pleasing your visual cortex
XP Pro pimpin’ as promised. Pleasing your visual cortex with some fine-ass xp pro ‘upgrades‘.
Envying mac os visuals? Tired of lin(s)ux fanatics showing off their flashy (but most of them useless) desktop effects? Well, now you can have those and still roll on xp. Many people change operating systems, migrate to os.x or linux (after they see compiz). The wow factor. The hundreds of swarming videos with tons of teenage boy showoffs. None of those videos feature anything else but drawing with fire, rotating desktops on all kinds of shapes and forms, minimizing and maximizing windows with lot’s of overloaded / heavy visual effects that I can’t see myself using in my everyday life, playing in water… what else, wobbly windows… watching movies… that’s about it. Nobody runs photoshop or 3dmax in those videos or premier or anything else that is used to get real work done… Maybe after they get tired and bored of being bored and stop drawing with fire on their desktops + the wow-effect fades away, they’ll come to their senses and’ll realize the software and hardware in-compatibility issues and the problems you bump into in your everyday workflow in lin(s)ux are probably not a good bargain especially after what I’m about to show you here (Linux is still under development). So let’s see how you can customize your copy of XP Pro. First let’s look at some xp desktops.
Neat huh’. First step torwards customizing your copy of XP is downloading this ux theme patcher. This will allow you to use visual styles (that is if your not using service pack 3 already). A good source for visual styles is this guy (lassekongo83 @ deviantart). You’ll find many more @ deviantart. I will not describe each and every little mod, they are described on the above mentioned (linked) pages. Windows Blinds is another choice, but I heard it’s a (memory) hungry addon and it ain’t free either. I vote for visual styles, yes we can.
Another great program that I’m using ever since, is RocketDock – “RocketDock is a smoothly animated, alpha blended application launcher. It provides a nice clean interface to drop shortcuts on for easy access and organization. With each item completely customizable there is no end to what you can add and launch from the dock. Now with added Taskbar support your minimized windows can appear as icons on the dock. This allows for better productivity and accessibility.“
I recently heard about ObjectDock – “is a program that enables users to organize their shortcuts, programs and running tasks into an attractive and fun animated Dock. By allowing users to have more control over how they organize their desktop, users can take control of their desktop icons and shortcuts to have them be available when where and how they need them. This, all with the unique style and top-rate performance that ObjectDock is known to deliver!” Didn’t try it yet. (Looks like the guys at Stardock wanted to make their own ‘rocketdock’). Also StackDocklet which I hope works with Rocketdock, cuz’ if not, I’ll have to switch to Object dock (umm wait: “Install: Unzip to this folder: C:\Program files\RocketDock\Docklets – Or the corresponding docklets folder of your dock. Now you should see a StackDocklet subfolder inside the Docklets folder.”). So it does work . So pick a visual style install rocket dock + stack docklet find a nice wallpaper and your desktop already looks much much better. I have to admit, I envied the dock from the mac os, but now that we have them on xp who needs (communist) macs and their software?!
BTW if you ever need to remove the recycle bin from the desktop. One solution is to run regedit, goto: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/explorer/Desktop/NameSpace – find ‘recycle bin‘ and delete it. Woala no more recycle bin on your desktop. You could use TweakUI or (the easyest, safest way) simply go to Start > Run > gpedit.msc > User config > Administrative templates > Desktop > find “Remove Recycle Bin icon on the desktop” and enable it DONE!
Another hype among lin(s)ux operating system fans is the – rotate your desktop on all kinds of shapes and forms, wow – thing. I vote for multiple monitors but that’s just me. If you’re into that than here’s some hints:
Deskspace (also known as Yod’m 3D I think).
Deskhedron which “is a tool which switch the desktop by using 3D GUI. *This software doesn’t support multi monitor environment. At 3D view you can switch the desktop by mouse wheel or left and right cursor keys. DeskHedron can organize apporoximetely 9 desktops, and switch the desktop“.
Talking about flipping, WinFlip is “a ‘Flip 3D’ function for Windows XP It provides an alternate window-switcher to the standard Windows Alt-Tab. Winflip displays all open windows in a 3D stack, which the user can flick through and select using either keyboard or mouse“.
You could also try TopDesk which is “you can harness the full power of your current hardware and experience Flip3D-like window switching on Windows XP“.
Something I didn’t see in any other operating system is 360 desktop which is a “free software that extends the Windows desktop as a 360° workspace“.
WindowsPager is basically what you encounter in lin(s)ux.
Another thing some of you may find usefull is this Virtual desktop thingy, called VirtualWin (“is an application for the Windows user community that misses the wonderful virtual desktop functionality often used on Unix systems. It is simple, powerful and highly configurable“).
You may also like Microsoft’s little lightweight program called Desktops.
The featured desktop screen-shots @ the beginning of this entry mostly used Rainmeter, Yod’m 3D, Samurize. Again, for details I advise you to ‘use‘ the links beneath the images. You have full descriptions there, how-to-s and everything else you might need.
As for taking screenshots you can try this little fella, in case you’re bored of pressing the printscreen button or alt+printscreen combo (which takes a shot of the active window only).
You might miss shadows or transparency in your xp enviroment, if so try Y’z Shadow.
If you consider yourself disorganised and you are willing to do something about it, try Fences – “is a one-of-a-kind program, allowing you to draw labeled shaded areas on your desktop, which become movable & resizable containers for your desktop icons. These groups can help bring organization and consistency to your computer’s desktop, solving the “constant mess” problem that has plagued the desktop since its inception.“
“Apple’s Exposé task switcher is the holy grail: It shows live previews of every running application on your desktop and makes it easy to switch back and forth between programs with just a click or two. DExpose2 is an Exposé clone that brings the same functionality to Windows XP and Vista. Hit the F10 button and your screen will darken a bit and DExposE2 will bring up large thumbnails of all your applications. You can use the arrow keys to move between applications, and hit enter to bring one to the forefront.” dexpose here. I don’t but hey this is not about me
Linux fanboys bugging you with stuff like ‘hahah you can’t reorder your taskbar and/or system tray icons‘ well fear no more and head here.
You also might like to give this a try. (Explorer which contains a contextual series of buttons that allows you to quickly see and navigate through the entire folder hierarchy without leaving the current window.) If you’d like tabbed browsing features in your EXPLORER head here, you don’t like your ‘start‘ button?! Get rid of it! …and the list goes on there and many, many others alternatives you might find handy. I just wanted to show you, point you in the right direction.
You’re still here? I left some goodies for the end. Tune up utilities is a program that I can honestly recommend. It’s not free but you can try it for free. It’s worth every penny! It even takes out the trash. It has a registry editor, process manager, file recovery, registry defrag, system and memory optimizer, start-up manager, system info, system control where you can fine-tune how your windows behaves and a thing called styler. You can change the look of your icons anywhere any filetype, get rid of the shortcut labels on icons, resize your icons, bla bla bla, ANYTHING!
As for wallpapers and icons, well my favourite sources are deviantart, mandolux, hybridworks, manicho, customize.org, pixelgirl, iconfactory, vladstudio, buff (this guy), gfxartist, deptchcore, desktopography, iconfactory, pixelgirl… and so on. If you have multiple monitors you’ll find display fusion by binary fortress software VERY helpfull!
Finally, if you got this far check out these videos of BumpTop’s still in development desktop enhancement software.
Hope this find you well, ’till next time…