Every week I'm going to try to find cool things from around the web and share
with you. On the computer, my favorite thing to do is skinning. Or more to the
point, I really like to tweak up Windows XP to match my own insane way of doing
The best way to do that is with
Object Desktop. Not just because my employer makes it but because it really
is the best way to do this sort of thing. Another good program to have is
CursorXP. It has a freeware version if youw ant to give it a try at
http://www.cursorxp.com. It lets you have
really cool mouse cursors.
So what are some goodies for the
month that includes Halloween?
This week we got the boot screen stuff working internally. What a pain that
turned out to be. Here's the deal: We want to make a free program that lets
people change their boot screens on Windows XP. There are programs that
technically do this but the way they do it is scary -- they actually patch your
Windows XP kernel which creates all sorts of potential issues. I don't think you
have to be a computer expert to recognize that the words "Patch" and "Kernel" do
not go well together. That should start trickling out next week. Oh,
and how did we do it? We wrote a device driver whose only job in life is to
display the boot screen (in fact, I'd argue that this is the way the real kernel
should be handled -- having the boot logo in the kernel strikes me as not being
a great thing in the first place).
Kudos to Microsoft on the encouragement though. It was only with Windows XP
that we got on Microsoft's radar and I think for awhile they thought our
software was basically a bunch of hacks. Which always pained us because we put
in a lot of work to make sure our software does things the correct way.
Another cool thing this week we're working on is a Theme Manager (WinStyles
We've always had a hard time naming this thing. It is basically a Theme Manager
though that expands the Microsoft theming system to support third party
programs. But besides coming up with a good name, we've always had trouble
making it simple enough for people to use. With this new version in the works,
it may be ready for more general use.
I am thinking that we should just call it "Theme Manager" and be done with
it. Let it be able to apply Microsoft .theme files as well as .suite files. Just
get rid of the name "WinStyles" completely.
To me, Theme Manager is the holy grail. The reason is that most people don't
care about what these programs do. They just want to press a button and the
program takes care of things for them. Theme Manager (WinStyles) even will
download programs that are missing and works with third party programs.
Heck, it even supports our competition -- it will apply their themes and skins
too increasing the downloads of their software.
But that makes sense because the overall goal of Theme Manager is to make
skinning and theming accessible to the average user.