The First Five Apps You’ll Want For That New Chromebook

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It may be a bit presumptuous to just assume you’re going to get a Chromebook, but really why wouldn’t you? For the cost they’re nearly disposable and the function goes far beyond the price tag.

Lightweight with battery life measured in hours, the Chromebook that fits easily in a backpack or computer bag and is useful at times you just don’t feel like dragging out your full size laptop and waiting for it to boot. Thrifty on power and bandwidth, Chromebooks will be useful for many commuters, students and road warriors.

It’s not what the OS does that makes the device useful, it’s the applications you can run on the device and Chromebooks have a world of useful apps. Here are the first five you’ll want to install.

Evernote Clearly

Evernote is bookmarking on steroids and a must for anyone using the web for research. Clearly uses Evernote’s cloud storage to store articles, pictures and notes and make them available on any device. What you make like better is that with one button tap Clearly strips away all the web page clutter and makes it easier to read.

Any.Do

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We covered Any.Do in our review of productivity apps and your new Chromebook wouldn’t be complete without it. Be more organized and productive by keeping your todo list in front of you all the time.

 

Pandora

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Pandora is a nifty service that lets you pick the kind of music and artists you like and it creates a music stream based on your preferences. I picked blues rock and was met with classics from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Joe Bonamassa. As a bonus Pandora includes the lyrics, though singing along with your headphones on has never gotten anyone discovered.

Kindle Cloud Reader

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The Kindle Cloud reader opens an endless world of ebooks. The Cloud Reader is still a work in progress and offline reading can still be a little tricky.

 

 

 

Save to Google Drive

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If you recently purchased a Chromebook it automatically comes with 100 GB of Google Drive storage. This extension adds a button to save web pages, photos, media files and documents. Keep all your work backed up and safe while you’re on the go.

Chromebooks are not a substitute for a full size computer for many tasks, but for making notes, managing your schedule or reading a good book on the go they’re invaluable. I expect many people will try one at some point.

Three Ways To Tame Chrome’s Start Page

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For those wanting to customize that start page, the ways to do it through Chrome’s internals are bizarre and, in some cases, complex. The way the start page works has changed over the last couple years and searching for help frequently lead to outdated solutions that no longer work.

It was a problem looking for an app to fix and clever developers responded with some tools that make Chrome’s start page a customizable wonder and tear down the limitations on how the start page is setup.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial, pictured above, lets you configure the number of shortcut panels and includes many site logo panels. It’s simple, attractive and very useful. You can customize the number and size of the panels and set your own background. Speed Dial adds a speed link to your address bar which you can later disable when your panel page is set to your liking.

My only dings on Speed Dial are there could be more site logos and every so often some site panels will go blank for no apparent reason. Aside from those two minor dings it’s a big improvement over the stock start page. Note that Speed Dial 2 is a similar application by a different author, not the second generation of Speed Dial. Really, I like them both so you can’t really go wrong if you select the other one.

Incredible Startpage

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A Google featured extension Incredible Startpage rearranges the start page to include both side shortcuts and other types of bookmarks and task panels. The big bonus to Incredible Startpage is being able to put your apps on the same page as your shortcuts. Something that seems odd Google couldn’t figure out for themselves.

Start!

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Start! is a highly rated bookmarks and app aggregator for your Chrome start page. Has a convenient Ctrl + R refresh shortcut for the days you’re burning up the net. This is another app that puts bookmarks and apps on the same page. Still a mystery that Google didn’t come up with that on their own, but that’s what keeps developers in business, right?

These three apps will make your Chrome start page a joy to use and take a good idea and make it even better.

The Easy Way To Install Chrome On Ubuntu

chromeUbuntu is my usual desktop and has been since version 4.1 came out. That’s not any slight towards Windows, I do keep a Windows box around for specialty tasks like video editing. I just like Ubuntu better because it’s awesome for customization and automation and my PCs running it stay fast and agile.

Two trends conspired to give Ubuntu wider reach in the OS market and that was the relative unpopularity of Windows Vista and the trend toward cloud services. In many ways your browser has become more than a software tool for rendering pages, it’s become a portal to your online working world.

That trend toward the browser as a platform instead of an app also unleashed the Android floodgates as the underlying OS was no longer as relevant to your online experience. Suddenly tablets and smartphones were no longer just a convenient device for killing a few minutes in the airport lounge or the doctor’s waiting room, they were production tools that became valuable necessities to the working world.

When I hear people talk about Ubuntu, sometimes I’ll hear people say things like they like it, but don’t want to be limited to using Firefox. I think what they’re really saying is they like Chrome better and need the integration with Google apps and services and installing software on Ubuntu, or any Linux platform for that matter, can sometimes be a little intimidating to figure out.

A lot of howto articles start out with “Open a terminal….” and there goes half the audience. So, I’m going to show you an easy way to install Chrome and you won’t need to open a terminal window at all.

Step 1 – Download Chrome

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Go to Google’s Chrome download page and you should notice they already know you’re using Ubuntu, though on the next page you will need to know whether your computer is 32 or 64 bit. If it’s relatively new, it’s probably 64 bit.

Accept the terms and you’ll notice the download dialog that asks where to put the .deb file. Deb files are the packaging Ubuntu uses to make sure that applications come with all the other programs, called dependencies, they need to run properly. It’s all automatic so you don’t have to chase down obscure programs from strange websites.

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Download the deb file to your Desktop or Downloads directory, I find it’s easier to use the Desktop.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2 – Launch The Ubuntu Installer

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Right click on the deb file and you’ll see a long menu appear. At the top it says Open With Ubuntu Software Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Click “Install”

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Your Ubuntu Software Center will open and all you have to do is click the Install button over to the right.

And that’s it. See, that was easy, right? No terminal windows, no long commands, no downloading strange programs and trying to figure out where they’re supposed to go.

Now you’re all set to rock on Chrome and enjoy not only your online productivity apps but you can also manage all your must-have android apps right in the same interface! Now you’re making Ubuntu do some seriously cool tricks.

Technology is a blast when everything works right. Have fun.

5 Things I Love About Chrome (And 3 I Don’t)

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A slick, unobtrusive interface and tab panel is why I prefer Google Chrome.

Browsers have come a long way since the days when Mosaic was your only option and the big new feature was the ability to display images in-line with the page text! Wooo! Today browsers offer an amazing array of options for customization, theming and personalization.

In my opinion Google’s Chrome leads the pack in customization and plugin availability, long ago closing the gap with Firefox add-ons while offering a slick, minimal, and highly customizable interface.

Like any other war, the opposition also advanced. Microsoft made big improvements to the look and security of Internet Explorer and Firefox found a way to duplicate some of Chrome’s more popular features. Where IE falls down is the user’s ability to customize the browsing experience. For too long Microsoft was stuck in the world of ActiveX while Firefox and Chrome ran with the more popular plugin model.

Here are five reasons why Chrome has earned a place as my default browser.

Integration

But Google has been able to push Chrome with one massive advantage that even Apple hasn’t been able to match: The ability to integrate the browser with other apps and services from Google. Google’s focus on the browser as an extensible gateway to the internet is the key to pushing advancements in integration between the browser, desktop and cloud services.

By far the biggest plus is nearly seamless integration between the web and Google Apps. That’s why I believe Google will continue to dominate, particularly on mobile devices.

Simplicity

Another point in Chrome’s favor is the minimal interface. There’s just one bar across the top for web addresses and searching. Even Firefox with most of the menus disabled still has a menu row for browser functions above the address bar and a separate area to enter search queries. It doesn’t seem like much but there’s a lot more page real estate in Chrome. The browser stays out of the picture and I like that.

Awesome Tab Management

Grab tabs and move them around, pull them off the tab bar to open up a second instance of the browser, grab that new instance and stick it back on the tab bar. Yes, I realize Firefox does that too but the implementation just seems smoother in Chrome.

The New Tab Panel

This is one feature Firefox was smart enough to copy and I give Mozilla credit for not being too proud to admit a competitor had a better idea, but the implementation isn’t quite as smooth as Chrome.

In-Browser Translation

A very handy Chrome feature for anyone doing a lot of research online, particularly in the sciences. The little window at the top asking if you Google to translate this page is wonderful step saver.

For all the love there are some things I don’t like about Chrome.

Peculiar Scripting Errors

Web development is hard when you have to support different browsers on different platforms but you would think a company with the resources of Google could make their own pages work on their own browser. Yet, almost inevitably, if I run into a page that loads blank or has portions that don’t load, it’s one of Google’s own services. A peculiar and embarrassing oversight for a company that otherwise has taken over the world.

Support Still Lags

The last time I had a problem with a Microsoft service I talked to a real person who helped me straighten things out and made some very good suggestions for improvement. I have only spoken to a real person at Google one time and that was a paid Google Business implementation back in 2010. Until that time I had a conspiracy theory that there were no real human beings at Google and that it was merely a front for intelligent machines working to take over the world.

Integration With Their Own Services Is Incomplete

Okay, maybe I should give Google more credit. After all, the first versions of Chrome to come out were not good to put it mildly, but the development team has been spinning out excellent upgrades ever since. Still, there is so much more they could be doing.

The integration with Google Plus, Maps and Drive could be vastly improved. It seems absurd I have to keep going back to Firefox for FireFTP! All the pieces are there but it’s just not coming together. Likewise the integration with shopping sites and Google’s own payment system is similarly incomplete.

It seems odd that I have to return to Firefox for an in-browser FTP client.

It seems odd that I have to return to Firefox for an in-browser FTP client.

Perhaps Google is deliberately slow-walking some of these changes to avoid anti-trust issues or, more likely, they’re focusing the big integration efforts on mobile apps and devices. All I know for sure is I would have a less productive experience online without Chrome but the things it won’t do are sometimes really annoying.

Installing Custom Scripts in Chrome – aka Greasemonkey For Chrome

For a long time, Firefox had one up on Chrome with its ability to integrate custom users scripts. Even though Google built Chrome to be extensible, not all those bells and whistles were available in early versions. The delay meant the only place you could still use your favorite Greasemonkey and other custom user scripts was on Firefox.

That’s not true anymore. Now you can enjoy your favorite Greasemonkey style custom script modifications on either browser. If you’re handy with javascript, you can even tweak these scripts to your own personal preference.

Step 1: Install Tampermonkey

First step I’d suggest would be to add the Tampermonkey user script manager that makes it easy to add and manage user scripts and, if need be, to edit them. This is a popular developer tool that’s gaining traction with a wider audience and has the ability to search for new scripts right from the Tampermonkey interface.

Step 2: Start Installing Scripts

This opens up a whole world of custom script options, here are a few I like to get you started.

Proxy Switchy

Switch between multiple proxy servers quickly and easily. It’s a very handy tool for developers and people who want to obscure their real location on the internet.

Gmail Favicon Alerts

Changes the Gmail favicon to a message alert feature for new messages.

Mass Accept Friend Requests

For you poor unfortunates with so many Facebook fans and clicking that button one at a time is just so much work! Fear not, now you can boost your fanbase with the click of a button.

Google Domain Blocker

Lets you screen out irrelevant and spam results from Google searches.

Twitter Results On Google

A must have for those of us who have to cover space launches and other events with up to the minute schedule changes.

Better Amazon

If you’ve ever caught yourself scrolling around Amazon product pages to find the information you want, you’ll like this script which cleans up the page display. I recently switched computers, and I was unpleasantly surprised the first time I went to look for something on Amazon without this script.

How To Create Your Own Custom Chrome Theme

I was always envious of people who have programming skill combined with the ability to make software look nice from an artistic standpoint. Luckily, these days we don’t have to depend on someone else to make software look the way we want. With the introduction of themes and skinning, it’s now possible to customize the look and feel of many software applications without needing to know much of anything about programming; it’s the best of both worlds.

One of the reasons I like Chrome as my browser is that it was built to be extensible. Customization wasn’t an afterthought, it was a feature baked in from the beginning. Being able to select a theme or color scheme for an app is nice, being able to roll your own is better. With Chrome, there are web sites and plugins available through the Chrome Web Store that will allow you to create your own custom browser look.

The two names that stick out for Chrome customization are Chrome Theme Creator, available as an online web app and as a plugin. The other, which I’ll use to demonstrate the process is called My Chrome Theme. They all work pretty much the same.

1) Download and install the plugin

plugin download page

2) Select a background image

3) Pick your colors for the active window and tabs

4) Install your custom theme

It’s just that easy to have an instant custom browser!

10 Extensions That Make Google Chrome Rock

Post by Matt Brian, who writes the great Will I Need It? blog. He’s also on Twitter.

2819339876_55802a1eb5 About a year ago, Google Chrome threw a wrench into the Internet browser wars, giving Internet users a powerful choice aside from Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari. One of the biggest shortfalls of the browser, though, was its initial lack of support for third party extensions, something that Firefox had already perfected (and even Microsoft’s beginning to get in on the act).

That’s all changing – the developers at Google recently released developer builds of the Google Chrome browser that featured a few extra tweaks, one of them being the ability to install the extensions users had been asking for.

These extensions, whilst useful, aren’t quite to the standard of Firefox’s offerings, but the early development is showing that Chrome users can now enjoy superfast loading times and minimal footprints and enjoy third party plugins. In this article I’ll show you how to prepare your Chrome installation for extension installation, and show you some of the best ones out there.

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8 Extensions That Will Keep You Stuck on Firefox

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

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I wrote a post a week or so ago over on MakeUseOf about Google Chrome that stirred up some serious controversy. Some people like Chrome, others thought it was totally blasphemous and crazy that I would ever even consider leaving the wonder that is Firefox.

And you know what? You’re all right. I’m using Chrome more and more, but have definitively discovered that I’m not leaving Firefox any time soon. And, as many of the comments said, there’s one reason for that: the extensions.

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Sunday Tips: Google Chrome

google-chrome The beta tag is gone, the use of extensions seems to be imminent, and Google Chrome looks poised to become the next big thing on the Web-browser market. I’ve been using it for a while, and grow to like it more and more every time I discover something new and excellent that Chrome can do to make my browsing even better.

And there sure are a lot of things that fall into that category. Chrome does neat things with your history, your searching, your most visited pages, and a number of other parts of the browsing experience.

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