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Greetings Moonling!

May 18, 2008

For many months now, I’ve had my homepage set to iGoogle.  Not unlike MSN Live, MyYahoo, NetVibes, and a plethora of other personal portals, iGoogle lets you drop widgets onto the page to show you the weather, sports scores, stock picks, and the cute bad-grammered cat of the week.

One feature of the customization options that iGoogle provides is the ability to select your page theme, which mostly consists of a banner image that appears at the top, but can also translate into similarly-styled buttons, colors, and even a coordinating footer.  This by itself is not out of the ordinary; several of the other portal sites allow you to choose a background/header image from online galleries, and even upload your own.

What makes iGoogle stand out is the ability to have dynamic themes, where the image can change several times throughout the day.  What’s more, iGoogle lets you upload your own theme, and if they approve it (the themes are reviewed to make sure lewd or otherwise inappropriate content is not uploaded), makes it available to the entire iGoogle community to select from.

About two months ago, I decided to try to make one of my own, titled “Greetings Moonling!”.  It was finally approved this past week, and has already been used by nearly a thousand people (the theme is in no danger whatsoever of being one of the most popular; the top ten “Hottest” themes have user bases measuring in the hundreds of thousands).  There are seven panels that show up throughout the day, with these three actually forming a short story:

Incoming

What Are You?

Watch The Toes!

The big blank spot at the top is reserved for the Google search box and controls.  Here is a screen shot of it in use on my home page:

Homepage

Originally our hero (as I have been referring to the alien) had a mouth, but since my drawing skills are rather limited at this point I couldn’t get one that I liked.  As a result I decided to leave him mouth-less, and try to convey emotion and intent via his arms and especially his eyes.  It seems to work well for Scott Adams‘ title character, so why not another?

He was a lot of fun to draw.  I haven’t decided what else is in store for this little green guy, but there are a few possibilities, one of which is that he’ll make occasional appearances here and on my technical blog.  I’ve also considered creating a second iGoogle theme, or even extending the one that is there with additional panels.

The last couple of months have seen an explosion of new themes introduced for iGoogle.  There is even a major subset of “artistic” themes now that highlight the work of world-renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly, Anne Geddes, Oscar de la Renta and even the great Jackie Chan (yes THAT Jackie Chan).  I highly recommend iGoogle, even just for this feature.

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