Monday, June 16, 2008

Ubuntu Google Gadgets - Who Gives a F...

Google Gadgets are now available on Ubuntu. I read about this here.

I read the post, and was all ready to start using all these fantastic gadgets. So I loaded a few up. Pretty boring stuff. The same sorts of stuff that I don't ever use in Vista on my work machine. Then I loaded the NASA picture of the day. That sounded sort of cool. It crashed my session.


That is right. It killed my session. It dropped me to black screen and then I had to log in again. I was actually writing this blog entry on how to set this stuff up, and I lost all but the first sentence (the one that you see starting this post).

The funny thing is, I'm actually glad it happened. I've always said widgets, gadgets, desklets, whatever you want to call them... They suck. They waste resources in your system, and you really don't gain much benefit from them. The NASA gadget crashing my session was just a reminder of that.

The analog clock in vista is a great example. Does it provide any real benefit over the clock in the system tray? Well it is a lot bigger, and don't get me started on how it is realistically lit and shaded! Really, how much value does that provide? And now you have less desktop to use. And I would bet real money that it more than uses more than twice the amount of memory and CPU cycles needed for the system tray clock. And while I have no hard data, I'd also bet it has an impact on laptop battery life as well.

These things are typical of the bloat that folks always bitch about when it comes to operating systems. Why is it that I need to have an 80GB hard disk when I could run windows 95 on 100mb? Well, you didn't have a shiny over sized-analog clock taking up desktop real estate in windows 95. YOU'RE WELCOME.

When active desktop came out with I
nternet Explorer 4, everyone thought it was the greatest thing ever - for about 15 minutes. Then they realized it was no real benefit, and it was a big pain in the ass. Apps and content running on the desktop rightfully went into hiding for a few years, until Apple made it popular invented it in OS X Tiger. Of course their implementation is very different, with Apple using a dashboard to house the widgets. And of course they would never rip-off Microsoft - they ripped of Konfabulator. But that is a different story.

The bottom line is this - of course any modern computer can probably take any small performance hit caused by running these little apps all the time - BUT WHY? there is just not enough benefit that I can see. Want your RRS feeds visible? load them on your home page. Want to know what time it is? Look at the clock the computer already gives you. To me these are mostly just useless eye candy, with very few real productivity gains.

Update - I found a Vista gadget I'm actually interested in. When I first got Vista, I could not believe that the included calendar gadget did not integrate with Outlook or Exchange. Well, they now have some gadgets here that show upcoming tasks and appointments. I will run this for a while and see if it really is worth it...

Update to the Update - They suck. you have to have outlook running for them to work. Which means they look like this when you boot:

so, if I need to outlook open, what is the point? Oh well I keep outlook open all day anyway.

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