Tag Archives: Google Chrome

Manage your to-do list on Android, iOS, and Chrome with Any.DO

Any.DO started as an Android-only solution to the public’s to-do list blues, and it did a damn good job of cheering us up. As a result, Any.DO became a both popular and critically acclaimed app by tech blogs everywhere. Personally, I’ve been a regular user of Any.DO for the past six months or so and I appreciate its minimalistic approach to list-making.

The strength of Any.DO lies in its simplicity. Rather than overcomplicating a simple task manager with endless menus and options, the focus is placed on entering tasks under simple headings like Today, Tomorrow, This Week, or Later.  The app is definitely gorgeous with bold typography and basic colour schemes, and though the Android version is clean and free of cheesy effects, the iOS app is (nauseatingly) made to look like crumpled paper.

It appears that the designers took some inspiration from Windows Phone, but you won’t hear me complaining about borrowing a few aesthetics from the most beautiful software ever. The app displays black text on a white background by default, but a dark theme allows you to reverse the coloration. Above all, it’s clean.

And if you’re in the market for a new task manager there’s never been a better time to pick up this app, especially now that it syncs across all the major platforms (only Windows Phone 7 is missing). Syncing is automatic once you register with the service or choose to sign up via Facebook.

The iOS App

iOS Any.DO - Home in Landscape
Any.DO on iOS in Landscape

Additional gesture-based controls have been implemented in the iOS version: drag down from the top of the screen to enter a new task (hold down after dragging to enter an item with your voice) and swipe right to cross out a completed task. Additionally, when entering an item for your list the app attempts to predict what you’re trying to type. It’s moderately useful at times — finishing “Buy” with “milk and bread” saves a bit of time) — and when the app adds a handy phone button beside names that exist in your address book.

Tapping on a task brings up a menu that allows you to set it to a higher priority, move it to a specific folder, assign a due date or note, or share it with friends. You can also drag items around to reorder and prioritize certain tasks over others, much like in the Android app. The iOS version takes better advantage of screen real estate than its Android counterpart, however, displaying a calendar alongside your task list when the device is in landscape mode. But with luck, this feature will appear on Android soon.

The Chrome App

Any.DO Chrome - Web Browsing
Any.DO while browsing in Chrome.

Of course, given its home on conventional desktops and laptops, the Any.DO Chrome app lacks the gesture-based controls of its mobile brethren. But the aesthetic remains consistent, though you’re unable to change the color scheme from the default white. Check marks are used to indicate completed tasks instead of swiping, but can still be reorganized by clicking and dragging. The app opens from an icon to the right of the address bar and drops down over your current browsing session — no need to open a new tab or window. But the option to pop Any.DO out into its own window is there for those of you who’d prefer.

Conclusion

As a light user of task-based apps, Any.DO is the one and only solution to my needs. The new Chrome and iOS apps mean I can finally sync lists across my Nexus S, iPad, and MacBook Pro (running Mac OSX and Windows 8 Release Preview).

The fact remains, however, that if you’re a heavy user the lists can get a bit cumbersome. Most items end up lumped into the Today category if they don’t have a due date so lists can get out of hand if you don’t pay attention. I still think it’s worth a try for anyone in need of a new task manager since it’s free and using folders may lessen the organizational load. If you do try it out, let us know what you think.

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A fond farewell to vertical tabs in Google Chrome

Tabbed browsing is nothing new, but I’ve always felt that something wasn’t quite right with how tabs were displayed. After an enthusiastic web browsing session, I’d often end up with a horizontal disaster of disorganized tabs. With computer displays getting wider and not taller, why were browsers cramming tabs into my precious vertical space?

Horizontal Tabs in Google Chrome

When I discovered an add-on for Firefox called Tree Style Tab in 2009, and I was so excited that I wrote an article about it that same day to spread the good news: Finally, tabs done right! Moving tabs to the side of the browser window made them easier to manage (and Tree Style Tab automatically organizes them into hierarchical groups), plus it made better use of my 1,920 horizontal pixels.

Like many people, Google Chrome had caught my eye as a blazing fast way to browse the internet. It took some time, but the development team behind Chrome eventually added a basic version of vertical tabs to their Beta channel. Vertical tabs weren’t “officially” a feature – in fact, I’m sure many of you didn’t know they even existed in Chrome – but the guide I wrote to enabling vertical tabs in Google Chrome is one of the all-time most popular articles on Techerator. By combining Chrome’s rudimentary vertical tabs with the New Tabs At End extension, I was able to enjoy Chrome almost as much as Firefox.

The Infinite Version giveth and the Infinite Version taketh away

Google Chrome has released 15 major versions since it was first released in 2008. To keep up with that extraordinary rate of deployment, the Chrome team built an industry-changing automatic updater into the browser to make sure users always had the newest version without even thinking about it.

One of my favorite articles about Chrome’s update system is Jeff Atwood’s “The Infinite Version,” where he states:

Chrome is so fluid that it has transcended software versioning altogether.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, I’ve been conditioned to associate software updates with new features and better performance. But there’s a reverse side to that coin: features can be taken away, too. With the release of Chrome Beta 16, vertical tabs have been officially removed from the browser. The Beta channel is a direct preview of what’s coming in future stable versions, so within a few weeks vertical tabs will no longer exist in Chrome.

The removal of vertical tabs came as a surprise when my browser automatically updated, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. As with most Google “experiments”, there’s always a clear disclaimer that features can break or disappear at any time. That being said, vertical tabs had been around in Chrome long enough that it was a shock when they magically disappeared, especially since the auto-updater doesn’t notify you when things have changed.

Chrome is based on the open-source Chromium project, and one of the benefits of open-source projects is that they’re fairly transparent. Dozens of bug reports were filed after vertical tabs were removed, to which a Chromium developer tersely replied:

Sidetabs were an experiment that didn’t pan out. They’re in a half-working state and should be removed, says Glen.

We’ll try to come up with other approaches for this use case.

This caused a flurry of other bug reports to be filed (warning, this one has quite a bit of NSFW language). It’s clear that users aren’t happy about the change, especially since there currently is no clear plan to add a better version of vertical tabs back to the browser.

Now what?

Unfortunately, unless the developers on the Chrome and Chromium teams relent, you probably won’t be seeing the return of vertical tabs in the near future. You do have a few options, though.

  1. Let the Chromium team know how you feel. Add a post to the missing vertical tabs bug report and Star the issue so they know you’re interested.
  2. Use Firefox with Tree Style Tab. Firefox has taken some hits because of Chrome’s tremendous performance and minimalistic UI, but the Mozilla team has made leaps and bounds with their browser and it’s definitely worth using. Firefox version 8 was just released, too.
  3. Check out some of the vertical tab extensions for Chrome. These extensions have some major limitations because they can’t really modify Chrome’s user interface, but if you’re a die-hard Chrome user, it’s your only option.

As for me, I’ve switched back to good ol’ Firefox. My affair with Chrome was wonderful while it lasted (we’ll always have version 15…), but I’m going to stick with the browser that gives me vertical tabs.

Google Brings Back Offline Support to Gmail, Adds Offline Docs and Calendar

Ever since the demise of Google Gears back in December 2009, we’ve always been yearning to get some kind of offline support back to our essential Google applications. Finally, they’ve added offline mode to Gmail, Docs and Calendars. However, it’s only available through the Chrome web browser.

Why only Chrome, you ask? Well, Google says that other browsers haven’t implemented the specifications that are needed to run their Offline Mode, specifically the FileSystem API. Will we see Mozilla make room for Google’s Offline Mode anytime soon? Probably not.

To get your sans-Internet Gmail shenanigans going, you’ll need the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome App Store. From there, it’s just a matter of clicking on it whenever you don’t have a connection. The interface should look very familiar to tablet users, since it looks almost identical to the Gmail tablet web interface. Once you establish an Internet connection, the Gmail Offline app will automatically synchronize everything.

Offline Google Docs and Calendar are a little different from Offline Gmail. You won’t need an extension or app, since they both work seamlessly between online and offline modes. All you have to do is head into the upper-right corner and click the gear icon. From there it’s just a matter of checking the box for offline access. If you’re not yet seeing this option, Google is slowly rolling out the new feature throughout the week, so be patient.

At the moment, Docs and Calendar are view-only in offline mode, but Google is making it a point to edit offline in the future.


Write Blog Posts From Inside Your Browser with ScribeFire

blogThat seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Blogging from insider your browser, I mean. That’s how most people do it — go to whatever blogging site they use, log in, and start typing.

But that’s not necessarily the best way. And it’s not the most convenient, either, especially if you have more than one blog. So, what is the best way? That depends on your needs. But a good choice is a browser extension called ScribeFire.

Let’s take a look at ScribeFire and what it can do.

A little about ScribeFire

ScribeFire ScribeFire is an extension for Google Chrome (it also works with Chromium, Chrome’s Open Source cousin), Safari, Firefox, and Opera. It adds a WYSIWYG blog editor to your browser that supports posting to most blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, Posterous, and Tumblr.

Instead of logging into each blog, you can just pop open a ScribeFire window, type a post, and then publish that post with a couple of clicks. You can also save drafts on your computer to post later.

Now that all the background information is out of the way, let’s walk through how to work with ScribeFire.

Getting set up

The first thing that you’ll want to do is install ScribeFire. Just follow one of these links:

Once ScribeFire is installed, click the toolbar icon to open it. Then, click Add a New Blog. In the window that opens, enter the URL to your blog, select the type of blog it is from the Blog Type dropdown list, and enter your user name and password. After that, click Finish.

Adding a blog

Now you’re ready to go.

Writing posts

You’ve set up your blog or blogs. You probably want to start posting. To do that, select the blog for which you want to write the post from the BLOG list in the top-left corner. If you’ve only got one blog, then it’s already selected. Then, click Start a New Post. The WYSIWYG editor opens. Just start typing.

Editing a post

You can add various types of formatting to your post, like bold and italic text, indents, or highlighting. You can also add links, images, and YouTube videos as well as lists. You can’t add tables or actual headings in WYSIWYG mode, though.

But if you know some basic HTML, you can add a bit more formatting. Just click Switch to HTML Mode. In the HTML editor, add HTML tags (including the ones for headings and tables).

You can also add tags to your post by typing them in the TAGS field on the left of the ScribeFire window. You don’t need to do that, but it can help the folks who read your blog find posts on a specific topic faster.

Editing HTML

Once you’re done, click Publish to send the post to your blog. Or click Save Progress if you’re offline or still have some work to do later. ScribeFire saves your work to your hard drive and opens the unfinished/unpublished post the next time you start it up.

Moving your data between computers

If you’re using ScribeFire on more than one computer — say, your desktop and a laptop — and you have several blogs, it’s a lot of work to re-enter the information for each blog. Instead, you can back up your data. Click Transfer your ScribeFire data to/from another computer.

Transfer data

Then, do one of the following:

  • Click Export. A new browser tab containing some information opens. Copy and past that information into a text editor, then save it to your hard drive or something like your Dropbox account.
  • Click Choose File. Find the file that you saved, and then click Open. You’ll be prompted to close and then reopen ScribeFire.

ScribeFire is an easy-to-use and flexible tool for blogging. While it’s not a fully-featured as tools like BlogJet, ecto, or MarsEdit, ScribeFire is more than capable of handling most of your blogging needs. And you can’t beat the price.

Photo credit: svilen001

TweetDeck for Chrome is a Flexible, Lightweight Version of its Desktop Counterpart

TweetDeck Desktop is arguably one of the best desktop Twitter clients for power users. It offers endless columns of information, multiple account support, and many features that Twitter itself had to copy. This app can basically do it all, and might even be getting purchased for $50 million by Twitter.

My only major complaint is that TweetDeck Desktop runs on Adobe Air, and while I have no qualms with the technology itself, it often suffers from major performance problems, especially when starting the app for the first time. With a modest seven columns (okay, maybe that’s not modest?), I usually need to “warm up” TweetDeck like I used to warm up my ’97 Ford Escort in a brutal North Dakota January.

With the launch of Google Chrome’s web store, an app store for its popular web browser, TweetDeck jumped off the Adobe Air bandwagon and onto the new Chrome platform. The result: a screaming fast, delightfully useful version of TweetDeck that runs directly from your browser.

To get started, head over to the Chrome web store (while using Chrome, obviously), and install TweetDeck for Chrome.

Once you have TweetDeck installed in Chrome, you can access it from any new tab page (press CTRL + T) or, alternatively, install the TweetDeck Launcher extension to open TweetDeck directly from your browser’s toolbar.

My favorite part about getting started with TweetDeck for Chrome was that I didn’t have to reconfigure my columns or information. If you already have TweetDeck for Desktop installed on your computer, it can automatically import your settings. Otherwise, you can log in with your TweetDeck account which should also restore most of your settings (although I think it only restores custom columns).

TweetDeck for Chrome in the New Tab page
Skip the tedious configuration process by importing from TweetDeck Desktop

Note: You’ll have to approve the import process through TweetDeck desktop before the data can be imported to TweetDeck for Chrome.

The first thing you’ll notice: TweetDeck for Chrome is crazy fast. Opening columns for two Twitter accounts, Facebook, and a couple of search columns takes mere seconds. Even better, those columns are immediately usable (I’d usually have to wait several minutes before TweetDeck Desktop would let me actually interact with it.

If you’re combining multiple accounts and social networks in TweetDeck, you’ll probably be greeted by a few “merged” columns that showcase messages from all of your accounts together. I’m not wild about this (I like my Facebooks kept separate from my Twitters), so I opted to delete those columns and instead make account-specific columns. Hey, some people like their pickles cucumbered.

To add new columns or accounts to TweetDeck for Chrome, just click the TweetDeck > button in the top left. This will present you with all of the fantastic options you’d expect from all TweetDeck clients.

To delete a column, click the wrench icon that appears when you hover over the column and then click the red Delete button at the bottom of the column. Clicking the wrench icon also gives you the option to edit notifications for that column. You can also move any column when in wrench-mode (but it appears this is the only time you can drag-and-drop columns, otherwise they remain locked).

Overall, TweetDeck for Chrome is probably my new favorite desktop Twitter client. It might take a little bit of time to get used to opening a separate Chrome window to run it on a second monitor, but it’s worth it for the performance and the fantastic feature set.

Chrome: ‘New Tabs At End’ Puts New Tabs at the End

Never has a title been more self-explanatory.

Chris Finke, who has previously developed killer Firefox add-ons like TwitterBar, ScribeFire, and the innovative TapSure for mobile Firefox, recently brought some much-needed functionality to Google’s Chrome web browser: the ability to open new tabs at the end of the tab bar, just like Firefox.

If you have a group of tabs open in Google Chrome and open a new tab from an existing tab, its child tab will open to the right of the parent. This keeps tabs groups logically, but with a busy tab bar it can be nearly impossible to figure out where your new tabs are appearing. This can be especially frustrating when opening links while browsing Twitter, since the new tabs won’t have similar favicons to visually differentiate them from existing tabs.

Yep, this can be confusing.

New Tabs At End does exactly what it says – it forces any new tab top open as the last tab on the right. This means that any freshly opened tab will be easy to find by glancing to the top right of your browser, and certainly helps me find what I’m looking for when I’m on a tab binge.

I understand why Chrome displays a new tab next to its parent by default, but with the limited functionality of a horizontal tab bar it only makes things more confusing. The single most important add-on I use in Firefox is Tree Style Tabs, which groups tabs vertically but also displays them in hierarchical trees so it’s easy to deal with groups of tabs with multiple parent-child relationships.

Chrome has been slowly working on their own flavor of vertical tabs, and I’m hoping they can come up with something similar to Tree Style Tabs when the feature is officially rolled out.

Subscribe to Techerator with the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome

Here at Techerator, we know that our site wouldn’t be the success it is without all of our readers (Thank you!).  Since our launch in May 2009, we’ve made many improvements to the site for our readers.  Our most recent change was an entire redesign of Techerator.

A big focus on the redesign was making it easier for our readers to keep updated on new articles with the tools in our sidebar.

Today we’re making it even easier to subscribe to our content at Techerator.

Techerator extension for Google Chrome

We’re happy to announce the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome.  The Techerator Extension for Google Chrome is another great way to keep updated on our newest articles, especially if you don’t use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Download the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome to get started using it.

Once the extension is installed, you’ll see its icon in your Chrome browser.

Click the extension’s icon to expand the list of newest articles from Techerator.  You can see from the image below that your unread articles are shown in bold.

Clicking on an article expands the reading pane, allowing you to read the entire article right in the extension!  If you click on the article title at the top of the reading pane, you can read the article on Techerator.com.

The Techerator Extension for Google Chrome also features an integrated search for Techerator.  Looking for a specific article, or just want to see what we’ve written about Twitter? You can search our site right in the extension.

Give the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome a try and let us know what you think!

Special thanks to the Ookong team for developing this Google Chrome extension.

Score Great Deals on Woot.com with Firefox and Chrome Browser Extensions

If you don’t know what Woot! is, it’s a site sells a single item each day (usually at an exciting price).  There are several different versions of the site – selling things like shirts, wine, and stuff for kids – but the original Woot! is the place where most of the action happens.

Every once in awhile, Woot! has a “Woot-Off”, where they abandon their usual deal-a-day methodology and instead offer limited quantities of items, sold one at a time, with a new item appearing as soon as the current one is sold out.  Mixed into Woot-Offs are “bags of crap”, which are blind grab bags full of random goodies.  At times, these bags of crap (lovingly referred to as BOCs) contain really nice things, like HDTVs and Xboxes.  Needless to say, it’s really hard to get a bag of crap, and the woot.com website is usually completely unreachable when one comes up for sale.

If you enjoy the occasional impulse buy, you can use some extensions for your Firefox or Google Chrome web browsers to stay up-to-date on the latest deals (and even get a better chance at purchasing the fabled bag of crap).

Woot! Watcher for Google Chrome

Chrome has a great extension called Woot! Watcher that gives you all the functionality you’ll need to grab deals on all of the Woot! websites.  This extension shows you deals from each website in a single window, and has optional notifications to let you know when new items are available.

woot-watcher-chrome

If a Woot-Off is going down (which is happening right now, if you’re lucky enough to read this article when it was posted), the Woot! Watcher icon turns into a flashing yellow siren.  You can set up optional Woot-Off voice alerts and notifications, and Woot! Watcher can even be configured to auto-buy bags of crap if they come up for sale (well, it doesn’t automatically buy it for you, but it will take you to the purchase screen to speed up the process).

woot-alarm

woot-settings

You will also see a percentage of how much stock the current item has left during a Woot-Off.

Woot BOC Purchaser for Firefox

The same developer of previously mentioned Woot! Watcher for Chrome makes the same extension for Firefox, but it is much less elegant and requires a giant sidebar window to display the daily deals.  I had preferred the less obtrusive Woot Watcher add-on, but unfortunately it hasn’t been updated since February 2010 and no longer functions properly.

Luckily, a different developer decided to pick up the abandoned Woot Watcher for Firefox add-on, fix the code, and add some new features.  You can download it at the Shopper Addon website, and to install it you’ll have to click Allow at the top of your browser window.

boc-1

boc-2

After restarting Firefox, today’s Woot! deal will be displayed in the status bar of your browser.  Clicking the item’s name will take you straight to Woot.com.  If a bag of crap happens to come up for sale, you will be automatically taken to the purchase page.

boc-3

Conclusion

With these extensions, you should be well on your way to blowing your hard-earned cash on impulse purchases.  And if you’re lucky, you might catch the Woot-Off that is going on right now.

Make Gmail into a Carnival with 0Boxer, Earn Rewards for Being Productive

Time to face hard facts: Checking your Gmail inbox is not the most enjoyable thing you do during the day.  To be honest, it can be quite boring, really.  Reading, replying, trashing, and repeat; it never ends.  Even using Priority Inbox doesn’t solve the mediocrity email sorting creates.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually get recognition for your inboxing skills?  Shouldn’t your inbox duties be rewarding and fun at the same time?  Well the solution to all these boredom issues in Gmail is just one download away.  The solution?  It’s 0Boxer!

0Boxer (pronounced Zero-Box-er) is an extension currently available for Google Chrome and Safari that takes the drag out of Gmail sorting and filtering.  0Boxer is set up in three (or four) easy steps as shown:

After 0Boxer is added to your browser, you create a profile on the 0Boxer website and allow the program access to your Gmail account.  Then the fun begins.  If all went well, a toolbar appears on the top of your Gmail inbox showing your 0Boxer profile.

Like a traditional game, the whole point of 0Boxer is to get points.  One point is issued for every deletion, spam flagging, writing, or archiving you do in your inbox.  These points are then logged on your 0Boxer profile and shown on the toolbar.  The more points, the higher you climb the leader board.  How thrilling!

If you get lucky, you might stumble across a badge for your 0Boxer profile…and we all know from those Xboxes and games like Call of Duty that achievements and badges are the hip things these days.

So what are you waiting for?  Grab 0Boxer, start cleaning your inbox, and watch the points roll right in.  Oh, did I mention it was workplace safe as well?  Join today.

Image Courtesy: Ceasar Sebastian’s Flickr

How to Fix Chrome’s Broken RSS Feed Handling

If you’ve ever tried opening an RSS feed in Google Chrome, you may have been dismayed to find that it does a horrible job of handling them.  RSS feeds (like ours) are meant to provide an easy subscription method to a website, allowing you to view your favorite websites all in one place with an RSS aggregator like Google Reader.  I use Google Reader to help manage the dozens of sites I follow for personal interest and article ideas.

Most browsers can interpret RSS feeds properly and give you the option to subscribe to the feed with several services.  Chrome, however, just dumps a bunch of text to your screen.

Luckily for us, there’s an easy fix for this problem.  Head over to the Chrome Extensions Gallery and install the RSS Subscriptions Extension (by Google).  This extension was developed by Google (as you might have guessed) and adds some much-needed functionality to Chrome.

After you’ve installed the RSS Subscriptions extension, a small RSS notification will appear in Chrome’s omnibar when the site you’re viewing has an RSS feed available.  Clicking this icon will take you straight to the site’s RSS feed.

RSS Subscriptions will also kick in whenever you access a feed directly.

You can choose from four popular RSS readers: Google Reader, iGoogle, Bloglines, and My Yahoo. If you use a service not listed, simply click the Manage option to add your own.

From now on, Chrome will properly render your RSS feeds!

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the rest of our articles about web browsers and Google Chrome.