Konfabulator — Now With 100% More Yahoo!

8:17 pm General

I might not have mentioned this free software package before but I use it every day. It was called Konfabulator. Then a couple of months or so ago Yahoo! bought them out. Luckily they didn’t screw it up (yeah, I’m looking at you AOL and what you did to Nullsoft) and the package is still free and still useful. Before Yahoo! seized ownership there used to be a cool history of the Konfabulator in the form of a comic book–alas, it is gone.

What’s a widget? I’m glad you asked. I don’t know of a specific definition but I would say it’s something that looks good visually and does something. Usually just one thing. Like a virtual button or stock ticker, or weather report, calendar, Wi-Fi signal strength meter, battery meter, world clock, sticky note… stuff like that. Wikipedia has a decent explination.

You can download the Konfabulator Yahoo! Widget engine at http://widgets.yahoo.com/.

Now for the real power. Let’s say that as a system administrator you are constantly needing to keep tabs on some process. Maybe you keep a terminal window open or have some cron job always looking at a message queue or something. Now you can just slap together an XML interface and create a widget that will display that information graphically right on your desktop. It looks good. It feels good. It is good.

5 Responses

  1. Nat Says:

    Thanks to a little digging I found the comic:
    http://www.konfabulator.com/cartoon/partOne.html

  2. Seth Says:

    I got hooked on Konfabulator when it was first released for the Mac. Nat is right that widgets can be a pretty unobtrusive way to keep track of a lot of things. Apple kinda screwed Konfabulator over by introducing Dashboard though – there’s a lot of posts on the Yahoo! site asking about Dashboard versions of certain widgets. That having been said, I prefer the Dashboard mechanism for keeping widgets out of the way unless needed.

    And _that_ having been said, since I do a lot of box-hopping, I’ve been using Google widgets lately as a more portable, (much) less pretty source for my widget hankerin’.

    http://www.google.com/ig/directory

  3. elyograg Says:

    Widgets are pretty cool, but I have one problem with them, making it pretty much a show-stopper.

    There’s always windows open on my computer, often full-screen. I never see the desktop, so I never see the widgets. If I have to do anything beyond alt-tab or clicking on a window, I won’t use it.

  4. Nat Says:

    Why do you only have one monitor? Another option is to press F8 which brings all the widgets to the front and then F8 again put them into the background again. I view the widgets as a control pannel where I can see all the information I like. I have no problem pressing a button to see all my widgets at the same time.

  5. elyograg Says:

    In a word – cost.

    In addition to more decent monitors, I’d need a new video card that can do multiple monitors by itself, since plugging an AGP card into my desktop disables the onboard video. My laptop can run a monitor as a second display, but to make it effective I’d really need a docking station, which is yet another expense.

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