Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Desktop Delirium"

If there's one thing I like its a neat, functional, minimalist desktop. Nothing there that doesn't serve a purpose. A place for everything and everything in it's place. With this in mind I would like to recommend the new Windows 7 operating system, its simpler and easier to get around in than the venerable XP. Whether you consider yourself a novice or intermediate user like myself, (intermediate lite, is more like it) every little bit helps. So fear not, if your thinking about a new computer purchase or upgrading from Vista, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised...

With functionality @ the forefront, I like the improved toolbar functions in Win7, with one exception, the quick launch feature is disabled by default. Instead of enabling the feature, I opted for a software program from the fine folks @ Stardock, called "ObjectDock". ObjectDock is an application that enables users to organize their shortcuts, programs and running tasks into an attractive and fun animated Dock. ( a "Mac" style dock on the Win7 desktop...)

                                               ( click to enlarge )

The dock is highly customizable and includes a number of useful integrated widgets such as a clock and weather widget. (I love a good widget). There are a plethora of adjustments, from the size, number, location and function of the icons. The program features a link to the many talented artists @ WinCustomize for custom icon sets, or like myself, you can create your own icons from photos, images, ect... Virtually all the icons on my current desktop are images that I have selected to represent a (quick launch) link to my most used programs and websites, it doesn't get much more custom than that. (my icons are available upon request, or if you want something customized just let me know, I'm always glad to help).
ObjectDock is functioning flawlessly on both the Win7, 64 bit Core2 Quad and the old Pentium 4, XP machine with no noticeable slowing or lag whatsoever. (with nice aero thumbnail images of open apps on the Win7 rig).

For those individuals that like the classic windows desktop, they have a great program called "Fences" to help you organize your icons. Best of all Stardock offers a Free version of most of their programs, with more fully featured versions for a modest price. A lot of hard work and thought went into the design of these wonderful programs so check these folks out...

If you're a real glutton for punishment and are somewhat technically advanced, try "Rainmeter". A highly configurable desktop application best suited to those that have some basic knowledge for writing or manipulating code. I played with it a bit, and it's beautiful and challenging to work with... (before  finding Stardock that is,... I don't need that much intellectual stimulation to set up my desktop, thank you...)

 As far as web browsers go, my personal favorite is still "Firefox", with scads of useful add-ons and features, it's the heavyweight champ in terms of overall functionality. Firefox recently added a  feature called "Personas" which allows you to change the background for your browser. Go to the Personas gallery page,(there are thousands of backgrounds) and simply mouse over a theme and it displays full screen, if you want it, just click the "wear it" button and you're done. Of course if you would like to get more involved, you can create your own "Personas" from personal photos, images and such. I've done several and it's fairly easy if you're even moderately capable with the average photo editor software.
 Whether your into butterflies or abstract art...

 or have a favorite movie or personal interest, they've got you covered and... it's amazingly easy...

  First and  foremost with a of all of the  above listed applications is "Functionality", it's function over form in my book every time... That said, the aesthetic appeal these programs add to the computer interface enhances the enjoyment factor, and allows you to easily express some personal creativity. So take total control of some aspect of your life, even if it's only your computer desktop...(we all have to start somewhere...)

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