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.
Voice technology is pretty darn awesome. Although still considered dorky and awkward to use in a public place, talking to your technology can save you a lot of time and hassle.. and in some cases save your life !
We humans seem to stick to our guns when it comes to the way we “enter” information on a machine. Keyboards and mice have been around for ages (there are also people who track their balls) and we continue to hold on to them as our favorite input devices. When tablets came along we started looking for covers with built in keyboards and complained ‘where the mouse was’ on our brand new iPad. And when it comes to our mobile devices we insist on using our stubby fingers on those teeny weeny touchscreens. This has lead to many people bumping into lampposts or parking their car vertically in a ditch (or worse) . Time to let tech work for you and start talking to your devices.
Google has introduced voice-search for quite some time now, but the perks on using a Nexus device (like in my case the Nexus 7) is that this voice recognition software is available “offline” (so the phone can understand you even you have a flaky or even NO data connection). Aside for searching for the next “One Direction” t-shirt sale, you can also use the Google voice commands to do plenty of other things.
Some of our favorites
Show me ( restaurants – hotels – etc) nearby.
Is it going to rain today.
Browse to (website)
Send and email to (person) subject (Subject) Message (Message)
There are plenty more where these came from and it is a great way to use your technology in a safe and productive manner. And its also quite good for a giggle when Google gets it completely wrong.
Find out ALL the voice commands supported by Google Now in this great info-graphic. (Click to expand)
Google ! For it is the beginning and the end of the internet for most of us. The ultimate search tool for most of us, the homepage for even more. But what do we type into that little search box. Aside from “Alyson Hannigan Bikini pictures” (a simple but essential search query, there is so much more then you can get out of this little box. We give you some tips.
Let Google hold your hand.
The painfully simple start of search. Obvious for many but obscure for even more. Ever seen auntie Joe type in “www.facebook.com” in the Google search box and click on the first (sponsored) link ? Aaarg ! ! ! Send her THIS LINK and get her started.
Let go of the mouse !
Ninja’s don’t use mice ! Even the Ninja Turtles didn’t have a mouse .. (Wait , they had a Rat .. never mind, bad example). Speed up your Google skills with some awesome keyboard shortcuts.
Talk to da Google !
If you are the proud owner of a Google Nexus tablet or phone, you might want to try out Google Now. The concept of ‘The information you need, just when you need it” might be interesting. What is way more cooler is that you can talk to it … and you don’t have to call her Baby .. erm .. Siri. Get started with Google Now here.
The Google Cheat sheet.
We love our little cheat sheets so much , we cannot help ourselves then to say the words “Cheat Sheet” 10 times in rapid succession and give you a download link to Ultralinx “How To Google”.
So we hope you find what you are looking for .. if not .. there is still good old Altavista.
Share your favorite Google tips with us in the comments section.
With the holidays coming up, some of you might have had their first or second IOS device snuggled in under the tree. Aside from making the Apple shareholders hilariously happy with the overpriced profit margin, you might ALSO enjoy your new purchase of an iPad or an iPhone. If you have a device thats any newer then the last iPhone4S (This includes the iPad mini and the ‘not the latest-but-the-one-before-that-one ipad and the new ipad) it will come with Siri. This ‘personal assistant’ that you can talk to and ask things. In the beginning Siri is a gimmick. Something you use (like Google Now) to try out a couple of times, but chances are, unless you really make an effort, you will probably not use Siri to its full potential. This has to do with the way human behaviour has a hard time keeping up with changing technology. So to get you beyond the ‘Gimmick’ factor we have found a great tutorial on how to make SIRI work for you.
In “The ultimate Siri Guide” Rene Richie explains you in a couple of pointers how to use Siri in your daily life. Remembering the different commands is one thing, reminding yourself to start USING them is another thing. Its going to take a little brain and behaviour hacking to start ‘talking’ to your phone instead of typing on it. Although the former is more natural then the latter, we still find it hard because we have been texting on a numerical keyboard far longer then we have been talking to machines. Give it a try, but remember Siri uses your data connection to analyse your voice. (Unlike Android, where the processing of your voice commands also works offline)
As you hear Siri talk, you might be surprised that this is the voice of a Belgian woman. According to voice technology expert and inventer Jo Lernaut (who was the chairman of the Belgian company Lernaut & Hauspie ) their voice technology has been licenced by both Apple and Microsoft and the SIRI voicefiles where recorded in Belgium by one of their employees. You can find out more about that little detail HERE and watch the (Flemish) interview with Jo Lernaut here.
The great thing about having friends all over the world, is having friends all over the world. Over the last couple of years of podcasting I’ve been able to build up a network of dozens of people all over the world who I talk to on a daily basis. There is just one problem. I can communicate via dozens of channels, eMail, instant messaging, twitter or Facebook, but sometimes those channels aren’t realy suitable for the message (for example quick chit-chat) or for my locantion ( I am in the car three hours a day ) where texting/typing & driving are taboo.
And yet the car is an ideal place to ‘catch up’ on your social life. Calling up your friends (handsfree) is a productive use of your time behind the wheel. However, my friends are mostly across the pond and sleep when I’m awake. Recording some voicememo’s in the car and sending them out via eMail once I got home was a possible solution but was quite of a hassle. For the times where both conversation partners were available at the same time, Skype would have solved everything… but keeping a Skype connection alive while driving is hard at best.
So enter VOXER. A free cross platform application that acts as a time delayed walkie talkie. After you install voxer and add find your buddies who also use voxer ( Via their email address or via Facebook) you can get started. The system is easy. You open up one of your contacts and press the big button below. This starts the recording for as long as you hold down the button so .. just start talking. Once you release the button the voicememo gets sent out and shows up in your friends voxer app. He can listen and reply the same way. Think of it as Instant messaging but using voice instead of text. The result is a time-delayed walkie talkie system that is awesome for keeping up with friends, having conversations and exchanging ideas. Voxer is easy to use and safe enough to use in the car. You don’t need to watch the screen , just type the button and talk. Voxer can also send text messages and photos should you need to .. but centers on voice-conversations.
Voxer is a simple app that does one thing and does it well. I no longer need to worry about Skype connections dropping off, sending voice conversations via email or keeping tabs on my friends. The app is free and available on both IOS and Android.