• Dave Kennedy

I was asked recently to give an opinion if Chrome OS Flex would be suitable for a specific business to roll out across all existing laptops.

The business goal was to primarily rejuvenate their aging hardware, in addition they would gain more uniform user experience and begin to make use of Google Workspace Endpoint Management or a similar MDM.

Chrome OS has been available pre-installed on a variety of devices from Google, Lenovo, HP and other manufactures for about 10 years. The OS is based around the Chrome browser as the user interface and is relatively locked down in much the same way as a mobile operating system. Chrome OS Flex allows for the operating system to be installed on pre-existing hardware such as Windows Laptops and Macs. There is a Google maintained compatibility list of devices which have been tested, but in theory the operating system could be installed on a broader range of devices potentially with some minor issues.

The operating system is free, natively quite secure, restrictive when it comes to user misconfiguration and is compatible with a number of Mobile Device Management solutions. Does this make it ideal for business?

Chrome OS Flex does seem to tick a number of boxes for ease of support, centralised management and compliance etc. However I would suggest outside of a few select circumstances it might not have a broad purpose.

In the specific case I was asked to assess, and I suspect many cases “Rejuvenating” hardware might not be the bonus it appears. Chrome OS Flex is almost certainly a more lightweight operating system than Windows and MacOS and will give a snappier user experience for browser based tasks and apps. Unfortunately if a businesses machines are not performing as they once were with the operating system they shipped with, this is likely to indicative that the machine might be aging to a point it will need to be replaced.

  • Committing time, and cost for alternative apps to rebuild business machines that are 5 years or more old, will likely be lost within a short period when machines start to experience hardware failure.

  • From a compliance point of view firmware and fully updated drivers from the hardware manufacture can be critical. The manufacturer is unlikely to produce drivers for an operating system not shipped with the original hardware and any firmware would usually be applied via a tool through the original operating system.

My thought generally is if you want to move to Chrome OS for businesses, buy machines which come with that operating system from a main stream maker like Lenovo who have a number of Chromebook devices including some aimed a business and education. Support will be better and warranties will be reliable. If replacing in one go isn't practical consider replacing them as they age out.

In the business context Chrome OS Flex is a No from me. I haven't seen a scenario yet where I would choose it.

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  • Dave Kennedy

Getting end users to embrace increased security is often perceived by them as increasing their inconvenience of tasks they want to be quick, efficient and require minimal effort. Login and Authentication when accessing accessing a laptop or desktop is a prime example of this with the policies and restrictions we put in place to make passwords more secure. I've been on the look out for simple solutions to make the most of Windows Hello to help with this.

After less than 5 minutes with my hands on the Lenovo 500 FHD Webcam I can see it being ideal and something extremely useful to many and it will be implemented immediately into my daily use.

The box contains the camera on a monitor mount with a screw position for tripod attachment, a USB-C cable and basic setup and warranty information.

The setup process could not have been simpler. Simply plug it into the already turned on computer, which made the standard Windows hardware detected sounds. I tested opening the Windows 10 Camera app and could switch to the new camera.

Setting up Windows Hello was little if any more effort. I located Windows Hello configuration under "Accounts" and "Sign In Options" within Windows 10 settings. I noticed I could not not select Windows Hello IR Camera as an option. To address this I restarted my machine and returned to the same settings and found I could select IR camera and enter the setup wizard.

Once setup I immediately locked my computer and I was able to successfully glance at the camera and it unlocked the computer again. The response time was exceptionally fast.

I'm most impressed with how well Windows Hello coexists with Dynamic Lock, the feature that allows you to pair your computer to a Bluetooth enabled device such as your phone. When your phone leaves close proximity to your computer it is locked with 30 seconds. The resulting experience is that when I leave my desk my computer locks and when I return the most I need to do to login is tap a key to wake from standby and look at my camera and the process is very fast.

For personal or business purposes the Lenovo 500 FHD Webcam is well worth a look. Currently it is under $65 (CAD), it is no frills and is not accompanied by any fancy software. It's FHD quality is better than the native video performance on many built in webcams. Video quality was not my main goal with this selection and if I'm honest I could prefer it wasn't so clear as most of my video calls start from 5am and no matter how much caffeine has been consumed I'm not looking Full High Definition ready at that time of day.

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I'm standing here this afternoon doing some study and cross referencing some information from tech videos on YouTube. Obviously I'm running the gauntlet of pre-video adverts and one catches my attention with such an outlandish line of utter nonsense it stopped me in my tracks.

"... found the solution to a 200 million year problem..."

WHAT? "Humans" as we know them have only been kicking about for around 200,000 years? Has someone got a comma in the wrong place?

The video has my attention (Not for the good), its talking about solutions to solving the "problem" of mosquitos.

Well this sends me on a 5 minute tangent that is a great example of some of the absolute and utter rubbish being advertised on YouTube.

The video itself is clearly made of bought stock footage with a voice over.

The link to the site which I checked for "Legitimacy" before typing it into a browser gets a trustworthy score of 23 out of 100.

The website itself looks exceptionally like a drop ship website and is not branded the same as the URL, but we do finally get a glimpse of the amazing new product itself.

A product they are selling for the 50% discount of $39.99 each. The images also allow us to then take a quick look on AliExpress where we discover we can find these amazing new products built to a price without branding or marketing for MUCH cheaper.

I have no moral or conclusion to this post only, a wish YouTube had a better means of filtering out advertising that would not I think be legally allowed on Television.

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