Make your desktop look fancy shmancy

This is actually called "Command Center," and you can google it.

If you have even a family computer, see about making this happen. Installing Rainmeter is really easy, and it’s a safe, open-source program. Basically, it’s a simple program that lets you code and use what it calls ‘configs,’ which are basically desktop widgets that can display all sorts of information.

It can be as simple as a text-based clock, or the fully-interactive command center you see to your right. Every tiny piece of blue text on that desktop means something–hard drive read/write speeds, processor usage, RAM usage, internal temperature, network connection, and so forth.

Today we’re gonna walk through coding your own simple daily calendar, which you can display on your desktop. First, you’ve got to install Rainmeter. It comes with some fancy skins pre-installed. Use them if you want, but why use something you didn’t make?

Once you’ve installed, follow these steps:

  1. Fig1 - What your folder should look like once you've gotten through step 2

    Go to My DocumentsRainmeterSkins, and make your own folder. Call it “ez_calendar” or whatever you want, really.

  2. Once you’re in there, create a new config file by right-clicking anywhere in the folder and going to new>text document. Then, name it “ez_calendar.ini” and be sure the file extension is “.ini” and not “.ini.txt”. If you’ve got the proper file extension, the icon will change from a text file, to the one you see in the picture.
  3. Open it up! You can just open it in notepad, or use the geeky programmer’s notepad, N++. (Named for the C-programming way to increment a variable by one. Because it’s one better than notepad.) You’ll be greeted by a big blank white screen. Beautiful.
  4. First, you’ve got to enter some critical Rainmeter data. Just copy and paste this section of code. This makes it update once every 1000 miliseconds, or once per second:
    1. [Rainmeter]
      Update=1000
  5. Second, let’s insert some meta data. This is useful for websites like customize.org, who collect Rainmeter skins. You don’t actually have to put in meta data if you don’t plan on sharing your config, but it’s good habit:
    1. Organize your code by labeling this section [Metadata]. Then move down a line and enter this stuff in, separated by lines:
    2. The title and subtitle: Name=EzCalendar | The coolest calendar in the world!
    3. The folder you put your config in: Config=ez_calendar
    4. Describe your config: Description=Prints out the date in text
    5. Version 1.0 because this is the first version you’ve made of it: Version=1.0
    6. Put in tags that describe your config: Tags=Separate | Them | Like | This
    7. Make it CC: License=Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0
  6. Not too bad, right? Next, we’ll make some variables. These aren’t needed either, but will make it easier to edit later on, since you won’t have to swim in code. Especially useful for really complicated skins. You can see that the code is commented with semicolons. These don’t show up after coding, but if you open the code up you can read them. They’re basically notes for future reference. Head this section [Variables]. The rest is pretty straightforward:
    1. RGB Color and Transparency. 255 is 100%: FontColor=255, 255, 255, 255
    2. Any value works, but the name has to match a font installed on your computer: FontName=Tahoma
    3. More is bigger. Test a few values to find one you like: FontHeight=64
    4. FontStyle=NORMAL
      ;Valid values are: NORMAL, BOLD, ITALIC and BOLDITALIC.
    5. FontEffect=SHADOW
      ;Valid values are: NONE, SHADOW and BORDER.
    6. FontFXColor=0, 0, 0, 255
  7. Finally, we’re going to code the actual config. The first section makes the config talk to computer to find the Year, Month, Date, and Day of the week (Go to the Rainmeter Manual and search for “Format Codes” to learn more about that). The second section prints it on your screen:
    ;-----------------------------------------
    [MeasureYear]
    Measure=Time
    Format=%Y

    [MeasureMonth]
    Measure=Time
    Format=%B

    [MeasureDate]
    Measure=Time
    Format=%d

    [MeasureDay]
    Measure=Time
    Format=%A

    ;-----------------------------------------

    [DateDay.meter]
    Meter=STRING
    ;Use these next ones by typing %1, %2, %3 and %4, respectively.
    MeasureName=MeasureDay
    MeasureName2=MeasureDate
    MeasureName3=MeasureMonth
    MeasureName4=MeasureYear
    X=0
    Y=0
    ;These next few inputs use the variables you declared earlier
    FontColor=#FontColor#
    FontSize=#FontHeight#
    FontFace=#FontName#
    StringStyle=#FontStyle#
    StringEffect=#FontEffect#
    FontEffectColor=#FontFXColor#
    AntiAlias=1
    ;Prints the four measures "Date Month, Year (Day of Week)"
    Text="%2 %3, %4 (%1)"
    StringAlign=LEFT

  8. Finally, we’re going to save the file, and open it in Rainmeter by right clicking the raindrop icon in your taskbar (normally bottom-right) and selecting Configs>ez_calendar>ez_calendar.ini. If it doesn’t show up, you might have to close Rainmeter and launch it again.
  9. If all went well, a big text-based calendar will pop up on your desktop! Right click it and play with its options.

That was a pretty basic example, but at least now you know how to do it. I recommend going to the Rainmter Manual and reading up on additional things you can customize. Try to think of a creative config to make!

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