Saturday, May 12, 2007

What The Bloody Hell's A Widget?

I say it's a theoretical manufacturing good used in an economics class scenario. They say it's a name for buttons, sliders, menu bars, title bars, and all the other paraphernalia that windows can have or contain, hence short for "windows gadget". Confused? Don't worry, I am too. What I do know is that widgets have the potential to reduce the dependency we have on internet browsers to get to the information we typically seek. Although this technology is relatively new (at least for point and clickers such as myself), there's already a handful of widgets useful for soccer fans out there. Here's a review of some of them available to dullard consumers like myself, as well as a few I have created myself. (click title to read more)



Applications

First and foremost, I'll explain how I discovered widgets in the first place. It all started when I opened up a Google account and began customizing my Google homepage (now called iGoogle). I started out with a few RSS feeds from messasgeboards and from blogs I read (RSS feeds will show the X most recent headlines or post titles and link to them). I found those to be particularly useful. However, I also discovered more advanced applications such as clocks, calenders, and even games to place on my homepage. Those are all essentially widgets. It may be worth pointing out that, like most streamlined applications, widgets were first introduced on Macs.

Most people, even those who write blogs, don't know how to use code. Places like iGoogle and Yahoo make it possible to easily install and then drag and drop widgets right where you want them. Once installed, these applications make the internet experience much easier, especially for the casual user.


Where To Get Widgets

I already mentioned iGoogle and Yahoo, which have an easy to use interface to find and install them. I also started using Widgetbox to both download and publish widgets. That single table I had been maintaining by manually installing the code to my blog has been turned into a widget thanks to Widgetbox. What makes this service nice, besides the fact it's free, is that it makes installing to the popular services such as myspace, yahoo, and blogger idiot proof. As long as you have a site where you can install code on, it's really easy to add widgets from Widgetbox. There's also a "blidget" feature which easily converts blogs to widgets. If you re interested, you can subscribe to this blog's widget here.

Yahoo also has a popular service. I plan on experimenting with the program soon to see if I can improve on that MLS Table widget. Although, it appears that their widgets can only be installed on the Yahoo Widget program.

(If anyone knows of any other good widget hosting services or creation programs, please leave a comment and I'll amend this section)


Soccer Widgets

Here's some widgets that may interest the soccer fan out there:

Soccer Scores: just what it says, very concise module, yet extensive coverage
Soccer Shoes: blog rating soccer shoes, very unique
Maradona England Fixtures Widget: I think it displays England's fixtures, but what interests me is the graphic
SoccerXScores: another score display (Yahoo only)
SoccerStats: another Yahoo widget. This one's quite extensive.
Unreal Soccer: cute soccer game widget


Ideas

There are a few neat widgets covering other sports that I would like to see for MLS. If I could figure out a way to easily set up and maintain a stat tracker widget, like this one, I'd do so. The problem with the way I'm currently maintaining the MLS Table widget is I manually set the table up in Dreamweaver, and then post the code to Widgetbox. I can't see myself doing that for any number of stat trackers. If I can find a better program, I may just go for it.

Something that I would love to do is design a widget to count down Stevie Ralston's bids for most games played and all-time assists record. That would be very easy to do and it'd be tough to mess up the stats because there's only two to keep track of.

2 Comments:

Derek Anderson said...

Check out widgetslab.com. It's where I review widgets on a daily basis. (provided there is something new to review) The people at widgetbox do a great job with the widgets but they lack a sense of humor. I know you like a bit of wit with your reading.
"D"

Alex said...

Check out www.yourminis.com - it is a widget gallery that gives you tons of flash widgets that you can configure and then embed on your site!