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Rainmeter 3.3.2.2609

Transform your desktop with this customisation tool

by Nick Peers

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Based on 3 ratings
License: Open Source
Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Requirements:
Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 16 May 2016
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 26397
Developer: Rainmeter.net
RSS News Feed: http://rainmeter.net/forum/feed.php
Twitter Feed: http://twitter.com/#!/rainmeter
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rainmeter/357447427748
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Rainmeter 3.3 FINAL
Display all kinds of useful information on your desktop with Rainmeter.

Customising your Windows desktop can be as simple or as complicated as you like. For most people, the options provided by Windows itself are often sufficient, while others want to push the envelope further. One way in which your desktop can be made to work harder is by using it to display all kinds of useful information – in Vista and Windows 7, there are specific gadgets that perform this function, but they’re limited and a little clunky to implement, while XP users are left completely in the cold.

This is where Rainmeter comes in: this desktop customisation tool works on the assumption that the desktop is yours to do with as you see fit. It offers an alternative platform to the Sidebar used in later versions of Windows, offering a wide variety of customisable “skins” (Rainmeter’s rather confusing term for gadgets) that allow you to pretty much cover the desktop with your choice of information, tools and shortcuts.

These skins can act as simple information portals – giving you access to system information, favoured RSS feeds or the latest email count in your inbox, for example. They can also be developed further to provide interactive functionality, such as skins that record notes or let you tweet direct from your desktop. You can also use skins to serve as a panel containing shortcuts to all your favourite programs, allowing you to banish the taskbar or clean up the desktop.

Skins can be developed by hand – they’re open-source, so widely available – or you can download packages known as “themes”. You’ll be prompted to download additional themes after installation, although a basic “illustro” is provided to give you an idea of what’s available. Rainmeter will launch with a selection of skins pre-loaded, such as date/time, disk information, a Lifehacker RSS feed and a Google search box, enabling you to launch web searches direct from the desktop. There’s also a welcome panel with links to articles helping you familiarise yourself with the program.

Edit skin settings by right-clicking the skin itself – this opens a .ini file in Notepad where you can tweak settings by hand. You can also configure the program from its icon in the Notification area of the Taskbar.

Version 3 is here. New features include migrating from an older GDI+ graphics/text rendering system to the newer and more powerful Direct2D system found in Windows 7 and 8. The initial fruit of these labours is to implement vastly improved font rendering in string-based meters, particularly those with smaller font sizes and using anti-aliasing. The feature is currently disabled by default – users must add UseD2D=1 to the [Rainmeter] section of the Rainmeter.ini configuration file to enable it.

Other changes are minor, and subject to change – one new feature adding icons to the context menu were removed after issues with XP were discovered, for example.

What's new in 3.3.2? See the changelog for more info.

Verdict:

Transform your desktop from simple wallpaper to something more functional and useful with this powerful customisation tool - albeit one less suited to novices.

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Spektrel Art 1.0.0

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Spektrel Art is a stand-alone program and Photoshop plugin which transforms digital photos into "magical art that glimmers and gleams with intersecting lines of tapered light".

What does that mean? Essentially it applies a configurable mix of effects, enhancing edges, smoothing backgrounds and emphasizing colours. Take a look at the thumbnail for one example, and the official product page has more.

Spektral Art works much like any similar tool. Open an image, click one of the thumbnails to apply a particular preset, or click a few buttons and drag some sliders to fine-tune the results.

There's surprising scope for variation, too. For example, just switching from the "Light" to "Dark" theme can transform a bright and friendly image into something dark and sinister, at least in some cases (results vary depending on the source image).

Please note, the demo version doesn't allow images to be saved.

SPECIAL OFFER: as we write, the developer is offering Spektral Art for free. The offer expires August 29th. Please note that you must provide your name, address and phone number to receive your free license.

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