Phil Shapiro:Hi, this is Phil Shapiro. I’m holding in my hands my Chromebook laptop, this thing is so fast, it’s an Acer C720. I take it to work with me at my public library job, I loan it out to the public and I say try out this Chromebook and almost everybody I loan it to is very impressed.
Robin Miller:I’m Robin Miller for Slashdot, with us today is Phil Shapiro, who you just saw on the intro to this video, and he likes his Chromebook, he maybe thinks you should have one too. Why Phil? Why the Chromebook?
Phil Shapiro:I love that Chromebook, it’s so simple, there’s so few things that can go wrong, it boots up in about six or seven seconds, it wakes from sleep in one second, it’s so light. I explain it to people it’s like a MacBook Air at one-fifth the price.
Robin Miller:Okay. And what happens when we are in the basement?
Phil Shapiro:What happens when we are in the basement?
Robin Miller:Away from our friendly signal, when we aren’t online?
Phil Shapiro:Oh, you can use your Chromebook offline, there are ways of doing word processing, and so you can use it for word processing offline.
Robin Miller:Okay. How about for building a spreadsheet?
Phil Shapiro:Yeah, you can do all your Google docs, you can do it offline or online and then your Chromebook is going to automatically synchronize it the next time you walk in to a WiFi zone.
Robin Miller:So, it’s not really a worry that I’ve always had about being out of range of a signal when I use this Chromebook?
Phil Shapiro:No, those Chromebooks they are very functional and the more that you live in the cloud with your work, the more the Chromebook just makes so much sense, you get a lot of value for your dollar.
Robin Miller:What about iPads? Now there is a school district in Texas that’s gotten some heat about having spent millions on iPads, and their wireless stuff isn’t up to snuff, the students are breaking them like mad and in fact the State of Texas, the various school districts there are spending millions upon millions upon millions for iPads, and you have a better idea I hear?
Phil Shapiro:The iPad is not a bad educational tool, but I can tell you in the hands of kids, those kids they put things through the ringer and the Chromebook is so durable, it’s so light weight, there’s so few things that can go wrong, it’s solid state, there’s no moving hard drive inside of it. Some Chromebooks do sell with hard drives, but those were some of the earlier ones, all the current ones are solid state. And you can easily store them in a small_____for a whole class room, you don’t need to buy a laptop cart. Those things are so small and light, you can almost fit them in the drawer of a teacher’s desk for the whole class. Lock them up or something and let the kids take them home, please, every weekend, let the kids have unlimited use of this great tool that the school purchased, but can be used at home, because it’s so light to walk it back and forth, it weighs just a little bit more than a Kindle.
Robin Miller:You also talked, as I recall,_____and we’ll run this for the people. Let’s hear Phil’s thing with the teachers.
Phil Shapiro:Wouldn’t it be interesting if I could buy this laptop without a screen and without a battery and without the speakers, so that it would be a very affordable desktop and very light weight. So you see if we take off the screen and we take off the battery and if we take out the speakers, we’re going to drop the price in this thing maybe down to about $100, for a very fast, very light weight desktop kind of computer, so I could send a suggestion to Acer, the manufacturer that I’d like to buy it without the screen, without the battery and without the speakers. And they would probably ignore my request because it’s just request from a single person, but how about if I assembled 20,000 teachers who were all interested in buying this Chromebook without the screen, without the battery and without speakers. If we assemble that many people, we could ask Acer to sell it to us in that configuration. Yeah, so, I totally love the idea that if people band together, we have the power to tell computer manufacturers the exact features that we want. And they would find it really hard to ignore that because computer manufacturing is highly competitive.
So if teachers are able to band together we can get some of these Chromebooks without a screen and without a battery and price will drop and we’ll call it our own little homemade Chromebox, but the neat thing is, it’s going to be great for the computer manufacturers, they don’t have to do any new design, they have to sell us the same product with a different configuration, so they’ll use the Chromebooks in the classroom when we want with the screen and for home we could have a Chromebook with a VGA out-port and a donated monitor and the kids could have a very affordable computer for their home virus free.
Robin Miller:When you’re talking about a monitor you’re probably talking about a CRT at this point?
Phil Shapiro:That’s true, I mean, we could make the Chromebook into a ecological devise where instead of taking the CRT monitors and throwing them in a dump or trying to recycle them, we can put them to use, there’s no reason, and there’s some gorgeous CRTs out there and I can tell you when you have a family with four kids or five kids or three kids, educationally we want every kid, every student to have their own computer, sharing doesn’t work, one computer, two computers for a family, that is a recipe for stress when the homework is due the next day. We need one computer per student at home and the Chromebook is one of our best hopes of having a very modern virus free computer right in the home.
Robin Miller:Rather than pressuring Acer, ASUS or HP or whomever into making something, have you considered just doing it with the Raspberry Pie or a similar device?
Phil Shapiro:Robin, that’s a great concept and I’m all in favor of the Raspberry Pie as a tool that teachers can begin to start building their own self-designed educational technology. But the Raspberry Pi is quite a lot slower in speed. My Acer 720 Chromebook is as fast as a Core i3 laptop. It is blazing fast.
Robin Miller:I have an older – not really huge it’s same hardware pretty much, Acer Subnotebook, the main difference is, it has a hard drive and a couple of friends of mine have now switched to SSDs and have told me what you are telling me that if I stick to an SSD in there, it will be the equivalent of a blazing fast new Apple or whatever. So this is not specifically Chromebook, but yes, having a Chromebook makes things simple because there ain’t nothing there, it’s all in Google super farms and the network_____computer, the old one just replacing the hard drive with a SSD, I get really fast, right?
Phil Shapiro:That is true. That is true. But the very cool thing about a Chromebook, if we move to say the Chromium operating system, it’s totally free, virus free, license free and it belongs to the public, the Chromium OS belongs to the public. Chrome belongs to Google, but Chromium is more ours and we can modify it and we can use it to our own needs. And so that’s really exciting that we can just kind of cut out the financial entanglement that computer corporations tend to have when their own interest need to intersect with their pocketbook – interest need to emerge, there’s no pocketbook interest with the Chromium OS, none that I can see.
Robin Miller:You’re certainly not sounding like a good capitalist, oh-oh. We are going to have to take care of that somehow. No, I understand your point, now do you think you can get 20,000 teachers to pressure really computer manufacturers or one computer manufacturer into making this______Chrome or Chromium box?
Phil Shapiro:That’s a great question Robin. I’m not sure if I can assemble them, but I know that all the teachers that I talked to who use Chromebooks just love them. They just love them. I was in Arlington Public School this last week and I heard that at one high school the teachers there are clamoring. They did not have enough Chromebooks at the school and it’s meeting all of their needs and taking away their stresses, so.
Robin Miller:Let me just repeat this, not iPads but Chromebooks?
Phil Shapiro:Teachers are clamoring for the Chromebooks because it takes away their stress and it increases the amount of learning. And it’s the most physically prudent way of using public dollars, somebody is got to talk about how do we use public dollars to increase learning, there’s nothing I can see that beats the Chromebook for that.