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Friday Question: Useful Dashboard Widgets?

After that little rant about useless Dashboard widgets, I feel the need to redress the balance. My problem with widgets is that most seem fall into 3 categories:

  1. Searching widgets that are no more convenient than just searching in a browser (especially when most browsers have some way of adding search engines to the default google bar)
  2. Widgets that display information from other apps – viewing iCal events, or unread mail.
  3. Widgets that are just a way of viewing a single RSS feed.

Apart from the default calculator, these are the two that I’ve found worthwhile:

Capture (More than what you can do with keystrokes, it lets you choose filetypes, scale and saving destination)

Google Maps (the one widget that I’ve found to be more convenient than going to the browser)

There must be some useful widgets out there, but maybe there are some little gems that you’ve discovered? Show me your widgets!

Native (looking) Firefox OS X widgets

(File under ‘obsessive browser theming’)

Following on from the previous post, I’ve made some improvements to the form widgets CSS for OS X. Phillipe pointed out to me how to add background images to tags by setting the border to solid 0px white, and the background colour to transparent. So, buttons, textfields and textareas can now look like this in Firefox:

New form widgets in Firefox

If you’d like to have a go at implementing this, you can download all the images and css here. All you have to do is put the files into your Firefox profile directory:
(users> you> Library> Application Support> Firefox> Profiles> yourprofilenumber> chrome>).

Pros:

  • The button includes an active state that shows the dark graphite colour when the button is clicked. I’ve also removed the dotted inner ring around the button text when its selected.
  • I’ve also used original OS X resource files to make the button images. This means they have alpha transparency and will ‘sit’ on any coloured background.

Cons:

  • To acheive the button look, I’ve taken an approximate ‘average’ size button. This won’t scale when the text size is increased, or the text is too large for the button. You’ve got about 100 pixels and thats it. Its enough for phrases like “Google Search” but not quite enough for “I’m feeling lucky”.
  • Also, if a webpage has already got some styling associated with widgets, then things get a bit messy.

So its a step closer, and it does make a difference to using Firefox. Any PC reader (and maybe many mac users) probably don’t get why this is so important. Select menus, radio buttons and checkboxes are harder to alter though, so there’s a task for someone with more time than me!