Chromebook: No Manual, No Delete Key, No Midi Tunes
(the computer, software & on-line issues)
(updated: September 1st, 2018)
Fastfind >>> Index page, "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, Cheap Internet,
Use "Ctrl" and "+" for larger text. These pages are best viewed if shaped squarishly: 

June 23rd, 2018 update:  I (or my Chromebook, rather) experienced genuine "black screen" failure two days ago while using it at home and off line. I'm updating my old "Restore" procedures, but it looks like I'm skunked.

September 1st, 2018 updates: * Time to add another major irritation to this page's header: There's been only one good application (that I'm aware of) for playing Midi music files and it no longer works (since a previous Chrome update?). Repeated re-installs were to no avail on both of our Asus-C300M Chromebooks and I can't Google up any helps that make (common) sense. The only other Midi player (at the "Chrome Store") appears to promise that it will rather invade my Chromebook. (At least they asked me to agree to that before it installed --so I didn't.)

Fortunately, I compose and proof my Music web page with an old XP-3 operated Windows PC, which brings up Windows Media Player, but ever more who wander the Web do so with a Chromebook.

* I once again revised the title of this page to emphasize my main irritations with this otherwise excellent and reliable device. After over 3 years I at least think I've overcome not having a manual, but I've thought that (wrongly) 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 top left of the touch pad 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! 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.

* Another discovery (and it's a bit embarrassing) has to do with "black screen".

* 11/18/2017 update: My Chromebook's operating system keeps quietly updating, producing little changes in appearance and operation. On those rare occasions when my Chromebook locks up, it's my impression that there's a new feature --in that, if I close the cover for a period of time, the operating system does a soft reboot/restore (something short of the "4 finger salute"?). This sort of healing process has happened before, but this time I noticed that my application preferences had been forgotten.

* 8/1/2016 update:) 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's 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. 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 turned 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, and tucking the note away where you can easily find it.

^ 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, 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.

* Bigga Note: Chromebooks will "print to"/save as a PDF--! Whereas older operating systems and browsers are likely to stumble when trying to display or print modern MHTML formatted web pages, most any computer (except a Chromebook) can deal with a PDF --plus a PDF might require only half as much memory as an MHTML. The other option is to save as an "HTML only" --which means no photos, but takes much less memory.

* We use to subscribe to Charter^ Communications for Internet access, which (then) cost us $55^ per month here (unless we "bundled" it with other services, and then pay Charter nearly $90 per month). I'm happy to report that by using public WiFi, our two Chromebooks more than paid for themselves. (We use a relative's secure WiFi for very occasional Amazon.com purchases.)

^ For years we got offers through the mail (seems like once or twice per week) with the exact same offer from Charter/Spectrum^: $29.99/month for Internet, provided we "bundle" and pay that much twice again for TV and telephone respectively. Then Charter purchased Time-Warner Cable in 2016 and renamed that aspect of their business "Spectrum". So this year (as of April, 2018) we've so far gotten four notices in the mail that our household has been "pre-qualified" to get Internet service --alone-- for only $14.99/month, plus $5 more if we want it with a WiFi router. This program's full title is: "Spectrum Internet Assist"^. Be my guess: it's a low ball hook.

* 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 radio 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 which 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, and drag-n-drop --all came 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) (which might not any longer be available, since I'm always being screen prompted to "upgrade" to a new web-mail program). For a while I had to warn my e-correspondent friends to disregard oddball font changes, but that's been fixed as well.

     ~Unfortunately, the advertising is also back and it squeezes the body of incoming mail into a narrower 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 some emails, then "Discard" if you decide not to respond. Those 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. Another option (and what I've been doing for over a year now) is to click for a sizable/moveable display window, then simply move those dancing bear ads off screen to the right.

Again: there use to be multiple Outlook.com problems, which have seemingly been put to rights, so I'm deleting my past comments about them --and about the alternative email services I was exploring.

    ~ 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:

* Holy Molie: 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 comes-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 Microsoft's "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 simple that worked. I had no desire to take on yet another application's updates, defaults, GUI format, debugging/work-arounds as a hobby. Chromebook's operating system 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).

12/27/2017 update: It's been a long long time since I had to do the 4 finger thing. Seems like recovery is automatic now --just close the cover and wait a bit (with a good WiFi signal).


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 any 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 (there's 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. Hallelujah: 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 tries to point 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 (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 fursluginer 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 from it.)

            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 or an external hard drive.

* 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 that. (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 now, 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 (like Amazon.com) the pages of which I can no longer reference and display on our home, XP-3 operated computers. Consequently, our up-to-date Chromebooks 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. However: I shall now reveal the secret:

** 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.)

12/27/2017 update: I see that we have a "save as" option: as "HTML only" --bereft of images and whatever. Was that option always there? Such saves are a lot easier for my old XP-3 operated browsers to digest and display.

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":

* 6/23/2018 updated: This problem sometimes has an easy fix --per the 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.

I deleted my previous Black Screen comments here --replacing them with the following (and on-going) account.

O.S. Recovery:

( With 6/23/2018 updates.)

* A number of Chromebook Central Help Forum contributers have found Chromebook recovery difficult to impossible. Perhaps precedural advice is confusing because Google appears to have changed how it's done. More recent Chromebooks (tablets or boxes) might be equipped with a "Restore" button. Older Chromebooks might have a paper clip accessible restore or reset switch (which I haven't found on my Asus C300M). Some models might require disassembly (which looks tough for my C300M) in order to access and momentarily disconnect the battery.

* What happens is that 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 ride.

Although that message relibly appears with time --perhaps a lot of time (the screen periodically and faintly flickers), the best bet is to hold down "Esc" + Refresh, then tap the power on-off button. The message screen will stay on after it appears.

* I created a "Recovery" flash memory stick for my Chromebook and kept it handy --but: (until 6/20/2018) I didn't need to use it --even after my Chromebook once upon a time told me that I needed to (via the "missing OS" message). The 4-finger salute worked every time.

The "hard reset" (which, I gather, is meant to be something short of the 4-finger salute):

* Resets need 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/refresh key ("F3" position, even though it's the 4th key on the top row), then clicking the power on-off key. (Some Chromebooks also require first holding down the "Esc" key.) (I 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.

More about operating system recovery:

** I'd previously deleted my comments in this space about "restoring" Chromebook's operating system since I'd 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 --and I was even getting the impression that it started to happen automatically (just by closing the cover and waiting a bit, but you do need a WiFi Internet connection). However, I've been once again struggling to restore my Chromebook's operating system --per as follows.

1) IF you do get that "missing OS" message screen, and if nothing else works, be sure to write down the strange model number at the bottom of the screen. (For our two Asus-C300M units I copied: "Quawks C6A-C6D-17N".) This screen tells you to get a blank/erasable 8 GB memory stick and a working, on-line computer with a Chrome browser, then go to:

> https://www.google.com/chromeos/recovery

After originally making a recovery stick and keeping it safe for nearly 3 years, upon trying to use it, I got the message: "Your recovery stick is out of date" --arghhh. So I downloaded a new/good one --which involves installing a recovery utility on your good Chromebook (or: some other kind of computer with a Chrome browser).

2) When you get to Google's on-line recovery page, you'll see a "helpful", cycling screen that tells you what you need to do and have. On this screen are link-like blue text prompts for getting/installing the recovery application and for identifying your (strange) model number. These blue prompts do nothing --except distract you from an appearance (upper-right) which is the real prompt --to install the recovery application (onto your working computer or another Chromebook).

3) Do that. Install the recovery application, then find, engage it, and give it the strange model number, upon which
entry you might see a confirmation of the model number (of your sick Chromebook) that you're familiar with.

4) You're also made to identify the 8 GB flash memory stick that you've stuck into your working computer, then give the recovery program the go-ahead to start building up the operating system recovery image that your sick computer needs.

* Then: wait and wait as the recovery utility downloads data, verifies the integrity, decompresses, organizes itself, and writes to the memory stick.

5) Get your sick computer to once again display its lament about not having an operating system --and
the instruction that you should insert the recovery memory stick you've just made.

6) Do that: insert the recovery memory stick, upon which time your sick computer will first verify that it's kosher, then (allegedly) start the recovery process. (Have your Chromebook plugged into its power supply. Failing that, have the battery fully charged, since it might be a long hual.)

* At this point, a screen message tells you to "remove all external devices", but when I pulled out the restore stick, my Asus immediately wanted it back, then built the recovery image over again. (You must remove the restore files ("image") memory stick, then the Chromebook is supposed to reboot/restart.

* After visiting the "Chromebook Central Help Forum", I saw that a fellow (Matteo Marotti) had the same experience with an Asus C300 last year. The Expert Reply (by Jim Dantin) suggested some of the F3 over-ride power-downs/restarts I'd been trying, but he also urged Marotti to press on with powering on and off "20 or 25 times" (leaving it on at least 30 seconds each time), in hopes that the Chromebook will catch and "reset itself properly". Arghhh: that didn't work for me.

Dantin cautioned Marotti that the problem most likely requires replacing the motherboard, due to a defective solid state hard drive --which actually is to say: it's time to get another Chromebook.

* DonStein advised another person to also leave a Chromebook in the off/powerd down state for at least 30 seconds --and that it might take "up to ten times". (After which, Dantin chimed in with his 20-25 times advice again.)

My previous writ:

* Should you see a caution that your operating system verification is turned off, and whether or not the recovery
process has already started, simply stand on the power off button for the 2 to 8 seconds it takes to force a power
down --and then remove the recovery memory stick. When you next get a new screen, there should be an
instruction to push the space bar --in order to restore operating system verification --and then "Enter", to confirm
your request. After that, you're once again invited to insert the memory stick --and recovery commences.

* Again: that didn't work this time, and I had to first push the "Reload/Refresh" button to make the power light go out. When I tried to repower it back up: Black screen again --which I waited out until the old "OS missing --insert recovery stick" message once again appeared, then "System recovery" repeated.

* Previous writ: The "System recovery" screen advises you that "this will take a few minutes" --ha!

* Last time this happened, after several tries and about 12 hours (I let "system recovery" run through the night), I got back on line with my wife's Chromebook and found out how to do a "hard reset" --and that got my Chromebook running again! No doubt the 4-finger salute would have been all I needed to do in the first place.

Nothing has worked! We're down to just my wife's Chromebook now.

* If you scroll down at the Recovery application installation web site, you can read several comments about how
this process did not work for others who tried it.


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.

* Fix that furslugginer keyboard! Change the redundant power on-off button into a "Delete" key! Either power down via the existing screen option, or remap/label some other redundant key to be an on-off function). (Sheesh!)

* Dock a small wireless mouse into the space now taken up by the touch pad. (The mouse should be dual purposed as a remote video/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) 30 feet away from each other.

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 did find help, so I've stopped using Clam-AV.

Of course: Clam-AV has nothing to do with Chromebooks, other than it's how I got 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 purchase 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?

^ Even though the fine print cites "Charter Communications" on my latest Internet service offer (March, 2018), the big print is doing business as "Spectrum". The printed offer states that my "address" is "prequalified" to be connected for only $14.99/month, but an earlier such offer indicated that becomes about $20/month to include a WiFi router. (Our Chromebooks are WiFi only). When I asked about these offers at the local Spectrum office, one representative said we'd get "means tested" (which usually means there needs to be a young student or someone in the house on some type of assistance --which is not the case here), but the other implied we wouldn't. When I asked how long that price would last, his answer: "until there's a price increase".