With the rise of KDE 4.4 comes a new crop of desktop widgets (or Plasmoids). Earlier renditions of KDE 4.x saw the Plasmoids less than useful. The latest workings, however, have become quite useful, productive even.
In this article I will introduce you to five of those Plasmoids that can help your productivity in one way or another. I will also show you how the Plasmoids are now installed.
Although the method is practically the same, there are a few subtle differences that you might want to know about. First and foremost, when you click on the upper right icon (often referred to as the "yellow cashew") you will see Add Activity.
We won't discuss that right now, because it deserves an article all to itself. Outside of that, when you go to add Plasmoids you will see a bar appear on top of your panel (see Figure 1), where you choose your widgets. When you find the widget you want, double-click it to add it to your desktop. You can also download new widgets by clicking the Get New Widgets button.
Now, let's get to some Plasmoids.
This Plasmoid (see Figure 2) is exactly what you might think it is - a blackboard for you to draw upon. At first blush you might think it pointless. But when you just need to jot something down really fast and don't need a text editor, word processor, or don't have a piece of paper handy, Blackboard is there to save the day. You can select one of five colors to draw with and click the X to erase what you've drawn.
Blackboard is a very single-minded widget, but it does a great job and comes in handy more often than you can imagine.
No, this is not a convention for fans of Plasma (or Plasmoids). Plasmacon (see Figure 3) is a terminal window widget that allows you to have a terminal window on your desktop at all times. As you can see, in Figure 3, I have Plasmacon running the top command so I can always see what is going on on my machine. There are plenty of useful ways to take advantage of this widget.
Most of us geeks are micro-bloggers. And if you are, you want instant access to your account. This widget gives you instant access to either Twitter or Identica. All you have to do is click on the text area, write your entry, and hit the Enter key.
You can configure this widget to show as few or as many entries as you like. You can also configure keyboard shortcuts and you can share this widget on the network.
Dropbox is a service anyone on the go can use. And having quick access to your Dropbox is a must. Although this widget (see Figure 5) still needs some polish, it is handy to have available. If you right click this widget you can select to start/stop Dropbox, open your Dropbox folder, reload Dropbox, go to the Dropbox website, and more.
This one just barely squeaked into the list. The main reason why I include this Plasmoid is because I tend to track people using OpenDesktop. It allows me to see what people near you are doing or people that are members of certain open source-related groups are doing. It's a great way to keep in contact with like-minded others. And the OpenDesktop Plasmoid makes this even easier.
The KDE plasmoids (widgets) have come a long way since the early days of 4.x. Now the Plasmoids are solid, varied, and (in some cases) can help to increase your productivity.
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