Posted by: Alan Le | May 15, 2007

Windows Vista Sidebar and Gadgets

I’ve been using Windows Vista for awhile now and the Sidebar is one of my favorite features. I continually want to know the status of my system as well as other information that I find useful. The Gadgets gives me this information at a glance.

Since the Sidebar and gadget is also there on the desktop, I want them to be informative but not distracting. I customized the opacity of all the gadgets in my Sidebar to 40%. If I want to focus on a gadget I just hover my mouse over it.

Here are some of the Sidebar Gadgets that I use.

Multi Meter

Multi Meter displays CPU and RAM usage in an aesthetic way with percentages and bar graphs. The bar graphs are color coded for additional information. This gadget, like all the gadgets by SFKilla from the Hobby Lounge, even supports multiple skins. Double-clicking on this gadget will quickly bring up the Task manager. I often check this gadget when Vista is being unresponsive.

CPU Utilization

Like Multi Meter and as it name implies, the CPU Utilization gadget displays CPU usage but presented in typical linegraph form as displayed in the Task Manager.

Ping Gadget

Latency is important is important to me. The Ping gadget will graph the ping query to a specified site. I can also tell if my internet is down or not from this gadget. I use to open a command prompt and leave it open with the “ping -t”. This gadget replaces doing just that.

Weather and Slide Show Gadgets

The Weather and Slideshow gadgets are the only gadgets that ships with Vista that I use.

The Weather gadget is appealing to look it. I can immediate tell if it’s sunny, cloudy, or raining outside based on the gadgets background while I’m stuck inside the office. Knowing the local temperature is also useful.

The Slide Show gadget is pleasing to look at. I point it to my collection of wallpaper photos. It great for a minor distraction and often times inspiring to look at.

Traffic by Live Search Maps

Traffic by Live Search Maps is useful right before heading home from work. My commute takes me by the MacArthur Maze in Oakland. I use this gadget to gauge how long my commute will be. On days where I see long stretches of red, I stay a little later at work to be more productive so that the traffic can clear up.



  1. The Slide Show gadget’s one of my favorites, I love the button/function that sets the picture as wallpaper.

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