[ubuntu] Post 10.10

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http://ubuntuforums.org – I understand that it is not possible to add applets to the top menu in 11.04, 11.10 and 12.04. I use the character pallet a lot, it is always in sight and when I want a foreign currency character I click it once and then paste where I am working. How do people accomplish this with releases after 10.10? Similarly there is an applet to display local weather at a glance. How to people see the weather at a glance (without having conky or similar windows of information on the desktop)? (Hardware)