Add an Embedded Calendar to Your Desktop

by Scott ChitwoodFriday December 31st, 2010
Posted in Snow Leopard UI Mods

I recently started using Spaces on my iMac at the day job to create a dedicated environment for accessing my Windows systems via Microsoft Remote Desktop.  The plus side of this arrangement allowed me retire an ancient, bulky monitor and keyboard from my workspace; less clutter makes Scott a Happy Boy™.  The trade-off was my embedded desktop calendar served up by Yahoo!® Widgets didn’t move from one space to another.  Not a huge bother in the overall scheme of things and perhaps not an insurmountable problem, but I went with the thought of trying some alternative ideas since that was the one and only widget I had in place.

Here’s a screenshot showcasing the results of my efforts: a combination of elements assembled from GeekTool 3.0, Nerdtool 0.8, and CalendarView 1.2.  While there are other methods of attaining a similar arrangement, these items, in tandem, provided the best features for my needs and sense of style.

desktop calendar 01

Let’s break this down by section by section…

Date and Time Stamp

Everything in this part is powered by GeekTool.  ‘Day’, ‘Date’, ‘Time’, ‘am/pm’, and the transparent background are individual code snippets arranged as a cohesive unit.  All, with the exception of the background, are terminal based commands set to refresh at regular intervals.  The font is Archer Bold, colors were borrowed from the iCal Dashboard Widget.


This was, by far, the most challenging section to nail down.  I started with a GeekTool calendar but was discouraged with having to use a fixed width font.  Not very stylish and colorizing the various parts proved to be too much of a challenge for my abilities.

The next idea was to run the iCal Dashboard Widget on the desktop using a well known developer’s workflow and some making some alterations to its CSS code to make it fit my style of choice.

desktop calendar 02

One big problem with this method: the Widget hovers over the top of all other application windows, not really conducive for prolonged use.  There are however, third party apps, Amensty Singles and Amnesty Widget Browser, that can do the heavy lifting and display Widgets at the desktop level in exchange for a little of your folding money.  Both of the above are solid, high-quality apps and are definitely recommended if you have the need to run several Widgets on your desktop.

What next?  I almost gave up on this one and used the GeekTool method, but then I stumbled across Nerdtool — and found something attractive in its feature set: it can display web content.  Now it was just a matter of locating a configurable web based calendar that had the the right feature set for my needs.  CalendarView seemed like the perfect candidate for attaining my goal, so I set my skills to reworking the CSS and removing some of its dynamic functions from the Javascript file.  Once that was complete it was just a matter of serving the files locally, linking to the HTML file with Nerdtool, setting the refresh rate, and adjusting the window transparency to match that of the date/time stamp.

Calendar Events

The static title on this was more troublesome that expected but with a little toying around I found that linking to a plain text file from Nerdtool was the most effective method.  Just had to code in the typeface, font color, and font size after discovering that.  Tried the same thing in GeekTool but with every change to the font another instance of the text would display, a bit odd but that could be an undiscovered bug I ran into.

GeekTool was used for displaying my iCal events.  To get lists of events and tasks/to-do’s from the OS X calendar database (the same one iCal uses) you’ll need to download and install icalBuddy prior to setting up your geeklet.


I’ve packaged up my geeklets, nerds, and other items for download — take ’em if you’d like ’em.

lihtan grafan

by Scott ChitwoodMonday December 13th, 2010
Posted in Screen Savers

Three parts light mixed with a heavy dose of gravity.  Stir briskly and enjoy!

lihtan grafan Screen Saver by Scott Chitwood

Download lihtan grafan Screen Saver.

Quartz Composer Screen Saver, requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

Copy/Install to one of the following locations…

  • /Library/Screen Savers
  • /Users/Home Folder/Library/Screen Savers

Mods for personal use and distribution are encouraged.

Comments Off on lihtan grafan

Sisters of the Southern Sky

by Scott ChitwoodTuesday November 30th, 2010
Posted in Desktop Gallery, Fractal Flames

A pair of desktops for your consideration.  Rendered in Oxidizer alpha with the addition of some minor tweaks in Photoshop for the initial composition, then tossed into PostworkShop 1.1 for some exploratory texturization and splotchurizing to produce the alternate version.

sisters of the southern sky by Scott Chitwood

Widescreen ( 16:10 )  :  1440×900  :  1680×1050  :  1920×1200  :  2560×1600
Widescreen ( 16:9 )  :  1920×1080  :  2560×1440
Fullscreen ( 4:3 )  :  1024×768  :  1600×1200
Tall Screen  :  1280×1024
Mobile  :  iPhone  :  iPhone Retina Display  :  iPad  :  Netbook

sisters of the southern sky (alternate) by Scott Chitwood

Widescreen ( 16:10 )  :  1440×900  :  1680×1050  :  1920×1200  :  2560×1600
Widescreen ( 16:9 )  :  1920×1080  :  2560×1440
Fullscreen ( 4:3 )  :  1024×768  :  1600×1200
Tall Screen  :  1280×1024
Mobile  :  iPhone  :  iPhone Retina Display  :  iPad  :  Netbook

Comments Off on Sisters of the Southern Sky

Spherical Psychosis

by Scott ChitwoodWednesday November 17th, 2010
Posted in Desktop Gallery, Fractal Flames

Dude, don’t go all mental on me, I’m trying to make pancakes here!

spherical-psychosis by Scott Chitwood

Widescreen ( 16:10 )  :  1440×900  :  1680×1050  :  1920×1200  :  2560×1600
Widescreen ( 16:9 )  :  1920×1080  :  2560×1440
Fullscreen ( 4:3 )  :  1024×768  :  1600×1200
Tall Screen  :  1280×1024
Mobile  :  iPhone  :  iPhone iOS4  :  iPad  :  Netbook

Rendered in Oxidizer alpha.  Post processed in Photoshop for color intensity, color values, and blurred edges.

Long Crested Eagle no.3

by Scott ChitwoodTuesday November 9th, 2010
Posted in Desktop Gallery, Photography

Another shot of the coolest raptor at the World Bird Sanctuary, an African Long Crested Eagle named Chrys.  Wanting to take a different approach with this image I fired up PostworkShop 1.1 with a half-formed idea to find a texture and brush style to complement Chrys’ feathered crest and was happily surprised with quick results.  The effected image was then additionally post processed in Photoshop to tweak the color to a nice warm brown.

Long Crested Eagle no.3 by Scott Chitwood

Widescreen ( 16:10 )  :  1440×900  :  1680×1050  :  1920×1200  :  2560×1600
Widescreen ( 16:9 )  :  1920×1080  :  2560×1440
Fullscreen ( 4:3 )  :  1024×768  :  1600×1200
Tall Screen  :  1280×1024
Mobile  :  iPhone  :  iPhone iOS4  :  iPad  :  Netbook

  • Model = Nikon D40
  • Exposure Time = 1/200 sec
  • F-Stop = f/5.3
  • Exposure Program = Aperture priority
  • ISO Speed Ratings = 200
  • Focal Length = 160.0 mm
  • Date/Time = March 27th, 2009 10:27 a.m.
  • Location = World Bird Sanctuary
Comments Off on Long Crested Eagle no.3

Review: PostworkShop 1.1

by Scott ChitwoodSaturday October 23rd, 2010
Posted in More Than Words

Artistic Effects for your Images; Transform Pictures Into Works of Art

Chances are we’ve all seen these two expressions applied in some similar form to more image editing apps we can/care to remember.  Yet the true measure of this, or any other product, is whether or not those promises are delivered.

PostworkShop meets and exceeds those promises in a big way; effects are artistic, transformations run the gamut from subtle to spectacular.  Add a couple of other strengths to that list…

  • Easy to use and fun to play with.
  • Powerful and accessible features the average consumer can quickly understand and make use of.

These strengths are all due the backbone of Styles that PostworkShop uses to transform your images.  Comparably we might think of these as Effects/Filters built into other image editors (Photoshop, etc.) and we would even find that many Styles perform the same/closely similar functions to what the big kid down the block uses.  Things diverge a bit from there.

Organized within major categories and related sub-categories are 350 Styles: User, Building Blocks, Drawing, Painting, Graphic Arts, and Photo are all on the top tier.  Drill down through each of the sub-categories and you’ll find a wealth of artistic avenues to explore.

PostworkShop Styles Tab

Adding a Style to your composition is an easy drag and drop into the Style Layers menu.  And this is where things start to get interesting, adjustments to opacity and layer blending options are highly recommended for fine-tuning the default Style.

PostworkShop Properties + Preview tab

In addition to that, most Styles can be further tweaked from the Properties + Preview tab.  The Browse button within this particular dialog gives the user an opportunity to switch out the brush tip and paint media.

PostworkShop Style Drag & Drop

Though I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology, Style Stacks open the door to a nearly endless array of artistic possibilities.  Drop three or more Styles over one another, apply blending and opacity settings, you’re the Picasso of 2010 kids!

A combination of Brightness Contrast, Dreamworld, and Expression 1 Styles were applied to the image below, then I used the ‘Save Current Style’ command to combine the three settings as a new Style in my User/My Styles folder — neat feature!

PostworkShop Randy

A two-part system is used to save your work in PostworkShop…

  1. As Projects that are stored within the program itself, available at the touch of a button.  This method is non-destructive, your original image remains intact and the Styles within your composition are preserved.
  2. As an exported image with a nice selection of formats to choose from, including a Photoshop option that preserves the Style Stacks by converting them to layers.

Two additional powerful features are also built into PostworkShop; a node-based Style editor, and Batch Processing.  The application is a cross-platform product for Mac OS X and Windows.  More information, tutorials, and a users forum can be found at the PostworkShop website.

As a digital artist I’m very pleased with the results I’ve seen in my explorations of PostworkShop, it certainly makes the grade as a primary tool for pushing my photography and other digital compositions into new and exciting directions.  Three thumbs up!  I’m feeling inspired :^)

Splintered Shards

by Scott ChitwoodWednesday October 6th, 2010
Posted in Desktop Gallery, Fractal Flames

Whatever it is that I’m throwing at the canvas one question that always has to be answered is how far can/should I push the work beyond it’s point of origin.  The answer to that question runs the gamut between “little to none” and “let’s get crazy with it”.  But first things first — the questions of base elements, cropping, and rotation have to be dealt with.  If any of those aren’t quite right the canvas just can’t come to life Dr. Frankenstein.

splintered shards by Scott Chitwood

Widescreen ( 16:10 )  :  1440×900  :  1680×1050  :  1920×1200  :  2560×1600
Widescreen ( 16:9 )  :  1920×1080  :  2560×1440
Fullscreen ( 4:3 )  :  1024×768  :  1600×1200
Tall Screen  :  1280×1024
Mobile  :  iPhone  :  iPhone iOS4  :  iPad  :  Netbook

Rendered in Oxidizer 0.7.5 alpha.  Heavily post processed in Photoshop.

Mod Your Dock Skin & Icons

by Scott ChitwoodMonday October 4th, 2010
Posted in Dock Skins & Mods, Snow Leopard UI Mods

Here’s another installment in our little series that explores the idea of modding our Mac OS X UI in small steps; replacing the Dock skin and default icons.

Mod Your Dock Skin & Icons

All of our target images are located within the Dock resources…


Images specific to the Dock skin are listed below.  Replacing all of the images is not required.

  • frontline.png
  • indicator_large.png
  • indicator_medium_simple.png
  • indicator_medium.png
  • indicator_small_simple.png
  • indicator_small.png
  • scurve-l.png
  • scurve-m.png
  • scurve-sm.png
  • scurve-xl.png
  • separator.png
  • separatorstraight-horizontal.png
  • separatorstraight.png
  • shadow.png

Icon images are…

  • dashboard.png
  • finder.png
  • trashempty.png
  • trashfull.png

Replacing the Dock skin images is as easy as drag and drop to overwrite the existing files — don’t forget to back up those up before you dig in.  Icon images are another method…

  • Icon images should be opened in an image editor.
  • Select All, then Clear/Delete the original image.
  • Copy and Paste a new image into the existing document.
  • Close/Save.

Easy cake my happy little UI Chefs!  One final step, launch the Terminal and use the ‘killall -KILL Dock’ command to restart the Dock to see your nifty mod work.

At the present, there happens to be a great selection of Dock skins available for download at deviantART.  LeopardDocks also has nice gallery but, as of this article date, the domain and contents are for sale so it may not be around much longer.

My screenshot features LedMetal by elpinchoDesigns.  As a personal mod I desaturated the indicators in Photoshop to change them from blue to grey.

Disclaimer: Apply this UI mod at your own risk, Rampant Mac not responsible for damage/loss.