Help me make the most out of my netbook!
December 24, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there some software out there that can turn my netbook into relatively passive display device for news, weather, email alerts, etc? And look good doing it?

So, I got this free netbook (an HP/Compaq Mini 110c I believe) with a year long subscription to cable tv and internet service. Now, I've already got a Macbook, so I wasn't really in the market for another laptop, and I may end up giving it away.

But I thought, this little thing could be useful to me if I could do something like just leave it on a table, and as I walked by it it might have the latest headlines or weather flash up on it. I remember a very old piece of windows software called Pointcast, but that seems to be long dead.

It came with Windows XP installed, and I've since installed Ubuntu NBR and am in the process of downloading Jolicloud as I write this... I am however a Mac user and so Linux is a whole new ball game for me.

Anyone know of any software, on any of the platforms above, that might get this thing to be a useful tool for me? I guess the key is that I'm looking for a "lean back" experience -- something I can notice as I walk by the machine, rather than something that requires me to engage with it as I already engage with my Macbook.
posted by modernnomad to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can do this by leaving open a iGoogle or Netvibes personalized homepage in a fullscreen browser. Both should automatically refresh every few minutes.

If you don't want to use a browser, Yahoo Widgets (for windows), gDesklets or Screenlets (for linux) can do what you want.
posted by Memo at 1:31 PM on December 24, 2009

posted by Duke999R at 1:53 PM on December 24, 2009

Conky is uber-customizable and will let you do some really beautiful looking stuff. Lifehacker features people's conky setups every now and again, and a little searching will get you lots more.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:10 PM on December 24, 2009

You might even go further down the computer chain, into Ubuntu Mobile or Maemo or Moblin. These are intended for smaller devices that are more "just there", so there's more Widgets available. My Maemo phone has several, though some are not as useful with a stationary device.

As Memo suggested, gDesklets and Screenlets are also an option. Just bear in mind that they're mainly designed as a decoration for a system you use and care about. But things like calendars, weather and digital photo frame should be doable. And maybe some RSS feeds?
posted by pwnguin at 2:35 PM on December 24, 2009

Response by poster: yeah, none of those are quite what i'm looking for -- as pwnguin notes, a lot of those are sort of 'extras' to tack onto a screen... igoogle/netvibes is not a bad idea, but they end up being so small on a 10inch screen that the "lean back" aspect is lost... I guess I'm thinking of something that would display a single headline on the entire screen, or the forecast, etc, and then rotate between different news headlines, forecasts, emails etc, one at a time.. that's the only way the lean-back idea can be achieved on a 10inch screen I think.
posted by modernnomad at 5:17 PM on December 24, 2009

not sure if it works with your flavor of linux, but you could look at snackr which runs on adobe air, its just an rss reader, but looks really nice
posted by kenbennedy at 6:47 PM on December 24, 2009

You may also want to look at this ask meta.
posted by fings at 7:10 PM on December 24, 2009

you want to check out some more digital signage things for the "leanback" factor if you ask me. i don't know of any freeware, but start searching for digital signage apps. some are SAAS, other are stand alone, fully customizable apps, like four winds,

most will scroll headlines, show weather, traffic, rss feeds, etc.
posted by patrad at 8:39 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try Framechannel and

Basically - framechannel is a service for wifi picture frames that sends a user-configurable rss feed to your frame. McDPF is a customized set of scripts you drop on a "DamnSmallLinux" install and it becomes a framechannel-enabled frame.

Requires a bit of installation but works for me.
posted by HannoverFist at 9:04 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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