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News Plugin
02-14-2004, 02:01 AM
Post: #1
News Plugin
Here is a screenshot showing (from left to right) DK Clock, DK News Headlines, DK Weather Ultra Special, DK Wind, DK Ultraviolet Index & DK Health.

Any questions? You may inquire of HorusUK or with ourselves at HMSS Q Section.

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03-12-2004, 04:14 PM
Post: #2
 
Yes, my question is how do you get the CNN WM to work? There are no instructions and no hint as to what URL I should be pointing to or what order the data should be included in. I cannot find the DK news skin in the library BTW. What did you name it?

I must say, TLB is a wonderful program and has great potential (otherwise I wouldn't have PAID for it) but the lack of documentation of plugins and skins and the sheer tedium of having to search through unrelated forum posts and FAQs could do it in.

E.G. - The thread on using WM skins in a menu and pulling data from 3-4 different sources was excellent, but so much was left up to the user to figure out on their own. (Like the fact that the URL structure from AWS was using a 2001 version of their website - which happily is still available.) I did get it to work and am quite happy with it, but it seems like everything in TLB takes hours of work to match the developers intent.

I've all but given up on the other DK stuff, which is a pity cause it looks so darn good. But without any kind of instructions they're useless to me.

Not a criticism as much as an observation; since I am a paying customer my intention is to see the S/W succeed and be continually developed. If I am missing something obvious, I'll gladly be the first to apologize but I have done a considerable amount of research...the info may be here but it's quite hard to find.

Thanks!
kaizen

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03-12-2004, 05:04 PM
Post: #3
 
There are many shortcomings to a lot of products, and True Launch Bar is no exception. Yes, it's daunting to begin with, but then so are many other Windows customising applications such as LiteStep, Object Desktop, Samurize, Aston, Style XP, etc.

Yes, Weather Monitor is one of the better documented plugins (see here), and it's one I've got a fairly good handle on. The problem is more with the weather providers. If we could stop them changing pages too frequently (yes, I mean you Wunderground) we'd be sailing free. There's stuff in the works from Yuri that will cater for our less technical members, such as the Weather Monitor SPECIFICALLY for the weather.com XML feed.

There is one thing for me that stands out about True Launch Bar over every other piece of software I've tried, and that's access to the Yuri, the developer. I had many questions during the development of the DK skins, and he answered them quickly, and properly.

There's also a growing community here now with many exemplary members such as shapeshifter who posts eagerly and regularly assisting fellow board users as well as being a skin maker. Where would we be without the excellent work that cmishima puts into the True Launch Bar FAQ and helping out on the board?

We've got some good skinners on board, such as bbfi who gets an honorary mention for a superb quality set of WM skins, as does QSection who are amazingly helpful during skin development! Alongside that, we have more and more users regularly taking an active part in the forums (along with the odd pirate that some of us delight in exposing...) Big Grin

If you have any specific questions, ask them on the board. You'll get a lot of help from us and Yuri. All the help we can give Yuri in making this the product what we want it to be, is going to help write the documentation!

Finally, if you have any questions regarding my DK skins just let me know, and I will help you in any way I can. My apologies for not documenting them as completely as others, but my lack of vision was in how popular they seem to have been. A lesson for next time, perhaps.

Remember:
We're only just rattling the box of matches that is going to light the blue touchpaper on True Launch Bar and send it rocketing skyward.

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03-12-2004, 05:57 PM
Post: #4
 
Welcome to True Launch Bar, kaizen!
Quite well put, HorusUK! Big Grin
HorusUK Wrote:Remember:
We're only just rattling the box of matches that is going to light the blue touchpaper on True Launch Bar and send it rocketing skyward.
By the way, have you a minor in poetry as well?
Again, your whole post mirrors our sentiments and is quite well put! Wink

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03-12-2004, 07:46 PM
Post: #5
 
Quote:By the way, have you a minor in poetry as well?
Sadly not, QSection! My poetic abilities only go as far as being able to make silly limericks, and rhyming "frog" with "dog"... Big Grin

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03-13-2004, 10:44 AM
Post: #6
 
One of the reasons some of the weather plugins are difficult to configure and use is because we are pushing the weather monitor beyond what it was originally designed for. I know Yuri is working on a more universal web data fetcher and, once complete, I think many of these complexities will go away.

I've seen this product go from an enhanced start menu replacement with a few added features to a full blown windows information center/launchpad. As such, there will be some growing pains. I, for one, am excited that Yuri and the users on this board continue to push and expand the limits of TLB. Makes me confident that there will always be bigger and better things ahead.... at least until Mr. Gates gives Yuri a call with a buyout offer. Tongue

Rick.
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03-13-2004, 11:32 AM
Post: #7
 
I am in total agreement with you all. I have seen this product evolve into a necessity to me. It makes my computer work so much more easy, productive, and pleasing to the eyes. Yuri is a really good programmer and a nice person too. He is always there to fix a bug or listen to our ideas for new plugins, etc. The people at this forum are also what makes this such a good piece of software. They too push the limits of what TLB does and will do in the future. Big Grin

And sure there are times when some of the skins and plugins might be difficult to configure, but this is a work in progress and will only get better and easier as the problems are worked through. I happen to find some of the rough edges a challenge and use my spare time to try to think them out. When I have a problem, there is always Yuri, QSection, HorusUK, BlueHeaven, shapeshifter, or one of the many others to ask for advice or further testing of a skin or idea. Tongue

Long live True Launch Bar. Wink
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03-14-2004, 11:07 AM
Post: #8
 
Well, thanks to all you for the welcomes, and your support of the product and it's future is evident and admirable. I think we're pretty much in agreement here; I wouldn't have registered the program unless I truly found it a necessary addition. That's one of the great things about shareware; you can try out a lot of things out there for any given need and vote with your dollars on the one you want to see developed and supported.

As far as the learning curve and technical aspects, I'm not too daunted by them; I am comforatble in XML content use and quite familiar with other skinning proggys/UI Enhancements - even developed a couple of nice XML/DesktopX objects.

But while I agree with your views and liked what you wrote....noone actually answered my questions... Smile I still don't know where the DK News Headlines skin is. I never received any answers on configuring the CNN skin either. Just as a comparitive example; I find that the plugins and objects released for Stardock's DesktopX are throoughly tested out with other developers and then they contribute to documenting the configs with the distributable so that even novices can install them. The CNN skin has *no* docs, not even a readme file which makes a new user unable to do anything with it. It left me with the feeling that new users are outsiders and this sort of thing was developed for the regulars in response to a previous discussion. (Granted this is a strictly subjective observation, but may be valid in some user experiences.)

As far as the 'Menu Based Weather Monitor' (I'm referring to the collection of skins developed as 'suite' to be used in menu mode, pulling info from different web sites...not usre if it has an official name) it was exactly what I was looking for so there was a real incentive to get it running. There was some documentation there and while sparse it really helped - and the discussion in the forum made up for whatever the docs lacked. But while I understand HorusUK's comments about providers changing URLs, surely the person who developed this (or everyday users) had to notice at sometime that the providers had changed their URLs, yet the provider files/documentation was never updated in the case of the AWS provider, nor was the subject listed in the FAQ or forums. To me this is very important to the products future, especially during the evaluation cycle. I wonder how many Joe Users out there just gave up and said, "Well, *that's* not going to work for me...NEXT..." Admittedly, not everyone's as hard headed and persitant as us techie types. Wink

What's my mind blowing solution to this? Well I don't have one as such - but my hope in opening this dialogue - besides actually getting the darn thing to work Smile - was to get the hardcore TLB gurus like yourselves to think about this. And if I can provide any perspective, to offer my help. Like I said, I really use even the simple features of TLB on a constant basis, so it is in my own best interest to see the thing survive, thrive (and hopefully stop crashing annoyingly whenever I go through the settings) Smile!

(BTW, If I'm in the wrong place, please direct me to the right one and accept my apologies!)

Robert Anthony Pitera
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03-14-2004, 01:05 PM
Post: #9
 
kaizen,

I'm the one who did the skins for the menu based weather monitor and I'm glad you like it although you have problems with some of it due to configuring it. I apologize for not actually answering your question. I must have overlooked the part about my skins and your findings. Sad

Two things, first is that I didn't even know AWS updated their site. I have used the same page for years with no problems. Smile

Second, after trying their new site, I found quite a few problems with it. For instance, the new site works only with cookies and remembers the zip code only at their site, instead of at Weather Monitor. Therefore, if you happen to change the zip code at their site to check some weather in a different area and forget to change it back to your hometown, then you will get that info on Weather Monitor each time instead of your home zip code. Sad

Also, there is no parsing for wind speed or direction, or monthly rain, or min./max. values, or metric values. So, although the new site has pictures, it lacks additional info and use with Weather Monitor. Sad

And this is the real problem here. Web sites with weather info keep changing their setups which fouls up Weather Monitor. And each site likes to determine what info we get. There is NO site I know of that has everything we want. :angry:

Most of these skins are written by users of TLB. We do it for the challenge, love of it, or whatever reason we have. Since, it is a hobby and we do not get paid for it, perhaps we do not produce the skins with everything needed for individuals who do not have our aptitude in programming. This, of course, is an over site in our eagerness to create something that we feel is really good and useful to others. But, as you mentioned, the lack of documentation, updating, trying it out with different areas or operating systems, or whatever, is beyond our limited capabilities (at least mine). ???

I also understand where you are coming from, in that most people will give up and go onto something else. That is the purpose of these forums. To help others get it up and running. I feel we do a fairly decent job in this, but improvements can be made and I'm sure we all agree that we want TLB and all of its plugins to excel. And as long as we get feedback from people like yourself which is constructive and not something like "This stuff doesn't work. It stinks", then I believe we will be able to satisfy the needs of others and have them have the ultimate in plugins and desktop usability. Wink

I hope this helps somewhat, kaizen. Wink
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03-14-2004, 01:33 PM
Post: #10
 
Hello kaizen

For CNN News to work you need the CNN skin from the skin library page. This needs to be placed in the Weather Monitor folder under skins. Also needed is a provider file found below which we are unsure if you have or not. This gets placed in TrueLaunchBar\Plugins\Weathermon\Providers. Then click on the TLB and select New and then select Weather Monitor and name it CNN News. Then from the properties window in the Skins section select News - CNN. In the Provider select CNN News. In the URL place this: http://edition.cnn.com/. In the Use in skin place these in this order:
Headline News
Headline 2
Headline 3
Headline 4
Updated
Headline 5

Then select Ok and see if it works. If it does not please post here again and more specific help will be on the way!

Best wishes

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03-14-2004, 04:35 PM
Post: #11
 
Thanks for your replies guys. I'd like to comment on the last two posts, firstly to bbfi. (BTW, I didn't just like your skins - I love them. and with the AWS thing figured out, I think they work quite well for me. For my DesktopX Weather object, I ended up sourcing an XML feed from weather.com and I'd love to try porting it to here once the improved 'Fetcher' is released.)

Quote:Most of these skins are written by users of TLB. We do it for the challenge, love of it, or whatever reason we have. Since, it is a hobby and we do not get paid for it, perhaps we do not produce the skins with everything needed for individuals who do not have our aptitude in programming. This, of course, is an over site in our eagerness to create something that we feel is really good and useful to others. But, as you mentioned, the lack of documentation, updating, trying it out with different areas or operating systems, or whatever, is beyond our limited capabilities (at least mine).

As I mentioned with the example of DesktopX Objects, they are entirely free and created by users for love of the project. The only ones making money there are Stardock (and they are keeping the fees quite reasonable). The difference there seems to be more interaction with the end users, engaging them in the testing and documentation process, and having them reach out when things change like XML/RSS feeds or something in a new release. I'm only suggesting the same for this community and wondering how to go about helping in the process if I can. One thing the Board admins may consider is creating separate topics for each plugin, rather than lumping 'em all together - it makes it easier for a new user to find the appropriate forum. (Also a more current update of IB would be a help; they've fixed many bugs and improved the search capabilities since 3.0)

Also, how does one go about creating skins? What is the process and what do the settings in the ini files reflect? There doesn't seem to be anything on them in the FAQ or site, and if it's in the forums then it's seems buried pretty deep. This is another one of those things that lend to the 'outsider perception' I mentioned before; like it's a secret club or something Tongue knowing the process will not only help to educate users to create skins and grow the skin/plugin base but would also help people to understand how to proceed if things don't go as planned. True, the forums are supposed to accomplish this partly but if I read your quote right then you (and others) are already overworked - taking some of the forum support tasks off your hands could only help in giving developers more time for productive pursuits like documentation and updates, right?

Quote:For CNN News to work you need the CNN skin from the skin library page. This needs to be placed in the Weather Monitor folder under skins. Also needed is a provider file found below which we are unsure if you have or not. This gets placed in TrueLaunchBar\Plugins\Weathermon\Providers. Then click on the TLB and select New and then select Weather Monitor and name it CNN News. Then from the properties window in the Skins section select News - CNN. In the Provider select CNN News. In the URL place this: http://edition.cnn.com/. In the Use in skin place these in this order:
Headline News
Headline 2
Headline 3
Headline 4
Updated
Headline 5

Then select Ok and see if it works. If it does not please post here again and more specific help will be on the way!
To QSection - Thanks so much, those simple instructions did the trick! Someone should cut and paste them into a text file and include it in the skin's zip file; it'll go a long way to preventing the same questions. BTW, I still cannot locate your DK News skin in the file library - am I missing something or is the library Smile?

Thanks to both of you for your time and efforts as well as the discussion. I hope users appreciate the type of people that appear to make up this community and will join me in supporting them!

Robert Anthony Pitera
West of East Digital Services
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03-14-2004, 11:12 PM
Post: #12
 
QSection Wrote:Hello kaizen

For CNN News to work you need the CNN skin from the skin library page.
kaizen

The link is here from our last post. If you click on "the skin library" you will find yourself on the page with the CNN News skin available. It is the second skin down from the top. The "News Headlines" skin is not there but can be. The author is HorusUK and perhaps he can either put it in the skin library or make it available to you if you would like it instead of the CNN News skin.

The creation of skins is done using some graphics software like Paint Shop Pro or even just MS Paint (with limitations). One makes the final product into a .png format and it is labeled background.png for most of the plug-ins. HorusUK, shapeshifter, bbfi & mark76UK (in no particular order) are the most active in skinning and posting about it.

If you desire a custom skin then perhaps someone can create it. One can post the request and see what happens. Also the above mentioned members may share the how-to information as well if asked.

Best wishes

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03-14-2004, 11:27 PM
Post: #13
 
kaizen Wrote:...what do the settings in the ini files reflect? There doesn't seem to be anything on them in the FAQ or site, and if it's in the forums then it's seems buried pretty deep.
Also

Have you seen this page? It has some basic information regarding coding for the Weather Monitor.

Regarding the .ini files - most of us have just looked at the pre-existing files and took it from there. The .ini files are instructions to obtain/parse the information desired from some web page. The skin.ini file then places the parsed information into the skin that goes with a plug-in.

Hope this helps. We can furnish additional information as desired.

We agree with most of your organisational comments but....Yuri does not speak English natively but he certainly does a masterful job of doing all this in a second language! Development work is continuing! Thank you for your comments and we hope you sick around to assist in this project!

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03-15-2004, 05:32 AM
Post: #14
 
Thanks for the additional info. If I can lend anything to the efforts, please let me know and pass the offer onto Yuri.

I'll try to dissect one of the ini's to see what I can learn from it when I get some time; I'm coming into my busy season soon (Spring Break and Budget seasons - many of my clientele are K12 and Higher Ed and this is when the ramp up starts...)

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03-15-2004, 06:41 AM
Post: #15
 
The specific skin that QSection uses is a generic one for the DK series of skins that I haven't (as yet) released.

My skinning efforts are currrently having to take a bit of a back shelf due to Real Life™ getting in my way, but if you want the background png it's attached.

Right-click the image below and choose Save Picture As..., but make sure you rename it to back.png whilst saving.

Next, put the downloaded png into the folder where either the CNN, Sky or BBC news skins is installed making sure that you allow Windows to overwrite the old back.png.

Finally, refresh TLB, and the new skin background will be loaded.

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