I love online chess. I typically play anywhere from 10-15 games at any given time. Red Hot Pawn has a default move timeout of once every 3 days, so games can sometimes last over a month. What I hate about online chess is not knowing if its your turn without loging in or signing up to receive a bunch of email notifications.
My solution was to write a Windows Sidebar Gadget that periodically checks for pending games. When you login to your RHP account using Microsoft Internet Explorer the Gadget then uses AJAX to get the number of games where its your move. This allows me to do whatever I want on my desktop and know exactly when I can switch back to the browser and play some chess 🙂
Many of the settings are configurable in the widgets flyout panel. Basic stuff like the check interval, a count down timer, and the name size are adjustable. Oh, and during December the Red Pawn wears a Santa hat!