Jan 20, 2007

The Death of Active Desktop

Active Desktop is one of those highly underutilized features in Windows that allows you, the user, to have web based content on your desktop. Starting around Win95 or 98, Microsoft put this feature into the operating system, but never fully made use of it.

This is some pretty powerful stuff we're talking about here... While in 1997, the Internet was just a minor thing and exploding onto the scene - it was nothing compared to the Internet of today. What we see today are Web 2.0 applications pouring out all over the net. Browser based services and applications, like Ajax13.com who have created a web based Word Processor, Database, Powerpoint (I think) and a few others... then there is one of my absolute favorites: YourMinis.com

When I first stumbled on this website my first thought was immediately - "This would be an awesome Active Desktop!".

More or less it's a ton of Ajax and Flash put together to create a load of web based widgets on a flash desktop. It's tabbed and fully customizable, what more could you ask for?

Today I set out to make this site - YourMinis.com my active desktop and you know what? It's friggin beautiful. Some things on it do not seem to work properly (the mini browser) but I would say that about 90% of the functionality is easily there still. It's still more than worth it.

So, I'm hearing you say "Hey Darian, how do I use this active desktop stuff?"

Well, it's pretty simple actually... first go to this website: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/171437

Not that they were making it really easy to figure out or anything, but this will outline how to set a website as your active desktop. Following that page, I would experiment with it, but I am so far very pleased with having yourminis.com as my active desktop.

A lot of times once you set the web content, you will see it load in in the top right corner of the desktop as a small box. Don't panic! You can resize that little box to effectively cover your entire desktop by positioning the mouse cursor at the "edge" of the box and click-dragging it. At the "top" of the box if you position your mouse there, you will see the title bar show up and the "expand window" button in the top right.

The reason I thought I would write about this today is because apparently in the upcoming release for Windows Vista, Active Desktop has been discontinued. Leave it to Microsoft to kill something just when it starts to become useful. Active Desktop was created during a time when the Web itself wasn't very mature, and so a great concept went to waste while the Internet itself needed time to catch up.

Now that we are seeing Web 2.0 and all sorts of AJAX applications on the web, it would only figure that Microsoft would kill Active Desktop - and thus the ability to embed these wonderful things onto your desktop, (though I hear Active Desktop may in fact be called Motion Desktop in Vista, but that has yet to be seen).

Friggin morons... I swear...

Anyways, seeing as many people are still using Windows XP, you should have Active Desktop until you decide to upgrade (if ever) to Windows Vista. So why not make use of this awesome feature? Maybe make a visualization in Flash and set it as an Active Desktop? The ideas here are endless... though I believe setting yourminis.com as an active desktop absolutely takes the cake.

In Other News

I'm lazy, so sue me :P

Ok, I have been totally side tracked lately with other things (namely AWRPG). I did manage to get Cartoon Network to stream on my television in VR5 world, so .. w00t!

More or less, we're all on extended break for VR5 world. I mean, I believe we have probably done everything we can short of building the place up. Either that or we're all out of ideas... We have a working arcade (courtesy of vNES and Jamie Sanders) which are all Classic Nintendo Games, there is a Post Office, Skate Park (with hoverboards), Radio Station, Starbucks, Papa Johns, Some Houses (me, justin eyre, Brina, etc), ASCII Memorial Park, The Adam Model (which after reading the BS you have to go through to jury rig it for skeletal animation, we aren't exactly sure it's worth it)... and recently MPL Raven and I have built a cabin near the Arena...

Heck, there is even a Lensman Teleport Station in VR5 (near the Papa Johns)... so quite honestly I am out of ideas... GSK built the Tower of Terror ride, and continues to improve it... *shrugs*

We were thinking of another concert in world, but we no longer see the point...

What I am thinking of doing... is opening to building, but invitation only basis. There is well more than enough in VR5 world to teach people how to make a good build, so I believe we've done our job while exploring nearly every facet of AW technology and squeezing out all it has to offer.

So at this moment in time, I am seriously considering not renewing the world in June/July. Some will be deeply saddened by this, while others will break out the balloons and confetti ;) Either way, we'll have to wait and see... but as of right now, I have yet to justify paying for another year on this world and having nothing in return.

Maybe it's the winter blahs getting to me - who knows? Only time will tell...

Easily distracted by shiny things - Darian Knight