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About Design & Interfaces / Professional yereverluvinuncleberMale/United Kingdom Groups :icondesign-addicts: Design-Addicts
design, art, customisation
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Airfix Hawker Hound + Me219 late 2000s box by yereverluvinuncleber Airfix Hawker Hound + Me219 late 2000s box :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 5 22 XP Desktop on broken and 10 year old hardware by yereverluvinuncleber XP Desktop on broken and 10 year old hardware :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 3 18 Quake I Icon by yereverluvinuncleber Quake I Icon :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 1 3 Quake2 Icon by yereverluvinuncleber Quake2 Icon :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 2 10 Quake III Icon by yereverluvinuncleber Quake III Icon :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 4 19 Quartermaster VB6 20mm wargaming Desktop by yereverluvinuncleber Quartermaster VB6 20mm wargaming Desktop :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 2 23 Dogfight Double Hannebu and Spirit Versions by yereverluvinuncleber Dogfight Double Hannebu and Spirit Versions :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 1 4 Airfix Dogfight Double Haunebu and Spirit MkI by yereverluvinuncleber Airfix Dogfight Double Haunebu and Spirit MkI :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 17 23 Steampunk MediaPlayer Ywidget 1.0.14a by yereverluvinuncleber Steampunk MediaPlayer Ywidget 1.0.14a :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 4 5 Commando Comic Animated Cover by yereverluvinuncleber Commando Comic Animated Cover :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 3 0 Ye Roast Beef of Olde England by yereverluvinuncleber Ye Roast Beef of Olde England :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 5 6 A Dickensian Christmas by yereverluvinuncleber A Dickensian Christmas :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 2 19 Neil Sees Brexit by yereverluvinuncleber Neil Sees Brexit :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 5 11 Neil Sees Steam Engines by yereverluvinuncleber Neil Sees Steam Engines :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 15 10 Musical Christmas Advent Bauble Widgets by yereverluvinuncleber Musical Christmas Advent Bauble Widgets :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 11 25 Pheasant Casserole with a sword by yereverluvinuncleber Pheasant Casserole with a sword :iconyereverluvinuncleber:yereverluvinuncleber 3 32

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Spitfire on the wall by Small-Brown-Dog Spitfire on the wall :iconsmall-brown-dog:Small-Brown-Dog 46 43 Lysander Pair by Daniel-Wales-Images Lysander Pair :icondaniel-wales-images:Daniel-Wales-Images 40 8 A.N.E.C II by Daniel-Wales-Images A.N.E.C II :icondaniel-wales-images:Daniel-Wales-Images 96 7 Stormovik Il-2X Tank-Buster by tomzoo Stormovik Il-2X Tank-Buster :icontomzoo:tomzoo 114 10 Reproduction 2 Pound note by MichaelRMaranda Reproduction 2 Pound note :iconmichaelrmaranda:MichaelRMaranda 1 0 Escape by Ali Ries 2019 by Casperium Escape by Ali Ries 2019 :iconcasperium:Casperium 137 40 Vorwarts nach Osten! by Standarte-Thuringen Vorwarts nach Osten! :iconstandarte-thuringen:Standarte-Thuringen 12 2 I'm the Moon by Gin85 I'm the Moon :icongin85:Gin85 19 13 Star Talon by Palantion Star Talon :iconpalantion:Palantion 54 7 Mechanical Watch Parts Scorpion No 14 by AMechanicalMind Mechanical Watch Parts Scorpion No 14 :iconamechanicalmind:AMechanicalMind 363 15 Old Industry by Darkki1 Old Industry :icondarkki1:Darkki1 196 12 Cat Robot Golden Copper Eye by CatherinetteRings Cat Robot Golden Copper Eye :iconcatherinetterings:CatherinetteRings 145 15 GWR Saint Class '2999' Lady of Legend by Daniel-Wales-Images GWR Saint Class '2999' Lady of Legend :icondaniel-wales-images:Daniel-Wales-Images 48 5 T334 Svyatagor by Small-Brown-Dog T334 Svyatagor :iconsmall-brown-dog:Small-Brown-Dog 100 42 Britannia by Daniel-Wales-Images Britannia :icondaniel-wales-images:Daniel-Wales-Images 25 4 HAF C-47 Dakota by rOEN911 HAF C-47 Dakota :iconroen911:rOEN911 183 15

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yereverluvinuncleber

Artist | Professional | Design & Interfaces
United Kingdom
My alter ego is yereverluvinunclebert. You'll find me around the web. Where you find steampunk design I won't be far away.

I focus on Steampunk Design, why do I do it?

Well, I can't bear the look and feel of current desktop computing being so locked into a 1980s 'modern' paradigm. Current GUIs deriving mostly from Microsoft's efforts have a basis in the GUIs from the late 80s and early 90s and despite the regular changes they still haven't moved on much. Do you run XP, Vista, Win 7, 8 or 10? Well, if you do, that means under the skin you are still running NT5 or 6, all basically the same fundamental o/s. The only real differentiator is the GUI that MS foists upon you. Now, a GUI is a GUI and should not be confused with the underlying operating system. You should be able to decide which style of GUI you want to run.

A GUI should be independent of the o/s or at the very least the o/s ought to be very easy to theme and to customise as you wish. This just isn't the case with any Microsoft operating system as the default 'look and feel' provided with the os is really the only thing that really sets it apart from the previous version.

You'll see a massive example of this with Metro or Material Design, the UI that comes with Windows 8 & 10. The underlying os is still good old NT6 and operates much in the same way that Win7 does. However, the whole user interface has been modified to try to get you to use live tiles on the desktop as you would on a Windows phone, to make you use 'apps' rather than programs as you would on the desktop. This schizophrenic approach to a desktop o/s is foisted upon you as Microsoft has no decent tablet-centric o/s and instead are trying to squish Windows onto tablets - it isn't working, look at the death of windows phone and even more recently, the inevitable death of Windows 10 on tablets. They are trying to get you to adopt a new GUI so that you conform to the business plan they have in mind for Windows. That business plan is now a failed model but you, the consumer is still suffering for it.

My aim is to help you break out of this corporate mindset and to think of desktop customisation as a natural thing to do, much in the same way that you decorate and design your home, make the desktop your place to live, to work and operate.

So, with this in mind, I set out to create a series of wallpapers, widgets and icons for an o/s interface that meets the aims and needs of a small but thoroughly dedicated group of chaps and ladies known as steampunkers.

I have set out my steampunk design skills in this way to demonstrate what I can do.

Whether or not you are a steampunker yourself, with these widgets and icons you can thoroughly steampunk your desktop.

You may use any of my images in any of your own creations but commercially only with my permission. In all cases I require a credit using my name or pseudonym - and in addition a link to my DA account or my own site.

Do me a favour and don't send me a Lllama. I don't know what these bloody Llama things are for in any case and I don't give them myself. IF anyone can enlighten me as to something concrete that I can do with them I'll be pleased to hear it.
Interests

Activity


This is something else I am doing from time to time, it utilises my coding skills as well as some of my graphic design capabilities.


Image 1 Firestrike Quartermaster VB6 Windows

This is a screenshot of my desktop with the software displayed that I originally wrote in the 90s. It was a military simulation tool that was a very early precursor to tank games such as World of Tanks. Some primitive 3D effects but mostly 2D. Firestrike was designed to be a comprehensive tool to support desktop wargaming tabletop figures and vehicles in 15/20mm to 1/300th scale. The PC program was designed to be a tool for the umpire to determine the outcome of a battle between two opposing armies of up to 1,200 vehicles per side. It had a graphical interface in the days when such things were rare. It aimed to be easy to use and fast to operate. I cut my original Photoshop skills on this software.

Originally written in QBasic 4.5, then converted to VBDOS and finally to VB for Win the new versions of basic came quicker than I could code my project... When .NET made the lot obsolete I abandoned it.

This VB6 project was the biggest thing I had ever attempted but just before the turn of the century I abandoned my biggest computing effort of all time solely because Microsoft deprecated the programming environment. They threatened to pull the plug to stop VB6 running on Windows and they provided no possible upgrade path. It was soul-destroying. Instead, I went onto other things and abandoned Firestrike and MS products altogether. If I had known that VB6 would survive as a usable environment despite Microsoft's best efforts to kill it, I might have actually continued the development.

Many years later and the good news (for me) is I have picked it up again!


Image 2 The Inventory of every tank, gun and vehicle used in WWII on the Western Front for the three main protagonist nations. Took me ages to collate the data. There are screens of data.

The program shown above is just part of the whole program. This was an interface to the core databases that stored the vehicle, weapon and gun data allowing you to create an army from any vehicle used during the Normandy campaign of World War II. The work to collate all manner of information on all the combatant's vehicles, to photograph and process all that data and provide it in a usable form was a large amount of work for one man to achieve. Even though I eventually abandoned it, it had one good side effect - it taught me programming and military history in depth.

-oOo-

I am obviously using the VB6 IDE to update and improve the code but I am continuously finding I need capabilities that the VB6 IDE does not have. The VB6 IDE is a nice place to work, however there are limitations, so here is a shout-out to the developer Rickard Johansson who has created a free programmers editor RJTextEd.

[shoutout]
The VB6 IDE allows me to edit files externally, with an add-on named MZ-tools it also has buttons to enable the current document to be edited using any default editor (RJTextEd), the IDE itself is aware of any code-changes made by an external editor, asking if you want to reload the project whenever changes are made. RJTextEd has load of useful stuff, massively enhanced search functionality, you can define key definitions to match your familiar VB6 usage, code is actively colour-highlighted, the syntax highlighter gives you multiple variations in colour. There is useful line numbering so you can jump to a line of numbered code. Another useful feature is that branch Lines are drawn to indicate the start and end of if/then statements and of course you can fold your code. I could not have updated thousands of lines of spaghetti code without using its advanced search and replace functionality.
[/shoutout]


Image 3 View of one of the resulting application windows.

When people ask me why am I coding an old program in an outdated language such as VB6 (and they do ask), well, for a start I am loving the old VB6 IDE, it works very well, it is blisteringly fast. I suppose 'puters are SO much faster these days than they used to be. Each core is 10-15 times what I would have used back in the day, yet now I have more than just one CPU core, drives are many times quicker than they used to be and all modern computers have so much more memory. Start-up and compilation times are now measured in seconds rather than minutes and as a result it is a delight to develop and run my old programs. The fact that a programming environment from 1990s is still usable and capable of building decent apps in 2019 is rather impressive. Why Microsoft gave up on VB6 still astounds me as one of its largest corporate failings over the last 30 years. Microsoft have squandered so much that was good and lost a lot of goodwill in the process. The VB6 IDE was superb in its day and despite some limitations (as described above) is still very usable. The VB6 language is very standard, usable and if you were brought up on BASIC it is the ultimate expression of that language just as VB.NET is definitely NOT. Professional programmers often detract from what VB6 really is, what they don't understand is what VB6 is capable of.


Image 4 The points calculator. This calculates the amount of energy in kJ that a weapon is capable pf projecting, given the rate of fire the weight and explosive power, the weight and speed of the projectile giving kinetic energy.

I think of VB6 as an advanced scripting language with its own IDE which has access to all the facilities of the o/s, through COM/ActiveX and one that is capable of producing compiled binaries. That is a combination that is hard to beat.


This is the launcher that I am working on now

The code is nowhere near ready to release and I'm unsure as to whether I would ever let anyone see my code until I am dead, it is that bad. I am currently working on approximately one third of the code base and getting it into a usable and bugfree condition. I am also filling in the missing data. I have learnt so much since I originally wrote this code and there is a lot to overhaul.

PS. My last series of posts on my steampunk designs weren't well received as I was perceived I was 'spamming' by adding two designs per day. It's not my fault I am so prodigious in output... I like to bang out my designs. Instead, I will post updates here to the screens as I create them. Hopefully not quite so rapidly this time as they take time to build from scratch.

Launcher latest.



This is very much a WIP.

My first attempt at running my VB6 project on anything other than my own Windows 7 laptop. This time a 32 bit installation of Windows 7, each installation throws up different errors and methods of solving them.

Excuse the low quality GIF capture:

This shows the launcher initiating and doing its stuff, then it progresses to a brief run of the Quartermaster.



It just shows it all works without falling to pieces on the very first try. There are still some data issues to resolve but fundamentally it works.
See the end for the latest updates.

This utility has been a work-in-progress so if you want to see how it was developed then read on!  


RocketDock on Win10

- I use Rocketdock on all my Windows machines as I find the convenience of the MAC-style dock and the ability to customise the dock icons is a real boon. Rocketdock was written by Punk Labs (skunkie et al) and was originally written for XP but was never overhauled for NT6 usage. It is no longer supported but it is still probably the best in its class. Rocketdock still functions as it should on Win7/10 but as time went on a few minor bugs crept in that decreased its usability. Nevertheless it is still an enhancement for Win 10 &c as that o/s has a fairly awful GUI and start menu IMHO.

This is the original settings screen from RocketDock


Fig 1.0 Rocketdock settings screen by Punklabs

One of the bugs is the time that Rocketdock takes to respond to an icon right-click. This is vital functionality as it is how you change the appearance or the functionality of any Rocketdock icon. It appears that the program has to trawl through each of the dock entries and parse all the data before it can display the settings screen. I believe it is also reading its stored library of .ICO or.PNG files so it can display a graphical selection of thumbnail icons for the user to choose. The larger the ICO folder the longer it takes. As a result a right click can take 20-30 secs on a typical core2duo with a 2.5ghz CPU and SSD but even on newer, faster systems there is a many-second delay. As there do exist steampunk libraries of over 3,000 icons this is a serious bug that affects Rocketdock's usability. The delay is simply CPU usage reading each image type byte by byte.

So, I decided to write a VB6 replacement for this one bit of buggy functionality. Why VB6? Firstly, it is the only language where I stand a hope in hell's chance of doing it and secondly, because I am increasingly realising there is a mass of amazing code that supports almost anything I wish to do using VB6.

- and this is my current replacement

Fig 2.0 First cut of a VB6 design using RAD methods
(DA made the image a bit blurry, right click and Select "view image" to see it without blur)

It has been enhanced so that it loads the portable settings.ini file quickly, it also reads the registry if that is where the user has chosen to store the dock data.

It improves upon the original in certain areas:

o It indicates by number which Rocketdock item is currently selected.
o The user can delete unwanted icons directly from the file display.
o The icon preview can be resized so the user can see how the icon will look in the dock.
o You can flip to the next Rocketdock item without having to leave the settings screen completely as before.
o There are tooltips for all controls (before there were none).
o There is now a help facility.
o The images in the thumbnail view are now more visible at 64x64 rather than 32x32 as before
o The user can flip between file list and thumbnail view.
o The "get more" button takes you to a useful location where there are a lot more icons for the user to download. The old "get more" was a dead link.
o There is a working icon type filter allowing you to select one type of icon. The old one was non-functional.
o It runs many times faster on the critical icon thumbnail view, <1 second rather than 20+secs.
o The user can refresh the file list at any time if there have been any new icons added.
o The utility saves copies of the settings.ini file so that you can always revert your dock back to an earlier state.

The only notable difference so far is that the file viewer top right, only displays the icon names and is not fully yet capable of displaying as thumbnails. The file list view is many times faster to populate and makes the initialising of the tool much faster  than the Rocketdock version (and in any case I don't know how to do that yet), I am thinking of creating an array of objects that will use LaVolpe's (VB6 guru) graphical code to simulate a file viewer in thumbnail mode. If you have any suggestions on how to achieve this in VB6 I'd willingly take any suggestion.

I used LaVolpe's code to generate the preview images as it was the easiest to integrate into my design. It can display all the icon types that Rocketdock might possibly encounter.

So far the new settings screen is very quick to open and do its stuff, certainly much faster than Rocketdock's settings screen.

I don't intend to replace Rocketdock altogether, it just bothered me that I'd have to wait 30 seconds to change a simple icon. When I have this covered I'll think about the next thing I can improve. I realise it might make no sense whatsoever to recreate the whole of Rocketdock using VB6 but we do now have an alternative to one component of Rocketdock.

Your comments please!

ADDENDUM:

-oOo-

Making good progress:


Fig 3.0 Showing the new thumbnail image viewer

I've managed to simulate a thumbnail view of just 12 of the icons, each downward click on the vertical scrollbar loads another twelve images onto the picturebox array. The loading of just 12 images takes no time at all, much more efficient than loading the whole 836 icons as did the old Rocketdock screen (836 being just one library of steampunk icons from one source), there do exist steampunk libraries of over 3,000 icons.

I haven't yet figure out how to rescale PNGs loaded with lavolpe's VB6 loadpicture method but other than that everything else seems to work. I haven't fully implemented the reading and writing of the registry locations but that is close to working. I have the code. Saving does the job just as it should if a settings.ini is specified as the output.

This tool is not yet complete but when it is done it will be a useful tool for Rocketdock and could form part of a Rocketdock replacement given time.

-oOo-

In my latest version, reading and writing the registry works fine. I have also created a help screen called by button and right-click menu.


Fig 4.0 The help screen (first version)

The main trouble with my new utility is that it cannot directly replace Rocketdock's own icon settings screen (by right click). It can however be called as one of the icons in the dock. Thinking about how I get around this limitation.

I also have an idea to add a mini version of the dock as a hideable element right in the middle of the tool. This would be a map of the dock and then I can emulate the functionality of Rocketdock and make selection and configuration of an icon much easier.


Fig 5.0 A mock-up of the Rocketdock icon 'map'

-oOo-

The Rocketdock map has been completed, it works as intended and it scrolls left/right by simply sliding all the picture boxes right or left. The picture boxes are created dynamically according to the number of icons found in the Rocketdock settings.

There is a slider for the map, quite necessary when your dock has 70 or more items. The map is hideable so that you can restore the look and feel of the old Rocketdock settings screen.

I have added right click menus, 'about' and 'licence' screens.

I discovered that when I made changes to the settings.ini or the registry then Rocketdock overwrote those changes as soon as it exited. Instead, I have made all the icon changes to an intermediate settings file and only then used that to replace rocketdock's settings once I have killed the rocketdock process. It is then restarted automatically to show the resulting changes in the dock. There is a new save & restart button to implement this. Quite a bit more complicated than I expected.


Fig 6.0 Current version with the final 'Map'.

The icon map is still having trouble resizing PNG images, I will fix that at the end. It works fine for .ICO files.

I have implemented a backup system that allows the utility to take and store multiple settings files in the form of:

settings.ini;1
settings.ini;2
settings.ini;3

Each backup causes an increment of the version number (a la VMS) so you can go back to a previous backup of the dock any time you want by simply renaming one of the backup settings files to the current version. A backup occurs automatically each time the utility is operated and there is a new backup request button so that you can take a manual backup if you so wish.

The treeview now works as intended allowing you to select a sub-folder holding icon collections

The tool now also pops up the licence screen when it is run for the first time and it remembers any tool-specific settings.

I am now working on the "add item" right click menu allowing the tool to add new icons to the map and thence to Rocketdock.

-oOo-

o  The program can now extract icons embedded within a DLL or an executable
o  Added a "working" indicator on the initial creation of the map
o  add the ability to save copies of the settings files used
o  read the user configured folder on startup and automatically set it in the treeview
o  Changed the underlying image display code to allow the utility to handle image sizes.



It is now mostly working. You wouldn't believe how much code is beneath the 'hood' to make this relatively simple utility function as it should. I will never underestimate the amount of work that a program will take to complete.


Here is an animated GIF of the utility in operation, forgive the low quality capture.
Airfix Hawker Hound + Me219 late 2000s box
Created in co-operation with small brown dog, using his Hawker Hound and Me219 images. The box-tops were recreated in Photoshop CS from scratch using suitable artwork, stock and fonts as well as the Airfix logo.

There are currently two in the zipfile, the late 2000s box type and the 90s box type.

See the original here: www.deviantart.com/small-brown…

Did I change SBD's work? Not much at all, just increased the contrast a bit and tipped the image a little to make it a bit more alive and dynamic as per typical Airfix box-art.
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XP Desktop on broken and 10 year old hardware
After building my perfect retro system from old and tossed-out parts I present to you my working desktop.

Click on the image twice to see it in full size just as it is on my desktop.

Windows XP SP3
My own Yahoo Widgets
My own Xwidgets (2)
RocketDock showing my icons

My perfect system, boots in 20 secs, 3.5gb RAM free, four cores and bags of hard drive space. Knocks Windows 10 on modern hardware into a cocked-snoot on speed, performance, boot times and gives me the ability to run all my old games from CD /ISO just as I used to before the curse of Windows 10 afflicted us all.
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Quake I Icon
This is an old-fashioned glass, brass and steel icon designed to appeal to the steampunk mind, I created it as I needed such an icon for Quake I on my 'new' XP system - you can of course use it for anything you wish. It looks much better when icon-sized, trust me!

Quake I is still a superb game, decent graphics, good gameplay, great maps, works very well indeed on my 'new' XP box that is described here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

The icon is supplied as a zipfile containing multiple ICO, Mac ICNS and HQX finder and multiple PNG, BMP files. This icon is eminently usable on windows/ Mac OS/X / Linux / ReactOS &c.

The 338 pixel PNG shown above is included in the bundle, it is the full size version having the most detail so that you can even resize it if yourself so wish or use "as-is".

Provided in the following formats:

ICO (combined ICO format containing multiple sizes for windows from 16px to 256px)
PNG (multiple sizes for any o/s, Linux, Android, Mac IOS, Rocketdock &c from 16px to 256px)
BMP (bitmap for other tools such as Blackbox desktop)
HQX and ICNS native MAC O/SX formats

Here is just one more over 350 steampunk icons that I have created over the last year or so  that will leave your Windows or Mac desktop looking absolutely spiffing. There is a whole set of the little thingies and I must say they do look very steampunk indeed! They really are a suitable replacement for the boring old default icons that come with Rocketdock/ObjectDock &c.

An icon adapted from an older icon of mine in turn adapted from an icon by the Iconfactory, Changes: door cut out and opened, new fire added underneath, added poor firefox's tail in the open door of the furnace and this time with Roman numerals - slightly more steampunk? On top of that the icon has been recreated in 15 different sizes/formats. Credit has been given to / and permission for reproduction has been received from Gedeon Maheux Principal / Designer at the IconFactory.

This icon and the others like it will spruce up your desktop and give it a bit of Victorian class. Compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher, and your default Windows icons.

To View: - You can see all my icons by clicking here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

If you want any new icons then just ask! I am always open to new (or old) ideas - please leave a comment, these icons are quite hard to do and a nice comment makes my day.

Rocketdock Installation: In the rocketdock folder there is a subfolder called icons. Move these icons into that folder or create a subfolder called steampunk icons and copy them in there. Then you simply change each of your individual icon images to any one of these. Easy enough.

The only condition for downloading and using is that you leave feedback. Please leave a message and rate the icons as it is the only payment I get for creating this small desktop addition :D (Big Grin)

Thanks! Do enjoy the icon.
Download there at the top, that's it, just there. Ooh yes, that's lovely, thankyou.
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Quake2 Icon
This is an old-fashioned glass, brass and steel icon designed to appeal to the steampunk mind, I created it as I needed such an icon for Quake II on my 'new' XP system - you can of course use it for anything you wish. It looks much better when icon-sized, trust me!

Quake II is an OK game, fairly OK graphics, good gameplay, great maps, works very well indeed on my 'new' XP box that is described here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

The icon is supplied as a zipfile containing multiple ICO, Mac ICNS and HQX finder and multiple PNG, BMP files. This icon is eminently usable on windows/ Mac OS/X / Linux / ReactOS &c.

The 338 pixel PNG shown above is included in the bundle, it is the full size version having the most detail so that you can even resize it if yourself so wish or use "as-is".

Provided in the following formats:

ICO (combined ICO format containing multiple sizes for windows from 16px to 256px)
PNG (multiple sizes for any o/s, Linux, Android, Mac IOS, Rocketdock &c from 16px to 256px)
BMP (bitmap for other tools such as Blackbox desktop)
HQX and ICNS native MAC O/SX formats

Here is just one more over 350 steampunk icons that I have created over the last year or so  that will leave your Windows or Mac desktop looking absolutely spiffing. There is a whole set of the little thingies and I must say they do look very steampunk indeed! They really are a suitable replacement for the boring old default icons that come with Rocketdock/ObjectDock &c.

An icon adapted from an older icon of mine in turn adapted from an icon by the Iconfactory, Changes: door cut out and opened, new fire added underneath, added poor firefox's tail in the open door of the furnace and this time with Roman numerals - slightly more steampunk? On top of that the icon has been recreated in 15 different sizes/formats. Credit has been given to / and permission for reproduction has been received from Gedeon Maheux Principal / Designer at the IconFactory.

This icon and the others like it will spruce up your desktop and give it a bit of Victorian class. Compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher, and your default Windows icons.

To View: - You can see all my icons by clicking here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

If you want any new icons then just ask! I am always open to new (or old) ideas - please leave a comment, these icons are quite hard to do and a nice comment makes my day.

Rocketdock Installation: In the rocketdock folder there is a subfolder called icons. Move these icons into that folder or create a subfolder called steampunk icons and copy them in there. Then you simply change each of your individual icon images to any one of these. Easy enough.

The only condition for downloading and using is that you leave feedback. Please leave a message and rate the icons as it is the only payment I get for creating this small desktop addition :D (Big Grin)

Thanks! Do enjoy the icon.
Download there at the top, that's it, just there. Ooh yes, that's lovely, thankyou.
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Quake III Icon
This is an old-fashioned glass, brass and steel icon designed to appeal to the steampunk mind, I created it as I needed such an icon for Quake III on my 'new' XP system - you can of course use it for anything you wish. It looks much better when icon-sized, trust me!

Quake III is still a very good game, decent graphics, good gameplay, great maps, works very well indeed on my 'new' XP box that is described here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

The icon is supplied as a zipfile containing multiple ICO, Mac ICNS and HQX finder and multiple PNG, BMP files. This icon is eminently usable on windows/ Mac OS/X / Linux / ReactOS &c.

The 338 pixel PNG shown above is included in the bundle, it is the full size version having the most detail so that you can even resize it if yourself so wish or use "as-is".

Provided in the following formats:

ICO (combined ICO format containing multiple sizes for windows from 16px to 256px)
PNG (multiple sizes for any o/s, Linux, Android, Mac IOS, Rocketdock &c from 16px to 256px)
BMP (bitmap for other tools such as Blackbox desktop)
HQX and ICNS native MAC O/SX formats

Here is just one more over 350 steampunk icons that I have created over the last year or so  that will leave your Windows or Mac desktop looking absolutely spiffing. There is a whole set of the little thingies and I must say they do look very steampunk indeed! They really are a suitable replacement for the boring old default icons that come with Rocketdock/ObjectDock &c.

An icon adapted from an older icon of mine in turn adapted from an icon by the Iconfactory, Changes: door cut out and opened, new fire added underneath, added poor firefox's tail in the open door of the furnace and this time with Roman numerals - slightly more steampunk? On top of that the icon has been recreated in 15 different sizes/formats. Credit has been given to / and permission for reproduction has been received from Gedeon Maheux Principal / Designer at the IconFactory.

This icon and the others like it will spruce up your desktop and give it a bit of Victorian class. Compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher, and your default Windows icons.

To View: - You can see all my icons by clicking here: www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…

If you want any new icons then just ask! I am always open to new (or old) ideas - please leave a comment, these icons are quite hard to do and a nice comment makes my day.

Rocketdock Installation: In the rocketdock folder there is a subfolder called icons. Move these icons into that folder or create a subfolder called steampunk icons and copy them in there. Then you simply change each of your individual icon images to any one of these. Easy enough.

The only condition for downloading and using is that you leave feedback. Please leave a message and rate the icons as it is the only payment I get for creating this small desktop addition :D (Big Grin)

Thanks! Do enjoy the icon.
Download there at the top, that's it, just there. Ooh yes, that's lovely, thankyou.
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Retro gaming, program design and retro graphic development is entirely practical!

The bad thing about not throwing away old stuff is that your house can soon become full of clutter. The good thing about not throwing things away is that there is always something to dig into and there is always a useful gem hidden in amongst all that stuff. We have a family of eight or nine members living in this house (dependent upon how well we treat the daughter's latest boyfriend) and so there is enough stuff here to fill a large-sized house. It is my boy's birthday so I thought I'd build him a test rig, a machine to test and build new hardware and install new/old software and also a machine that is retro enough to gain access to a library of old 16bit software that modern windows just cannot run. It would also act as a test bed for installing ReactOS and Kubuntu, our intended o/ses in the near or far future.

So, looking around the garage, loft and the spare parts bin I realised I easily have enough computer parts to build a reasonable spec. desktop PC. A pile of PSUs soon disclosed a reasonably capable 400watt PSU with a mixture of molex and modern type power connectors and some adapter cables. The PSU is probably the most critical part of a new or old build as the amount of power consumed by a decent GPU and a power-hungry older CPU is likely to be quite considerable. A quick check of the PSU's internals revealed decent caps, none blown nor affected by capacitor plague, all dust was removed (the bane of all PSUs) and a test on an old and worthless motherboard showed it to be working. These PSUs need an electrical load to test them so an old motherboard and an ancient half height drive does the job adequately.



A few motherboards were also lying about disconnected and ready to grab, an old Foxconn motherboard with a 775 socket CPU and all the correct i/o ports plus PS2 connectors was selected as being suitable whilst another more recent motherboard was found buried inside an old grey box all connected up and ready to go. I decided to plump for the older motherboard as it was the correct period for a ReactOS build as all the drivers would likely still be available for that device. It wasn't a perfect selection as it only had slots for 2 x memory sticks and as I found later each supported only a maximum of 1gb of memory. Do you remember the days when 1 or 2gb was a very respectable amount of memory for your system to have? The days when a gigabyte of memory was also a lot of cash. One of the reasons for choosing this particular motherboard was that it came complete with the 2gb Ram still plugged in and a CPU already installed.



The CPU was an interesting model, one of the early dual-core CPUs that existed before the core2duos and i3, i5 and i7s came out. That shows how old it is. They used an architecture called Netburst where each chip would contain separate and distinct processor cores within one package rather than having one die with the cores integrated as per the later CORE architecture. In the older design each CPU would share the memory bus causing a bottleneck, a design fault that was dispensed with in later CORE designs where each core would have its own dedicated path to memory. Other than that, the CPUs were still reasonably quick and capable of being over-clocked. This one was a dual-core 3.0ghz device and it is a capable bit of kit running surprisingly fast even compared to modern i3/i5 PCs. One thing these older CPUs have in common is high power consumption and as a result running rather hot. They need active cooling from a big heatsink and a fast-running fan giving a continuous uninterrupted airflow. Dust is a killer for these devices, they have to be kept clean or they will overheat, dry up the thermal paste and eventually just go 'phut'. This CPU had been kept cool all its life, I knew that for certain as it had been my own personal processor ten or so years ago until that system finally died from emotional if not physical neglect (I transferred entirely to laptop devices). I keep all my old heat-sinks and fans as they are all incredibly useful elsewhere in electronic projects. A suitable item was selected, all that is then required is the essential thermal paste and the cpu/heatsink can be mated together for life.



The box. The box was selected from another pile. This time an old Lian-Li, a high quality box made of solid 3mm aluminium sheet throughout with plenty of room for any size of motherboard and any number of drives. I was lucky to have a Lian-Li lying about but any biggish desktop PC box would be equally suitable.

The final components are the drives. A DVD drive and a couple of SATA/IDE devices were found and installed. I always maintain separate system and data drives on all my computers, even my laptops. I regularly back-up everything, cloning and replacing each drive in turn and then removing it for long term storage. As time goes by drives become available from this process as the older backups are for systems that might no longer even exist. This is especially the case for the system disc backups, the data backups are retained for years but the system drives can be used for anything once the target system has died. In this case I was lucky in finding a 320gb Seagate SATA hybrid drive with an 8gb SSD built-in. The earlier Seagate hybrid drives were superior to their later replacements having 7200rpm motors compared to only 5400rpm in later models, they were also more reliable. The result was a very fast access hard drive at all times. This device was to be the system drive whilst  a chunky old 500gb SATA 1 drive was selected for the data storage, not as fast but it didn't matter.



A kettle lead for the PSU, some screws, some SATA cabling and the whole thing was bashed together in the twinkling of an eye... we are ready to go.

No, we are not.  Some essentials are still missing. A screen and keyboard in addition, to make this system usable, a decent GPU and of course, last but not least, the operating system!

We are not flush for keyboards, they are bulky and always in demand, so no spares. A trip to the local charity shop found a keyboard for £2.50 and a mouse for a mere £1. The same with screens, we don't have any hanging around doing nothing. So what did I do? Well, the screen was a neighbour's cast off. A high-quality 23" Acer LCD that they had thrown away and left outside in the rain for two weeks. Rescued, I disassembled it and removed any obvious internal water. Left in the airing cupboard (unbeknownst to my wife) it was thoroughly dried but still some water was likely to remain in the layers of the screen and in the LCD itself... Tested in the garage on a RCD it was found to be working but to have some residual water on about 15% of the display area but the underlying image was still very clear, I just had to hope that most of the water was in the layers of plastic and not in the LCD crystal itself. So, I plugged it into the motherboard's on-board GPU socket and the screen worked amazingly well, the water damage only being visible when looking at the screen from one side. Sitting next to the warm PC box blowing warm air in a dry and warm kitchen, the screen has slowly dried out so that there is next-to-no-water in it after three days of usage. The water damaged area eventually reduced to 3-4%. As the days go on it is reducing even further until it is no longer perceptible. This shows you how resilient an electronic device can be when exposed to wind, rain and even ice for weeks at a time - I love recovering dead equipment!

We have a stock of GPUs. The stock consists of Nvidia 7300, 8400, 9500 and a 9600GT. We also had a Nvidia GTX460 but that went into my boy's main desktop PC. He was too quick for me! So, the 9600GT was chosen, it had been previously bought as a project item for £5 from fleabay but was untested and unknown. However, all the older GPUs were supposedly tested as good, I had even recently replaced the bulging capacitors of the 9500 so if the 9600GT failed I could still revert to a slightly older model. The 9600GT card require additional power, it has a six pin connector that takes power from two molex-style connectors giving it the doubled-up voltage it needs. This is essential for this GPU to operate. A quick search in the cable bin found such a cable and so the GPU was installed.



All this work and the next task was to choose the o/s. What did I want to use this system for? Well, retro-gaming was the initial idea, then the access to a big screen implied I could do some graphics work here. As a test bed for ReactOS I needed to have my development environments too so I can code and test coding. The o/s had to be easy to use, a pleasure to use, slimline, efficient and one designed for the job. So, there was only one choice for the operating system. It had to be Windows 10.

No, not really... My arse it was going to be Windows 10. Not in a million years. No drivers for older kit, no support for the software I would be running, a laughingly appalling and unfinished user interface and coercion from Microsoft into using the Windows store, barrier after barrier to efficiency and in the hands of an idiot-led corporation? Not likely. So, what are alternatives? Windows 8? A laughable idea that we will not entertain. Vista? Does Microsoft or anyone think I am truly mad? Windows 7? - Actually a possible candidate but still no good for retro-gaming and testing retro software, there is so much that prevents us from running the specific software title we want to test/run on Windows 7, even though Windows 7 is a decent enough o/s for daily use.

So that leaves Linux? - a good candidate but not for now. I don't want the pain of running Wine to get access to only a partial suite of Windows software, driver installation is an arcane and potentially undefined process for the hardware I have to hand. I am not ready for it and Linux is not ready for me.  Nope, it leaves Windows 2000 or its more advanced sibling XP and in particular the 32bit version of XP. I have full licences for XP 32bit Pro and it will run everything I require. Almost all the most software tools will run under XP and even if the latest version does not support XP then there will be a version that does. I will not be browsing the web on this device, although I will need a browser for occasional driver and o/s downloads. I will run a decent firewall (Sygate) that will switch the incoming network access to OFF for the majority of the time. No new software will be installed on the device and I will only be installing tried and tested software from my existing library. Anti-malware tools will be used.

For a while I did even think about using Windows 2000 with Blackwing's kernel patches to bring it up to date but that might be step too retro even for me. So, Windows XP it is. The trouble is, you can't just build a system with an XP early version and expect it to just work. You have to take every hardware component out and then add each component piece by piece, loading drivers as you go, otherwise you land yourself in a heap of troubles as driver after driver fails to be found eventually ending up in BSOD hell. You have to find all the drivers in advance for each bit of kit you are going to be dropping into your box. You can't just expect Windows to boot and find the drivers for you. It just won't. For a start, XP Service Pack 2 uses IE to update itself. XP SP2 comes with a version of internet explorer that can't even access Microsoft's own update site, so you need to obtain service pack 3 some other way. The motherboard drivers for your ethernet and wireless cards won't be found so you won't even have a network. Some prior preparation and planning is absolutely required.

I only had an original XP service pack 2 DVD and so I had to take SP3 from a trusted online source. I did all the browsing, searching and downloading of drivers on my trusty Windows 7 Dell laptop and transferred each to a USB stick ready for the installation. Each piece of hardware was updated separately using the correct driver, the system was rebooted and tested for each component in turn. Prior to this the very first stage was installing service pack 3. This made subsequent work so much easier as SP3 has a lot of what you need already built-in.

I found a MIMO wireless card and long lengths of aerials but during the installation, rather than wireless, I used ethernet connected directly to the router as I knew that getting a wireless connection to work on XP can sometimes be a frustrating failure, especially if your drivers or BIOS has a problem as did mine...



Once completed and the system was up and running it was time to install the software. My installation list comprised a lot of older and current software titles, only a few of which are shown below:

Malwarebytes - anti malware
Clamwin - virus scanner
Virustotal -virus scanner
Sygate -very good XP firewall
VB6 - my development environment
Photoshop CS2 -my graphics environment
Audacity - the tool to adapt sounds for my code
Yahoo widget engine -the runtime for javascript on the desktop
RJTextEd -my preferred advanced editor and programming environment for .js
Context -my quick and dirty editor, notepad replacement
Everything -Windows NTFS search replacement
K-Meleon - a supported browser for XP
Firefox - an older version of firefox for downloading drivers &c
Open Office - the version from apache that supports XP

A plethora of games from Quake I to Medieval total war were also installed. Most of the reputable developers still provide XP versions of their tools though some are moving to development environments that specifically exclude NT5 (a big mistake in my mind as there is a future in NT5/ReactOS).

Any problems? Yes, one and rather a biggie too. The BIOS on the motherboard kept corrupting and it soon became clear that the motherboard had seen better days. Some regular BSODs and some PCI hardware not functioning as it ought, made it apparent that the motherboard was the problem. A simple fix was to take that other motherboard, remember the later one buried in the box? It was only a generation or so later, it had four ram slots for 4gb of memory and it was in hindsight the better choice. Swapping in that motherboard and moving my CPU into it was the only task to get it up and running. It came with an even bigger heatsink and fan too, so some significant benefits from the change.



How does the system run? It runs like bleedin' hot cakes. The current CPUs are not bottlenecks for any of the software I am running, the two 3.0ghz processors seem to cope with anything I throw at them. All the games run on the highest settings but obviously I am not running 'current' software so I would expect the CPUs to be capable enough. I did notice a perceptible 0.5 second lag on some window-drawing tasks when running Malwarebytes in continuous overwatch mode but as I am not browsing the web there is no need for Malwarebytes to monitor the system all the time. When it is turned off and Sygate is set to disable all incoming firewall access, the system flies with no lag whatsoever. To cater for this lack of security I run a full Malwarebytes scan weekly and Clamwin daily.

If more CPU is needed to run something like Malwarebytes in overwatch mode then there is an answer. The motherboard's socket 775 processor can be upgraded very easily and there are suitable candidates that will just drop straight in. A viable update which I am just about to perform is an upgrade to a Xeon processor. The Xeon CPUs are identical but they lack two little mounting lugs on the side of the package. Anyone capable of wielding a file can easily file two such lugs in the veroboard-type material that mounts the CPU but as few are willing to carry out such a modification they can be easily obtained for under £20, especially as the corporate servers they come from are now being scrapped in the hundreds. The good thing is that these processors are quad core 3.2ghz capable of being over-clocked to 4.2ghz and are completely plug-in compatible.



With this update it will be the icing on the cake for a quad core 3.2ghz system with a fairly decent GPU and approx. 768gb of storage in a rather natty box for the total cost of £28.50. That's quite good! OK, we had a lot of bits in storage but to build this yourself from scratch on fleabay, the quad core cpus cost £20, an appropriate socket 775 motherboard is approximately the same, 4gb memory is a mere £1 per gb, and replacement hard drives (380gb) can be had on fleabay for about £10. The only other item likely to fail is the PSU and they are typically £35-£40 for a brand new and decent unit, probably just a tenner for a secondhand PSU. Throw in a box for another tenner, all you need is a screen and a keyboard with mouse, probably £15 for the lot on Gumtree. A decent GPU can be more expensive but bargains can be found and in any case you can simply  upgrade each component as you find a better one. A hundred quid or thereabouts can buy you a surprisingly capable system. I still have my mind set on that Nvidia GTX460 GPU from my boy's PC, he may wake up one day soon and find his GPU has been replaced...

Usable? Yes, certainly. I am running 16bit Windows software that will not run on any later version of Windows, Battleground Ardennes is my favourite title at the moment. I can install all of my XP games, Rome, Shogun, Medieval Total War &c, straight from DVD, none of which will even attempt an install on Win 7 due to missing DRM essentials. Photoshop runs beautifully and oh-so fast. VB6 is blisteringly quick and I haven't even upgraded my CPU yet. OK, I cannot browse the web on this system as it is unsafe to do so (Spectre, Meltdown et al) but instead I use for it for offline-gaming and anything else I choose. It is surprisingly capable. My next test is the Live ReactOS CD and then perhaps a ReactOS installation on a small 160gb SATA drive I have spare.

Photos to come. I will be creating my next graphic composition on this machine, that's my excuse for posting this here. Finally, something to note. Windows XP and all my tools take 262mb of RAM when idle, let that sink in. XP is slimline. Think of that you fat, bloated Windows 10 users sitting there consuming over a gigabyte of memory to do absolutely nothing at all...


The current XP desktop with just some of my widgets loaded.


ADDENDUM:

o I've replaced the thermal paste on the GPU and it runs with a lot more stability than before.

o One improvement this machine has over later models - there is no embedded IME. The Intel Management Engine is an embedded operating system (Minix) on a chip that was included to allow remote management on all recent Intel motherboards. It has been discovered to be an exploitable vulnerability meaning that ALL recent PCs using Intel equipment are potentially hackable by malware writers. The motherboard that supports this core 2 quad does not have an embedded IME chip so is less vulnerable than all your more modern PCs - think on that...


This tune has something very positive at the very heart of it.
Update 4. 25th April 2018 - Developer untruths discovered!
Update 3. 6th January 2018 - jump straight to the end.
Update 2. 28th September 2018

First of all - before reading this review please note that the developer of RainWidgets has just banned me from his group on Deviantart. My feedback has had quite an effect on him, this has also had the effect of reducing his group's membership from 12 members to a mere 11...   :)

-oOo-

The first alpha/beta of the RainWidget engine has just been released. What is RainWidgets? - I hear you ask. Well, RainWidgets is the spiritual successor to Xwidgets - though before you rush out to try to download and install it - hold on! RainWidgets is NOT Xwidget 2.0. Firstly, there is no upgrade path from Xwidgets, second, there is no IDE and finally, there is no simple and easy way to create widgets using a few cores and some .js glue.

Rainwidgets is a pure widget engine and that's it, no IDE, no prettiness, no padding, just an engine for HTML based widgets. So, before you get upset and feel depressed and annoyed that Xwidgets has taken the wrong direction be placated by the fact I am fairly sure that RainWidgets has actually taken the correct direction. So far it has the feeling that it might just be the tool that a lot of desktop customisers and web developers have been looking for. A really rather good tool for putting HTML based widgets on the desktop.

RainWidget engine
Fig. 01 RainWidget Alpha Release with some yet-unreleased widgets.

This is exactly what Xwidgets probably should have been and what it almost became. Xwidget 1.0 was attempting to emulate Yahoo widgets, ie. a javascript engine with o/s APIs that allows web technologies to access the desktop. Xwidgets did it rather badly integrating a half-decent GUI IDE but unfortunately not extending API support to the underlying language, javascript. RainWidgets is not following this approach and instead is using the power of the latest browser engine so it can use stock technologies (with its own o/s extensions) to place HTML/CSS and javascript straight onto the desktop. This is a good approach as it lends itself to anything from simple widget creation as well as having the power to potentially put any complex web application straight on the desktop. This really could be the killer app that everyone has wanted for years...

Tony(?) and his team (I think there was once another chap that worked with him called qiancang) have become quite used to me pouring scorn on their offerings, the bugs in Xwidgets, the failure to fix them, the failing infrastructure, the lack of documentation &c &c but this time they really ought to take a pat on the back. RainWidgets as the spiritual successor to Xwidgets is really spot-on and they should be congratulated.

Some brief technical stuff that I have just guessed from just looking at the thing: Chrome is the browser core, the javascript engine is Chrome's V8, RainWidgets incorporates the vue.js framework to do some of the javascript heavy lifting. For those that have unpicked a typical widget, the RainWidget equivalent to Xwidget's widget.xul file is the widget.json (the equivalent of the .KON XML file in the yahoo widget engine). Image or text elements are typically defined there, such items as width, height, names, data sources used &c. The good thing is that nothing is set in stone. You can build a widget any way you like. In fact, you should be able to port any existing web widget and with a bit of tweaking it should just work (testing this now).

The core of a RainWidget is an HTML page where you define the location of the CSS, create any required divs and then call your javascript logic. The RainWidget team have provided a few examples of running widgets, one of them a quite complex web widget using jquery. None of them should be copied slavishly as examples of how to create widgets, instead you should consider them as examples of the engine's capability to use any style and method of widget creation.

Jquery and other web technologies are supported but are not required. If your widget is already designed to use vue.js then there might be an implication as the engine itself uses vue.js (a javascript framework that does the javascript heavy-lifting for the engine). In this case it might just require you to remove the line that initialises vue.js in your own script to avoid duplication or conflict - unknown and untested.

Element styling is achieved in CSS using an embedded .css file that is included into the HTML or as an element within the HTML itself using the style tag. Styling can even be achieved in javascript. Basically, the rule is - do it yourself, however you choose. You are not limited.

To obtain system-level information, instead of using cores as in Xwidget, RainWidget uses "Measures" (originally called DataSources in the first version). Xwidgets cores were APIs designed to be implemented at the GUI level and stored within the XML and as a result were largely inaccessible to the javascript 'glue' layer. It was often impossible to derive data from an Xwidget core in code.  Measures seem to be better designed giving the javascript direct access to the derived data.  

Only a few measures have been implemented so far: weather, datetime, shortcuts &c. We see very few operating system APIs to the filesystem or other useful operating system functions (the drive API was the first to be created) but after all, this is only an Alpha grade release so we ought to lower our expectations and await new measures in the fullness of time. The developer was originally drip-feeding new measures weekly, probably as soon as he had cut the code, so keep an eye out for new functionality.

(Battery, CPU, RAM measures added in 1.22 and 1.3)

An image or element is bound to a measure using the vue.js framework's v-bind directive. The usual events should be supported, eg. the onClick event (v-bind : onclick = "shortcut1.run") as well as all the other usual events (untested). Some events are currently implemented differently, for example: onkeydown/onkeypress - some drag/drop functions are not working as expected, perhaps he hasn't implemented them properly yet, "doKeyDown" being some sort of a workaround for a non-working keypress - more on this soon.

The javascript engine is Chrome's V8. A good choice of javascript that comes bundled with the embedded Chrome engine that RainWidgets uses to place the HTML widgets on your desktop. Previously, Xwidget used IE and Jscript, Microsoft's own version of javascript that had some pecularities and features other javascript engines did not have. For example, easy and direct access to the operating system through ActiveX/COM and extras such as the enumerate function will no longer work. As a result, some existing widgets' javascript code will not easily migrate to RainWidgets and any widget developers will have to depend upon any new cores that Tony writes to provide this missing functionality. It was mooted previously by Tony that in Xwidget 2.0 the APIs would be made available for user-modification or that the new engine would have the capability to run custom 'cores' - now called measures. We shall have to see if that functionality ever actually materialises in RainWidgets. I feel slightly unsure as to whether this promised functionality will ever arrive in RainWidgets as it may not be in the devs' best interests to allow creation of custom cores in the new engine. It would rather detract from the developer's contribution allowing others to customise and take control of his engine. So, we'll just have to wait and see. Personally, I would love to have this functionality, given that the creation of new cores was one of Tony's previous worst failings. I personally created polyfills in Xwidget's javascript to replace missing API functionality, I'd like to do be able to do the same in RainWidgets using an 'official' method.

The set of widgets that are currently bundled with the engine are a little unimaginative graphically but they demonstrate that the engine works and they do show the rather impressive capabilities of the engine itself. I have yet to fully build or migrate any one of my steampunk widgets but work is at hand testing and creating. Watch this space!

Some other features:

When you add a new widget, instead of displaying a gallery that points to the software's main site (as did Xwidget), it does basically the same thing but takes its feed directly from a specific Deviantart gallery - which is quite a sensible choice. It also has an option to open any local widgets on the appdata/widgets folder. For me, the gallery is a little intrusive on my desktop being so large on my 15" screen that it fills the screen, it can also seem a little unresponsive, especially when attempting to install a widget. I feel it needs more feedback to the user in order to tell him what is actually going on - I would prefer a more positive install button on each widget image and a progress bar during download and installation. Note that the Xwidget dock functionality has not been carried over to the new engine, in fact the new gallery acts as both a download location and a replacement for the dock.

The widget's settings pages are a significant improvement over Xwidgets (in that they exist at all - a good copy of Yahoo widgets prefs functionality) and each settings page is automatically generated according to the contents of the widget's  .JSON file. Very useful indeed.

A negative point is that the settings screens are very large, in fact far too large and clunky being based on Microsoft's preferred 'modern'-type themes. The resulting configuration windows are significantly over-sized for a windows desktop. It would be very useful if there was a RainWidget configuration option, a simple switch to reduce the settings font sizes and resulting window size so it suits the desktop. It is great having a settings screen optimised for those tablet-style systems out there but we also need an option which also provides a useful size for desktops. At the moment the settings screens are big and quite ugly. Experience from other engines proves that the widget configuration screens need to be compact and not overly-large especially when we take into account migration of existing widgets from other systems with complex configuration and plenty of options.

 Widget
Fig. 02 A typical large text, bloated RainWidget settings page compared to a similar but compact one from another engine where a lot of configuration options can be located on one page due to small font size.

The current RainWidget right-click menus are quite good, anyone familiar with Xwidgets will notice how similar they are in layout and operation. Unlike their settings counterparts they are easy on the eye taking their layout from Windows default theme. I'd recommend leaving the menus to adopt their size from the current windows theme rather than forcing a particular look-and-feel such as that encountered in the menus of the sister product RainWallpaper.

 menu
Fig. 03 The RainWidget Menus conforming to the Windows theme as set by the user...the centurion font used in this case.

The engine by itself uses no discernible CPU when running no widgets at all. The widgets themselves are quite efficient, they simply use as much or as little cpu as your program requires. If you have a simple clock widget then it will use very little in the way of cpu resource. If you have a complex widget that does a lot of animation then expect it to use a lot more cpu. We have already migrated a few of our widgets to web widgets (this being the same technology used by RainWidgets) and the different browsers (Firefox, chrome, Edge, Safari) handle animation differently, some more efficiently than others. RainWidget's embedded browser engine, Chrome should be quite efficient at handling javascript animation in our experience but it has yet to be determined how well the engine runs complex animation in code - as this is untested. When running a complex animation in a similar web widget on the Chrome browser (some while ago) the animation was a little choppy at times. We shall have to see how this operates through the engine though I suspect it will be similar. Machines with faster CPUs will have smoother animation as a lot of javascript animation may be accomplished using mathematics and/or canvas manipulation. As RainWidget is using the latest Chrome technology it should benefit from the improvements to javascript optimisation that future versions of Chrome brings (webAssembly &c) as long as the later versions of RainWidgets incorporate up-to-date versions of Chrome.

Each RainWidget exists within its own process context, this is a good feature as it means one crashing widget will not bring down the whole engine and all the other widgets with it. This is the same safe method used by the old Yahoo widgets engine but not by Xwidget. In Xwidget one nasty bug could have an adverse impact on all the running Xwidgets and made Xwidget a rather unstable product. RainWidgets is a much better designed product from the outset. This is probably more due to the way that Chrome implements each page/widget as a separate process rather than a feature of the RainWidget engine itself. Nevertheless, it is a significant improvement over the Xwidget way of doing things.

As yet, the documentation is very sparse. Do not depend upon it, the widget engine is still being built, things will change. In any case, lower your expectations regarding documentation, the documents from this particular stable have always been a bit lacking. The good thing is that the documentation you need to write your widgets is simply the standard documentation for javascript, CSS and HTML which is available everywhere on the web.

With regard to the missing IDE. If this is a product from the Xwidget stable then any existing users wishing to migrate will expect an IDE. I think those people will be quite disappointed. I don't think the developers will create an IDE at all, focussing instead all their energies on the engine itself. Why do I say this? Well, the IDE is a massive task on its own, imagine creating a completely new widget engine, then a graphical compositor and in addition developing and maintaining a decent code editor? That is huge amount of work and in any case, the engine needs a lot of time to complete, probably six months work or more. Having said that, I have seen the prototype of Tony's next generation IDE and I'll drop a picture here when I get time (see below) so it is possible that the graphical compositor may yet see the light of day - one morning perhaps - but for now, consign the idea of a fully-fledged IDE to the dustbin. Personally I don't want the dev to create an IDE, if he takes on this mammoth task he will fail us on the engine APIs and it is the engine he needs to focus on as it is nowhere near complete.

Tony's XWidget 2.0 IDE
Fig. 04 Tony's XWidget 2.0 prototype IDE that has NOT been shipped with RainWidgets

Note that the above IDE was shipped by Tony as the alpha-grade precursor to RainWallpaper - the prototype product was then named XDesktop. It was originally sold to us as the successor to Xwidgets  and an approximate combination of RainWallpaper and RainWidgets. The two eventually split into the two separate tools we have today but the XDesigner shows what the original developer Tony had in mind for their next generation IDE.

The use of the Rain... name? I know that some Rainmeter devotees will be really rather annoyed with the developer's choice of name. It does try to imply that the product is from the same stable. If it helps, the developer did moot the idea of compatibility with LUA and Rainmeter skins for Xwidget 2.0 but if that is an eventual aim for RainWidgets I'd be surprised, given RainWidgets current direction (HTML/javascript). Product naming has never been one of the developer's strengths, the Xwidget name itself was ambiguous given that it was already claimed and in use by other similar web-related products. Remember this product is from a Chinese stable and that plagiarism is one of their cultural strengths enabling them to copy other's existing products without a moment's moral concern... It just doesn't figure in their mindset.

That's it, that's all I have to say so far. RainWidget is not a simple tool for beginners and that will put off a lot of Xwidgeteers that will be wondering where to go from here. I'd say to them, stay put and keep creating Xwidgets but if you want a future migration path seriously brush up your HTML, CSS and javascript skills as you'll need them. In any case RainWidgets is still a tool in an alpha state, ie. being heavily developed now and not for serious use. It is missing almost all the most useful APIs except the most basic so my recommendation is to leave it for a while until both you and the product matures.

A weird route I had not expected to recommend, is to migrate your Xwidgets to the Yahoo widget engine. That engine is much closer in concept to RainWidgets than Xwidgets  is now and could act as a sort of stepping stone to allow conversion of your widgets into pure javascript code ready for RainWidgets when it matures. It would be a very good learning curve for any Xwidgeteer who wants to become a Rainwidgeteer in the future being based upon the same technologies and fully documented.

To everyone else, the serious web-coders, I'd say download the alpha version and give it a go. Some proper coding will be required especially as there is no IDE and no coding environment provided at all. You just need to use the tools you are already familiar with for web development. If you are a frustrated Xwidgeteer and you need some help from another long-suffering widgeteer regarding the cross-over tools that might be required, just ask and I''ll be pleased to help or make some recommendations.

You could previously obtain RainWidgets at Rainysoft as a free download but it is now only available commercially from Steam.

With regard to support, the product is in alpha so don't depend upon it and don't ask the developer any questions, just leave him to get on with the coding. In any case there is currently nowhere to ask him any questions as there still is no forum. You can now submit your new widgets to the new group on DA, as it has just opened to normal members.

That's my initial review with two updates to reflect reality, if I've made any mistakes please feel free to correct me. I had only been experimenting for a few hours when I wrote the article so forgive any typos and other technical mistakes.

Congratulations to the Xwidget team, sorry, the RainWidget team for creating such an amazing (alpha) tool! I have high hopes for this product.

January 2018 Addendum:

It is a few months later and time to note any changes to RainWidgets. Firstly, I can confirm that the developer is definitely our old friend Tony. We can tell that by the same lack of communication that always comes from the Xwidget stable. Some other hints that the developer team is the same - the new site is hosted on the exact same server as the old Xwidget site. Also, the right click menus on Tony's products and the new Rain products are identical. The RainWallpaper IDE/Xwidget 2.0 IDE are also the same. Most importantly, just as with Rainwidgets, we have just the minimum of communication but no more, sounds familiar?. I see the deviantart group is no longer being updated but there is some well-hidden but terse information to be found on the product's website:

Ver1.6.5 (2018-12-6)
- RainWidget now on Steam
- Change Settings window size
- Improve Widget Animation Performance

Ver1.6 (2018-11-8)
- Change Application style to Dark stye

Ver1.4 (2018-10-10)
- Improve the widget options window

There are no new measures (APIs) but I suppose it has only been five months so that can be forgiven but I am hoping for some new ones at some point. No engine can be taken seriously without some basic APIs so I am hoping these will eventually arrive before a full year of release is out?

filesystem itemexists
filesystem readfile
filesystem writefile
filesystem isDirectory
filesystem getDirectoryContents
filesystem move
filesystem copy
filesystem delete

filesystem choosefile
filesystem choosefolder

system wireless
system network
system volume

This list represents the absolute basic APIs required to start coding some serious widgets. Without these it makes no sense to start converting your widgets to RainWidgets as they can do very little real work. As time passes it will become clear as to whether the developer wants to create a real widget engine. In another six months if we see nothing then we'll now that Rainwidgets is going the same way as Xwidgets with bursts of activity followed by months/years of nothing at all. I am pessimistic as I have experience of being an active member of the Xwidget community.

One important promise missing was the ability to create our own APIs. It was suggested a while back that Xwidget 2.0 (RainWidgets) would receive the capability of supporting user-written APIs (data-sources/measures). That particular promise seems to have fallen by the wayside which is a great pity as it could have helped Rainwidgets make better progress.

Update 4. 25th April 2018.

Rainwidgets is taking some stick for purloining the 'Rain' name. As expected the Rainmeter community is not impressed with the attempt to jump on the Rainmeter bandwagon. There's not much they can do about it but it is more likely to alienate a community than draw it in. A silly decision. The RainySoft developer is simply trying to pull the wool over user's eyes, he states in a comment (which you will find in the comment section below this very article):

"The initiator of RainWidget is one of the EX original Rainmeter developers. The name of RainWidget has nothing to do with XWidget or Tony. It is proposed by Rainmeter's current developer and Rainmeter forum administrator Jsmorley in the Rainmeter forum..."

This developer comment is completely untrue, when I was in discussion with J.S. Morley he stated:
jsmorley » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:37 am

"That stuff has nothing to do with Rainy, and nothing to do with the Rainmeter project.
While there is no doubt that person is leveraging the popularity of Rainmeter with the name and icon chosen for the project, and I regret that, the widget tool they are producing isn't really anything like Rainmeter, and uses none of the code or approaches used by Rainmeter. It's much more like XWidgets, which is now defunct."

The developer seems to dig holes for himself which are impossible to dig himself out of. If you lie on the internet you can soon be discovered for who you really are. I wish he'd stop lying and just be truthful. There is no need to hide who you are nor lie about your connection with the RainMeter team. We will assess your product on its technical merits and what it achieves on the desktop. So far it is a technical success but a very incomplete one with an ambiguous name. He doesn't seem to realise that apart from uncovering the deceptions this review is actually a very positive one. These deceptions just tend to detract from what he has achieved technically. He should have chosen a more appropriate name especially now as Rainwidget has just turned commercial, being available for download ONLY on steam.

Being commercial makes some sense as it gives the developer some income and hopefully he'll use that to allow for more development but it will restrict access and therefore usage and popularity. The cost is minimal so that should not deter serious investigators but it will deter the majority of penny-pinchers that want things for free. A previously-bought full XWidget licence does not give you access to Rainwidgets which is a great pity and rather a missed opportunity to get loyal and committed widget developers on board. A rather depressing statistic is that after five months the DeviantArt group has only twelve members which is a very small community for such a potentially impressive product. I think Tony has again rather missed the boat with his terrible marketing. First thing I would have done is to give out commercial licences to everyone that bought Xwidgets. The second thing I would do is repackage it not as a mere toy, it isn't just a widget engine but as a first class tool for putting javascript on the desktop. Building widgets is the least that it can do and I can't quite understand why Tony doesn't 'get' that.

-oOo-

Let's hope that the RainWidgets alpha release is just a precursor to a major beta release where Tony or Tony MKII will be a bit more forthcoming in all respects.


This catchy little Goth tune will have you bopping to the darkness! Are they singing in Transylvanian? I do hope so.
Quartermaster VB6 20mm wargaming Desktop
Not quite art but something worth a desktop screenshot!

I'll keep this page as a reference point so when I finish the software I'll update this bit here with the download location - not yet available... but soon perhaps.

This is a screenshot of my desktop with some software that I wrote in the 90s. It was a military simulation tool that was a very early precursor to tank games such as World of Tanks. Primitive 3D effects but mostly 2D.

Firestrike was designed to be a comprehensive tool to support desktop wargaming tabletop figures and vehicles in 15/20mm to 1/300th scale. The PC program was designed to be a tool for the umpire to determine the outcome of a battle between two opposing armies of up to 1,200 vehicles per side. It had a graphical interface in the days when such things were rare. It aimed to be easy to use and fast to operate.

Background:

I never finished Firestrike as life intruded, children, life &c got in the way. It was written in Microsoft VB6, one of Microsoft's best products (which they dumped and then deprecated and prevent anyone upgrading/migrating - and so in the progress, removed the chance of any VB6 devs staying loyal to Microsoft). Instead, I gave up on VB6 looking for an alternative and eventually found it in the way of Yahoo widgets using Javascript.

So, it has been twelve years since I even opened any of my old VB6 projects, I was not optimistic that any of them would run. VB6 does not easily install on any modern Windows system. However, I managed it, finding an old visual studio installer on my old drives, installing DirectX 7, creating a dummy 0 byte Java DLL required during every new VB6 installation. I opened a DOS window as administrator, downloading and registering one or two required DLLs, copied the setup files all into one folder, bypassing the standard installation and ran a secondary install routine ACMBOOT.EXE which finally (after several attempts) succeeded in installing and running VB6.

My projects were finally made to run by subsequent manual registration of a variety of required OCXs and DLLs used in the original VB code and changing the environment to use the modern wmp.dll rather than the out-of-date msdxm.ocx for playing music/videos. The result? Well, I am still amazed but they bloody-well ran first time! They look good too. I started to rebuild my toolset and I had the feeling that I was going to resurrect the thing.

I did exactly that - I am loving the old VB6 IDE, it works very well, it is blisteringly fast. I suppose 'puters are SO much faster these days. Each core is 10-15 times what I would have used back in the day, yet now I have more than just one CPU core, drives are many times quicker than they used to be and all computers have so much more memory. Start-up and compilation times are now measured in seconds rather than minutes and as a result it is a delight to develop and run my old programs. The fact that a programming environment from 1991 is still usable and capable of building decent apps in 2019 is rather impressive. Why Microsoft gave up on VB6 still astounds me as one of its largest corporate failings over the last 30 years. Microsoft have squandered so much that was good and lost a lot of goodwill in the process.

This project was the biggest thing I had ever attempted but just before the turn of the century I abandoned my biggest computing effort of all time solely because Microsoft deprecated the programming environment. They threatened to pull the plug to stop VB6 running on Windows and they provided no possible upgrade path. It was soul-destroying. Instead, I went onto other things and abandoned MS products altogether. If I had known that VB6 would survive as a usable environment despite MS best efforts to kill it, I might have actually continued the development.

Many years later and the good news is I have picked it up again!

The program shown above is just part of the whole program. This was an interface to the core databases that stored the vehicle, weapon and gun data allowing you to create an army from any vehicle used during the Normandy campaign of World War II. The work to collate all manner of information on all the combatant's vehicles, to photograph and process all that data and provide it in a usable form was a large amount of work for one man to achieve. Even though I eventually abandoned it, it had one good side effect - it taught me programming.

-oOo-

I have made progress:

o Added right click menus on two of the main programs
o Added and corrected description data within the gundata file - WIP
o Changed the fonts on all fields in all programs
o Updated the title headers on all programs
o Added improved multiline tooltip functionality
o Rejigged the command screen layout
o Rejigged the battle checklist screen
o Added 'about' windows for two of the main programs
o Changing the method of assigning units to HQs
o Added an infantry section to the expanded detail screen in the inventory
o Updated the data handling tools to allow backups of the data
o Updated the data handling tools to respond to spreadsheet-style commands

o Added an aeroplane section to the expanded detail screen in the inventory.
o improved the logic for handling unit points value calculation.
o Updated the data handling tools adding improved searching.
o Overhauled the points calculation incorporating real-life physical equations for gun power.
kilojoule potential of an AP shot:
kJ = ((0.5 * shellWeightAP) * (shellVelocity ^ 2))/1000

kilojoule potential of an HE shot:
kJ = shellWeightHE * 1.1 ' HEpotential ' 4612kJ per Kg of TNT (1.0)

Amatol TNT * 1.1 ' used as a general HE in WWII
Picratol * 1.16 'Used in armour-piercing shells and bombs as insensitive to shock

o Revised a hundred or so data errors
o Updated the help to reflect the improved look and feel
o Added right click menus to all windows
o Expanded inventory allows drop-down selection of any weapon
o Increased the number of data fields in the vehicle data file
o Added an image view on the inventory expansion window
o Removed the print buttons from all screens - who wants to print these days?
o Added new Points Calculator buttons
o Fixed a few bugs in the data handling tools
o Updated the gun descriptions
o Revised the vehicle data using new fields
o Allowed selection of any mounted weapon
o Default weapon correctly identifies.
o Revised British armoured car images added x 20
o Fixed bug in selection of vehicle numbers
o corrected bug in points calculation in summary mode
o Added revised Cromwell/Sherman images added x 10
o Added more gun descriptions x 10
o Fixed the selection of records in the vhcl data tool
o Fixed handling of minimized windows

o Added/replaced 20 or so new British equipment images
o Revised various data problems
o Added German gun data regarding missing velocities
o Fixed even more minor formatting/display bugs
o Added preliminary code for a slider to allow easier selection of vehicles/weapons
o Added some code to determine the current number of elements and to go to the end of the data file
o Tested sub-class code for allowing VB6 to respond to mouse scroll wheel events
o Fixed the layout of a few vehicle types expanded screens

o Completed a functioning slider to the inventory list, adding slider logic to handle the display of elements in 'pages'.
o Completed adding the images for all British ground elements that can be selected
o fixed a few bugs where the incorrect image was being displayed on next/back
o Renamed all controls from the defaults to appropriate names that properly reflect their function
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I just visited Trivago, the hotel booking service and found there is a place in hell available for Donald Tusk.

In fact I've booked him a cab.

It is true, it all began with you... and it all ended the day you left.

Old love remembered still causes pain.

Dogfight Double Hannebu and Spirit Versions
Here are the different versions of the kit-top boxes of the Airfix Haunebau and Supermarine Spirit MkI all contained within one zip file for you to do as you please.
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Journal History

Critiques

by acg3fly

I really like it. The icons are clearly the work of a professional. However, I don't see the over-arching 'theme'. They are all individ...

Comments


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:iconsmall-brown-dog:
Small-Brown-Dog Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2018
Hey, thanks for that fave and I havn't forgot your suggestion ;) (Wink)
Reply
:iconyereverluvinuncleber:
yereverluvinuncleber Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2018  Professional Interface Designer
:)
Reply
:iconrambojoe446:
Rambojoe446 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2018  Student Photographer
Hi there~ Total stranger but I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting all of the War of the Worlds: Goliath art and concept art that you have submitted. Been working on a few fans projects related to it, or well, at least ideas, and it really makes things easier when explaining it to people when you have the pics that you do! You wouldn't happen to know of a place where its all together or in a folder would you? I've tried looking through your gallery and the war of the worlds fan club but I can't seem to find them. 
Goku 
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:iconyereverluvinuncleber:
yereverluvinuncleber Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2018  Professional Interface Designer
Sorry but no, I was in touch with one of the artists and he gave me a link to the page where these were hosted. I took copies of as many as I could before they disappeared and posted on them on DA to a particular group but not so they would appear on my gallery, I didn't want anyone to think they were mine.

The result is they aren't in my gallery and the original location? I don't know where that is now I am afraid.

All I can suggest is that you find one on DA and look at the associated images on the right, you'll eventually see links to all the others if you click around.

www.deviantart.com/yereverluvi…
I have the originals on a drive somewhere but they are the same as posted here on the wotw group you discovered yourself.
Reply
:iconrambojoe446:
Rambojoe446 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2018  Student Photographer
Oooh, I got you, that makes sense. Yeah I was like, "Oh I can totally use these as reference but shoot I can't find them" But thank you very much for the clarification. 

Yeah, that's what I have been doing, though I just wanted to check. And well to say thank you. Me and my brother are huge fans of the movie and its really nice to see how it went together~ 
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:iconllexandro:
llexandro Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh man, and I'm again to late, but I'm not so often online here in the last time. happy birthday and all the best for the next year.
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:iconyereverluvinuncleber:
yereverluvinuncleber Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2018  Professional Interface Designer
Most kind~!
Reply
:iconrochdale:
rochdale Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
happy birthday old man   United Kingdom 

21 again eh


bill


ps  steaks look good.
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:iconyereverluvinuncleber:
yereverluvinuncleber Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2018  Professional Interface Designer
They were ever SO tasty.
Reply
:iconrochdale:
rochdale Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
stop it


bill
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