This site is dedicated to provide interesting downloads, mainly Steampunk widgets for
Xwidget, Rainmeter, Yahoo Widgets and KDE Plasma engines as well as wallpapers and icons. Please feel free to download and use any of these on your Windows or
Linux system. Simply download the widgets for the widget engine of your
choice and have fun. They are all entirely free.
Ah Jinsy! How do we describe it? Sincerely and deeply crazy at a very deep level. Not Americain crazy, zany or crackpot but deeply unusual, creative and a lot of fun. Based in a semi-steampunk world of towers and lighthouses, chalets on strange invented islands, electric owls, trempesest (shiny) spoons, feral accountants, nightly byes, fear of vegtables and the sexual allure of fruit enhanced and expanded by Farks Cortex Fruit Gum. Here is just a snippet of what is on offer on the Island of Jinsy, some Elemend Repoorts for Threesday, the fourteenth of Phew. Terrible conditions for the fun-fungus walk setting off from Bob's mould hut from seven and three this nightly...
I've always loved this game, it has a certain something that distinguishes it from other games. A sense of real fear is engendered, you feel under threat all the time. There is a familiarity in the landscape that makes you feel you understand your predicament even more so it is eve more real.
The concept of polite and evil English-accented robots extends the evil English baddie metaphor quite cleverly. I love the game.
The Order 1886 - The computer game's plotline edited into a movie. Computer graphics are approaching the point where they can almost be taken for real. There is still some of that "happy valley" feel to the facial animation of human characters that causes a suspension of belief but in general, the plot, the graphics, the audio, the premise and the outstanding graphics are enough to let us be taken away by this 'film' to places that seem familiar but still unexpected. The combination of the steampunk alternate reality and the "happy valley" displacement actually works to make us feel alienated from the action whilst intrigued by the world presented to us.
We must realise that it is a computer game and not a film so the scripting and editing, acting and effects are not always as polished as you would expect them to be. However, they really are first rate when considered as merely being a by-product of some computer gameplay.
The storyline is this - there have been a number of
strange murders in Whitechapel. Follow the mysterious Order of Her
Majesty's Royal Knights as they investigate these deaths, and the
conspiracy surrounding them in this alternate take on history.
Very violent, a little too violent for my tastes and certainly not for children but very, very steampunk indeed. Worth watching to the end.
The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello is one of those internet
mysteries that have you wondering why and how it was made. From the
start it is dark and mysterious, failing to explain what it is and why.
It is of course made more wonderful by the mystery it engenders.
Normally when you find a gem like this you've heard of it before but not
had the chance to see it or you've thought better of going to watch it,
instead opting for some piece of modern film art, only finally finding
it and regretting that decision long ago. Not with this one. It seems to
have appeared from the depths of nowhere and has slowly emerge just as
one of Dr Claude Belgon's strange chrysalid creatures emerges from its
cocoon. From the very start this short film fills you with both dread
and wonder due in no small part due to the dark invention of its bleak but intriguing
steampunk world. Instead of the Victorian self-belief and confidence in the Victorian
modern world the film has the protagonist immersed in self-doubt and an over-arching impression of human failure despite technical prowess and significant achievement. It is a black film in thought and context and not just in the dark and muted colours it is filmed in. Try to enjoy it, you may not...but it is worth a watch!
A good reason for avoiding using cores &
often directly translatable into web widgets.
If the Xwidget
engine does ever turn into abandonware (like the yahoo widget engine)
then you may find yourself in the position of having a lot of widgets
but nowhere to run them (all it takes is a little change in a future
version of Windows and Xwidgets could simply stop working). To protect
yourself from this, if your working functionality is achieved in
create/convert to web widgets that work within the context of a browser.
have a few widgets that are being converted by Harry Whitfield to run
as web widgets at this moment. When I feel confident of the task then I
may do the same to some other of my widgets. You may eventually start to
see them appearing around the web...
This is the U-boat web
widget running within a browser. It isn't just stuck on using Photoshop.
It really is running in Firefox. It tells the time and switches from
one face to another, the hands all turn and the buttons can be pressed.
The rest of it remains to be done but it works.
point of this post is to demonstrate that a Xwidget can be made to work
on other environments but that can only be done without the use of the
widget is a case in hand, it uses a smooth ticking function that is
one starts at the KJC's/Cannuckens original Xwidget version of the
provide functionality that the core does not (smoother ticks on the
second hand &c - KJC adopted it too, resizing &c). Then there is
my Yahoo widget version that does everything that the Xwidget version
does but purely in code. From this final yahoo version it has been
possible to create a web widget.
Comparing one against the other
gives a good understanding of the strengths and weakness of the two
be used to achieve largely anything at the cost of a lot of scripting.
The Xwidget engine does the heavy-lifting with a few cores but it does
central functionality. This is both good and bad depending upon your
The use of desktop widgets is declining and it should
be obvious to anyone that a good way to get your widgets out there is
to have them running on as many platforms as possible. Web widgets run
on all machines via the browser interface so it makes sense to think
about targetting that platform.
The U-boat widget above is a
good example of that conversion as this particular widget has undergone
the conversion from Xwidget to web widget successfully, probably the
only Xwidget that has done so (as far as I know). A lot of Xwidgets may
have made the progression from the web to desktop but as far as I know
none have gone the other way round.
There are now two versions of the steampunk media player, one an Xwidget
and the other a Konfabulator or Yahoo widget. I created the Xwidget
media player version first and chose the Xwidget engine as it would be
easier to code and complete. The result was a working widget but it
lacked certain key features. It looked good though.
Due to the limitations of the Xwidget engine's media player core I
decided to create a Yahoo widget using the same design. It is worthwhile
noting the differences between the two widgets. The design on the
Xwidget was significantly easier to accomplish given the graphical GUI
and the use of the media player core. The mediaplayer core in Xwidget
does a lot of the heavy lifting for you so you can just set about
creating a widget in a short time. I was able to assign functionality to
various parts of the widget without much coding at all. The
documentation of the mediaplayer and its controls is sketchy to say the
least but by divination and looking at other's widgets I was able to see
how the media player core operates. It is a working widget but it is
awkward for the user to operate as the media player core does not easily
allow you to play a file immediately, instead you have to open the
actual media player in order to play a playlist. Rather defeats the
purpose. Adding a file to the playlist is easily achieved but the widget
won't play it straight away.
Coding for the yahoo widget is a lot more tricky as there are nothing
similar to Xwidget's 'cores' to interface into the Windows Media player,
although there is complete and thorough documentation. You have to
interface the widget via a COM object to the windows player OCX. You can
then submit player commands to operate the player so you have complete
control via code. Unfortunately you need to do everything by hand,
things such as play/pause buttons changing and the widget reacting to
the track duration all have to be controlled by timers, xml and
version but saying that, the end result is much better than the Xwidget
version as there is more complete functionality. The user can select
the track to play, choose a complete folder to play and it will restart
using the same default music folder. Some of the complexity is due to
the use of the COM integration to the Windows Media player which is not a
native player for the Yahoo widget engine. By default the Yahoo widget
engine has a complete API for itunes and it would have been much easier
to create an itunes-controlling widget. In the end the integration to
the Windoows Media a Player was relatively simple enough to do but there
was interaction between the various controls that needed to be
considered and it required thought and careful programming in
now available for download, it has been tested and used on my desktop
and you can try it now too. I will shortly update the Xwidget version
too in order to keep them in synch with regard to fucntionality. The
Konfabulator/Yahoo version will stand as a comparison as to how much
extra complexity is required without the heavy-lifting being done by one
of Tony's Xwidget cores. It will also show how limited Xwidget's
mediaplayer core is and how much more functionality is required, as was
stated on the Xwidget forums, the mediaplayer core in Xwidget is lacking
functionality and some more work here from the Xwidget developer would
Download the new player here:
Some interesting information regarding Intel processors - Intel has just
stopped any future development of their mobile processors after
spending $10,000 million (10 x US billion) on development, meaning that
in the future all those Atom powered little notebooks will have to be
powered by conventional power-hungry Intel CPUs or utilise low powered
processors from other manufacturers.
This is an essential bit of
news for Windows developers as it may be another nail in the coffin for
mobile Windows devices as there will be fewer mobile CPUs for it to run
on. The Intel Atom was a good chip and it succeeded in powering a range
of sub-laptops but it was always a bit of a niche market as Windows on
small devices is very hard to use.
Microsoft is pulling out of
the mobile device sector having failed so spectacularly with Windows
Phone (a very nice phone that nobody wants), Windows Mobile (old,
useless and dead) and Windows RT (Windows with all the useful bits
removed). The Microsoft hardware offerings were also a failure, Surface
and Lumia are noticeable by their absence from most users' hands despite
any inherent hardware/software innovations they might have had.
Microsoft are stuck with a failing device market that cost them several
billion (US) to create but one which they can't now dump as it would be
admitting defeat to Apple. That last fact is probably the only thing
keeping them there.
Microsoft dumped Intel instead opting for low
powered ARM CPUs for their Surface RT range of laptops and the rest of
the world has followed their lead, looking elsewhere for mobile CPUs.
Intel's efforts in this market have shown spectacularly low
levels of sucess versus ever-increasing development costs. In addition
the traditional Microsoft/Intel relationship has been abandoned by
Microsoft for its ARM powered Surface hardware and that has not helped
Intel scale their production of mobile processors in order to reduce
costs and make returns on its investment. As a result, Intel has had to
abandon an unprofitable market.
The knock-on effect of these
failures is that new small-factor windows devices will become more and
more hard to find as time goes on. Despite RT, Windows (95-Win10)
really only runs on x86 processors and without compatible low-power CPUs
Windows isn't going anywhere else soon. Microsoft is not admitting
defeat in the mobile market and will, in the medium term, be
retrenching, just like Intel has, until it finds the next mobile avenue
to pursue - but at the moment it is unclear which direction Microsoft
will go. As a result of the entrenchment expect Windows RT to die,
expect Windows Phone to fade away gradually. Continuum is supposed to be
the next great step for Windows linking all the desktop and mobile
forms of Windows into one over-arching and all-encompassing o/s but at
the moment there is a big question as to exactly on which processor
types it will run. Windows on x86 already works, so there's no need for
Continuum there, if there are no other mobile CPU devices running
Windows then there is little point in having Continuum in the first
place, so Continuum looks to be dead before it even got started. Windows
needs low power CPUs for mobile devices and soon there won't be any
that work. Could the future be Windows on ARM (RT) after all? It may
have to be, in the absence of other compatible CPUs, but I really do
hope not, I don't want to have to run crippled software on a slow mobile
device... it has to be x86.
The impact on Windows developers of
Intel pulling out of the mobile market is that the future for Windows
looks increasingly bleak. We may be hearing the very first notes of
Windows death-knell, (well perhaps that it is a bit too bleak an
assessment) it certainly is the first toll of the death knell for
Windows on mobile devices - we can hear it being tolled now. The only
way I can see this sorting itself out is for Microsoft to finance the
development of the Intel Atom processor, Microsoft took a dip into
hardware development with the Surface now it may have to take a dip into
chip manufacture with the Intel Atom. The more obvious alternative is a
compatibility layer for Continuum allowing it to run on different
processors. Either way it is a big problem for Microsoft and it may not
be resolvable and the end result acceptable to consumers. Do you want
slow but compatible Windows or fast Android/Chrome/IOS?
I'm annoyed - We have had to suffer the indignities of having a mobile
o/s interface foisted upon the traditional desktop, the result a
schizophrenic dual-desktop mess. All this, for the sake of mobile
devices that might never actually be...
With Microsoft realising that the ONLY differentiator between one
Windows o/s and another being the user interface (see Metro/Modern
design) it means that any customisation of the o/s is slowly being
removed from newer versions of Windows. Venerable XP had some
customisation features built-in from the very start through the use of
themes, these were a part of the intrinsic design allowing you to
customise the colours, backgrounds and font sizes. This feature was
disabled before XP was released meaning that only Microsoft supplied
themes would operate - only Microsoft would be allowed to theme XP.
Users quickly worked around this imposed limitation so this feature
could be re-enabled by some patching of the o/s files, meaning that
third-party themes could be applied. Although this caught on within the
relatively small customisation community it did not catch on with most
home or business XP users, most were content with the bland corporate
XP-look applied out of the box. That's the 'normal' world I suppose. The
important thing here though, is that Microsoft originally planned to
allow customisation to Windows look and feel but soon realised that with
a stable o/s (that seldom ever changes) the main differentiator is a
going to be the "look and feel" and this was going to be Microsoft's
main selling point for new operating systems. A Microsoft executive
probably made the decision to remove theme-ing and customisation from XP
when this realisation dawned...
When Vista came out it revamped
the GUI and added in some fundamental security improvements adding or
changing a lot of newly created 'extras' but apart from the security
changes the core o/s functions (handling of virtual memory and
processes) are essentially exactly the same as XP with some tweaks to
address locations. Microsoft revamped a lot of the o/s candy and the
user interface so from the user point of view, it looked like a new o/s.
Despite the GUI changes all the tools still did exactly what they
should (as they also did in XP) and as a result the departure from XP
was nowhere near as large as Microsoft would have liked you to have
believed. From Microsoft's point of view the changes really were huge as
Redmond had to incorporate enormous changes in project and coding
methodologies to ensure security and quality of code were paramount in
code delivery as well as in design.
An automotive analogy:
Microsoft were building the same old car design with new bolt-on body
panels, metallic colours and an updated interior but underneath the
bonnet it was all the same old car. However, instead of building
everything as they had done previously by hand, they had now introduced
machines and robots to do the work to far better levels of accuracy and
reliability. The trouble is, the end-user doesn't appreciate all of
this, he only sees the nice paint job on the new car.
Microsoft though this was a mindset change and it shows why they wanted
us all to move from XP to Vista even though XP worked just as well as it
Despite all the hype, Vista turned out to be a
failure as the GUI was universally hated (except for a very few
diehards), "Windows for tele-tubbies" was a becoming an increasingly
accurate description as newer versions of Windows came out. The security
additions interrupted everyday usage due to what was simply a poor
implementation of security for the end user. Despite the real
improvements it also introduced DRM, licensing rules, driver and
software incompatibility, greater hardware requirements &c and the
result is, that as we all know, there are hardly any Vista systems out
there anymore, while XP somehow still persists...even now it has 10% of
market share and that's not bad for a 15 year old o/s. It should be
noted that Windows XP outperforms Vista in several key productivity
areas and is secure if operated correctly .
Vista had an
advantage over later o/s in that although it revamped the GUI, it did
not structurally change the method it operated, the desktop, start menu,
taskbar and icon concepts carried forward from XP and other similar
operating systems, still remained operable in the same manner. Themeing
and customisation however were not improved or made more flexible, in
fact some components were made slightly more difficult to theme, fonts,
desktop icons &c with Microsoft realising that end-users saw the GUI
changes as the real difference between XP and Vista.
In both XP
and Vista third party tools such as WindowBlinds, Rainmeter, objectdock,
rocketdock's task bars, desktop launchers, widget engines &c
allowed a massive amount of themeing to be achieved by other means,
often replacing Windows core functionality with improved alternatives.
This is one of the strengths of the Windows o/s as perceived by
customisers but Microsoft doesn't see it this way, as customising the
o/s means Windows losing its essential corporate identity and the single
main differentiator between one version of Windows and another.
7 can be largely ignored in the scheme of things even though it is
probably the best traditional Windows o/s to come out of Redmond.
Although being called Windows 7, it was really only ever Windows 6.1, in
that it only fixed Vista's issues, mainly performance and UAC pop-up
issues. The only real change other than tweaks, being an improved
taskbar, this change showing Microsoft appreciation that Windows 7
needed a changed GUI element for end-users to consider it as a
completely new operating system, when in fact it was no such thing.
Other than this there were no major changes to themeing at all. Windows 7
is really Vista Plus and despite the changes XP still outperforms
Windows 7 in some respects (I'm harping on this to underline the point
that for the high end-user, a lot has changed under the bonnet but the
end result is more or less the same for the end user).
Windows 8 and 10 the desktop was transformed. Icons are no longer so
important, though they are still there. There are two desktops, one with
big buttons and live tiles, big buttons for clumsy fingers on a high
resolution and precise desktop controlled by a mouse? They don't seem to
combine well. Microsoft, having no tablet o/s and scared about
designing one from scratch only to end up with two distinct
desktop/tablet systems (like Apple who are rapidly dumping desktop OS/X
in favour of IOS), were left with shoe-horning Windows 7 onto tablet
devices. They worked hard on this and the result worked but only
partially. Windows 8 was a chunky, tile GUI with 'apps' but retaining
the whole of Windows Vista/7, un-revamped behind it. On tablets the old
desktop was still there but too small to view or use. The o/s interface
had a split personality that would force a tile interface onto desktop
users whilst forcing significant desktop remnants onto tablet users. For
a while Windows 8 was fun to use on tablets simply because you had the
whole Windows desktop in your hand. The trouble is that long term users
did not find themselves wanting to use it. As an example my Windows
tablet despite being very cheap and a technical marvel, remains unused,
uncharged and I suppose unwanted. My laptop persists as my main device
as it is useful... and I have to admit those ipads are great for casual
usage. The fact is Windows 8 did not work for the majority of Windows
users that remain om the desktop. I managed to customise Win8 and
migrated a couple of working and pretty tablet applications from the
desktop but interacting with them still required mouse-style precision
that my chunky fingers just couldn't provide.
So, that leaves us
with Windows 10, an o/s that has changed the desktop user interface
again without us really wanting it. Why the changes? Microsoft just
needs just one o/s that will adapt dynamically from the desktop to the
phone, tablet or any other device and it doesn't have that o/s yet.
Windows currently has Windows RT for ARM based tablets (dead in the
water), Windows Phone (dead in the water but really rather good
as a phone) and Windows 10 for desktops. How standard Windows 10
operates on Intel Atom based tablets is unknown to me as my Windows 8
tablets don't have enough space to upgrade... however, I suspect that
the tablet experience will be better than the desktop one. Personally, I
hate the split personality of Windows 10 desktop knowing that in order
to focus on multiple environments Microsoft will have to pay less
attention to each and so it means to fail a little more on each type.
Apple got the IOS interface just right for tablets as they have only the
one o/s to worry about (OS/X is as good as dead) but when it comes to
turning IOS into a desktop OS, Apple will have a similar set of problems
Where does this leave the customisers? - out in the cold I am
afraid. Microsoft does not want us to modify their o/s and in fact their
tablet methodologies go quite well with bland chunky buttons leaving
Microsoft and Apple's offerings looking very much the same.
Customisation is not on the end-users lips at the moment and their focus
is on tablet devices and ease-of-use rather than desktops and
flexibility. Some clever chaps are trying to bring customisation to
Android through desktop and widget engine development but the result and
success of all this will be debatable. For IOS the environment is
closed and customisation of the default "look and feel" is frankly
discouraged by Apple and in fact largely prevented by the shape and form
of the device. Customisation of the desktop graphical interface is no
longer the focus of the majority of users which leaves a lot of us
wondering what to do next with such graphical skills we have. Rainmeter,
objectdock, rocketdock, windowblinds, winstep xtreme and widget engines
all offer a level of customisation that is still applicable on the
current Windows desktop but I can see focus shifting away from these
useful tools as both the end user and the developer's focus shifts
elsewhere. As new versions of Windows arrive some of these tools may no
longer function (I have already seen this happening on OS/X) or the GUI
changes will combine so that these tools are incompatible with Windows
new methodologies (no desktop at all?). The environment is also dynamic
as no-one knows which new consumer devices will appear. The future for
Windows customisation and individual graphic design is bleak I fear and
once again all your oses will sport the bland corporate interfaces that
each big corporation foists upon you...
PS. I'll add some graphics to this long rambling rant when I get time.
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Steampunk Yahoo Widget
How about something special for the weekend sir?
Lightquick have a nice little Yahoo widget for you to download. Click on either image.