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Amazon unveils the "Amazon One," a new recognition technology

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

Amazon unveiled plans for the new "Amazon One" machine yesterday, a contactless card reader that accesses your payment information through just a wave of your hand. Users will insert their credit card and then hover their palms over the device in order to link the payment mechanism with their palm signatures. Once the card is on file, you'll be able to enter the store in the future just by holding your palm over the device for 1-2 seconds.

Amazon stresses that the device is contactless, which might prove to be greatly beneficial during a pandemic. The new device uses computer vision technology in real time to create the unique palm signature, a choice made by the company because they believe it to be more private than some other means of biometric authentication. 

According to Amazon, the data is secure - images are encrypted and sent to a secure area in the cloud where the palm signatures are created. The Amazon One device also does not require a customer to have an Amazon.com account in order to enter the store: just a palm and a phone number. 

Currently, the device is being trialed at two Seattle-area Amazon stores. Amazon also said that the device isn't just for stores: they envision it being used by third-parties, including non-Amazon retailers, office buildings, stadiums, and more.

What do you think about this? Too futuristic and too invasive? Let us know your thoughts!

Getting an Early Start on a Halloween Desktop!

Monday, September 28, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

We are rapidly approaching October, and that means it's getting closer to Halloween! I recently asked the WinCustomize community about skinning holidays and Halloween came up as one of the top answers. We've always had great contributions from skinners with Halloween themes, so it's no surprise people enjoy these. 

Since we're just over a month out, I thought it's a wonderful time to start featuring more Halloween skins, and we've been working to get more Halloween themed wallpapers also.

Here's a few skins to get your started!

Bat O Ween (WindowBlinds)

 

Halloween Night (DeskScapes animated wallpaper)

 

Creepers (CursorFX)

 

Dark Halloween Pumpkin (Wallpaper)

WC Community Question: WindowBlinds Skins - Minimal or Wild?

Thursday, September 24, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: OS Customization

This week's community question is focusing on desktop skinning, WindowBlinds in particular! There are so many WindowBlinds skins available and I probably couldn't describe all the styles and colors available. 

I personally like more of a minimal style skin, but more "wild" skins have also been popular. If you have no preference that's certainly great, but I wanted to put out the question to our community. 

Do you prefer more minimal type skins, more "wild" designs, or does it matter to you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Fall Ya'll!

Monday, September 21, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

Fall official starts tomorrow! Hopefully, this means some cooler weather will be headed our way. Although we don't the seasonal color changing down here, I'd love to see some pics from our community who do get to see it.

Otherwise, some of us must be happy with just seeing seasonal colors on the desktop, and that's what todays post is about. Here's some static and animated wallpapers for the new season!

Pumpkin Patch

 

Yellow Fall Leaves

 

Autumn Leaves in the Breeze

 

Wind Blowing in a Wheat Field

 

Neowin Givewaway: Lenovo Legion 5i gaming laptop (U.S. only)

Friday, September 18, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Somehow, I missed this giveaway earlier, but I wanted to post it as it ends this weekend. Our friends over at Neowin are giving a Lenovo Legion 5i gaming laptop (U.S. only).

Head over to Neowin for the details and how to enter: https://www.neowin.net/news/giveaway-were-giving-away-a-lenovo-legion-5i-gaming-laptop-us-only

Check out what's new with Curtains

With a special guest appearance by Groupy

Thursday, September 17, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Software Blog

If you love a coordinated and stylish desktop, then you really need to try Curtains

Taking advantage of the groundwork built to support light and dark mode, Curtains will let you apply new styles along the lines of Dark and Light Modes to Windows® 10.  It also includes styles that will let you make Windows look like Windows XP, Windows 95, or other operating systems!

Use the built-in style editor and can create your own Style modes! We just released v1.1 yesterday, adding a big feature: the ability to add blur and transparency effects to your Explorer windows. Certain Curtains styles already come with blur built in - specifically, most of the Fluent styles that you find in the program integrate this feature automatically. In the image below, though, I've taken another style - Cairo Dark - that doesn't have it as the default and changed the option to "Acrylic Blur," which gives the lovely effect you see in the image above.

My favorite thing about Curtains is how perfectly it integrates with Groupy, which you can see in the image above. In order to make them look good together, we made it so that Curtains would automatically select suitable colors anytime you’re using a Style mode without custom Groupy parts. When in dark mode, the tab will remain dark in all apps for the foreground state, and a new “close all” button was added to the far right of the tab.

One of the other new features in v1.1 lets you extend the title bar into the top of the ribbon for Explorer windows. If you love to customize your desktop right down to the smallest detail, then you'll love this feature. Below is an example of an Explorer window with the option turned on (left), and one with it turned off (right).

Curtains
Curtains

Below, you can see how I adjusted the settings on the Cairo Dark style to add the effects I want. I saved a copy so that the original stays unaffected while I tweak the settings on mine to my personal preferences. This gives me an easy way to return to the default if I decide I want to. As you can see, I generally prefer a style that emphasizes more of a Dark Mode feeling - but, if you're a Light Mode kind of person, there's plenty of that in there for you also!

Have you tried Curtains yet? v1.1 is available right now and contains all of the awesome blur and transparency features you see above, along with quality of life improvements and increased style application speed. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Get Curtains through our store or on Steam.
Don't forget to check out Groupy, too!

Curtains v1.1 is Now Available

Customize Windows with new style modes, now with new blur and transparency effects

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Curtains News

Stardock releases v1.1 for Curtains, the popular Windows customization app
v1.1 is now available for all Curtains and Object Desktop users

Stardock released a v1.1 update for Curtains today. One of Stardock’s newest customization tools, Curtains allows users to apply new styles along the lines of Dark Mode and Light to Windows® 10.

Curtains

Taking advantage of the groundwork built to support light and dark mode, Curtains includes several unique styles that enhance the look and feel of the Windows UI along with apps that already support light and dark mode.  

"The advantage of using a program like Curtains is that it's essentially just adding new 'modes' to Windows," said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock.  "It works with high DPI displays and your existing programs. This gives users a little extra touch of customizing the Windows experience."

Users can easily create and share their own styles using the built in style editor.  A Curtains style can change everything that Light and Dark mode can change, including the Start button, title bar buttons, and title bar coloring. It also supports tweaking gradients, shadows opacity, and hundreds of other small elements of the Windows GUI.

The newest version of Curtains adds a major new feature for Explorer background transparency and blur effects. While the new option only comes standard with certain styles in the app, users can edit other styles and apply the blur and transparency effects themselves for further customization. 

A new option to extend the title bar ribbon in Explorer windows also adds an extra layer of customization for those who enjoy editing every detail of their Windows experience. v1.1 also introduces several quality of life improvements and increased style application speed.

Don't have Curtains yet? Get it now through Stardock or Steam.


Curtains is also available in Object Desktop™, our complete suite of desktop enhancements.
Object Desktop includes programs like
 Fences®, Start10, Groupy, SoundPackager, DeskScapes™, Multiplicity®, and more.

Curtains
Curtains
Curtains
Curtains

 

WC Community Question: Do You Use Desktop Wallpapers on Your Mobile Devices?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

We have a large wallpaper gallery here and since we've been focusing on getting more content added, I was wondering how you use some of these. Specifically, do you take a desktop wallpaper and use it as the wallpaper on your mobile device such as a phone or tablet?

On most of my mobile devices I typically just use a photo from my photo album, but I have used downloaded wallpapers before.

Get Your Desktop Ready for Fall!

Monday, September 14, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

We're just about a week away from the official start of Fall, and if you are someone who likes to match your desktop with the season, now is a fantastic time to get started! 

Using the search function and just typing in "fall" or "autumn" should get you a ton of results for seasonal skins, but I've gone through and picked some of my favorites to get you started.

Starting off with a good WindowBlinds skin is a great foundation to build on. Fall Color is a beautiful WindowBlinds skin that is a great starting point for any fall desktop. Also check out the Fall 2 Master skin bydon5318.


Changing the wallpaper is a good next step. We have a nice variety of both animated and static wallpapers, so you have a ton of choices. Autumn Colors is a beautiful animated wallpaper scene for DeskScapes that goes great with the above WindowBlinds skin. 

Autumn Leaves on Ground is a static wallpaper that also goes great with our desktop. 


Applying a new cursor theme with CursorFX is the next step on our Fall desktop today. We're going with the new Candy Corn FX by BONEHEADdb. It's a fun and cool design with just the right colors.


These are just a few themes to get you started but take some time to search and browse through the WinCustomize galleries. There are many more seasonal skins and themes that will get your desktop ready for the cooler weather!

 

Multiplicity KM: Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Software Blog

When I first came to Stardock and started learning about all of our software, one program in particular eluded my understanding: Multiplicity. What exactly is Multiplicity? Why on earth would I ever need to use it? It felt somewhat intimidating to me.

However, having spent more time using the application, I've discovered that it's far more convenient and useful than I originally realized. My personal use of Multiplicity is fairly modest, though I know there are plenty of other people who use it far more extensively than I do and they swear by it, too. 

What is seamless mode?

First off, let's talk a little bit about Multiplicity KM and what seamless mode actually does. You'll need to have both PCs nearby and within your field of view in order to take advantage of this. If you use a multi-monitor setup with one PC, seamless mode works the same way in concept, except you can do it with 2 computers instead of just one. You'll be able to move your mouse cursor from your main PC's monitor right to your second PC's monitor as if they were the same machine. 

You can connect a single PC using multiple monitors to another PC using multiple monitors, too! One of my setups at work has a main PC using 2 monitors, while my secondary PC uses one. I can work seamlessly between them, which makes it so convenient (and leaves extra room on my desk for action figures since I don't have to have a second keyboard and mouse in the way!).


See, what did I tell you? More room for action figures!

Setup Tip: When connecting your secondary PC to your primary PC, make sure the secondary PC has a mouse, keyboard, and monitor connected to it or it won't set up properly (this does not apply for laptops). You won't need to use the keyboard and mouse - you'll be able to control it all with your main set! - but they still need to be plugged in during initial setup (you can remove them later).

What else can I do with the KM version of Multiplicity?

Make working from home much easier


Here's a sample of my coworker Spencer's setup. Check out his blog post on Multiplicity and video streaming!

One of my favorite things about Multiplicity KM is how easy it is to use my laptop when I need to work from home. Forgive me belaboring the term, but it really is seamless. If I need to work from home for any reason, I can set up my work laptop (which has a lot of important files and access to company drives that I use daily) right next to my main desktop and work between both PCs. I prefer to use my desktop for most things, since I have a nice big monitor, but it doesn't always have everything I need on it. Using Multiplicity eliminates a lot of extra work for me when I need to retrieve stuff for work.

Tip: Bring your laptop back and forth from work and home regularly! This will ensure you always have what you need on hand whether you're needing it at the office or at home in your den.

Share sound between PCs

Honestly, it took me awhile before I started utilizing this feature, and I'm mad I didn't do it sooner. I used to switch my headset back and forth between PCs, depending on what I was doing on each and where I needed sound to come from. By setting up my sound properly, I could hear alerts, alarms, music, and everything else from both computers through one headset plugged into my primary PC. 

Setup Tip: Did you know you can use a hotkey to toggle this feature on and off? Give it a try when you only need to hear sound from your main computer!

Copy and Paste Formatted Text Between PCs

This one is HUGE for me, since I pretty much live in word documents. Being able to copy something from one PC and move it over to the other as if it were all a single machine really helps me with my workflow. 

Tip: If you want to drag and drop files between multiple PCs, you can do that with the KVM version of Multiplicity. You can learn more about that version below.

For many users, controlling 2 PCs with one keyboard and mouse is enough - but what if you're a computer hobbyist and have a bunch of PCs in your home or at work that you'd like to control and manage remotely and/or seamlessly? You'll want the KVM version of Multiplicity for that, which you can learn more about here.

If you're trying to set up Multiplicity and are having any problems, check out our FAQ Guide.

Do you use Multiplicity? Share your stories with me!




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