It’s not often that I come across a single widget/gadget that is good enough to constitute it’s own article, and I never expected to find one that would be good enough for its own CyberNotes article. When I tried out Informer, a Yahoo Widget, I was absolutely blown away at everything it could do. It’s almost an entire application in itself!
What could this possibly do that makes it so impressive. It rolls about ten or fifteen different widgets up into one. It can monitor your network/CPU usage, check your IMAP/POP3 mailboxes, show your battery life, fetch RSS feeds, and provide quick access to files/folders that you use often. To keep it all organized Informer shows everything in a single toolbar located on your desktop:
Before we proceed with the different features that Informer has you should know that each thing you add to the toolbar is called a “sensor.” They are kind of like mini-widgets in some sense, and as seen in the screenshot above there is quite a lengthy list of different sensors that can be added.
Heads up: I’ve found that this widget alone will consume between 10MB and 40MB of memory depending on what and how much you add to it. With all the different things it’s capable of doing this might be worth it, but I know some of you covet your memory as if your life depended on it.
Informer is capable of checking email from a variety of different email accounts. It has special options for Gmail (both regular Gmail users and Gmail for Domains) and Yahoo Mail accounts, but it can be configured to work with any IMAP or POP3 email account. When you receive new mail you’ll be alerted with a slick little notification window that pops out of the side of the screen.
You can add as many mail accounts as you would like, and then pick how many messages it displays as well as the retrieval interval. Heck, you can even specify a custom icon to be used with each different mailbox you add.
I know that a lot of you are stats addicts, and find enjoyment in knowing how hard your computer is working. Informer has a variety of different sensors that can be added for monitoring different areas of your machine: CPU, network, system uptime, battery, memory, disk, and swap.
Is it ever possible to have too many ways to read your RSS feeds? Apparently not because Informer is also able to retrieve and display RSS feeds for your favorite sites. With every feed that you have the widget monitor you can specify the update interval, and you can provide a custom icon.
To make this widget even more useful you can use it as a place to hold shortcuts to your favorite files, folders, and websites. If you want to add a shortcut just drag and drop a file, folder, or URL onto the toolbar. If it’s a folder that you’ve added you’ll be able to open it right there and view the contents. What’s really nice is that the window that appears is completely resizable:
Is that it? Not quite. There are several more sensors that we haven’t covered in this article including:
- A power button to turn off, reboot, or lock your computer
- Recycle Bin
- WiFi signal strength
- Internet Radio
- Date/Time (with a pop-out calendar)
Not only can you customize each of the sensors that you add to Informer, but you can also customize the toolbar itself. You can do things like specify an external RSS reader and mail client, change the appearance of the toolbar, enable multiple monitor support, and much more. Here’s a glimpse of the different areas that can be customized:
If Informer sounds like something that would be useful to you head on over to Yahoo Widgets to get the Informer widget. It’s completely free, and I think you’ll be pretty shocked with everything it is capable of.