has 16GB, but does have an SSD slot along with a couple of USB ports where you can add more memory. Because the Chromebook focusses on connecting to the Internet and storage in the cloud, I don't see lack of local storage as a significant detractor.

Chromebooks can be purchased from $349 to $499 (mine), the topend being a bit more expensive than one might expect. I think this price may come down as more of them are sold, still they are quite competitive when priced against current tablet models including iPad.

The Positives

Extremely long battery life. No kidding. Reportedly it can run continuously for 8 hours. I've not had to recharge any more than once per day-- just like my cell phone and iPad. I also have Sony Vaio and MacBook Air laptops, and neither get even close to iPad or Chromebook in battery life.

Instant on. And instant connection to wireless. My Chromebook takes 8 seconds to boot-- from a cold start. Closing the lid puts it to sleep and it resumes from sleep instantaneously, much like my AirBook. But unlike my AirBook and more like the iPad, the wireless connection seems to be instantly connected. I've set mine to force a password login from sleep mode, something I would encourage anyone to do who owns a Chromebook or iPad.

3G so I can connect anywhere. Combined with extreme battery life, this is one of the most valuable features of this particular model. Furthermore, Verizon gives away free 100MB of transfer per month for the first two years of ownership. I used to think having a wifi hotspot was just as good, and I do have one of those as well, but my good friend Steve Lomas, convinced me otherwise after seeing him pull out his 3G iPad, check his email and put it away in 30 seconds. The darn wifi hotspot takes over two minutes just to boot, not to mention having to connect it to a laptop, iPad or iPhone. As such, I'd never use it to quickly check an email or Google an address.

No auto-correction, it's replaced by good spellchecking. I find when I send emails on the iPad, I have to constantly check to see what iOS has automatically corrected and changed. I know I can turn it off, but sometimes it does come in handy, just not always. It's SO MUCH EASIER TO TYPE emails on a Chromebook than on an iPad-- and this is one of the reasons folks like my business partner, Dan Shafer, may prefer a Chromebook over iPad as an Everday Portable Computing Device (EPCD). 

Large trackpad with MacOS type functionality. I do admit, I mostly prefer Apple's implementation of trackpads. Two-finger scrolling and a physical click directly on the trackpad help make it easy to use. Still, dragging and dropping is somewhat difficult, just like on my MacBook Air, which IMO is better done with two fingers on opposite hands. The feel of the trackpad is very smooth and works as well as on Mac devices.

Keyboard modifications make it actually easier to use. There's no caps lock key, which surprisingly to me, is not missed at all-- in fact, it's better because I don't accidently hit it when typing. It is replaced by a search key which opens a new browser tab and highlights the URL field. If you really want CAPS LOCK back, you can choose to do so in Chromebook settings. Also, the mostly useless function keys on other keyboards are replaced by much more useful keys like: forward, backward, refresh, full screen, show next window, brightness and audio volume buttons. Much better.

Printing is easy to setup and just works. I was able to easily setup my Epson wired and HP wireless printers to work with the wireless Google Cloud Printing. I was a bit concerned this would be an issue, but it turns out it just worked-- not as seamlessly as Apple's AirPrint, but easy nonetheless.

Multi-user accounts make this a family computer. As I mentioned before, I'm all setup on Google Apps, and so is my wife and daughter. Because I don't need to worry about viruses on the Chromebook, or any files getting damaged or lost as they're stored in the cloud, I can easily lend my Chromebook to my wife and daughter for them to use. They each use their existing Gmail account sign on and then they're good to go. So, if Christi goes out of town, she can take the Chromebook with her to check emails, bank balances, etc. and it's more secure because of the 3G access (We all know those wireless access points are not always very trustworthy!). 

Lost or damaged Chromebooks aren't as expensive as one might first imagine. The first thing I think about after spilling Red Bull on my notebook keyboard and watching the screen fritz is "what data have I lost?" When all the data is stored in the cloud, that question pretty much goes away. Furthermore, the Chromebook is not as expensive as my MacBook Air or Vaio, so if something does happen to it, no data is lost and it's less expensive to replace with a new one which is up and running in no time at all. This is huge, and one reason I'd like to talk my Dad into using one, as sometimes he forgets which file he left on which computer or he downloads new Windows apps which 'promise' to speed up his computer, but instead install viruses, which I later have to remove.

Economic model is great for small businesses. You can 'rent' a Chromebook for between $20-30 per month for employees, and Google will take over all help desk responsibilities. This is huge, and IMO, a real gamechanger. The business administrators can configure all employees Chromebooks from one central interface. And, if your Chromebook breaks it is immediately replaced free of cost. This is huge for small businesses who can now spend less on IT and more on productivity-- assuming you have no need for standard business apps like MS Office, which many, like us, have given up in favor of Google Apps. For those diehards who absolutely need to run MS Office, there is an HTML5 remote desktop computing solution which allows Chromebooks to run remote virtual instances of Windows7 running Office and other Windows apps, but it seems counterproductive to the ease-of-use premise of Chromebook.

Chromebook runs Flash with no problems-- along with several other web application frameworks. There are many web applications which try to replace desktop applications using Flash and Flex, including our very own which runs flawlessly on Chromebook. For instance, has a bunch of really cool apps including their Phoenix image editor which mirrors much of what Photoshop can do-- and they all run in a browser using Flash. I've had no problems using these products including HTML5 apps which allow me to FTP into WordPress sites, and even edit directly the php and CSS files directly. Certainly, there are many more on the way. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for either iPad or Android.

The Negatives

A few keyboard issues. There is no delete key. There is a backspace key. For Mac users, this is probably no big problem as the Mac doesn't have one either. But for many of us Windows users the delete key is critical to our workflow. Hope this is fixed in newer versions. But Mac users will be disappointed with the undo,cut, copy and paste keyboard shortcuts. There is no Apple command key so you have to use the CTRL key as a modifier, which is quite a finger stretch for those trained on the easy Command-Z,X,C and V workflow.

There is no Netflix. Yet. For those of you hooked on Netflix, it's rumored to be in the works, but currently there is no way to play Netflix. I suspect this is because the OS is based on Linux and for some reason, Netflix has some specific requirements which only run on MacOS and Windows and iOS.

There are many applications which have no online counterparts. No decent 3D apps are available as web apps. And of course neither support for the real Photoshop and MS Office or my favorite programming language, LiveCode. We all have our 'gotta have' applications, and many of mine are just not available.

No GoToMeeting or Skype. For me, these both are two of the biggest detractors right now for Chromebook. I depend on both these apps during the day, and both are supported on the iPad. Though, frankly, GTM on iPad is pretty bad-- you can't initiate a meeting nor can you do any sort of screen sharing. Google Voice does work on the Chromebook. While there are plenty of rumors, there's no word yet on when or if there will be an HTML5 or Flash version of Skype. There are some pretty decent chat clients. One is

No Network, No work. This is a common complaint for most reviewers of Chromebook. But, for me, it's not such a big deal. I only want to use my Chromebook when I need web access, so I purchased it with 3G built in. So, unless I'm flying somewhere, or way out in the country, web access shouldn't be much a problem-- and if I can't have Internet access, I doubt there's much I really want to do. Also, I don't think of my Chromebook as my only machine, only as possibly the one I may end up using the most.

Final thoughts

First of all, I hope others see the value in owning a Google Chromebook. Because as more users buy them, more companies will have to take note and begin support for them.

As products and operating systems become more and more complex, the simplicity of accessing and storing data on the cloud using only a browser is appealing to those who crave for a simpler and easier way to do things. This is an important step in lessening our collective dependency on older and more antiquated OS'es, which are providing less and less value to us as they become more and more complicated. Fact is, modern OS'es have been looking like the same animals, doing the same things, offering the same features. Apple's new OS named Lion now has many similar features as Windows 7, including the much needed ability to resize a window from any edge. But also, looking forward, Lion also adds some very interesting iOS features, such as implementation of fullscreen mode which does away with windows-- and acts more like a fullscreen BROWSER-- just like Chromebook already does! I expect if ChromeOS is successful, it will start to implement Android type features much like Lion has adopted iOS capabilities.

I personally think Chromebook is excellent family based computer as well as perfect for many small businesses. And for myself, someone who owns a desktop PC, Mac and Windows laptop, and iPad, the Chromebook will be an interesting fit. It will be telling to see how much time I spend using it-- my guess is it will take over much of the space my iPad used to use. I enjoy the iPad because of it's instant on, super long battery life, and super fast and capable connectivity to the web-- all things make it a superb Everday Portable Computing Device. The Samsung Chromebook has all of this PLUS I can now view Flash, type emails without looking at the keys (instead of hunt-and-peck on iPad), and have an overall better browsing experience. We'll see.

Why do I use Gmail?

In June of 2009, I blogged about a series of articles I wrote documenting how and why I was using Gmail as the central hub of my e-mail universe -- even for my business domains.

The Ultimate E-mail Hook-up!

I was reminded of this article today when I happened to spill open my Gmail SPAM folder, for the first time in months...


Oh, man, am I ever glad I that made the switch!
And this was just a few hours worth of deflected SPAM.

Fortunately for me, SPAM is virtually a thing of the past. So much so,  I haven't given it much thought in over a year. But for most, however, SPAM still a huge problem, clogging our networks and MANY personal email in-boxes.

In the spirit of perhaps freeing a few more souls from the burden of SPAM, I am reposting my original article.

Please let me know if it's helpful.

Here's to a SPAM-free tomorrow! 

Steve Lomas
Web Consultant, Idea Mechanic

Homage to Steve Jobs...

Forgive me if this offends anyone, but I'm gonna miss Steve Jobs if God calls him home anytime soon. Great to see him today leading Apple's iPad 2 shout out. Greatest marketer and inventor of our age...

I'm praying for you, Steve!

Steve Lomas
Web Consultant, Idea Mechanic

Duly noted...

"The iPad will be game changing..."
--Chipp Walters to SL
MAY 2010

Steve Lomas
Web Consultant, Idea Mechanic
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My iPhone Search & Rescue Saga...

With all the travel I've been doing, sooner or later, it was bound to happen. I lost my iPhone.

I was returning from Monterey, CA, and I set it on the seat beside me (black phone case, black vinyl seat -- I know better). When they announced boarding, I dutifully stood up, grabbed my rolling bag, and marched onto the plane. We hadn't even pulled away from the gate when I realized what I had done. I left my phone on the seat in the waiting area!

If you have ever wondered how it would feel to lose your iPhone, and what it takes to retrieve it, I'm here to tell you... 

First of all, it feels TERRIBLE... Your first reaction is shock and if I'm honest, PANIC -- that's the adrenalin kicking in -- followed by an almost instant nausea, as you say to yourself, "GEEZE... way to go Einstein!!" 

I knew better than to wallow in self-pity, (thank you, Gwen Shamblin). I needed to press into action:

  • First a quick arrow prayer: "Oh Lord, please help me find my iPhone"
  • Next, since I was sitting in the front row, I leaned forward and informed the pilots
  • They alerted the gate crew and asked them to please check the seating area
  • The gate crew radioed back, "The phone was nowhere to be found." Pinched!

Then I remembered I had installed the Find My iPhone app on both my iPhone and iPad. I asked the flight attendant if I could please access my stowed carry-on, to retrieve my iPad. She agreed and asked the flight crew if they could please wait one more minute...

I flipped open my iPad and fired it up with Ninja skill, determined to catch a thief, when I realized the app was missing! 

That's right. When I upgraded my iPad to the new OS, weeks earlier, lots of apps mysteriously disappeared from both my iPad and iTunes (don't get me started, about the whole iTunes sync process). I thought I had reinstalled everything, but obviously, I had missed the Find My iPhone app... No time to futz around, so the pilots politely told me they had to push back.  I would have to resume my search from LAX.

I spent the next hour praying and planning my counter attack. I pre-wrote the following text message, and copied it into my iPad's memory, so it would be readily available to paste into the Find My iPhone alert message:

Please RETURN this iPhone to Steve Lomas. Call 866-346-1105 and leave message or email

I then navigated to the iPad settings screen, and waited for our plane to land...

The thought crossed my mind that my phone could easily have been picked up by another passenger on my flight. If I could download the Find My iPhone app and install it quickly enough, and trigger the audible alarm feature, I might be able to catch the culprit red handed! After all, EVERYONE on the plane had to pass by me, to exit! "Oh, this ought to be interesting!". 

As the first wheel of our plane hit the Tarmac, I flipped on the iPad and turned off Airplane Mode; ready to pounce the instant I had a connection. Several minutes later I was still staring at the word "Searching..." Asd most AT&T subscribers already know, getting a 3G connection at a busy hub, like LAX can be hit or miss

So as I waited, the flight attendant brought me my bag. Thje finally, as everyone prepared to exit, my iPad found the network. Tap, tap tap and I was downloading the app -- or so I thought. The progress bar said, "Waiting..."

Meanwhile, moments later, with carry-on in one hand and my iPad in the other, I led a parade of passengers off the plane. "Drat!!! The crook is going to escape, before I can expose them!"

The flight between Monterey and LAX is a commuter flight, which means my rolling bag was gate-checked in Monterey, and I had to pick it up on the Tarmac at LAX. As I waited for my bag, I monitored the progress of the downloading app: slowly, but surely. 

As the baggage cart rolled up, the app finished installing.

I grabbed my bag and stepped out of traffic. Launching the app, I caught a break: All my settings had been remembered! I only needed to log in. As the app started searching, I prayed...

Suddenly, there on the screen, was the location of my iPhone was. It was still in the Monterey, in the airport boarding are, but some distance from where I left it. I made a bee-line to the American Airlines Admirals Club, where I am a member. The Admiral's Club desk agents are top notch, and I knew they could help me. Within seconds of my arriving at the front desk and explaining my dilemma to the agent, she had Monterey Airport Operations on the line -- I couldn't have done that. Could you?

The operations person in Monterey told us they had already looked everywhere, and couldn't find it. My AA desk agent said, "It's not there."  I responded, "Yes, it is," and I showed her my iPad. She told operations, "He has the Mobile Me, Find My iPhone app on his iPhone. We're looking on his iPad. We can see that it's still at the Airport." I was impressed. Then she whispered to me, "My kids have that app on their iPhones and iPods." Smart!

The person in airport operations, again said, "It's not there. We looked." the agent shared this with me and I said, "Please tell them there is an audible alarm, which I will trigger again right now!" I did and then an amazing thing happened... The phone icon jumped on the map back to the original proximity where I left it. The desk agent shouted into the phone, "It's moving! We can see it moving!" We begged, the operations person, "Please send someone to the gate area! You should be able to hear it. It's beeping!!" the message came back, "Security is on it's way."

At that moment I hastily modified the alert message and resent the alarm trigger one more time, with this message:

Please turn into American Airlines!!! We are monitoring. RETURN this iPhone to Steve Lomas. Call 866-346-1105 and leave message or email

Moments later, the operations person reported, "We found it beeping in the snack bar!" By this time, several folks were following along at the Admiral's Club front desk, and a cheer went out as we heard the news! One might have guessed we had just talked a non-pilot through their first airplane landing! My first words were, "Praise God!"  I'm pretty sure I caught a smile and a wink from the desk agent...

She handed me the phone and the airport operations person said she would hold my iPhone for pick up. The desk agent, asked if I needed a phone, to make arrangements, and I told her, "No". It seemed only fitting to me, that I wrap this up on my iPad, which had saved the day... I placed a quick call, via Skype, from my iPad, to my friend and co-worker, who I had just left in Monterey, asking him if he could please pick up my phone and FedEx to me. (Thanks, Chipp!)

Well that's my story. I'm writing this from 35,000 feet on my way home to Nashville. At this moment, I don't know for sure if my phone was retrieved, by my friend. I sure hope so, because one of the last images I saw from the Find My iPhone app, clearly showed my iPhone located in the Airport parking lot. So I re-sent the above message, and minutes later, it was back in the airport. Hmmm... Maybe that was a GPS glitch, maybe not... I guess I will know soon... 

---- Thirty minutes later ---

Happy days! Chipp grabbed my phone and it's on it's way!! Yay, God!  :-)

Steve Lomas
Web Consultant, Idea Mechanic

Sent from my iPad...


The New Workflow


The way we do business is changing...

I have been reflecting lately on just how dramatically my day-to-day workflow has changed. The tools I rely on today, are completely different from the tools I was using, even a year ago.

It used used to be...

  • If you wanted to make a phone call you used a "phone", and your phone number indicated where you were calling from. 
  • If you wanted to schedule a meeting, the trickiest aspect was scheduling a conference room. 
  • Notes were mostly taken on paper, even though we all had laptops. 
  • Most people had four phone numbers: work, fax, home and cell, and typically two email addresses: work and personal
  • Applications ran on your primary computer workstation, which is where your all documents were stored. 
  • Working remotely was uncommon, and travel was required if teams really wanted to collaborate. 
  • Conference calls were expensive and video conferencing was too expensive and and much too complicated for daily use. 
  • TV shows were watched on televisions and surfing the Internet required a networked computer.
Get where I'm going with all this?

In the last year I have integrated the following tools to my workflow...


Cloud Services: Okay, I will admit it. Larry Ellison was right! I didn't get it at first, but it is so much better to have your documents and even applications up in the cloud. From a data protection and accessibility perspective, you can't beat it -- as long as you can access the internet! That's where DropBox comes i ...

DropBox: This is a bit of software you install on your computer that allows you to share the contents of a folder on your desktop with anybody you chose, via the Internet. Files are seamlessly uploaded to the cloud where you can access them from other computers, and mobile devices. Both the iPhone and iPad support DropBox, as do other mobile devices. Very impressive when a client mentions something you had worked on together months before, and you say, "Here it is..." as you pass them your iPad! The great thing about DropBox, is you maintain local copies of your files as well a the cloud copies, and DropBox does all the heavy lifting, in the background, to everything in sync.

Google Docs:  More and more of my docs are stored in the cloud on Google servers, and the all the Google applications are browser-based. Google has knock-offs of Word, Excel and PowerPoint online, complete with the ability to read and save in these Microsoft file formats. Any Google Doc documents can be shared with teammates for review or editing. Documents can actually be edited simultaneously by multiple individuals.In one creative session earlier this year, eight of us were editing the same document at the same time! And it wasn't as chaotic as it may sound, because we could all see in real time what was being edited and by whom. Pretty cool!!  If you need a local copy, perhaps for an in-flight work session, you can export a local copy to your DropBox.

Skype: I realize that Skype has been around for a while, but I only woke up to it, this year. It happened when I was talking to a co-worker at, After several phone conversations, I learned that she was not based in California, but New Zealand! I was confused, because her incoming phone number was a CA number. She explained explained that she was using Skype, and the cost of the service, with a dedicated CA phone number was under $10 a month. I said, "Thank you, very much", hung up the phone, and signed up for Skype on the spot! Ever since, Skype has been my preferred telecommunications service. The audio quality is crisp and the video video teleconferencing and screen-casting are immensely helpful for remote collaboration!

Gmail: I was reluctant to abandon Outlook as my primary email client and the whole notion locally archived email, but I finally made the leap earlier this year, and I must admit, it's very convenient. I can search all my email in seconds (who better than Google to handle search?) and my email is readily available across all devices! I had already figured out how to manage multiple email accounts in Gmail (see previous post: The Ultimate Email Hook-up), so migrating wasn't too difficult.It has taken a while to get used to the Gmail, web client, but now that I have, I like it.

iPad: My friend and co-worker, Chipp Walters said of the iPad before it was released, "The iPad will be game changing". He was right. We use our iPads all the time. In fact, I created the attached info graphic on my iPad, using Notes Plus. You can read my initial thoughts about the iPad, in this post, "iPad Not Perfect, But Very Cool". And if you are really stuck for how to be productive with your iPad, check this out, "New Favorite iPad App".

iPhone 4: Multi-tasking, folders, Reina display, and a rocking' great camera made this a must-have upgrade, given how I rely on my iPhone (see "It's an iPhone Life").

GoToMeeting: This is a virtual meeting and collaboration service which allows you to screen-cast to multiple people and pass the screen-cast baton at any time during the meeting, to anyone connected to the meeting. This feature is great. G2M also provides both private and public chat rooms, a participant list, a who's speaking indicator, and the ability to screen capture an entire meeting. GoToMeeting's VOIP (Voice Over IP) capabilities can be a little finicky, so thankfully, participants can also call into a meeting via telephone.

PogoPlug: This is a nifty little device that allows you to create your own cloud service, out of any external USB hard drive, so may can access these files from anywhere over the Internet. Files can any file format, including photos, videos and music. PogoPlug does all the trans-coding so you may access and play these files remotely from mobile devices, like the iPhone and iPad.

Drobo: Dobo is a a very smart storage robot, that employs a unique RAID technology that is drop-dead simple to deploy and maintain. Unlike other RAD technologies, the Drobo does not care about drive size parity. When you run out of storage, you simply remove the smallest drive in the array, and replace it with the largest hard drive that is currently available, and Drobo does the rest -- no files are lost in the process. It works GREAT!

BaseCamp: This is another cloud service, designed specifically for Project Management. It is easy to set up projects, and virtual teams. BaseCamp provides file sharing with regression, threaded discussions, tasks, milestones, calendars, and an odd shared document format called "Write Boards". BaseCamp is not the end-all, be-all PM tool that it could be, but it is certainly useful, and we use it often in conjunction with the other tools, mentioned.

MacBook Pro & Parallels: I love my little 13" MacBook Pro. It is well-sized for travel, but don't let its small stature deceive you. With 8GB of RAM, two video processors and a 500GB hard drive, this machine is a true work-horse! If you have followed my previous posts, you may know that I run a split Mac OS | Windows XP environment, using Parallels. This allows me to run whatever software is required, and test our web-apps cross-platform from the same compact workstation.When I'm at my desk I connect to a Dell 27" Ultrasharp monitor. My windows environment is dedicated to this monitor, but my Mac OS environment spans both the laptop screen and the Dell Ultrasharp. You can read more about my Parallels experience, here: Magellan's Guide To A Parallels Universe - Part 1. Parallels has its mysteries and foibles, but all-in-all, it works well for me and I am satisfied with its performance -- I never really think about fact that I'm doing the lion-share of my work on a virtual machine!

Closing Thoughts...

This new way to work and collaborate is great, but it is not without its drawbacks. As you can see, from my graphic, it is a highly distributed model.The old axiom, of "Ultimate information needs to exist ultimately in one place" is definitely being challenged in this sort of work environment. "Where did I create that?" and "Where did I save that?" are not uncommon questions. We have some clients who don't mind reviewing a DRAFTs in Google Docs, while others prefer a PDF to mark-up, and others still insist on MS documents. This, of course, pains me, because it means redundant effort, migrating text edits and comments, back and forth. Therefore,  I find myself having to really think, before I begin a document, or project, to determine the best tool, the intended audience and where and in what format it will be published. 

The other thing I've noticed, is just how much time seems to be sacrificed to maintaining of this complex environment. There seems to be a constant barrage of software updates to manage. None of it is that hard to do, or fraught with much risk, but each update, takes a small bite out of your day -- maybe that is the hidden meaning of the Apple logo ;-)

But before I all throw in the towel, and pine for the "good ol' days", I remind myself that it is still very early in this business/productivity revolution. Tools will get better. The best will float tot he top, and the rest will disappear, and in the not too distant future, much of this will all seem commonplace.

  • You can "telephone" people without the use of a"phone", using Skype, and similar Voice Over IP technologies. I've made calls from my iPad when I left my cell at home.
  •  Services like Google Voice and Skype allow you to establish a local phone number, anywhere, regardless of where you actually rest your head at night...
  • You can create a virtual conference room in 60 seconds or less, using GoToMeeting and similar online services, like Adobe Connect and Web-X.
  • You can screen capture, or other record the meeting notes in a variety of ways, such as Sound Notes for the iPad or the Pulse digital pen.
  • Most people have abandoned their land-lines at home, in favor of cell phones. And when was the last time you actually sent a FAX? If you have, it was likely not your first choice.
  • Instead of two email addresses, I have too many! ;-)
  • My workflow integrates dozens of apps which run on either my iPhone or my iPad; generally both. 
  • Remote collaboration across virtual teams is becoming more and more common as businesses embrace the cost savings and the potential for increased productivity.
  • Conference calls are simple and inexpensive --  even FREE, with services like -- and video conferencing is a snap with Skype or iChat
  • YouTube, Netflix and Apple TV are blurring the lines between Internet and television.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and how you manage your workflow... Please leave a comment.

Steve Lomas is an Idea Mechanic and the founder of MojoMediaPros.

iPhone, therefore iArt!

Holiday Flowers - Copyright &copy; 2010 Steve Lomas. All rights reserved.

Owning an iPhone and later the iPad has reinvigorated my interest in drawing, painting and fine arts photography. Apparently I'm in good company...

I found this story on the NPR iPhone App:

In Paris, A Display From Hockney's Pixelated Period
by Susan Stamberg

- December 7, 2010

David Hockney thinks his current exhibition may be the first one that's ever been 100 percent e-mailed to a gallery. The 73-year-old artist is standing in the space in question -- the Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent Foundation in Paris -- trying to talk about the works, when his iPhone rings.

"I'm right in the middle of an interview," he says, laughing. "I'm sorry -- wait a minute -- I am, actually." Then, to the reporter: "I'll turn it off."

And he does, though it might have been more fun if he hadn't: He might have made us a new artwork right on the phone -- a little vase of flowers, or a face, or a landscape.

When Hockney first got the device about two years ago, he immediately realized it was a new medium for creativity.

"Incredible little thing, really, because it was like a sketchbook and a paintbox all in one," the artist says. Better, even: "No cleaning up. No mess."

Fresh Flowers, Davide Hockney

That's because he's painting with an app called Brushes -- a small virtual paintbox on the phone's screen, into which Hockney dips a finger -- or 10 -- and makes pictures.

"He started out sending out these images -- little images that he would make on his iPhone -- to his friends," says installation designer Ali Tayar. "You wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and you're trying to go back to sleep, but on your computer is one of his images," Tayar says. "That is a treat -- a 'Hi,' a little flower."

Capturing The Morning, With Light Instead Of Inks

Hockney started making these vibrant digital "paintings" early in the morning at his home in Yorkshire, England.

"From about late April to July, the sunrise would hit me in bed," he explains. But "if I'd [only] had a pencil and paper by the bed, I wouldn't have drawn a sunrise."

Black lead, white paper; not that much to get up for, really. But Hockney had his iPhone by the bed, so he could draw the sunrise on the phone, in color.

Then the sun hit a vase of flowers near the bed. Hockney painted that, too. More mornings, more paintings, until he'd made hundreds and hundreds.

"Some were drawn quite quickly," he says, "Some were drawn over two or three mornings, meaning I'd go back to them. And I sent them out -- lovely thing was, I could send them out to my friends. ... Often they were getting the sunrise that they'd missed."

As you might guess, the people on his list -- a couple of dozen or so -- said they loved receiving those early-morning e-mails.

For A Few Weeks, 'Fresh Flowers,' And Then A Sudden Fade

Then Hockney heard about the larger iPad. The artist has always carried a small sketchbook with him. Now he carries the electronic equivalent. The creative experience is different on the bigger device, he says.

"On the iPhone I tended to draw with my thumb," he says. "Whereas the moment I got to the iPad, I found myself using every finger."

And he really gets into it, reports curator Charlie Scheips.

"He says he sometimes gets so obsessed that when he's going, he rubs his finger on his clothes to, like, clean his finger -- as if he was using real paint."

Scheips coordinated the Paris show, a riot of non-paint paintings on luminous digital screens. One wall at the gallery is hung with 20 iPhones; a second wall carries 20 iPads. (The Berge-St. Laurent Foundation paid for all the devices -- it's not an Apple-backed effort, it says.)

All the gadgets are turned on 24 hours a day, and from time to time Hockney e-mails a new work to one of them -- a kind of artistic status update.

The show, called "Fresh Flowers," closes at the end of January. And then, installation designer Ali Tayar says, all the art will disappear.

"It's not the traditional painting," he muses. "It really doesn't exist. It's just light on a screen."

You could print a Hockney e-mail, if you were lucky enough to get one, but it would lose something in translation without that brilliant backlighting. The work only lives on these gadgets.

There's another hurdle, of course.

"We haven't figured out how to get paid," Hockney says. "At the moment it doesn't matter, but I will have to figure it out like everybody else."

Meantime, he's having fun making art with this newfangled but basically old-fashioned instrument. So are loads of other artists who are bringing back drawing this way, making works on digital devices.

Curator Scheips says Hockney has always been forward-looking -- years ago he made collages with Polaroid pictures, and used home copying machines for other works. This new phase, Scheips thinks, is just the logical next step.

But it's a big step, artistically.

"These things are all about surfaces," Scheips says. "It's all about mark-making. ... These drawings -- they may be small physically, but they're big and important in terms of his total oeuvre. And he thinks that this medium is gonna change the world." [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPhone app, go to

Sent from my iPhone

Best Malware Campaigns of 2010

Call For Entries | DECEPTICON 2010 MALLIES

Attached are my picks for 2010's Best Email Malware Campaigns, followed by the stream of consciousness that led me to propose these awards... Enjoy!

E-mail Exploitation on the Rise

Maybe it's just me, or perhaps my personal collection of email in-boxes, but  I've been noticing a marked increase in fraudulent email campaigns crossing my threshold. Really creative campaigns, designed by professional con arrtists hoping to coax me into opening their malicious e-mail attachments.

Creative or not, don't under estimate the threat. Malware can take many forms. Some is designed to mess with your system; some is designed to rob you of CPU cycles;  but the most sinister lurks in the background scanning and exporting your personal information, to who knows who.

Who Are These Guys?

These outlaws (and that's exactly what they are), are so industrious and seemingly good at what they do, it makes me wonder, why they don't have real jobs? Maybe they do... Or did? Maybe they're former Marketing and Advertising folks. Certainly, thousands have been laid off since the down-turn in 2008, so it's a plausible theory, but not one that captures the imagination... No, if I'm going out on a limb, I've got to do better than that! 

Then it occurred to me... Postal workers! And not just postal workers... POSTAL CARRIERS!

Think about it. What better career to observe, learn and master the best marketing ploys, than delivering junk mail? AND who better than mail carriers, to track the effectiveness these campaigns? After all, they deliver a lot of the purchases that result from the most successful campaigns. And don't think for a moment, they aren't paying attention to what the FedEx and UPS drviers are delivering, as well. Heck, they're probably all in cahoots!

Booming Industry

Of course, that's it! That's why they're  willing to walk our neighborhoods in shorts, posing as Federal employees:  working these campaigns MUST BE PROFITABLE!

And given the increasing number of these email deceptions, I'm of the opinion that their industry is BOOMING!!  I think there is even evidence that certain entrepreneurs are selling franchises, because I often get the same message from a dozen different email addresses on the same day!

I'm thankful for this redundancy, because it makes it easier to spot the hoax.

Opportunity Knocking...

As with all booming industries, I imagine it won't be long before they form a trade association (E-Ployers Union?), followed by trade shows (DECEPTICON 2010?) and industry awards (The Mallies?) That's the REAL opportunity! If you really want to make money in an industry, scramble to create a conference and give away some acrylic chotchkies!

Whimsy Aside

So the point of all this is to heighten awareness to the endless stream of email threats, and to perhaps train your eyes and mind to recognize these ploys quickly, so you don't inadvertently invite the bads guys onto your computer. Remember, when it comes to attachments, "If in doubt, don't open it!"  And, just because it looks like it came from a friend, doesn't necessarily mean that it did. If you are suspect, write them, in a separate email, and ask. Better safe than sorry.


There is no shortage of bad guys are out there. They are hard working, relentless and they are counting on us to drop our guard.

Don't make their day!

Sent from my iPad