Handy Technical

Reference: screen sharing in Snow Leopard

Posted originally for my personal reference, but since my Mac tips get lots of Google hits hope this is useful to you too.

Screen Sharing on Mac OS X Snow Leopard – very convenient to have built-in*, and I use it to logon to my Ubuntu server when the CLI doesn’t cut the mustard – infrequent, but it happens.

If you’re like me, you occasionally get an unexpected blank or white screen when you connect to your other computer. It turns out the mouse and keyboard pass through just fine but the display is all white. Fix it by getting info on Screen and ticking the ‘Open in 32-bit mode’ box.

* Technical addendum: I would be remiss to sing accolades of the VNC-based Screen Sharing without mentioning Microsoft’s [Citrix] Remote Desktop. It’s significantly faster than VNC due to some sweet implementation differences – to my knowledge when you connect to the Windows host it switches to a special display driver that sends small drawing instructions over the tubes that are subsequently recreated on your client. VNC, while open source and commensurately ubiquitous in Unix/Linux/Mac land, is not so smart and blindly sends a compressed image of the screen. Just sayin guys – Remote Desktop is awesome.

Handy Interface

Theming Windows XP

The user interface is the one thing you are going to see more of than anything else on your computer. Fortunately plenty of software titles allow you to switch between different themes.

Good news if you use XP. Microsoft’s theming engine is not limited to the lame “Luna” themes introduced with XP. You can get the benefit of using Windows’ internal theming engine without actually paying a dime.

Cursive Screenshot

NOTE: This hack has worked for me through many Windows installs, but if you screw up your computer, I claim no responsibility.

The theme format for Windows XP has been very successfully reverse engineered. The three versions of Luna are all this format, and the themes for StyleXP also are in this format. Microsoft tried to limit the engine to only Microsoft themes, but we can patch the file that checks that.

Here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Patch uxtheme.dll so it accepts third party themes. Run this. You’ll probably have to restart.
  • Download this guy and open it.
  • Almost done! Now, copy the folder “Cursive” to “C:\Windows\Resources\Themes”. There should already be a Luna folder in here.
  • Go to the Display control panel, go to the Appearance tab, and select Cursive from the list, click OK, and you’re golden!
  • Hooray, StyleXP for free. Just move additional themes into the Themes folder to make them accessible through the Display control panel.

    P.S. Oh, and if you need to justify using themes to yourself beyond their cometic appeal, know that some themes like Cursive (below) can be functionally better. Thinner scrollbars, thinner titlebars, and a collapsed start menu translate to greater screen real-estate. As software gets more and more palette heavy, that can be quite handy.