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iPad as desktop status monitor

Imagine this: you put your iPad into its dock next to your desktop (or laptop), and it transforms into a heads-up display of all the important stats from your machine. Maybe add some news and weather, and your "Today" list from your favorite to-do app. I'm sure there are a good number of people who could care less about this kind of thing, but ever since I saw Steve's post on Air Display, I started pondering the possibilities. This is my proof-of-concept. See the gallery for less-blurry images of the results.

I set up ScreenRecycler on my MacBook Pro and used iTeleport to turn my iPad into a third monitor. That part was easy enough, and I found a few screen resolutions that work pretty well. Next, I opened up GeekTool 3 and duplicated a few of my Geeklets (little widgets that run shell commands and scripts to print data onto your desktop). These were dragged to the iPad to create a workable display configuration, including:

  • Time and date
  • Calendar for the month with current day highlighted
  • Current weather (with icon)
  • Heaviest processes by memory and CPU usage
  • 5-minute average system load
  • Some uptime and memory stats.

I'll tell you outright that I don't recommend trying this, at least not using currently-available tools. GeekTool is strange enough about dragging Geeklets around, you don't want to try it on a network-attached monitor with a terrible refresh rate. It's downright painful. For you, dear TUAW reader, I persevere.

When it's all said and done, the iStat iPhone app starts looking pretty darn good on the iPad. What I want to see, though, is a dedicated app come out with configurable modules. It doesn't need to be as flexible as GeekTool, and I really would rather not have it run as an additional monitor. I'd just love to see something similar to iStat, but with more customizability and an iPad-optimized display. A build-your-own HUD, if you will. Have at it, intrepid iPad developers.

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