I had mentioned that a recent car service revealed that my tires were in needed of replacement before too long. Tuesday morning, I was refueling at the nearby gas station when I espied a rather large bulge in one of the tires. Rather than chance another 60 miles for the daily commute, I opted to take the day off to get new tires. Sams Club's tire center wasn't manned when I passed through and Walmart didn't have any of that size. Pep Boys, though, did have a set along with a buy three get one free promo. I found out later that it was free after mail-in-rebate, but the folks there were pretty damned awesome and just gave me the discount right there and then. Other than taking a bit longer than they quoted, it worked out well.
Last month, Google announced the next Android tablet update, Honeycomb 3.1. It was immediately pushed to Verizon Xoom tablets with the WiFi-only Xoom getting it shortly after. About a week later, both Acer and Asus stated they were already working on porting the update for their respective slates for release in June. At least Asus wasn't fooling around. The update went live starting on the 31st of May, reaching my Eee Pad Transformer sometime last night. I haven't gotten much time at all to test it, but I can say that my GMail widget is missing. But there is added smoothness for much of it along with the ability to save web pages in the browser. My favorite change so far, though, is the multitask stack. It used to display the five most recently used apps as thumbnails which you could tap easily switch to it. It worked well, but even stock Android 2.x tracked the last eight. The new stack in 3.1 looks the same, but is now scrollable for much more than five apps. I'll play around with it more this afternoon/evening to see what else is different, if anything.
Although the update took a while to show up, even longer has been the Chromebook. I signed up for the Cr-48 test program back in the day, but was not selected. Sadness. The first retail Chromebooks hit shelves on 6/15. I got a couple of emails concerning the upcoming launch and my prior interest in the program. As a thank you for earlier support, a small allotment of Chromebooks (white Samsung Series 5's with 3G) were made available via invitation for an early shipment. There was no discount or bonus other than a limited edition sleeve and receiving them up to a full week before retail availability. They "sold out" quickly but many got recycled in the system since the order had to be completed within ten minutes of adding an item to a cart. I managed to snag one even though it was listed as a waitlist item by the time I got to the site. The other email has been the topic of some discussion, but my verdict is that it was not well written. It made it seem like I could get one under the original terms of the test program (read: free), but after several readings and order details, it looks like I have merely a chance of receiving a partial or full refund after some amount of time based on timely transmission of certain (anonymous) usage data and feedback reports. I'm not especially annoyed by it, though. I've been very interested in Chromebooks so far and the two years of free/bundled data (just up to 100MB) isn't a horrible perk. Worse comes to worse, I get a pretty sweet looking cloud netbook.