Last week I discovered Rainmeter (according to their website it’s a “desktop customization platform”). I tried it and liked it, especially how it doesn’t hack your operating system like some other customization software. It features gadget-like modules called skins which include: times/dates, weather, CPU/RAM/HDD stats, RSS feeds and several other interesting functions. These modules can be positioned anywhere by shift-dragging with the mouse. There’s an over-arching control system which uses pop-ups and menus for customization, as well as text-based .ini configuration files that can be edited. It’s fully XP/Vista/Win7 compatible and installs either 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The installer comes with a set of three very nice themes.
But, where it gets even more interesting is with the connection to artists on the DeviantArt site who are posting their Rainmeter wallpapers and themes. If you have Rainmeter already installed, new themes can be easily added from the .rmskin distribution files (which includes all but the wallpaper – but you already know how to set your wallpaper).
I liked the “Newspaper Desktop” posted on DeviantArt by Tatenokai. Since the .psd (Photoshop) file for the wallpaper was also included, it was easy to customize the “Newspaper” for my use. The picture below shows what I have on my laptop.
- 4 RSS feeds (Lifehacker, Yahoo News, USAToday Money News, and local News) headlines and articles are links (When off-line these are overlayed by some articles I wrote and saved as an image)
- Time (analog pocket watch at lower left, I added some initials to the face and changed the second hand)
- Year/Month/Week/Day and date (changed to red)
- Local weather – 2 day forecast
- Calendar (I removed the header text)
- Hard drive storage bar graph
- CPU/RAM/Battery/Up+Download Amt
- Stock market averages (right of the headline, my own creation)
- Editable headline text (set in Config menu, I added this capability)
- Launch links for 14 programs/user folders (very small, along bottom edge)
- [Hidden] editable text notes (click ‘Show’ above the photo on the lower left)
- [Hidden] real-time system performance chart (click ‘Show’ to the right of Weather)
- Current WiFi connection and list of others available. (below the calendar – from Enigma theme, then modified)
- The newspaper, coffee cup, pocket watch and penny where from Tatenokai’s wallpaper, the other stuff are my additions. Many fonts are modified.
- Tatenokai had a cigarette graphic skin that ‘smoked-down’ with time. I changed to M&Ms that indicate the number of unread Gmail messages in my inbox.
So far I’ve had a great time playing with the setup. I can recommend Rainmeter if you are into customization and I’d like to thank Tatenokai for the inspiration.