I'm a computer guy. I've been programming since the early 80s, starting with BASIC on a Commodore Pet. I've worked on HPUX, BSD and various other *nix as well as Windows since 3.0. My new work provides Apple laptops, but I've never learned to use a Mac. How hard can it be?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dashkards and the Dashboard

I read some stuff the other day about the dashboard.  I had been trying to get it to be useful with the widgets it came with, and having trouble - mainly because I didn't notice the little information/settings icon when hovering over the widgets.  Not being able to change the ESPN widget away from Hockey wasn't very interesting, so I was glad to find that.  Of course, I don't really need to have ESPN on the dashboard.  I have other ways of finding sports scores that give me the information I'm actually interested in.

That did lead me to a couple of interesting web pages.  The first was from Lifehacker, about making dashboards useful.  It was an interesting article, and I appreciated the different suggestions they made, especially the point that there's a settings icon when you hover over the widget.  More interesting, though, was the link to the Dashkards site.  Dashkards is a widget for the dashboard that lists keyboard shortcuts for lots of different functions in lots of different apps.  It includes the OS (Lion only) as well as gestures.  You can turn off the apps you don't use so they don't show up in the list.

Now when I hit a key combination and it does something strange (like hide the app I'm working in and go back to the desktop), I can hit Fn-F12 to jump to the dashboards and see the keyboard shortcuts for Mac OS X.  Or I can switch to the Chrome dashkard to find out, since Cmd-D created a bookmark instead of putting me in the address bar the way it did in Windows, how to jump to the address bar (Cmd-L).

Some of the other suggestions from the Lifehacker page...

  • monitor system usage - I don't really need this yet... I have noticed that this machine is a bit slow about some things, but I'm also not pushing it enough to worry about usage
  • delivery status, scores, etc - I am anything like the author in that once I know something is en route, I tend to check status on it (far more) frequently (than is useful).  I mentioned not caring about sports scores, but perhaps at some point I'll take a look at some of the widgets for these sorts of things
  • sticky notes - I use evernote already, so I'm not going to start keeping notes on dashboard
  • streaming music - this might be cool, though I don't stream all that often; I'm not sure having it running on the desktop or as a hidden app will really matter, but perhaps if there's a widget for Pandora and/or my favorite radio stations that will be useful...

I am curious about other dashboard widgets that might be useful, but there are thousands of them and I haven't felt like trying to sift through them to find whether any are interesting.  One thing I'm concerned about is that there isn't a lot of room on the dashboard and moving widgets around is a bit of a pain if you can't just have them all visible.  Perhaps I'll play with this more at some point.

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