Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thing 26: Widgets on YourMinis

Ok I spent wayyyy too much time on this one. I actually have tried several start pages in the past so I went back and reviewed them first and worked with the YourMinis startpage last. Some of the others I tried were: Netvibes, Pageflakes, iGoogle, MyYahoo!, and Protopage. This was a continuation for me of an earlier "thing" : #19 Web 2.0 Tools - Start pages : "Pimped Out" Personalized Home Pages. Each has their bright spots. MyYahoo and iGoogle have the bonus of being a part of a persons email account so you can link directly to other parts of your Yahoo or Google accounts easily. Netvibes, Pageflakes, iGoogle, MyYahoo and YourMinis have widgets by well known content providers. Protopage and YourMinis had unique widgets I hadn't seen before. Many will let you add your own custom made widget but you have to sign up for a widget developer account. There were many times that I wanted to add a widget from one site to another and each startpage had content providers they partnered with. Unfortunately if your startpage was not among the "preferred" providers it was very difficult to add it to your startpage. Many times I thought it wasn't worth it to try to go through the added steps transfer to another startpage's site. If you were adding the widget to your personal webpage or blog it was much easier. Just copy and paste the code like with other sites widgets.

With all of them you could customize them and drag and drop widgets where you liked on the page. Some more so than others. Protopage and Yourminis gave you the closest feeling of an open desktop with their dark backgrounds and ability to place the widget anywhere on the page, not just in a certain order. Protopage also gave the added bonus of letting you create multiple rows of tabs not just one row with a left/right arrow like with Yourminis. That way you could see all of your tabs in one glance.

I finally leaned towards the YourMinis startpage because of how their widgets interacted with sites that I already use and also for how the startpage was laid out and how the menus were laid out to add new widgets. I'll cover how I use the startpage by tabs.
Tab 1 - Productivity
Here I added the ususal suspects: calendar, weather, the web search widget, bookmark widgets of heavily used sites--its nice that they open in a separate tab or window (depending on what browser you have). I also added my avatars from Yahoo! and Meez and a wood elf picture linked directly from the web into a frame--nifty.
Tab 2 - Reference
I tend to scribble down notes on a little slip of paper and then would forget where I put it when I needed it. So I created a Reference tab and used the notepad and text editor widgets for little reference tidbits. There is even a widget called ScribePad that looks like you are typing on a little parchament scroll. These notes are especially handy when I do NCKnows online reference because I can access it from any browser on any computer under any login.
Tab 3 - Books to Read
LibraryThing covered in Thing 11 doesn't have a separate menu for books to read. I could add tags to my books called "ToRead" but I find that I use LibraryThing more for books I have already read. There is a site that has a separate "Books to Read List" called Shelfari. It's similar to LibraryThing but I haven't really looked into it to compare more than that. I do know that LibraryThing seems to have more users for what ever reason. Both are great tools for feedback for bookclubs. One of our children's librarians uses Shelfari for her bookclubs. Check our her blog at Stiletto Storytime. In the Yourminis startpage I've got my Amazon wish list widget there as well as search widgets for Amazon US and UK. I tried adding the library's catalog widget but it has to be a URL not HTML code. (Note to self--email Paul about having the catalog widget available as a URL) I even added the cover art widget where you can type in the title of a book, movie, or music cd and it will bring up the book cover. You can even search by keyword.
Tab 4 - Photos
I also created separate tabs for photos and videos. The Flickr widget is most awesome. If you have friends in your Flickr network, this is way cool to keep up with what they are adding. You can also do a search for a keyword in the Flickr widget and it will constantly update with the latest on that keyword. Of course I had to create ones with elves, fairies and shelties to test it out. If your friends use a different photosharing service you can use the Slide Show widget instead.
Tab 5 - Videos
You can do keyword video searches in You Tube or Veoh and it will retain that search for you to view each time you use your startpage. I found a video that had giant koi swimming in a pond to Japanese music. More soothing than a fish tank and no clean up!

Whew! After all of that...I still want to go back and look at NetVibes and see all the nifty content they have. That should take oh...another month. Ha Ha!


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