Google Drive – Why It’s Awesome and How It Makes Chromebook Sexy

Google launched Google Drive on 24 Apr.  I believe it is a significant step that takes cloud living and working into a new era.  In this article I shall briefly introduce what Google Drive is, how to use it and what killer features does it have.

Google Drive Icon



Currently Google Drive is not fully opened to all users.  If you go to, chances are you would see the following screen.  Note the “Your Google Drive is not ready yet” message and the “Notify me” button (top right corner).  From here you could ask Google to send you an activation email.

Google Drive - Not Yet Ready

It may take hours or days to receive Google’s welcome email, which looks like this:

Welcome to Google Drive


Basically Google Drive is an upgrade of Google Docs.  It doesn’t look much different from Google Docs.  You can use it the same way as Google Docs, there is not much of the user interface to learn.

Google Drive


But Google Drive is not simply a Google Docs with a larger capacity (Google gives you 5 GB storage for free).  I see a few improvements.
Firstly, Google Drive has a built-in OCR function, meaning that if you search for a phrase in your Google Drive, not only would text-based files containing the phrase would come up in search results, pictures which the phrase would also be searched.  Google recognizes the text in graphics form.  Similarly, Google Drive also integrated Google Goggles the image search engine.  So it you try to find “the great wall” in Google Drive, even if the file name does not contain the words, Google Drive could recognize the photo you took in Beijing in your last trip to China.
Secondly, just like Dropbox and Skydrive by Microsoft, the desktop app of Google Drive automatically synchronize your files between your Windows PC or Mac and your Google Drive.  There is also an Android app and an iOS app is in the pipeline.  This level of synchronization was not available in the previous Google Docs.

Google Drive for Windows 
Thirdly, Google brought web apps into Google Drive.  When I first entered Google Drive, I was asked if I wanted to use Pixlr Editor as the default image viewer and editor.

Google Drive - Web Apps

This is a smart move by Google.  There are way too many online storage competitors in the market, the most famous ones include Dropbox, Box and Skydrive.  Why should we use Google Drive if other companies provide the same (or more) storage space?  By adding web apps to web storage, Google created not only a storage space but an online working space!


There is a growing collection of Chrome web apps that support Google Drive.  You can identify these web apps by the Google Drive icon in chrome Web Store:

Chrome Web Store - Google Drive Apps

And you can add more web apps by clicking “Create”, choose “More” and then “Get more apps”.

Google Drive - Get more apps
I see huge potential in integrating Google Drive with web apps.  Image editor, word processor, music player and editor, spreadsheet editor…  All web apps could be ran on the same Google Drive platform, this makes online working and collaboration much easier.  The Google Docs in the past was primitive, it only had basic editing function.  Now when third-party app developers could create web apps that have direct access to Google Drive, more possibilities are created.
The launch of Google Drive with web apps also makes Chromebook a much more attractive product.  Users can store all their files online in one place and have them viewed and edited in the same one place.  Chrome OS + Google Drive + web apps is an integrated, independent and complete system.  As long as you have web access, you have access to your files and apps to view/edit your files.  I think Google Drive filled the missing piece of a complete cloud system.  The cloud era has come, now in a more desirable way.
Finally watch this introductory video, know what Google Drive is and try it now!

Chrome Web Store Trending Apps – Find Hottest Web Apps Easily

Chrome Web Store just received a new update.  A major new feature is the “Trending” tab which to let users know what web apps are hot now.


Trending Chrome Web Apps

In the past we could only see “popular” web apps but this list is not frequently updated.  The new “trending” tab lists out the hottest web apps and sort by the popularity.  Apps are ranked as “on fire”, “hot” and “warm”.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps

The purpose of this “trending” tab is to highlight web apps that are popular in recent time.  These apps may not be found in the “popular” tab that shows all-time hot apps.  For example, while YouTube is definitely a “popular” web app (over 1,000,000+ users installed it in Chrome), it is not even “warm” in “trending”.  This is obvious because the user count of this web app is stable.

Apart from the trending tab, now you can also sort web apps in each individual category to find out the trending web apps.  This is very useful for finding out the hottest web apps such as latest games.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps in Categories


Offline and Playable on Google+ Identification

The second change to Chrome Web Store is the new mark-ups showing particular features of web apps.  In the following screenshot, you see a Google+ mark for Diamond Dash, meaning that this game is playable on Google+ (and trending mark for BrowserQuest too).  You can also find a lightning mark for apps that run offline.  Google said that more marks for other features would follow.

Chrome Web Store - Playable on Gogle Plus Mark


Read more about this update here: – Productivity Web App Using a Tomato

Last year I introduced ChromoDoro, a Chorme extension that enhances your productivity using the pomodoro technique.  This system suggests that human’s productivity drop after a certain period of time.  By breaking down a big task into smaller ones, complete them one by one with short breaks in between, we maintain high productivity.

Today I am going to introduce a web app that does the time tracing for you.  It is not a browser-specific extension / add-on, as long as you use a modern browser you can fire it up.  If you use Google Chrome, there is a Chrome web app which is basically equal to a bookmark. – Web App Employing Pomodoro Technique

This web app cannot be simpler.  There is a logo on top, a timer and four buttons beneath.  Simply click the Pomodoro button, the timer starts to count down 25 minutes, the time span suggested by the Pomodoro system.  Try to complete one task in 25 minutes without getting distracted by other stuff.  When the time comes, this web app tells you that this session ends, you can start a short break of 5 minutes before starting another 25-minute session.  After a few sessions, you can take a long break of 15 minutes instead of 5 minutes.

I am a user of Pomodoro techniques, I have android app as well as Chrome extension serving this function.  This web app gives yet another choice to manage my time, so I highly recommend it to all people who look for effective methods to increase productivity.


Official site:

Chrome Web App:

Free Virus Scan Online – 3 Recommended Web Apps

Virus scanning should not be new to computer users.  Although non-Windows computers are less susceptible to virus infection (e.g. I mainly use Chromebook and Mac at home), there are times when we need to send files to friends and worry that they may contain virus.  You may not want to find an anti-virus software to check the files.  Now, what I am going to introduce could help you.  They are 3 web apps providing free virus scan online.


VirusTotal – Free Virus Scan Online For Individual File

VirusTotal is a web site where you can scan individual files.  You can either upload a file or point the web app to an online file by entering its URL.  The file would then be scanned for virus using over 40 anti-virus software.  Yes, over 40.  So this web app leverages the power of other anti-virus apps.

VirusTotal - Free Virus Scan Online

The result from each anti-virus software is listed on the results page and a summary.  In the example below, none of the 41 software caught any virus, so I could pretty much believe that the file is free from infection.

VirusTotal - Free Virus Scan Online - Scan Results

You can see a VT Community box on the right in the above picture.  Other VirusTotal users can leave comment about the file they scanned.  If so happen the file you submit for scanning was submitted by others before, you could find what these people thought about it.  Besides, the system allows you to skip the scanning if you think you can trust the last scan result.  This little feature is quite useful.

VirusTotal - Free Virus Scan Online - File Submitted Before

This web app works as browser extension and add-on as well.  There is a Chrome extension and a Firefox add-on.  The only drawback is perhaps the 20MB file size limit.  It is quite normal for users to download large multimedia files and need a virus scan before opening the file.


Official Site:

Chrome Extension:

Firefox Add-on:


BitDefender – Free Virus Scan Online For System

BitDefender works the other way.  It does not scan individual files, but your system.  It only scans the memory and files loaded when the system starts.  Inactive files are NOT checked.  By using VirusTotal and BitDefender together, you can get an almost complete anti-virus solution.

Bitdefender - Free Virus Scan Online - Scan Result

This virus scanner is also available as Chrome extension and Firefox add-on.  Besides, you can put a widget on your iGogole page or web site.

Bitdefender - Free Virus Scan Online - Extensions and Widgets

Official Site:

Extensions and Widgets:


ESET Online Scanner – Free Virus Scan Online With Quarantine

ESET Free Virus Scan Online

Probably many people have heard of ESET’s NOD32 Antivirus software before.  This online scanner comes from the same company, but it is limited to online scanning and users cannot do much configurations.  According to the official site, this online scanner scans like NOD32 with the following options.  I do not use this software so I cannot comment on what these options are about but you can test the web app by yourself.




This online scanner is recommended because it uses the same virus definition of NOD32, which is a software that many users found useful.  Besides, some features of the NOD32 scanner are also included, such as the ability to put infected files in quarantine.

One (big) drawback of this scanner is that it only works in Windows.  If you use Internet Explorer with Active-X enabled the scanner could be directly fired up, otherwise a ESET Smart Installer must be installed beforehand.

Official Site:

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