Adobe Flash is a notorious resource and battery hog. I’m currently seeing if I can get by in Safari on my MacBook without it. I had been using an extension to selectively enable Flash in Safari, but I wanted to see if I could live without Flash in Safari entirely, and just jump over to Chrome (which comes packaged with Flash) when I absolutely needed to see a page that used Flash. All of the solutions that I found online involved Applescripts that were throwing errors for me, until I jumped into the Keyboard Maestro Yahoo Group and found a script that worked. I’ve paired that with Keyboard Maestro, and can now use a keystroke to open the currently active Safari tab in Chrome.
One of the nice features of Safari on Mac and iOS is how your bookmarks can stay in sync between your devices, with no plugin required. The one flaw in that setup was that there was no way to sync your Safari bookmarks to any other browser on Windows aside from Internet Explorer. If you wanted a universal bookmark experience, you had to use another browser with cross platform sync support, such as Chrome, on all of your devices. That has now changed. One piece of news almost lost amid the hoopla with iOS 7 and the new iPhones, is that Apple has added Chrome and Firefox to the list of browsers that support iCloud bookmark sync on Windows.
I love my Facebook friends. I really do. But the ones on the far left and far right don’t seem to get it. Their political posts are often filled with animosity or, worse yet, reliance on Fox News. They don’t sway anyone. Instead their posts foster annoyance, or even make them look like they’re a few cards short of a full deck. If you use Chrome as your web browser, you can escape all that.
If you hadn’t already heard, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad was released this week — and it promptly became the #1 free app on the app store. This is something that we’ve been waiting for with baited breath, and something that I, personally, was never sure would happen properly due to the rivalry between Apple and Google.
Have no doubt, though, it’s here — and it takes the best of Google Chrome’s desktop browser and jams it neatly and prettily into your pocket.
One of the best features of Google Chrome for iOS is the integration of Chrome’s sync technology. If you have ever wanted the ability to open up any device — iPhone, iPad, Android, any computer that you’ve signed in to Google Chrome on — and pick up browsing from where you left off (again, on any of them), then you have reason enough to love Chrome for iOS app as the final piece in that puzzle.
It syncs your browsing history, open tabs, omnibar searches (yep, all that omnibar instant search power is in there, too), passwords, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc. Chrome was always great for being able to hop from computer to computer, but now you can hop from computer to computer to mobile and back again — and seamlessly, at that.
That’s just the tip of it, though. Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad is blazingly fast, has an intuitive interface, and comes with niceties like easy, swipe-based tab switching, tracking of recently closed and most-visited web pages, voice-based search capability (Google’s not Siri’s), search within web pages, and the ability to request a switch to desktop mode for entire sites at the touch of a button.
Google Chrome for iOS also includes Incognito Mode, and allows you to have as many open tabs in the browser as you damned well please. Chrome for iPhone is beautifully designed and extremely intuitive, and Chrome for iPad is the closest thing to a desktop browser that you will find on any tablet.
If you can get past the occasional (if persistent) few seconds of waiting, though, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad could be your go-to web browser replacement for mobile Safari (it’s certainly more stable than Safari for iPad). The possibilities excite me to no end. I’m thinking some version of Chrome extensions would be a logical next step! Either way, Chrome for iOS gives me yet another reason to jailbreak my iPhone and iPad: to cull Safari out of default browser status, once and for all.
I’ve found myself plenty busy lately. The new job, new baby, and newly four have been making it difficult to get sleep, let alone writing time. As a result, however, my obsession for to-do apps has flexed its brawn and muscled its way back to the forefront of my thoughts — especially after I accidentally discovered Any.DO.
Which is awesome!
I like Google Chrome. Love it, in fact. I love the extensions, I love the OS-style feel of it, and I love the apps integration that makes that feel possible. It long ago took over Firefox for me, and, while I love the foxy Fox, I’ve never been able to go back to it full time.
The one thing I find with Google Chrome, however, is that — like my computer and my mobile devices — I have a tendency to collect apps that seem useful, and then rarely use them. I tell myself that they might come in handy one day (and therefore should be kept), but that’s probably just an excuse — an excuse that got me wondering: do you have the same problem?
I organize my apps into different pages, and I’ve listed them below, only detailing the Quick Apps page, which are the ones I like to keep available and (in theory) use the most. I’ve uncluttered recently, but I still find that I barely use many of the apps within.
Evernote Web - I never open this. Well, very rarely. I use the desktop app or my mobile apps instead. I keep it, though, on the off-chance that I’ll load up Chrome OS or install Linux and sync my profile. Or something.
Producteev - I use this one, too. Producteev has a desktop app, and that’s great, but it needs work. I also prefer to have my task manager in the browser, as I do most of my work while online, and the browser makes it quickly accessible.
Wunderlist - I love Wunderlist. It’s probably the sexiest task/list manager out there. I rarely use it, though, as my workflow is based around Producteev. Occasionally, I might use it to quickly make a pretty list that I want with me on my iPhone and iPad, but I have no real need for it. But it’s pretty!
Wunderkit - I know what you’re thinking… If I don’t use Wunderlist, what do I need the whole Wunderkit for? Short answer — I don’t, even though it’s awesome. But I keep thinking I might employ it as an alternative for Producteev or something. That will likely never happen, though — and shouldn’t I put it in my App testing folder, instead? Yeah, you’re probably right. And yet…
Mint - Now this, I use. I don’t use it enough or to its full potential, but I do use it. Mint is an awesome money managing app, and it has been working up in Canada for a while now. I’m not letting this one go.
Timer - This is a simple button that fires the Timer site/app (formerly TimerTab, which we covered here) — which allows you oddly enough, to time stuff. You can even set a YouTube video as an alarm. I chose Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War.
Gmail | Offline Google Mail - I live in Gmail, so this is a no brainer. I set it to open in its own window and roll out. I don’t usually use Offline Google Mail, and I think it may be totally useless now that Google is doing better offline mail within the regular Gmail app, but I haven’t tossed it yet. Just in case…
Google Calendar - There are a number of ways I can get at Google Calendar, but I use this when I want it to easily open in its own window. Which is a rare thing… but I do still use it.
TweetDeck | Hootsuite - I have no idea why I keep these here. I find that I manage multiple Twitter accounts more effectively on my phone, or by using LastPass to sign in to the account I choose. For work accounts, I have a whole other browser profile that I tend to use, so there is never any real conflict. If I consolidate, though, one of them could be useful, I suppose. Who needs to have so much social information thrown at you at one time, though? Keep it simple and lower your stress level, says I.
Box | Dropbox - I use both of these, but if the two, Box is the only one I ever open, because it is a web-only interface. I use my OS for Dropbox. I keep it there for the Google OS potential, though. I used to have SugarSync there, as well, but that app seems to have disappeared for the Chrome Web Store.
My other pages are separated by Design, Fun Stuff, and App Testing.
In Design I have several Aviary image editing and creation apps, Picnik, and Audiotool. Again, I think I keep these for when I’m on a computer that isn’t Adobe-friendly, as I never use them otherwise. Design also has Zootool (a visual bookmarking app I never use), jsFiddle (code-testing sandbox that I rarely use), Pinterest (more for my wife, than me – and why under design…?), Summify, and Revisu (helps with design iterations when using Google Drive).
Fun Stuff (which is woefully bare, unfortunately) has Kid Mode for Chrome, which is the Zoodles app for my daughter. Zoodles is awesome, but the app hasn’t worked properly in Chrome for a while, leading me to use Firefox for this particular function. This page also has YouTube (which I mostly get to via search), Full Screen Weather (which I usually check on my phone), Graphicly Comics (which I never use), and Planetarium (used rarely). Netflix used to be here, but it is nowhere to be found on the Web Store now.
App Testing tends to change, by its nature, but there are a few things in there that are persistent for some reason. I’ve left Jolicloud in there, as well as Memonic, and SlideRocket (which is cool, but I don’t generally use due to the pricing). I’ve also got HelloFax in there (it works with Google Drive and I use it sometimes, but had nowhere else to put it), Summify (it will stop working eventually, as it’s been bought by Twitter, but I keep it here in the meantime) and Thinkery (possible Evernote alternative I need to get around to testing more). This is also where I keep the Web Store link.
So there you have it. Even after going through every app in my Chrome set up, I still don’t know what ones to get rid of, but I only use about a third of what I have with any regularity. It’s a conundrum, I tell you!
How about you? Do you have any Chrome apps that you keep around, but never use? What are the apps that you do use, and couldn’t live without?
Google Reader is the best RSS subscription collector out there — but only as a base. In practice it has one of the ugliest user interfaces I’ve ever come across. It’s busy, cluttered, and generally hard to look at and use. If it weren’t for all of the apps that utilize Google Reader within their own UI, I’m guessing it would have tanked along with other unwieldy Google services. Thankfully, some enterprising folks have used browser technology to re-skin Reader into something that actually makes content easy to consume. One of the best is Reeder for Chrome.
First things first: Reeder for Chrome is not an official extension by the creator of Reeder for iOS and Mac, Silvio Rizzi. It was created by @DazChong, someone who loved the slick design and easy usability of Reeder. 40Tech’s Evan Kline shares that love — he’s included Reeder as the first of his top 10 consumption apps for the iPad and one of the top 10 Mac App Store apps he can’t live without, and has cited it in several posts as his go-to app for RSS.
Note: Reeder for Chrome will, at some point, be changing its name to avoid confusion.
Reeder for Chrome delivers. It may not have all of the features you’re used to from the actual app, but most of them are there, and the look and feel makes Google Reader not just bearable, but a pleasure to use. It is especially useful for Windows, Linux, or Google ChromeOS users that want what those Mac folks have.
If you want to squeeze every last ounce of speed out of your browsing experience, then check out the latest browser speed tests at Tom’s Hardware. The site takes a look at several browsers on both the PC and on a Mac, and offers results in several different categories. The site then crowned a winner on each platform, as well as overall.
Lately, I’ve been seeing how well I can survive without Flash on my MacBook Air. I find my browsing experience to be faster without it, but every now and then I need Flash to use a site. We previously talked about how to watch many YouTube videos without having Flash installed on your system, but what about other sites that use Flash? My setup involves using Firefox as my main browser on my MacBook Air (I use Chrome on my iMac), and switching over to Chrome when I need Flash. Chrome has Flash built in. My setup lets me automatically open my Firefox tab in Chrome, which supports Flash by default, by using a keystroke. Here’s how.
Our last post on Google+ was a question on what you thought of the hype surrounding it. We’ve had a chance to play with it now, and so have many of you — and all in all, we like it. That’s not what this post is about though. This post is about taking advantage of Google opening up unlimited storage in Picasa as a result of Google Plus, and how you can use that, and a handy migration tool called Move2Picasa to backup your Facebook photos — whether you plan to use Google’s new social network or not.
UPDATE: The creator of Move2Picasa has changed the URL to the Chrome extension (the correct one is now in the post), and has changed the name of the Move2Picasa extension to Move Your Photos. Thanks to Peter Pawlak on Plus for catching that!
Note on Unlimited Storage: Google has opened up storage in Picasa, in general. Plus users have free, unlimited storage for photos that are a maximum resolution of 2048X2048 pixels (and videos that are a maximum of 15 minutes), and 1GB of free storage for larger resolution photos. Anything over the 1GB (or whatever you have paid for additional storage) will be automatically resized down to the maximum free resolution. Non-Plus users get basically the same service, but their maximum resolution for photos is only 800X800 pixels.
Move2Picasa started as a website-based tool put together by Aman Kumar Jain, a web developer from Pune, India. It was leapt upon immediately by many of the early adopters of Plus, and the servers were quickly overloaded to the point that the site wouldn’t even load. Aman worked to solve the issues, and has now migrated Move2Picasa to a Google Chrome Extension .
The extension works beautifully! I copied over 1600 photos from Facebook to Picasa in less than an hour, and I barely had to lift a finger.
Here’s how it works:
After installing the extension from the Web Store, click on it to log in to Facebook. You will be presented with a page that, after a minor load time, has all of your Facebook photos broken down into albums. The top left of the page shows a legend that identifies the coloured boxes surrounding the photos, which are yellow for “In queue,” by default. The top right of the page provides some simple tools to select or deselect all, pause and close to come back later, and to logout from the tool completely.
Each album has check boxes directly below the album name that allows you to make quick choices to Upload All or Upload None of the photos of that album. You can also click on individual photos to select or deselect them for uploading, which is handy, because you may have certain photos that you want to weed out before they are copied to Picasa. Like the yellow boxes, Upload All is selected by default.
NOTE: At this point you may notice one weirdness: some of your albums may not be showing any pictures. Don’t panic. This is either because there are no pictures in that album, or because the albums have only one photo. Hopefully, this minor bug will be fixed soon — in the meantime, you may want to head to Facebook and add those errant solo photos to a combined album (you may have to log out and log back in to Move2Picasa to see the changes), or simply download them manually from Facebook and upload them to Picasa without the tool.
Once you have chosen the photos you want to copy over to Picasa, click the Upload button on the bottom of the page, and sit back and let Move2Picasa do all the heavy lifting for you!
When I did it, I didn’t notice any extra load on my computer, and had no problem doing whatever else I needed to do while it ran in the background. Some people have reported the occasional error pop-up that breaks the operation (this happened to me, too), but Aman posted to my thread on Google+ (find me here, we can add each other to our respective circles and you can read it) that the issue had been fixed. It was barely a problem, in any case, as all I and the other users who had the problem needed to do was click the upload button again, and the handy countdown picked up right where it had left off.
Before you know it, you will have complete duplicates of your Facebook albums living in Picasa, ready to do with as you please. The only caveats I have discovered so far is that the images appear to be the Facebook-resized versions only, as opposed to the full-res photos Facebook supports now (though I would love for someone to confirm otherwise), and that Move2Picasa does not support caption importing. That last bit is too bad, but hopefully will change at some point in the future. Move2Picasa as a Chrome Extension is only a couple of days old, after all.
Some of you may wonder why you should care. You may have no use for Google+, or Plus, or whatever people want to call it, and think that it is just another hyped Google product that will crash and burn. And it might; you never know. The fact that Plus has already surpassed 10 million users (though many are probably not active — but then, neither are bulk of Facebook’s hundreds of millions) indicates otherwise, however. The efforts that Google is putting into design and to integrate Plus into its overall offerings — possibly making it the connecting flagship of Google’s main products — is another strong reason to think Google+ may be around for a while yet.
Whichever way Google’s social efforts go this time, it is unlikely Picasa is going to fizzle away anytime soon. Take it from someone who lost the entire first year of photos with the lovely lady who is now my wife (due to a backup hard drive falling off of a bloody coffee table!), it never hurts to have another backup of your precious photos. The fact that this is an online backup with practically unlimited storage, an interface that allows easy viewing and sharing, and a built-in photo editor doesn’t hurt either. So why not use it?
If you still don’t want any part of Plus, Picasa does offer unlimited storage for everyone, now, but, as mentioned in the note at the beginning of the article, you will only be allowed to upload photos that are 800X800 pixel resolution, as opposed to the 2048X2048 resolution offered to Plus users. If you go that route, though, I’m not entirely sure Move2Picasa will work for you. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but I haven’t tried it that way. Why would I? Whether I stick with Google+ or not, I’m definitely ok with having dust bunnies swarm over my account if the trade off is the unlimited storage and backup of higher resolution photos.
How about you?