Kent Compton

Software runs the world!

Gadgets – Do you Love them or Leave them?

Gadgets – Do you Love them or Leave them?

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Gadgets seem to one of those things in computers that polarize people.  Gadgets, in the Windows world, are little pieces of code, jscript and/or XML (depending on the gadget) that sits primarily in the Sidebar in Vista and anywhere on the desktop in Windows 7.  Some people rely on them heavily while others disdain them for taking up memory, processor or hard drive I/Os.  I am in the former camp—I rely on them to tell me how my computer is performing, what the weather is, which appointments I have coming up and as a way to look up references.  

I add the following gadgets to all of my computers: Digital Dutch Clock, MSN Weather, Multi Meter, HDD Meter or Multimeter,  Outlook Appointments, and Wikipedia.  Two of those gadgets—the Digital Dutch Clock and MSN Weather—replace the gadgets that come with Windows.   I like the DDC because it shows additional info that Window’s default clock gadget doesn’t have (see below).  Jan, DDC’s developer, was kind enough to rev his gadget for Windows 7 when I sent him email letting him know that the previous version wasn’t properly rendering.  I love the developer community and am especially appreciative of Jan turning around the update so quickly (3 weeks!). 


I like the MSN Weather gadget because it has a small profile:


that can be flown-out to a 3-day forecast simply by clicking on it: 


Window’s default gadget has a 3-day profile too but its either in the small state or the large state, not both.  For example, you can undock the default gadget from Vista’s Sidebar to get it to show the 3-day forecast; however, clicking on anything but the City, State (which launches a web site) doesn’t do anything.

The real downside with some gadgets is that, like any app, they can leak memory.  Fortunately, logging out and logging back in resets them to a baseline.   I hope that someday I’ll be able to tell which gadget is leaking memory and work with the developer to fix it or simply turn it off.  I don’t have the time to turn them off individually and wait a couple of days.

BTW, Windows 7 is a great OS.  It takes all of Vista’s strengths and enhances them and its challenges and minimizes or eliminates them.  For now, that’ll have to wait to be another post or you can go to someone else’s blog like the Windows 7 team

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