It didn't take long for my office in our cellar to become...less than ideal. First, it got cold. Then damp. Then buggy. And mice-y (yes, mice-y is a word, and if it isn't, it should be). Then little salamanders came in as the weather got colder. Then my wife put the ferret down there when we ran out of room upstairs. Then it flooded.
Needless to say, this was hardly conducive to any sort of work, let alone an ideal place to store electronics, most of which have been loaned to me by various tech companies and need to be returned. Without water or salamanders inside. So I took over our dining room, where the wife glared at my tech detritus and the parade of kids made focused work nearly impossible.
So for Christmas, I rented an office. Not a big one and still in a basement, but it's dry as can be and plenty big enough for me to really hunker down on some product testing, as well as a place where I can crank up some serious working music and just write. I'm even still close enough to home to have lunch with my wife and whatever kids happen to be home.
The only disadvantage of this, though, is that my wife no longer has ready access to the Internet on any number of computers strewn about our dining room. She may hate these computers cluttering our eating space and she doesn't know much about them, but when she can remember the URLs (Bookmarks? Autocomplete? What?) there's email, online banking (not to actually conduct transactions, mind you, but to help reconcile her paper check register), and Facebook. Without a computer at her disposal for spare moments between kid stuff and laundry (we generate a whole lot of laundry), then who knows how many checks we'll bounce?
So which computer am I willing to spare and leave with her? She hates netbooks. The keyboards are just too small for my wife whose only real computer experience was doing data entry and data management in a former life. A desktop computer? Sure, if she could tolerate cords.
In a way, my Chrome notebook is perfect for her. The keyboard is large and comfortable and it's rare that she does anything other than access the Internet. And yet, it's different. Given the choice, she invariably steals my MacBook Pro, but mostly because of the awesome keyboard, not because of the UI. Maybe different is good for her and users like her. If all you need is the Net, why have anything else?
With that question in mind, she's getting the Chromebook. While these reference units were meant for early adopters and press, perhaps the real testers for whom Google should be looking are everyday users who just need the Web. While my wife would never touch the App store, there are plenty of free casual games to download, as well as all things online available in a cheap, light little black box.
We'll see...I'll right a bit more about her experiences after a Mac-less, Windows-less week or two, when online banking will only happen for her in Chrome OS.