Well, after much deliberation, I finally decided to blog...er, publish. In addition to highlighting and reviewing great DesktopX skins, "I Love DesktopX" will have tips and tricks as well as frequent rants...er, commentary.
Enough with the introductions. Let's get on with the show!
My four favorite skins from the month of January.
Outstanding General Info
Prowler Widgets by Bilbo1930
Bilbo1930 has always turned out gorgeous general info widgets and this one is no exception. Slick is the word for it. I love how small this thing is, because when a widget takes up too much real estate, I minimize it. And when I minimize a widget, it'll be closed not long after. Not with this, though.
It displays a lot of infomation for such a small package: weather (including a ten-day forecast), calendar, meters, cursor--I love combination widgets.
Did I mention the animations? Signature Bilbo stuff. I like the way it splits apart, but the scrolling weather does tak a bit more CPU. Graphics are killer--by vStyler, no less. My only nit is that the text is a bit small. But I suppose if you're going to make a compact widget, somthing's gotta give. Overall, though, it's awesome.
It comes with two widgets: one light and the other dark. I prefer the dark one.
Tread Plate Effect by theAVMAN
I haven't visited the DesktopX objects gallery very often, but for this article I had a look, and I was delighted to see the place was still alive. Not only that, but there were also some pretty cool objects uploaded in the last month or so. I was lookign for something out of the ordinary and I certainly found that with the Tread Plate Effect object.
I know theAVMAN mostly for his 'blinds and cursors, so it was a surprise to see he's been turning out DX objects. When I saw this, I thought, "Now that's pretty clever!" And it's so simple, too--one of those, "why didn't I think of that" ideas.
This object basically gives your wallpaper (any wallpaper) that treaded metal look. The only setback is that it overlays your icons--not so minor, but there's really no way around this in DX. It looks perfect on black and white walls, medium gray, and lighter shades.
AVMAN's already done one with raindrops and I can just imagine the texture possibilites to come.
Rainbow Clock 1.0 by Vad_M
Rainbow Clock 1.0 is a clock that can skin itself to match any WindowBlinds theme. Let me say that again. This is a clock that will match ANY WindowBlinds theme...automatically...as in, you don't have to crack it open in DX Builder adn do it manually. My mind is officially blown. AND it's a gadget, so if you have WB but not DX, you're good.
It's technically still a beta version, but I can't begin to imagine how many lines of code and how many months of hard work have gone into this already. If you know Vad_M, you know you're getting a worhtwhile, high-quality product.
DX Theme of the Month
Flash Live System DX by PuterDudeJim
If you're not familiar with PuterDudeJim's DX stuff, just have a stroll thruogh the DesktopX themes gallery and you'll get acquainted real fast.
This theme is based on the WindowBlind "Flash Live" by 1MrPaul1. It's done in the sidebar style and the graphics are beautiful. The color combination makes it feel open and lightweight and I love the easy to use, easy to navigate layout.
As with most of Jim's themes, it's got sound effects, too. I especially like the one for weather. Overall, it's clean, usable, and darn near perfect.
Toggle Time Format
Here in the U.S., we use the 12-hour clock, but many places overseas use the 24-hour clock format. How do you decide which format to make your digital clock widget for distribution? How about both? Put this script into a text object to make your digital clock internationally friendly.
'Called when the script is executed
timefrmt = object.persiststorage("switchfrmt")
If timefrmt = "" Then timefrmt = 3
ttime = FormatDateTime(now,timefrmt)
object.text = ttime
'Called when L-click is released
Function Object_OnLButtonUp(x, y, dragged)
If Not dragged Then
If timefrmt = 3 Then timefrmt = 4 Else timefrmt= 3
object.persiststorage("switchfrmt") = timefrmt
The script works in three parts:
-OnScriptEnter, we check storage for the user's preference. If none exists, we set the 'timefrmt' variable to the 12-hour format and start the timer.
-OnTimer, we get the current time in the chosen format using a vbscript function called FormatDateTime, and then set the object text.
-OnLButtonUp, we toggle between formats and save the user's preference to PersistStorage.
About FormatDateTime - W3Schools
More tuts on time - Scripting 101 (pdf) , Scripting Time Displays
The Gadget Gallery and What it has in common with Carnegie Hall
Huzzah! There's a new gadget gallery and it's just for gadgets. Finally, we get some organization.
For everyone who uploaded a gadget to the widget gallery, re-up in the gadget gallery. Island Dog says to PM him to get your download counts transferred (be sure to include your download count in the PM), but alas, your comments and rating will go bye-bye.
What is a gadget and why is this such a big deal? A gadget is a stand-alone (.exe) mini-application. It does not need DesktopX installed on your computer to use it, which means your friends and family no longer have an excuse not to use your mini-apps. *evilgrin*
I'll probably still primarily upload to the widget gallery, but I'm happy that we now have four galleries showing off the full specturm of cool things you can do with DX, from simple eye candy to handy utilities, and from complex desktop makeovers to high-quality productivity applications.
The announcement of the new gadget gallery did bring up some interesting conversation as to what to expect from the gallery. Well gadgets, of course, but there's a little issue that's come up, on and off, for a while now about the content of the DX gallery. To sum up, there's a boat load of re-skinned clocks, meters, calendars, etc, uploaded to the gallery, making the not-re-skinned clocks and original work hard to find. This is part of the reason why the gadget gallery was created adn I tend to think it's a step in the right direction.
First, to be clear, anyone can submit any kind of gadget there--no restrictions. Second, it will be moderated for quality, so as weith several other galleries on WC, some skins will be visible in the main gallery while others might only be visible on your personal page. Third, and this is very important, if your skin doesn't appear in the main gallery, do not despair!
Do what you like because you like to do it. I can't stress that enough. I love seeing new skinners take such an enthusiastic interest in DX, and it's disheartening to hear talk of being discouraged. It can be frustrating to spend hours, days, and weeks on something, and then not have it recieved as you would like, but do not let a rating or a gallery make you feel like you're wasting your time--nothing is lost when knowledge is gained.
The bar on the gadget gallery may be slightly elevated but that doesn't mean you can't reach it still. Yes, getting better at DX can be hair-pulling maddening, at times. But that's why the DX community is teeming with people ready and willing to help you figure it out. That's why we write tutorials and throw out interesting tidbits, because we've all been there and know that it sucks to go bald.
So, ask in the forums, PM/email a DXer, read the User's Guide, visit the Wincustomize Wiki, see the DesktopX Tutorial section on WC, crack open a widget/theme/object in DX Builder and tinker around, but for heaven's sake do not give up. Practice, practice, and practice some more. That's the only way to get to better, and that's the only way to get to Carnegie Hall, but know that you don't have to travel alone.
I put it to you:
Are you pleased with the addition of the new gallery, and what do you expect its impact will be on DXing and the DX community?
Share your thougths/stories/ideas on learning DX.
What DX skins caught your attention in January?
Sound off below. Thanks for reading.