Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Source: Winmatrix.com
For making the icons an ordinary iconist makes the icon in Photoshop and save the image in PNG format then with the help of an icon editor like AveIconifier 2 he/she converts the .png image into .ico icon.
Some other iconists firstly make 3D objects then make a transparent image and convert it into .ico file.

But with RealWorld Icon Editor which comes with an integrated 3D editor you can make you can make the icons both with images and 3D objects. RealWorld Icon Editor fully supports smooth 32bit Windows XP icons as well as PNG-compressed high-resolution Windows vista icons.
bulletgreen.gif Screenshots
bulletorange.gif RealWorld Icon Editor

WindowBlinds vs. Style XP vs. UXTheme

Source: Neowin.net

In Windows XP if you want to apply additional visual styles beyond blue, green, and silver you have to install additional software to do it.

That software will take one of two paths: Either use .msstyles files, which is the skin format Microsoft used to create its 3 bundled visual styles or it will use its own format.

Microsoft runs .msstyles files through a bundled DLL called uxtheme.dll. For compatibility and branding reasons, Microsoft made uxtheme.dll only run Microsoft digitally signed .msstyles files.

So if you want to use third party .msstyles files you have to either convert it to a different visual style format or disable Microsoft's digital signing protection.

WindowBlinds takes the former route. It has its own visual style format and sends skins through wblind.dll instead of uxtheme.dll (i.e. using WindowBlinds does NOT take extra memory).

Style XP, Star Skin, Tune-Up, uxtheme patches take the latter. They patch out a few bytes in uxtheme.dll to make the API CryptVerifySig() always return true. Style XP 2.x does this in RAM using a driver that loads when you boot. Most uxtheme patchers literally replace the uxtheme.dll on your hard disk.

Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.

WindowBlinds has the advantage of being continually updated. So performance and other enhancements suggested by users are able to be implemented. Because it has its own skin format, its visual styles can have additional features (borders of any size, buttons can be placed anywhere, sound effects, colorizing, etc.). You can learn more about it HERE.

WindowBlinds has the disadvantage that is not free. It's $20 to register (or you can get it as part of Object Desktop.

Also, because its skin format is more free-form, you end up with a lot of strange looking skins. So users looking for something that's like the standard Windows UI may have to sift through a lot of strange (or ugly) skins.

Using SkinStudio, a free program you can download HERE you can use .msstyles files under WindowBlinds. Its accuracy in conversion continually improves but some visual styles still may have to be tweaked to be perfect.

Another WindowBlinds disadvantage is that if you have a patched uxtheme.dll you have to hold down the CTRL key when opening display properties to see the .msstyles files in your themes directory.

The advantage for using a uxtheme.dll patch is that it is free. You simply replace your uxtheme.dll and you can make use of the hundreds of .msstyles files available.

The disadvantage of using uxtheme.dll is that it's a bit more technically involved to get installed and has to be replaced every time you update Windows XP's build. This is pretty minor if you're technically savvy.

Replacing uxtheme.dll WILL NOT increase your vulnerability to viri or spyware. It does not disable Microsoft digital signing globally, only on .msstyles.

Obviously uxtheme.dll can't make use of visual styles in the WindowBlinds format.

As for Style XP, the advantage of using Style XP is that it makes it much easier to patch uxtheme.dll. It does it in memory and is pretty seamless in doing so. So a "non-techie" ends up with a nice easy interface for using third party msstyles.

The disadvantage is that it's $20 to use and requires updating it every time Windows XP gets updated to a new build #.

Which you use depends on what your needs are. None of these methods use up very much memory. In an age where the typical web browser uses 20 megabytes of memory, visual styles use hardly any memory at all. And none of them, on a modern machine, should slow down your computer in any noticeable way.

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

WindowBlinds 5 BETA 3 available [News]

WindowBlinds 5 Beta 3 is now out. WindowBlinds is a program designed to enable users to completely customize their Windows GUI. It loads special "skins" called "Visual styles" that can change your title bars, push buttons, Start bar, scrollbars, and virtually every other part of the Windows GUI.

WindowBlinds 5 has a ton of new features and changes but probably the most obvious new feature is the ability to do per-pixel alpha-blended title bars, borders, and menus which enable users to have "glass" effects or borders that are very smoothed out. Other features include the elimination of wbload.exe (there is no longer a resident program required to run WindowBlinds, it behaves as part of the OS). WindowBlinds 5 also takes far more advantage of hardware acceleration by default (anyone with a recent nVidia or ATI card should immediately notice the difference. For instance, no screen repaints when users move windows in front of other windows).

BETA 3 of WindowBlinds 5 is a major step forward and if all goes well, it will move to release candidate status.

* Added .JPG wallpaper support
* Per Pixel Alpha Blended skins support left aligned buttons for Mac-style
* Per Pixel Alpha Blended skins now support text backgrounds for title bar text
* Added support for constant alpha blending on taskbar
* New trouble-shooting advisors
* Fixed issue with Norton Protection recycle pin and hopefully the weird problem with some Lexmark printer drivers
* Better support for drawing custom controls in MS Access, OnFolio, Corel Painter
* Fixed user icon changing
* Fixed Run-As issue
* Re-enabled RMB on title bar override options (yay!)
* Reflection maps can now be clipped to avoid shadows
* Apps with custom menus should work fine with custom per pixel WB menus
* Fixed remaining installer issues for X64 users.

Right now WindowBlinds 5 is only available to Object Desktop users. When completed, it'll be available on its own for $19.95. Anyone who has purchased WindowBlinds 4 after September 1 will receive WindowBlinds 5 for free.

Click Here for more Info

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Official Terminator 3 Desktop Visual Style (By The Skins Factory)

This great T3 Visual style

Authors Comments
Based on The Official Terminator 3 Windows Media Player9 Series skin, this visual style will enable you to completely convert your desktop into an enhanced Terminator 3 environment. The Visual Style includes a quick link to Terminator3.com, sound effects, Windows Media player activator button and many other exciting features. Graphic port chores handled by Mike B.

Authors WebPage: TheSkinsFactory.com .
Download from here.

Xbox XtremeXP (AquaJack )

A really good Xbox theme From AquaJack. Requires StyleXp to apply this theme.

Description by the Author:

"XtremeXP" was created to celebrate both the look and feel of the recent XBOX game console by Microsoft. It was inspired by the amazing Windows Media Player Xbox skin found at www.xbox.com Contains both default green and blue color schemes


Download the file from here. (Themexp.org)

XP Professional II [By adni18]

Amazing skin from adni18 for WindowBlinds.

Download the file from here. (340 Kb)
Authors Website here.





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