There are three things that would make that popular posts widget better (IMHO):
1) Being able to select Posts or Pages or Both
2) Being able to select one or more categories as a filter (as include or exclude)
3) Being able to define the time period. Right now I think it's a rolling popularity over 24-48 hours? That seems odd to me as only very high traffic sites with many posts per day would benefit from that. For most sites, they'd want to be able to set it to a month, or a year, or from the beginning of the site.
I tried following your trac link but it was closed, and I found two more tickets that seemed to be the more recent tickets, but they were also closed. I wasn't sure where to post it, so I'm hoping you could either post these suggestions somewhere for me, or send me whatever the most current link it where I can post them.