I am a big fan of Google tools. There are Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Sites and a lot more. I became a Google Certified Educator because I use those tools extensively and wanted to learn to maximize the productivity. It can be intimidating to learn all of them at once.
Google released a Chrome extension called G Suite Training that offers useful tips while you actually use the tools.
Once you install the extension, you will see a new training menu in your Google Apps. You can tell by looking at the question mark with a Google-colored circle around it. Hit the links below to start learning G Suite!
G Suite Training | Chrome Web Store via G Suite Training
Scenario: Your students don’t check their emails. Or, they are new to Blackboard Learn and have not figured out how to send course emails. They do check their phones and texts. Dilemma: You don’t want to share your personal phone number with the students, but do want a way to reach out. Solution: Google Voice. It lets you text from a different number but yet receive their replies to your phone.
I mentioned Google Keep a while back, and since then Google had a few new features. With Keep’s Chrome extension, you can easily save and add notes to links. It also adds link previews, duplicate check and autocomplete when adding food items. The web site also got a refresh that aligns with Google’s Material Design guidelines.
The autocomplete feature works with food related entries. This obviously helps with grocery shopping but I am hoping Google will add more categories. Duplicate check looks to see if an item you are trying to add had already been marked off as complete.
When you add a link to a note, you will see a small preview popup underneath that shows you the page title, domain and a picture.
I find Google Keep is quick and easy to manage. It now complements my Evernote notebooks.
Grammarly for Chrome is a free browser extension that enables grammar checking wherever your browse on the web. Whenever you compose a new comment in your LMS, tweet, email, blog post, or anything else online, this browser extension will check your text for spelling and grammatical errors. Anytime you are writing in a comment field, Grammarly flags potential mistakes (see the graphic above) and allows you to review them one by one (by hovering your mouse over the text) or all at once (by opening a pop-up window).
The extension is available via the Chrome Web Store. It is free to use, but the premium version adds the following features:
- 150 critical grammar and spelling checks
- 100+ additional advanced grammar and spelling checks
- Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
- Genre specific writing style checks (academic, technical, creative, and other styles of writing)
- Plagiarism checker that looks through more than 8 billion (!) web pages
I use Grammarly to spell check all my blog posts. 🙂
Grammarly for Chrome
UPDATE: Nick from Grammarly contacted me and suggested that I post a link to Grammarly reviews. Here it is: http://www.grammarly.com/reviews.
If you use Google Chrome, you probably use extensions. Have you thought about what these apps access while you are browsing the web? This is where MyPermissions comes into play.
Here is what it does. The extensions with Chrome or apps on your smartphone request tons of permissions. When you install many of these, you lose sight of which app is doing what. MyPermissions gives you a summary of each app’s permissions and lets you cut off the ones you don’t want to snoop.
I am careful with which apps/extensions to install, but I was surprised to see old apps that still had permissions granted. A recent update now includes active scanning for apps and their updates so that then the updates change the permissions level, you will know right away.
The interface is simple and gives you a quick and easy view of the overall status. MyPermissions is another tool to manage your privacy on your terms. And it’s free. See below for links.
Apple App Store
You are probably aware that many service engines keep track of your search behaviors. Both Google and Bing do that.
I stumbled on Startpage.com which I learned has been online since 2005 with a focus on privacy. A unique feature about Startpage.com is that it uses a proxy so that the user is invisible to all web sites that he visits. It used to be that when the user left the search page, then other web sites can keep track of the search.
The downside is that since the query has to go through Startpage.com before the results are displayed, the pages load more slowly. I don’t notice any significant delays while I use Startpage.com.
I like Startpage.com for 3 reasons:
- It still uses Google as the backend engine, so you are getting Google results, without being tracked.
- The page has a Chrome addon to make the search easier.
- The page lets you save your preferences without using cookies. This means the preferences are not saved on your computer. Instead, it offers a different method, where you save your preferences via a specific StartPage URL. You can share the URL with your other computers and see the same preferences. Pretty cool.
If you are worried about Google keeping track of your search behavior, I would say Startpage.com is a strong alternative.
Microsoft recently announced that it is reducing the size of storage. For example, if you are an Office 365 subscriber, you had unlimited storage, but it is getting capped at 1 TB. The most disappointing change is that free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new. The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.
Why! I am sure it boils down to money. You can read about the reason behind, mostly that some users “abused” the storage policy. I don’t buy it, but as a free user, I can’t really vote with my money.
I think getting free storage reduced from 15 GB to 5 GB makes OneDrive a lot less desirable. Who knows what Microsoft will do in the future. It may start charging for any storage. I have no idea.
I don’t know too many people using OneDrive, even if they are using Windows. I still think Google Drive, followed by Dropbox, is the best choice for consumers. GDrive gives 15 GB free, and additional storage is reasonably priced. Also its integration with other Google services and Chrome make is very useful. I use it and it works well.
Moving the files is a pain, but I think it’s best done over time before the new OneDrive storage limits take place.