In this week’s Dashboard roundup, I cover a couple Widgets that make common tasks easier, as well as two ways to get a quick laugh. I also pick a “Why” of the week.
Sticky Spawn ( ; free). I’m not a big user of Stickies—the application or the Dashboard Widget—but I know a good number of people who are. And one of the complaints I hear about the Stickies Widget is that if you want more than one “note,” you have to open the Widget bar, find the Stickies Widget, and then add an additional instance onto Dashboard. This isn’t a Herculean feat, but it is a hassle. Sticky Spawn makes the process easier by sticking a tiny button—which looks like a miniature Stickies note—on Dashboard; each time you click it, a new Stickies Widget appears on the screen. It’s the easiest way I know to spawn new notes, and it takes up very little of your precious Dashboard space.
VZMinutes ( ; free). Several people in my family use Verizon for wireless service, sharing the minutes of a Family Plan. So they frequently use the Verizon Web site to check how many minutes have been used in the current billing cycle. VZMinutes gives you quicker access: After providing your Verizon username and PIN, the Widget displays your minute usage information whenever you activate Dashboard. It would be even better if it could tell you how many minutes you have left . (A similar Widget is available for Sprint PCS, but I haven’t tested it.)
SimpsonBot ( ; free) and Evil Monkey ( ; free). There are many Widgets out there that give you a “word/phrase/quote of the day,” but two of my favorites are SimpsonBot and Evil Monkey. The former gives you a random quote from The Simpsons TV show (courtesy of thesimpsonsquotes.com ) each time you activate Dashboard. The latter does the same for The Family Guy (courtesy of FamilyGuyQuotes.com ). Granted, if you’re not a fan of these shows, you probably won’t be a fan of the Widgets, but for Simpsons and Family Guy aficionados, they’re a great way to get an unexpected laugh whenever you delve into Dashboard.
Widget “Why?” of the Week
Each week, I give a good-natured poke at a Widget that makes me think, “Why was this necessary?” This week’s “why” goes to Tip Calculator , a Widget that lets you determine the appropriate tip to leave for your waiter or waitress, based on a given bill total and tip rate. Don’t get me wrong, Tip Calculator works great. But here’s the thing: You’d generally need its functionality at the end of a meal, sitting in a restaurant. Are you actually going to whip out your PowerBook just to fire up Dashboard and use Tip Calculator? If you are, I bow to your ultimate geekiness, which far surpasses my own (and that’s saying something, at least according to my family).