Though I seldom talk about technical stuff here, I’ve recently found a neat tool that merits a look if you happen to be running Mac OS X. It’s called Konfabulator, and is basically a mini-platform for programming utilities. It uses JavaScript and XML to allow you to create nifty little “widgets” that can do whatever you like. Hooks to the command-line UNIX interface and into AppleScript give it even more capability, and support for Quartz blending and alpha channels help make it easy to make lovely, semi-transparent interfaces with a minimum of fuss.

Of the widgets included, I’m using a picture frame that updates every few minutes with a different photo of my family, an iTunes remote, a stock price monitor, and a weather monitor. I’ve been browsing the developer docs intermittently over the last couple of days, and when faced with a balky server today, was able to easily whip up a little widget of my own that will monitor a URL and report on how long it takes to load that page. Even better, others are posting their widgets to the site at the rate of several per day, so if a particular tool you want isn’t available yet, it very well might be soon. I’ll probably clean up my SiteWatcher widget and make it available once I have a bit of time.