SOFTWARE WHICH I PERSONALLY REALLY LIKE

WINWALL

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recommend your favorite software
chris@chris86.com





Added 10/18/05

If you're not like me, well you should be.  But if you are like me, you've screwed around with your computer settings so that the background screen on your desktop is not the stupid default one that came with your computer...for instance the big huge cloudy Windows XP blue sky.  YAWN, BIG DEAL.

Why be an ad for Microsoft? Or Dell or whoever?  Yeah, change that background picture (called "wallpaper") to some other picture, from your personal pic collection or your digital camera photo album, or some creative graphic you came up with using your very own brain.

Seems like a lot of trouble, though, doesn't it, to hunt through your pictures and come up with a decent one to use as a background?   And then you just get tired of looking at it.  (Well, depending on the picture.) 

Well if you're with me so far, I think what you need is an AUTOMATIC WALLPAPER CHANGER.  How does it work?  Just tell the program where to look for the pictures you like the best, do a little configuration, and then leave it alone...it will change your background for you, randomly, whenever you like--every time you turn on the computer, every day, or even every four seconds if you have a really short attention span.  Usually it automatically loads itself when your start your computer, then just minds its own business and runs quietly in the system tray (that little section of icons on your taskbar, over next to the clock).

There are lots of wallpaper changers out there.  I used to be a big fan of Panorama, which is small and versatile and easy-to-use and FREE, but it hasn't been updated since 1998.  Winwall is fancier and has a few more neat features, and is also FREE.  (I think maybe this website has been abandoned too, but the program is still there and still works.)

Here's what sets it apart from similar programs:

   •Instead of creating a list of images to choose from, you can just tell it to look in a certain folder or folders.
   •You can add a few visual effects, like blur, black-and-white, etc...not terribly useful, but kinda cool if you get bored.  And you can randomize the effects too.
   •You can set up a hotkey to instantly change your wallpaper with a single key combination, so when you get bored with your wallpaper you don't have to open the program to change it.
   •You can resize your images if they're bigger (or smaller) than your desktop size so that they'll fit without getting chopped off.
   •You can set your wallpaper to be off to one side of your screen instead of just the middle.  Like f you like to keep all your desktop icons over on the left, you can have the wallpaper be aligned to the right so that it doesn't get cluttered up with icons.

So there you go, the best wallpaper changer I know of.  Feel free to drop me a line if you know of a better one.


ICONOID

you can click here to e-mail me if you actually use an e-mail program, like Eudora. otherwise this will just open Outlook or something, and you will look confused.
recommend your favorite software
chris@chris86.com





Added 10/24/05

And also if you're like me, it kinda sucks having cool automatically-changing wallpaper, when it's all the time covered up with 1000 little icons scattered all over the desktop. 

PLUS that TASKBAR.  Even when you set the taskbar to hide itself from view, it's NOT hidden from view,
it just gets really thin.  YEAH.  Like I won't notice 3200 light-grey pixels down at the bottom of the screen.  And I won't notice John Goodman hiding behind that flagpole.

So why bother changing wallpaper?  You'll never be able to SEE the wallpaper with all that stuff going on...?

Ahhh not so, my friend. Not if you download Iconoid.  Iconoid is a very cool little freeware program whose only purpose in life is to HIDE those stupid annoying icons and that dull-witted non-hiding taskbar.
And I don't mean smush them down into pathetically obvious little lines, I mean MAKE THEM DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY, revealing your lovely background in all its breathtaking glory.

How it works is, when you move your mouse pointer off the destop or stop moving it, after a short delay, all your desktop clutter disappears--icons, taskbar, even your pointer.  All that's left is just a blank screen showing whatever background you've chosen.  And then when you move your mouse, everything pops back up, just like before, and you can get right back to what you were doing.  Simple!

And it's got other cool by-the-way features, like have you ever noticed that sometimes when you've arranged all your desktop icons neatly into some logical order (if you don't know what I'm talking about here then you don't know how to shut off 'auto-arrange' and you should skip this paragraph) and you do something crazy like, oh, I dunno, change your screen resolution or something, when you set it back, all your icons have been moved around?  In an order so annoyingly bad that you suspect that it was intentionally programmed that way?  Man that used to tick me off.  But Iconoid has a setting where it automatically saves all that kind of stuff and automatically restores your icons to the positions you like.  And most of the time it works!

Oh and you know how brain-dead Windows will let you stretch your favorite wallpaper to fill the whole screen, but unless it happens to be EXACTLY desktop-sized it'll make everything look distorted?  Yeah, nice feature huh...s
o let me get this straight, my choices are:  tiny little picture in the middle of a mostly-empty desktop, or a picture that fills up every dang pixel on the screen but makes the picture look like a funhouse mirror reflection.  Oh nice.  

It's like watching basketball and they suddenly break in with a hurricane warning or something and they're telling you to evacuate the county, blah blah blah, whatever...they show the warning in a scroll at the bottom of the screen, and instead of keeping the proportions the same, or (God forbid) cutting off a little bit of the players' sneakers, instead they opt to SMUSH THE WHOLE BASKETBALL GAME so that suddenly you're watching unusually short heavy-set basketball players passing an orange football. 

Well, anyway, Iconoid has a feature that makes your 'stretch' option actually work...it forces the pic's proportions to not change.  They need to invent an Iconoid that works on TV broadcasts, if you ask me.

So to sum up, this is a cool little program with only a very few bugs which has taken up Microsoft's slack for many years.  You know, the little Windows annoyances which aren't a big deal, but which, when you consider that what Microsoft's been doing for the past fifteen years is just rewriting and rereleasing the same operating system over and over, you'd think they might have taken a few minutes to address.  

Like for example...do you think it's time yet for a Solitaire program that doesn't look like I programmed it?  Ohh, they went with eight colors.  Impressive.