We already told you about some of our favourite Chrome apps in the first post of this series, So this time its time to dive a little deeper into applications/extensions that will actually help you to do things for which you otherwise would need an application. We have broken them down into some easy categories for you to follow.
I think the days we actually stored music on our devices and played back those files are as obsolete as shouting “Put the needle on the Record” at some teen playing a DJ gig with his laptop. Since we are talking about Chrome extensions here, I can only assume that you have a connection to the internet all the time. With so many free audio streaming services available the only thing that is keeping you from playing the latest Shakira album over and over (and over) is your bandwidth cap. Some of the Chrome extensions we love here are Spotify and Soundcloud. Sure you get some commercials when you use the free service, but that’s just like real actual radio. If you should be in the business of running your own PLEX server at home and would like to stream your (audio and video) content on your Chromebook ? Try the Plex app. (But do make sure that you open up the right ports on your router if you want to access your server from the outside).
But what about when listening to music is not enough ? There are a couple of great apps out there that will actually help you MAKE some music. From simple voice recording with “Voice Recorder” to rather complex audio mixing with Audiotool. Want to annoy your friends by badly mixing 2 tracks together using an online DJ mixer ? Try Until AM.
Connecting to other machines.
But what if your Chromebook isn’t enough and you need to connect to other systems and devices ? When you need an SSH session to your Linux machine (or your mac) at home “Secure Shell” is without a shadow of a doubt one of our favourite applications. It reminds us of the popular Windows terminal client PUTTY only 4983 times better. It remembers sessions you have saved to your servers across multiple sessions of Chrome, so you always have your connections at your fingertips. If you need to go a step further and dive into the graphical side of things, you might want to try “Chrome RDP” to connect to your machines running the Remote Desktop Protocol.
Ok, The only reason you bought a Chromebook (or use Chrome) is so you can spend hours on 9gag and Reddit. So its a good thing we even dug up some productivity apps. Outlook.com might be a little bit of blasphemy in this Gmail centered environment, but the Chrome app DOES get you to your mailbox environment even though its not controlled by the “Big Bad G”. Another pretty simple Chrome app we found is called Workflow. Workflow lets you organise your tasks into lists and sub-lists. It’s more like a text based mindmap but it does give you a pretty good overview of what you are working on and what subtasks are involved. Speaking of “simple” and “text based” we found “Writer” to be a very nice distraction free text editor for writing up text without being distracted. We love the “black and green” terminal like interface, especially if you run the Chrome app fullscreen. Writer lets you download your writings to different formats or saves them to the cloud so you can continue editing them in another chrome browser.
With all the commotion about the Heartbleed exploit .. Install the Lastpass Chrome app and sort out your passwords once and for all.
Since I’ve ported my brand new 11.6 inch Macbook Air to Ubuntu Linux, I’ve noticed that I seldom boot back into OSX on this little machine. Life is good on the Ubuntu side. Because for where it might lack powerful video editing tools or multitrack recorders that come with the same ease of use as Mac, Ubuntu (and Linux in general) shines when it comes to the myriad of free software that is available. Many blogposts will tell you the “top 5 apps” you NEED to install on your Linux machine, but you might know those lists by heart because they always offer the same apps. Today I’ll serve you up three applications that don’t necessarily show up on those lists , but for me make all the difference.
Though, with the Unity interface, Ubuntu might have moved on from spinning desktop cubes and wobbly windows, ‘looks’ are still a big part of the experience. Because 80 percent of your “post install” work consists of looking for “the right wallpaper”, I decided to ‘have somebody do that for me’ : Enter “Variety” a light, well written and awesome application that will switch wallpapers for you. You can choose the interval time, but also many many external sources of wallpaper material. Predefined Flickr groups of wallpapers are just one of the options, you can have Variety search Flickr for certain tags and keywords and pull down those wallpapers for you automatically. Luckily Variety also has the option to add your own folder filled with your personal wallpapers and mix everything up a bit with the external feeds. The menu bar icon up top lets you know it’s been installed and gives you access to all the settings. A cute little app that gives my tweaked system a little extra shine. (AND lets you use the fantastic KNIGHTWISE.COM WALLPAPERS on your machine Available from the Ubuntu software center or via sudo apt-get install variety
Although it was a pretty tough call between ‘soundconverter’ and ‘kazam screencaster’ to make this list, I chose the latter. Having to “capture” some internet video lately, I decided to give my Ubuntu machine the chance to prove its worth. Kazam is an online screen recorder that does its job well. You can record your entire screen, or sections of it, and have that video recorded in H264/mp4 format or VP8. You get to pick the framerate and the folder where the recordings are stored. No rocket science here. However the beauty comes with the combination of Kazam and Pulseaudio Volume control that let you record a much needed ‘sound input combination’. You cannot only record the screen with audio coming FROM ‘the sceen’ (your computer output) OR from your Microphone .. You can combine those 2 sound inputs and give “live” commentary on whatever youtube video you are grabbing. For a screencaster like me thats essential, AND damn handy when you want to record Google hangouts and the like. The output is very reliable and the process is dead easy. Kazam can also be found in the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install kazam
As the winner of the “Ubuntu app showdown” competition Rightlead is an RSS reader. Whow ! I hear you say, another RSS reader ? In order to make this list it better come with belly dancing Ewoks as a key feature because when it comes to RSS reader we have seen them all. The kicker with Lightread is that it constantly “syncs” with your Google Reader feeds ( you subscribe to new stuff, your stuff is in Lightread ) Lightread is simple, elegant, lets you tag and star articles and export them to Instapaper and Pocket. No rocket science but brilliant in its simplicity. I dare say that Lightread could be a native Mac app .. thats how good its done. I boot it up when I open my machine to read my feeds instead of surfing the web. To see is to believe. Lightread is available from the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install lightread.
You can find more applications from the Ubuntu App showdown HERE and HERE.