Konfabulator started the whole thing about 4 years ago. Widgets, little miniature apps that sat on your desktop and provided a dashboard-like set of software controls for a variety of purposes. Started out for Mac OS X because those Apple guys love that kind of thing, but soon spread to Windows. Became popular enough that a Linux version evolved, and then Microsoft hopped on the bandwagon as they do with anything that becomes super-popular. Made it an integral part of Vista under the name ‘Sidebar Gadgets’. Naturally, Google couldn’t stay out of that game and soon released Google Gadgets for its Google Desktop platform. Loads and loads and loads of freaking gadgets. So which ones to choose.
Fortunately, the guys at Web Worker Daily took a bite out of that problem. Did a post on the most productive gadgets, widgets, and doodads with which you can clutter your desktop. I found a few in there I really liked, including the OS X’s Easy Envelopes, got that one working real easy with my HP printer. The Vista Systran Dictionary is cool, and Yahoo’s Clipboard Washer proved real useful for dumping all that pesky formatting that most blogging tools don’t understand.
I didn’t like their picks for Google’s Gadgets. Instead, I like Google-Wikipedia, which is a quick way to search Wikipedia. On the Vista side, I also like the Drive Meter gadget, but that’s because I run a whole bunch of USB-connected external drives. On the Yahoo side, I like TV Tracker and I REALLY like the Multi-City Traffic Monitor since I’m often driving between NYC, Newark, Stamford and other metropli in the tri-state area.
My only deal with gadgets is that I don’t find it comfortable running more than one gadget engine on any particular PC…yet. Theoretically, of course, you should be able to run both Google and Yahoo’s gadget engines on a Vista machine and make use of Sidebar at the same time–or an OS X box and make use of OS X gadgets. But more than one gadget engine is just too visually cumbersome for me. Probably also bugs me on a sys management front, since if something went wrong with one I’d have that much more trouble figuring where the issue was located.
Besides, all of them have the basics I like: A calendar, a calculator, a weather monitor and a stick note/reminder app. Someday, when I get money again, I’ll want a stock ticker, but they’ve all got several of those, too.