Friday, August 21, 2009

The 18 Digit Calculator Widget..

You may remember from prior posts that I have been working with is website where you can go and make widgets, easily distributable add-ons or do-dads for people to put on their website or blog for free. A widget will have a short, easy to copy bit java-script that people can install in seconds with little effort.

There are several different reasons to offer free widgets to your visitors. People love FREE stuff, so having a sought after widget is like having a popular I-Phone app. Visitors will seek out your website or blog to get the widget, so you get traffic that way. You also can use the widget to get traffic from the widget itself once it is installed on the end users site. So it is a fun form of viral marketing.

I have been offering my own type of free widgets from my sites for a couple of years, but the only way (I know of) to protect the code within the widget is to use I-frames. A frame is like a portion of a web page within another web page. And you want to protect the content of the original script so the end user does not modify it and take away the benefits you have worked so dearly for. So I could offer a short bit of I-frame code to distribute a game box or something, and when a visitor clicked a game to play, it would lead to one of my websites.

Unfortunately, some social networking sites like myspace and others prohibit the use of frames. I would guess it is due to the fact that after I have a ton of people install the I-frame code, I could change the content of the page that is being "framed" to whatever I wanted, so there is no way to monitor the content or protect unsuspecting users from unscrupulous widgets.

The advantage of using is they can turn an I-frame into java script in minutes. And java script is ok to use on almost all websites and blogs. Once you have an account at, you can start developing widgets for free right away. However, like all good start-ups, the perfect world was only free for a while. Yes, you can still create free widgets, but they display a short ad on your widget as it is displayed. It eventually disappears or you can "x" out of the ad, but nonetheless it is annoying.

Which led me to the problem with my 18 digit calculator widget. When I first started working on the calculator widget, I could tell by the traffic reports from that the calculator had the potential to be a popular widget. But the forced ad resulted in a real big problem. Even when there was no ad being displayed, there was a small clickable "ad" icon in the top left of the widget. In most cases this would not be a problem, but on the calculator, it ended up right over where the first digit would be on the display. This made the calculator virtually unusable.

Without completely refiguring the entire layout and starting over, there was really only one alternative; going pro. I am all about FREE, and have based my entire website modeling on FREE, but will remove all ads and give some other benefits for $30 a year. So I am giving it a shot. And below is the free (and ad-free) 18 digit calculator widget that you can embed on your site or blog. And if you like it, maybe you could shoot me a Paypal dollar or two to We will try to keep it ad-free forever.

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