Really Online (Mac OS X Dashboard Widget)

Download: ReallyOnline 1.2

Background

If you live in a nicely developed town or city in North America, Europe, South Asia, India, I hazard a guess that you don’t know what unreliable internet access is like. If you live and work in Africa or somewhere nice and rural, then you probably know all too well about the frustrations of access coming and going depending on the whim of mobile masts, weather, satellites, congestion, power etc.

The trouble is, if you’re sharing the internet through WiFi, you often have a working local connection but no usable internet connection. Faffing about trying to reload a site, or start an FTP upload when the internet’s not working is a waste of time, and you don’t want to go digging around to find the Network Diagnostics window or the Network Utility every time. So I whipped up a little Dashboard widget that shines green if the internet’s on and red if it’s off. Actually it’s quite big, so you can easily spot it.

Disclaimer: This is just for Mac OS X computers. Windows users stop here.

How to get and use the ReallyOnline widget

ReallyOnline Mac OS X dashboard widget and open it. It should open in your dashboard. Click Keep. Then just pop into the dashboard to see at a glance if the internet’s working.

How to free the widget from the Dashboard

But that’s not really quite as convenient as it could be. Click on the text that says Internet and a setting will be changed in the background that lets you drag the widget out of the dashboard and run it on your desktop, floating merrily above everything else. I like to put it in a corner of my screen.

So here’s the trick:

  • click the word Internet
  • start dragging the widget
  • then (while still dragging) press the Dashboard key on the keyboard and let go the dragging when the widget’s where you want it to go.

Lo and behold the widget will be freed from the Dashboard. You can also do that with any other widget, thanks to the magic performed when you clicked on my widget.

Turn the voice on or off

I appreciate having the voice sometimes in case internet’s been off for a while and I want to know when it’s working again, or vice versa. But it’s a bit annoying if it’s coming and going a lot. On the back of the widget (click the i button at the bottom of the circle) there’s a tick box for turning the voice on or off. [1.2]

Double-click to Launch Network Diagnostics

Even better, double-click the middle of the widget and it’ll open your full Network Diagnostics with the traffic lights so you can see where you’ve lost connectivity. The benefit of the widget though is that if you use Spaces as I do, the widget stays on every space, but the Network Diagnostics window is trapped on only one. Also the widget’s a little more visible.

Feedback welcome. This is my first Dashboard widget, I believe.

Known issues

  • Sometimes it’s a little too pessimistic and goes red when Network Diagnostics is green and the internet seems to work. But it’s not too bad, and normally a red light indicates at least a transient outage which Network Diagnosticsmight not pick up right away.

Changes/History

  • ReallyOnline 1.2
    • Added option to turn voice announcements on or off.
    • Improved layout a little on the crowded back.
    • Added tooltips.
    • Improved icons.
  • ReallyOnline 1.1

    • Widget made a little smaller so not quite so dramaticaly intrusive.
    • Now speaks when internet goes off and (most usefully) when it comes back.
    • Is less pessimistic: sometimes will go amber if it suspects the network is going down. This means that it’s much more likely to be right when it goes red and declares ‘Net’s Off’.
  • Version 1 Released

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