Skinning the frog
My site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Aug 23, 2020 3:24 PM by Discussion: Personal Computing

With many people working out of the office, how are you handling it?

I confess I feel pretty blessed that I get to work daily with my sons up at the lake.  One is a 3D artists and the other a systems engineer.  Here is a picture of our setup.

image image

It’s a little messy and ad-hoc but super comfy and productive.

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Jun 19, 2020 2:44 PM by Discussion: Personal Computing

I have a 2012 MacBook Pro that I'm using to type this on.

As a Windows/PC user mainly, I am used to my PC laptops and desktops start to feel slow and obsolete after a few years.  

Yet, this laptop feels as good as ever.  The display is still amazing, arguably better than my Surface Book 3 (Which I have here and yet find myself using the Mac when doing light work) and the GUI remains as smooth and responsive as ever.

That is one big benefit of MacBook Pros over every PC laptop I've ever used, they retain their value.

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Brad’s hand youth system. Hand on left: untreated. Hand on right: one day of Brad’s youth system.

The secret ingredient: Bee stings!


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May 29, 2020 9:33 PM by Discussion: Life, the Universe and Everything

I do my first Spring inspection on the new hive.  The bees are really gentle so I don't bother wearing gear.  No problem.

But when I go to put the hive back togoether, one young bee has managed to get stuck on the outside. Knowing that she isn't likely to find her way back in (she can't fly yet) I take her on my finger and try to get her to walk back in the front.  She insists on walking on my arm.  

Eventually I gently blow to get her to move back towards my fingers and into the hive.  When she reaches my knuckles, BAM, she stings me.  No good deed...


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May 29, 2020 4:27 PM by Discussion: OS Customization

OS/2 Forever!

Thanks Curtains! 

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It's funny how Twitter started out claiming it was a messaging service.  And yet, over the years, it has become as moderated, often with a political bias to its moderation, as any community forum.

I wonder if it might be worth putting in effort on  Before there was Facebook or Twitter, we had JoeUser which was intended to be a place where people could easily share their thoughts with friends.

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May 26, 2020 6:44 PM by Discussion: Stardockians

This will be the feedback and discussion thread to the upcoming May edition of Stardock Magazine.

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May 26, 2020 6:44 PM by Discussion: Stardockians

This will be the feedback and discussion thread to the upcoming May edition of Stardock Magazine.

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Last year, Microsoft released “Dark Mode” to Windows 10 users.  Dark Mode gave users an alternative color and style option to the Windows GUI. 

Now, Stardock is preparing to release a new customization program called Curtains.  Curtains works similarly to the modes that Microsoft has implemented.  Any app that already supports the existing dark and light modes will automatically benefit from Curtains.


Stardock Curtains

Stardock Curtains includes several new styles such as Graphite, Crystal, Sky, and Midnight.  It also includes styles that give users the ability to change Windows to look like previous versions of Windows (XP, Windows 95, etc.), as well as alternative operating systems.

Stardock is well known for its customization programs including Fences, Groupy and Start10.  It also is the developer of classic GUI “skinning” apps such as WindowBlinds.  Unlike WindowBlinds, which is far more comprehensive, Curtains doesn’t take over the painting of the Windows GUI but instead works akin to how Dark and Light mode on Windows 10 works.  This means that it inherently takes advantage of different DPI settings and is able to leverage apps that already support Dark and Light Mode.

For Creators

Another big difference between Curtains and WindowBlinds is the complexity of a Style versus a WindowBlinds skin.  Because WindowBlinds essentially takes on the responsibility of drawing the GUI of windows, skins must include all of the GUI controls.  One missing element or one poorly designed control and a WindowBlinds skin can look incomplete.  By contrast, Curtains only needs to supply a handful of images and settings.  It’s simple enough that style modifying and creating is part of its configuration.


It is very simple to create or modify existing styles



Curtains will be going into beta on Stardock’s Object Desktop suite of Windows enhancements tools next week (late April 2020).  A stand-alone version is expected later in the Spring.

Visit to get it.




Fluent Peach (Peach Mode)



Dark Waters





Fluent Red (Red Mode)











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The first 3 rows are ones I set. 

The second 3 rows are just ones MS’s “frequently used” populated. 

edit: columns!!!

This early, I haven’t used much.

These are the apps I first install onto a new PC.  What are the first apps you install?

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