We continue our Cross platform productivity week posts this week and focus on that one little application we use the most on our computers these days … The browser. (or the World of Warcraft Executable, depending on your taste). Chrome is a little bit of a cross platform blessing since it not only straddles most of the Operating systems we talk about, it also has access to a wide range of extensions. We listed a couple that help you to be more productive.
Writebox for Chrome.
When I write blogposts I hate to be distracted. No matter how advanced my laptop is, or how multitask-friendly my operating system tries to be … when it comes down to doing some writing I want something plain and simple. Writebox is just that : A text editor in a window that gives you text on a plain background. You can tune the colors to your liking (amber letters on a black background for me) and start typing. Writebox syncs with Dropbox and your Google drive so you can ‘pick up’ where you left on on another computer or on another OS altogether.
Dictate with Dictation.io
All the cool bosses of the 70’s had secretaries. These girls would sit behind giant typewriters while their bosses dictated all kinds of important letters to their management (or mistresses) So why don’t WE do that ? Forget the typewriter and the mistress part, how about you start talking to your computer right now. Dictation.io is a great website/extention that lets you dictate whatever you want to write and spits it out in plain text. Copy – Paste – Done. No matter what OS you are on.. as long as you are running chrome. https://dictation.io/
Whenever I need to prepare a podcast or do a presentation I use a mindmap to organize my thoughts. Some people type stuff out, but I have found out that my brain just doesn’t work that way. After a little looking around for a great (free) chrome friendly Mindmap tool, I stumbled across Mindmup. It lets you create as many mindmaps as you like and store them on your Google Drive or in Dropbox. Unlike Mindmeister we mentioned a while ago, Mindmup does not have a restriction on the number of mindmaps you can create using the free service.
File system for chrome os.
This is actually a collection of several applications/extensions for those of you using a Chromebook. With this extension you can connect your Chrome file structure with either Dropbox, Onedrive or a webdav service; tying the different locations where you store your data together. Gone are the days of having to upload files and open websites/services to get to your teletubby wallpaper collection.. Enjoy !
With the holidays coming up you might find yourself trapped in a family gathering that is comprised largely of people talking non-techno gibberish. While it might be perfectly normal for others to talk about “mondaine” things like ‘the game thats on tonight’ or whichever of the babes in America’s next Top model was so skinny she blew off camera on a windy day .. there is only so much you might be able to take. So time for some technological infusions into your audio-phonic subsystems. In laymen’s terms : Time for a couple of good podcasts to pull you through the holidays. Over the next week we will introduce you to 5 different podcasts you should subscribe to (aside from ours of course). We shall try to tap a variety of topics and interests but will vouch for its quality and consistency. We can however only partially vouch for your sanity or domestic peace at the christmas dinner once we are done.
Our first selection is a freshly rebooted podcast by friend of the show Daniel “The cyberpunk librarian” Messer on being a writer using open source tools. Aside from being cross platform geek using a variety of operating system, Daniel has also written several books and has mastered the art of using open source tools to produce his literary escapades. Episode 1 of his recently rebooted podcast describes the use of open source software to pound that brilliant idea into a literary novel that is ready to publish using only open source software. Be quiet while listening to this podcast and refer from talking, shouting and walking around .. this man is a librarian .. remember ?
Download and subscribe.
You can find the website to subscribe (along with the most evil of all podcast avatar selfies) over at http://cyberpunklibrarian.com/podcast/
Ever wondered which Usb flash drive you own is the fastest ? For copying your My Little Pony picture collection back and forth, speed might not be the biggest issue, but what if you want to do more. For example : Run a complete operating system from that USB stick ? As we mentioned in the last podcast episode it’s possible to run a complete (Linux) operating system from your stick. And since you are using your little portable friend as a hard drive ..Speed is essential.
So benchmark your own Usb drive with the USBFlashSpeed.com site to help you buy the hyperspeed on a stick .. from your keychain.
One of the things that is pretty tricky about blogging, is that its actually “writing in disguise”. Sure we write up a post every day and all in all it doesn’t seem to add up to much text in the end (because you ADD junkies don’t have the attention span to finish an entire paragraph without rushing outside to ride shiny bikes) but still : If i where to bundle the 900+ articles on this site in a book.. that would be pretty nifty .. Right ?
But the task of preforming this epic contribution to mankind requires the right software and .. Word sure ain’t it. I shiver when I think back of the days where I had to write my paper in word. Hoping desperately that that single hard return wouldn’t mess up my layout 76 pages down the hill.. You know the scene. However ! With iBooks Author you no longer have that excuse anymore. Apple’s new update of its toe-dabbing into the world of creative writer software has just gotten an fancy update. In short : iBooks author was made for making schoolbooks and textbooks filled with interactive content. Think of adding interactive slideshows, pictures, movies and more to a text document and really making ti pop. This of course would make all these different functionalities available only to iPad users (Apple do plans to take over the world you know) and the other major downside is that the initial edition of iBooks author was geared towards educational books.
This would be fine and great if your lifelong ambition is to become a Math book author .. just great .. but luckily you are a little cooler then that. So Apple put a bunch of new themes in this version of iBooks author that let you make more then just a boring textbook.
But here are some suggestions, with the holidays coming up and all that :
If you have friends and family that have an iPad ? Use iBooks author to make an interactive foto and video album. Just put the finished ibook up on dropbox and shoot them the link ! They will be able to download the book and open it in iBooks without having to connect to iTunes.
Surf around the net and bundle your kids favorite bedtime stories, look on Flickr for the coolest illustrations and make your own interactive bed-time story for the toddler (complete with music , slideshows and moving pictures)
Use iBooks author to write technical documentation and add weblinks , video’s and slideshows for those friends, family members and co-workers who “just don’t get it” when you try to explain it to them.
Bundle up your favorite blog items, stories and more .. and bundle them in a book. Export as ePub or PDF format and be your own publisher. Why not make it a digital scrapbook by adding some multimedia content.
Who ever said this years holiday card needed to be on paper. Dive into iBooks, add family fotos, sing a carol together and plop the file on the net !
iBooks Author is available in the app store for free and exports to both iBook and ePub format. Most of the interactive features are only available in the iBook export format and adding a lot of videocontent does make it a hefty file. But thanks to iBooks you will be able to go where no Word, Pages or Publisher .. has gone before.