With all of the new laptops in my life recently, one thing I've gotten good at is changing the Display properties to get the Windows desktop to look the way I want it. The key change is to set every font (window title, message box, icon, everything) to Verdana 10.

When I got all through with the changes, I saved my theme into a .theme file. Being curious, I examined it. Despite its new-age 5-letter file extension, it's a text file, formatted like a classic .ini file. But the word "Verdana" didn't appear anywhere in it. Odd.

The only part of the file I didn't understand was the Metrics section which contains long strings of numbers:

[Metrics]
IconMetrics=76 0 0 0 132 0 0 0 92 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 243 255 255 255
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 144 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 86 101 114 100
97 110 97 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
NonclientMetrics=84 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 17 0 0 0 17 0 0 0 19 0 0 0 19
0 0 0 243 255 255 255 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 188 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 86 101 114 100 97 110 97 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18 0 0 0 18 0 0 0 243 255 255 255 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 188 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 86 101 114 100 97 110 97
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18 0 0 0 18 0
0 0 243 255 255 255 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 144 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 86 101 114 100 97 110 97 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 243 255 255 255 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 144 1
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 86 101 114 100 97 110 97 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 243 255 255 255 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 144 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 86 101 114 100 97 110 97 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

That's when the repeated sequence "86 101 114 100 97 110 97" caught my eye. Too many years of debugging have taught me to notice numbers that smell suspiciously like ASCII. Sure enough, that's "Verdana" in ASCII.

What's going on here? The names of the entries are the tip off: these are simple decimal byte-for-byte dumps of the windows structures ICONMETRICS, NONCLIENTMETRICS, and the font information is the nested LOGFONT structure.

Anyway, back to the theme. If you want a Windows desktop done right, the information is all in the numbers above. Manual instructions: set

  • all the fonts to Verdana 10,
  • the caption button size to 19,
  • the icon spacing to 100 horizontal and 60 vertical,
  • the tooltip color to a little yellower than the default.
tagged: » 6 reactions

Comments

[gravatar]
Sam 7:40 AM on 16 Jul 2004

What about a screenshot to show us how wonderble it is? ;-)

[gravatar]
Shawn Wheatley 9:28 AM on 16 Jul 2004

Please! I love desktop screenshots!

[gravatar]
Jordan 9:29 AM on 16 Jul 2004

Yes, please.

One of the first things I did when I installed Windows XP is get rid of the default theme. That thing is ugly. And the "Classic" 95/98/2000 theme has always been ugly. Though it's tough finding themes that aren't just as ugly as the default and don't break usability (and don't use the resource-hogging WindowBlinds), I've been quite happily using Odyssey 3 for awhile. Quite nice.

[gravatar]
Ned Batchelder 9:59 AM on 16 Jul 2004

Odyssey looks cool, too cool for me. The thing that jumped out at me about it is that it has a readme.jpg file. I've never seen one of those before!

[gravatar]
Person McPerson 11:27 AM on 18 Jul 2004

"readme.jpg"? That's terribly well thought-out. I mean, who could forsee that a user might possibly want to search its text?

[gravatar]
andrew 8:00 AM on 21 Jul 2004

Woah! I never knew that there were repositories for these things. I downloaded "Style XP" and have been changing themes for a while. Nice. I do like "Odyssey", but the white BG is too much. I use the nice blue Panther screen from StyleXP with the other Odyssey stuff.

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