Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Chromebooks and train wifi

14th April, 2013

I had a couple of e-mails to deal with on the way back into London this afternoon. I only have my Chromebook with me, and had synced Offline Gmail so I could deal with them en-route.

I was pleased to remember that Greater Anglia, despite in some ways still being stuck in the mid-60′s, has on-board WiFi. (This is unfortunately emblazoned with obnoxious Office 365 ads, much like the rest of the train).

Obviously the WiFi is really a load of people trying to download things over 3G so its performance isn’t by any definition good. However, the Chromebook does a really awesome job of doing its best.

First of all, on a poor connection, it caches things a LOT. In fact at times I found it really hard to persuade it to actually reload the content as I knew it had probably changed.

Additionally, once you have wedged a connection open, SPDY proxying to Google services works like a dream - much easier (although not without issues entirely) to keep those sessions usable than other sites.

Finally, Offline Gmail works like a dream - it is significantly lighter than normal Gmail and much more lightweight than many other sites on the network. This makes it possible to keep working through connection drops and slow conenctions, and the app will keep up with the changes and sync with the server when it can.