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OS X jealousy

There were four things I was jealous of OS X users having:
1) Rendevous music streaming
2) Konfabulator
3) docklets for the OS X bar
4) OmniOutliner

In the past two days I've managed to find complete or partial solutions to three out of the four, so I'm pretty happy. I was partly inspired by Michael Heilemann's own customization experience, which pointed me to most of the resources I would need for this endeavour. I stopped short of his goal, which was a more overall OS X look-and-feel. I just wanted the functionality.

Update: Mark Hunter sent me a copy of YzDocklet, and so far it is easily outperforming the other docks mention in this entry. Thanks Mark!

First, some screenshots:
clean desktop

desktop with iTunes

#1 was an easy one to fix with the release of iTunes. It would still be nice to hack to protocol so I could use it to actually exchange music rather than just stream, and it would also be nice if I could remove the subnet limitation, but that's not an XP limitation.

#2 was a little bit harder. They are working on a Windows port, but it keeps getting delayed. The three widgets I wanted were a calendar (so I wouldn't have to open the "set time" window just to check which day of the week a date falls on), an RSS news feed, and a weather widget. The calendar was pretty easy: Rainlendar is a pretty solid, good looking calendar desktop widget, and I was able to download a theme called Moderna that looks nice.

For the other two I downloaded Stardock's DesktopX, which is Konfabulator-like though not quite as good. I've run into a lot of widgets that have bugs in them, including widgets that were packaged with Desktop-X. I also haven't seen a widget that is as dynamic as a Konfabulator widget, though maybe I haven't been looking hard enough. There were weather widgets aplenty, so that was pretty easy to add, and in use I've found that I only need the weather widget once a day, so it's not very useful.

#3 had the most choices. I really wanted Yz Dock, which seems to have the best docklets, but due to an Apple cease-and-desist the application is hard to come by. Anybody out here have a copy for me? (thanks again to Mark who got me a copy!)

I first tried Mobydock, which implementation-wise seems to be the most efficient and smooth. The animation was smooth and it the good settings for controlling exactly where I could place it on the screen. Unfortunately, though, it only comes with a capture and weather widget, and I wasn't able to find any pluggable docklets. I would link to their Web site, but it appears they didn't pay there bills today - the site gives back a "Suspended Domain" page.

So I finally ended up with another Stardock app, ObjectDock. The performance isn't great, and the placement settings are basic, but it there appears to be a good effort to port some of the YzDocklets to it. I turned off animation, which was just annoying and CPU draining (waving my mouse could jump the CPU to 50%), and I added a CPU monitor, screen capture button, and volume widget. I may add a battery widget to round out the bunch.

Update: I'm now using YzDock, which is performing like a champ so far. It's clear that ObjectDock is trying very hard to copy YzDock, but there's nowhere near as many docklets for ObjectDock, and YzDock feels much smoother than ObjectDock. I've got an iTunes control, screen capture widget, battery meter, and volume widget, which seemed to be the ones of the most immediate use to me. I will install a weather widget when everyone rewrites their widgets for the latest weather.com changes, and I'm also planning on trying out the ical and comic widgets.

I needed some better-looking application icons, so I downloaded some Firebird and Thunderbird icons. I still haven't found good Emacs and Eclipse icons (I know Eclipse for OS X has a better icon, so may try and get that).

There were some unintended results of this customization process. I place icons on the desktop because Windows allows you to assign shortcuts to them, which makes it really easy to launch application without having to use the mouse. However, I've found that if I place the icons is a folder other than the desktop, it no longer works and I don't know why. This creates useless clutter as I have an icon for an application both on the dock as well as on the desktop.

I found with Desktop X that I could hide desktop icons, which I surprisingly ended up liking. I still needed a quick way to access the desktop, though, if I needed to open a file that I've placed there, so I downloaded NextStart, which is a NextStep-like menu system for Windows that allows me to click anywhere on the desktop and pull up a combined start menu-like list as well as file listing of objects on my desktop.

Another result of all of this is that I keep my start menubar hidden away. The OS X-style dock does a better job in less space of expressing which applications are running, and NextStart allows me to start applications by clicking anywhere on my desktop instead of just on the start menu button.

The big test will be in 30 days when some of the shareware stuff is supposed to time out. Then I'll have to see whether any of this is actually worth the money.

Comments (14)

mark:

I've got yzdocklet if you want a copy.

Ken:

Hey Mark,

You're awesome - I've already started taking it for a spin and it feels much better than ObjectDock and the docklets are really cool.

Thanks!!!
Ken

Kyle:

I was wondering what is the latest version of YzDock. I am using 0.8.3. Also, the only reason I'm waiting right now no reformat my hard drive (for other reasons) is because i do not have the install file for YzDock. I can't find it anywhere anymore. If you anyone knows where I can find it I would greatly appreciate it. Great Job Ken! It looks awesome. Great ideas!

Anonymous:

I.m using version 0.8.3 also. I don't recall there ever being (or at least using) an installer. Just unzipped the files to directory of choice and made a shortcut to it on the desktop.

brad:

You can download it from my site. I have version 0.8.3
www.bradwheeler.net/downloads.htm

You're right, Ken. YzDock does perform the best. I just wish there was a way to minimize applications to the dock like you can with the other two.
Can anyone point me in the right direction for downloading all those great docklets?

Ken:

It appears that yzdocklets.com has moved to dockex.com. It used to only host docklets for YzDock, but it now appears to have started hosting ObjectDock as well. There are only about 19 on the site right now, though.

WhoAmEye:

does anyone have a link to all of the various docklets for y'z dock? i have the other two and object dock seems to lock up my computer all the time. i just wanted to know if there was a way to minimize apps to y'z dock like object dock. thanks.

Yvan:

I got 0.8.3 but it won't start. It's looking for a language (*.lang) file that it says is not here, but it is. I suspect it's looking for it in a specific directory and not in the regular folder. Anyone has an install file or knows where to put the lang gile?

kwc:

I have an English.lang in a subfolder called languages. AFAIK, there is not 'install' file for YzDock. You just unzip and run. You may want to check the .ini file to see if it has the correct name of the .lang file. These are the top two lines of mine:

[General]
LanguageFile=English.lang

Can some one help me get yz dock. Ive looked every where and i can't find a download.

lee:

YzDock is the best.
you can still find it on the web to download. In fact, Brad above gave a link to download. :)

I have problem starting my Yzdock lately. I am using ver0.8.3.
This happen after I have updated my windowsXP...

Anyone know how to fix this problem?
Please email me: lengfenglee@yahoo.com

thank you.

Alief:

Can Anybody tell me, where i can download another Docklet for Yzdock beside Recycle, CPUMonitor and Clock?, Pleassssssse .....

alex:

where can i download yzdock!?!?!?

kwc:

I'm closing comments on this thread. If you look at the comments that have already been posted, you'll notice that answers to:

1) where can I download yzdock
and
2) where can I download docklets

have already been answered.

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