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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> (www.desktopgadgets.com).

<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> http://www.stardock.com/brad/gs.html

<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: http://www.stardock.com/brad/gamasutra.zip 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 DesktopGadgets.com, 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> http://www.winstep.net/default.asp?cat=workshelf

<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 - TotalGaming.net

<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 TotalGaming.net 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 TotalGaming.net

<Frogboy> This Spring, we're going to launch TotalGaming.net 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 TotalGaming.net and then has their subscription expire a month before GalCiv 2 ships. Imagine if the ONLY reason they bought TotalGaming.net 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 TotalGaming.net effort and he's been talking to game developers from aroudn the world and many want their games on TotalGaming.net.

<Frogboy> So once TotalGaming.net 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 http://www.galciv2.com 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 apolyton.net

<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. (www.societygame.com).

<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 TG.net Phase 2: I'm planning to subscribe to TG.net 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 Wincustomize.com

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 33, Network Connections Folder

1, 2, 3, Bam were done.

Sunday, February 6, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 33 (Network Connections)

   Most likely this will be the easiest icon we will do. We already have the Web Folder icon from Lesson # 20, and we already have several "System Folders" from icons like last nights. To make our Network Connections icon we will simply take elements from two icons and move them together. I know some of you will say it looks too much like the Web Folder, but the truth is that most people will never see the web folder, and this one will be seen much more often, since it is a Control Panel icon.

Note: When in Package Builder mode of IconPackager this Icon is called "Dialup Networking"
 
Step 1:

First thing we do is copy our Web Folder, & ActiveX Folders from earlier.

Step 2:

Now I delete the Folder Portion of our Web Folder, and the X part of out ActiveX folder.

Step 4:

Now I move the Two Elements together. Bam. We're done.

Finished Icon Image

Click here to download the finished icon.

Tune in tomorrow for something more exiting.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24. Icon #25, Icon # 26, Icon # 26, Icon # 27, Icon # 28, 29 & 30, Icon # 31, Icon # 32.

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 Wincustomize.com

WinCustomize User Page Focus: gef

The WinCustomize User Focus Articles

Sunday, February 6, 2005 by joeKnowledge | Discussion: Community

gef, gef, mighty gef!!! DesktopX's greatest ally in theme submissions.

Is anyone else singing the 'gef song'?

If you look into the DesktopX theme category, there is a very large chance that you will see gef's name a few times more than some others. Maybe this is why he has the lead in DesktopX theme downloads. gef also has like a billion trillion downloads (closer to a million)!

gef has made countless themes and other such customization objects on WinCustomize.



Take a look at some of the recent uploads:


Stalkers!!!!! gef has stalkers watching his every move. I personally, rather be a watcher then to STALK people but to each his own. I guess if I had to stalk someone I would give gef a shot.

Oh, and by the way, a skin you might want to check out is Destruction...



Features:
  • Semi-transparent
  • Longhorn dock activates on mouseover
  • Full menu system
  • Analogue clock
  • DXPlayer controls
  • Shortcut buttons activated on mouseover

And you might want to see these 2 also:



Longhorn_V2 for DesktopX


GT2 for DesktopX


Until the next WinCustomize User Page Focus, I'm joeknowledge/joetheblow

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 32, Folder options.

Folder Options Folder, is hard to say.

Saturday, February 5, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

A Icon a day Keeps the Creative
Icon 32 (Folder Options)

    I wanted to do something simple today so I could have time for the making this weeks issue of CorelDRAW for skinners, so I thought it would be nice to do the Folder Options folder. This is a new icon in the supported folders of IconPackager, and one that you will see if you look for it in the Control Panel. The icon ended up taking a bit more time than I expected, because I wanted to do something kind of neat. (And because I was watching bad movies while I did it). So off we go.
 
Step 1:

Once more we will start with the Admin Folder, removing the people overlays.

Step 2:

My idea for this icon is to do a check box overlaying a "System Folder" But I want the check to be cool so I am going to place it on a piece of glass. So we start by drawing a check, and placing it on top of a few rectangles.
Step 3:

Now I group those together and slant it back with the Perspective tool.

 
Step 4:

Now fill the back shape, with white, and using the Interactive Transparency tool I give it a gradient transparency. I copy the back shape twice, then offset the two copies and trim them down. This gives us the illusion of depth to our glass.

Step 5:

Now I fill the check with a Contour and Gradient, Much like in the last two icons, but without the glare. Then I pull a simple drop shadow of the check. I trim the shadow down a bit with the node edit tool, to make it look like it is only dropping on the glass.

Step 5:

Using the Reflection techniques on our check box we make a nice reflection.


Step 5:

Using the Shadow Techniques I make a pretty elaborate shadow to place behind our checkbox. It is subtle in the finial image but it is the polish we want.
Finished Icon Image

 

Click here to download the finished icon.

One more folder down. I'm off to do CorelDRAW for skinners #4. Check back in tomorrow for more.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24. Icon #25, Icon # 26, Icon # 26, Icon # 27, Icon # 28, 29 & 30, Icon # 31.

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

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

WinCustomize User Page Focus: SS Goku

The WinCustomize User Focus Articles

Saturday, February 5, 2005 by joeKnowledge | Discussion: Community

SS Guko's user pictureIf there was a king of screenshots, SS Guko took his place in the category!

Son GOKU’S-HOUSE has well over a billion (MAYBE LESS) screenshots of desktop configurations that included some of the hottest skins on the net. If you wanted to figure out what style you wanted to set up your desktop to day, you can take a hint from SS Guko home page full of screenshots.

Are screenshots helpful? Yes they can be! Maybe you haven’t noticed a skin from another website but then see it in a screenshot and you inquire the screenshot author where such and item can be found. Looking at SS Goku’s screenshot will give you plenty to ask and wonder about. (By the way learn how to make screenshots HERE and don't forget to say what is in it!)

As a member since 2002, he has been around long enough to have skins such as DuoPixels’ Doublet (Screenshot HERE) and Alien Technology

SS Goku will respond to requests as to what something is if its not mentioned in the comments. There are times where there is something there that isn’t available. At that point someone asks and BEHOLD SS Goku made a matching skin.

Now that’s the spirit of getting into skinning (or does it make people lazy by asking SS Goku to make matching skins... hmmm... sounds like me should do and interview and ask SS Goku himself.



Take a look at some of the recent uploads:


SS Goku has made some cool matching skins in calendars, (Rainlender and DesktopX) and weather widgets. He has a Devaint Art account that your welcome to visit here:
SS Goku on Deviant Art

He seems to have a few watchers there…



Speaking of recommendations, it would seem SS Guko has a few here at WinCustomize as well.


Recommendations

As well as some watchers:



SS Goku also has contributed to WinCustomize in other was such as commenting on works, giving ratings and is also a subscriber.

So long live SS Goku, King of Screenshots



Until the next WinCustomize User Page Focus, I'm joeknowledge/joetheblow

Icon-A-Day, Icons #28, 29 & 30, The Shared Folders

Three for the price of One.

Thursday, February 3, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 27, 28 & 29 (Shared Folders)

    Today we will use several elements that we did over the last few tutorials. Lets put together the "Shared Folders", My Video, My Music & My Pictures.
 
Step 1a:

For these icons we will re-use the little guys we made yesterday, as well as our My Video, My Music, and My Pictures Folders.

Step 2a:

The Shared Video Folder is going to be easiest, I simply move the reel to the inside of the folder and give it a standard drop shadow.
Step 3a:

I move the folder front back in place, and put a copy of the Admin overlay on top.

Finished Icon Image

 
Step 1b:

For the Shared Music folder I just delete the Red note, form the My Music Folder, and place the Blue notes inside the folder. I also make the Green note bigger.
Step 2b:

I copy our Admin Overlay over the folder and tweak the reflection with the Node Edit tool to make sure it looks right. I also Tweak the size and skew of the Green note, to make sure it looks good.

Finished Icon Image


Step 1c:

For the Shared Pictures folder I rotate the paint brush and lay it down in front of the folder. I also delete the originals reflection and paint stroke.
Step 2c:

I use the mesh fill tool to make a new brush tip.


Step 3c:

Now I adjust the glare bitmap a bit with the Node Edit tool to polish it off.
Finished Icon Image


 


Click here to download the finished icon.

There you go, 3 for the price of 1. Tomorrow we will move further into the folder icons.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24. Icon #25, Icon # 26, Icon # 26.

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

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

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 27, Admin Folder

More folders, and more usefull elements.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

A Icon a day Keeps the Creative
Icon 27 (Admin Folder)

    Moving on through the folders, we come to the Administration Folder. This is another folder that most people don't ever see, but its supported and we want to do a full pack, so we will do it anyway. Also we can re-use several of the elements we are going to make in the process.
 
Step 1:

First thing first, we copy our Open Folder icon.


Step 2:

Now I take the word file from our word folder and take the DOC extension off the top of the file. And place it in the folder.
Step 3:

I use the Polygon tool to make a gear that we can place in the folder.

 
Step 4:

Using the same techniques as yesterday I give the gear a "Poor Mans Bevel" (See Contour Video for more)


Step 5:

I fill in the Gear with some gradient fills.
Then I draw Two Little "People" that I can use for an overlay.
Step 5:

Now same as the gear, and the "T" yesterday I use the techniques from the Contour Video I give the two figures a bevel.

Step 6:

Using our Gloss, Shadow and Reflection techniques I give my little figures a shadow and add some reflections. One more thing, I decided I don't like the file in there so I duplicate the gear, and delete it.


Finished Icon Image





Click here to download the finished icon.

Tomorrow we will have a 3 for 1 special when we take our little people we made tonight and make the 3 Shared Documents Folders.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24. Icon #25, Icon # 26.

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

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

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 26, The Fonts Folder

Moving into the less well known folder Icons.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

A Icon a day Keeps the Creative
Icon 26 (Fonts Folder)

    Icon Packager supports the changing of a lot of the system folders, some of which the average user probably does not ever see, however if I don't do all the supported icons in a pack I feel like I'm cheating. (And you know I will get an email from someone asking why I didn't complete the pack). So over the next few days we will polish off some of the more obscure folders. Today's is one that is seen more often than others: the Fonts Folder.
 
Step 1:

First thing first, we copy our Open Folder icon.
Step 2:

I want to have a big T leaning on our folder so I type in a "T", find a font I like, and use the Perspective tool to slant it back a bit.

Step 3:

Now I do two Contours to do a "poor mans bevel" See the Contour Video for more on this technique.

 
Step 4:

I use a few Gradient Fills to fill in our Big "T".

Step 5:

Because the T is pretty big, and just to be polished, I go in with the Node Edit tool and move a few nodes around in the back contour to make it look a bit more like an extrusion.

Step 6:

Using our Gloss, Shadow and Reflection techniques I "pretty up" the "T" so it matches our other folders.

Step 7:

 Now I want a Font File in our folder, so I copy the Text File, and using the Text Tool, make a "Font" File. (I may use this later to make the *.ttf file type icon). I use the Perspective tool to place the file inside the folder.

Step 8:

I decide that I don't like the way the Red and Teal look together so I go back in and change the colors on the file to red to match our big T.



Finished Icon Image




Click here to download the finished icon.
 

Now as a former sign designer fonts are important to me and I see this folder a lot, but some of you may never look at it again. Those of you who do will have something that fits in the theme and does not hurt your eyes. See you tomorrow.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24. Icon #25.

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

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

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 25, My Pictures Folder

The Last of the "My" Folders. 11:54pm. Made it in :)

Monday, January 31, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

A Icon a day Keeps the Creative
Icon 25 (My Pictures Folder)

    It's a bit late tonight, but I promised the My Pictures Folder today, and I don't want to make a liar of myself. So lets get moving before time runs out.
 
Step 1:

First thing first, we copy our Open Folder icon.
Step 2:

Now I want to have some photos in the folder, and a brush in front, leaning on the folder. This should match the My Music and My Video folder and help us keep a consistent style.
I mock these up with some rectangles and the mesh tool.

Step 3:

Once I am happy with the overall layout of my elements, I go in with the mesh tool and start doing some details. See the Mesh Fill Video for more on how I do this.

 
Step 4:

Once I have my brush looking ok, I give the brush handle some gloss; (See Gloss video for more on this)

Step 5:

I want the brush to be trailing some paint, so I use the mesh tool to give myself a blob of paint trailing off the brush head.

Step 6:

Now, most people will use this folder for Photos so lets make some. I take some pictures that I stole from the Galactic Civilizations Artwork folder. Using the Node edit tool I crop them so they fit on our Photo shapes I have already done.

Step 7:

Using basic drawing techniques I make a border for the Photos, as well as corners to make them look a bit more stylized.

Step 8:

Now using the Drop Shadow Techniques we have gone over I make some drop shadows for the brush, to make it look a bit more realistic.

Step 9:

Now using the Reflection Techniques we have used before, I make a subtle reflection on the folder, and one on the floor in front of the folder.

Finished Icon Image



Click here to download the finished icon.
 

Tomorrow we will try a more obscure, but important none-the-less, folder, so check back in then.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles: Icon # 1, Icon # 2, Icon #3, Icon # 4, Icon #5, Icon # 6, Icon # 7, Icon # 8, Icon # 9, Icon #10, Icon # 11. Icon 12 & 13, Icon # 14, Icon # 15, Icon # 16, Icon #17, Icon #18, Icon # 19, Icon #20, Icon # 21, Icon # 22. Icon #22, Icon # 23, Icon # 24.

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

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




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