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craeonics: I would say insight is more important than cramming facts
PKtje: Haha.. yeah. Imagination is more important than knowledge...
craeonics: Which reminds me, how is that thesis of yours coming along
PKtje: Also: heya! Hoi! :D
PKtje: Hey :) It's been almost ten years since the last issue of tek. Will there be anything special to commemorate this fact?

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2004 | 12 | 29

00:54 | the state of gorman

NeoWin got a hold of gorman of DeskMod and ModBlog fame (and not to mention one half of our old host) yesterday and subjected him to some much needed torture interrogation.

It's mostly about ModBlog, but here's an interesting comment by gorman on the long ‘lite’ running DeskMod:

“This is the first time I've said this publicly, but I am very happy to report that DeskMod will be back much sooner than you may expect! We've been very quiet about DeskMod for a while now, as we've been waiting for a few things to fall into place before we said too much publicly. Without question, DeskMod will be back very soon, and it's going to stay up this time. We wouldn't bring it back yet again if we weren't 100% sure we could keep it online. DeskMod is my baby, so to speak, and it pains knowing me that it's not online right now. Because of that feeling, I knew it would be back, and I'm glad it's finally close to happening.”

Hurray! Too bad (i)Mike left though. Kudos to sryo (once again) for finding this interview. || craeonics | comments (11)

2004 | 12 | 28

23:57 | the state of the 'Step

Meanwhile, in the Land of LiteStep, similar discussions took place.

First, BobixLeSage, maintainer of LiteStep-France, posted his alternative State of the Step (don't forget to read part two as well) on the LiteStep mailing list earlier this month. And the man was worried.

Some snippets:

“The closing of ‘Loose-Screws’ made me think of making this ‘over-look’ of ‘Litestep … Today’. This is my point of view on the Litestep community, I may be wrong; at least I sincerely hope so. [...]

I got an impression that the Litestep community is falling apart, slowly but surely.”

“[...] I wanted to provide to the French community a complete documentation about Litestep, so I made searches over the net, the LS forums and the MailingList.

And you know what? It took me four months to gather all the useful informations on Litestep, to put them together in a structured Documentation.

Four months!! And I really wanted to do it!

How much time do you think, a newbie, is ready to spend on Google searching and docs reading? Seriously?”

This all spins off into a discussion on how all things LiteStep can be structured into something accessable to newbies and old users alike and the current state of LiteStep (as in: on life-support) in general.

This alone is interesting, even though I found out two weeks later.

But there is more.

A week later, andymon, one of the most, but also just about the only, active plugin developer, releases his final version of xPopup with these words:

“So, why am i posting these last line?

Main Core Development, Module Development, and most of all the whole stuff around LS as OTS2, ("Official")Installer, ... is in my opinion totally inactive (DEAD), at least at the visible surface

Therefore i think, my "goals" of reviving LiteStep Development and pushing it forward with the xModules haven't come true.

Yes, Yes, much more is now possible for Themeing, but that hasn't affected the real problems of Litestep.

For instance there still no "Real" Home of Litestep (Where you get ALL the important stuff around LS). Litestep.net wants to be a Themes Only Site and doesn't take care of the rest it offers, some others sites are only for News, others have only Modules and some a bit of all (like us).

But where shall a new user go and where shall he come from? If he stumbled on it by accident he must search through different sites (if he finds them) to get only a first impression of LS. And as "GothsSecret" said 2 days ago "I think it is like a first verification for noobs: if you find the installer, you're skilled enough to use Litestep.". Another point: Has somebody seen LS on a bigger Download Site (all over the world) recently? Why isn't SUCH a thing a goal of "development"?”

Same story, different packaging. It ofcourse, sparked some more discussion on the mailing list.

The active discussion alone should make you think that the soup isn't eaten as hot as it is served.

And finally, a couple of days ago, Phil Stopford, the man who's poured blood, sweat and tears into his LDE(X) package (we can't call this a theme no more, can we?) over the years, comes up with an idea:

“There has been a definite concern expressed here and elsewhere that the LiteStep core code has stagnated, causing a falloff in the number of developers and users. Given that the GPL license applies, though, there is a possibility of forking from the current, 3 months old, code in CVS (corresponding to RC3) with the intention of allowing module developers, etc. to work on a common repository and revive the shell scene on Windows.”

Ergo: don't declare the patient dead just yet, folks. Now let's hope it's not just talk, but some things actually get done. || craeonics | comments (5)

23:27 | the state of skindom

Exactly ten days ago, froggles posted his look-back at skinning this year: ‘The State of Skinning 2004’. The headers used should give you an idea of the topics this article covers:

  • The lawsuit [of Stardock versus TGT Soft]

  • The GUI Olympics

  • Triumph of Rainlendar/SysMetrix

  • Year of the widget

  • WindowBlinds victorious

  • Critical mass for Object Desktop

  • The docks

  • WinCustomize 2k5

  • Paying the bills

  • So what's next?

The overall tone is positive, skindom is doing great and is better then ever, etcetera. Far too happy for my taste, so I wondered: if skinning is doing so great, then where have all the small apps gone?

Froggles thinks it might have something to do with all these widget engines appearing and posted a follow up article: ‘So are widgets killing skinnable programs?’.

I don't think so. I think it has something to do with people moving on to other hobbies and so on. Yes, widgets can provide the same functionality as those mini-apps, but that does not make it a reason to abandon those apps for widgets. Or does it?

Two interesting articles to ponder about. || craeonics | comments (3)

2004 | 12 | 17

20:30 | ShellWM resurrection

There's a spark of life again in the windowskinner ShellWM after many moons of silence. Granted, a months ago dev floyd asked for input, but I negelected to mention that here. *cough*

To quote the sryan one's post at blizzle, who in turn is quoting floyd:

“Started to work on this thing again. Expect mainly bugfixes until V 1.0 since I've declared feature freeze :) The current CVS contains quite experimental things like menue skinning. It's completely useless, menues are skinned with the menubackground bitmap, no real setup or anything. I'm working on it. Besides that, dialogs fade in on win 2k and XP. Don't know if it will break win98 right now since I still have to read my ‘old’ code.

Why does ShellWM matter? It matters because choice is important. Right now there's WindowBlinds and then a whole lot of nothing. Ergo: its very existence is good news already. || craeonics | comments (23)

19:56 | inside look at DevArt

Always figured jark was the big bad code monkey who made things happened at DevArt. But judging by spyed's christmas speech, it would appear that spyed is the puppet master pulling the strings and the alien one is a mere marionette.

And a very interesting speech it is, giving quite a lot of insight into what goes around behind the scenes of this company ('cause we can't really call it a mere site no more, can we?). Like this one:

“Without a consistent flow of revenue, deviantART shuts down tomorrow morning no questions asked. Just like DeskMod shut down three or four times and Skinz a few times too. And they were skin sites, as you well know we host every type of still image created (so long as it's art!) The only thing that makes deviantART a million times more successful is that we in fact do support all forms of art, with no limitations on submission, and that we follow the above philosophy above all things.

For the record that was probably `matteo's most awesome contribution to deviantART. In just the right moment he said, hey why don't we support ALL art? And that is a concept we embrace to this day, launching new categories when demand from artists arises.”

I think the fact that people can upload just about anything they come up with is the prime reason why DevArt has grown as big as it is today (sixty servers, goddamn!). Looking at skin sites, the biggest section has always been the wallpaper section, so building upon the more free-er forms of ‘art’ was a logical and correct decision.

A deeper look at the history of this site can be found in his journal (this one already circulated early last year, though maybe only among seniors. Can't recall). || craeonics | comments (10)

19:31 | recolouring skins

Some skins use dreadfull colours (read: blue). What to do about it? Recolour those bastards!

Adam Najmanowicz (SkinStudio dev) has written a little tutorial on how to recolour WindowBlinds skins using SkinStudio. Might be usefull for the WindowBlinds users out there. Don't know why it was hidden so deep in WinCustomize's board though.

Just remember kids: distributing altered skins without permission from the original author will emperil your immortal soul and send you on a one way trip to Oz. || craeonics | comments

19:05 | DesktopX 2.4

As the frog puts it, just in time for the holidays, DesktopX 2.4.

“The program works by extending the Windows desktop to support live objects. These objects can be put together to make ‘widgets’ (mini-applications) or used to build entire desktops. Since DesktopX itself has little overhead, users have total flexibility to decide how much or how little to change your Windows PC with it.

DesktopX has been used to create things ranging from MP3 players, calendars, PC game auto-start programs, computer interfaces in the movies, aquariums, kiosks, and much more.”

As to what is new:

“DesktopX 2.4 allows users to customize their widgets. Each widget has its own properties dialog that enables users to tweak the widget’s z-order, transparency, shadow, color, and whether it automatically runs on start-up or not.

Stardock also added in a host of user suggestions such as widgets saving their position, a cleaner, simpler configuration for DesktopX global settings, and includes an updated DXPlayer which allows users to remote control iTunes, Windows Media Player, ObjectMedia, Winamp and other popular media players from a widget or DesktopX object.”

I always say it's shareware, but the official word is that it “is a free download” and that there's also an enhanced version which is $19.95. Just depends on how you put it, I guess. || craeonics | comments (2)

2004 | 12 | 06

20:08 | Talisman 2.81

Customize sights LightTek releasing version 2.81 of their shareware eye-candy shell enhancer Talisman.

“New in Talisman Desktop 2.81

  • Added ‘HTML Kiosk’ theme.

  • Updated ‘Media Center’ theme.

  • Fixed small bugs.”

Looks like a minor release. Yeah, I'm keeping the news short and to the point today. || craeonics | comments

19:42 | death and rebirth of WinCustomize

The boy who cried “frog” reminds us that tomorrow is the long announced launche of the new WinCustomize site.

“So long, farewell, we really have to go…

Today is the end. The end of WinCustomize.com as we know it. Sometime tomorrow, all that you see here will be gone replaced by a totally new system, new backend, new look and feel.

So take a look around while you still can. Say goodbye to WinCustomize.com as you know it. For tomorrow it passes on into memory…”

If I'm not mistaken, this is the first major overhaul since its launch, what, three years ago?

Anyone who is someone already had access to the new site, but tomorrow it'll open up for the big crowd as well. Hey, as long as it's faster, I'm cool with it. || craeonics | comments (24)

19:32 | rainlendar 0.20

After the release candidates of the previous months, it's finally time for the big 0.20 of Rainy's skinnable calendar app.

“A new version of Rainlendar is available. There has been quite a lot of changes in this version. One of the changes is that the file format is now different which means that when you start the new Rainlendar your old Events.ini-file will be converted to the new format. So, it is adviced that you take a backup of the old file before installing the new version since the new format is not compatible with the old versions. See the FAQ for instructions how to backup the Events.ini (and Todo.ini).

Litestep-users should note that this version is not 100% backwards compatible. You'll have to redefine the place of the Events.in and Todo.ini files in the config.”

And there's more. No longer do we have to google to find his site, for the man has registered rainlendar.net and rainmeter.net, which now point to the respective products. || craeonics | comments

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