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TouchTasks Reviewed at gHacks

Thursday, October 24, 2019 by DrJBHL | Discussion: WinCustomize News

 

TouchTasks, Stardock's newest productivity app was reviewed by Martin Brinkmann at gHacks yesterday.

In his closing comments, he wrote:

"TouchTasks is a handy software for Windows 10 touch devices like the Surface Pro to improve productivity. It is quite flexible when it comes to the actions that you can assign to zones; the default actions are handy for the most part and the ability to launch any application from a zone is great as well especially when using fullscreen applications.

TouchTasks is available for €11.99 regularly and for an introductory price of €5.99 currently. A free 30-day trial is provided. Note that your email verification is required before the program can be used."

 

If you have a touchscreen device running Windows, you can improve your efficiency by adding this app. 

Key Features

  • Quick access to frequently used tasks and apps
  • Zones are conveniently located on the edge of the screen
  • Customizable application launcher panel
  • Functional in both portrait and landscape modes
  • Task display panel customization
  • Compatible with Windows 10 touch screens and devices

System Requirements

  • Touch screen monitor or touch screen device.
  • Windows 10

 

 

You can read more about TouchTasks here: https://www.stardock.com/products/touchtasks/ 

and Frogboy's forum post here: https://forums.wincustomize.com/497327/page/1/#3762664

A free 30-day trial is provided. Your email verification is required before the program can be used.

You can download here: https://www.stardock.com/products/touchtasks/download

 

Microsoft giveth and taketh away

Windows Defender and Advanced Threat Protection

Saturday, October 19, 2019 by DrJBHL | Discussion: Personal Computing

Windows Defender is an excellent antivirus and antispyware. On my machine, I use it and Malwarebytes Premium. I also try to use common sense as to where I visit, and what I open.

Advanced Threat Detection was added to Defender (MS) as a voluntary service. It was originally part of Enterprise solutions. I opted to add it to my system. I've had to remove it, since I didn't want to roll back the update and wait hopefully for a bug fix which would break something else.

"Microsoft Defender ATP uses the following combination of technology built into Windows 10 and Microsoft's robust cloud service:

  • Endpoint behavioral sensors: Embedded in Windows 10, these sensors collect and process behavioral signals from the operating system and sends this sensor data to your private, isolated, cloud instance of Microsoft Defender ATP.

  • Cloud security analytics: Leveraging big-data, machine-learning, and unique Microsoft optics across the Windows ecosystem, enterprise cloud products (such as Office 365), and online assets, behavioral signals are translated into insights, detections, and recommended responses to advanced threats.

  • Threat intelligence: Generated by Microsoft hunters, security teams, and augmented by threat intelligence provided by partners, threat intelligence enables Microsoft Defender ATP to identify attacker tools, techniques, and procedures, and generate alerts when these are observed in collected sensor data." - MS.

 

On 10/15/19, KB450062 was issued. It has, unfortunately, a new bug. This bug disables ATP, hence the title of this article. Also, this comes as an update for you in the seemingly unending series of MS's buggy updates.

"Microsoft added the issue to the list of known issues on the support page of the update:

After installing this update, the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service might stop running and might fail to send reporting data. You might also receive a 0xc0000409 error in Event Viewer in MsSense.exe.

The company suggests that the update should not be installed on devices which rely on Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection functionality.

At this time, we suggest that devices in an affected environment do not install this update.

Microsoft hopes that it will have a solution for the issue ready in mid-November, likely in time for the November 2019 Patch Day on November 12, 2019. Microsoft releases security updates for all supported versions of Windows on the second Tuesday of any month." - gHacks

Anyway, it was a nice five, threat free days.

You might want to review the list of bugs with 1809 and its updates which you can find here.

If you have a request for a specific topic, or one which I haven't covered recently such as software, please let me know by pm.

 

 

 

Some Sneak Previews for end of the year

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by Frogboy | Discussion: OS Customization

Lots of exciting things happening this year.  

Stardock is actively hiring software developers to begin revamping all of Object Desktop.  You will begin to see the changes starting in mid November as new and old things alike start being added.

A few things on our plate include:

  1. Updating SoundPackager.  The sounds in Windows 10 are a bit annoying.  Stardock has a lot of audio talent here that we plan to use to revamp the sound packages that it includes as well as put dev resources into updating it.
  2. Updating Keyboard LaunchPad.  This is mostly about updating the UX and feature set to support modern apps as well as changing the defaults short-cuts.  Sorry WinAmp fans!
  3. DeskScapes 10.1.  We are going to be integrating in-app Dream creation (not just DreamMaker but a full on mini app for creating really cool effects and dreams!).
  4. NEW APP.  I can't talk about this yet but it should show up within the next month or so.  It's the biggest new customization app we've put out in years.

And that's just by end of this year!

Stay tuned!

 

WinCustomize Master Skinner Spotlight: LightStar

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: OS Customization

Each week on WinCustomize we feature a skin made by one of the creators from our community. We've decided to take that idea a bit further and spotlight the creators themselves!

I wanted to start this off with one of our top skinners and long-time member, Tom, also known here as LightStar!

He was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions so we could get to know him a little bit more.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in “skinning”?

Well, I am originally from Westland, MI, and spent 22 years in the military. I then worked for a local college (where I earned my degree from) as a Computer/Network Technician and then for the State of Indiana as a Director of Technology at a Department of Corrections facility. I was forced to retire early because of a disability I incurred while serving in the military that had progressed to a point where I could not work anymore.

While I was still working though, I was at home one night and saw a skin design for Windows XP on the Internet that inspired me to start doing designs on my own. Back then I was developing MSStyle skins for a company called TGTSoft and their StyleXP software, but when Windows 7 came out, the owner decided to shut the business down. So for a while I continued designing for Windows XP, but soon found out about Stardock’s fantastic WindowBlinds software and decided it was perfect for what I wanted to do and started developing skins for it. At first I did a lot of porting of my prior MSStyle designs to WindowBlinds in order to learn using SkinStudio, and eventually starting developing WindowBlinds skins from scratch, which I continue to do to this day and I truly enjoy it!


You’ve created an almost countless amount of WindowBlinds skins. Do you have a favorite?

To tell you the truth, I have done so many WindowBlinds skins - 272 to be exact - that it would be really hard to pick a single skin. But some of my favorites are my 1942, Art of War, Aurialis, Aztec, Black Sails, Digi Slots, Empire, Flash Punk, Future Life, Medieval and Neon Nights skins, just to name a few. There are so many others too!

 

Could you tell us about your creative process when designing a skin? Do you have a vision of the design beforehand, or does that evolve during the actual design process?

Initially I get inspired by something I see, or an idea, it could be anything... just some colors, a shape, etc. From that point the first thing I design is the start menu, after that I work the other areas based on the shape and color of the start menu. I try to do virtually all of my designs to be highly functional, but at times I add a little bit of “glitz”. When completed, I look at all areas of the skin, sometimes down to the per pixel level, and make adjustments as necessary. Before releasing though I have my good friend RedneckDude take a look at the skin, be it a free or Master Skin, to have him check for any issues.


From start to finish, how long does it typically take you to create an entire WindowBlinds skin?

It usually takes me anywhere from 40 to 80 hours or more to create a skin initially, and another 4-6 hours , depending on its complexity. I virtually spend most of my day designing, 7 days a week.


Skinning obviously takes a good amount of time out of your schedule. Do you have any other hobbies or interests besides skinning?

Skinning is pretty well all that I do now, I really enjoy doing it. I used to have a hobby of metal detecting which I also really enjoyed, and I found some really cool things, but due to physical limitations I had to give that up.

Other than that, spending time with my family is a must when I can! I also enjoy helping the poor and needy when I can. To tell you the truth, that is where most of my income from selling my Master Skins goes, and it feels so good to help!


Thanks for being a valuable member of WinCustomize and for taking the time to speak with us this week! You can see all of LightStar's skins here.

Keep an eye out for more member spotlights!

Groupy for the Busy College Student

Keep all your essays, references, music streaming, and more organized and easy to navigate!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

As much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve been out of college for awhile now - 10 years in April, to be precise. Still, I have fond memories of Ren Faire, campus life, apartment living, and a community of close friends. The less fond memories include apartment living (two sides to every coin!), tuition, and those sleepless nights of crunchtime because I forgot about (or procrastinated on, let’s be real here) a paper that was due the next day.

I used to do some stage combat stuff in collegeI did some crazy fun stuff in college… I swear I ACTUALLY did schoolwork sometimes, too!

 

I was a writing major at Grand Valley State University here in Michigan and sometimes I was working on as many as three or four pieces at once. Each concept required different resources and references, and I was using a single monitor on an old Dell desktop. Although it’s been awhile since I’ve been a student, I think I can remember back far enough to know how much easier life would have been if I’d been able to utilize Groupy.

Obviously not everyone works the same way, but I personally need music of some kind while I’m writing. Usually, I try to suit the sound to whatever it is I’m working on, so sometimes that means specific lists on iTunes, but when I’m feeling flexible I use a streaming service like YouTube, Pandora, or Spotify.

My desk in college - excuse the mess. It was finals week...I’m not sure why I have a pic of my desk from college. It’s a mess – must have been finals week…

 

It would have been nice to be able to utilize Groupy to keep, for example, the Spotify app in a group so I could tab to it easily without having to minimize or maximize the window to switch a song or check a playlist.

I also would often save and use reference images to spark ideas or practice writing descriptions, so I definitely wish I’d have been able to keep multiple file explorer windows together for things like that.

I imagine that students in other majors would make even more use out of the program than I would have -- my needs at the time were pretty basic (and, admittedly, still are). I have always utilized multiple chat programs (IRC and AIM back in the day, Skype and Discord now) and keeping those all contained together would have (possibly - let’s not dream too big here) made me a lot more organized.

Groupy would have helped me manage my spreadsheets full of character biographies, backgrounds, and connections. I really just love how neat and organized I can keep my desktop with the tabs; no digging through windows and min/maxing the wrong one 10 times before I find what I need.

 

My desktop with Groupy today

My desktop currently – Discord, Skype, web browser, file explorer, and LiveWriter, all neat and contained.

 

Groupy may not have been around in my college days, but I utilize it both at work and at home daily now. My needs are simple and the software is definitely capable of benefitting the people who juggle programs and tasks a lot more than I do. Share your experiences with Groupy or show me your screenshots in action – I’d really like to know how other people use it, too.

 

Not sure about Groupy yet? Try it FREE and bring the power of tabs to your desktop!

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some fun custom skins, dreams, and more from WinCustomize!

These customizations will make you GREEN with envy...see what I did there?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

St. Patrick's Day is almost here! I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some of my favorite Dreams, wallpapers, and skins from WinCustomize. There aren't a ton of shamrocks and leprechauns specifically, so I tried to keep the heart of the holiday in my mind as I selected these. You'll see Irish landscapes, a lot of green, and everyone's favorite beverage of choice for St. Patrick's day, too.

 

What's better than the ruins of a castle beside the sea? Maybe a fully functional castle beside the sea? Still, the view is marvelous.

Irish Beachside Castle

Ireland Seaside Castle by rlphwshr

Ah, the forests of the Emerald Isles. This peaceful Dream with drizzling rain is one of my favorites.

Irish Forest

Irish Forest by rlphwshr

This skin absolutely... rocks. Okay, yeah, I'll admit that wasn't particularly funny, but at least the skin is cool.

Shamrock WindowBlinds

Shamrock (Master Skin) by LightStar

A little bit of old school green flare is in this "magical" skin.

Leprechaun Majik

Leprechaun Majik by Vampothika

Of course, I had to include this one. I know too many people who run to the nearest pub on St. Patty's day. Amazing if they can get a seat!

Beer!

Beer by Klaatu Berada

This skin might make you green with envy. ...yeah, just, uh, check out the skin and ignore my puns. That's what everyone else does.

Lime Green

Lime Green by don5318

 

Happy St. Patrick's day! 
Browse other awesome customizations over at WinCustomize

The Ultimate Customization Apps for your Windows Desktop

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

For many of us who work with computers all day, it can get a bit boring to look at the same bland desktop all day long. While Windows has made some improvements to the user interface over the years, it's still the same as everyone else's in your home or office. I like to customize things, especially items I use often, and my PC is no exception. 

You can customize your desktop as much or as little as you would like with a variety of custom themes and skins found at WinCustomize.com. I wanted to give a quick rundown on how you can make your desktop unique using customization apps available from Stardock.


Change the entire user interface with WindowBlinds
WindowBlinds has been the ultimate customization app for Windows for many years and has been download millions of times. WindowBlinds lets you change the entire user interface to one of the thousands of custom skins that are available on WinCustomize. These skins can be customized further by changing the color, transparency, and texture to suit your style. If you're aWindows 10 user, then using Start10 along with WindowBlinds will also give you the ability to change the Start menu to match the rest of the skin.

Get WindowBlinds for $9.99

 

Animate your desktop wallpapers with DeskScapes
DeskScapes lets you have cool animated wallpapers right on your desktop. It has over 40 special effects that can be applied to wallpapers in order to take your customization even further. You can apply your images and videos to be the desktop wallpaper and can use any animated wallpaper as your PC screensaver.

Get DeskScapes for $7.99

 

Change your desktop icons with IconPackager
Want to change all the icons on your PC at once? IconPackager uses an entire package of icons to change nearly every one at the click of a button.  You can also change the icons individually, but there are thousands of icon packs available that can apply a matching set across your entire Windows PC. These bundled packs of custom icons can also be customized and recolored from within IconPackager. This is great for matching the color scheme of other skins you might be using.

Get IconPackager for $9.99

All of these applications are individually available for your Windows PC, but you can get them all (and more!) with a low-cost membership to Object Desktop.  While you're a member, you'll get free updates, access to all betas, and any new apps for one year. In addition to the apps listed above, Object Desktop suite includes:

Visit the Object Desktop site for more information!

Groupy for the Project Manager

Busy doesn't have to mean crazy - our marketing manager shares how Groupy helps her keep organized

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

Our core marketing team here at Stardock consists of a small group of very dedicated, very busy people. Because of how many products on both the software and game side we handle on a daily basis, an organizational system is absolutely integral to our success.

Katie, our marketing operations manager, is the glue that holds our team together. Because of her diverse skill set, she tackles a lot of different tasks for our team, including keeping all of us and our individual assignments on track!

Because of how much Katie does during her workday, Groupy has become an essential part of keeping her organized. Several simultaneous tasks spread out across 2 computers and 3 monitors was tough to keep track of before (though she managed!), but she’s found that combining her tasks into tabbed groups helps make everything a lot easier to find.

Katie's Desk

“I keep all of my Adobe programs in one group, explorer windows in another, and then my email, calendars, and Producteev in another,” she told me. Groupy is especially useful for people with fewer monitors, since it cuts down on the space that all of the open windows take on the desktop. Here’s an example of how Katie’s monitors look:

Katie's Monitors

Multiple file explorer windows in a single group makes it easy to keep different files open for easy access without having to click through a bunch of windows. Katie also has her email, calendar, and task management software grouped together on that same monitor.

On her second display, she keeps her web browser tabs together on their own, while keeping Photoshop, premiere and other Adobe products grouped together using Groupy.

Groupy has changed the way a lot of us organize and manage our tasks during our busy days. I don’t have to juggle nearly as much as Katie does, but Groupy has still helped to streamline the way I work so that I can flip through tasks more efficiently and waste less time trying to find what I’m looking for.

Have you tried Groupy yet? If you have, we’d love to hear about how you use it! Share your screenshots and experiences in the comments below.

If you haven’t installed Groupy, you can learn more about the program here. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, consider downloading our free trial and see what you think!

Show Your Desktop Some Love with these Valentine's Day Skins

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Valentine’s Day is approaching and this is another good opportunity to add some related skins and themes to your Windows desktop. One of the great things about holidays is that WinCustomize usually has a great selection of ways to spruce up your desktop, from WindowBlinds skins, animated wallpapers, cursor themes, and more.

The best way to get the ultimate desktop experience is with Object Desktop. This is our suite of desktop enhancements and includes apps like WindowBlinds, DeskScapes, Fences, Groupy, Start10, IconPackager, and much more.

You can see many of the Valentine’s Day inspired skins here on WinCustomize, but I wanted to feature some of our favorites.

Valentine’s Day start button by DanilloOc

 

Love Web Dream by ChaNinja

 

Happy Valentines Day wallpaper by vlad

 

My Dirty Valentine CursorFX theme by Vampothika

 

DeskScapes and Start10 are all included with our Object Desktop suite. If you want to go a step further with your Valentine's customization, you can get CursorFX and get some more custom downloads from WinCustomize.com.

 

A Year Without Cable TV

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Every year or so I take a look at my reoccurring monthly expenses and see what I don’t really use or need any longer. One of the biggest expenses I was tired of paying each month was the cable TV bill. I have thought about completely cutting cable before but always backed away for some reason, but it was time to finally make the cut. I was paying nearly $150 a month for cable and internet which was just ridiculous considering we just didn’t watch TV like we used to. About $10-15 of that was device charges for the cable boxes we had to have on each TV. My kids are in college and/or working so they are hardly home to watch TV. Even when they are they have their own subscriptions to things like Netflix or Hulu, so I found no real reason that cable was something needed in our household.

But before I actually made the call to the cable company and went internet-only, I had to look for some type of way for us to watch the few shows that we regularly watch. There are just a few series we watch, but it’s something we enjoy so I had to do a bit of research on streaming services. We have Netflix, but that is something I actually cancelled with the cable. Their selection of TV shows has become minimal, and although we enjoy some of their original programming, we can just get a month at a time and binge watch something like Stranger Things and then cancel. After reading and researching I decided to give DirectTV Now a try, which was a good choice because if I prepaid for a month they would also send me a free Amazon Fire Stick, so no reason not to give it try.

So with that decided I called Bright House and cancelled my cable service. They of course tried to offer me all types of deals to keep it, but I eventually talked them into giving me a deal on 300mbps internet while threatening to leave for a competitor. So I ended up getting internet-only service for nearly half of what I was paying with cable and internet.

After the first couple of days we realized we made a good decision. We didn’t miss cable at all, and all the shows we wanted to watch were available on streaming services. Even with the added cost of a streaming service, we were still saving quite a bit of money each month compared to cable, so we had no regrets about cutting the cord. Now DirectTV Now was another issue. I cancelled the renewal within the first week. The app was terrible to use, the audio on several shows we wanted to watch didn’t work, and it was supported on very few devices we wanted to use. I switched over to Sling TV and we have been using it ever since. It ended up being cheaper and we can choose the package which has the channels we want. We can use it on our TVs with an Xbox One, Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV, and we can use it on our iOS devices. I definitely recommend it!

I also started using Hulu as there’s some shows just on there that my wife likes to watch, and I also subscribed to CBS All Access so I can watch the new Star Trek: Discovery. They are both inexpensive options so they make great additions to something like Sling TV.

One of my favorite things about using these streaming services is I can also use them on my PCs. All the ones I use have apps in the Microsoft Store which I can download to my PCs. I even have a streaming fence setup on my desktop using Stardock Fences to keep them organized right on my desktop! 
   2018-01-15_15-03-37

So we got rid of cable for just about a year, and while finishing this article up I was really trying to find some downsides to cutting the cord. The thing is I really can’t think of any. We’re saving money, have just as much or more video content available, and it’s easier to watch on a variety of TVs and mobile devices. If you’ve been thinking about cutting the cord, then I would recommend it. Do a bit of research first, but I think you will be pleased with the options you have to watch your favorite content, and save a bit of money while you’re doing it.




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