One of the new features that Opera 9.2 introduced is called Speed Dial. It’s essentially like a customizable homepage except that this takes screenshots of websites, and then places a thumbnail of them aligned to a grid for easy access.
You can currently add up to nine sites, and each Speed Dial entry is mapped to the corresponding Ctrl+[1-9] hotkeys. The Speed Dial page is also displayed each time you open a new tab, and for that reason I agree with the Opera community when they say there should be more than 9 Speed Dial entries.
One of the cool things in Speed Dial is the ability to set an automatic reload interval (pictured above). This makes it easy to see when changes have occurred to any of your Speed Dial entries.
Naturally you will want to add the sites you visit the most to your Speed Dial, and when you have such a frugal amount of entries available it can be tough to decide what makes the cut. Well, today I’m here to make it even tougher by showing you some of the useful things you can add to your Speed Dial!
- Traffic graphs – Who ever said that the pages in your Speed Dial had to be websites? You can also add images to it which are pleasantly scaled down, and website owners may find it beneficial to keep a traffic chart as one of the entries (like this one for Alexa).
- Weather radar – Most weather sites offer radar images for regions around the world, and all you need to do is grab the address of the image associated with a radar image. I’ve got the AccuWeather Iowa radar image refreshing every 5-minutes, and it’s nice being able to take a quick glance each time I open a new tab to see if any big storms are coming our way!
- Cron job – I’ve got a task that I want to run on a remote server only when my laptop is turned on, which happens to be the entire day expect when I sleep. So I setup the script to get executed through some PHP on a website, and if the script is successful in its task it outputs a solid green page. If it fails the page is red and provides the reason it failed. By using Speed Dial I can quickly change the interval at which the script runs, and it’s always easy to make sure things went smoothly:
This can also be used for doing things like pinging FeedBurner on a regular schedule by using this URL: http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/pingSubmit?bloglink=http://DOMAIN.COM where DOMAIN.COM is your site’s address.
- Email monitor – Speed Dial is obviously great for watching for changes to sites, and I use it all the time to see if there are any new emails before I actually pull up my email account.
- Stock watcher – With a site such as StockCharts.com you can create a highly customized graph to monitor some of your investments! Just copy the image address into your Speed Dial, set the refresh interval, and you’re all set.
As you can tell I really love Speed Dial, but there are also some things that Opera can do to improve it:
- Customize how many entries could be added. It would especially be cool if you could create multiple "pages" of Speed Dial entries and organize them into tabs!
- Add multiple search engines to the Speed Dial page
- Get notified when a page has changed
- The thumbnails should be scaled to fit the width or height of the Speed Dial box. If you try inserting an image that is about 100px wide it still gets scaled down to about 25px, despite it being able to fit in the Speed Dial box without resizing it.