Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Internet, Mac Stuff, Ranting 6 Comments

I pretty much live in my browser. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is get a coffee then fire up XChat, FireFox, and Thunderbird. The last thing I do before I brush my teeth and go to bed is close XChat, Firefox, and Thunderbird. If I’m in front of a computer, I can guarantee you that at least those three applications are open and being used. This is just how things are for me, and how things have been for me for an awfully long time.

Now, about these widgets. Let’s say I decided I wanted a Google search widget. To get it widget, I have to find it (not hard), trust it to be non-malicious (I’m paranoid, so this is a bit edgy), download it, install it (it doesn’t do that automatically), then start it. Assuming it starts and does what it’s supposed to do, it then sits on the Dashboard and quietly sucks up system resources waiting for me to give it something to do. When I do decide I want to use the widget, I have to hit F12, click on the widget to focus, usually click on it again to get my cursor into whatever text box it’s supposed to be in, then type something, then click on the widget again to make it go (or hit enter), then either hit F12 or on an empty spot in the Dashboard to get back to my desktop.

Alternately, I could just click the Google button on my Firefox quickbar, type something in the webform (which happily autofocuses my cursor in the right place), then hit enter.

Maybe you’re seeing my confusion here. There are eleventy billion widgets out there that do things people can already do very easily in their web browser. Google searches, Ebay searches, Amazon searches, LiveJournal updates, etc etc. Widgets do not make these things easier or more convenient, so…I say to you, “Wtf?”

6 Responses to “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

  1. Andrea Says:
    May 17th, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    I hear ya! But, right now my taskbar is filled with 22 open items, so the Google bar and Yahoo! bar “help” in that I don’t have to switch between quite and manny things. Also, to save searches and bookmarks in Yahoo! or drop a note in my Yahoo! notepad, dash a Blog posting off (when I’m using — gasp! IE), or rank a page–among other things. Granted, since my Web usage is being tracked any time I use items like these, I’m trading the “convenience” of the “free” services for my personal information. Sometimes it seems worth it.

  2. Andrea Says:
    May 17th, 2005 at 9:50 pm

    (Of course, there is a spell-check feature available too–when I remember to use it!)

  3. Andrea Says:
    May 17th, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    I hear ya! But, right now my taskbar is filled with 22 open items, so the Google bar and Yahoo! bar “help” in that I don’t have to switch between quite and manny things. Also, to save searches and bookmarks in Yahoo! or drop a note in my Yahoo! notepad, dash a Blog posting off (when I’m using — gasp! IE), or rank a page–among other things. Granted, since my Web usage is being tracked any time I use items like these, I’m trading the “convenience” of the “free” services for my personal information. Sometimes it seems worth it.

  4. Andrea Says:
    May 17th, 2005 at 9:50 pm

    (Of course, there is a spell-check feature available too–when I remember to use it!)

  5. Joel Says:
    May 20th, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    WTF? They’re easy widgets to build and likely more gratifying for the author than the poor user who downloads it and realizes it sucks up system resources (including space in the widget view). Probably the same reason there are more than 100 note taking applications for the PalmOS – the OS supports a memo feature. Add a new icon, an update lowercase “i” in front of the word “pad” and presto – a new program!

    No, no cynicism here ;-)

  6. Joel Says:
    May 20th, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    WTF? They’re easy widgets to build and likely more gratifying for the author than the poor user who downloads it and realizes it sucks up system resources (including space in the widget view). Probably the same reason there are more than 100 note taking applications for the PalmOS – the OS supports a memo feature. Add a new icon, an update lowercase “i” in front of the word “pad” and presto – a new program!

    No, no cynicism here ;-)

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