25 April 2005

Disciplined Breakdown: Day 1

APRIL 23, 2005:
Good news! I haven't gone completely insane. I've had a few problems modifying some things, but other than that I'm doing fine. So here's the skinny...

I obtained the "Blue Heart" theme, which was actually made a long while ago as evidence by the changelog that came with it, but I have the most recently modified by Chris Fofiu. This picture actually came with the theme, and is what the theme usually looks like on a 1280 resolution (I have a 1024x768).


So I loaded it up as my new shell, and it coincidentally went very well with my new wallpaper. However, I immediately identified some unnecessarily/unsightly items...the first and most major offender being the virtual desktop (VWM--virtual windows manager). Think about it as picture in picture for your desktop. Now, one of the reasons I highly enjoy Litestep is that it takes up a lot less memory.

Size of litestep.exe at this very moment:
Mem Usage: 2,744K
VM Size: 6,164K

I encourage you to take a gander at your task manager and see what yours is. Keep in mind that my computer (P4 1.8 Ghz with 256mb of RAM) came to me, in box, with Windows XP Home Edition the summer of 2002. This computer never ran particularly well with XP, and I know I have seen performance increases just by switching to Windows 2000. Honestly, I don't think this computer was ever built to handle XP. That's another story. While I don't see a "mad skillz" increase by using Litestep, every little bit helps!

I also disabled loading of my desktop shortcuts (xDesk module).

Here's what it looks like after my original fixes. Explanation below.


I don't have a picture of the original load on my computer with the VWM. I immediately disabled it in the script. The bar that was originally at the top of the screen didn't do much except control the VWM and add "aesthetic value". Unfortunately for it, I did not find its value so...valuable. Nixed. (I commented these out, putting semicolons ; in front of all scripting commands. See my flickr account for a picture of this.) Also, notice how there is no foot looking thingy on top of the clock and volume control bars anymore? I didn't need it there (to lead to my file manager...), so I cropped the gray box that loads behind the clock and volume and help/recycle button, and had to move it down a little
(Note: When LS loads graphics, the point that you position it with is the upper left corner. So if this gray box named "gnomev.bmp", is positioned at X, Y, and I crop it 20 pixels, and want it to load only a couple pixels above the help and recycle buttons, I'd have to reposition it around y+/- 15. I'm still trying to figure out the coordinates system. That grey box is at 0, -201, and the help (?) is at 2, -195)

So that looked all well and good until I minimized everything....

I'm sure you can see a few weird things. First of all, everything is in different places, so my effective desktop space is VERY small (I don't want to cover any of these items with a window).
Secondly, why are there TWO re-expansion buttons for my clock/system tray? Thirdly, the entire shortcut sequence at the top left needs to be shifted upwards to be flush with the corner of the screen.

Also, there is a nifty desktop area command in the jdesk module:
jDeskWorkArea "x,y,x,y" so you can define your desktop area. This is the area a window will expand to when maximized. This will NOT prevent you from dragging windows on top of your bars. Here's a picture for your education:

If you want to see it bigger, or with my notes, click on the picture, which will lead to my flickr account.

A little lesson on shortcuts. I HIGHLY suggest you visit this site for a breakdown of common commands for litestep. Though different module versions WILL DIFFER from these basic commands, this gives a very nice introduction if you've never scripted before. See the help files for individual modules for a list of everything they can do. More on that later.


This is the basic setup of a shortcut. It is included in the shortcuts section of a script, usually near the end. Note that you don't have to include the click.wav for every shortcut IF you want ALL of the shortcuts to make the same noise. In this case there is something you can put before you list any of your shortcuts:

ShortcutSoundClick $Sounds$ButtonClick.wav

Where $Sounds$ is your designated sound folder, which is defined at the beginning of your theme. But don't worry about this unless you're planning on building from scratch.

The most important thing to see about shortcuts is how to change what they do or where they lead. This is included in the ACTION. So if I wanted to make the shortcut with the G on it lead to GIMP, it would look like this:
*Shortcut "Graphics" 0 252 gimp.bmp gimp_H.bmp .none #4 ["C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\bin\gimp-2.0.exe"]

If you know your default programs, you can also do this:
*Shortcut "Firefox" 0 117 WEB.bmp WEB_H.bmp .none #4 ["$browser$"]
-This will open my DEFAULT browser, Firefox. This will save you from inputting the filepath, as long as you are sure the program is your default.

To change the positioning of a shortcut...that's right.. change the numbers (x y). So if I wanted to move my Firefox shortcut 17 pixels in the y direction, I could put:
*Shortcut "Firefox" 0 100 WEB.bmp WEB_H.bmp .none #4 ["$browser$"]

To change the picture the shortcut usually shows, you would change "WEB.bmp". To change the picture when you roll over the shortcut, change "WEB_H.bmp. This theme has no different picture for when you CLICK on the shortcut, but if you want, you can do that too.

There will be more on shortcuts later.

Lastly, I moved a bunch of images I knew I didn't need anymore into a different folder. I like to be organized.

NOTE: If you accidentally crash your theme or explorer.exe, DO NOT PANIC. This has happened to me many times. Some themes cannot handle recycling when you have the config file open. Simply log off or restart and you'll be fine..unless of course you've rendered your theme unloadable, which I doubt.

There is so much more left to do!! This was only my first crack at this theme (my first day on this theme), so expect more changes to come.


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