« links for 2006-04-24 | Main | links for 2006-04-25 »

Windows Active Desktop is good for something!

My main accomplishment today was the discovery of a use for Windows Active Desktop! I managed to get it so the Bryant Park Webcam is my desktop. The desktop refreshes every 10 minutes, just like the webcam. All this required was some serious drill-down into the Display control panel:

Here are the steps to get a webcam image displayed on the desktop; and set it so the image on the desktop updates with the one on the web:

  1. Right click on any blank area of the desktop, and choose Properties from the context menu
  2. Click on the Desktop tab
  3. Click on the Customize Desktop button
  4. Click on the Web tab
  5. Click on the New button
  6. Enter the url of your preferred webcam
  7. Click on the Properties button
  8. Click on the Schedule tab
  9. Click on the Add button
  10. Give your task a name. Ignore the hours/minutes boxes as we'll set the time later
  11. Click the OK button
  12. Click on the Edit button
  13. Click on the Schedule tab
  14. Set the Start Time for 12:01AM
  15. Click on the Advanced button
  16. Check the Repeat Task checkbox
  17. Enter the interval you want your desktop to refresh, in minutes; Keep in mind that refreshing more than once an hour will get annoying very fast.
  18. Set the Duration to 24 Hours
  19. Click OK
  20. Check the Show Multiple Schedules checkbox
  21. Click the New button
  22. Change Schedule Task to "At System Startup"
  23. Click OK twice
  24. Select the "Lock Desktop Items" checkbox
  25. Click OK twice

NOTE: To get the desktop to look exactly how you want, it may be necessary to move or resize the "live content." Just go back uncheck the Lock Desktop Items checkbox.

These instructions have been tested on a Windows NT/XP box and on a recent installation of Windows XP SP2. But this procedure is not recommended. Ever. It's something cool that can be done with Windows, but it will slow down your general operating speed; and likely it will occasionally crash certain processor intensive programs, such as video games.