In my attempt to simulate a Chromebook experience by doing everything in the Chrome browser I’ve learned a lot already. I’ve found amazing ways to enjoy music anywhere and everywhere and learned about great, high quality documentaries that moved me to my core. It’s a great ride so far, adding to the promise of a Chromebook.
This time we’re going a more practical route and talk about the basic productivity tools I’ve come to use over the past few weeks. There are a lot of tools and productivity sites out there, but only few of ‘m apply to us all on a daily basis. However, with tips and tools from lifehacker book, David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology and some good use of the Web we can gain some serious ground in personal efficiency and location independent working.
I myself work with, what I jokingly call my holy quartet: Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote and Gmail. Because these are all web-based services I have these four always close at hand. Google Docs to create and edit documents, Dropbox for safely storing all of my files online, Evernote for making quick notes and Gmail, you guessed it, for email.
1. Google Docs
Without a doubt an essential part of your online toolset. Docs is Google’s own productivity suite for word processing, presentations, drawings, spread sheeting and even fusion Tables as of lately. Not as comprehensive and mature as Microsoft’s Office products, but certainly more than adequate for most users. In everyday use I rarely touch the boundaries of it’s capabilities. Only when I want to go all out with spreadsheets I run into some limitations. So far I’ve written all my Making the switch to a Chromebook articles in Google docs, without any problems.
For the more experienced among us there is the ability to easily create forms. You can integrate those forms on a website or in the body of an email and then get the completed visitor results presented in a spreadsheet file in Google docs. This allows you to create online questionnaires and surveys and follow the results as they happen. No more need for services that charge you for doing a survey. Especially great for students, I image.
The big innovation with Google Docs is document collaboration, or in other words the jointly and simultaneously editing of documents. You literally see the other person make changes like adding text or pictures to the document that you’re working on yourself. At home we share a Google spreadsheet with our financial planning, a comprehensive overview of all expenditures and reservations on a monthly level for the coming years. Super convenient, always and everywhere at hand. *Tip – Stuck with Microsoft Office? Check out this video on introducing Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
Quickly said Dropbox is free software that allows you to synchronize files over the web. You can see it as a backups of your files that are online and then easily accessible from any computer or device with internet access. When you install Dropbox on your computer, a Dropbox folder is created. Everything you put in it is then automatically synchronized. To get the Free 2GB Dropbox version for yourself follow this link.
I could say more about Dropbox, but just watch this Tinkernut.com video to see some of the cool stuff you can do with it.
Externalize your brain I always say. What you try to remember you usually forget. Especially when it comes to valuable insights you gaine in meetings, ideas that come to mind while waiting for the bus or super deals you come up with during dinner. You must do something with it, forgetting is not an option. Evernote is the answer in all such situations. Evernote works through the browser and has apps for every mobile device out there.
What is there to say about Gmail? It is my humble opinion the best email client out there. The standard version is already great, and when you do not like that there are plenty of Chrome extensions to further tweek it to your liking. For you mobile people there are very good apps for your Android or iPhone. I also have Google sync on my blackberry. That way I can sync the Enterprise partof my life (work) effortlessly with my own Google environment. It’s all just great stuff.
Conclusion to date
More and more I get the feeling that the Chromebook is a real, fun and viable choice when it comes to picking a laptop. Where I was initially skeptical about the idea of doing everything online, I now seriously begin to believe that the Chromebook will be a good buy. Yes, you’re right. I’m not there yet, the test period isn’t over. I still have to look into online IDE’s, simple photo editing, and how social apps. Oh yes, and costs.
In my next post I will take a look at the various online photo editing tools that are out there and see if the online options will finally have to admit defeat or not. Do you have tips about how you’re doing this? please give us a shout out in the comments!
Have fun Chroming and until next time!