5 Chrome Extensions That Will Change the Way You Internet

Remember when you got your first smart phone, how excited you were to start downloading apps? You probably can’t imagine going back to an old calculator style phone. Sure, flip phones and Blackberries still work for your basic “phone” functions, but apps opened up a whole new world of productivity and entertainment. Like smart phones did for cell phones, new browsers have brought innovation to the browsing experience by integrating apps and extensions that take them far beyond their basic function. The funny thing, however, is that most of us have been using internet browsers longer than cell phones, yet some people still treat their browsers like Netscape Navigator.

If you want to get more out of your browser - and out of your day - check out this list of must-have Chrome extensions. If you’re still an IE, Safari or vanilla Chrome user, get ready to have you mind blown.

Evernote Web Clipper:

I’m admittedly an Evernote fanatic. I use it to organize everything from work projects to home renovations, and to remember everything from business contacts to where I parked. At its core it’s a cloud-based notebook, but add to that its range of integrated tools and it becomes a must have; to wit, Evernote Web Clipper. This handy tool lets you pull great content you find on the web into your Evernote in a range of formats. You can tag and organize right from the Clipper, and the text stays searchable, so it’s always easy to find what you saved even if you only remember one or two words from the page. URL shortener

This simple URL shortener is perfect for crunching those long links into just a few characters. Just click from any webpage to turn a lengthy link into a mini URL or even a QR code. It’s perfect for social media or when you need to share an obnoxiously long URL (e.g., google directions, which can easily exceed 400 characters).


Print Friendly

If you’ve ever tried to print a webpage for a meeting, you know that the printed version usually ends up about eight pages long with about 80% of each page wasted on ads or unrelated content. Most people end up just resorting to a screen capture, but that poses a problem if the content you want doesn’t all fit on one screen. For a more elegant solution, try Printfriendly, an ingenious extension that pulls webpage content into an editable web tool. Each element is separated into removable blocks, allowing you to keep just the content you want in the size you want. The final product is a clean, readable PDF that can be saved, emailed or printed right from the web tool. Plus, unlike a screen capture, the text is preserved so it remains selectable and searchable.

Evernote Clearly:

Reading online articles it sometimes a little like trying to listen to someone tell a story in a crowed bar. All the “related” stories, links, photos, share buttons, banners, embedded Twitter feeds, - it’s all just noise that interferes with the overall enjoyment of reading. If the afore mentioned Web Clipper wasn’t enough to make you drop what you’re doing and go download Evernote, maybe this will convince you. Evernote Clearly strips out all the unrelated distractions, leaving you with clean, quiet content. With a few clicks you can change the theme and font size, print it with room for notes, or save it to your Evernote for future reading.

Hola Unblocker:

Hola Better Internet

Okay, enough about productivity, let’s talk about entertainment! There are a lot of practical applications for this extensions, but the one I use it for is Netflix. Hola is a VPN proxy service that essentially lets you trick a website into thinking you are in a different country. This is extremely helpful, because not all “Netflixes” (or Hulus, etc.) are created equal. Due to regional copyright rules, your selection of shows and movies will vary based on what country you are logged in from. For example, the second half of  Breaking Bad season five didn’t hit the US version of Netflix until Feb 24, while those in the UK got to watch the new episodes each Sunday after they aired. Like the show Community? Canada has every season. Surprisingly unavailable in Canada is Space Teens, but they have a lot of other great content. Hola is simple to use, just click the country you want to log in from and enjoy the rest of the internet.

So, there are my top Chrome extensions. If I missed an essential tool that you love, let me know at @robinsonpost.

April Fools’ Day delivers laughs and lessons

Each year, I eagerly anticipate April Fools’ Day. Not because I plan grand pranks or relish in the duping of others, but because it competes for first with the Super Bowl in terms of marketing genius on a fraction of the budget.

Thankfully, this year did not disappoint. No doubt your RSS and social feeds exploded on Monday with some of the best received pranks, along with cheers and jeers from friends and marketing pundits alike.  

For brands, (and their marketers) April Fools’ Day isn’t just about making people laugh; it’s an opportunity to show your brand’s personality. And if your spoof is done well, an opportunity to achieve the ever-coveted distinction of “viral marketer.”

Let’s take a look at what was done well, why it worked, and what we can learn.

Guardian announces 'Guardian Glasses' for the discerning liberal reader

Probably one of my favorites, this fauxnouncment from UK’s Guardian newspaper debuts augmented reality specs that help the wearer see the world through blue colored glasses.

Why it worked: It’s witty, self-deprecating and very timely given the buzz around Google Glass. And like all great British comedies, it relies on brilliant writing rather than a large budget.

What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to laugh at your own expense. By poking fun at their own bias, they endeared themselves to not only their own readers, but to their right-leaning Daily Mail critics as well.    

Bing gives Google users the experience they’re searching for

Only using Bing because it’s your browser’s default? No doubt you’re not alone. On April Fools’ Day, Bing users who searched for Google got what they wanted – the Google experience.   

Why it worked: The fact is, Google is still one of the top search terms on Bing, and no one is more aware of this than Microsoft. By giving these gone-astray Bing users what they want and making them smile, they directly reached their most important audience - Google users. 

What we can learn: You can’t convince someone your product is better than your competitors just by telling them, you need to show them. This gave Google users a reason to stay on Bing to search.    

Vimeo recognizes its calling

Why it worked: There is a simple equation that can be seen throughout the internet that is as profound as the Fibonacci sequence and the Pythagorean theorem combined; Cats + video = internet success. Not only did Vimeo subtly poke at YouTube’s copious number of cat videos, they also managed some brilliantly simply wordplay.  

What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to go beyond brand affinity in your tongue-in-cheek campaigns. Vimoe manage to include a call to action that’s plain-stated, (Your cat videos belong here) and that subtly implies that, in contrast, your cat videos don’t belong on YouTube.

Google goes all out

Google launched a wave of videos announcing their “new products” to the public. From treasure maps to search-by-smell technology, they had something for everyone. My favorite by far, though, was the YouTube winner announcement.

Why it worked: YouTube practically invented viral and its “celebrities” have become as recognizable as the Kardashians. The video features a slew of YouTube stars, which are as fun to spot as A-list actors in cameo roles. 

What we can learn: Sometimes the smallest change can change everything. By simply making the Orwellian assertion that YouTube has always been about finding a winner, it changed the context of every video you’ve watched. Applied to marketing, it showcases the simple truth that you don’t always need a new product or service; sometimes you just need a new use for the existing one.

The Curator News Feed: March 22, 2013

Rebels Saving Hollywood, Fast Company. I absolutely love this kind of thinking. The proactive culture, creativity and movement to change people’s perceptions totally align with the kind of work we do here at Curator. Really good stuff. – Scott

Stealth Celebrity Endorsement: No Money Changing Hands, Just Free Burritos, Time. Great article on how Chipotle successfully managed a celebrity endorsement deal without paying for one. We’ve seen this tactic before, but Chipotle’s successful execution may breed a whole new way of marketing. The return on this minimal investment could be well worth the hundreds of free burritos. – Annie

Google Search Gifs, Mashable. If BuzzFeed has taught us anything it's that a Gif can go a long way. While not all platforms and media except the animated photo I'm happy to see Google recognizing the need for easy search capability. If only we had an app that allowed us to organize all our favorite Gif blogs (yes, I'm still upset about the Google Reader news.) – Brooke

Amazon CEO recovers sunken Apollo engines, I always knew that Amazon was great at finding me sweet deals, and it appears their CEO is just as good at finding lost pieces of history. I thought it was cool that a relic from the first moon landing may have been recovered, and it was even cooler that a Seattlite found it. – Elizabeth

I’m in Mexico. Therefore my link is - Dan

Pop-up Hotels – Rooms with a Fleeting View, NY Times. I kind of love this idea. It’s been interesting to watch the pop-up shop trend grow and it makes total sense to bring it to hotels. The unique views, VIP treatment and luxurious quality of these hotel rooms play really well, giving guests the feeling of total exclusivity. I’d stay in one for sure! Would you? – Chelsey

A Dongle Joke That Spiraled Way Out Of Control, TechCrunch. This story absolutely shatters the None Of This Needed To Happen scale. In short, some guy at a programming conference made a joke about his "Dongle" — in short, an adapter cable for your computer — and a woman sitting in front of him took offense. She snapped a picture of him, tweeted it and blogged about the joke. Fast forward to today: Both people involved have been fired from their respective companies, one of said companies' websites suffered a DDOS attack, possibly as retribution for part of what went down, and…just go read it. Read it and remember two things: (1) There's no separation between work and personal anymore. Social media is everywhere, and how you act reflects on everyone you're associated with. (2) You don't get to decide which of your content goes viral. It takes nothing to stop for two seconds and think, "If this were the one piece of content I was known for, would I be OK with that?" – Paul

InstaArt, PSFK. Maybe it’s because I recently moved from an apartment to a house and now have excess bare walls, but this really grabbed my attention. A new startup called Instathis turns your Instagram photos into framed art with a few clicks of the mouse. Expect an update soon, as I’ll be trying this out in the coming weeks. – Matthew

Kit Kat Challenges Oreo to Tic-Tac-Toe for Twitter Fan's Affection. Mashable. After a fan mentioned that she loved both Kit Kats and Oreos in a Twitter post, Kit Kat challenged Oreo to a Tic-Tac-Toe challenge for her affection. I'm not the social media specialist, but love what this idea stands for. Firstly, it recognized the fan and pursued a meaningful conversation. Secondly, it's what social media should be, quick and relevant. I can only imagine how many rounds of feedback and approvals this concept went through, but to the public, it was seamless and fun, just like Kit Kat's brand. Now that it's Friday, we can all #haveabreak. - Maria

The Curator News Feed: March 15, 2013

Do you have a favorite story or article from this week? Here are some of ours! Happy Friday!

Mariners 2013 Commericals, Seattle Mariners/ Baseball is a game rooted in the past and in tradition and it wouldn't be the start of another Mariners season in Seattle without the launch of their annual commercial campaign. Any other fans out there secretly hoping for King Felix's High Heat Hot Sauce giveaway night? – Jennifer

March Madness Productivity Loss? It’s a Slam Dunk, Poll Says, LA Times. Only a few days away to the kick-off of March Madness! Great thing for most of us, but maybe not so much for companies. A recent poll claims that the basketball tournament will cost U.S. companies $134 million due to productivity loss. According to this article, being able to live stream from nearly any device these days isn’t such a good thing, leading to not only distracted employees, but also slower Internet speeds. I guess it’s a good thing I’m more of a football fan. – Annie

The Seven People You Need to Succeed in Business Today, Forbes. An older story, but one I love referring back to. Which of the seven are you? And are there projects in your organization that are stalled because one of the seven is missing? – Dan

Google Experiment Takes Movie Trailers to the Next Interactive Level, Mashable. I can’t say that I’ve been excited, or even interested in, seeing Disney’s new Oz the Great and Powerful, but this Google Chrome experiment may have changed my mind. Take a look, and as you’re wandering around this immersive world, try to remind yourself that you’re using a browser, not $50 of downloaded software. The implications for web developers are huge, and this experience may well be a foreshadowing of what everything from movie trailer, musician and even hotel and real estate websites will look like in the near future. – Matthew

Powering Down Google Reader, The Official Google Reader Blog. The one subscription that won't make it into whatever RSS reader I switch to? That blog. But seriously, it's an out-of-the-blue move that, at least in my social feeds on Wednesday, was almost universally received with negativity. I asked for alternatives in a Google+ comment thread, and one person replied, "there's literally nothing else that's any good." Ugh. We'll let you know here on the Curator blog if we find anything particularly likable. – Paul

Wearable Computing: How Technology will soon be Stitched into our Lives, GeekWire. Artefact, a Seattle-based company, developed a prototype for a Pilates shirt called Move. It has stretch-and-bend sensors that can send data in real time to reflect movement and improve performance. It's viewable via web app. This is no dry-fit UnderArmor "advanced technology" folks. They're not planning to release to the public anytime soon, but my mind is spinning at the possibilities. Professional athletes. Learning a new sport or activity. Calorie burn optimization. Depleting Olympic score disputes. What I love most is the company's point-of-view on technology. "We shouldn't have to interact with the technology. It should interact with us." said a designer for the company. Overall, this idea rocks. I wonder if they need test models. Who's with me? – Maria

The New Rain Shadow Meats Location is Imminent March 2013, Seattle Met. Everything about this article—and the fact that each of the new restaurants they talk about are a 45 second walk from Curator HQ—makes me happy. – Scott

25 Clever Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts, Mashable. Everyone loves a good shortcut! These are also located on Twitter’s webpage, but I found this alphabetical/visual presentation to be really easy to digest. – Chelsey