Monday, September 04, 2006

Widgets...everywhere!

In case you are not aware, I'm a big fan of Widgets. What are Widgets? Essentially, small, single purpose elements that display key information in a very small real estate. For instance, on a typical desk, the clock would be considered a Widget. In the computer world, widgets can be SO much more. Arlo Rose started the whole thing with Konfabulator, originally a Mac app; so successful, Apple stole it for their Dashboard. Yahoo saw the potential, and bought Konfabulator, renaming it as Yahoo Widget Engine. Now Microsoft is coming out with Gadgets for Windows Vista. Widgets are everywhere, and they keep coming!

I use Yahoo Widget Engine for my home computer; in fact, my second monitor is pretty much just devoted to Widgets. Examples:
  • Doppler Radar weather info for the Bay Area and the Boston Area
  • A rotating view of various webcams in Venice, Italy
  • Up to the moment hot deals from WiredDeals

At work, I use Google Desktop for my Widgets. Not nearly as comprehensive as YWE, but I need Google Desktop for my email so much, it's worth the price. And it's getting better. WiFi strength, calendar, even processor output all there.

Now, I can even add widgets to my blog! Widgetbox is populating the content in the bottom of the right column of this blog. For instance, my Netflix queue, my Skype status, and even the ability to send me an SMS. I just dropped one piece of code on my blog template, then use Widgetbox to select the modules I want; I can change them or add to them at any time, with no additional code.

Heck, I even have widgets on my cellphone! BluePulse allows me to have an IM list, weather, news, and more in small, easy to consume microapplications. Restaurant reviews? Check. Traffic? Got it. RSS feeds? Done.

What's next for widgets? Chumby, a soon to be released clock radio that is actually a computer that runs (what else?) widgets! Sounds stupid? Ok, think of this: a clock radio that not only stays perfectly in sync with the Atomic Clock, and plays your favorite song to wake by. But also shows you today's weather, your stock's performance, the traffic for your commute, and more. The possibilities are limitless.

All hail the mighty Widgets!

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