Archive for the Desktop Enhancement Category

Fast Friendly and Efficient Way to Change Icons!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities on November 8, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

As most everyone knows, there are several ways to change your desktop icons. Some of them work but have problems with things like the “recycle bin” or C:…. Some of them require you to boot up a program and manage it from there. I’ve even run into some that will change the icon but the icon won’t stay changed until you run their program every time after you boot your system. Explorer does an OK job of it but you have to open the “properties” of each file and then select the customize tab and then “browse” and it always starts you off in a window that is buried somewhere deep inside sys32… So, after using just about everything that is available I can now make an informed recommendation to you. By far, themy folder easiest, most efficient way to change your icons is with a free program from Horizon Software named “My Folder”.

After downloading and installing and when you first pull My Folder up there is a slightly clunky initial interface where you select what Icons you want to show in your quick menu. Don’t be discouraged, you won’t have to deal with it very often. Once you point to the folder where your icons are stored you can just right click on a file and then select the appropriate icon from their list. This is the way to go… You can change or color your icons very quickly.

I have had some minor problems with their quick menu lists disappearing and not being available. When this happens I just kill and restart their program and everything works well after that. It doesn’t happen very often and it isn’t a big deal to fix. I highly recommend My Folder to anyone who wants to customize their desktop.

http://www.grafile.com/software/myfolder_free/myfolder_free.html

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Fontashia Fonterrific fontellicious fontout fontorino fontolla fontetaboutit

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Entertainment, Frequently Updated, Web Site on September 20, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

OK today we’re talking fonts. It’s been a while since I ventured out into the font world to have a look at what’s available out there. I’ve done a couple of things that I hope will save you some time. I’ve picked through most of the free sites and I can fill you in on their individual strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t want to look through a bunch of fonts, and you trust my taste, I’ve linked directly to the fonts that I’ve installed on my system. One more thing before I turn you loose: the term ‘breedlink’ refers to something that links directly to a file and it will start downloading. So whenever you see that term, you’ll know that when you click on it a download will start. Below, I’ve given you a link to the sites and a ‘breedlink’ to the fonts on that site that I found to be something I could read and may use.

At Font Freak you can download an endless supply of free fonts. The site layout is very basic. They just list the name of the font in the font’s ‘type’ and that’s all the information you get before you download. This makes for fast downloads but you don’t know what you are getting… The one thing that I really didn’t like about this site is that they mixed in shareware fonts with the free fonts. About 1 of every 10 fonts on the site is a shareware font. I don’t know how they hope to sell anything because you have every size and shape of font imaginable on the site for free.

Visit the fontfreak site at this link:

http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts-a.htm

These are breedlinks to the fonts I installed on my PC from this site.

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/a/AccidentalPresidency.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/a/AntiKwa.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/a/Aramis.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/a/Arcitectura.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/m/machinescript.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/m/maize.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/m/mechanihan.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/s/sanity.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/s/sanskritroman.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/s/shrewsbury.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/w/wesley.zip

Breedlink – http://www.fontfreak.com/fonts/z/zrnic.zip

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Fonts 500 advertises themselves as “The Webs Top 500 Free Fonts”.

This site has quickest and easiest layout for downloading fonts. They list several on a page but you don’t get to see much of the font before you download. Same as above only in smaller type but at least you know they are all free so you can download away! I did notice some overlap between this site and Font Freak.

This is a link to the site itself:

http://fonts500.com/

Here are the ‘breedlinks’ to the fonts I installed on my PC from this site.

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/altea.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/devroye.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/ghostwriter.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/adventuresubtitles.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/queensland.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/calligraphicav2.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/rackham.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/calligula.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/oktoberfest.zip

Breedlink – http://fonts500.com/zip/nonpoint.zip

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Urban fonts was a laid out a little differently. When you ‘mouse over’ a font type it shows you the alphabet in that font and that helps with the selection process but it also slows down your ability to grab a bunch of fonts quickly. So the tradeoff is better knowledge for time put in. Their site is well worth a look. At this point, I was getting tired of downloading fonts and I was getting there seemed to be a lot of overlap with the other 2 sites but it is still a good site and I was happy I found it.

This is the link to Urban Fonts:

http://www.urbanfonts.com/

These are the ‘breedlinks’ to the fonts I thought were best at this site:

Breedlink – http://www.urbanfonts.com/scripts/index.php?aardvarkcafe.zip

Breedlink – http://www.urbanfonts.com/scripts/index.php?acens.zip

Breedlink – http://www.urbanfonts.com/scripts/index.php?salamander.zip

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Exljbris, is a totally different site. This is a guy that makes his own fonts and has created a website to distribute them. He has 8 different high quality and original fonts that are all readable and will be nice additions to your font library. I’d recommend you go to their site and download each of them. One bit of advice, if you look at the list of fonts on the left of their web page, you’ll notice that the first is named delicious, I was confused and thought it was a hot link to bookmark their site but it isn’t… Just click on deliscious and it will download the font…

http://www.josbuivenga.demon.nl/index.html

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Those are the sites I’ve collected over the last couple of years. Please let me know if you know of a better site and I’ll try it out and probably put it in. This is a post that will be updated frequently so come back often to see if I’ve changed anything. Any new posts will be at the top and they will be marked as ‘new’.

Don’t Point, It’s Rude. Change Your Cursor to Something Pleasant.

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities on September 17, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

If you are running windows XP or Windows 2000 you can take advantage of Cursor XP freeware.lady of fire Which is, by far, the best solution for changing your cursor available. Their are hundreds of animated cursors available for you to download from the ‘Wincustomize’ site.

Download CurserXP from this link!

http://www.download.com/3001-2317_4-10357248.html

If you’re running something other than XP or if you want to try something other than CursorXP then you can check out Realworld’s Cursor Changer. It is a more ‘basic or standard’ solution. If you’re on a different operating system you’ll need to check and make sure it will work for you. There seems to be a fuzzy line here… If your operating system stores cursors in c:\Windows\cursor\ then it would seem like it would have a good chance at working for you but you should check out the compatibility statement and decide if it is worth checking out.

Realworld has developed a freeware product named ‘change cursor’. It took me a while to figure out how to engage this because after I loaded it I couldn’t figure out if it was doing anything, and it wasn’t (I’m terrible at reading directions). After you install the software you need to go to C:\Windows\Cursor\ and right click on one of the cursor pictures you see and it will bring up a context menu and you select ‘change cursor’ and there you will see that you can assign different pictures to the functions listed. There are 3 different kind of files in this directory; .ani = animated, .cur = just a still image, .crs = a complete configuration. If you pick a .crs file it is like picking a theme of cursors. The first time you do this you’ll probably have to go through and pick different .cur and .ani files for the different functions (normal, precision select, busy, working…) and then you can save it as a ‘scheme’ and that is what creates the .crs files.

http://www.rw-designer.com/change-cursor

You can also download cursor pictures from Realworld’s site and a variety of other sites also carry these standard cursor pictures (.ani & .cur). Or, if you prefer, you can create your own cursor pictures! RealWorld has a free cursor editor package. I have not tried that out so I can’t really recommend it here.

http://www.rw-designer.com/cursor-library

ps – While searching for .ani & .cur pictures to download (after download you just drag the individual files into c:\windows\cursor\) there are so many icon and cursor editors that I had a hard time finding sites to download just the .cur and .ani files from. Those files are out there and you can find them but you have to weed through all the editors to find them.

Tweek Till You Freak!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Utilities on September 12, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

For all you tweekers out there, I’ve found a product that you’ve got to have. After you set it up and run it for a while, you’ll feel like you can’t operate Windows without it in a week. The first and most important thing I’ve been looking for is a free application that will send windows to the tray when I minimize them. Until recently the only way you could get this done is to buy a shareware product named PS Tray factory Pitaschio rules!which does a good job but hey, you have to pay for it, and that just isn’t in line with my principles. Regardless, I recently found an application that will take care of the function named above and many more things too. It’s named Pitaschio, which is a catchy name but annoying as can be to remember. It lets me turn my desktop icons onto the ‘small view’, gives me a quick on/off switch for my keys and mouse so I can clean them without sending my computer into a tailspin, provides ‘mouse shortcuts’ that do things like turn on your screen saver if you control + double-click the desktop, and it lets you turn on ‘window snapping’ both outside and inside applications. I love all those things I mentioned but there are several other features that you may ‘mind melt’ with Windows.

One word of warning! The program defaults are set up to annoy you so that you will learn how to use everything. You’ll notice things like; no part of your window will leave the screen, caps lock is shut off, insert key is disabled… it’s easy to fix these things but it freaked me out when I first installed it. But stick with it because Pitaschio is truly worth it. I’ve run it for over a month and have had no problems with it except that I can’t run my computer without it now!

http://pitaschio.ara3.net/download.htm 

[via lifehacker]

Honorable mention goes to  Trayit which may be appropriate if all you want to do is send windows to the system tray.  I like the way it controls that specific function better than Pistachio does.  So if you are looking for that specific function just use Trayit.

http://www.teamcti.com/trayit/trayit.htm 

Free Icons – Come and Get Em!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities, Web Site on September 11, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Napoleon Dynomite!

It is no easy task to get your system decorated with nice icons but when you live in front of your computer, the way I do, you have the desire to look at something familiar, pleasant, and customized. No one is able to create the ideal environment quickly. There seem to be little road blocks at every turn. In this post I’m going to do my best to make it easy for you to get great icons on your desktop and avoid some of the hassles that I had to go through.

The first thing you need to understand about putting icons on your desktop is that you can’t use a .png file as an icon on XP or NT or any of the older Windows operating systems (like Windows 2000 or 98…). I don’t know why there are so many sites that say they have “free XP icons” but when you go through the site all you find are .png files. There is no secret XP feature that allows you to use .png files for icons, they have to be converted to .ico files. No problem, you would think that you could just convert these .png files to .ico files and all would be well but it isn’t that easy because your computer uses several sizes of the icon so you can view them in a variety of ways. For example, when you select ‘view’ from file manager and then select ‘list’, you are viewing a 16×16 pixle icon but when you ask to ‘view’ a ‘thumbnail’ or a ’tile’ it is a 24×24 pixel icon. Therefore, it is important to understand that a .ico file has several pictures bundled into it and when you convert a .png file to a .ico file it only saves it in one size and when you are working with your computer you’ll notice that you can’t see the image because it is either too small or it is to big and is cropped so you only see about 10% of the image. Therefore, you can either find the right .ico files (which already have several sizes in them) or find a program that will not only convert the .png files to .ico but will also create the different sizes you need. This post is dedicated to finding .ico files that already have the different sizes in them. In a later post, I will be reviewing icon conversion freeware and giving you a recommendation.

This is a post that will be updated as I find new sites. If you know of a site that has some great .ico files please write me a note in the comments section. Check this post often to keep up with the latest icon sites!

Pixelgirl has one of the best sites for downloading icons on the web. Cool Icons, well organized, save yourself some time and still get some great icons by starting at her site.

http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com/icons.php?cat=pc

Another top site for downloading icons is the IconFactory. Everything is organized well, meaning that icons are bundled into zip files for you to download and the zips are clearly labeled as either .ico, .png,…

http://iconfactory.com/freeware

Icon archive has a mix of old icons and new but they are organized well so the icons are bundled into categories so you can download several at a time. This makes it easy to grab a bunch of icons at once and you can pick the ones you want after you unzip it into a file on your PC. You might get some single size files here but you’ll eventually weed out the ones that don’t work. This site is still worthy.

http://www.iconarchive.com/

CoolArchive.com has some good icons but you have to weed through them. They have over 4,000 icons but they don’t have them zipped up so you can download them all at once. They have them broken down into categories and if you see an icon you like you can download it. Not a bad site if you’ve got some free time on your hands and you want to look around but make sure you’ve downloaded some of the iconcocaspeak.png ‘sets’ first. Otherwise you’ll end up killing too much time on icons and it can be a drag.

http://www.coolarchive.com/

cocamail.png

Freeiconsweb has the nicest looking icons of all but you can’t tell what format you are getting until you download the zip. The site is organized well into categories and the icons are packaged up in zips for you to download but when you get the zip it might contain all .png files. I would say about 40% of the files on the site have .ico files in them. Just a heads up… it’s a littlecocablogs.png more work but there are certainly some great icons here if you have the time.

http://www.freeiconsweb.com/

dev.png

NoNags is a site that you can get a lot of value from very quickly but it is a confusing site and can cause some frustration the first time you go there. They have a subscription service and they offer you to either download directly from them (which will cost you 20 bucks a year) or you can download from the mirror sites they list for free. They have about 40 archives and some of them have over a 1000 icons in them. The icons are a bit older but there are some very cool icons if you are willing to spend the night looking through the zip files to pick out the ones you want.

http://www.nonags.com/nonags/icons.html

If you go to the Shareware Connection and search for ‘free icons’ they have some great archives available as well. Same thing as nonags… large archives that you need to go through but also some great icons if you are willing to pick them out.http://www.sharewareconnection.com/

Now that you’ve downloaded all those great icons it’s time to find an easier way to apply them to your folders. Grafile has one of the greatest tools I’ve seen. I only recommend freeware and I’m using the free version of their ‘My Folder Free’ program. They also have a shareware version named ‘My Folder Pro’ but the free version does everything I need it to. After you install the program it puts an option on your context menu that allows you to define a folder where you keep your icons. When you select a file you can choose to bring up a drop down menu of your icons or you can pick to tag the folder (approved, secure, delete…) and you can create other options. The initial setup is a little cryptic (the GUI) but it doesn’t take long to figure out and once you’ve got the context menu working you’re off and running! This is the best freeware for associating icons that I’ve ever seen. It will replace iColor folder (previous post) as the top freeware in this category. So go download it and have some fun!

http://www.grafile.com/

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For those of you who have nice icon editing programs or who have some way to turn .png files into icons or if you are interested in animated .gif files, you might enjoy going to myspace icons. It is a staggering collection of thousands of .png and .gif icons.

http://www.myspacedev.com/myspace-icons/

Be Unique! – The Best Wallpaper Sites on the Internet!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Entertainment, Graphics, Photo, Web Site on September 2, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

The RoseHere is where I will post an ever expanding list of greatest wallpaper sites on the Internet. You need to check back often because I will continue to update this post. On the links below, I trimmed most of the addresses because they were very long. The links work but the links are longer than the addresses shown.

http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

http://DigitalBlasphemy.com/free 

 http://www.desktopmachine.com/

More will follow. If you know of a great site for wallpapers please leave a comment below. The only condition is that they provide multiple resolutions to search from. Then we won’t end up with sites that only have a photo or two.

Diggin Today’s News

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Entertainment, Graphics, Programming, Research, Web Site on August 24, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Digg has come up with some new front ends to their service. It looks like Intel sponsored one of the interfaces, which is the type of business activity they do a lot of. So I decided to download the Flashdigg object and run it on my PC. I’ve never scene a such a CPU intensive object! It had my AMD Athlon 3500+ maxed out consistently! Maybe they have something in there that makes AMD processors look bad ;). Just kidding, I haven’t even tried it on an Intel machine but I’m sure that Flash object will max out most of today’s desktop machines. The good news is that there is a great solution to that problem. Just log onto Digg’s site and let their processors do the work. There is no difference in the quality or look of the object and Digg has 3 more ‘views’ of their data.

This is truly the best way I’ve seen for staying up on the day’s news. You can view it through some really great visual interfaces and you’re only 2 clicks away from the actual story. Of course, the information you are getting is Digg data. Therefore, it is based on their ‘rating’ of the stories but Digg is as good a measure as anything else out there today. So with all things considered, this is a great way to get the news and you don’t even have to download anything. Just go to Digg’s site and pick which interface is the best for you. You can follow the link below to their website and start interacting with today’s news data right away!

http://labs.digg.com/arc/