Konfabulator makes the Desktop a reality and iChat even more useful

I was a bit picky when taking a look at Konfabulator, a subsystem for Mac OS X allowing you to run menu-less widgets on your desktop. Widgets are written in JavaScript and usually do just a small thing much in the tradition of the UNIX toolbox („do one thing well“) but with the beauty of Mac OS X icons. Back then I was looking for my „killer widget“ in Konfabulator and I didn‘t find it.

Checking it out once more recently finally revealed even three of the that are now running on my desktop.

  1. The first killer widget is „Weather“ which comes bundled with the standard download. Just enter the name of your city into the preferences and the tool displays current weather conditions in more than well-designed graphic style on your desktop. You even get a two-day lookahead, ideal for couch potatoes that consider even a short peek at the outside a unworthy loss of computing time.
  2. Number two is „Calendar“, simply showing the current month with the current day highlighted and no other useless extra features.
  3. Number three, actually forcing me being a convert, is the well-hidden „iChat Bezel„, just recently improved by and called „iChat Bezel Enhanced“ with a bunch of welcome extra options. This widget couples with iChat and displays a OS X style „bezel“ window (lie the ones for brightness, volume etc.) for every status change of one your buddies. So you can immediately see when one of your buddies goes online or offline, becomes idle etc.

The creativity of widget designers seems to be endless. I just discovered a widget called „Berlin Clock“ that mimics the fancy „Ku-Damm Uhr“ that once stood in the center of Berlin (West) at Kurfürstendamm.

By the way: Konfabulator was just updated for Mac OS X 10.3 with version 1.5.2. The iChat Enhanced Bezel needs to be updated to work with this version. But you can do it for yourself: version 1.5.2 uses a new XML parser that seems to be a bit more strict (which is a good thing). The iChat Bezel widget uses a (non-standard) „macintosh“ encoding in one of its files so it does not parse. Heres how you fix it:

  1. Locate the „iChat Enhanced Bezel“ widget file in the Finder
  2. Select the „Show Package Contents“ action from the context menu
  3. Locate the „iChat Alert.kon“ file in the „Contents“ folder
  4. Drag the file to the TextEdit application
  5. Replace „macintosh“ with „utf-8“ in the first line. The file does not contain any non-ASCII characters so this is not a problem
  6. Save the file
  7. Restart Konfabulator and double-click the widget in the Finder to open it