March 25, 2007

Something cool I once did with my desktop

I call this: computers,gaming,mac — Posted by KP @ 8:00 pm

While my desktop these last few days is the highly-original default Aqua wallpaper that came with OS X Tiger (shown here), I did once do something pretty cool with it.

I’m a big fan of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and I’m kind of fond of having little bits of NES nostalgia in my life (like this USB NES game controller), so of course I occasionally like to decorate my Powerbook’s desktop the same way. So this one time, I decided that I would go all out. The result was this:

What you can’t see from the image is that all of the “?” blocks are clickable buttons (using DragThing) that are actually hovering over the image on the wallpaper. They launched various apps, the pipes opened commonly-used folders, and the picture of Mario in mid-air launched a NES emulator, so I could play all those classic games on my Mac, with my original NES controller, of course.

The Details
The wallpaper itself I adapted from this one, resized and rearranged to fit my needs. The dock being squished over to the left side can be done with any number of utilities that can access those sorts of hidden OS X features. If I were doing it now I would use Cocktail, but I’m sure there are free apps that do it as well. I changed a number of icons to look more Mario-like. Unfortunately, I have acquired them over years and some may no longer be available, I don’t know. But I like InterfaceLIFT for a lot of my desktop customization needs now. For changing some of the system icons like the Finder, you need a separate app, Candybar. In brief, the green mushroom is the Finder, the red shell is SpamSieve, the flower is Photoshop, although I really wanted it to be a Fire Flower, I couldn’t find a decent Aqua-like icon of one, so I made do. The music note block, as you might have guessed, is iTunes. I made that one myself in Photoshop. If you’ve always wanted one, here it is. The piranah plant is the trash of course, and when empty it’s just the pipe. I made the pipe and added the plant from a very nice icon I found somewhere. The clock is a regular ol’ dashboard widget. And if you’re curious, the instant messaging app showing is Adium, which I highly recommend. I also designed the icon you see, of the Adium mascot as a stage manager, which you can download here.

The whole thing was a lot of fun, but eventually I just got tired of it, and it wasn’t as useful as you might think. I felt really bad changing it because of all the work I had put into it, but it was time to move on. I kept it a lot longer than I keep most of my desktop looks, and I still have some pieces of it, like the mushroom Finder icon. I’m still intrigued by the idea of having a desktop picture with clickable elements that do things. This was my first attempt at that. Maybe if I think of a good way I’ll try it again someday.