The great thing about Opera Widgets is that they load right after downloading them (unlike Firefox where an add-on or a theme will only take effect upon restart). Also, because they are widgets and not browser extensions, they are free-floating and can interact with things other than your web browser. Example: a ruler widget can measure other objects on your screen and not just websites. Third and probably most appealing of all is that they’ve got an awesome community. Opera’s got a slew of competitions that encourage widgetmakers to do their very best.
The down side is that they only work with the browser running (disappointed? get Yahoo! Widgets, successor to the legendary Konfabulator and Windows equivalent to OS X Dashboard Widgets). But with widgets this cool and a browser this slick (memory leak-free and fast), what’s keeping you from using Opera?
Disclaimer: I’ve skipped the usual stuff you’d expect to be widgetized (even if these binary clocks tickled my brains a bit). The widgets below caught my eye since they’re brilliant creations. They’re mostly geeky, too.
9 Coolest Opera Widgets
- Functions 3D
Enter an equation and have it rendered in 3D.
Verdict: It takes a while to graph 3D equations on paper. This would’ve been awesome for the Math 54/55.
See Also: Functions 2D
Create secret messages with this replica of the Enigma cipher machine.
Verdict: I agree; this one should decode messages too. But it’s a great start for anybody remotely interested in cryptography.
- Torus/Circular Tetris
Name says it all. 3D tetris on a circular base.
Verdict: Takes a while to get used to. But Tetris is Tetris. It’s addicting.
See Also: Other Tetris widgets
- Towers of Hanoi
The classic (mathematical) puzzle, widgetized. The goal is to move all discs, one at a time, on the first peg to the third peg such that they are arranged by increasing size, downwards. No disk may be placed over a smaller one.
Verdict: Again, this takes me back. Use a recursive algorithm to solve it in the soonest time possible. It should be more configurable, though, to 64 disks!
Set a few parameters and watch your spirograph take shape. You can even save the image generated.
Verdict: Who doesn’t love a perfectly-drawn spirograph?
- Screen Ruler
Draw a line (segment) and get the coordinates and the distance between the two endpoints.
Verdict: I know rulers are commonplace, but this one deserves a mention because most rules only lie horizontally when measuring. This one’s more like a tape measure.
See Also: Ruler
- Scientific Calculator
A realistic, two-line scientific calculator.
Verdict: Calculators are pretty common as widgets too, but a sci-cal that actually looks like one—on a computer screen—deserves a mention.
See Also: Other calculator widgets
- Mandelbrot II
Modify some parameters and examine the areas of the Mandelbrot and Julia sets.
Verdict: Takes a while to render completely, but heck, this is a fractal application we’re talking about. It’s bound to be slow!
- Artist’s Sketchbook
Draw, paint, and add photos—and save ’em when you’re done.
Verdict: Hands-down the best widget ever. It’s the reason I got a little more curious about Opera Widgets. Winner of the 2006 My Opera Widget Competition. (Ironically, the prize was a MacBook Pro!)
See Also: Art Pixel
WiiMote: Does absolutely nothing except look like the Nintendo WiiMote.
See Also: Nintendo Wii Countdown (useless as well!)
So, anything I missed? Go try Opera today, even at least for these widgets.