Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Change the Default Color of Windows 7 Calendar Gadget

We all love that our PC should reflect our image – help others know what we are. Windows 7 operating system gives Desktop Personalization options using which we can change desktop, screen saver, sounds and place new gadgets that acts as handy tools on desktop. Among all default installed Windows 7 gadgets we find Windows 7 Calendar Gadget to be very useful and handy. But many times its default orange color will not match to our desktop personalization settings. In fact sometimes it looks very odd making overall effect of personalization setting ineffective.  On the more there is no direct way to change this gadget base color using its Options or by any other means.
But necessity is the mother of invention. I usually try to keep my PC reflect Me. Hence, I had devised following way to change default color of Calendar Gadget to any color we want. It will be fun to see transforming complete look of your desktop in your desired way.
Steps to Change the Default Color of Windows 7 Calendar Gadget:
  1. Go to folder %PROGRAMFILES%\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets
  2. Copy default Windows Calendar Gadget folder (Calendar.Gadget) to your convenient location. You need to do modification on the files contained in this folder.
  3. Rename above copied folder to your desired name; keeping last .Gadget part intact. For e.g. we can rename it MyBrownCalendar.Gadget. I will use this folder name further to refer our copied custom gadget calendar folder.
  4. In MyBrownCalendar.Gadget folder change all image files (drag.png, icon.png and ones found in images folder) that has presence of default calendar color; usually orange (#ff6400). By changing we means open these image files in your favorite painting editor like MSPaint, Paint.NET etc. and change all the portion containing default orange color to you desired color. You can choose any color, but whatever you choose maintain consistency and use same everywhere for better results.
  5. When you have updated all image files then move further to do some CSS file related changes. This file is found inside MyBrownCalendar.Gadget > en-US > css > Calendar.css. Do following changes in this file as per your color requirements:
    1. Changes regarding Today date color. Replace default color value #ff6400 in given below lines with your desired color value in hex. E.g. #0026ff for dark brown.
      1. {background:#ff6400;color:white}
      2. q.dow {font:bold;color:#ff6400;}
      3. {color:#ff6400}
    2. Changes regarding Month table’s border color which is displayed when Calendar is seen in full view. Replace default color value #dedfde in given below line with your desired color value in hex. E.g. #1a0605 for another shade of dark brown.
      1. {border-left:1 solid #dedfde}
    3. Changes regarding Month date change selection color. Replace default color value #ff6400 in given below line with your desired color value in hex. Please note do not keep this value same as Today date color value as given in step 5.1. Give some different color value here. Also give some color value which is dark like dark blue (:#0026ff) etc.
      1. {color:#ff6400}
  6. Once you are done with all these changes, just copy working copy of your folder MyBrownCalendar.Gadget back into %PROGRAMFILES%\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets. May be while copying you require Administrator rights.
  7. Now Open Gadgets Window (Right click Desktop > Gadgets) and you will find your Custom Background Color Calendar gadget there. It also shown with same name ‘Calendar’ along with default Calendar gadget but in different color. Double click on your Calendar gadget to install it.
With help of these steps you are done with steps of reforming you default Calendar gadget into your favorite color Calendar gadget.
Here are my customizations for Windows 7 calendar gadget:
Did you find this tip useful? Do you have another way to solve this problem? Let me know!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Simplified Roadmap for Metro style apps using C# or Visual Basic

Hello Windows 8 Developers,

We all love Windows. We are all aware that release date of Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 8 is near. According to unofficial sources, it is expected to be released around October 2012.

On May 31, 2012, Windows 8 Release Preview was released to the public by Microsoft. Have a look at this introductory video that shows what all Windows 8 had to offer to its consumers.

Windows 8 is assumed to prove as a revolutionary change in Windows line of operating systems including its immediate predecessor Windows 7. This is because as stated by Microsoft “Windows 8 is reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability”.
In Windows 8 we will be going to have totally new user experience through Windows 8 Metro Style Apps. Metro Style Apps involves Microsoft new UI design commonly known as Metro UI. In Metro UI we will see colored tiles that are treated as program shortcuts as well as its live widgets reporting data from those programs. This UI design is already implemented and seen in Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

So, taking all these upcoming development offerings from Microsoft in consideration we are sure developers are ready to have lot of fun and new learning experience while chasing their imaginations on all new Windows 8 development platform.

I assume those who are still left behind in catching the wave of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Development will wait no more and getting started soon.

With time, where Windows development platform is enriched with lot of innovative features we also found it has become more complex with lot more concepts, technologies and increased learning curve. Though we still give credit to MSDN for acting as first and most valuable learning resource for development in Microsoft Windows platform. In spite of having goof help from MSDN, still it is lot of stuff for beginners to start with.

Considering all above facts and huge interest of consumers in upcoming Windows 8 operating system I clearly found the need of organizing MSDN reference material for Windows 8 Metro Style Apps development in Easy to Follow Learning Roadmap. After analysis of available reference material on MSDN I’m able to come up with following learning roadmap. To maintain the quality of reference material I restricted all links within the limit of MSDN or Microsoft websites only.

Simplified Roadmap for Metro style apps using C# or Visual Basic
Sr. No. Topics Details
1 Home - Dev Center - Metro style apps This place is like yours Windows Start button to reach everything you need to learn and build Windows 8 Metro Apps.
2 Read the developer guide This is Windows 8 Product Guide for Developers. Read this to know what are Windows 8 Metro Apps offerings for developers. Good to explore the possibilities and imaginative application areas.
3 Roadmap for Metro style apps using C# or Visual Basic Main stage in learning roadmap of development of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps using C#/VB. It is recommended to go through all the topics mentioned on this webpage in serial fashion for better results.
4 Explore the documentation Complete Reference Study Material related to design and development of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps. Use it when you want to go in detail of some concept in order to understand it better. Recommend to go and read directly the concept/topic you are in need.
5 Favorite Link 1 - API reference You will need to refer this link frequently in order to learn, understand and resolves queries you face during development face of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps. Keep this link handy.
6 Favorite Link 2 – Samples If you also need to revisit this link quite frequently while you are in development phase of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps. Here you will look for quick readymade sample from Microsoft to understand the implementation (coding) of your desired Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Concept/Feature. Ensure you always search/browse putting you preferred programming language filter ON in order to make your search optimized.
7 Favorite Link 3 – Community resources Place to find answers to your real life problems related to Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Development from people who are currently involved and have good experience in Windows 8 Metro Style Apps development. This is a place to search when all your efforts failed to solve your development problem from all of the above resources. Also you will like to explore this place in your free time to learn from shared experiences of other developers about their Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Development.
8 Additional Link 1 - Concepts and architecture Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Development Internals. Explore for perfecting your understanding about concepts related to Windows 8 Metro Style Apps Development to its core. It helps you figuring out and inventing out of the box applications and features of Windows 8 Metro Style Apps.
9 Additional link 2- Selling apps You have just developed your new innovative Windows 8 Metro Style App and want to share or make some cool money from your app then this is all in one place to do all such things related to sharing or selling your apps to rest of the world. Go reach out the world and don’t forget this great saying “Sky is the limit”.

I found this roadmap cool and easy to follow for myself and I hope it will be useful for other Windows 8 Developer Community also.

Do you have any advice regarding how to best get started with Windows 8 Metro Style Apps development ? Please leave your response as a comment.
  1. Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview
  2. Windows 8 on Wikipedia
  3. Home – Windows 8 Metro App Dev

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Learning Demystified - A definitive roadmap to learn anything perfectly

So, what is learning?
The act of acquiring knowledge.
We all know, learning makes us knowledgeable and we also very well know knowledge is power.
We use our mind to learn things which is a free gift for all of us by nature.  Everyone wants to learn more, become knowledgeable and successful.
But in spite of all our sincere efforts, when we start to learn any topic we are faced by many challenges that limit the knowledge we attain ultimately. Here we are trying to find solution to all these challenges by understanding a powerful approach to learn things.
As we know, to learn (understand) something we require following things:
1.       Brain power
2.       Resources for learning like teachers, academic institutions, textbook, digital information from internet etc. and
3.       Set of skills to utilize above things effectively and finally accomplish our goal of attaining mastery in the desired topic.
Among all points given above; last point is most important because if we are approaching something without skills required for affective learning we are definitely reaching half the way.
As a solution we are devising here a universal, very generic learning plan which can be used to learn any topic and convert into persistent knowledge. When we have persistent knowledge of something we are said to have MASTERY on that topic.
The plan is composed of steps somewhat in a hierarchical fashion that will guide precisely what and when learner has done its necessary things in order to understand its desired topic.
The recommended is to follow steps in orderly fashion (first step to last step) but learners are allowed to make adjustments to suit their needs. For example, we can omit few steps that are not relevant to current topic we are learning. Still plan will help us to give awareness about list of all necessary steps that learners have to follow while learning any topic affectively.
It should be noted here each step is seen as one single learning skill which learner acquires when he approaches the learning in accordance with the step. The degree of perfection of approaching learning according to specified step determines the mastery level of that learning skill in that person. It is suggested that learners should only concentrate on doing each step precisely and completely and mastery in that step will gradually and automatically with time. So, don’t worry at all about how to acquire these learning skills or how to attain mastery in each of these skills. Just follow steps, do it what is said and that’s it. You will definitely get the results.
So, let’s start with very first set of steps that learners had to take in the beginning state of learning a topic. These set of steps belongs to ‘Cognitive Domain’.
Learning skills set 1 - Cognitive Domain Learning Steps (Skills)
Objective: Knowledge
Keywords: Knowing, Brain
 These learning steps belong to Cognitive Domain. To understand objective of these learning steps better we should try to relate all work done in these steps is for acquiring knowledge about that topic in human brain. That is following the sets of learning steps in Cognitive Domain we are aware about that topic and we know that topic till mastery level straight into our heads.
·         Step 1 - Knowledge
o   Terminology and specific (direct) facts of the topic. E.g. BIT, ASCII, Three main parts of computer is input, output and processing unit.
o   Deal with above facts (how to use above facts). Convert decimal to binary, learn about set of ASCII characters.
o   Principles and generalizations, theories and structures.
·         Step 2 - Comprehension (understanding of central idea conveyed indirectly and usually hidden)
o   Translation of topic information into more meaningful form.
o   Interpretation - Making a picture in mind. For e.g. of some abstract idea.
o   Extrapolation - An inference about the future (or about some hypothetical situation) based on known facts and observations.
·         Step 3 - Application
o   Solving problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge.
·         Step 4 - Analysis
o   The abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations.
·         Step 5 - Synthesis (Making new knowledge) by
o   Combining elements into new pattern
o   Proposing alternative solutions
·         Step 6 - Evaluation (Proof of validity and quality of the concept)
o   Doing judgments based on set of internal criteria. For e.g. devising a proof of the theorem or based on observation results of the conducted experiment.
o   Doing judgments based on criteria from external source.
Learning skills set 2 - Affective Domain Learning Steps (Skills)
Objective: Growth in attitudes, emotions and feelings
Keywords: Feelings and emotions, Heart
·         Step 7 - Receiving
o   The lowest and prerequisite level skill of affective domain. The learner passively pays attention. Without this level no learning can occur. This skill is acquired by paying attention on factors that enhances audience receiving skills like making learning environment silent, introducing ways to make topic interesting etc.
·         Step 8 - Responding
o   The learner actively participates in the learning process, not only attends to a stimulus; the learner also reacts in some way. E.g. doing quiz on particular topic.
·         Step 9 - Valuing
o   The leaner attaches values to an object, phenomenon or piece of information. For e.g. knowing its benefits in using it, percentage of marks allotted to a question, attach that information with some other piece of information or fact that motivates learner.
·         Step 10 - Organizing
o   Learner puts together different values, information and ideas and accommodate them within his own schema (understanding).
·         Step 11 - Characterizing
o   The learner holds a particular value or belief that now exerts influence on his/her behavior so that it becomes a characteristics.
Learning skills set 3 - Psychomotor Domain Learning Steps (Skills)
Objective: Practical learning in conjuction with brain and physical movement. Improving existing learning skills of Cognitive and Affective domain.
Keywords: Doing, Hand
·         Step 12 - Perception
o   The ability to act on someting based on guidance acquired by doing analysis from mind and information received from sensory stimulation. For e.g. analyzing where ball will fall and catching the ball.
·         Step 13 - Set (person's mindset)
o   It includes mental, physical, and emotional sets. These three sets are dispositions that predetermine a person's response to different situations (sometimes called mindsets).  Knows and acts upon a sequence of steps in a manufacturing process. Recognize one's abilities and limitations. Shows desire to learn a new process (motivation). NOTE: This subdivision of Psychomotor is closely related with the “Responding to phenomena” subdivision of the Affective domain.
·         Step 14 - Guided Response
o   The early stages in learning a complex skill that includes imitation and trial and error. Adequacy of performance is achieved by practicing. What is means with practice learner skill will move to next level that is will become Mechanism skill. Learner is given guidance (real-time / offline) and based on giving guidance he/she acts. E.g. following instructions to build a model.
·         Step 15 - Mechanism
o   This is the intermediate stage in learning a complex skill. Learned responses have become habitual and the movements can be performed with some confidence and proficiency. Examples: Use a personal computer. This skill is acquired once learner shows movements patterns without Guided Response.
·         Step 16 - Complex Overt Response (the perfection stage)
o   The skillful performance of motor acts that involve complex movement patterns. Proficiency is indicated by a quick, accurate, and highly coordinated performance, requiring a minimum of energy. This category includes performing without hesitation, and automatic performance. Maneuvers a car into a tight parallel parking spot.
·         Step 17 - Adaption
o   Skills are well developed and the individual can modify movement patterns to fit special requirements. Examples: Responds effectively to unexpected experiences. Modifies instruction to meet the needs of the learners.
·         Step 18 - Origination
o   Creating new movement patterns to fit a particular situation or specific problem. Creates a new gymnastic routine.
So, now we have a powerful learning plan which we can use as a guidance to target learning of any desired topic effectively.
Thanks for reading. Happy Learning!