Thursday, December 28, 2006


I always enjoy the Christmas holidays. Not only because of the usual cheer it brings, but mainly because it gives me time to temporarily retreat from the demands of work (Now, this is not really true...) and regather. Time to throw out the clutter (old memos, handouts, photocopies...), reorganize and plan for the coming year. Of course, since my teaching/creative work and entertainment relies heavily on computing technology (gigabytes of data!), my PC's were not left for general cleaning.

My computer(s), a desktop named 'Litzy', serves as the general family computer, and since it houses my backup hard disk 'Consus', it also serves as my download computer (I use EMule as my peer-to-peer file sharing application). So, it was first on my purging list. My laptop, 'QNote' which is my workstation where most of my teaching (handouts, lesson plans, notes, research documents, pdf's, presentations) and creative output files (logo designs, graphic design work) are produced is next in line. After deleting so many files in my laptop, I could almost say that my laptop was much lighter when I carried it!

Anyway, files were reorganized and what's next to do? Customization! Also, since I was using the same programs over and over, I wanted to streamline my work process. I wanted to make my computer desktop more functional and fancier. While surfing, I was inspired by an article featuring some desktop enhancement tools, such as Rocketdock and Avedesk. I will be discussing the latter in succeeding blogs.

RocketDock, developed by Punk Software is a smoothly animated, alpha-blended application launcher that is similar to the MacDock feature in MacOS X. For Mac users, they say it is a clone of the MacOs X feature for the Windows platform, which normally utilizes the Taskbar with the StartMenu feature. RocketDock is among the many docking programs available out there (with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher, and Y'z Dock). but some of you Windows users may wonder, why use docking programs at all, when you already have the Taskbar? The docking programs provide fast customizable access to your mostly used applications (just a click away!) through icons within a 'dock' which is conveniently tucked to a side of your desktop, thus saving precious desktop real estate property. If there's one thing I don't like on a desktop, it is a very ugly cluttered one. Although not as powerful as its counterparts (in terms of added functionality), the relatively new RocketDock requires little memory to run in the background. Now, this is an imortant issue for me, since I use memory-hogging applications in my creative work. Also, and an equally important reason, it is free!

Here is how my original desktop looked like, neat and clean, with shortcuts to the program nestled within folders in the Start menu:

Note that I have already customized my desktop using a theme emulating Windows Vista. I am currently using the Windows Media Center Edition, laptop screen utilizing 1280x768 resolution. After installing RocketDock, I immediately customized it to my needs, easily adding icons to the 'dock' by simply dragging shortcuts of programs that I usually use unto the 'dock'. RocketDock can take advantage of 256x256 resolution icons (both in .ico or .png format), and since my present icons of the programs I defined into RocketDock are small, they look a lot blurry when they 'grow' as the mouse hovers over. This is easily solved by redefining it with newer icons with better resolution through a menu in the program (Here I'm changing the link to My Computer with my own logo icon):

RocketDock already comes pre-installed with some 25x256 .png icons but I prefer the icons provided by these fellow deviants: jrdn88, monolistic, and many more in deviantART. Everything's all set, and now my desktop looks and works better. I set RocketDock for auto-hide. It only ate 8,880K of memory, so it's virtually negligible:

Here's a little video comparing the traditional Windows Taskbar to the RocketDock. It is claimed that the new Windows Vista will possess a new docking feature with more functionality, evolving the traditional Taskbar. For the meantime, while waiting for the release of the new Vista (if you indeed plan to upgrade), we would have to enjoy programs such as RocketDock to enhance our computing experience.

Coming soon on my blogs about desktop enhancement: widgets on my desk... Avedesk...

No comments: