i don't think enough people ask "does your computer system let me express my individuality" these days

these machines are deeply individual and idiosyncratic; we should stop pretending otherwise

a lot of people reacted to my post about how i like decorate my computer and use a fancy tiling wm with "wow that's so ugly how does she even use that". people called it "eye melting"

and like. yeah. it's ugly. let people like ugly things!

those of you who run Windows or Mac OS on your personal machines, I would love to hear how, and how much, you're able to individualize. What can you change beyond wallpapers? I know Windows at least used to let you set the deco color.

@tindall i move the dock, change the accent color, the keyboard layout and the icons in the bars to what’s important to me.

@f2k1de i heard (unconfirmed as i'm not upgrading) that win11 doesn't let you move the dock anymore :(

@tindall will try on my windows 11 machine tomorrow

@tindall i could change more but I like floating window managers as it is build in

@tindall you can change the color of the taskbar and certain program windows, the sound effects for basically any Windows function, you can customize your mouse cursor, the profile picture that you use when logging in, the desktop background, the size of the taskbar and the icons on it, the icon used for any file in the file system including shortcuts, the screensaver, what side of the screen the taskbar is on (per monitor), and if you know what you're doing, the logo displayed during boot-up.

in order to customize anything outside of that, you have to unofficially patch your OS, but that also lets you change the windows skin to basically anything you want. you can make your entire PC look like MacOS, pretty much.

even with all that, still far from the customizability of a linux machine, and a single windows update could revert your customizing at basically any point

@tindall depends on what it is you change, but yeah, I've had stuff like the color theme I chose be reverted to a default, and certain settings I turn off will be turned on again.

there was also an incident where an update downloaded candy crush and some other game onto my pc without any indication that it did so

Maybe one important thing to point out, which they *don't* allow you to customize: Keyboard shortcuts.

I hear you can work around that with e.g. AutoHotkey, but yeah, having lived in Linux land for a while, it always blows my mind that you can't tweak those natively. Seems almost like a basic accessibility feature...

@tindall from past experiences of being a Windows Main, it usually doesn't get much more individual than wallpaper, accent color, taskbar position/size and rainmeter

i guess there's also some apps that are supposed to let you customize more but all of the ones i've tried ended up being janky (ie. custom taskbar showing over the top of default taskbar instead of replacing it) and they're always the kinda thing that can fuck up your system if you don't do the ritual correctly

@tindall windows ricing is alluring but it's janky and resource intensive as all hell ime so i have long since given up and settled for just getting a wallpaper of whatever video game i'm fixated on atm

@tindall I change the wallpaper every so often and I have a custom lockscreen and a accent colour to match whatever wallpaper I have right now

Windows customization otherwise is a PITA so I don't do more than that

@tindall i dont use windows anymore but i used to use a program called fences which lets you hide all your desktop icons with a double click and organize them into collapsible labelled boxes which was great for keeping the desktop neat and usable

@lyds Yeahhhh stardock fences! heck of a program tbh

@tindall Almost everything we've done is utilitarian - things like old-style windows that don't have any transparency and therefore put less stress on our integrated graphics card, for example. We selected our own wallpapers but we almost never see them - pixels are too much at a premium for us to leave gaps to watch them through.

- 🎒

@tindall i use a bunch of third party apps to customize stuff-- i have translucenttb to make my taskbar have a blur background along with start10 to change its background and icons, windowfx 6 to change animations, wallpaper engine for animated backgrounds, etc etc.

windows itself lets you change a decent amount of things by default, but people always find a way to change more i guess haha

@tindall Nothing, really, on macOS without hacks. There are two options for the minimize/maximize buttons: gray and red/green/yellow. Everything else is … yeah.

One of my most … disliked bits of macOS is that the title bars are always the same visual size, regardless of screen resolution. If one puts a measuring tap down, the title bar is physically teh same on a 1080p and a 4k display, despite having a bajillion more pixels to use.

There are some extra options in accessiblity these days related to color blindness and the need for extra contrast. But I’d hardly call that “expressing one’s individuality ” in a creative sense.

On windows I have a whole bunch of utilities to make it basically Linux, that's not even with WSL

@tindall You can do some interesting stuff with theming on Windows, as well as overlays/widgets and alternative taskbars and start menu software, and AFAIK with Mac you can buy (yes buy) some UI customizations from the app store.

Neither beats the "do whatever the F you want" customizability of Linux DEs though.

@tindall I miss this about Linux! (I'll switch back some day if I find the energy…)

@tindall For me, it's the Fast Trip reference by James White. Modify the environment to work the way you need it to.

Another thing I did was added customizable color to a MUD. I was peeking on someone's session and they had a purple/green scheme that 2as terrifying. But they liked it.

@tindall +100
When I tried tiling WMs, I didn’t pick the most efficient one, but one that let me add gaps between windows to see the wallpaper through, and drop shadows, and rounded corners.
I think at the time those features were only in forks, because tiling WM developers seemed to be very focused on maximim efficiency, and all of these features „waste“ screen space / compute power.

@tindall it's important enough that it's the only thing windows doesn't let you do on an unregistered copy.

And I am yet to see a desktop that's not even slightly customised, even if it's the least computer-literate person who just use it for one or two unavoidable tasks, so if desktop devs stopped pretending people don't customise just because they effin *CAN'T*, that'd be nice...

@cadadr @tindall the number of people with customized Android fonts/colors out there even though I have no idea how to do it myself also speaks to that. See also, cell phone wallpapers and ringtones

@wilbr @cadadr @tindall remember how before the iOS & Android era cell phone carriers advertised the ability to buy more ringtones as a really neat feature?

@tindall what if we generalised this to not just OSes but tools on a computer or off a computer

@eris well i don't think it's really controversial _off_ the computer. people put stickers on their drills and paint their guitars and w/e

@tindall theres a lot of tools that dont let us express individuality though, but maybe i need to find better words
@tindall there's some concepts milling around in my head im trying to express
@tindall like how a gun factory can only produce guns or not produce guns - does your tool serve my or your purposes?
@tindall (sorry for the continuing philosophical rant) we can then arrive at 'does your tool help me manifest *my* will, help me express my individuality, desires, etc'
@tindall and this serves as a pretty decent definition for 'convivial tools' - tools that give power to their user, not their manufacteurer. the telephone network can be used by any person to say any thing, but a car can only drive on roads.
@tindall the telephone network doesnt need expansion to support new words but the car needs road network expansion to support new destinations
@tindall stuff like this is why i like ivan illich's tool based analysis bcos it can point out power imbalances that we just dont think about. this kinda analysis shows why this notion of 'user freedom'(conviviality, helping to express will) is important, and a lack of it a power disbalance
@tindall smartphones are an example of this inobvious power disbalance; which is why we should socialism no iphome

@tindall @eris at work only about one in five people change their desktop background from the stock :(

@maya well, among other things, Mac OS makes it SUPER annoying to do that across multiple workspaces and monitors

@tindall @maya On the other paw, that means we can have different wallpapers per workspace. Which means like 16 times the wallpapers! :3

(or at least, we used to be able to; haven't used Mac in a few years now)

@tindall I still kinda miss it about KDE.

KDE4 let you, but KDE5 doesn't.

@tindall (Which is a bit surprising 'cause KDE is like the /most/ customizable desktop we've ever seen, aside from that! The color theming and stuff is /Great./ And being able to move all the panels around.)

@tindall I don't think enough people ask "does your computer let me do what I want"

@letsrockandorroll i don't agree; i think most corporate computers do let most people do what they want, because what they want is constrained by what they can imagine.

@tindall So you think the person with a Windows computer would say it allows them to do anything they can imagine? As compared to an actual flexible OS, like Linux?

@letsrockandorroll yeah, for most people i think that's true. certainly it's the most common response i get when i say that linux or bsds are more flexible and let you do more

- "like what?"

+ [give an example]

- "why would i want to do that?"

@tindall They're not thinking big enough, which is why I say again, they should ask why doesn't their computers let them do what they want, especially in comparison to what they can do already

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