What should I display on a dedicated dashboard screen at my desk?
February 26, 2011 12:44 PM   Subscribe

I have an extra display at my desk connected to a Mac Mini which I use to watch Netflix/Hulu. I'd like to use it for more useful purposes, as some sort of informative display that will be up as I work. I need some help figuring out some applications that could show handy information, as well as your ideas as to things to display if I were to build something myself.

I really like the idea of Panic's status board and the whole Matrix idea of information flying by, that I could look at if I desired. In my younger geekier days, I would screen into my server's access logs so I could see people coming to my site in real time. I like that kind of stuff, but I'd like it to be a little bit more useful.

I'm looking for either applications that exist that do this already (show me a dashboard of useful information, suitable to be shown in a seperate screen all day long) or some ideas of things that you think might be interesting if I were to build a web-app myself to show the stuff I want. I'm thinking of something that could perhaps use Facebook, Flickr, or other APIs to show real-time updates from my networks.

When it comes down to it, I'm just looking for something interesting for this extra computer & monitor to be doing at my desk when I'm not watching movies/TV on it.

Thanks so much in advance, everyone!
posted by ejfox to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Set up a new twitter account and fill with news sources.

Custom twitter searches? http://www.monitter.com/

A great web-cam: http://www.terena.org/webcam/
(not greatly useful admittedly)
posted by episodic at 1:00 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I had a second monitor, I had my Growl notifications go there. (Most useful for me? SVN update notifier.) Some were sticky (had to click on them to get rid of them) and some disappeared on their own after a few seconds. I also put my main Mail and Calendar windows there, but I can see how that wouldn't be terribly useful on an entirely separate machine.

An RSS reader that supports sort of an automatic slideshow of articles would be great. (Sorry; I know they're out there, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.)
posted by supercres at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2011

If you install the Apple Developer Tools (free download) you get a Quartz Composer development tool as well as example screensavers ("compositions") to give you some ideas on how to get started.

One such demo composition shows a Twitter feed. It is available at: /Developer/Examples/Quartz Composer/Compositions/XML/The Twitterverse/The Twitterverse.qtz

Other examples include a visual RSS feed composition.

Just open up the composition in Quartz Composer to see how it is wired together. You can put a composition into your home folder's screensavers folder and set up a hot corner to start up a screensaver on demand.

If you like getting your hands dirty, you could pretty easily make your own Tweet-feed, RSS-news-feed, visual effect full-screen all-in-one app — making it look and behave however you want it to.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2011

Weird that no one's mentioned Geckoboard. Huh.
posted by circular at 1:38 PM on February 26, 2011

If you go the Twitter / other social network route, TweetDeck looks particularly classy full screened.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2011

posted by alby at 1:39 AM on February 27, 2011

Your calendar or your to-do list! (assuming you use electronic ones) Or, get a 3rd monitor so you can have 1 screen for your work, 1 for your calendar, and 1 for your to-do list, like Randy Pausch does.

What's your day job? I'm assuming you do "work" on one computer while "occasionally glancing at" netflix on the other computer.

Do you want to do good work? If not, why not? If so, what are you doing having a screen of distraction staring at you all day? In my experience, having something else open to fiddle with in addition to my work (something like mefi, grooveshark, facebook, gmail, or all four) makes me get nothing done.
posted by sninctown at 12:06 PM on February 27, 2011

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