the computer, the software and on-line issues
You're at: https://57296.neocities.org/chrome.html
(last worked on: May 17th, 2021)
Fastfind >>> "4 finger salute" Power wash reset, MHTML, No undelete!, The Delete key, "O.S. missing", USPS Tracking bug, Shopping,
Hard reset, Black screen, O/S Recovery, Other on-line issues: Clam-AV, Web email options, obsolescence, no manual, Cheap Internet,
To all of which I'm shoe-horning in some comments about "flip" type cell phones.
Our Asus-C300M Chromebook looks a lot like this Samsung version
The contents of this page is poorly ordered --starting
with out of order updates. Maybe the above page links will help --or you
can (Ctrl+F) keyword search for stuff. (Maybe this
is where my page orginally started.) Happy hunting!
* As of 6/30/2019, My Chromebook was several screens away from operating off-line, starting with these (click to enlarge):
* As of 8/22/2019, I've been getting just the first
screen (but asking for my password), so I'm powering down again --and for
another reason. It seems that by just closing the cover, my Chromebook
was getting ever more constipated and sluggish. Powering down between sessions
* As of 8/27/2019, I got the message: "This device is no longer supported. / This device will no longer receive the latest software updates. Please consider upgrading" --whatever that involves. There's a "Learn More" button link, but I'm away from a WiFi signal just now. My Chromebook is only 4 years old. (Stay tuned for "more".)
* 8/29/2019: And sure enough: Google wants me to buy another laptop --in order to maintain a current operating system --per
"Chromebook final software update
Chromebooks automatically manage updates so that the device runs on the latest operating system (OS)."
"End of support notification
If you get a "Final software update" notification, you can still use your Chromebook, but you will stop receiving Chrome OS updates. These auto updates include:
•Security updates, bug fixes, and new features for
Chromebooks. Existing features may stop working.
•Software updates to fix issues. These issues will not be fixed by Google Support.
•Support for certain apps & extensions that require specific OS versions.
Auto Update Expiration policy
•Each device has an Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date listed; this means that before this date, devices will receive new software updates from Google.
•Google provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support. Multiple devices can share the same hardware platform. The 6.5 years start when the first device on the platform is released.* Manufacturers are advised to choose the newest platforms to ensure that they produce devices that have the longest Auto Update support available.
•Google will provide advanced notice of a model’s AUE date to give buyers time to make purchase decisions. Please check the Auto Update Expiration date when making a purchasing decision.
•Chrome device models that have not reached their AUE date will continue to receive OS updates.
•When a device reaches AUE, it means that automatic software updates from Google will no longer be provided.
•The End of Sale date is controlled by the manufacturer of the device model and has no relation to model’s AUE date.
*For example - if a manufacturer releases a device on a 1-year old hardware platform, it will have 5.5 years of Auto Update support."
"Please check the Auto Update Expiration date when making a purchasing decision." (--Now they tell me.)
3/29/2020: After working on-line (WiFi'd) in "Guest Mode" for months, I went back to signing in --for the convenience of automatically saving my files and invoking the "Text" word processing application. So far, so good, and I'm usually just closing the cover between sessions. The new problem: my wife is ill, so we can't get away to find public WiFi.
5/12/2020: My Chromebook is operating fine, although it periodically gets sticky. When that happens, I sign out, reboot, sign in, and I'm good to go again.
5/17/2021: After yet another year
I'm still doing fine, but our nice public WiFi venues have dried up --leaving
only our public libraries parking lots --which seem to be a magnet for
loud abusive people and downright crazies. So: I've broken down and ordered
a private ISP connection (from Ziply optical fiber). It nominally costs
$20/month (for the first year, 30/30 speed deal), but to get guaranteed
WiFi, it's another $10/month to rent their router. (Ziply's optical modem
is free at the $20 rate.) I'll at least start out that way until I verify
whether or not a USB connected "WiFi adapter" is a practical option. (I'd
probably have to add a "USB hub" and maybe there'd still be a pain-in-the-butt
web address and password to work out for the adapter.) Also: maybe I want
to irradiate our home with a WiFi signal (added to all the neigborhood
and smart meter WiFi).
* Until recently (it's 5/12/2020 at this writing), I'd been persuaded that ordering stuff and services on-line with a Chromebook was fairly safe, as long as one made use of a secure, private WiFi signal (like from a relative's passworded router). Nope. A close reading --even a casual reading --of web pages about VPN protection has persuaded me that a good, "Virtual Private Network" subscription (the kind you pay for --maybe $6 to $12 per month --like "Express VPN") --is essential. Once installed (on a clean computer), you (allegedly) no longer need a private ISP connection. Just blithely order stuff over any WiFi hot spot (they say). A bad, bugged or bogus WiFi router? --no problem. Even the router owner's ISP can't (allegedly) get at your transmissions.
* It's possible to add VPN to newer Chromebooks --the ones with Android compatibility, but then --maybe the new Chromebooks are becoming tuna boats --and it's better to get a Windows laptop. Being able to securely shop on-line again is quite an incentive. I had to pay a local hardware store $31 for a 6" cook range burner element, which sells on-line for from $6 to $10. Many things are unavailable locally at any price.
But *sigh* --do I ever again want to get unto the Windows,
Windows applications, and the anti-virus/everything upgrade/update Merry-go-round?
* 6/29/2019: Two days ago I went to the USPS's tracking utility --and got hijacked --when I was tricked into taking "one more step" to find out where a package went. The transfer to that screen was smooth enough to fool me and there didn't seem any other way to get the tracking information. I ended up with a new browsing window, tool/links bars and no way to back out --so: I got out my original pass word, an early email address (of record with Google) and did the 4 finger salute.
Note: you want to first "sign off" (but not power down), otherwise the hijack screen is likely to block your reset effort.
* After restoring my Chromebook, I started Googling around to try and find out what happened to me --and perhaps(?) I got fooled again. Up came a screen that appeared to be a delayed request from Google/Chrome to verify that my restored screen was satisfactory. (*oh crap*) This time I could not shake the new browsing window. Six more "Power Washes" (with variations) and I gave up.
After thinking on it, I decided to Power Wash once again, but then re-apply for a Google account under a new name --like I was a first time Chromebooker --and that worked. Of course I had to relocate and bookmark all my frequented URLs, plus download and install my extra apps.
** Normally, doing this and logging a new email address <firstname.lastname@example.org>, then having to alert family, friends and half the world to the change would be a big headache --but, and thankfully, I'd long ago given up on gmail and went to Outlook (for old fashioned, plain text email). This is instructive: always set up your email service independent of your Internet connection (especially if that's an ISP).
** This hijack got me shortly after a Chromebook update. I'm guessing that its persistence had something to do with the Chromebook operating system's modifications in order to run Android type applications. A standard Power Wash had restored at least 6 previous hijacks over the years.
5/17/2021: Since then, I've been getting official looking "fishing"/scam emails about how my basic Outlook webmail service is about to end --and that I should "revalidate" my status as a subscriber (or some such) before that happens. I've flagged and deleted at least 6 of these now. (I'm persuaded that I just don't want to do any shopping or banking stuff on-line.)
* My e-friend David attributes
it to more likely being the heavy load of market research and data gathering
that Chrome users are subjected to. His approach --which also seems a good
defense against hijacks, is to always use his Chromebook as an anonymous
"Guest". When a session ends, all traces of your Guest presence evaporate
--but: you've cleverly saved your Internet harvest to a flash stick, and
your e/webmail (with a 3rd party like Outlook) gets saved elsewhere. (Perhaps
you don't even need to sign up and register with Google/Chrome in the first
* Gleanings --about Chromebooks:
* Today (3/7/2019) I visited Google/Chrome's Web Store and met with a bewildering blizzard of new applications^. More-over, today's operating system update (which required a reboot --unusual) planted links to a number of these web apps onto my Chromebook. I gather (from the several web sources I read into today) that:
~ Google is moving Chrome and the Chrome O/S (Chromebooks) away from "stand alone"(looking/feeling) applications --in favor of web/on-line apps developed by 3rd parties, perhaps augmented by Android capability in newer Chromebooks and operating systems.
~ Google's "Office" must certainly answer my need for a good text app --but all of these must be used on-line (to the best of my knowledge) and, presumably, they are not all free.
^ While Chrome "extentions" have traditionally been O/S augmentations --perhaps running in the background, "applications" have traditionally been program-like installs that appear to be stand-alones. Currently, you'll see these terms being used almost interchangeably. "Plug-ins" have traditionally been 3rd party apps delivered by 3rd party web sites --and that breed (I gather) is being eliminated.
My Computerdom Strategy:
* I keep my old working computers strictly off-line, such that their operating systems and installed programs never need up-dating or replacement --nor do my skill sets or finger/hand reflexes.
~ The working assumptions here are that one wants to grow masterful, old and wise with existing applications --at least as long as our hardware can be maintained into the future. Obviously: up-dating the operating system eventually requires updates to the installed programs/applications --and updated versions of your favorite applications may no longer support an early O/S.
~ To that end, I'll be asking local service dealers opinions about the viability/repairability of old operating systems, Microsoft's "XP" series in particular, and to what extent old operating systems and applications can be imposed onto, or "sandboxed" into new hardware (that's to be kept off-line, of course). I'll also be asking for opinions on my opinions here.
My two best graphics programs (Micrografx's Picture Publisher-3.1 and Designer-4.1te) are now 27 and 25 years old. My main word processing program (Word Perfect - 11) is 16 years old. I'm painlessly composing these web pages with 20 year-old, GUI freeware (Netscape-4.7). My 21 years-old file manager (Servant Salamander - 1.52) was also freeware. I have a few more recent freeware programs for converting newer file formats to work with these old programs and everything runs under Microsoft's XP-3 operating system. (My tower even has a 3.5 inch diskette "A drive".) XP-3 seems to be the latest O/S which will work with my old programs.
You might want to settle on a later suite of software, but take advice from a seasoned computer technician on what to choose (or to stay with). However: unless you go with Linux-something, it might be difficult (these days) to acquire good newer applications which will let you operate in isolation from the Internet. With my old system, I've taken care to save any installation CDs, DVDs and "key" numbers. (Avoid applications which insist on registration or require "activation" when reinstalled.)
* For going on line, I've chosen an affordable "Chromebook", which updates itself in the background and was easily restored if anything hostile tries to take it over (by using the "4 fingered salute"). Simply avoid creating much of a file structure on your Chromebook. Transfer what you want to save to your off-line working computers (using a flash stick), and archive your important stuff to an external hard drive or a big (quality, brand name) flash stick.
* The weak link in this approach is the possibility
of a virus/trojan riding over with your transferred files on a flash stick.
I don't know of any practical AV protection which can be downloaded and
installed onto another (off-line) computer, especially an old one. "Clam"
(freeware) is the closest, but it seems rather obtuse and Clam's late versions
no longer work under my XP-3 operating system.
Back in June of 2018, my Chromebook experienced genuine "black screen" failure (won't turn on) while using it at home and off line. I'm re-running (and updating) my old "Restore" procedures, but it looks like I'm skunked. I've been using my wife's (identical) Chromebook ever since. It flickered to life today (6/29/2019) and asked for an old fashioned operating system restore --from a thumb drive. (I might have one --years old now, so I'll first try to download a new set of files.)
March 10th, 2019 update: * Every month or so I'd been exploring the Chromebook Web Store, looking for another App option for playing Midi music files --ever since Midi Music Player stopped working (at least on my Asus-300M Chromebook). One can go to the Web Store and (per my most recent trip) be hit with a kaboodle of (what I take to be) web page sourced applications (not necessarily free) --or (and what I advise), click on the music/whatever file you're trying to render --and let Chromebook invoke some Web Store options to install.
* On March 9th, 2019 I was given 3 options: the old one (Midi Music Player) which no longer works, The one which invades your operating system (but first with warnings), and a NEW ONE: "BareBones Midi" --which worked pretty good! --with the occassional surprise :-)
* Clicking on a Midi file invokes BareBones, but then you have to navigate back to the file you wanted and open it (fair enough). A little 2-frame GIF makes those skeletons dance --while that fake progress bar slowly moves across (whether or not the music is playing :-) --and no: you can't mouse it in order to jump ahead or replay a segment (but that's okay). Luv it!
May 31st, 2019 update: A recent
Chrome update installed "Google Play", which became
the default MP3 player --and it works well, with fast forward and a meaningful
progress bar with indicated minutes.
June 2nd, 2019 update:
* Encouraged by good reviews at the Google Web Store, a statement that the app is compatible with my system (an Asus-C300M), and needing a way to verify tonal frequencies in connection with my UKB music page, I downloaded Google's new "Tone Generator":
* Next I tried the "Zither Tuner" app:
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 was simply working inconsistently. (After all: it's top/far left and top/far 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, operation and app options. 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"?). That sort of healing process has happened before, but this last 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.
* I think that Chromebooks use to "print to"/save as a PDF--! Whereas older operating systems and browsers are likely to stumble when trying to display or print modern MHTML format saved web pages, most any computer 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 it takes much less memory.
Update (January 13th, 2019): I no longer see that "print
to PDF" option --and "save to HTML" records a bunch of code gibberish --when
I try to re-access it.
* (3/29/2020): 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 --years ago. (We use a relative's secure WiFi for veryoccasional 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 by April of 2018 we'd gotten four notices in the mail that our household had 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. As of June, 2019, those $14.99/mo offers kept arriving. It reminded me of those endless old AOL offers, but the fine print has a caveat that their offer is based on "eligibility". In the past, that meant that we or our kids had to be on some sort of an assistance program --and we aren't.
* 4/1/2020: Due to illness (it's not the Corona Virus), we've been unable to get away for our daily library, bird feeding, PO Box, and WiFi jaunts, so I checked with Charter/Spectrum to learn of their current "Spectrum Internet Assist" offers. Nope. The best deal they had was TV plus Internet plus a virtual phone line for $113/month--!
An alternative is our phone company: Frontier.
That costs $27.99/mo for service that might deliver less than 1 MBPS (and
no more than 9), but the price goes up $10 after a year. Their (DSL?) modem
adds $10/mo forever, or I can buy it for $200. To get it installed: $75.
* Our Chromebook continues 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 --we're 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, the hospital 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.)
BIGGA NOTE about email service: you need to have a gmail account/address (in order to ID yourself to Google --say: when you need to Power Wash and restore --but go to another web mail service (like Outlook) for your normal email address. That way you can open a new Chromebook account (should a Power Wash and restore not stop a hijack. Another option (that I've not tried) is to never have an account in the first place.
A simple text editor:
* Holy Molie: it was more than 5 months after purchasing our first Chromebook before I found a 3rd party text editor (named: "Text"). (Update: Chromebook now installs with a text editor --which is also named "Text".) I just wanted one that worked. 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.
^In 2013 there use to be an off-line, came-with application
named "ScratchPad", which one professional writer reviewer found satisfactory
for drafts. Update
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 a 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).
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 a 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):
* Important: write down your Gmail addressand password 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 address and password (Chromebook may have remembered your Gmail address).
You did it!
* 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 (Who knew?), the display panel (Who knew?) --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, a hidden/secret introductory tour --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).
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. (2019 update: that seems to have been fixed.)
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?) (2019 update: that seems to have been fixed.)
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
* 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.
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.
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
* 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. (It has been fixed.)
* Later, I discovered and installed the 3rd party 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. (Update)
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, rather) 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 (secret) "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. (2018 update: "HTML only" now
* When composing email, using Outlook.com (which I went to because 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 has happened to us several times). Some of 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 good WiFi with Internet access).
3) Press and hold down the following keys: 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.
6) New for June of 2019: That might not work. See here.
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 --and try that first.)
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.
* 6/23/2018 updated: This problem sometimes has an easy fix --per the photo:
I deleted my previous Black Screen
comments here --replacing them with the following (and an on-going) account.
( With 7/2/2019 updates.)
* A number of Chromebook Central Help Forum contributers have found Chromebook recovery difficult to impossible. Perhaps procedural 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 sometimes 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.
* To start with, you want a good, fast, strong WiFi Interent connection.
* 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 (except the last time).
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:
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). (7/2/2019 update: I made a fresh recovery stick just yesterday --and read on.)
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. Those 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 will see a confirmation of the model number (of your sick Chromebook) that you're familiar with. (There's also a search utility that let's you start with the familiar model number.)
4) You're also made to identify the 8 GB flash memory stick that you've stuck into your working computer (which is a snap to do), then give the recovery program the go-ahead to start building up the operating system recovery image that your (other) sick computer needs.
* Then: wait about 5 minutes (using a fast Internet connection) as the recovery utility downloads data, verifies the integrity, decompresses, organizes itself, and writes everything to the memory stick.
5) Get your sick computer to once again display its lament about not having an operating system. The best bet is to hold down the "Esc" and the Reload/refresh keys, then push the power on-off button --while watching to make sure the power light goes off and on. (There's a little delay and rythm to it.) The message screen will stay on after it appears (if you don't mess with the keys. Just move the mouse a little if the display times out and starts to darken).
Then follow the instruction to insert the recovery memory stick you've recently made. (7/1/2019 update: The current instruction tells us to simply turn your sick computer on, plug the recovery stick in --and away she go --and good luck on that!)
6) So 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 haul.) (Again: you want to have a strong WiFi signal.)
7) Well: there is no Step #7 here. NOTHING happens and, as you can see, there's no prompt on the screen to make anything happen. Tapping the "Enter", "Esc", "Ctrl", the reload key (F3 position) --does nothing. If you pull out the restore memory stick, you're reproved for doing so and the write-to-stick process starts over when you stick the stick back in again. (Cheers)
* After my previous go at this I visited the "Chromebook Central Help Forum". There I saw that a fellow (Matteo Marotti) had the same experience with an Asus C300 last year. The Expert Reply (by one 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 would "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 is actually to say: it's time to get another Chromebook.
* Don Stein 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.) A person could grow old while following all the available advice.
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 for me and I had to first push the "Reload/Refresh" button to make the power light go out. When I tried to re-power 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.
* Even more previously 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! Would the 4-finger salute 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.
* 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.
* 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).
6/30/2019: See this.
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 avoided 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.
* 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?
* With the long threatened end of 2G/3G service, and like so many others, last year I bought a 4G capable flip type cell phone (a Tracfone Acatel A405DL) to replace my Tracfone LG236C. Three days ago I finally activated it, which raised my reception in our house from one bar to 4.
For those of us who lightly use a phone --and as a telephone, there's only been one choice: Tracfone --at least until now. The others that I'm aware of would cost me 2 to 3 times as much per month. (I've averaged $10.) For anyone who is less able to adapt to our digital age (slowing down seniors, say), you might want to pay more and get human help from the service provider. (I'm tempted to go that route myself.)
* It turned out there was no "Prepaid" > "Add Airtime" on the Acatel's menu. You have to send a text request to Tracfone to do that --or open an "account". (Presumably, you then put your credit card on file and at risk). To pay with a prepaid airtime card, text "ADD' to 611611 (then I'm not sure what's next, since I still have 100 minutes left).
* While I should fault the Acatel for not displaying the remaining minutes and days of service on the main/default screen (nor on any other screen), Tracfone appears to have already eliminated that essential feature on their "Classic flip" as well. Instead, that also requires a request. (Text "BALANCE" to 611611. You promptly get back a complete statement).
I'm venturing a guess that Tracfone is trying to sell minutes directly --capturing the retailer's mark-up on their prepaid airtime cards. If you read the hundreds of Amazon buyer reviews, Tracfone instead captured a lot of WTF resentment.
* The last time I transferred my phone number to a new phone, it was gruesome. This time there were problems and it took 2 days --until a resourceful support woman set matters right. (Something wrong with the new phone's SIM card.)
Initially, I was dealing with a voice recognition machine and it seemed to be going smoothly --except for one BIG thing: the voice said everything went fine, but that the transfer would take anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours! My old phone immediately went into a Verizon sales talk mode (trying to sell me stuff!) so it ended up taking 48 hours, plus driving to a relative's house to use their phone in order to reach technical support.
* After that, I was confronted with a follow-up survey --that I had to respond to by using the "SMS" keyboard system to text --for the first time in my life! --which took later into the night to complete. (The tech support woman was sweet and efficient. I think that survey had something to do with her getting paid.) (Yes: I've simply been ignoring nearly all of the text messages which came my way --for years. Junk mail, most of it --Delete, Delete.)
*** I found a Tracfone "LG Classic flip" (LG L125DL) at Walmart but it turned out to have only 3G capability (which is doomed and barely connects here at our house). The LG "Classic" is bereft of Tracfone's most salient classic features. There is no "Add Minutes" or "Airtime" option on the phone's menu, nor (of course) is there any indication that remaining days and minutes can be displayed. I've played with it and have gone through the comes-with literature 3 times now. The only options I see are to buy airtime minutes on line --or to buy a retail airtime card and then either go to Tracfone on line or call a Tracfone 800 number. Perhaps the next shoe to drop is the elimination of airtime cards --in favor of customers just having accounts and subscriptions (or "plans"). (Best I hurry and buy a year-long card^.)
^ I don't want to navigate Tracfone's web site with SMS keys --or get cornered into spending $1000+ for secure ISP service ($45 x 12 months + an up-to-date laptop with a security suite) --in order to pay for my cell phone service. The "competing" prepaid/card services I've looked at cost a fixed $35/month --almost as much as a private ISP connection, which makes no sense if you just want a hello-goodbye flip phone. (Presumably, the $20/month Consumer Cellular plan also requires a secure, private ISP connection to make payment.) (I haven't purchased anything on-line for years, nor have I ever done any on-line banking. I try to limit EFTs.)