Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 22: Recreating the Applications Menu in iGoogle Using Webapps and Gadgets

It's day 22 with no desktop applications but a browser and a file manager, and I'm doing OK. Not great. Fine. I'm going to run through how to set up your new "desktop" to run the common applications you'd have in your old desktop. I'm going to pretty much run down the Debian Gnome menu point by point, so this should work for Ubuntu or Fedora, as well.

Accessories: First, create the Accessories tab in iGoogle.

  • Archive manager: Use Wobzip to handle compressed files.
  • Calculator: Add the Google Dual-Mode Calculator to iGoogle
  • Dictionary: Add the Oxford English Dictionary to iGoogle.
  • Search (Beagle / Tracker): Install the Google Toolbar for Firefox 3. Seriously consider the version 5 Beta. This won't search your local files, but we will have as few of those as possible, anyway. Add some on your iGoogle page.
  • Screenshot: Install the Dashblog FF3 extension.
  • Text editor: Use EditPad or EtherPad. No, they don't support any highlighting or anything programming-related. You wanted to program on line? Are you insane?
  • Notes (Tomboy or GNotes): Add Sticky Notes or Google Notebook to iGoogle.
Games: Add a Games tab in iGoogle. Google will add Hangman, Sudoku, Pac Man, hte NYT crossword puzzle, and Flood It! for you automatically.

Graphics: Add a Graphics tab to iGoogle.

  • Photo manager: Use Picasa Web and install the AddtoPicasa FF3 extension. Add Picasa Widget to your iGoogle Graphics tab.
  • Bitmap editor (Gimp): For screenshots, Dashblog offers some simple editing. For photos, use Picnik -- you don't need an account to work with your Picasa Web photos.
  • Vector editor (Draw or Inkscape): Use ZCubes. Do not try to install the extension for it -- it requires IETab.
Internet: Add an Internet tab to iGoogle. Google will automatically include junk like your IP address. Delete these gadgets.

  • Instant messaging: Use Gtalk in the GMail interface, the GTalk sidebar for iGoogle, the GTalk gadget for iGoogle. Use an iGoogle multi-chat gadget or Meebo for other networks.
  • Feed reader: Use Google Reader and the iGoogle gadget.
  • IRC: Use the Mibbit IRC Chat gadget for iGoogle.
  • VOIP: No video love for you. Flash doesn't support webcams well on Linux. There are some Skype options available for iGoogle, but they appear to be Windows only. Tringme has a Flash SIP phone which you can use instead of Ekiga, but you'll need a Tringme account.
Office: Add an Office tab to iGoogle. Google will add Weather, ToDo, Calendar, Wikipedia, and Office Quote to your tab automatically. Delete Office Quote and Wikipedia.

  • Mail: Use GMail. Add the GMail gadget to iGoogle.
  • Calendar: This is already added by default.
  • Task manager: You can use the anemic ToDo list, use GMail to handle it with tags and stars, or you can add the Remember the Milk gadget.
  • Project management: There's no really good choice for this. You could use Zoho's project manager, but then you'd probably be using Zoho for the start page and apps instead of iGoogle, wouldn't you. I thought so. Sites is supposedly intended to be used for project management, but it is so unlike other project management software that this seems far-fetched. You can make the effort, though.
  • Word Processor: Use Google Docs (previously Writely) and add the Docs Gadget (or full-screen version)to iGoogle.
  • Spreadsheet: Use Google Spreadsheets. Thegadget is already added for you along with Docs.
  • Database: You have two choices here, neither of them good. One -- use Forms for Google Spreadsheets to create a simple, single sheet database. Two -- use Google Base. Someone claims you can use a mash-up.
Sound and Video: Add a Sound and Video tab to iGoogle.

  • Movie player: Oviously, you'll add the Official Google Video Gadget to iGoogle. Install an embedded video player plug-in into Firefox. In your file manager, set videos to open in FF.
  • Music Player: Obviously, having Totem or MPlayer embedded will allow you to play songs and playlists locally, but you can also add the Yahoo Music gadget, and the Ultimate LastFM gadget (edit settings to put in your username). I use the Jamendo website a lot, but there are no gadgets for Linux.
  • Sound recorder: I don't have a solution for this.
  • CD extractor: Hint, it involves P2P. If you have the CD, go for it.
The last thing to do is to delete the default Hoome tab in iGoogle. Now you have an application menu in iGoogle.

Well, that's the list. I've adjusted my iGoogle page to work this way, and I'll use it for the next week to see if it is acceptable.

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