This month there was a lot of
software releases. First off, there was
This version of ObjectDock was notable, for me anyway, for two
things. The first thing is that it is the first and only dock
that supports interesting alternative mouse-over effects. I'm
using one where when I mouse over items on the dock, the icons
swing (rotate) back and forth. It's a really cool effect with a
bit of physics thrown in for good measure. The other cool thing
that wasn't even mentioned is that it has a new, much more
robust file saving system. I have had a couple of incidents
where my dock was somehow erased -- one time just as I was about
to give a demo of it. I asked Jeff to redo how he does that
stuff and since then, no lost docks.
And with ObjectDock's release,
here are some cool ObjectDock released stuff for this week:
Spectre ObjectDock skin is really nice. And I make no
bones about pimping a game Stardock is distributing called
But here's an
ObjectDock icon for it. Web Gizmo has a bunch of other
cool stuff too for ObjectDock so you should just check out his
personal page. It's ranked 142th overall as I type
this, I wonder what it's rank will be by next week.
I wish there were more good
docklets out there for ObjectDock.
Another thing that got
released this week was
1.2. It hadn't been publicly updated in nearly a year and
countless fixes and tweaks were made to it that aren't really
mentioned but for me, it had a couple of really cool features
such as being able to turn GIF files into Windows XP icons and
the ability to export ICLs into individual icons which I find
very nice since many icon packages are now .ICL files (one file
full of icons) but when I want to decorate things, I need
individual icon (.ico) files. IconDeveloper can now do this.
Just select all the icons, right click on them, and choose
(rank 17) has been working on an icon series which is looking
Mormegil (rank 2) is working on more icons too. He is
also has said he's going to be updating his existing icon
packages to IconPackager
3 level -- hooray! Speaking of IconPackager, that iprepair.dll
feature has been a pain and a lot of people have reported
problems stemming from it. We've done several updates of
IconPackager 3 to see if there's a happy way to get it to be
more compatible but I suspect we're going to end up just
removing it. I believe that feature allows for certain
additional icons to be changed that otherwise wouldn't be
possible. It works for most people but on a few systems, it
causes all kinds of pain (you can just delete that DLL from the
directory and that should "cure" the problem).
inside Stardock we're working hard on getting DesktopX 3.1 out
the door. DesktopX 3 will have heavily revamped widgets that
come with it along with a number of brand-new widgets. But what
we think will be the key to DesktopX's future isn't widgets but
rather GADGETS. Gadgets are the same as widgets except that
they don't require the parent program to be installed. The
million-dollar question is, will gadgets trump widgets? So on
the low-end you'll still have DesktopX Client which is only $15
and lets you run widgets and apply .desktop files. And at the
high end will be DesktopX Pro which is $70 but lets users export
their widgets as stand-alone programs (gadgets). After all,
it's kind of odd to go to some guy's site who has created
something neat and then have them "Oh, btw, I know I've made
this neat program but you need to go to this other guy's site
download this 10 megabyte program (and pay that other guy)
in order to use my program." With skinning programs, like
WindowBlinds, it's pretty apparent what the value of the
skinning program is. But with widget enabling programs, I don't
think it's quite as clear. I think one of the reasons why
widgets seem to be stuck at the "Look, it's a clock" or "Look
RSS reader" is because no one wants to spend the time to
make something truly sophisticated only to tell users they have
to go to some other site to download another program (and
pay for it) in order to use theirs. Gadgets solves that.
DesktopX 3.1 should be ready in about ten days.
Speaking of widgets, here are
some cool ones that came out this week:
all the hype that widgets get, it's easy to forget that what
most people seem to prefer is not to put little do-dads on
desktop (I like to have gizmos on my desktop) but
rather have a complete replacement desktop environment.
(rank 104) has delivered the goods with his new, designed for
LCARS desktop. You have to be running 1280x1024 in order
to use this one as it's designed explicitly for their
resolution. It's possible it might work at 1600x1200 but I
wouldn't count on it. Mountain Dragon has released his first
DesktopX-made desktop called
Dragon Desktop. I haven't tried this, it also requires
1280x1024 resolution to use I believe and it's his first try to
be warned. But it looks neat.
Before anyone asks, I didn't
find any boot screens or logon screens this week that I liked in
particular. But if you're curious to know what my boot screen
is here, it's
THIS. My Logon is
With the Longhorn beta about
to start, get ready for a ton of Longhorn-style themes to be
made. If you're in the beta, you'll be happy to know that the
current version of WindowBlinds that's available to
users should work fine on Beta 1 of Longhorn. Only
gotchas are that the Start menu has an entry field that
obviously existing skins will have some cosmetic issues with and
the same for the new toolbars. We'll have to come up with some
way for existing skins to be able to cover these new controls
and look nice and then extend the format to support these new
But for XP users, the next few
weeks should bring some Longhorn-style stuff. One thing that
pains me as I look over other
websites are all these..ahem.."make over" utilities that
will completely change your system to look like something that
do so by patching your resources. Yuck. I mean, hat's off to
the guys who do all that work but the idea of patching my
resources on disk sends a chill up my spine. People will be
trying to get rid of that stuff for months. So we did release a
Manager that we hope will encourage people to make
.suite files. I'm going to make a Theme Manager .suite of a
Longhorn theme soon so that people who want a full make-over can
have it without messing with their system files. I'll talk more
about that next week.
The Dangeruss project
continues with some new skins updated by MikeB:
Boxxi (rank 28)
was active this week with some cool new skins too for
VStyler made a
JJ Ying (rank 10) Made a
T&rget WB skin which I really like and am running right
Here are some wallpapers I ran
into this week that I liked:
I really found that I liked a
lot of Dezin's
(rank 80) wallpapers.
In the article front, here's a
guide I wrote on different ways of using the popular Windows
customization suite, Object Desktop. You can read about that
Meanwhile, in terms of actual
goodies to download for your computer, I came across some neat
Star Wars Yoda is a replacement boot screen for Windows XP.
It looks totally cool and sure beats that standard Windows XP
Speaking of Star Wars, I found
a cool looking light saber replacement mouse cursor
here. You use
CursorXP to apply it. If you're looking for something a
little more..well normal the
Encoded mouse cursors are pretty cool too.
you widget lovers out there, I found some pretty cool stuff.
These widgets use DesktopX.
Once you have DesktopX intalled on your computer, these widgets
run like any other program except widgets use less memory to do
what they do than traditional programs use (which is one of the
points of using widgets). The
On-Time clock widget is pretty nice. There's a gazillion
clock widgets out there already but this one is particularly
One of the most interesting
widgets I've seen lately is the
LCARS MP3 widget. It lets you specify which media player you
want to control (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player or its own built
in one). For anyone who is really into Star Trek TNG, this is
definitely worth getting.
Meanwhile in icon land, there
have been some incredibly cool icon sets packaged up with
IconPackager 3. There's
Icon-A-Day, and the
Encoded icon package. All are very nice and all are
you have ObjectDock Plus,
there's some cool new backgrounds out too. I'm partial to the
Gizmo background myself.
You maynot have heard of
Rainlendar before, but it's a free program for giving you
skinnable calendars. While there are lots of calendar widgets
out there, the difference here is Rainlendar only does calendars
so it has really specialized on making them very useful.
elsdee RL are two recent ones that look good.
Customizing wouldn't be
complete without wallpapers of course and here are a few I liked
Over in Windows Media Player
land things have been somewhat quiet lately but the
World of Warcraft skin for WMP is pretty cool.
the GUI skinning department, there's been a lot of activity
lately. Visual styles or whatever you want to call them change
the look & feel of the Windows GUI. The most popular way to do
this is with WindowBlinds,
a program that extends the native visual style engine to support
all kinds of cool new stuff.
Mr. Clean is like the name implies.
My Longhorn is a pretty solid attempt to get Windows XP to
have the look and feel of Longhorn complete with an alpha
blended Start menu.
Also in the "clean" style is
And finally, Pixel Pirate who
has all kinds of cool stuff lately has made
Encoded as a visual style as well.