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Blogging Made Better

Quick! What do live ducks, the Today Show, Nascar Standings, Al Jazeera, a planimeter and a small red ant have in common? Can’t guess? Well, would it help if I added a few more links to the chain? How about space probes,Donkey Kong, tire size conversions, a planimeter and an anime podcast?

Ah, now you have it, right? They’ve all been made into widgets that you can download and use on your desktop or in blogs or web pages.In case you’ve been watching “Lost” reruns for the last two years and don’t know what widgets are, they’re blocks of code that are embedded within a web page, blog or onto a desktop. They produce content that isn’t static. In other words, they do something.

So, if you had the Nascar widget, you could keep up with the latest Nascar standings on a minute to minute basis. If you had the live ducks widget, you’d save a lot of money on bread and would never have to go to the park again.

Widgets aren’t just for fun. There are some serious widgets out there, widgets that solve problems and simplify our lives. For instance, say you’re in London, sitting in your Hyde Park office, swotting away (English folk often swot) and you realize that you’re supposed to be somewhere really important in a half hour. Do you panic? No, you just tickle your little “London Tube Status” widget and it tells you exactly what’s happening Underground.

And say you’re tired of your surroundings. Like, maybe you live in a very cold place where there’s two feet of snow and everything is gray and white, like someone threw bleach all over the landscape. There’s a widget for that. It’s called Hawaii Anytime from? Hawaii Air. Just fire it up, put in a Led Ka’apana cd and listen to that slack key guitar while you grab yourself a pork sandwich and it’s luau time. Hey, you could even have the Little Red Ant widget crawl all over your desktop to add to the picnic theme. All of the above-mentioned widgets and many, many more can be found at Yahoo’s Widget Gallery or Widgetbox.

A word of warning. Widgets may be habit forming. You think you’ll just download the basic clock/thermometer but while you’re waiting you browse the rest of the widgets and before you know it, your desktop/blog/web page is buried with the little critters.They may yet turn out to be the cyberspace equivalent of tribbles. They take memory and slow down loading time, so keep an eye on both if you install any. But a few can really enhance your blog and attract more visitors.

Lill Hawkins lives in Maine and writes about family life, home education and being a WAHM at http://www.hawkhillacres.blogspot.com? Get the News From Hawkhill Acres: A mostly humorous look at home schooling, writing and being a WAHM, whose mantra is “I’m a willow; I can bend.”

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