The Chromebook: No Manual, No Delete Key
(the computer, software & on-line issues)
(partially updated: March 8th, 2017)
Fastfind >>>"4 finger salute" Power wash reset, MHTML, No recovery!, The Delete key, "O.S. missing", Hard reset, Black screen,
Other on-line issues: Clam-AV, Web email options, obsolescence, no manual,
~~An affordable home and huge lot near the Oregon coast~~
Use "Ctrl" and "+" for larger text. These pages are best viewed if shaped squarishly: 

* I changed the title of this page to emphasize my main irritations with this otherwise excellent and reliable device. After 2 years I at least think I've overcome not having a manual, but I've thought that before.

Example: it was only after 18 months of heavy use --that I learned the lower left and right corners of the touch pad will click with pressure. I'd previously thought that one must tap the touch pad [anywhere?] for a left click --and that doing so worked inconsistently. (After all: it's top left and top right for mouse clicks.)

The missing delete key is another matter, since I have to keep switching between a Chromebook KB and a standard KB --which means I often hit the power-off key with my Chromebook and the "Alt+Backspace" combination on my PC's KB.

* My latest discovery (a bit embarrassing) has to do with "black screen".

8/1/2016:) Although affordable, free from those (standard PC) daily update annoyances --including nagging, fear based anti-virus/everything software updates, upgrades and payments: our two Chromebooks have proven to be pains-in-the-ass in their own right. This has mostly been because there's no owner's manual, but now that we're hip (hopefully) to Chromebook moves, it's mainly the hijacks which inconvenience us. My Chromebook went down in June (revived it with a "hard reset"). A week later my wife's went down for a day with "black screen", and on 8/1/2016 once again. (She tends to simply close the cover --maybe while one of those extended, self-advancing product commercials are still running, but it's probably best to always sign off and power the thing down.) The first time, I tried everything to restore operation, only to have it pop back into operation --apparently on its own. The second time: same story. (Did it need Internet/WiFi access --in order to unlock?)

** Since hi-jacks are turning out to be the worst problem, I suggest that you prepare for them by printing^ out the "4 finger salute"  steps, along with your Google email address and password.

^ Right: a Chromebook won't just print. You'd have to go through "the cloud" (to a cloud ready printer). So instead, save this web page to flash memory (as an MHTML document, which opens in Internet Explorer), and if you don't have a PC setup at home, then go to your public library or have a friend with a real computer print out the 4 finger "power wash" page.

Earlier writ:

* We use to subscribe to Charter Communications for Internet access, which costs $55 per month here (unless you "bundle" it with other services, then pay nearly $90 per month), and I'm happy to report that by using public WiFi, our two Chromebooks have more than paid for themselves. (We use a relative's secure WiFi for monthly purchases.)

* These Chromebooks continue to be our only Internet access, but when we're in the rainy winter season, parking outside the library and our other usual places with public WiFi --is sometimes met with diminished signal strength. We have to park closer to the source, or go inside. Wet building exteriors must be a lot less transparent.

Coos Bay (Oregon) once boasted free public WiFi throughout its downtown area. We learned that had been discontinued (allegedly due to maintenance problems) shortly after we'd purchased our first Chromebook, but there are still several alternatives for us, including anywhere in the vast Walmart parking lots, outside of Burger King, McDonalds, our credit union's parking lot, Safeway and other venues.

* Gmail proved impossible to live with and our resort to using Outlook.com's web mail at first became another trial to endure, following two of their format/operational changes that eliminated the "preview" function and hid most of my mail sorting folders (arghhh). However, there must have been a counter-revolution at MicroSoft, since preview, the folders plus drag and drop are all back and they work fine. The attachment process has also been ironed out. I think (think) I'm composing in "plain text" now (having opted for the "Lite" email version), but for a while I had to warn my e-correspondent friends to disregard oddball font changes.

     ~The advertising is also back and it really squeezes the body of incoming mail into an often unreadably narrow column. If the incoming email has been formatted (rather than plain text), it can run off and disappear to the right. One must click "Reply" to read many emails, then "Discard" if you decide not to respond. Irritating (moving) ads can be stopped by clicking on the ad options button, but then not following through. That utility will wait and wait for you to make choices and doesn't seem to time out.

Again: there use to be multiple Outlook.com problems, which are seemingly put to rights now, so I'm deleting my past comments about them --and about the alternative services I explored.

    ~ I hope to never again depend on an I$P for my email address.)

* I take stabs at up-editing the whole of what follows, often leaving original update dates in place.

A simple text editor:

* It was more than 5 months since purchasing our first Chromebook before I found a text editor that worked. After a year, I'm still unaware of any came-with application which amounts to a simple, off-line, locally saving (to USB flash or the built-in 16 gig "Download" memory) text editor^ (one like "NotePad"). When I needed to save a URL or a quote, the only way was to paste it into an email to my wife, and then save the "Sent" email as an MHTML!-

I just wanted something that worked. I had no desire to take up yet another application's updates, defaults, GUI format, debugging/work-arounds as a hobby. The Chromebook OS and Outlook had already used up all my spare energy in bringing them to heel.

^As late as 2013 there use to be an off-line, came-with application named "ScratchPad", which one professional writer reviewer found satisfactory for drafts. --More

6/4/2015: We purchased our 2nd Chromebook (3rd one --if you count buying the first one twice) --another Asus-C300M, and it's a keeper. My wife wanted her own --right after she saw how quickly I recovered from my second browser hijack. (11/8/2015 Update: My wife's Chromebook got hijacked today, but also with good recovery.)

* Yes: recovery was via the "4 finger salute", born again, power wash reset --followed by a re-synch from the Chromebook "cloud" which brought everything back (except any downloads).


Getting started with a new Chromebook
(Hope I've gotten it more right than wrong)
1) Get a USB mouse and plug it in --now.

2) Figure out how to get onto an area WiFi signal. At least for this initial sign-up, best ask to use a friend's secured (with a pass word) WiFi.

3) Choose to browse as a "Guest". (Ignore the caveats.)

4) If you already have a Google account, identity, and a secure/private WiFi connection, then be on-line and simply sign in --using that identity/email address and password you had when you opened your account. (Preferably: that's a Gmail address [get one], which becomes your Google identity.) Then update your account if it's old and things have changed.

* If you're not sure if you have such an account, visit the Google Recovery Page:

> https://www.google.com/accounts/recovery (and good luck with that). (Google's getting stinky about simply opening another account. They want one person for one account.)

5) To establish a new Google account (operating as "Guest" for now), begin by (somewhat) understanding your Chromebook.

* Open the "Tour" with the (seems to be secret) key combination: Ctrl + /  (that's the Control key plus the forward slash key). It usually takes a long long time to display (decompression?).

* Take the tour --read everything. Then select "New to Chromebooks". Then select "About Google Accounts" from the drop-down list of offerings.

* Take the "Create a Google Account" link in that section (which should take you to):

> https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount

* Important: write down your Gmail address and pass word choices as you go along, crossing out the no-go choices. (The email address you end up with will be hard to remember, since all of your first choices will likely have been already taken by others --or be somehow wrong. Those are the one's you'll recall first --of course.)

6) With a Google account and a Gmail address in hand, sign in and do whatever initial setup choices are displayed (mostly optional, as I vaguely recall).

7) Sign out, power down. To prove your setup: power up, sign in with your password (Chromebook remembered your Gmail address).

You did it!

Rehashed (even) older writ (might be a bit repetitive):

* We bought our Asus-C300M Chromebook twice. Within 24 hours the first one succumbed to a browser hijack --and needlessly so, since if the dealer or I had known how to do a power reset (No manual!), it could have been put to rights in minutes. Instead, and taken aback for having pronounced Chromebooks as being "bullet proof", he refunded what we paid. Two weeks later, and having learned how to do a reset, we bought another Asus-C300M (maybe the same one) from the same store --and at a steeper discount this time.

* Some while ago we took our 4 workhorse (XP-3 and Vista operated) PC computers permanently off-line. No more updates, no virus threats, no more having to learn new operating systems and applications, no more $55/month hemorrhage to the cable company (more than we pay for sewer and water, more than twice what we pay monthly to have two men and two trucks come by every week to remove our trash and recycle).

Our city had several good public Wi-Fi hot spots, places to which we get out and around town to almost every day, so our Chromebooks became our sole access to the Internet: emailing, Googling, downloading, uploading, plus once-a-month shopping via a secured, private WiFi signal and a dedicated (for shopping only) Gmail address.

So: our Asus-C300s turned out to be reliable and adequate, but with some irritating to grievous deficiencies.

** Premier deficiency: Enclosed with my Asus-C300 was a miniature printed, "User Guide for Chromebook", consisting of the following items:

1) "Charge the Notebook PC for 3 hours before using it in battery mode for the first time."

2) "Lift to open the display panel."

3) "Press the power button." (Who knew?)

Except for small illustrations which point out the I/O ports, the keyboard, the display panel --and incorrectly points out the power button --that's it.

It took me a month to get rolling with this computer. It was finally thanks to University campus PDF manuals that I got some guidance. (The manuals are meant for their staffs and students. It seems they can't afford the time it takes to access Google/Chromebook resources on a poke-around, by guess and by gosh basis.) The best one I found was from Williams College.

    ~ I can't get over it: a new operating system, a different keyboard, loads of KB shortcuts --and almost nothing for a manual. You get more literature when you buy a frigging doorbell!

    ~ Only after three weeks into my quest for a good user's guide, I found out about the Chromebooks "Tour" --which had been resident in my Chromebook the whole time --!-- (After keying: "Ctrl + /", one might think the Tour is unavailable, but wait for it to unpack --or whatever's causing the long delay).

5/19/2016 KB update:

** As everyone keeps complaining: "there's no frigging Delete key --!" Was this a design "error" --or was it sabotage? Did those responsible get fired --or promoted?

Worse still: the (redundant) power on-off key is where the delete key is located on the small footprint "Genius" (brand) LuxeMate i-200 keyboards I use with all my other computers: the upper-right most key. Thankfully, my Chromebook only shudders when I just tap that power key, but since my right little finger doesn't get Chromebook re-educated, I've thrice managed to suddenly turn off my Chromebook with a firm but unintended press of that key.

* It's wicked-bad that the Delete key keeps getting moved around on various brands of KBs, but to delete the Delete key -- now that is an abomination onto the Lord!

* The real problem is for those of us who are habituated to using "Delete" instead of, or in addition to the "Backspace" key. Those who've been using deleteless MacBooks (probably the hardware team for Chromebook) can't understand why folks make such a fuss about this Delete key thing. (Answer: a keyboard is an extension of our fingers and mind. Serious, inspired writing puts one in a state of "flow". When a keyboard with a different layout is encountered, it repeatedly pulls the rug out from under one's train of thought.)

* Of particular note: when looking at documents in a file manager, many of us, especially those who remember life before the mouse, routinely select a file to be deleted, then execute via the Delete key --or "Shift + Delete" (which consigns a file to oblivion, rather than to the recycle basket). (All Chromebook deletes are gone for good.)

* Good news: You can plug in a regular keyboard (like the small footprint "Genius" brand i200 I use) and it seems to work fine --including the Delete key --

--But you've already plugged in a mouse (right?), and there are only two USB ports on my Asus-C300M. So the next step would be to plug in a USB hub, but then: what started out as a pick-up-and-go Chromebook --has become a furslugginer Christmas tree.

* The best approach might be to use a move which works on all KBs for text: either force yourself to routinely use the Backspace key^ --or highlight what you want to remove, then hit the Backspace key. That way you won't end up reflexively using "Alt + Delete" and "Alt + Backspace" with conventional KBs --and cursing a lot.

* Placing the cursor for a Backspace delete often requires A-plus eyesight and hand-eye co-ordination --in order to reliably locate the cursed cursor just ahead of what's to be deleted --all the time fighting the operating system's predilection to highlight the entire word or file name instead. (Who the hell asked for that feature? It wasn't around in the early/DOS days. Is it defeatable?)

* For deleting a file, right click to select, then select and execute "Delete" from the menu appearance. (You knew that and the foregoing of course, but you might need to habituate the doing of it.) (And I quite share anyone's resentment about having to do so, simply because some smug, boy wonder hardware designer, decided to spike the Delete key.)

    ~ After perusing a dozen recent web sites/pages on keyboard layout issues, there does not seem to be any update, setting, driver or other download which provides a "Delete" key --where it belongs: in place of the redundant^, upper right on-off button. (^Upon signing out, there's a "Shut down" screen prompt, lower left.)

    ~ Those who support Google's decision to delete the "Delete" key offer:
        ~ "There isn't enough KB space." (BS: simply delete the redundant power on-off key.)
        ~ "MacBooks never had one, so suck it up --Microsoft fanboy." (Go to blazes --Mac-head!)
        ~ "It should only take you 10 minutes to get use to 'Backspace-delete' instead of a 'forward-Delete' ". (Per the above comment, you'll curse less if you can either learn to "Backspace" delete text on all KBs, or highlight then "Backspace".)

    ~ Don't let it raise your hopes when you occasionally see a screen prompt stating that you can change your keyboard layout with "Shift + Alt".

        ~ That KB shortcut will do nothing at all --after you sign onto your Chromebook.
        ~ You'll only get the "Use Shift + Alt" message once per power-up (my impression).
        ~ After trying it, I got the error message: "Shift + Alt no longer works. Use Ctrl + Shift + Space".
        ~ You also get that message only once.
        ~ However, "Ctrl + Shift + Space" doesn't work either.
        ~ But after you try it, neither does your correct password any longer work --!!!
        ~ To get back on, simply power down and start over.
        ~ Is this a rag-tag, unfinished operating system --or what?

* Emailed Images (incoming): Thankfully, display and save confusions on attached images have been fixed (either by Google or Microsoft's Outlook team) --so I'll delete my former laments in this space.

* The speakers are excellent, the sound can be rich and ample --especially from self-playing blab blare commercials and fake hijack warnings, but the system's sound amplification is otherwise simply way too low. You can spot many complaints about that across the Internet. The content we want to hear often murmurs along at the full gain setting, so my wife and I bring along sensitive headphones --packing a pair for both of us, plus a "Y" connector to run both at once. (That "Christmas tree" effect again.)

* (5/18/2016) update: This problem seems to be getting better --perhaps due to Chromebook updates?)

* Google's idea of a "File Manager" is rather meek --and treacherous. With effort, you can cut and paste files, but plug in a standard mouse (or go nuts).

    ~BIGGA warnings(!):
            1) There is no waste/recycle basket --and no recovery!! (I'm not sure what the new "undo" appearance is about or how it works, so I've shied away for now.)

            2) When you right click on a file or left click on a folder icon (perhaps inadvertently), it's selected for your next move or deletion. This selection might occur beyond what you've scrolled down or up to see.

            3) When you hold down "Ctrl" or "Shift" in order to make multiple selections, an extra selection might also be made (again: it might be beyond your current scroll view). I've especially noticed that an adjacent file or folder might get checked right after I execute a move or a deletion. Entire folders with sub-folders and many saved files can then instantly and permanently evaporate --since there is no recovery. You're on a faulty tight-rope without a net. (Was this sloppiness an overlooked programming problem --or sabotage? Did those responsible get fired --or promoted?)

            4) Suggestions: Copy and Paste --then delete the source file, instead of simply moving files and folders. Don't store stuff only on a Chromebook, in the synched cloud, or even on a flash memory stick that's connected to a Chromebook. Frequently copy your files to a regular computer and then regularly archive/backup to DVDs.

* The touch pad: Our two Asus-C300s have the best touch pad I've ever used, but it still sucks --as compared to a mouse.

* I suggest that the future of notebooks/lap-tops belongs to the manufacturer who brings out notebook type Chromebooks and PCs with a nice, shallow, wireless mouse --nested/docked in the real estate now taken up by today's wretched touch pads. (It might be made to squeal a bit if you pick up the computer and start to walk away from your mouse --or if someone tries to swipe it.) [Since writing this entry, I've learned that pressure at the lower left and right corners of the touch pad gives a *click*. So why wasn't there a manual or at least an illustrated keyboard layout sheet letting me know that? It took me over a year to discover those clicks --by accident. What else don't I know?]

* The dedicated "Switch Windows" key only switches between File Manager stuff and the current browser window. I can't imagine why it doesn't switch between browser tabs --can you? (There is, or use to be, a hard-to-see intermediate thumbs choice step, instead of simply switching to another Window.)

* On a related note: "Alt + Tab" --which I habitually keep hitting in a vain effort to switch windows (as it did for years when running our XP-3, Vista and earlier Windows operated home/office computers) --it too only switches between File Manager stuff and the most recent browser display. (Neither does Alt+Tab work under Linux, and I'm told it no longer works under Windows-8.x --sadly.) Google could have "stolen a march" on Microsoft by giving us back that capability.

** Again: our two Chromebooks came with no sane way to type out or copy to a simple "Notepad" style text document! --How can this be? It's hard to believe that Google would shoot itself in the foot like this. (Did anyone get fired?)

I long thought that I was missing something obvious.

"Google Docs" and "Keep" will come up, assuring me that what I type will be saved while off-line, but they won't tell me where nor under what name. When I next go on-line it promises to send my words-in-a-row to some far-off server (aka: "The Cloud") --maybe in Abu Dabi or the NSA for all I know. What I want to do is save it to the "Downloads" space or to a USB flash stick --but there is no "File/Save As", not even with a right click.

My work-around was to compose email letters to my wife --with the URLs, references, names, titles, quotes and technical stuff I'm trying to copy out from elsewhere. I'd then save that "Sent" letter (to USB flash memory) as an MHTML --which usually displays in and prints out of our off-line Vista home computer, via aging copies of Chrome, Internet Explorer or SeaMonkey^ browsers that we have, or rather klunkily in our home office copy of IE-8 on an older XP operated computer.

^SeaMonkey is the only browser I'm aware of that you can simply download and then install onto an off-line computer (like my XP-3 operated PC tower). They're up to version 2.46, but 2.40 is the last one which supports XP-3 at all, and 2.39 is the last one which talks to my printer --through XP-3. There are many web sites now (like Amazon.com's pages) that I can no longer reference and display on our home, XP-3 operated computers. Consequently, our up-to-date Chromebooks now do double duty --at home and fetching WiFi away from home.

* I next downloaded the light text editor "Hijau", which gives you the choice of saving your copy as a jammed-together (no carriage returns at all) plain text mess, as a strange and incomplete "css" formatted document, or as an "html", except it's actually a text document with non-functional html coding (arghhh). You don't get to name the document, but Chromebook let's you change the name to something else later on. I uninstalled the barsted.

* After Hijau, I tried the pro level word processor "ain't". It works well --but: it only saves into a proprietary format (name.aint) --which nothing I own recognizes. (--Argghhhh! I uninstalled the barsted.)

* I've read that Chromebook did initially include a "NotePad" type text editor (as late as 2013 --called "Scratch Pad"), but they somehow felt compelled to scrap it.

* After a year's worth of Chromebook updates (and I verified that I'm up to date), you'd think that this glaring deficiency would have been addressed. I fear that the development team has hung up their spurs on this project.

* Later, I discovered and installed the Chromebook program: "Text". It works! No ugly surprises, except one:

        ~ It has a limited capacity to create or copy in documents: so many kB of text and it --stops. (Perhaps it was intended to sell us a version with more capacity?) So once again, I'm on the lookout for a decent off-line text editor.


(click to enlarge --and for more comments)
* Do not believe the Chromebook screen when it says: "no network". Click on that very "no network" statement and discover a flood of Wi-Fi signals (if you live in an urban area).

(click to enlarge)

I've seen no clue/indication or instruction for that move (including in the "Tour"). The dealer guy had to show it to me (and admits it's confusing).

* It must be due to some sort of an intractable, root programming error that one can not (or should not) simply remove a stick of USB flash memory --without first "ejecting"/dismounting it. It took me some while to learn how, since there's nothing about that in the several "Getting Started" guides I downloaded --nor in the "Tour".

    ~ If you don't first "Eject", you get a reproving, "not so fast" pop up message --but with no clue as to how one should proceed correctly.

** How to "eject" a flash stick: open "Files" and click on the little chevron after the drive name.

* Again: The Chromebook operating system saves stuff as MHTML formatted web pages, rather than as standard, separable, HTML documents plus "name_files" folders (full of images and such). I heartily agree that consolidated MHTML is the way to go. MHTML usually displays in and prints out of our off-line Vista home computer, via aging copies of Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers that we have, or rather klunkily in our home office copy of IE-8 on an older XP operated computer. (Previously, I reported difficulties displaying and printing MHTMLs. That seems to be the case only for complex web pages --like those from Amazon.com and Truthdig.)

Miscellany:

* When composing email, using Outlook.com (since that's what I found a guidance manual for first), the Tab key does nothing when I try to indent, except to momentarily hang up the cursor position.

* The "previous page" back arrow key does nothing in the File Manager mode.

* My Asus-C300M needs a pair of sturdy flip-out feet in back to somewhat elevate the keyboard. As it is, I carry along a 13 inch length of garden hose for that purpose.

^ ** The main reason I bought this Chromebook (three times!) was that it's the only portable computer I know of with an anti-glare screen. The others are aggravating as hell to use outdoors or in a car.

* About that vital, "power wash" Reset:

1) Say you've been hijacked (which happened to us several times). The hijack pages I've seen bear well known anti-virus trademarks, an urgent message and maybe a loud voice or beeping that prompts you to call an 800 number for a solution to the problem. Nothing you do will get rid of this page, even without a WiFi connection.

2) What you should then do is sign out of your Chromebook session, but don't power down (and be very sure you still have WiFi with Internet access).

3) Press and hold down the following keys in succession: Ctrl - Alt - Shift - R  --then agree to proceed with your reset when the warning appears.

4) After that you get the initial welcome screen --like when you first opened your Chromebook.

5) However, after you submit your Gmail address and sign in with your old password, your bookmarks and WiFi connections all get restored --nicely --but not anything you've saved into your Chromebook's local memory.

"Black Screen":

* 1/22/2017 update: This problem might have an easy fix --per this photo:

Here we see two Chromebooks being charged. When one attempts to use the top one in-situ (perhaps simply to check its state of charge), "Black Screen" strikes! --meaning: it won't turn on. Solution: lift it off of the lower Chromebook (stupid) --the cover magnet of which is telling the upper Chromebook that its cover is still closed.

Although we've surely encountered "Black Screen" for other reasons, I'm deleting my previous Black Screen comments here --until I experience (and hopefully fix) another such no-go instance --one which is not caused by something magnetic in the Chromebook's vicinity.

O.S. Recovery:

* A message appears on your screen (perhaps only after several efforts to bring your Chromebook back to life with the power button): "Your Chrome operating system is missing or damaged" --and if that message is the truth, you're in for a bit of a ride.

* All of our earlier hijacks, including an allegedly killed-off operating system hit --happened upon the redirect (to MSN News) after exiting our email at Outlook.com. (That's been fixed by MS or MSN.) However --

1) I've created a "Recovery" flash memory stick for my Chromebook and keep it handy --but: I've never needed to use it --even after my Chromebook told me I needed to (a "missing OS" message). The 4-finger salute has (eventually) worked every time.

--Nor do I any longer advise a "hard reset" (which, I gather, is meant to be something short of the 4-finger salute). The hard reset  is supposed to be done someplace where you have WiFi and the Internet. Have your G-mail address and password handy. Do the hard reset by holding down the reload ("F3" position) key, then clicking the power on-off key. (Some folks are telling us to first hold down the "Esc" key, but that is wrong --at least for my Asus.) (And I sure don't know how this is different from the 4-finger salute.)

What happens next is that you're asked for your G-mail address and password, after which normal operation, bookmarks and completions are downloaded from the "Cloud" and restored. However: I did lose everything I'd previously downloaded, including the download folder structure I'd created --same as when I do the 4-finger salute.

** I'm deleting my comments in this space about restoring the Chromebook operating system since I only felt compelled to do it once, and then it didn't work. The 4-finger salute seemed to be all I needed to do.


Looking Forward

* I suggest that the Chromebook initiative is too important to leave it in the hands of the original development team and those doubtful 3rd party applications/patches. Bring in some sensible, up-to-speed grayhairs. Give them supervisory and management authority, such that Chromebook becomes functional and self-explanatory as sold.

* And fix that furslugginer keyboard! Change the power on-off button into a "Delete" key for crisakes! (and either simply power down via the existing screen option, or remap/label the reload key to an on-off function). (Sheesh!)

* Dock a small wireless mouse into the space now taken up by the touch pad. (The mouse should be inherently dual purposed as a remote slide show changer and pointer.) To help prevent loss or theft, program both the Chromebook and the mouse to flash and scream inconsolably when more than (say) 15 feet away from each other.

4/25/2015: Clam Anti-Virus Issues

* Just as I eventually found the guides/manuals I needed to get a handle on the Chromebook operating system, Outlook.com and Gmail, no doubt I'll find/stumble upon or get pointed at some non-geek commentary on Clam Anti-virus options. (5/16/2016 up-date: Never found help, so I've stopped using Clam-AV.)

Of course: Clam-AV has nothing to do with Chromebooks, other than it's how I get at Clam and its downloads. (Chromebooks does indeed seem to be "bulletproof" --if you know how to reset a browser hijack.)

* We have 4 workhorse computers at home: two running under Vista and two running under XP-3. All of them are strictly off-line. (Praise the Great Computer in the sky! No more marathon updates of our operating systems, anti-virus suite, Adobe stuff(!!) and all the other programs which horn in and insinuate themselves for updating.

* The one remaining sentry duty here was going to be the scanning of newly introduced flash memory sticks and other media with Clam AV, but I keep losing track of just how to download the off-line updates --so to heck with it.

* Clam is the only AV program --that I'm aware of --which lets users download manual up-dates (if you can figure out how to do it).

* Interestingly, Clam's been around for over 10 years, but has yet to reach version 1.0 --which (I gather) is the point at which the program becomes more proactively vigilant. At this point Clam is just a manual scan-for-viruses utility.

* While I'm otherwise fairly content with it, I do have a few questions/issues and suggestions. Perhaps someone can give me answers or point me at a discussion of these issues (talk that's comprehensible to regular, beer drinkin' folks).

    1) Every time I start using Clam, it takes a while to load about 100 MB of data base. Have I missed an option for running Clam preloaded?

    2) Newbies and tyros are easily flummoxed by "hidden"/invisible files, "access denied", "sign back on as administrator", and other "give yourself permission" kee-rap. This BS escalates as one graduates (degrades) to Vista and more recent operating systems.

* SO: why(!!) is the default to park Clam's data base at:

> C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\db ???

Mr/Ms Newbie can't SEE it with "My Computer" or a file manager. After s/he finally figures out how to make hidden files visible, then "access is denied" for manually loading an update. (Current solution: uninstall and re-install Clam, but this time designate a visible and accessible folder for the data.) (Better solution: make such a folder the default --or at least warn us to change the default at the point of installation.) (Do'h!)

    3) How do I know when the "main.cvd" data base that I've installed is actually out of date?

    4) Presumably, one can get by with downloading the "daily.cvd" for some while. How long?

    5) However: the "daily.cvd" isn't all that smaller than the "main.cvd", so why not just combine them?

    6) It appears that the daily.cvd and the main.cvd are always the same sizes --presumably: even when the actual increment to the data base is trivial. Perhaps Clam should differentiate the sizes of these two downloads to more like a 10 to 1 ratio --and make it clear when we should download the big one (which should always subsume the small/daily one).

Other Email issues --briefly:

7/6/2015: * I'd been using Outlook.com since I gave up on our Charter Communications ISP account. Like so many others nowadays, my wife and I access the Internet via our public libraries and other public WiFi. I'd been avoiding Gmail for years --on account of its threading format, muddled "Labels" sorting system, and because my old Gmail address got hijacked --then blacklisted and blocked by Google.

After buying a Chromebook and learning that Google had an off-line app/extension for Gmail, I gave it serious reconsideration. However, Gmail off-line remains in a beta stage of development (last I checked) and --well: I'm not sure what's happening when I use it, or how the main Gmail client is affected/updated. I've been carefully using the on-line version for our Amazon.com purchases (only).

Unfortunately, one can only work with and set up Gmail while connected, there is (of course!) no downloadable, printable manual, plus Google's on-line Gmail helps are link scattered, so you can't just download a whole copy.

Obsolescence: * It isn't just our computers and software which keeps getting mutually  "up"graded or out of date, it's you and me. Either pay up, and then get up to speed on an often (functionally) needless learning/unlearning curve --or end up stuck.

* I've found a way out --at least for off-line productivity --all of which (so far: web pages and graphics) can simply be sent, posted/whatever via our Chromebooks. Maintain a stable of reliable, familiar old programs, along with two or three old PCs (XP-3s here) which gladly run them --strictly off-line. I have excellent graphics, composing/designer, word processing and other specialized programs/apps that reach back 10, 15 and 20+ years. Some of these can do stuff that new programs simply can't --and (of course) things I could not do with new programs simply because I refuse to devote huge chunks of time (and to "finger reflex" unlearning).

** For years I've proposed a compromise with software publishers and computer manufacturers: we'll repurchase their frigging new stuff --IF-- they provide everything with a clearly labeled, always present (and fully tested) "WAAAY Back Switch" --to familiar choices (say: the "XP" OS, WordPerfect-11, Netscape-4.7, etc) which are guaranteed to emulate (and emulate exactly!) the old stuff/GUIs we've invested so much of our working lives into. A sales point/incentive would be the ability to perfectly export our projects into current file formats, then safely transmit elsewhere.

* I bet the working hours and employee investment --that industries lose to new operating systems and application "up"grades (then add in the relearning --and wise, competent, old hands who take early retirement) --would be astonishing to total up.

Since memory, disc space and bloatware have expanded the space new applications take up by factors of 10, including such old features (for off-line use) should be a snap.

* Will we ever see a day when computers, their operating systems and applications --are customer driven --instead of arrogantly forced down our throats?