Hack 9. Track Vonage Account Info on Your Desktop
This tiny desktop tool helps keep track of your minutes and voicemails, too.
If you've never used Konfabulator (now known as Yahoo! Widgets) or Apple's Dashboard widget system, you should try it out. Widgets are very simple, specialized desktop apps that provide short, useful information in real time. They can be floating windows, or they can be embedded into your desktop. Remember Active Desktop from 1997, which let you dock an informational web page into your Windows desktop? Well, widgets are about nine times better.
The widget experience is best with Yahoo! Widgets, a widget framework that seamlessly integrates with Mac OS X and Windowsspecifically, Mac OS X 10.2 and higher, or Windows 2000 and XP. Literally thousands of different widgets are available that run on both Mac and Windowseverything from weather reports and stock tickers to cute little iPod remote controls and telephony-related goodies. One such goody is the must-have vonageGauge widget by Martin Koistinen, which gives you a one-glance update of your remaining Vonage minutes, as well as a count of voicemails waiting to be listened to (Figure 2-1).
2.3.1. Installing Yahoo! Widgets
It's quite worth your while to install Yahoo! Widgets, even if you can't benefit from vonageGauge. Throughout this book, I reference a number of other cool Yahoo! Widgets that will aide you in your telephony travails. The place to start is http://widgets.yahoo.com/. Here, you can download a version of the Y! Widgets system for either platform.
To install on Windows, just run the installer that you downloaded. To install on Mac OS X, drag the Konfabulator icon (which might eventually become the Y! Widgets icons) from the downloaded DMG volume folder into your system's Applications folder. Then, launch it by double-clicking it.
Figure 2-1. The vonageGauge widget in action
You'll be stepped through a wizard that helps you decide where you want to store downloaded widgets as your inevitable widget addiction grows. When the wizard is complete, Konfabulator/Yahoo! Widgets will automatically launch its default set of widgets. Now, to try out vonageGauge.
2.3.2. Installing the Vonage Widget
Download the vonageGauge widget from http://www.widgetgallery.com/view.php?widget=36334 and save it in a temporary folder or in the standard spot where you put downloaded files. Unzip the download (or mount it by double-clicking it, if on a Mac) and copy the enclosed widget file to the widget folder you selected during installation.
Mac users can launch the widget with no further issues. Windows users, however, must do some manual configuration due to lack of SSL support for the curl web utility in the Windows version of Konfabulator. Don't worry, though. This is hardly a painful thing to fix. You need this because Vonage's web site requires (as it should) SSL encryption to be employed when accessing account information.
To rectify the matter, download the most recent version of curl from its web site, http://curl.haxx.se/latest.cgi?curl=win32-ssl. From the downloaded zip file, note the files curl.exe and curl-ca-bundle.crt, as you'll need them in a moment.
Then grab the needed SSL libraries, ssleay32.dll and libeay32.cll, from http://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~ftp/Crypto/. The libraries will be located in a binaries directory on one of the FTP mirrors listed here. The specific file you need to download will have a name like SSLeay-X.X.X-DSA.msw32.zip. From inside this zip file, copy the two SSL dll files to the Konfabulator wbin folder located at \Program Files\Pixoria\Konfabulator\UnixUtils\usr\local\wbin.
Copy the two files from the curl download here, too. In total, you should have copied four files into this folder.
2.3.3. Gauging Your Vonage Utilization
Launch the widget by double-clicking its icon in your widgets folder. The thermometer-like display shows you how many minutes are remaining on your monthly plan. The more minutes you use, the lower the height of the "mercury" in the thermometer. This can help you conserve your utilization and spread your usage out to control your Vonage burn rate. Note that if you have an unlimited plan, this isn't really doing much for you, aside from showing you how many voicemails you have waiting.
To listen to unheard voicemails, double-click the text at the bottom of the thermometer, and your web browser will launch Vonage's services page, where you can hear them.