Drowning in a Sea of Widgets
“Thanks to OSX Dashboard, anyone can be a Shite Software producer”

On the face of it, it must have seemed a great idea when the boffins at Apple thought up the idea of building The Dashboardinto Tiger [Mac OSX 10,4]. Now anyone with a smattering of Javascript and the ability to throw a bit of HTML and CSS together could design pretty looking ‘Widgets’ which could be called up [via the Dashboard] at the press of a button and give [almost!] instant access to various single-purpose functions.

To this end, Apple supplied a starter set of widgets, which included such moderately useful items as a Calculator, a World Clock, an online Dictionary look-up, online Yellow Pages look-up etc. etc. Occasionally useful, but not earth-shattering. Then Tiger was released to the general public and suddenly every acne-faced bedroom dwelling teenager with a “Teach Yourself Javascript” book and a fantasy of becoming the next steve jobs, could leap upon the Mac software development bandwagon. Yes. Now you too can see your name up in lights on Macupdate or VersionTracker, along with all those other wannabe software developers. All you need to do is throw together a Widget, no matter how completely and utterly pointless, and then sit back and bask in the communal glory.

And the result? You can’t get fucking moving on Macupdate or VersionTracker these days for a veritable avalanche of unbelieveably stupid, worthless and often counter-productive Widgets. Trying to find a ‘proper’ application on either of these two [previously useful] sites is now like trying to find a needle in a haystack -a fucking huge haystack, made of Widgets; there are Widgets which tell you the time […Or I could just glance at the clock in the menubar!], widgets which tell you your battery status [Er… or again, I could just glance at the battery status in the menubar!], widgets which will singly retrieve content from almost every conceiveable website on the planet [Hmmm… thing is, I’ve already got a web browser. Why, in the name of Thora Hird’s cunt do I want to keep 200 widgets running -one for each individual site I want to visit- when I could just visit them all with the one web browser?!]

And then this morning while doing my daily “Wheat From Chaff” trawl through Macupdate, I came across the most stupefyingly idiotic Widget of all time: iStarter 2,0 from the almost accurately named company “Tossen”. Note that this is version 2,0 of iStarter, which suggests it adds new and exciting features onto whatever the Hell iStarter 1,0 did.

“But what does it do?” cry the readers in a frenzy of anticipation.

Well, my dear friends, iStarter 2,0 is a Widget which, to quote the developer “Allows you quick access to restart, sleep and shutdown your Mac”.

Yes, it’s true! Those days of having to go to all the trouble of pressing the power button on your keyboard to bring up the “Restart / Sleep / Shutdown” dialogue are but a distant, fading memory. For now, thanks thanks to iStarter 2,0, you simply press the ƒ12 key to call up Dashboard, wait a couple of seconds for the widgets to load, then scroll through them all to find iSstarter 2,0, activate it and then choose from its “Restart / Sleep / Shutdown” options!

Was so much programming genius ever before compressed into so small a package? And how did we ever manage without iStarter 2,0 in the past?

I’d like to believe that with iStarter 2,0, we’ve finally plumbed the very depths of banality and futility in Widget design, but the sad truth is more likely to be that tomorrow and the day after will see even more stinking turds floating to the top of the great bubbling Widget cess-pool. Now, where did I pack my snorkel?

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TAGS: osxcrapwarewidgets

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: 06 Jun 2005

AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz

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