I’ve said it many times before: for the most part, I just don’t see the point of Dashboard widgets. Ever since the introduction of Tiger, there have perhaps been three or four that I’ve shown any interest in; none of those has been used for long. My view has always been that everything I might need from a widget can be done just as easily with an extra browser tab.
But I just found a couple of widgets that break out of the browser with style. Both found at keilly.com, they are the BBC Listen Again widget and the ZX Spectrum widget.
I spend half my life listening to BBC radio output of some kind or another, and the Listen Again service is one of the corporation’s greatest triumphs. Of the half-life I spend listening to radio, half of that is done using this web-based time-shifting.
But it can be a pain having it in a browser window. I’ve got into the habit of opening it in a separate window, and minimising that window to the Dock to ensure I don’t close it by mistake, mid-show.
This widget overcomes that problem, but also solves another I didn’t know I had. It tidies up the BBC interface, grouping programmes together into useful lists by programme station or genre. Want hours of Music Documentaries to listen to? You got them. Gawd bless the BBC, as no-one ever really says in London town any more.
Meanwhile, the ZX Spectrum widget is, for me, like taking a bath in an all-day spa of nostalgia. Here’s my confession: I never owned a Spectrum of my own. But plenty of my friends did. I used to go round my friend Tim’s house after school, and we’d play Manic Miner until we were faint. No wonder I’ve grown into the kind of adult who thinks a small plastic think like the Nintendo DS should be an object of abject lust.
The widget comes pre-packed with a dozen or more (legal) game roms, so there’ no need to go hunting around in the shadier parts of the internets to find something worth playing. Miner, Skool Daze, Chuckie Egg, Elite, there’s plenty to play.