Sidebar gadgets for geeks

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We’re starting to see more reliable gadgets, so I thought I’d give another quick overview of my favorites (in order shown in the above screenshot):

  • Remote Desktop Gadget. Lets you type a hostname and connect using Remote Desktop. I wish it had a drop-list of recently used names.
  • Ping Gadget. Gives you an idea of your current network performance by showing ping latency to a host you specify (yahoo.com works if you can’t find a closer host).
  • Memory Meter. Shows your current memory utilization, your total memory, and the size of your paging file. Multi Meter (the next gadget) also shows you the memory utilization, so you can get away with just using that and save some space.
  • Multi Meter. Shows your processor and memory utilization. There are versions of this for quad, dual, and single-core computers (I have the dual-core). Check out the Gadget Gallery for other options.
  • Presto’s Hard Drive Monitor. Shows you the free space on any of your hard disks. View the options to pick the hard disks you view. I liked DriveInfo, too, but Presto’s is a little simpler.
  • IPConfig. Shows you your current IP address (you can pick from multiple network adapters). Great if you’re a mobile user, or if you use VPNs a lot.
  • Windows Firewall Profile (not shown above). Shows whether your current network profile is public, private, or domain. Good for mobile users who access public networks sometimes.

I also like the Outlook Upcoming Appointments gadget for Outlook 2007.

How to Write Gadgets

If you like those sidebar gadgets and you have any interest in development, check out OdeToCode’s article on developing gadgets for Windows Sidebar. Scott gives you an overview of the gadget platform and gets you started down the path of making your own gadget. I haven’t gotten around to making my own yet, but I’m very interested in it–looks like a fun way to develop. Let me know if you do something interesting with it.

Download Gadgets for your Sidebar

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Vista comes with a handful of fairly useless gadgets, such as an analog clock (um, there’s a digital clock on the taskbar) and an RSS feed that only shows two or three words from each headline. The good news: you can download more free gadgets from the Windows Live Gallery.
Here’s a filtered list of sidebar gadgets for you to browse. That link’s a little flakey, so if nothing comes up, try refreshing it a few times.
Well, the availability of gadgets is pretty bleak now, but here’s a few I like:

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