Murphy Mac - Screencasts and Tutorials » Posts in 'Widgets' category

Which Weather Widget?

I was looking at my iPod weather forecast and looking forward to some cool days in the sixties next week.  And then I looked at my Macbook’s weather widget – which expects temps closer to 80.  Who should I trust?


I’ve actually noticed this quite a bit over the last few weeks.  My iPod thinks it’s going to be cool.  My Macs are all less optimistic.  The weather on my iPod comes from Yahoo! Weather, which partners with The Weather Channel, aka   My Dashboard weather comes from

I’ve got Weather Bug installed on my iPod too.  But I’m not in the habit of checking it.

Where do you get your forecast?

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Make a Dashboard Widget with iWeb

iweb widget

I almost made a screencast.  Then I tried Screen Steps instead.  Here’s a link to a tutorial for this post.

This is kind of a stretch, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll never want to do anything like this.  But maybe you will.  Remember, Widgets can live on your desktop, they’re not limited to the Dashboard Widget layer.  That means you could use this process to design custom content that’s laid right into your desktop.

So – what are we talking about anyway?  Well, you probably know you can make a Dashboard  Widget using a tool provided with Safari.  But maybe there isn’t a page that has the content the way you want it for your widget.  No problem, just make a web page using iWeb, lay it out the way you want your Dashboard Widget to look, then publish it.  Use the Dashboard Widget maker and you’re done.

The steps are outlined in the tutorial below.  Murphy made a web page with two Flickr badges on it.  One that pulls from Murphy’s Flickr collection and another that pulls from all of Flickr.  Both grab random photos from their respective collections.  From that page he made a widget that shows both Flickr controls side by side.  Again, this might be most useful for making a widget that will live within your desktop.

Is this reaching too far or what?

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Make a Widget in Five Seconds

make a widgetMurphy’s never tried to make a Widget before, but it sure was easy using Safari. Take a look at the screencast to see just how easy it was.

We’re not sure what the limits are, you can make yourself some Widgets and see. Murphy made one from a webcam on Waikiki Beach and it updated just like the one on the web page.

If Murphy gets a chance he might try to make a more complicated Widget that runs commands in Terminal.

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Murphy’s New Feature

murphys-new-featureMurphy spends a lot of time fretting over how long each bubble should stay on screen when he’s creating screencasts, down to tenths of a second. Some people want the demos to move faster than others.

You can always use the controls at the bottom of the demo to move from one bubble to the next. But Murphy now provides arrows in the bubble itself, which you might find more convenient, and more interactive.

Click to see the screencast demo of the new functionality. And let Murphy know what Leopard screencasts you want to see!

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Geek Tool: Getting Started

Geek ToolGeek Tool is one of the cooler freeware utilities Murphy’s seen in recent months. We’re just going to get you started today, but there’s a lot of information packed into this post.

If you like to have lots of information at your fingertips this could be the tool for you. Geek Tool can take the output of Terminal commands and the content of log files and display them on your Desktop. Images too, like a file on your computer or an image linked by url.

The possibilties are nearly endless. You might find you prefer Geek Tool to certain Widgets. And even if you don’t, it’s nice to have a choice. Geek Tool can display information about disk space, wireless networks, IP addresses, songs playing in iTunes, output from webcams – the list goes on and on.

There’s an always-on-top function that brings your Geek Tool output way up front. Even your application windows will slide under the text. Murphy did a screencast about mounting your Widgets to the Desktop instead of in their floating layer – but some people didn’t like this because the Widgets could be covered up with a web browser window or an icon. Those people might find a solution in Geek Tool.

You can group different Geek Tool items together and make the groups active from the menubar. This is a checkbox in the interface. If the menubar doesn’t work for you check out Menu Extra Enabler. Geek Tool installs as a pane in your System Preferences.

In the screencast Murphy creates Desktop items for reporting free disk space, the date, and a tiny calendar. Let’s not judge the content choices, we’re here to learn! In fact, Lifehacker has a calendar that marks off the current date. But again, Murphy wants you to know what the commands you enter mean.

The screencast also introduces awk. We’ll learn more about awk later – but for today it’s a useful way to extract the parts of the date we want to see. If you think awk is cool check out sed.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with Geek Tool you might want some inspiration for your new capabilities. Nick Young has gathered a bunch of cool examples, take a look.

The screencast only deals with Geek Tool in a shell command sense. We’ll look at other stuff soon. If you’ve got some great ideas for Geek Tool be sure to let us know in the comments.

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