One of my favourite part of OS X is the Dashboard. There are always lots of cool, useful widgets for all kinds of convenient purposes. If F12 isn’t becoming one the most worn out keys on your keyboard, you’re really missing out on some great, free stuff.
This is one of the best widgets available. It’s not new, but an updated version just came out recently. Basically IStat Pro displays all kinds of useful statistical info about your computer, including CPU usage, memory usage, disk space, system uptime, system temperatures, etc. There’s also information about your network/IP addresses and running application processes (both not pictured above). Even if I don’t quite understand all the more technical info, it’s still great for keep an eye on how your computer’s running. It’s very customizable and displays in a tall or wide configuration and various colour schemes. It all looks quite sleek.
For TV fanatics like myself, this widget is the answer for finding out when new episodes of my favourite shows will be on, what their episode titles will be, etc. It’s linked into TV.com (the most comprehensive site for info about TV shows). If you click on the name of the show or episode in the widget display, your browser opens up to the corresponding detailed info. It’s as simple as picking your shows and letting the widget do the rest to keep you up to date.
It’s hard to believe that they could fit a picture editor into a widget, but they have. Granted, you won’t be airbrushing out wrinkles with this tool, but for resizing and cropping pictures without opening a full blown application, this is a really awesome widget. Included are a few special effects, including reflection, shadow, and even pushpin (an image of a pushpin is added to your photo to make it look like it’s pinned to a bulletin board) just for fun. The interface is a bit tricky to get used to, since there isn’t the tool palette that these kinds of applications usually have, but once you learn it, this will become an invaluable tool for quick picture editing.
Part of an online service, the Backpack widget allows you to access lists and other pages that you’ve created as part of that service. It’s a subscription service that you need to join, but they offer a free level as well (which is what I’m on). They only allow about half a dozen pages at the free level, but it’s enough for me to use. It allows you to access this information simply and easily from any web browser. The full blown service is full of features for creating some pretty fancy pages, but for me I just create lists of movies I want to see, or things I want to buy, etc. I can add or check off items from all my lists using the widget, and if I click the backpack icon to open the browser, I can reorganize and manipulate my lists as well. Backpack is a great tool for keeping all your little snippets of information stored in one easy-to-access web location.