Our favorite Chrome Extensions/Add-ons

At IT Babble Chrome is our browser of choice for its speed, its auto updates and the myriad of fantastic add-ons you can … well add on. These add-ons give Chrome various different functionalities and we thought it would be nice to share our favorites with you! We discussed these extensions and add-ons quickly on Episode 103 of our podcast but here is a more detailed list in case you were wondering. If you have some favorites of your own please add them in the comments below.

Remember you need to be using Chrome in order for these to work (there is one exception on Tony’s list).

To find these enhancements just look in the Google Chrome store.

In general

The first one I think we all recommend is Ad Block or Ad Block Plus. You can probably guess that it blocks annoying ads that may pop up or flash while you are on the site. It works most of the time and really does improve your time on the Interwebs.

David

Stayfoucsed – This extension blocks you from going to time wasting websites. You pick the websites, pick how much time a day you want to allow yourself on those websites and it keeps you from going there after your time is up. Great for procrastinators!

Patrick

CheckerPlus for Gmail – This puts a little gmail icon right next to your browser address bar (or omnibar as I think it is actually called). This shows you how many unread email messages you have in Gmail and you can click on it, read, reply or compose emails right from this extension. Hell, it’ll even read them to you if you’d like!

 

Eye Dropper – Have you ever been to a website and wondered what color a font, banner, or design was? Eye dropper will find out exactly what that color is. It’s simple and easy to use and I use it surprisingly a lot.

 

Pocket – This is a great service. There are times when I find an article or web page that I want to keep for myself, the podcast or my students. Using this extension, I just click the pocket button and it is saved (even offline) in a beautiful, ad free reformatted so its very easy to read view.

Tim

Grammarly – Ever sent an email with a glaringly misspelled word or some poor grammar? This will help to correct that. Tim even says that it sends reports to you to show how you are progressing. Pretty sweet!

 

Momentum – When you open a new tab in Chrome, it shows the Google omnibar and the eight most popular websites you’ve visited. This replaces that with an inspirational quotes, a to-do list of your own creation and a beautiful images. Not a bad way to open a new tab huh?

 

Reddit Enhancement Suite – Do you read Reddit? Of course you do. Now download this extension to better improve your experience. Tim loves it and so should you.

Tony

Evernote Web Clipper – If you use Evernote, you need this. It will clip images, articles, web pages, etc. and put it right into whatever notebook you want. I had it on my list too, but not to be redundant I left it off.

 


Firebug OK this one cheats a little bit because it isn’t a Google Chrome extension. It is a Firefox extension, but it is awesome. Have you ever wondered what the code is of a certain part of a webpage? Firebug will tell you. If you deal with any sort of website management at all this is a very helpful tool.

Pixlr Editor – Need to edit a photo but need to do more than just resize it or crop it? Don’t have Photoshop or another powerful image editor on your computer. Pixlr to the rescue. It’s free, web based and pretty powerful considering that you can do layers and have a variety to a large amount of tools.

Get crap done!

Get crap done!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yP6ZOXMWK-KsMZ-_Bod8tFhyEGdPndCu4HUBO_3rUww/edit#gid=0

Now that the 2016 is right around the corner it is time to start making some resolutions of organizing yourself a little better and being more effecient. So someone out there created a To-Do list app comparison chart. Yeah, it is huge, but if you’ve never used one before, this is a good place to start. Check it out!

Oh by the way, it is changing all the time, so check back periodically.

To Do List App Comarison – Google Sheet

Drones in schools – it’s time!

Yes the title says it all folks. With Amazon unveiling their drone (video below), it is high time that schools jump on this bandwagon and join the first 15% of the twenty-first century. Drones have gone from being the toys of the rich to actual and vital tool to help schools run. What could go wrong?

As always people need to ask Why? This is a good question and let me give you a few reasons of why drones are needed in today’s schools.

Reason #1 – Inner school mail

If you work in a private school, you may be working on a campus with several buildings and more often than not, they have something called inner school mail. This is just the moving of documents from one office to another and usually involves a person hand delivering that. Man, what a waste of time!

Within school districts, this can ferry important and sensitve documents between schools. With drones, it can just be easily, reliably and quickly delivered from one school to another and most importantly, you know it is securely delivered because drones can’t read … probably.

Reason #2 – Returning library books

I am married to a great librarian and the time she spends hunting down overdue books is ridiculous and when those books aren’t found, then the school holds the student’s report card until the fine is paid.
UGH
With drones, these days are in the past! Students can easily summon a drone from the library to carry their book(s) back. In fact, the librarian can automate and send the drone to the classroom on the book due date and wait until the student returns it to the drone. So handy!

If the book is lost, then the parents can arrange to have a drone come to their house and they can put the money (or credit card) in an envelope and have the drone take it back to the school or the accounting department. Everyone wins since the drone can go anywhere, so it could go to a parent’s place of business (as long as it is within the city limits) even during a work day. I know that scores of parents will hear that buzz of the approaching drone and smile knowing that this problem will be resolved in a matter of minutes, not tens of minutes.

I know my wife will come home everyday and thank my for making her life a little bit better. I’ll just smile and know that the secret is with the drone :)

Reason 3 – Transporting students

Yeah – you read that correctly. Drones should replace buses within a few short months if politicians can see the potential. Think of it my good reader, fewer bus accidents, less taxes and school fees for transportation, less traffic in and around the school during the start and end of every school day. It sounds too good to be true!

Each student will have their very own drone, expanding already existing BYOD programs. Now it can stand for Bring Your Own Device & Drone (BYODD for short). What kid doesn’t want their own drone? The drone will be programmed by the school district to take each student from their home to the school. At school everyone will have their own designated LZ (landing zone for you layman’s). The logic is so piercingly simple it is painful to think about!

But we don’t need to stop there. Drones can also be used to shuttle student from one class to another. Imagine it – students NEVER late again. Sounds like a miracle doesn’t it? Trust in drones. They are the educator’s best friend I tell ya.

Reason 4 – Homework delivery

How many times have you heard this excuse “I forgot my homework at home.” or “I forgot my the assignment at school yesterday and so I couldn’t get it done at home.” Frustrating isn’t it. Now with drones, those excuses are so 2015.

Now students can send their drone with their homework assignment right to a teacher’s front door with the click of a button on their smartphone/computer. I know that teachers will sleep easy knowing that the entire student body can deliver anything to their personal home and sanctuary.

Gone are the days of excuses now that drones are here. If a student forgets their assignment at school, simply send a drone with a robotic hand to go to their locker and retrieve said materials. Nothing could be simpler!

Finally- They are damn cool

Now that we’ve covered the “boring” stuff, let’s get to why kids will want them. They are just really cool. I mean who doesn’t want their own drone. I know parents will be green with envy remembering how they trudged 13 miles to school while their little Johnny is whisked away in his very own drone.

So cool.

Safety

When we’re dealing with students we must always consider their safety. However, how many times have you turned on the news to hear that students were injured in a drone accident? I never have, now that doesn’t mean it never happens (or never will) but it has to be so low as to be of no importance.

This means that drones are safe! So pick up your drone and march it down to your school board today and demand they wake up and listen to the buzz of the future. The times aren’t a changing. They’ve already changed.

Have a thought about drones in schools? Leave a comment below.

Lino – A review

Not too long ago I did a review about Padlet. It’s a pretty good service and I know another similar service is Lino and I thought I’d do a review about it as well. I’m not going to compare Lino and Padlet … yet :)

So here we go!

Signing up

Sigh
Why do I do this? It’s so simple and just about the same as every other site. You can sign up with your own email account or sign in with one of your other accounts. Check out the image below.

As you can see, you can use your Google, Twitter or Facebook account to sign up as well making it just as easy to get up and running as any other site. I even think you can connect it to your Yahoo account.

Dashboard

once you log in, you will be brought to your dashboard and look at that! Lino has two canvas for you to look at and trail for yourself. Now that’s pretty considerate wouldn’t you say? You have a Main canvas and a Someday canvas

You also see a How to lino canvas down at the bottom of the image. This is a canvas that shows you all that you can do with Lino which is also a nice touch. Kind of a proof is in the pudding kind of an example. You can see there is a clearly defined button to click to create a new canvas as well. It’s kind of nice, but the help section is far more informative.

A new canvas

When creating a new canvas you get the option of selecting the background (you can change this at anytime, so don’t lose any sleep over this) and then it appears. A blank canvas with two floating palettes and a hidden one. Check out the image below. The backgrounds are pretty good and sticky notes don’t seem to get lost or feel out place when looking at them on the different backgrounds.

The palettes themselves cannot be moved which is a shame but at the same time I kind of get it. They want you to work around the palettes, not constantly managing the palettes. Anyone who has ever used an older version of Microsoft Office on Mac knows what I’m talking about. You would be constantly be moving, closing, opening, moving and so on, so I get it, but it still is something you are working around.

However, all the palettes themselves are quite useful. The sticky palette lets you add stickies to your canvas. You can also find links here to go home, get info about the canvas, access the help page, log out and two newer features I’ve not seen before. All in all they are all pretty useful and straightforward.

Now onto those two unusual features. One is Highlight New. This feature will add a number to each sticky that shows the order in which they were added. Check out the image from another canvas I was playing with.

Pretty handy, especially if you are a teacher trying to keep track of what was added first and so on.

The other feature is Show Private. Basically when you add a sticky you can make it private. By clicking on and off the Show Private you can show or hide those stick notes. When they are “hidden* you see a translucent sticky but none of the info is present, even to you!

The navigator let’s you quickly get around a large canvas which is handy. It is just like the navigator palette in Photoshop. The calendar is kind of interesting. It will show you important dates (like holidays), but it also has another function. On a sticky you can add a due date and it will be reflected on the calendar.

Another interesting thing about the calendar is that it reflects important dates from all canvas, not just the one you are working on. That’s kind of neat.

The canvas palette lets so switch between canvas quickly. It also allows you to move sticky notes between canvases as well. Just open up this palette and you can drag a sticky right to the canvas you want it on. Again, this is a clever feature.

Sticky notes

Now to the main feature of Lino, creating sticky notes on your virtual cork board. It is really easy, just drag a sticky note from the palette anywhere on the canvas. Don’t worry about the color you can change that at anytime and there are more than four options that the palette shows.

After you let go of the mouse (or trackpad) you can then add your message, due date, change the color of the note and font size and color as well. You can also make it private or not.

Again, Lino adds a nice feature. You can send this note to somebody. Be aware that when you do, the note will disappear from the canvas though.

You can attach just about any file type to a sticky note as well, but with a free version you can only upload files 10 MB or less. There are plenty of ways around this, so it shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers.

To see who made what sticky, just hove your mouse over the smiley face in the bottom left hand corner of the sticky.

The name of the user will appear. The user can add a profile picture, but at that small size it is difficult to make out what it is.

Collaboration

Like Padlet, many users can work on a single canvas at the same time. Also, like Padlet, you have no idea who is on your canvas at any given time and when changes are made to it, they are reflected pretty quickly but not as quick as Padlet does. It can take a minute or less for those changes to appear.

The choices of who can do what are pretty basic. There is no moderation (at least none I could find), but you can set up notifications so when someone does post something, you get an email or a message in your dashboard.

I wish there was a moderation option like Padlet, but as an administrator you can delete any sticky added to the canvas.

Summing it up

Leno is very good and if you are thinking of using it for groups to brainstorm, to have people post their point of view, it could be good. It’s easy sign in, powerful and attractive feature set make it a winner in any classroom.

Which is better? I’ve got to get back to you :)

http://www.en.lino.com