Widgets on the Left

I realize that not everyone owns a Mac. In some cases, people actually prefer the Windows OS. In most cases, they use Windows either because the choice was made by their employer or they chose a PC for their personal computer because it was less expensive. I use both Windows and Mac machines at home and at work. My computer of preference is a Mac, but there are a couple of applications I use regularly that are not cross platform. Now that the latest Macs use the Intel Core Duo processor, I no longer have to choose between Windows and Mac operating systems. I can run both on the same machine.

One of the reasons I prefer the latest MAC OS (Tiger) is because of the Dashboard. Dashboard hosts these cool little single purpose, mini-applications called Widgets. When I first began using Tiger, I thought the Widgets were fun, but not really very useful. Over the last year, developers have created some wonderful new Widgets that I use daily. In fact, I now think the Dashboard is one of the indispensable features of Tiger.

How do I use them? Well, for one thing, there are Widgets that make it quite easy for a Liberal to keep up with the latest news. For example, there is no radio station in southern Idaho that carries Air America. Fortunately, there is a Widget that streams Air America with one click.

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There are also Widgets for the BBC, and NPR. It is great to be able to listen to any of these three wherever I happen to be with my laptop.

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One Widget that I use every day is News Reader. News Reader lets you choose the RSS feed from all of your favorite On-Line news sources including news papers, news magazines, blogs and special interests web sites. I can scan feeds from the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Huffington Post, The Nation, Google news, Yahoo news, Common Dreams and Truthout all from the same Widget.

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This Widget has saved me untold hours of surfing. If I see an article I want to read, I click on the headline and it opens the page in my browser.
There are also magazines on the left, like The Progressive, that have their own Widgets.

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Of course, there are plenty of Widgets that are useful no matter what your political persuasion. Here are a few of my favorites:
Flight Tracker-

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Best price for gas-

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Nearest WiFi Hotspots-

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Craig’s List-

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Current Movies-

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In each case, you put in the relevant information (i.e. Zip Code) and the current information for your specific time and place appears.

There are literally thousands of free Widgets available for downloading. Currently, I have 36 Widgets on my dashboard. Some I use daily, others very infrequently. One of the minor complaints I had about Widgets, as I began to collect more and more, is that I had to open Dashboard and then cycle through before finding the Widget I wanted. Now, thanks to software developer, Mesa Dynamics, that is no longer a problem. They have a nifty utility called “Amnesty” that lets you organized your Widgets and embed the most frequently used ones on your desktop. It is not necessary to use Dashboard at all.

Before I finish this post, let me share one of my favorite Widgets. I happen to be a fan of old “B” movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Many of those old features are available on the Internet Archives web site. I used to go to the site quite frequently and download movies. This was quite a time consuming and memory consuming process. Then, I discovered the Archives Classic Movies Widget. Every week there is a new selection of 10 to 12 full length movies from the Archive vaults to watch with the click of your mouse. I just finished wasting 90 minutes watching Pat O’Brien in the 1933 thriller, The World Gone Mad. It was just the escapist entertainment I needed to keep me from obsessing about the real “world gone mad” under the incompetent leadership of Bush and his lackeys.

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