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Icon-A-Day, Icons # 48 & # 49, BAT and Application Files

I like to have these two go hand in hand.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 48 - 49 (Application & BAT Files)

Over the next few days I would like to polish off most of the remaining default icons supported in a standard icon pack. Today we will take care of two of them.
Yesterday we did the INI file, and in the process we created a gear that is leaning on a file; today we will put that to good use.
Step 1a:

First I copy our INI File from yesterday. I Nudge the gear out of my way, delete the text copy and lines from the page, and change the Title to BAT.

Step 2a:

Now I change some colors. I am going to make the page Black for these two icons. To make them look more "Command Prompt-ish". I also paste some text in. In this case it is a copy of an Autoexec.bat file I found on the Internet. (So very retro).
Step 3a:

Now I Nudge our gear back in place. Since I have not moved the file and I have my
Nudge set up the way I showed in the "Setup" Video, I know it is exactly in the right place. So I am done with that.
Step 4a:

Now using our
Reflection Technique we give the and page gear a new shadow.
Step 5a:

Since this is a Bat file it is more or less just text, so I want it to reflect that it is editable. I copy our pen from the My Documents folder and place it in front of our new icon.
Just to make it stand out a bit more I use the Mesh Tool to go in and edit its color, making it Blue.

Finished Icon Image

Note: As you can see I changed my mind, as I often do, about the color of the title bar. I changed it to the color I have been using for the System File icons.

Step 1b:

Now for the next icon we copy the Bat file we just made. Nudge the gear off, change the title to C:\, as well as fill the page with Some 1's and 0's to indicate that it is a binary, or compiled file.

Step 2b:

Now as before I simply
Nudge the gear back in place.

Step 3b:

As Above I give our new icon a new Reflection using our
Reflection Techniques
Finished Icon Image.


Click here to download the finished icon.

I think tomorrow I will stay in the realm of File icons. Now I'm off to do this weeks CorelDRAW for Skinners.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 47, The INI File

Once more into the File Icons my friends.

Friday, February 18, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 47 (INI File)

Well, today is Friday and I'm beat, so as with the last few Fridays I was thinking it would be nice to do something simple. Our iconpack is coming along well, better than I had hoped in fact. However we have many icons to go, a lot of them are not very glamorous so I think we should polish off a few more of them. So tonight we will do one more; the INI file. I am using this as our Configuration file icon, but I will make an INF file as well later.
Step 1:

We will start by copying our Text File and changing the title to INI.
Step 2:

Now once more we will steal some of our prefab Graphics and Copy one of the gears from the Admin Folder.
Step 3:

Now using our
Reflection Techniques we give the gear and the file a new reflection.

Step 4:

Now using our
Shadow Technique We give the gear a new shadow.
Finished Icon Image

Click here to download the finished icon.

Tomorrow I will polish off another simple File icon to make time for this weekends CorelDRAW for Skinners.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 46, The Desktop

This one everyone sees, but not many use.

Thursday, February 17, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 46 (Desktop)

This is one of those icons that everyone looks at in your icon pack, but is actually rarely seen in use. Mostly as a 16x16 in your quick launch bar, but never the less I like to spend a little time on it, an make sure it looks good.
Since the Desktop is essentially just a special kind of folder, I am going to use the styles we are using for the folders, so that at least on some level they match.
Step 1:

I start by using the mesh fill and some rectangles, to make the basic shapes of the desktop.
Step 2:

Now using more rectangles I use the Mesh Fill tool to make some corner covers for our desktop.

Step 3:

To make it match the folders I make the corners black, and I give the Main desktop a nice Brush texture using our transparency 102 techniques.
Step 4:

Now I give desktop and top two corners some
gloss, and make a simple shadow off the entire thing.
Step 5:

Now I copy the File icon off the My Documents folder, and rotate it slightly so it looks like it is sitting on our desktop. I also make a copy and change the title bar to blue. To polish them off I give both the files a slight drop shadow.

Step 6:

last I make a copy of our pen from the my documents folder, and set it in front of our almost completed icon.

Finished Icon Image

Click here to download the finished icon.

Join us tomorrow as we dive back into the file icons.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Desktopx 3 Journal: Day 3

Creating your own preferences dialog

Thursday, February 17, 2005 by Frogboy | Discussion: DesktopX

If you want to make a program that you plan to give to other people to use, you will probably find that they will want some sort of preferences dialog. Something to change the settings of the program to match their particular set up.  In today's example, we want users to be able to make an email checker. The email checker is different for each user. They have their server, user name and password.  So how do we let users of our widget set these things?

In DesktopX 2, you would do this on your own by creating your own special panels that you designed yourself.  This had the benefit of letting the author have a lot more control over presentation but it was very time consuming. Some widget enabling programs do all this in a separate XML file that the program then uses to create a standard preferences dialog. This is, in my view, superior to what was in DesktopX 2.

But with DesktopX 3, it was decided to take the next logical step - do all of this in script (VB Script, JavaScript, whatever).  When the user starts the script, the first thing they do is create their preferences dialog (if applicable).  You don't have to create a preferences dialog this way but it does make things much much easier.

So let's think about how we want users to enter in their User Name, Password, and Server name. In DesktopX 3 you create a widget like this:

Widget.Preference(PREFERENCENAME).Type = TYPE

So we authors would fill in PREFRENCENAME and TYPE . For the former, you can call it anything like "Password".  For the latter, you have to pick one of the control types DesktopX 3 supports which are:

  • “Hidden”: No control will be displayed in the Widget properties panel. Hidden is the default type.
  • “Text”: Text box control type.
  • “Password”: Text box with obfuscated characters for password entries.
  • “Checkbox”: Checkbox control. Values for checkboxes are “1” or “0”.
  • “ComboEdit”: Editable text combobox control.
  • “ComboList”: Dropdown list combobox control.
  • “Slider”: Slider control. Values for sliders are still in string form.

So in this case I would pick two text fields for the server name and user name and the password field for the password (password being the same as text but obfuscated).

The screenshot above contains the example code for our mail preference.  There's a second piece we need, and that is, what we do when someone actually does something in the preferences:

Sub Widget_OnPreferencesChange
End Sub

A new call is added  by the system: Widget_OnPreferenceChange.  In this case, we call a function called RefreshData that we've written and another one called CheckMail that we've written.

Sub RefreshData
  sLogin = Widget.Preference("User").Value 'object.localstorage("MailLogin")
  sPass = Widget.Preference("Password").Value 'object.localstorage("MailPass")
  sServer = Widget.Preference("Server").Value 'object.localstorage("MailServer")
  sType = Widget.Preference("Type").Value 'object.localstorage("Type")
End Sub

In this function, we save the data from our preferences dialog with the DesktopX storage system so that you don't have to keep entering this data every time you load the widget.

When the widget is made, the preferences tab becomes part of the properties dialog for that widget.  So now I can not only control how the widget looks and behaves and set the hot key to activate it, but I can now configure it right from the same place.





Icon-A-Day, Icon # 45, The Shortcut Overlay

This little guy never gets any love

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 45 (Shortcut Overlay)

Today we will do the only other "Overlay" icon in the standard icon Pack. The Shortcut overlay is always one of the easiest things to make, but not necessarily the easiest to design. It is simple enough to put a arrow in the corner of a square and call it done. I like to spend some time making sure that it matches the rest of the icons, and looks good overlaying the Folders, and Files.
Step 1:

First I start with a simple 2D arrow.
Step 2:

Then I slant I back a bit with the perspective tool.

Step 3:

Now using the
Contour tool I give our arrow a poor mans Bevel.

Step 4:

Now I give the backs of the arrow some gradients, and a blend. I also throw on a bit of

Step 5:

Now we give it a
reflection, and a a shadow.

Finished Icon Image:

Click here to download the finished icon.

I know the final icon image is not very impressive, but I show it with a few examples in the screen shot. Tomorrow we will take a stab at the Desktop Icon.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 44, My Documents Folder.

One more of the major components.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 44 (My Documents)

Today we finally get around to making the My Documents folder, usually I make this right at the beginning of the pack, but with this pack I was not sure what I wanted to do, so I put it off until now. For this icon I we will re-use several elements and make one more that we will use again later I am sure.
Step 1:

First I gather some elements, the Open Folder, the Default Document, the Picture for the my Pictures Folder, The piece of file from the My Video Folder and last the HTML file from the Web Folder.

Step 2:

Now I size the film a bit and place it in front of the Html File.

Step 3:

Then I pile in the Picture from the My Pictures folder.

Step 4:

Then I move all our new elements into the folder.

Step 5:

Now I give our folder a new reflection.

Step 6:

Now I move our Default File in front of the Folder and Slant it back with the perspective tool. I also give the file a nice shadow.

Step 7:

Now I want a pen, so I am going to make a Sharpie like pen out of some rectangles, using the Mesh Fill.

Step 8:

I shape the new Mesh Objects to look more or less like a pen. I also give the pen a shadow.

Finished Icon Image

Click here to download the finished icon.

Well, now we have one more of the major components to our pack. We will be done before you know it. Tomorrow we shall try and do one of the "Other" icons.
Note: I thought the file Icon looked kind of bland in blue, so as you can see in the final image, I changed it to a red.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 43, The Favorites Folder

A Valentines Day Special.

Monday, February 14, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 43 (Favorites Folder)

Well, today is Valentines Day so I thought I should do something romantic. Then I realized I was making Icons, and metallic Sci-Fi style icons at that. Where the heck am I going to find romance?
Then I thought way back to the early days of the Internet and my first browser. I don't even remember which one it was now, but what ever it was it had a heart for the Favorites icon. Its a bit sappy, but hey its Valentines day, and its an excuse to do a big sappy heart. So lets do it.
Step 1:

We start by taking the Web folder icon and deleting the Globe and Cable. Then I make a simple 2D heart.

Step 2:

Now using the Perspective tool, I slant our heart back to make it look like it is leaning on the folder.

Step 3:

Now using Contour I give the heart a "poor mans bevel".
I also copy the heart make it smaller and offset it a bit. Then I blend the two hearts together to give the heart a bit of a rounded look.
Step 4:

Now we give our heart some gloss.

Step 5:

Then we re-do the folders reflection, and create two new reflections for the heart.
Step 6:

Lastly we give the heart a couple of drop shadows, one on the folder and one on the floor.

Finished Icon Image.


Click here to download the finished icon.

Well, happy Valentines day everyone. Tomorrow we will finally get the My Documents folder taken care. 

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 42, The Default Document

almost forgot this one.

Sunday, February 13, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 42 (Default Document)

I was planning on doing the My Documents folder today, but once I sat down to do it, I came to the realization that I did not have a Default Document icon. This may seem like nothing; we have the default file, the Word Document, assorted Music formats and so on. You see the problem is this: I use the Default Document icon a lot; I use it in several folder icons and as the base for several more file types. We have already more or less used it when making the DOC file icon.
How's that? How can we have used it already, when it is not done? Well it seems we may have already made it - kind of. Let me explain....
Step 1:

I have what is more or less our Default Document file in our Doc File, so we start by copying it.

Step 2:

I simply remove the Word Logo, as well as the DOC extension. This icon will end up being used for any document windows does not have an icon assigned for, so we have to leave the extension blank.

Step 3:

Now I want to change the title background color, I decided to do a Dark Grey, but as you can see in the last step today, I changed my mind and made it the same color as the default file title. I think we will use this for all the system file icons.

Step 4:

Now I need to give it a new reflection so I do that. Straight down to go with the new style of reflections. (Note to self, fix reflections on earlier File icons.)
Step 5:

Now I throw a box with some different colors behind the file, to make sure that it looks ok on different color backgrounds.

Finished Icon Image.

Click here to download the finished icon.

It may seem a bit odd to spend an entire tutorial doing such minor changes to an existing icon, but The Default Document needs to be simple, and generic, and that I think is what we have here.

Tune in tomorrow for a Valentine's day treat, as we do the Favorites folder.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at

Stardock Chat log: February 2005

DesktopX 3, Multiplicity, ThinkDesk, and more!

Saturday, February 12, 2005 by Frogboy | Discussion: Community

<Frogboy> Wecome to the #stardock channel for our first conference in a very long time.

<Frogboy> The way we're going to do this..

<Frogboy> Is that for the first 30 minutes or so we are going to ask that people address questions is to go to#questions to ask their questions.

<Frogboy> The moderaotr, Nakor, will then relay those questions here.

<Frogboy> At the end of the Q & A portion, we'll open things up for everyone to ask questions in real-time.

<Frogboy> The primary tpics will be:

<Frogboy> DesktopX 3, Multiplicity, and Galactic Civilizations.  But other questions on any topic you want are welcome as well.

<Frogboy> So to get this show on the road, I'll ask Nakor to pose the first question from #questions.

<Nakor> Julien would like to know: Are there improvements planned for IconX. Such as

<Nakor> better label text editing.

<Frogboy> Sure.

<Frogboy> There are two basic features in IconX we hope to have out in the coming months:

<Frogboy> (1) For users to be able to have or create really nice icon text.

<Frogboy> So people coudl have text labels like you find on othe roperating systems or have things that are totally new.

<Frogboy> The other feature is more practical:

<Frogboy> (2) The abilityt o make it easier to click on the labels to change their names. More of a tweak really.

<Frogboy> But those are the two main features we expect to work on this Spring once DesktopX 3 is completed.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> What's new with DesktopX 3 and the centralized scripting you've mentioned on the web?

<Frogboy> The main goal of DesktopX 3 is to make it more usable by end users but also give more power to developers.

<Frogboy> In the former case, what we are doing is creatign a simple DesktopX run-time version (DesktopX client) that simply lets people run DesktopX content (widgets, themes, objects, etc.).

<Frogboy> So that version will only be $14.95.

<Frogboy> The Standard version will be similar to what is available today, it'll go to $24.95 (but also still be part of Object Desktop).

<Frogboy> It will have the content running and "building" portions be seperate. There will be a slick, easy to use UI that lets people quickly get to the part htey want to make use of.

<Frogboy> In terms of centralized scripting, let me talk about that briefly:

<Frogboy> In DesktopX 2, creating a complex object was a pain in the butt really.

<Frogboy> There wree two reasons (in mye xperience anyway) why this was a pain:

<Frogboy> (1) Scripts weren't synchronous with the UI> That is, you couldn't count on exactly when a script would start in the loading of a widget.

<Frogboy> (2) A complex widget might have a dozen or mroe objects with bits of script in them.

<Frogboy> So debugging such things was a real pain.

<Frogboy> In DesktopX 3, we let people do the whole thing in Javascript (JScript technically) or VB Script. All messages, object creation, object configuratin, etc. can all be done now from a single script.

<Alberto> Let me show you an example:

<Alberto> in DX2, to handle a mouse message of a button I had to do: Object_OnLButtonDown(x,y)

<Alberto> in DX3, the main script receives all notifications from all objects like Object_OnLButtonDownEx(name,x,y)

<Frogboy> Precisely.

<Alberto> from there you can handle the event source programmatically from a single location

<Frogboy> IN DeksotpX 2, every peice of the widget would have to handle its own mouse messages (as ane xample)

* jier is going to love that

<Frogboy> In DeskotpX 3, ONE object can do it all. It can handle the mouse messages.

<Frogboy> There is also now DesktopX 3 Pro. We had DesktopX 2 Pro but it was $499 and had a very restrictive license.

<Frogboy> Our concern was that DesktopX Pro would compete with our corporate "gadget making" business.

<Frogboy> But what we decided was that we believe that DesktopX 3 has enough potential as a devleopment platform that..

<Frogboy> we could really change the face of development by making it only $69.95.

<Frogboy> And to help gadget makers, we coudl then open up a new website where develoeprs could sell their end results.

<Frogboy> (

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> You mentioned scripts and widgets. Will DX3 have more integration between plugins and their

<Nakor> associated widgets and scripts?

<Frogboy> Yes.

<Frogboy> In DesktopX 2, scripts and plugins were basically seperate.

<Frogboy> In DesktopX 3, the goal is to allow users to create plugins (or use ones we create) that can then be modified/controlled from a script.

<Frogboy> Here's why that's important:

<Frogboy> What if there's a fundamental feature of DesktopX we didn't think of?

<Frogboy> This is one of the more common things that comes upw ith these widget programs - how do we add new "methods" for scripting that the developer didn't think of?

<Frogboy> Well, what we hope to do is enable devleoeprs to create plugins that essentially add new methods to the scripting. So they can add their own base level features to DesktopX themselves.  This is particularly important in a corporate environment but one can imagine places it's useful for typical users too.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> You touched on this earlier, but:

<Nakor> <jier> q: to get a better understanding of dx3, can we see a breakdown of each version/model, and how they will differ from the current dx?

<Frogboy> Sure.

<Frogboy> You have DesktopX Client. It'll be $14.95.  You won't be able to "make" stuff with it, but it'll run widgets, deskotps, and objects. It's like running DesktopX 2 in user mode but there will be no UI at all. It will come with a simple program called "widget manager"

<Frogboy> Widget Manager will just be a little system tray app that has short-cuts to your widgets and lets you manage the ones that are running. You don't have to run it though.

<Frogboy> You can run DesktopX widgets just by having the client installed on your computer. So Widget Manager will just exist to make it easier to get at them (in other words, it's not an envirnoment).  In the other widget enabling programs, you have to first load the "environment" and then run the widgets. this is a level of overhead DesktopX 3 won't have.

<Frogboy> Then you have DesktopX 3 Standard. It's $24.95 but will also come with Object Desktop.

<Frogboy> It will let you create objects, widgets, and desktops (.desktop) files (themes). 

<Frogboy> It's similar to what we have today but with a cleaner interface.

<Frogboy> And lastly you will have DesktopX Pro for $69.95.  The only thing it adds over the DesktopX Standard is that it can create stand-alone programs that ANYONE can use.

<Frogboy> As an example of that let me show you a "gadget" I made for Gamasutra:


<Frogboy> Being able to build something and use it stand alone in minutes is a "big" deal. It puts DesktopX Pro in a whole new category of software development environments.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> Everytime I see an article on the Internet about widgets, it's talking about

<Nakor> Konfabulator. Why shouldn't I make my widgets there for OS X AND windows?

<Frogboy> Well there's a couple of thigns.  First, Konfabulator is an outstanding product.

<Frogboy> And on the surface, cross-platform widgets sounds like a great thing. Until, at least, you start really looking into it.

<Frogboy> Cross-platform widgets mean you are dealing with the lowest common denomoninator.

<Frogboy> Let me give you you an example:

<Frogboy> With DesktopX, you can access the Windows specific APIs.  That means the whole MSI console of things.  If you want to find oout something about yoru PC, you can use the built in Windows APIs with DesktopX.

<Frogboy> With something like Konfabulator, they have to have specifically implemented it.  I.e. a .getbatterylife type feature has to be specifically coded by the Konfabulator devleoeprs.  With DesktopX, we don't have to code that (we have plugins for that but you don't even really have to use them). So that's a big advantage right there.

<Frogboy> Secondly, Konfabulator has no equivalent to DesktopX Pro.  So the widget you make with Konfaublator still requirs Konfabulator in order to use.  That means the user has to download a 7 to 10 megabyte download first, install that, then download the widget and use that.

<Frogboy> With a DesktopX Pro gadget, like the exampe I gave here: any user cna use this. They don't need anyting installed.

<Frogboy> Where Stardock has failed..

<Frogboy> Is that we didn't recognize early enough about the improtance of having nice looking, GOOD examples.

<Frogboy> The Konfabulator developers did an outstanding job of providing initial, well documented, examples of how to make various kinds of widgets to open the minds of widget developers.

<Frogboy> By contrast, with DesktopX 2, we essentially tossed it out thre and said "Go for it, make neat stuff"

<Frogboy> And so we ended up with 500 clocks and other little things.

<Frogboy> So with DesktopX 3, we hop eto correct this. adn with the opening of, we hope to poen the door for devleoprs to make some really outstanding thigns. Widgets need not be little desktop toys. You can make really useful things with them. The point is, you don't have to be a mega software devleoper to create them.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> ed looks to increase his knowledge by asking: what is the base size of a DXPro app?

<Frogboy> 500K in that example.

<Frogboy> So her'es the irony --

<Frogboy> You culd create a really slick looking widget with DeksotpX Pro whose EXE size is smaller than a typical "Hello World" app created in .NET. ;)

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> ThomThom bangs the technical drum and asks: will we be able to iterate through all objects in the DX enviroment?

<Nakor> i.e.: getting all child objects of an object into an array for instance? then be able to interact with them objects?

<Frogboy> Yes.

<Frogboy> You would have something like myObject = DesktopX.CreateObject("Hello");

<Frogboy> Or do it as an array. That means states, child objects, the whole works can be interacted with from a single scriopt.

<Frogboy> i.e. myObjects<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <jier> q: brad mentioned dx can access windows api, but  from my experience this is only through plugins. will winapi be available through scripting in dx3?

<Frogboy> (excuse my horrific syntax errors please)

<Frogboy> ##

<Frogboy> Yes.  for instance, the whole MSI range of things are available in DesktopX 3.

<Nakor> WMI

<Frogboy> Doh, inded, WMI interface. Thanks.

<Frogboy> Plus we plan to have a scripteable Win32 wrapper available.

<Frogboy> ##

* Frogboy thumps self for saying MSI -- twice!

<Nakor> That sort of answers this questoin, but... DesignCaddy flashes the channel and asks: Will desktop x 3 have

<Nakor> better integration with the scripting engine for porting Flash apps? Right now, you seem to need to embed

<Nakor> in an IE control. kugo88 has a related question in terms of embedding IRC in the desktop like Linux.

<Frogboy> Well, indeed right now Flash is integrated via ActiveX.  In terms of direct integration, I'm not quite certain yet what benefit that wuld be.

<Frogboy> I can, for instance, embed a flash game as a DesktopX object. I've done that in some DesktopX 2 widgets for instance.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> Let's move onto some new areas.

<Nakor> What is stardock's new Multiplicity application and why should I pay for it rather than using Synergy!

<Frogboy> There's a qeustion I was looking for. ;)

<Frogboy> Multiplicity is a program that is designed specifically to allow users to merge their various computers they have available to them locally into one computing platform.

<Frogboy> Now, on paper, the freeware, o pensource program Synergy lets you control multiple computers with a single keyboard and mouse.

<Frogboy> Then again, on paper, Microsoft Outlook and a freeeware open source Linux text email client are pretty similar too.

<Frogboy> Next week, we will be putting out the beta demo version of Multiplicity.  It's in use that the differences in these kinds of things will be more apparent.

* WBlinds adds that its cool

<Frogboy> I'm not sure how many peopoel here have used Synergy.  We've used it extensively and while it is a great thing (especially for free), it tends to lose connection, tneds to have problems reconnecting to other machines, has little security, is hard to set up, doesn't have filec opying, and all kinds of other features.

* Nakor adds that he's using it during this chat

<Frogboy> The thing about about Multiplicity, and this really has to be seen to really be understood, is how seamless it is.

* Frogboy is using it right now too.

<Frogboy> If you've ever used multi-monitor, you can imagine what multiplicity is like. It's that seamless.

<Frogboy> I use it all the time and can't imagine using anythign else. And at this point, I've used every alternative I can think of to see how it compares. Everyone else seems to look at multi-PC control as being a sort of software KVM switch. 

<Frogboy> By contrast, we look at Multiplicity as being the next step up from having a SMP box.  For someoen who wants to multiply their computing power and have them work together.

<Frogboy> As a single unit.

<Frogboy> And that difference in approach is what translates to all the usability features.  We think that a LOT ofp eople have multiple comptuers now.

<Frogboy> And we also think that a lot of those people would find this program immensely useful. The key is making sure it's easy to set up, has lots of usability features, etc.

<Frogboy> I guess the best real world analogy would be this:

<Frogboy> Many of you probably have ObjectDock Plus.

<Frogboy> However, on apper, ObjectDock PLus is very similar to this program:


<Frogboy> We even support WinStep's software on WinCustomize.

<Frogboy> But if you were to do a bullet item feature comparison between ObjectDock Plus and Workshelf they would sound like they're teh same thing.

<Frogboy> But anyoen who has used them both would find that their approaches to be completely different.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <Zoomba> Q: How long after release can we expect the OS X version of Multiplicity to surface?

<Frogboy> We're not sure yet.  It's a very high priority for us though.  The ability for a user to run a PC and Mac together is somethign we think is key. Then after that we would look at doing a Linux based client.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> Zoomba reads webpages closely and asks: Multiplicty is part of the ThinkDesk suite according to the information page.

<Nakor> Can you tell us more about what other products will be a part of ThinkDesk?

<Frogboy> Sure.  Right now, Stardock basically has three product lines.

<Frogboy> You've got the games -

<Frogboy> You've got Object Desktop

<Frogboy> and you've got the WinCustomize products (ObjectDock, CursorXP, etc.)

<Frogboy> ThinkDesk is a whole new suite of programs designed to let people manage their "stuff".

<Frogboy> Multiplicity is the first program in that list.  But this time we're going the programs seperately and then will bundlethem up later.

<Frogboy> Our database system will enable us to provide steep discounts to those who have purchased components (i.e. if you've bought a couple of the programs it'll konw which ones and generate a custom upgrade price for you).

<Frogboy> The other programs are partially under wraps in terms of their full features.  But we have SecureProcess, ThinkSync, and KeepSafe.  We'll talk more about those programs as they near their beta releases.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> so much for Magus' question about upgrade pricing!

<Nakor> I've been waiting patiently for a new ControlCenter from Stardock. Please? Pretty please?

<Frogboy> heh.  Well th twould be the first thign I'd be worried about.

<Frogboy> The wait is nearly over.

<Frogboy> Yesterday we released the beta of Virtual Desktops 2.

<Frogboy> Having the next generation virtual desktops was obviously very key to the release of a ControlCenter 2.

<Frogboy> Once we have the virtual desktops complete, We can finish up the "host" for thost virtual desktps in the form of COntrolCenter 2.

<Frogboy> It will be based on the ObjectBar 2 code but it will visually look simila rto ControlCenter except it'll be skinnable, support embedding DesktopX widgets in there, and have a lot more features.

<Frogboy> This should be ready this Spring.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> A last desktop enhancement question before moving onto games...

<Nakor> phlu asks: "My question is, can future ObjectDock Plus versions allow showing BOTH

<Nakor> tray and taskbar icons on NORMAL docks, because in the latest versions you can

<Nakor> only choose to show only one of them. I'm using it to replace my taskbar."

<Frogboy> I'm not sure on that.  I suspect that may be technically difficult to do but I will ask about that.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <Zoomba> When was launched, there was a bit about monthly games through the end of '04.

<Nakor> I know a month was missed and was wondering what was going to be done with that.

<Nakor> Also, what can we expect coming down the line in '05?

<Frogboy> Don't forget, go to #questions to ask questions if you have somethig you would like to know about.

<Frogboy> We have two more games ready for release but we've not had the (ahem) "marketing bandwidth" to get them out the door.

<Frogboy> In hindsight, we shoudl have said a game every other month.

<Frogboy> Because what happened is taht we started releasing a game per month and the media and such would scarecly mention it.

<Frogboy> That said, something big is about to happen for

<Frogboy> This Spring, we're going to launch Phase 2.

<Frogboy> Instead of a yearly subscription, it'll be a token based system (existing users will be converted to this).

<Frogboy> This has a distinct advantage for customers -- they can pick and choose which games.  The idea came from the issue with Galactic Civilizations II.  You could have someone who bought and then has their subscription expire a month before GalCiv 2 ships. Imagine if the ONLY reason they bought was to get GalCiv 2 and then it expired?

<Frogboy> But the token system has another big advantage:

<Frogboy> It enables us to get a LOT mroe good content for it.

<Frogboy> It cleans up the "royalty" issue for game developers.

<Frogboy> We hired Brian Clair to lead the new effort and he's been talking to game developers from aroudn the world and many want their games on

<Frogboy> So once phase 2 launches, we expect ot start releasing a LOT of games on there. It'll be essentially the iTunes for gamers.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> I've preordered GalCiv2 and am looking forward to the beta. Soon? Soonish?

<Frogboy> March is the beta of GalCiv 2. ;)

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> q: what player feedback, if any, has been incorporated into GC2?

<Frogboy> There's tons of features in GC 2 based on feedback.

<Frogboy> For one thing, you can play as any alien race now in GalCiv 2.

<Frogboy> before, you coudl only play as humans.

<Frogboy> It would be too lengthy to go into all the new stuff there. Just go to and check that out. ;)

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> more non-games questions

<Nakor> q: I have an AMD64 and the 64bit XP beta from microsoft. when is wb going to be

<Nakor> skinning this version of windows?

<Frogboy> This is something we're working on presently actually.  I suspect WindowBlinds 4.51 will be launched shortly after Multiplicity is put away.

<Frogboy> Here's an interesting bit of trivia: The WindowBlinds team is the same team working on Multiplicity. ;)

<Frogboy> I think we have 64bit XP working internally now. It's just that MS's way of..ahem..implementing system extensions was a bit non optimal.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> We do have x64 support internally for AMD64 and the new intel chips.

<Nakor> q: windowblinds 4.5 added per-pixel support for start menus. will that be expanded?

<Frogboy> That really depends on a lot of things.

<Frogboy> I think it's safe to say it'll be "expanded" when Longhorn comes out since Avalon shoudl enable us to have alpha blended everything across the OS. ;)

<Frogboy> But in terms of Windows XP, we're still struggling with that.

<Frogboy> The Start menu having per pixel alpha blending is difficult but not that difficult to do.

<Frogboy> It doesn't move.

<Frogboy> It doesn't resize.

<Frogboy> So it can be done.

<Frogboy> But a normal window can be moved, resized, etc.  And even today, in 2005 where WindowBlinds 4.5 is so much faster than what's built in that most people can notice the difference we still have the "l33ts" who run around saying WindowBlinds is a "bloated pig".

<Frogboy> So there is concern about how we could implement such features iwthout any performance hit. That is what we're struggling with now.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> Skarn: Will the new online validation for Object Desktop affect the archive and restore procedure?

<Nakor> Will restored apps require revalidation after archiving?

<Frogboy> ##

<Frogboy> That's a good question.  I am not certain on that.  I would probably say no in general.

* Frogboy doesn't like DRM in general.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> They won't require reactivation

<Nakor> but you won't be able to just copy the directory to another pc and expect it to work

<Nakor> q: articles are reporting that there will be longhorn builds available by

<Nakor> late june. can we expect to see some cool new things from stardock?

<Frogboy> A lot of that depends on Microsoft and what features are in Longhorn.

<Frogboy> The biggest new feature from our point of view is Avalon.  Avalon comes with a compositing engine that shoudl allow us to do things that were previously impossible.

<Frogboy> In a nutshell, Avalon should, in theory, allow us to do anything to a GUI that one could imagine being done in a computer game. So you can imagine the possibiltiies there.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> q: might desktopx 3 make use of avalon in the future?

* Frogboy and by a remarkable coincidence, Stardock makes games and hence has developers ready to pounce on such new features. ;)

<Frogboy> Yes.

<Frogboy> I think that's a given.  I have 3 things I would like to see in a post-Longhorn DesktopX:

<Frogboy> 1) Make use of Avalon for its visual effects.

<Frogboy> 2) Make use of the .x format (Direct3D) to be able to have truly 3D objects, vectors, etc. in there.

<Frogboy> 3) Use XAML as the underlying code that our DeskotpX UI talks to.

<Frogboy> To expand on #3, I want to be able to use .NET to create my widgets. Imagine being able to use C# to create really cool stuff with DesktopX and combine that with Avalon's features?

<Frogboy> Not that .NET widgets aren't possible now, the problem is requiring users to download 20 megs of .NET libraries which we don't consider acceptable.  Longhorn will resolve that.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> q: what is the diffrence between Multiplicity and Remote Desktop or VNC or something liek that?

<Frogboy> The idea of Multiplicity is that you would have multiple PCs.

<Frogboy> Each PC has at least ONE monitor.

<Frogboy> Adn they are all together near you. It's NOT remote control.

<Frogboy> Your first PC has the keyboard and mouse.

<Frogboy> The other computers don't need a keyboard and mouse but are all connected together via a network connection of some kind.

<Frogboy> So you move your mouse over to the other monitor and you're controlling the coputer that that monitor is connected to.

<Frogboy> VNC and Remote Desktop are remote control solutions.  You are logging onto some computer and its display takes over (or shares) your primary monitor display.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> q: Why woudl I use multiplicity instead of a KVM switch?      

<Frogboy> A KVM switch is a hardware adapter in which your mouse, keyboard, and monitor are hooked into as well as mulple computers.

<Frogboy> So when you want to view a different computer, you can switch (either with a hardware switch) or with a hot key of some kind.

<Frogboy> They're mostly used by network adminstrators or other technical support folks as a way of saving space.

<Frogboy> Most of the programs we've encountered that let you control multiple computers with a single keyboard and mouse (Synergy, Rover, etc.) seem to hve been designed with the thought of offering an alternative to that.

<Frogboy> So in a sense, a KVM switch "competes" wiht this kind of program.

<Frogboy> But the difference has to do wtih implementation.

<Frogboy> Multplicity is designed specifically sothat you're using these computers TOGETHER as a single entity.

<Frogboy> For example,a ll the web addresses I've used in this conversation have come from my other computer via Multiplicity's shared clipboard between my computers here in my office.

<Frogboy> I could also copy files and folders doing the same kind of thing. Or images.

<Frogboy> For me personally, I spent years trying to get the most out of SMP boxes.

<Frogboy> But I was never able to work fludily because somethign woudl always slow downthe SMP box or bring up the hourglass.

<Frogboy> With Multiplicity, I can use all these coputers together as a sort of super-SMP system.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <zubaz25> q: Will Multiplicity support dual monitors on the SECONDARY PC?

<Nakor> I'll answer this one: yes

<Nakor> ##

<Frogboy> Yea, Nakor's office is a testiment to that! ;)

<Nakor> <GrimStone> what happned to mobilization ??? the true civilization simulator from star dock ?? remember reading about it at avault and

<Frogboy> Heh.

<Frogboy> Well, I can't go into too much detail about that but let me put it like this..

<Frogboy> Instead of Mobilization it's going to be Society. (

<Frogboy> And while it will still have a full blown single player mode, its multiplayer is actually a massively multiplery game.

<Frogboy> Sort of a World of Warcraft but for RTS. Or imagine Age of Empries done as a massively multiplayer game. ;)

<Frogboy> But we'll be talking about that more soon.  One other thing, it's going to be FREE.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <Psyringe> Regarding Phase 2: I'm planning to subscribe to shortly. You said that existing accounts will

<Nakor> be converted to the new token based system. When I subscribe now, can I download all the games, test them, play them etc.

<Nakor> or may that cost me tokens in the conversion process?

<Frogboy> You would get all the games now.

<Frogboy> Plus you would get the tokens on top of that.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <GrimStone> any multiplayer modes in Gal Civ 2 ??

<Frogboy> Okay, I'm goign to open this up for everyone after this next question.

<Frogboy> Then anyoen can ask questions and I'll do my best to keep up. ;)

<Nakor> there's one more to take as well from me

<Nakor> before we open it up

<Frogboy> GalCiv 2 won't have multiplayer built in.

<Frogboy> But we may do it in an exapsnion pack.

<Frogboy> ##

<Nakor> <Skarn> If I have desktopX Pro, are there limitations on how, how many, and to who I distribute my compiled freestanding objects? What stops a pro user converting everything into stand alones for his/her mates, effectivly circumventing the need for them to have desktopx standard/lite?

<Frogboy> Skarn: That is why DesktopX Pro costs more.  Also, you can't just take other people's work and distribute them. That's software piracy after all.

<Frogboy> But there are no limitations other than you can't build entire desktops as EXEs. That you would need to talk to us if you wanted to build say a Kiosk desktop or something to give to corproations.

<Frogboy> ##

* Nakor sets mode: -m

<Frogboy> Thanks guys for meeting with us. We look forward to doing more in the future!

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 34, JPG File

Let us take a brake from folders.

Monday, February 7, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

A Icon a day Keeps the Creative
Icon 34 (JPG File)

    Today we will take a bit a break from the folder icons, and do one of the File Type icons. I am still not quite set in my ways on the File icons and hope this one will go a bit further in establishing the style that will carry thru the entire pack.
Step 1:

We will start by, copying our Default document and My Pictures folder.
Step 2:

I want to have the color band of all the Graphics file types to have a kind of RGB fade. So I mess with the band until I like what I see.
Step 3:

Now I copy the Picture out of one of the Photos in the My Pictures folder, and crop it down to fit on the white portion of our file.

Step 4:

I am going make the entire file area show a transparent version of the photo, so I use the Interactive Transparency tool and give it a gradient.
Step 5:

Now we copy the photo from the folder and place it in front of the file. I skew it a bit to make it look like it is leaning a bit more on the file.

Step 5:

Then I copy the paint brush from our Shared Pictures folder, and set it in front of the picture.
Using the Reflection techniques I give our file and picture a reflection.
Step 7:
The last thing I do is give the picture a shadow.

Finished Icon image


Click here to download the finished icon.

Well, I am still not 100% sold on the underlining style of the file icons, but we will move on to another tomorrow and see if it grows on me.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: (Icon-A-Day Index)

CorelDRAW for Skinners.
Part 1: Mesh Tool 101 & Gloss 101
Part 2: Drop Shadows 101 & Reflections 101
Part 3: Exporting 101, Contour & Line 101
Part 4: Transparency 101 & Transparency 102

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at