Depression is Rotten

…or is it rotting? I sometimes feel like I’m just rotting away when I’m like this. I’ve been really depressed, lately. Certain life things have gone on, but I think some of it is also down to medication.

I recently went on sertraline and lymecycline, the latter of which is an anti-biotic and isn’t related to my mental health, but in-fact for the health of my scalp, as I have folliculitis. I’ve been on them for I think 30 days now.

I noticed quite the improvement with my anxiety and thus my OCD, but noticed no difference with the depression. After a while, my depression seemed to worsen. I’m trying to keep a hold of the blues, so I don’t end up entirely #0000ff.

One cool thing that came of this new (for me) medication, is that I created a small Linux program I shan’t name that logs when I’ve taken my medication, amongst other things. I worked on it for about 3 weeks, updating it here and there; cleaning the code and what-not. I’ve not missed a single day, thanks to the damn nag whenever I go on the computer! I hope to share it with the Linux world at some point, but not yet.

Back to depression…

I’ve even had old returning thoughts (or “urges”) of self-harm, which I absolutely have no intention of following; been there, done that, and got the ugly, badly-fitting, scratchy-as-fuck t-shirt. I don’t deserve that shit, despite my brain often thinking otherwise.

I don’t deserve an incredible girlfriend. I don’t deserve money. I don’t deserve such a wicked dad. I don’t deserve my best mate. A lot of negative thoughts fly around my head, these days.

Linux has been really important. I feel like I’m accomplishing something; working towards something. Staring at code all day on a bazillion command line windows really does discourage mindless, depressing, bullshit thoughts.

Are you depressed? Feel free to “wallow” with me.

“Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” – Alfred

As a side note to those of you who’ve followed me for some time now: thank you! I appreciate it, and I apologise if you’re annoyed by the lack of “life” posts and recent surge of nerd posts. What can I say, I’m a nerdy guy.

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Safely Insecure

There’s something special about filling two monitors with terminal windows on Linux, then smashing the keyboard until you fill each black space with jargon. I digress, before I’ve even started!

Today, I focused on accessing Android devices (3 mobile phones) via the USB Debugging feature within the Developer Options found or unlocked on most Android phones. I was even able to rescue all the files off an SD Card I previously deemed non-functional. Once I’d used and reused the CLI program adb – freely available on Linux, Windows, and Mac – I then focused my energies on trying to get my PC to communicate with my laptop.

Side note: I’ve truly come to appreciate just how open Linux is, but with that, also the risks involved.

Did you know that your router very probably has something called Mac Filtering, which’ll let you strictly set which devices can connect to your network? Your ISP likely gave you information, perhaps on a little card, that has your router’s local IP address; use this in the URL field on your browse of choice, then supply the login credentials your ISP gave you, in order to change these settings. Fair warning though, some settings on routers can seriously mess with your Internet connection and may end up costing you time and cash to remedy the screw-up. Proceed with caution.

Setting a longer password, with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols really does affect the security of that password. They don’t say it for funsies; it really does make it more time-consuming to crack. The longer and more obnoxious your wifi password is, the less likely anyone will sit outside your house for years in order to get access. You should be using the best encryption method your router allows for your wifi connection as well. While it helps to hide your SSID, it’s possible to see right past that with little effort, so I wouldn’t rely on it.

By the way, if you see an unsecure wireless network and think you might just log in to browse the interwebs for some much needed tweets and status updates, think again! These can be a very nasty trap. Commercially available networks can be different, but I’d still not trust a great deal to the offered free wifi of, say, McDonald’s.

“Get some work done, check your email or connect with friends. With free Wi-Fi at more than 11,500 participating restaurants, customers can access the Internet using their laptops or mobile devices at no charge. So grab a McCafé® Latte and log on. The Wi-Fi is on us!” – McDonald’s official website; link.

Notice the zero mention of security? This would suggest it’s really not that important to them, or perhaps they just don’t think it’s important to the majority of us. Either way, I’m concerned.

Ultimately, for the best security, use Ethernet cables and be done with wireless! Safe in the knowledge that the only way someone will get your data, is if they physically break into your home, which isn’t all that likely, unless you stick up a big billboard next to your home which reads, “Government secrets stored on servers inside this building.”

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Blue Light Can be Bad

Lately I’ve been getting quite proactive about my health. In doing so, I stumbled across something that’s all the rage, these days:

Blue light.

Okay, so we’ve had blue light for a while now, but, as technology becomes more apparent, and many of us humans get further glued to the many screens at our disposal, it’s become apparent that this blue light is a problem.

Assuming I’m understanding the science behind it, when we’re exposed to blue light, it typically suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for helping us to sleep at night. It’s a natural occurrence, as the sun itself produces blue light which of course helps keep us awake during the day.

If you’re like me, you’re on the computer late at night, then go to bed and stare at your phone for a little while, only to wake up and do it all over again! This can mess with our circadian rhythm.

Solution?

Well, aside from switching off your screens, you can install something like the small, free program called f.lux on the PC, or a similar app for your mobile phone. I’ve been trying f.lux tonight and have found it to be very nice on the eyes, although a little strange at first. I’m getting used to it. I don’t feel as alert as I usually would around this time, and it’s only just gone 9pm! I’m usually up at around 4-5am before I go to sleep, these days.

So, I’d recommend giving it a go. You can also lower your display brightness in general, and use dim red lights to help. I’ve even read some comments online that those struggling with insomnia have noticed a big difference using software that reduces blue light.

Good night!

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Worried about Dust Bunnies?

The whole “dust bunny” thing is quite the exaggeration these days, in my experience and opinion. If you wanna see when dust bunnies really cause problems, you should’ve seen the ancient desktop computer I once battled! It had a terrible case design that limited airflow and took in junk for a long time.

The windows in the person’s cluttered home were never really opened. The guy—unfortunately in a wheelchair thus not quite as able—had a dog, and he smoked a lot, both weed and cigarettes. The vents were almost completely blocked by junk. The heatsinks? Utterly caked. The computer hadn’t been opened up in years.

He wanted me to clean the machine out, so I started to do just that. I honestly had such a hard time because of the disgusting smell and dust that initially went straight into my lungs, that I quit! Never again.

When you’re dragging out huge, thick lumps of crap that make you feel as though you’re emptying a vacuume cleaner as opposed to a computer, then you have a problem on your hands.

Once you experience that, you don’t care too much about a few bits of dust.

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Sticking to nVidia’s Graphics Cards!

Never would I have imagined it would be so much hassle returning to an AMD graphics card. It wasn’t even a day before the MSI “Gaming” R9 290 OC was drop-kicked out the window. Performance isn’t always everything.

The ability to successfully cap a game’s fps was sorely lacking, at least with this GPU and driver package, the latter of which was the latest. AMD’s capping feature within the control panel was a nice attempt which completely failed to cap Borderlands, GTA 5 or Fallout 4. Furthermore, Fallout 4 refused to even start with it enabled to even 60fps.

This was a real issue for me because I’m a stickler for a consistent frame rate. I play games at 60fps only if they can keep it consistently, or at least the great majority of the time. Otherwise, I typically cap to 30fps and max it; it’s not ideal, but it’s somewhat like the best of both the console and PC worlds.

A few other things that were off-putting with this graphics card is that it ran very hot, and the fans would start to squeal upon ramping up. Sure, AMD says the R9 290 safely supports 95c; I’m not convinced, and still feel that is too hot, especially when all that heat is being chucked around the rig. My Zalmon Z11 is pretty well air-cooled, and I’m not in a particularly hot country, but none-the-less I don’t feel comfortable with that kinda heat. The card ramped up to 88c and would’ve gladly gone higher had it the chance.

It wasn’t all bad, as the 2012 game Hitman Absolution ran well, maintaining 60fps from what I saw. Every setting, bar 1, was maxed with 4x AA. However, the game would drop a lot of frames during certain scenes which seemed to be down to the “Level of Detail” setting which I lowered a little. Problem was solved, but on the other card I cap to 30fps and max it all; no problem. I also enjoyed the display colors the red corner offered, as opposed to nVidia’s more washed-out look.

I’m finally seeing that performance is not the most important thing: functionality is, at least to me. I had a headache with the drivers. Sure, they installed fine the first time around, but when I tried to uninstall the driver to put on a different version, I lost visuals completely and upon restarting the computer, both screens were entirely corrupted beyond any use. It was reminiscent of the instability I’d experienced before with Linux.

I decided that was enough. I opened my bitch up, shoved that ASUS 760 OC back where it belongs, sealed her tight, and loaded this rig up with a vengeance. Now things “just work” as they should’ve done in the first place.

Fallout 4 and GTA 5 were fine, but they couldn’t consistently keep 60fps, or at least without stuttering. I could’ve lowered lots of settings, but I had expected more from this card, given its specs. I was so close with GTA 5, though; I would get stuttering which I can only assume was down to the occasional dip below 60fps. I’m realising that obsessing over 60fps is causing more harm than good.

I’ve tried to keep an open mind with regards to what people have said about AMD’s drivers over the years, but this has left a very bad impression. I’m just relieved I didn’t throw down a bunch of monies on that card!

I shan’t be revisiting AMD graphics cards any time soon, for the simple reason that nVidia’s cards and/or drivers—currently and in my experience—work and have features I consider absolutely essential.

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Screw You, Technology

I’m so sick and tired of technology.

How is it, after all these fantastic years of discovery and advancements, we have computers so smart they get sent into space, yet here on planet Earth, this Toshiba laptop refuses to use official drivers from two official locations, both Toshiba’s site and AMD’s site, on an operating system with which it was originally sold?

I’m fed up of Windows troubles. I’m sick of Skype not working; dying on Android then dying on my PC for seemingly no reason with no decent help to be found online, for others too. Messages not getting sent or received, calls being dropped, video failing to show, and surely more issues have plagued my various Skype installations for too long.

I’m sick of Microsoft with their questionable business decisions and obnoxious software changes, forcing us into some crap for which some of us frankly don’t give a shit. What exactly was so wrong with Windows Live Messenger with Plus! which worked so well, looked fantastic, and was so popular? Don’t even get me started on the initial XBOX One fiasco!

I’ve had enough of troubleshooting; having to test, remember each and every setting in-case the computer implodes at any given moment, and trying to figure out just how technology has somehow screwed me.

I’m sick of companies like Google sticking their noses up something that was perfectly fine the way it was! Sure, because we really needed Google+ and Google’s interference with what was a perfectly fine and dandy system on YouTube. Yeah, I said it.

Use Linux! I hear you shout. Well, I’ve ran into arguably more issues there than I ever have with modern Windows (7 and 8.1) so I have no clue what the hell to think of Linux. Crash after freeze after failed installation mixed with a terminal and computer jargon with which most probably don’t care to deal—not fun.

I’m tired of technology advancing so fast, making you spend so much money just to play games in a stable and pleasant way, despite having spent a sizable chunk of dosh to have a decent experience. Assuming, of course, the damn companies don’t make a complete and utter, dire, joke of a mess of these so-called AAA games; stutter, horrendous FPS on solid machines, CtDs, freezes, errors, corrupted saves, and so much more await many a modern PC gamer.

Technology, kindly go home, because you’re well and truly wankered.

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Andy – Your Virtual Android Device

I don’t usually give my impressions on a random piece of software I found, but I’ve been hooked to this program since I installed it 2 days ago, so I think an exception can be made here. Let’s nerd up and geek it out.

Andy. So what is it? Well, it’s an Android emulator that I believe rivals Blue Stacks, another Android emulator. However, many—myself included—find Andy to be massively superior, both in features and performance, while remaining entirely free and true to the Android experience.

If you wish to quit reading and get to installing Andy, simply click here. Otherwise, continue through the page to read what else I have to say about this fantastic piece of software.

“Andy breaks down the barrier between desktop and mobile computing, while keeping a user up to date with the latest Android OS feature upgrades. It also provides users with unlimited storage capacity, PC and Mac compatibility, and the freedom to play the most popular mobile games on a desktop, Yes you can now run Android on windows.”taken from andyroid’s official home page.

So, there you have it. There’s more, though.

I expected the software to be absolutely full of bugs, but actually I believe I’ve only really discovered one so far, and that is the inability to set down some widgets on the home screen, which is frustrating, but not a game changer for me. If you rely heavily on widget use, then perhaps this won’t currently be the emulator for you.

I’m currently listening to Heart at 101.7 and all from my computer, presumably without an ariel, so I guess it’s effectively Internet radio. I’m using Radioplayer, an Android app found on the Play Store—yes, you can indeed you your Google accounts as you would with your regular device!

I chose to create my own Google account to be safe and to keep my phone and Andy entirely separate. I did run into an issue initially whereby I couldn’t get the first account I made to authenticate but I created a new account which ended up working.

I’ve had issues with Skype for the PC, so I uninstalled it, and then installed Skype on the virtual, high-spec tablet, which just so happened to have solved all those Skype issues I had on the desktop—score.

I’m finding that games are definitely awesome, with a nice big screen and a really good level of performance, but your mileage may vary, as it will of course depend on your computer’s specifications. I’ve been playing games like Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter and Supercell’s Clash of Clans without issue.

I ran into problems with the controls on a shooter, Dead Trigger 2 by MADFINGER Games, requiring two thumbs on a screen for optimal movement, but I believe this can somehow be resolved, according to the official Andyroid website, by using your phone as a “remote control when playing games.”

“If you have an Android device running Android 2.2 and up you can control Andy with your phone. This let’s you take advantage of multitouch, gyroscope, accelerometer,
location and other various sensors to control your games and apps in Andy.” – Taken from the FAQ page on Andyroid’s official website.

You can actually backup your Andy tablet and create various tablets, or even have profiles for different Andy users on your computer. It’s not just about you anymore! This software is ideal for developers and for those who don’t own an Android device but still wish to check it all out.

Sadly, by default, I’m only on Android version 4.2.2, the “sweeter tasting Jelly Bean.” While I don’t have any real issue with this, it would be nice to try the latest editions of Android, but I’m sure Andy will be updated eventually.

It is fairly easy to exchange files between Andy and Windows. By going to %userprofile%\Andy\ and dropping in files there, you can easily pick those up within Andy. As I discovered, this is especially important when it comes to using apps like Skype to send images to your friends and family.

Oh, and yes, you can even use WhatsApp. Apparently all you need to do is install it as normal from the Play Store, “select the phone call authentication and enter your mobile number,” then you just jot down the code you’re given.

Andy can make use of your XBOX 360 wired controller (potentially others), your webcam, and your PC’s microphone too. I have had no issues using these devices, other than finding the controller to be entirely unlike how you would expect it to be on Windows.

Andy can rotate the screen with the click of a button outside of the main screen; this allows you full use of those apps which function only in either portrait or landscape. I’ve used this in the menus, on games, and regular apps without any problems.

To conclude, Andy is a brilliant, effective program for those looking to emulate an Android device on your PC without the need to hand over your hard-earned cash.

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Storage Devices Over the Years

I feel all nostalgic, looking back at how storage has evolved over the years, since I first started using computers in a none-educational capacity, back in the ’90s.

I have memories of the 8-inch, 5¼-inch, and 3½-inch floppy disks. I have memories of DAT tapes via an Amstrad, loading up screeching data for a very BASIC application. I recall buying what was possibly my first pendrive from PC World, for around £20, which rather unremarkedly earned me 128MB of storage. I remember buying CD and DVD writable discs, then rewritable discs. I remember just a few years ago—perhaps more than just a few—I bought a Hitachi external HDD, 500GB, for £60 from Argos.

We have so many ways to save our data. I reflect on all of this because I recently acquired an SSD, at long last, with its blazingly fast speeds, I’m reminded of the IDE cables – do you remember buying or salvaging a better cable in order to get better speed from your old IDE HDD? Those were the days. Fiddling around with master and slave, as though we were playing dominatrix to our old, mechanical platters.

I remember moving from IDE to SATA, stubbornly typing it as S-ATA, because that’s what so many magazines and online sources were doing – I was determined to type it how I wanted! Here I am, typing it like the rest of us, because most of us realised the hyphen is completely unnecessary. SATA was revolutionary. Not only has SATA given us more power-efficient devices, better cable management, and faster speeds, but they’ve done away with the bedroom master-slave business and allowed us to just simply plug it in and away you go – fantastic!

Now, here we are, the Dawn of the SSD, despite their existance—n some form or another—for quite a while, they have been more widely commercially available to the general Joe Bloggs since approximately 2002, around the time NAS flash SSDs transferred to our computers. I see SSDs now, and, probably like many others, I see them as the future. I think HDDs will gradually be eliminated. I see no way to properly obtain the speeds required for a lot of today’s computing with an old technology that is only so upgradeable. The fact is, the mechanical drive has moving parts, and this slows down file access. SSDs, however, as we all know, “have no moving parts,” as they are so often applauded.

It’s not just the performance of drives and their physical size, but also the size on the disk itself, or disc, if you consider the optical media. Back in the late ’90s, I had an old Windows 95 machine with, I believe, a 2GB PATA HDD and an old, slow cable. Honestly, the years and modern technology have not done well for my memory of the old wires I would use – I remember scrapping old computers for cables and amassing a rather big pile of junk.

We have cards, too—there doesn’t seem to be an end to the way in which we Ctrl + S our data. There’s MMC, SMC, SD, MicroSD, and many more. Our phones, our tablets, our cameras, and who knows what else often have little cards in them storing so much data; this makes me think on the physical size of the storage devices we now have. Look at the change from clunky HDD to a tiny, thin little card, and the card is now capable of more than that 2GB HDD I had when I was a kid! Astonishing.

To paraphrase a news headline by Extreme Tech: “Western Digital unveils the world’s first 10TB HDD,” apparently. Hell, back when I had a RISC computer, I believe I was looking merely at MB, rather than TB! How long before we’re toting 1mm Exabyte memory cards for our insanely high-pixel pictures and videos taken by our microscopic cameras? When exactly will we be satisfied?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super impressed with technology and how it has developed, but, I have to say, I’m a little intimidated by the speed and furosity at which technology is blasting ahead, stopping at nothing to bedazzle and bemuse the consumer, bringing in the big bucks.

Oh well, save as.

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Am I Too Old to Play Games?

I’m currently twenty-eight years old, almost twenty-nine, and I enjoy gaming as I have done since I was a kid. Occasionally, the Internet tells me I’m too old for gaming, that I shouldn’t be doing this, should be doing that, and recommends that I, “get a life.” Is this fair? I don’t think so; at least that’s the opinion which I voice. Deep down, like I often do, I doubt myself. So here I am, asking the question: am I too old to play games?

I think in order to attempt an answer to this question, I also have to enter into the debate of whether games are potentially a positive influence on us, helping us in various ways that actaully can make quite the difference.

But I'm so wound up!

When you’re stressed or outright angry, should you go out to the pub to get bladdered and start a fight with that local Scottish guy who keeps telling you how boney things are? Ach nae—you’re better off whipping out some hardcore games, sitting your arse in-front of a computer or TV, taking hold of that controller, and frantically smashing those buttons until you’ve had your fill. I think this works in my favor, because games are, for me, a stress-reliever, amongst other things.

What if I have no friends?

Come on, let’s face it, you’re sat at home playing World of Warcraft because there’s a big, scary world out there, with real, animated people who can physically interact with you. No? Well, I wager some of you—OK, let’s be frank—a lot of you, myself included, perhaps don’t have the best social lives, be it because we’re socially inept or simply too busy, … playing games. Whatever the reason is, there’s no denying that games offer us an alternative way in which to socialize, and so this is a point in my favor.

I played Gran Tourismo so now I can drive in real life!

Luckily, there’s a real license to acquire before one can legally drive. Behind the facetious subheading, what I’m really saying is that there is much to learn from games. I did actaully learn a lot about cars from Gran Tourismo. My dad, having a history as a mechanic, knows a lot about cars, and as such, was only too happy to tell me when I was speaking nonsense, but, surprisingly often, Gran Tourismo did a lot right. OK, you might argue that if I wanted to learn about cars, I needed only to go to college and learn such knowledge from Prof. Fancypants; well, good sir or madam, if I might interject! Isn’t playing a game a metric crap-ton more fun when it comes to learning, not to mention, as a result, more successful at teaching us things? Here’s some paraphrasing of what Wiki has to say about Gamification:

Gamification has been studied and applied in several domains, with some of the main purposes being to engage, teach, entertain, measure, and to improve the perceived ease of use of information systems.

Come on! That says it all, right? I’m sure if you dig deeper, you’ll find lots of positive studies that show how helpful it can be to play and learn, but don’t just take my word for it, or the word from the people with fancy qualifications, but instead try it for yourself!

As has been mentioned elsewhere on Taut with Thought, I’m interested in languages, specifically, English and German, but I’ve tip-toed into Dutch and French. I’m by no means a polyglot, but gamification helped me a lot with my German.

There’s a website called Duolingo that I would strongly recommend to anybody learning another language. Duolingo won’t do it all for you, but what it offers is truly useful—I think perhaps the most useful thing from Duolingo, is the community, some of whom offer sound, informative advice. I’ve also had some gamification from actaully playing regular games, like MMORPGs, but in German! The entire client all set in German, playing on German servers. Since I can’t go to Germany, that’s almost as close as I’ll get to immersing myself into the language.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that gamification often works, which I believe gives a solid point in my favor.

Thanks to gaming, I learned what morality means!

Admittedly, it’s probably not a great idea to base your entire moral compass on games like Grand Theft Auto, in which you eventually discover that you can get laid for the grand price of zilch, if you simply whack the hooker once you’ve done the nasty.

Wait! Put down the bat, inhale, and step away from that there dame. I’m saying Grand Theft Auto is the bad kind of thing from which to learn! Dammit, go back to your games— you’ve got more to learn about morality, son.

The thing is, and this is just a theory that just now cropped up deep within my brain, but what if games don’t teach us morality, so much as give us the opportunity to find our own morality? Perhaps you are a psychopath who enjoys boning then maiming your local prozzie; hey, that’s cool, because you discovered that from within a wonderful, vibrant game world.

I am of course mostly joking, but I think there remains a point here, somewhere, but I’m somewhat on the fence—what do you think?

Age is just a number, though.

Now that I’ve established some positive things to take from gaming, it’s time to add into the factor of age.

As we all too often see, there are a great many games that contain adult themes, such as sex, disturbing scenes, frightening imagry, and other such messed-up kit that you most definitely shouldn’t show a young child. With this in mind, doesn’t that then mean that a lot of games have been intentionally made more adult-friendly?

While a young child shouldn’t really play Grand Theft Auto, an adult sure as hell can! What about those freaky movies y’all watch on your little flick-box? What about the saucy material you read about late at night, alone, in the dark?—your sticky book made visible only by the moonlight glimming through the window pane. Come on, whether you’re in your 20s or 90s, it shouldn’t make a difference.

I just don't have the time!

Yet, you have the time to watch TV, read books, and to go out for the sole reason of getting bladdered—are you just making excuses for yourself? Games aren’t some shady, top secret you have to hide in a dark corner of your dank cellar amongst your shackled family and the used bog roll you just can’t help but to buy from eBay; that’s a thing, right?

To conclude:

Gaming may have started off as a gimmick for the incredibly bored youth of the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean we’re still living in such times.

A lot of the comments I get about my age and gaming come from kids, funnily enough; I put this squarely down to the fact that they—kids in general—have an idea that adults are all boring and serious, to which I profess: “Hell no!”

I honestly think that, logically, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with adults who enjoy playing games. I just see gaming as yet another form of entertainment, just like watching the TV, listening to music, or setting orphanages on fire.

If you’re an old fart like me and you still enjoy the odd gaming session here and there, I say go for it; ignore the kids and stuffy adults who tell you otherwise.

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The Return of Black within Windows 8.1

It took me a lot of faffing about over such a long period of time to finally stumble across the right stuff at the right time.

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The reason I put up the timer is because I wanted to demonstrate that it even themes properly with an obscure application like this simple Flash-based one. Notice the title bar isn’t black text? It took me a long time to discover a fix for that little problem. The start menu is there courtesy of a third-party program (obviously) which I’ll get to below.

Before doing this, backup your OS partition(s) using something like the Windows “Shadow Copy” feature, a third-party tool, or just gamble with System Restore; this is just in the event that something goes wrong, and for our peace of mind.

Everything was smooth-sailing for me, but should something go awry for you, I won’t be held responsible, for the decision to follow these instructions are solely your own. I also cannot be held responsibile for the pages to which this blog entry links, nor can I do anything about the software I point you towards. I hope you understand.

Now that we’ve got the prelude out of the way, here are the steps I took in order to finally get a fully-functional black theme going in Windows 8.1:

Step #1:
I enlarged the window borders (preference – further ensures the black stands out) by using a similar (Winaero Tweaker) tool to this: Tiny Windows Borders for Windows 8 It wasn’t damaging, does not need to be repeated, and seems to stick even when other settings change, such as another theme. Please ensure you scan all downloads prior to opening them.

Step #2:
I had previously downloaded and installed a brilliant (entirely free, without ads and nags) application that’s small, functional, and, in my opinion, aesthetically pleasing. You can get ClassicShell here: Classic Shell – Start menu and other Windows enhancements This will bring back the start menu, allowing for extra configurations, as well as most of the usual you’d expect from before this OS. Remember to play with the options to get it how you like, clicking “show all settings”, and especially set the skin to “Windows Aero” in order to get that Windows 7 look that goes so well when this is all done.

Step #3:
I downloaded and used UxStyle, which you can download for free. It’s absolutely imperative that you heed my advice of backing up (I used Windows’ own backup feature; use Google something like, “Shadow Copy Windows 8.1” to discover this hidden gem) just in-case something goes awry. I’ve used it a couple of times (and many more with Windows XP and Windows 7) without a problem, but it’s better safe than sorry, as they say. I had to restart the computer after patching Windows with it.

Step #4:
When I had Windows 7, I would use a sleek, black cursor pack called Obsidian, which you can freely download from this link; it goes very well with almost any black theme, I’ve found.

Step #5:
You can of course choose any background you like – I was gravitated pretty strongly towards this one, because I felt it matched it well.

Step #6:
If you use Firefox and would like the matching theme I use on the browser, then follow this step, but if not, skip to #7:

I use, “FT DeepDark,” version 12.0.1, made freely and publicly available by Stefano Rosselli.

Step #7:
The piece de resistance of it all is the main theme (or ‘skin’) which can be downloaded from this link. This pack containers 3 variations, if you fancy a change.

I’ve also recently discovered another theme that works properly and looks great: Base for Windows 8.1 I strongly recommend it. I also recommend checking out the Ribbon Disabler, which also works in Windows 8.1, because it’s handy for certain themes, and good for those who just hate the new ribbon in Windows 8.1!

That’s all there is to it. If this guide was helpful to you, then it would be fantastic if you would share this blog post so others can also benefit.

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