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A bunch of fun and productivity-boosting gadgets for Windows 7

The number of gadgets for Windows 7, both made by Microsoft and third-party developers, has skyrocketed. Only a few months ago there was little choice and almost nothing worth calling home about -- but today, you're spoilt for choice! What you have here are a bunch of the most useful (or interesting) gadgets usable with your shiny-new OS, Windows 7.

Note: If you're going to be installing third-party gadgets, you'll be faced with a confirmation dialogue before they can install:
Just hit 'Install'! With that out of the way, on with the show!

1. Weather Bug: One of the things you'll soon notice about the gadgets I'm sharing here is that they all do one specific thing, and they do it well. I hate feature-creep. If I want to know the current weather -- then show me the damn weather.

Weather Bug lets you select a nearby weather station and shows you everything you might need to know: current temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit), forecasted high and low, wind speed, and the current cloudiness (or lack of).

There's also a link for extended website-based information, and even a webcam stream if your weather station has one!
2. UEFA Informer: Here's one for the non-Americans (do Canadians like soccer?) -- a football gadget! Keep track of every major football (soccer) league in Europe, from Italian to English to even the Champion's League.

The greatest thing about this gadget is you can even pull up the recent results and upcoming matches in a given league, or for your favourite/most hated team.

There's an option in the settings to show even more leagues, so I assume it will be be kept updated -- perhaps to show the World Cup when that finally ticks around next summer?
3. Gmail Reader: There isn't really much I can say about this one. It tells you when you receive new mail. It tells you how many unread mail you currently have. It shows you the subject and sender of your unread mail.

What more do you want?
4. TweetZ: Apparently created to do away with the annoyances inherent to Twadget, TweetZ is a full-featured Twitter tool disguised as a desktop gadget.

Unfortunately its default setting is to tweet some birdsong annoyingly every time someone twits, but it's easy to turn off. As you can see in the screenshot, links are replaced with [link], and you can mouse-over them to see where they link to -- it even expands the link-shortening services, so you can actually see where you're going!

And it doesn't seem to steal away all of your CPU cycles like Tweetdeck does...
5.Facebook Explorer: Now you can stalk your friends without constantly alt-tabbing back to your Facebook browser tab! Not only can you see pending friend requests or event invitations but you can also see if you've been poked -- life-altering, I know! All of your friend's updates are here too, with a break-out box popping-up to give you more details if you click on an update.

You can't seem to comment on or 'like' anything though -- perhaps that will come at a later date? Or maybe this gadget has been designed with the idea of improving your productivity at work...? So there is a God...

Either way, confining Facebook to a gadget would seem like a sensible thing to do. I imagine most of us know what it feels like to be sucked into the Facebook Void, sometimes never to resurface.

Some gadget niches are missing; most notably: an RSS reader! There are still relatively few gadgets compared to other computer customisations and, perhaps surprisingly, there are no decent RSS readers as a result.

The only good one seems to be Google's own gadget which only works with Google Desktop. If someone out there wants to design an RSS feed-reading gadget that can log into Google Reader... you'd be a very popular man.

The best I can offer you is a system-tray notifier called GRaiN that was featured over on Lifehacker in July. Or, if you want to subscribe to a few individual feeds, the Hermes RSS reader gadget might satisfy you.

I've also not mentioned the thousands of system-diagnostic gadgets, or the Google Search gadgets -- I figured I would try and show you some new gadgets that you might not have seen before!

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Tags: addons, facebook, features, gadgets, gmail, lists, plugins, rss, sports, twitter, weather, windows 7, Windows7

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