$$ - Save Time, Waste Time
The concept of simple, single purpose computer programs has been around for decades. Over the last few years however, there has been an explosion in the number of said utilities available to computer users. Now commonly referred to as widgets, these programs are as varied as they are numerous. In fact there are literally thousands of widgets available, with new ones popping up daily.
The vast majority are both free and easy to install, factors that have no doubt contributed to their popularity. Some widgets are immensely useful, some are fun, and as alluded to in the title of the article, some can actually make you more efficient at wasting time!
While there are exceptions, most widgets are designed to simply display information in an easily accessible format. There are widgets dedicated to the weather, the stock market, parcel tracking, snow reports, calendars, calculators, dictionaries and language translators. Widgets that display information from news and other frequently updated websites also feature prominently in widget directories.
Other than these useful applications, there are plenty of widgets designed purely for entertainment purposes. Hundreds of simple games exist, including Crosswords, Tetris, Solitaire, Pacman, Space Invaders, Chess, and the highly addictive Sudoku.
Start Your Engines
While all modern widget systems are built on popular web technologies, several widget platforms have emerged.
Apple first introduced its widget offering, Dashboard, as part of MacOS X Tiger in 2005, while Microsoft released its remarkably similar Gadget technology in Vista more recently.
There are also several third-party developers with widget platforms, Yahoos cross platform solution being the most widely adopted.
Regardless of their flavour, widgets can either be permanently fixed to the screen, or set to stay out of view and await a predefined keyboard or mouse command. Once summoned, the users widgets spring to life, ready to perform their duty. To expel widgets from view, the user need only perform another keystroke or click on the mouse.
Because of the fact that it is easy to both summon and dismiss multiple widgets at once, they are an efficient way to access a wide variety of information in one place.
Im not aware of any Australian medical centric widgets, but can think of at least a few that would be useful.
Id like to see widgets for identifying drug side effects, dosages and antibiotic guidelines. Being able to type in a symptom and get a list of differential diagnoses would also be useful. There is also strong potential for their use with evidence based medicine and searching online databases.
Authors Favourite: ICE TV
While I have experimented with hundreds of widgets, the ones that Ive retained and use regularly all perform fairly simple tasks. Though Im loath to admit it, the widget that I refer to most is an Australian developed widget called IceTV.
As you may have guessed from the name, this widget is devoted to the humble television. Specifically, IceTV is a electronic program guide that allows you to view up-and-coming television shows for all the free to air and most of the digital channels available in Australia, all at the press of a button.
Save time, waste time indeed!
Posted in Australian eHealth