Thursday, March 09, 2006

Yahoo! Widgets

Today I’ve been playing with Yahoo! Widgets. Version 3.0 is an update of Konfabulator, which Yahoo! purchased last summer, and I have concluded that it is a very useful program. Yahoo! Widgets are small applications that perform specific tasks, e.g. track system resources, display time and date, and retrieve information like stock quotes. What makes them cool is that they are always on and integrated in a framework that controls their UI in unique ways. For each widget you can set opacity and decide when it should be displayed.

Apple users are accustomed to these features as widgets were first available for the Mac, but Konfabulator was early in bringing this coolness to the PC. When I tried it a year ago I thought it was more flash than substance, but now I find that it is a productivity booster for my home machine.

I have 3 widgets set to always display: a CPU meter, a Yahoo! mail checker that alerts me to new messages and a trash basket. The last isn’t useful but it does look cool. I also have 4 more widgets set to appear whenever I press F8. It is these that are the most helpful.

When I worked for a company larger than my present 5-person startup I had Outlook running and connected to Exchange constantly. As a result, my calendar, contacts, notes and email were always 1 click away. Now that I am using more web services, I miss that convenience. But, with Yahoo! Widgets once I press F8, a calendar, my schedule and contacts instantly appear and everything else temporarily fades into the background. Having fast access to a calendar is reason alone to download the program, but I’ve also added a widget that checks the weather forecast. A picture of my “konposed” desktop is above right.

Installation and operation of Yahoo! Widgets is very easy, and there are thousand of widgets to choose from, including some slick ones that monitor wi-fi connections, track battery usage, get news and control iTunes. Others display pictures, show movie schedules, check traffic or launch searches. Still others provide calculators, play games, access web radio or generate maps. As the API is open, the only limits are in the imaginations of the developers. For laptops, my favorites are the mini series.

Yahoo! Widgets works on both Apple and Microsoft systems. Microsoft has their own widget engine and some widgets available now for use with Live! and Apple has released the dashboard.


At 9:34 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Very cool! Thanks Paul!


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