Chromebook OS can give old computer new life

ByFreda D. Cuevas

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If you have an old computer gathering dust in the closet, why not turn it into a Chromebook? It could gain a new lease on life.

Chromebooks work well for everything we do on the web. They avoid the frustrations of Windows, by fixing problems every time they boot up. Unlike machines that get buggy after too many programs have been installed and uninstalled, Chromebooks don’t slow down over time.

A friend of mine converted his 10-year-old Samsung laptop in about 45 minutes. Most of the changes took place automatically. The improvements are remarkable. The battery life went from about two hours to well over three hours. Web browsing is faster too, though his laptop wasn’t bad to begin with. You might see an even bigger improvement than he did if you’re starting with a sluggish machine. That’s because a Chromebook needs fewer resources. Even two gigabytes of RAM is enough.

To get started, go to Scroll past the “Flex” option to find the CloudReady area. Flex is still in the early stages of development but has more features than CloudReady. Eventually all computers using CloudReady will switch to Flex automatically.

When you first set it up, your new operating system will reside on your flash drive, creating a dual Windows/Chromebook system or a dual Mac/Chromebook machine. If you want to make the switch permanent, click on the words “install Chrome OS” in the lower right of the screen after you launch CloudReady. That will turn your computer into a pure Chromebook. If you don’t have a PC or Mac to convert, you can buy one someone else has converted. I saw an HP Stream 11 on eBay for $55.


A reader wrote: “I want to totally wipe out everything on my old Gmail account. I want to be rid of all the spammers and other annoyances.” Here’s how to give Gmail the axe.

Go to and sign into your account. On the left, click “Data & privacy.” Scroll way down until you get to “Data from apps and services you use.” Then click “Delete a Google service.” Before you do that, however, click “download your data,” if you want to preserve it.


My Android phone is now a digital picture frame as well as a phone. When it’s plugged in, I see a parade of great photos.

To set it up on your Android phone or tablet, go to “Settings” then “Display.” Look for “Screen Saver,” and tap the little gear icon. From there, choose which photos you want to appear. I scrolled down to “All Photos” and chose specific folders from my Google account.

For iPhones and iPads, Apple recommends “LiveFrame.” It’s free in the app store if you can stand intrusive ads. Otherwise it’s $5. When I first tried it on my iPad, the ads arrived every few seconds. But after I watched half a dozen commercials, it got better. I started getting at least four minutes worth of photos without interruption.

My current LiveFrame slideshow includes photos from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Google Photos, Dropbox and more. But the app doesn’t start on its own. You have to tap on it to start it.

On a Kindle Fire tablet, I tried “Fotoo,” which is free. It also works on Android phones and tablets. Like LiveFrame, it shows photos from a variety of sources. But unlike LiveFrame, it has no commercials. I’m using it with my Microsoft OneDrive pics. Works great.

Creating all these photo frames prompted me to get rid of duplicates and inferior shots. I eliminated 2,260 junky ones from 2014 to the present from my Google photo account.


Did you know that your personal info is probably listed at “FamilyTreeNow” and “Fast People Search?” You can remove it.

To get rid of your name, address, list of relatives and so on at FamilyTreeNow, go to For “Fast People Search,” go to On the other hand, these sites might be great for finding that high school buddy you’ve lost touch with.

If you don’t want strangers to know what your house looks like, you can get Google Maps to blur it. Do a web search on “remove me from Google Street View.” However, your house may still be on Zillow and other real estate sites.


If you accidentally erased a notification you needed on your Android phone, you can get it back. Tap “Settings,” then “Notifications,” then “Notification history.” Toggle the switch to “on” next to “Use notification history.” From then on, you will see 24 hours worth of notifications, even those you previously deleted.


• has fun science experiments for kids, such as “Magic Milk Painting.” Put plant-based milk or cow’s milk in a pan. Squeeze some some food coloring onto it, at least two drops for each color. Next, dip the end of a Q-tip swab into some dish soap, soaking up a generous amount. Dip the swab beside one of your colors. It will burst forth, like modern art. Repeat with the other colors.

• just auctioned off a lot of astronaut memorabilia. Alan Shepard’s space suit glove went for $54,904. He was the first American to travel into space. The website has a lot of other auctions going. “Marvels of Modern Music,” ends May 19.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at [email protected].


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