by Paul Wirtz
SOMEWHERE IN CYBERSPACE - There's valuable software out there you don't know about. It's easy to get and a lot of it is free. There's new stuff and old stuff, big apps and little apps, all waiting for you to try them out. Here are my suggestions for downloads this month.
This is one of those neat little utilities that you just sit back and enjoy. It makes your desktop look nicer with custom gradient colors (that you select) on each of your title bars. No functionality; it's just surprisingly pretty.
You pick the colors and set the gradients any way you like them. Top to bottom, left to right, different color schemes for individual programs, CandyBarZ does it all. Plus, it's both Warp 3 and Warp 4 compatible.
Setup is simple and takes about five minutes. Download the file and unzip it to your \TEMP directory, then double-click on or run the CBSETUP setup program. If the setup program can't find its .INI or .DLL files, it then launches the CandyBarZ installer.
The installer gives you two drop-down boxes: "where do you want the DLLs" (you select a directory, such as \OS2\DLL) and "where do you want the INI file" (\OS2\DLL is a good choice here too). When the install is done, you reboot to initialize it all and CandyBarZ appears with its default colors.
Now run CBSETUP again. This time two sample title bars will appear for you to color, one for the colors of the active title bar (the one with the system focus) and the other for inactive title bars. Buttons let you select options such as horizontal, vertical, top and bottom shading, etc.
Pretty as it is, you don't want to try CandyBarZ in only 16 colors. I did, and 16 colors is downright ugly. My advice is to use CandyBarZ in 256 colors or better.
I chose brightish colors for my active windows, and more muted and grayer tones for the inactive settings. If you like to play, you can assign a different color scheme to individual .exe files.
Uninstalling is easy -- just erase the files.
CandyBarZ is free (it used to be $7 shareware) and takes up 216 KB on your hard drive.
Sometimes the letters that appear on your screen look a bit ragged. Freetype makes them healthy again by using a better display algorithm than the one embedded in the native OS/2 engine.
Let's see what happens when a program prints on the screen. There are various TrueType system fonts that the program can choose from (some come with Warp, and you can install more), and the program chooses one. The program then sends letters from the chosen font to Warp, and Warp's display engine puts those letters on your screen.
Freetype does a better job of choosing which pixels to set for each letter, giving you better-looking text. It substitutes its own DLL for the one in Warp (OS/2 was designed to allow you to do so) and processes the characters. Freetype also does a better job with TrueType hinting.
Little fonts and big fonts both look better with Freetype. You'll notice smoother fonts with less stairstepping when you use it.
To install, download the file and unzip it to \FREETYPE. Then run the install script. The install script modifies OS2.INI so that Freetype will display all your characters. (In OS2.INI, truetype.dll is replaced with freetype.dll.)
To remove Freetype, simply redirect your OS2.INI file back to the original IBM DLL.
Freetype is free, and takes up 63 KB of disk space. There are also various Unix versions if you work cross-platform, and for OS/2 installations before version 2.11 there are versions using the older compression method. The site even includes the source code.
Paul D. Wirtz is a systems integrator for Volt Information Sciences, Inc. and Vice President of the Southern California OS/2 User Group. He has a fondness for old-time radio.
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