Mar 27, 2014
Mar 22, 2014
Mar 15, 2014
Nowadays, most of the work we do is online; and as people become less wary of the cloud, our values change regarding what we need in a personal computer. While critics initially wrote off the Google Chromebook as a curiosity, Chromebooks are gaining traction with consumers, in education, and in the enterprise.
While the move to a Chromebook might make technical sense, it can be a jarring transition. The Chromebook is meant to feel different than your standard desktop PC, but you can still get work done.
Here are ten apps that will make your Chromebook experience more productive.
1. Gmail Offline
Gmail Offline is exactly what it sounds like, an offline version of Gmail that uses a cached version of your Gmail data to let you respond to email when you are offline. After you compose a message and hit send, it will hold the email until you connect to the Internet again and it will send it.
Perfect for a business traveler, this app allows you to catch up on your online work when you don't have Internet access. So, if you don't want to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi, you can still respond to emails in the air and know that they will send as soon as you touch down and reconnect to the airport's Wi-Fi. You can even access a cached version of your address book.
You can download Gmail Offline from the Chrome Web Store, or you can select "enable offline" through your standard Gmail app settings. Once you begin installing it, make sure to allow it to work in offline mode. This will ensure that Gmail will support cached emails offline.
By the way, you can use this functionality with the Chrome browser to get offline Gmail on any machine.
For users that do low-level image editing, the Pixlr Editor offers a free, browser-based photo editing tool for Chromebooks. Pixlr Editor comes from Pixlr, who also makes editing tools for mobile.
The app has the standard editing tools—red eye reduction, spot heal, filters (you have got to have some filters), and level adjustment. It doesn't have the horsepower you get with Photoshop, but it has everything the average user would need to edit a profile pic or create a meme.
"Pixlr Touch Up offers a plug-free experience—it’s a lightweight, always-on and auto-updating, browser-based app. The app includes all the essential editing tools, including crop, resize, rotate, effects & fonts, enhance color, liquify, adjust contrast and more," said Pixlr community manager, Eric Suesz.
Pixlr Editor can open PSD files or users and copy and paste from the clipboard. It's easy to get started with and it works quickly.
3. Numerics Calculator & Converter
The Numerics Calculator & Converter is a calculator for math and data nerds that can be used by ordinary people. It can work offline and it has a variety of options for customization.
As a converter, it works surprisingly well. Users can do conversions for measurements, temperature, and currency, among other things. The keypad is large and easy to see, and the UI is well-designed too.
If you are like me, the quality of your workflow is contingent on the lists you make. With Wunderlist, you can create beautiful task and to-do lists that are synced across all of your devices, as long as you have a Wunderlist account.
I'll admit it, I'm shallow; and I tend to judge apps (and most software) based on the way they look. I say that because Wunderlist looks great. It is well designed and easy to use, and it makes life simple for users who work across different platforms and ecosystems. You can sync your lists between a Chromebook and an iPhone, and share them with friends.
The app has been around for a while, so a lot of the kinks have been worked out. Users can designate background images for list and set specific badge notifications for alerts. Wunderlist is the "Old Faithful" of to-do list apps.
Chromebook users who are looking to collect and digest content more fluidly should look no further than Feedly. Available for free in the Chrome Web Store, Feedly lets users aggregate the content from other sites into a personalized interface.
"The web is a constantly updated wealth of knowledge and information that can help people perform better at what they do, but content discovery is often at the mercy of robots and algorithms. Feedly empowers people to connect to the sources of information they care about and access that content as it arrives. That's why Feedly is the content discovery and reading platform of choice for professionals," said Josh Catone, content and community manager at Feedly.
Much like Wunderlist, Feedly has been around for a long time. The Feedly app for Chrome will appear as a clickable icon that will take you right to your Feedly page. The minimal design and magazine-like interface of Feedly are its main selling points.
The app works by collecting data from RSS feeds and organizing for the user on their Feedly page. It was also one of the main tools users moved to after the closing of Google Reader. Although Feedly is free to use, they offer a pro version, for $5 a month or $45 a year. Catone said Feedly pro, "has better search functionality, faster content updates for smaller sources and integration with a growing number of useful services, including Readability, Pocket, LinkedIn, Evernote and Hootsuite."
No good apps list would be complete without a screen capture tool.Clipular lets users clip images they find on the web, organize them, and save them to their Google Drive. I'm usually a proponent of the using the standard lasso tool that comes with your OS, but Clipular offers some unique extras.
After clipping an image on the web, users can edit it within Clipular and share it on social media by dragging it to the icon of their preferred social media site. The tool saves the source link and text with each clip, and users can go back and annotate or search their clips based on source links or text.
So, whether you are clipping a weird Facebook comment or a frame from a YouTube video, Clipular gives you the tools to make it happen and keep it organized.
ShiftEdit is an online Integrated development environment (IDE) for Chromebooks. Think about it as Wunderlist for developers in the sense that you can develop across platforms.
"The goal of ShiftEdit is to supplement and eventually replace desktop IDEs. The project is in a similar vein to other web apps such as Gmail and Google Docs, which allow you to seamlessly pick up where you left off from one device to another. ShiftEdit is primarily geared towards web languages such as HTML5/ PHP/ Ruby etc.," said Adam Jimenez, developer and founder of ShiftEdit.
The goal of the product is to give developers the same experience, regardless of OS, without having to install software or create site definitions. ShiftEdit has an autocomplete features that is compatible with HTML, CSS and PHP functions; and they support a variety of server types. ShiftEdit is free in the Chrome Web Store, and it also has offline capabilities.
8. imo messenger
For a standard IM-type chat, the Google+ Hangouts extension works well. But, for users who are looking to integrate chat from sites such as Facebook, imo messenger is a great option. Users can share pictures, text, and video with friends on imo, and there is also the option for browser-to-mobile video calls.
You can run multiple chat sessions at a time and the mobile app works on Android and iOS. If you have a session open on one device, you can have the same session open simultaneously on another device. So, if you are chatting with a project manager and need to keep chatting on your way to lunch, you can do so on your phone (just make sure someone else is driving).
9. Quick Note
Check out Quick Note for simple note-taking and lists. The design is reminiscent of the previous legal-pad style notes app in iOS, with lined yellow pages available for notes. The app is simple and clean, and users can access notes across Chrome devices if they are registered at Diigo.
There's really not much else to say. Quick Note is a great app for note-taking and it will help you stay organized.
WeVideo is a video-editing app for Chrome that has three different editing modes to accommodate beginners and experts alike. Users can drag and drop media files into the video timeline and add a title or theme from the app.
"WeVideo is the only true cloud-based offer for the mobile and cloud generation which is device agnostic and provides an adaptive interface allowing creators to move easily between different levels, based on their experience and familiarity with video editing," said CEO Jostein Svendsen.
The app connects to DropBox and social media accounts so users can easily pull pictures, video, graphics, and music files that were already uploaded. Users can take turns editing each others clip libraries through Google Drive and when you are finished you can publish to Drive or publish straight to social media.
The app supports eight languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Russian, Japanese and Arabic. WeVideo is free but it costs money to export each video, ranging from $0.99 to $1.99.
Mar 13, 2014
Mar 12, 2014
Mar 10, 2014
Mar 7, 2014
Mar 5, 2014
From the invention of the printing press to the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, the ways people collaborate change frequently, and the effects of those changes often reverberate through generations. In this video interview, Clay Shirky, author, New York University professor, and leading thinker on the impact of social media, explains the disruptive impact of technology on how people live and work—and on the economics of what we make and consume. This interview was conducted by McKinsey Global Institute partner Michael Chui, and an edited transcript of Shirky’s remarks follows.
Sharing changes everything
The thing I’ve always looked at, because it is long-term disruptive, is changes in the way people collaborate. Because in the history of particularly the Western world, when communications tools come along and they change how people can contact each other, how they can share information, how they can find each other—we’re talking about the printing press, or the telephone, or the radio, or what have you—the changes that are left in the wake of those new technologies often span generations.
The printing press was a sustaining technology for the scientific revolution, the spread of newspapers, the spread of democracy, just on down the list. So the thing I always watch out for, when any source of disruption comes along, when anything that’s going to upset the old order comes along, is I look for what the collaborative penumbra is.
For instance, around MakerBot, which I was on the board of back when it was an independent company, most of the company, for the obvious reason, was focused on the possibilities of 3-D printing and the output of 3-D printers. But the thing I was most interested in was Thingiverse, which is the website where people were sharing and talking about their objects.
And you could see these things happening where somebody uploaded a little model for a radio-controlled, 3-D printed shell for a little radio-controlled car. And they said, “Here’s this thing. It looks great. There’s only one problem: It doesn’t work, because it’s too heavy. But I’m uploading it anyway.” And then other people who were good at figuring out, “Well, you can take the weight out here and there,” turned it into something workable. No one person made that radio-controlled shell.
So the collaborative penumbra around 3-D printing is a place where you don’t have to have someone who can do everything—from having the idea to making the mesh to printing it. You can start having division of labor. So you’ve got all of these small groups that are just working together like studios and still able to play on a world stage.
And all the way at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got these collaborative environments where almost no one has to coordinate with anybody else. When I upload something to Thingiverse, or I make an edit on Wikipedia, it’s not like I need anybody else’s help or permission. So the collaborative range is expanding. The tight groups have more resources, and the loose groups can be much more loosely coordinated and operate at a much larger scale. And I think the people who think about collaboration want to know what’s happening to it, and the answer is everything.
Upending supply and demand
We’re in a world now where, unlike the old “you print the magazine in advance” model, demand creates supply. There’s not any of that sort of publishing bottleneck friction anymore. And so that has a predictable effect on price. And in fact, almost every information business that the Internet touches, the first thing it does is it rips the guts out of the scarcity model. It did it for music, it did it for books, it’s doing it for movies, it’s doing it for newspapers.
And the thing I came to, thinking about this problem, was abundance breaks more things than scarcity. Society’s really good at managing scarcity. If something is really valuable but hard to do, we develop a profession and we have all these pricing models, blah, blah, blah. Once something becomes so cheap that it’s not worth metering anymore, that’s when real social change happens.
The idea of open-source software as an alternate way of making operating system-scale code bases, that’s only possible when communication is so abundant globally that it may as well be free. So that’s the first set of effects you see.
The other set of effects, which is more narrowly targeted at the media industries, is that typically the new companies don’t take the profits of the old companies; they make the profits of the old companies go away. You end up having to shift from operating in a position of scarce resources and abundant profits to a world of abundant resources and scarce profits. And the design of businesses and organizations in that second world is very different from that first world.
Creating success from failure
It’s very often the case that what people set out to do as Plan A turns out to be effective and important, not because it works, but because it shows them whatdoesn’t work. I use the example of Wikipedia. Wikipedia started as the Hail Mary play out of something called Nupedia, which was a complete disaster. Nupedia was going out of business nine months in, and the Wiki was Plan B.
So this huge success turned out to be the thing that the group of people who’d failed at Nupedia were finally willing to try at the end of the process. And every now and again, you get a visionary set of founders who come up with Plan A, and Plan A works unbelievably well. You get a Google or an Amazon. And those are great when they happen.
But you also get things like Wikipedia or Twitter. Twitter was Plan B out of Odeo. Odeo was about to tank. They’re, like, “Well, we’re going to run out of money. There’s got to be something else we can do.” And the mission statement for Twitter was not, “We want to own the kind of public-facing set of headline-style observations.” The mission statement for Twitter was literally, “I want to keep track of people, using our cell phones.” That little sentence was how the whole thing got kicked off.
So I think one of the things to recognize, I use the analogy of a rocket ship: You can’t get a rocket to the moon just by aiming it. You also have to give yourself the ability to course correct. And when we look around at the landscape of really big successes, very often what we see is that the course correction turned out to be more important than the initial direction.