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Archive for November 8th, 2007

One feature of Windows Vista that hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves is the sidebar. It is frequently regarded as mere eye candy. Yet the sidebar can be a really nifty tool – and substantially enhance your productivity- when populated with the right gadgets. You can get one-click access to commonly accessed folders and applications, keep an eye on the weather, check traffic conditions on the freeways, monitor processor and ram performance- all without opening a window.

Vista_screenshot_1 Vista_screenshot_2

To really take advantage of the sidebar, you should set it to “always on top”. This shouldn’t be a problem if you have a wide screen monitor. I also like to keep the sidebar on the left side rather the (default) right. That serves two purposes: it gives a cool margine-like feel to my windows; also, by moving my windows to the right, it nicely makes up for the fact that the text on most web-pages is left-aligned.

There are lots of cool gadgets out there that you can put on the sidebar. It is also possible to drag any gadget from the sidebar to somewhere else on the screen- gadgets frequently respond to this advancement by becoming larger or changing shape. Some must-have gadgets are:

1) A weather tool bar — I like the one that uses the Weather Channel feed, other good ones are accuweather and wunderground. Update: I now prefer the weatherbug gadget, mainly because it has many more weather stations, including one that’s located right where I live.

2) An app launcher — This outstanding gadget gives you one click access from the sidebar to your favourite folders, applications, links – you name it! It is a real time saver and also frees up valuable screen real estate.

3) A sticky note — Valuable for reminders.

4) A dictionary — I like this one. Update: I now use the more versatile and powerful Ultimate Explorer.

5) A CPU/RAM monitor — There are many gadgets that do this task, including one that comes by default with the operating system, but quite simply nothing beats this particular monitor, a fantastic creation that works better than any other similar utility that I’ve tried.

There are many more beautiful – and useful – gadgets. Radios, video and music players, rss readers, clocks, calculators, games… go explore!

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