Google Searcher comes online ( thanks to Ross.
A sidebar gadget developed in the North-East ( which allows users to use Google without having to open a web browser ( has attracted European attention.
The gadget called the Google Searcher has been developed by Ross Dargan, a software developer and consultant at Durham-based business and IT consultant Waterstons, and has been downloaded more than 22,000 times since January.
The sidebar has also attracted international interest from European computer magazine CHIP, with the Google sidebar featuring on this month's free CD.
The gadget works on Microsoft's latest operating system ( Windows Vista ( and sits at the top right hand corner of the Vista desktop, allowing users to search Google without having to open a web browser.
Once the user enters a search term, a browser automatically opens, displaying the results of the search.
The gadget is downloadable from an online community hosted by Microsoft for software developers to upload and share pieces of code.
Mr Dargan said: "When I first started developing software, Google and other people's blogs were invaluable learning resources for me.
"This is my way of sharing my knowledge and giving something back to the software developer community.
"As well as detailing solutions to technical problems, my blog also features references to leading edge technologies and bits of cool code ( that's where the Google sidebar fits in. When Vista was released, I was particularly intrigued by the sidebar functionality and wanted to learn how to write software for it."
As well as featuring new technologies, Ross uses his blog to record solutions to technical problems that he encounters.
Waterstons human resources manager Clare Henderson said: "We actively encourage staff to experiment with new technologies and we reward innovation and performance internally. It's great that in addition to this, Ross is receiving such recognition from his peers.
"We have a few guidelines to ensure we protect client confidentiality (and our intellectual property) but beyond that our staff are trusted completely in their use of blogs and forums.
"Technical communities are not only vital for learning and problem solving, but stimulate creativity and innovation which can be applied to working practices.
"It is fantastic for our staff to build up their own profiles, sharing their knowledge and experience worldwide and becoming leaders in their field."
* To download the Google Searcher, visit http://gallery.live.com