Different DesktopX 1

:: An Online Center Hub ::

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 by Skarny | Discussion: DesktopX


I still use Stardock's DesktopX. I play with it a lot (stop sniggering RND ).
DesktopX is *my* go-to creative hobby - I'm not well equipped to be a skinner or a graphical artist.

I've attempted lots of little projects with it, and I suddenly feel like making a few posts images/videos and descriptions on what I did with it over the past 12 years. Maybe it will be interesting...

Some of you may be inspired to check out DX, ask some questions on how to do things, share your own ideas...in general have some interesting discussion. Actually, I'll possibly run out of stuff quickly, so other DXers might like to share their "Different DesktopXs".

DX doesn't have to be 'dead' despite no new updates, its last versions are still very functional and quite complete. RedneckDude's prolific contributions are quality examples and I've also noticed some new stuff and new creators recently!

Anyway - here's my Different DesktopX 1.

:: An Online Center Hub ::    http://www.explosm.net/comics/2301/   

My local community online center wanted to track time allocated to computers in their network from the front desk.

Provides a count-down timer for each computer, with a pause function, and when time is up a 'lock' screen appears on the client computer (a large DX object set to 'Always On Top') which prompts the user to come pay for more time or.. go away (you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here).

Front Desk interface

Interesting stuff during development

Initially I thought to use a free ActiveX Winsock control to set up TCP Host and Client connections between the main control computer and all the clients. It worked quite well and easily - lots of potential there! DesktopX can do network stuffs!

BUT - the online center's network security turned out to be such a mess we couldn't get it to work directly over their network, so...

I scrapped (archived) the TCP script and figured I could use a web based database as a 'communication proxy' between the computers instead. Each computer could send and retrieve their commands/messages via DesktopX, regularly updating or querying a table in the web databases.

Table structure on the web database

I thought it might be slow regularly sending and retrieving the web requests, but it was much faster than I expected! Again, this simple setup has lots of potential.

I had to Google how to create two webpages (using PHP), one for sending and one for receiving the database data using URL parameters. DesktopX can load and use these via its script support for POST and GET web functions and it can happen silently in the background.
(text search for System.SendRequest here)

Other than the free database and the two webpages, the whole thing works off DesktopX without any special additions, including the menus, buttons, graphics etc.

Reply #1 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:09 AM

Betcha RnD will eat this up. I'm thinking of doing DX as soon as I get my work load down to managable stuff. My problem will be scripts. Now that is the hard part, to me anyway. Nice going skarny.

Reply #2 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:21 AM

Thanks Uvah!   There's quite a few of us scripters banging about still, bring on the questions when you're ready!

Reply #3 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:29 AM

What is the capital of India?


Reply #4 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:40 AM

New Delhi (I hope). NEXT! 

Reply #5 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:18 PM

   Awesome, Ryan!  I was just thinking of writing something similar. This is why I love DesktopX and use it for all kinds of personal utilites.

Reply #6 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:53 PM

Question #1: I was looking for tuts on DX and found only the first three installments. Where can I get the rest of them? The graphics I can do but the scripts......it seems a bit confusing.

Reply #7 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 2:55 PM

graphics I can do but the scripts......it seems a bit confusing.

You'll need to go to a site that offers VBS script tuts, Ross. Tuts on scripting DX are few and far between.


There are some in our forums for specific things, done by sViz and Romanda, maybe even a skarn tut or two.







Reply #8 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:22 PM
Reply #9 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8:17 PM

Nice find, Skarny, I had forgotten that one! 

Reply #10 Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:42 PM

Thanks. Copied them in notepad so I don't lose them.

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