Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Change of theme

Don't worry. I'm not going to start writing about chasing DX with 1KW, or even about gardening! If you read the posts about my new computer, you'll know that I chose one that came with Windows XP rather than Vista or Windows 7 because I didn't want to sacrifice compatibility with unsupported but useful applications and hardware just to get some pointless user interface changes and a lot of bloatware. However I have been using Windows XP for a very long time and felt it was time to look at something different. So I decided to look for some Windows XP themes to give the old but reliable OS a makeover.

I soon found what I wanted at Studio7Designs Windows Themes website. There are several attractive themes there which you can download and install at no cost. I rather liked the Studio 28 design. But installing it wasn't exactly straightforward.

First, you have to "download and install a UXTheme patcher." And they say we radio hams like jargon! I clicked on the conveniently provided Download button and it took me, not to a patching program but to a download page of ready to use patched files. I had to look in C:\Windows\System32, find out the version of my uxtheme.dll file by opening its properties, and then download the matching one from this page. For some reason the patched files are compressed using the rather odd "rar" archiving format. If you need to know what to do with that here's some information on how to open a rar file.

To be honest I was a bit concerned about replacing a system file with one from a third party site, however it checked out clean at virustotal.com where someone had obviously had the same thought as me and checked it previously. Windows didn't seem to want to accept it though. Each time I renamed the existing file and copied the new one into its place, it appeared to get changed back to the old one. In the end I used a crude but effective utility called Replacer which seemed to do the trick permanently.

After that it was a simple matter of downloading the theme of my choice, unzipping it to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes (the themes are in the standard zip format) and then selecting it using the Desktop Properties dialog. The result is quite refreshing. The screenshot above is of my program KComm using the new theme.

Now all I need to find is a nice desktop wallpaper. I'd quite like something based on a PCB layout, perhaps a high-res picture of a K3 RF board. But I don't really feel like disassembling my K3 just to take a picture!
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