Writing Code and Updating Websites While Traveling

I used to be a web developer before I was on disability. Well, years before. My last job was actually as a delivery driver for a pizza place. I haven’t professionally worked as a web developer since the early 2000’s, though I have done the occasional web site for a friend or family member, as well as updating the sites here like Bubba On The Road and Sweet Honeybee Health. I also of course maintain my gaming site, War Possum and I maintain a site for a comic book artist friend of mine, The Art of Seth Damoose. (I’m currently working on a redesign of that, but I need to get more art from him. Such is the busy life of maintaining a family, a full time job, and a job as an illustrator.) I’ve done a couple of other sites which can be found at my portfolio site, ebaierl.com.

I want to make more web sites and I think I can handle one a month, but writing code and selling myself while traveling is proving to be difficult. I’ve never been a salesman, I’ve never wanted to be one. I wish I could get someone to sell my work for me, but that would be less money for me, even though it would mean more money if I had more work. I want to do something, but a combination of my disability, my personality, and the difficulties with technology on the road are holding me back. If I can reduce those problems, I might be able to take on a site or a two a month.

But how do I code then? What do I do and how do I do it?

Right now, I use Adobe products to do all of my work. It is far overkill. I have a MacBook Pro with an i7 and 16GB RAM, which is also far overkill. I don’t play games on my laptop, I don’t watch videos often, and I don’t need all this power. I read web sites, I write in Microsoft Word, and I occasionally code in Dreamweaver. I don’t need a development server because I don’t really write any backend code. Almost everything I do code is HTML and CSS through WordPress or Bootstrap. I do occasionally edit photos, but even that is minimal. I don’t do extensive editing even, its usually adjusting size or adding text to a photo. All of this can be done with something less powerful and, more importantly, less expensive.

And thus comes the Chromebooks…

I had a Chromebook once, about four years ago. It was a Samsung model, small and light, and did everything I needed. In the years since, they’ve gotten more robust, more powerful, more stable, and a little more expensive. In the past year alone, they’ve added the ability to use Android apps from the Google Play store as well.

However there has been a divide in the ranks of Chromebooks as they are either more expensive, powerful and built for professionals, or cheaper, less powerful and built for students. They can be $200 or $450 with rarely any in between those two price points. I’ve been searching and reading reviews of various Chromebooks and I’m leaning back towards getting one to fill my needs.
Chrome OS

My Chromebook needs

There are a few requirements I have for a laptop, most of which can be fulfilled with a Chromebook.

  1. 4GB RAM: Since I want to be able have several tabs open at once, I need 4GB RAM. At this time,
    many come with that, even at the lower end of the price scale.
  2. MicroSD Slot: I want to be able to back up my websites locally, so if I can do that with the addition of a microSD slot, that would be ideal. Its not required, but sometimes I work without internet access,
    so if I can still read PDFs and update sites locally, that is almost required. Some Chromebooks come with microSD slots, many do not.
  3. AC Wifi: Some still come with N, but I want AC. For updating files, transferring data, the faster the better.
  4. 32GB SSD: I know I don’t need it, but I’d like to have 32GB instead of the 16GB that is typical in cheaper Chromebooks.
  5. SFTP: Since I need to update files on laptop and upload them to a remote web server, I need to be able to upload files to my remote host. I found an SFTP Client Chrome app that I think will work. It costs about $10, but that’s cheap and easy to do.
  6. Text/Code Editor: Obviously I need a way to edit code. I’d like something that is built for editing HTML, so colors, tabbing, code-completion and features like that would make it more convenient.
  7. Simple Photo Editor: I do occasionally edit photos, but like I said, its usually for something simple like changing the size of an image or adding text to it. I don’t do high end Photoshop work often and if I really needed to, I could use Tiffany’s computer for a bit.
  8. Backlit Keyboard: Now this one is a “want” and not a “need”. I do frequently work late at night while Tiffany is watching TV or playing the Sims with the overhead lights out, so having a backlight keyboard would be nice. Its not needed, but still convenient.
  9. Decent Screen: I’m not sure what size I’d like, but I’ve gotten used to having a 15″ screen on my laptop. I also have a retina screen, so I’d prefer something with a good clarity and resolution. 11 inches would probably feel cramped, but I’ve dealt with that size before. It just depends on how portable I want it to be.
  10. Plex Access: We use Plex Media Server for our entertainment almost exclusively. The good thing is that I can access it without a Plex app, but instead through a web page, so that can be done through any web capable device.
  11. Windows Remote Access: Our Plex server runs on a Windows 10 Lenovo Stick PC. I need to occasionally access the computer remotely and from another computer which I currently do through TeamViewer. There is no TeamViewer app for Chrome OS, so I would have to use Chrome Remote Access most likely. I’m not sure if I can set the computer to automatically login to Remote Access when it boots, so if I can’t do that, I’ll have to figure out something else. If I have to, I can connect the stick PC to a TV and login and set it up, but I’d prefer to be able to just turn it on, have it all login on its own, and be set. This is really the only major hurdle to overcome.

With all that said, a Chromebook might be in my future, if I can figure out a way to afford one. Like I said, I have a 15″ MacBook Pro that is in excellent condition. Tiffany has a 13″ MacBook Air that is having battery issues. If I can somehow find a way to replace those with a newer, working MacBook Air and a Chromebook, I think it would be in our best interest. I’m not sure the value of my MacBook Pro, but I could probably get a good amount for it, buy a replacement and better MacBook Air for Tiffany, and buy myself a decent Chromebook and maybe even still have some money left over. I’ll have to figure out if this is all possible and if its worth it.

Decisions need to be made, if anyone has worked with Chromebooks before, I’d appreciate the input.

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