Inspector Widget

Yesterday, Typepad launched a whole host of new features, called widgets. I stayed up till past two in the morning, trying on most of the new features for size. I’ve decided to use a couple, and perhaps may add another two or three in the next few days. I’m no techie, so convenience of installation was one attraction for me. I’ve also been tinkering with the site design (one great old feature of my Typepad service is it allows you to save design changes to your heart’s content, without publishing them until you are good and ready; everything is saved as a template — again, a convenience that appeals deeply to me). So the new widgets were manna from design heaven. (Okay, okay, I exaggerate, a little.)

I thought I’d install the Opinmind Quotables, which runs clickable quotes from previous posts in the blog. The installation intro read, in part: "The widget is periodically updated with recent opinions from your blog." The question is, How often is "periodically?" After all, an eon is as much a period as a second. (Openmind, incidentally, is a search engine that tracks the climate of opinion. Of course, because the service is new and out of Stanford, much of the weather it tracks is North American. But it’s an interesting concept, yes? The public square is changing right before our eyes.)

I also thought I’d install the Rollyo widget (it’s the last item on my left sideblog one right under the calendar). It allows one to create one’s own search engine. It allows a user to limit his Internet search to at most 25 URLs; I decided to experiment with news and opinion on Philippine politics. I listed an itinerary of about 12 or so "political blogs" (Manolo Quezon, Sassy Lawyer, John Marzan, et al) and took the new car out for a spin. Most of the first searches I conducted resulted in a logjam of PCIJ articles. I decided (at possibly one in the morning) to delink PCIJ and give it its own "searchbox." I’ll refine the thingamajig over the next several days. If you get to use the "searchroll," please let me know what you think.

Oh, I almost forgot. The very first new widget I added was the Search This Blog widget from Technorati, which includes a click-me feature that allows a peek into the sites that link (perhaps through no fault of their own!) to this blog. Technically, this is not new toTypepad; it’s been available for some time, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the very simple paste-HTML-code instructions. But last night, the muses of convenience alighted on my desktop, and all of a sudden I have new uses for the F-word: you know, functionality.

One last gizmo, but this time from outside Typepad. The Ignatian Perspective has an eye-popping series of maps of the world (and a link) as it would look from other, ah, perspectives: population shows a thinner Africa, immigration a bloated United States, and so on. Fascinating.

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