iled under the "Neat Little Widgets" category you'll find SysBar, a handy quadruplet of utilities that'll make managing and monitoring your system just a little bit nicer. Packaged as a suite, you'll find a task-switcher, clock, CD player and something called a Pipe Monitor (which I'll explain later). The best feature of all these utilities is that they're all stuffed into tiny little strips, no thicker than the Warp Center, which you can dock to any side of the screen for maximum space efficiency.
The SysBar/2 task-switcher comes close to the embodiment of the perfect task-switching utility. It can be set to orient itself either horizontally or vertically, growing and shrinking itself as tasks are started and stopped. What I found most useful about it is its filtering capability; to save clutter you can filter any task out of the icon display, such as the programs you run automatically from the Startup Folder. You can also filter by specifying the programs it should only show.
SysBar/2's clock has a very compact digital display that's remarkably similar to the "SCUSEPRETTYCLOCK" version of the one in the WarpCenter. The difference is that SysBar/2 uses an 'LCD' style font and manages to squeeze the date in the corner too. Time is displayable in either 12 or 24 hour modes. (I do wish it had an alarm of some kind though.)
The CD player is a real gem. Like all of the other utilities it's small and can squeeze into a tiny corner of your Desktop, anchoring itself there if need be. It doesn't have half the features of most players -- just the basics -- but it's the convenience of having something so ridiculously compact that made it win out over all the other CD players I've tried before. With its ability to pop up and disappear as the mouse waves over its screen-space I can have all the CD controls I need, instantly without sacrificing a pixel of screen real estate.
Feedback on time and tracks can be toggled easily through various states too. You can set it to show time passed per track, for the whole CD, or countdown to the end of track or CD. Four configurations in all!
But here's the most curious gadget of the set: the Pipe Monitor. What it does is set itself up to listen to named pipes on your system, any named pipe you want. A named pipe is pretty much as the name implies, it's a pipe with a unique name which data can be fed through. An example would be "\pipe\mail" -- something to which the current count of e-mail messages waiting in your inbox could be written to. Named pipes can be created and written to remarkably easy.is an example of something you could type at the command line to send the message "Hello mom!" to the pipe "\pipe\greeting" (which is created the instant you press the Enter key.)
Now, with Pipe Monitor, you can display that greeting in its own separate cell on the screen, configured to appear in a unique color to make it easy to identify. SysBar/2 comes with a sample Rexx script which will feed the current SWAPPER.DAT size, hard drive free space, and the remaining mail in your PMMail inbox to the Pipe Monitor through a set of named pipes. The script can be very easily modified to work with software other than PMMail, or to pipe almost any kind of feedback you can think of.
SysBar/2 is a charming little package that's worth trying. The most appealing feature of the whole set is that you need only run what you find useful, since it is freeware and modular. With that being said, I'd actually like to see a version that integrated all four applets, along with a program launcher, into a single bar that could replace the WarpCenter! Meanwhile, the existing SysBar/2 utilities are thin enough to live happily over your existing WarpCenter. Bugs are few and far between and I doubt anyone will have a serious problem with its miniscule RAM footprint. Definitely a great utility!
Chris Wenham is a freelance web designer, writer and Englishman who now lives in Endicott, NY. In the past he has written comedy, sci-fi, Pascal, Rexx, HTML and Gibberish. He has been using OS/2 exclusively for the past 2 years.
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