Contents of the WB.TXT file
Freeware Edition -- 18 March 1992
33 Leverich Street
Hempstead, New York 11550
Author: Jethro Wright, III
Software and documentation: Copyright (c) 1992, WrightWorks
WallBlaster is a Microsoft Windows 3.0 utility program that
changes the desktop wallpaper from a library of images contained
in a .ZIP archive, under its standard (286) and 386 Enhanced
operating modes. WallBlaster selects images from its library at
random and will make changes according to a timed interval or
only on demand by the user. Besides making one's workstation
environment visually more attractive, WallBlaster conserves hard
disk storage used for wallpaper files, since full-screen color
VGA bitmaps (.BMP files) require 150 KB per picture. If that
weren't enough, there are commercial editions of WallBlaster with
more advanced capabilities, including user-definable buttons on
WallBlaster is freeware, so the program won't bother to ask
you to purchase a license for the full program. All of the
fundamental facilities of the program are included in this
edition, but you are encouraged to order the commercial version
of WallBlaster, as it possesses additional features like
alternate library files and a DDE interface. But more about this
WallBlaster can be obtained your favorite BBS. If you'd
like the latest version of the freeware edition of WallBlaster,
see the end of this document for further details. You'll receive
this document in hard-copy form and a pristine copy of the
program on disk.
License and Disclaimer
The freeware edition of WallBlaster is available at no
charge from many electronic bulletin board systems (BBS),
including CompuServe, BIX, and GENie. Other than normal BBS com-
munications and service charges, it may not distributed for a
fee, or combined with any commercial software or hardware
product, without the express written permission of WrightWorks.
The sole instance where a fee, which can be no more than ten (10)
dollars, may be charged for the freeware edition of WallBlaster
is when WallBlaster is distributed by public domain software dis-
tributors, who as part of normal operations distribute public
domain and other freeware works for the cost of the media and its
distribution. In order to distribute the freeware edition of
WallBlaster, all files associated with the program, including do-
cumentation and program executables must be included as an
No warranty of any kind is implied and the user of
WallBlaster is solely responsible for the protection of all files
and documents on his/her computer system. Use of WallBlaster
WallBlaster Manual Page 2
does not imply any responsibility on the part of WrightWorks for
any claims due to damages of any kind, including but not limited
to consequential and incidental damages. WallBlaster must not be
distributed where existing city, county, state, or federal
laws/regulations would invalidate any part of this
license/disclaimer. All rights are reserved by WrightWorks.
Use of WallBlaster implies full agreement and understanding
of all parts of this license and disclaimer.
MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Excel are trademarks of
PKZip and PKUNZip are trademarks of PKWare, Incorporated.
Northgate Elegance is a trademark of Northgate Computer Systems,
Actor is a tradmark of The Whitewater Group, Incorporated.
ToolBook is a trademark of Asymetrix Corporation.
CompuServe is a trademark of CompuServe Incorporated.
GENie is a trademark of GE Information Services Incorporated.
BIX is a trademark of McGraw-Hill Incorporated.
WallBlaster Manual Page 3
Simply copy the WallBlaster program, WB.EXE, to the sub-
directory where your copy of Microsoft Windows resides. You can
do this using the appropriate DOS commands or using Windows' File
Manager or MS-DOS Executive. Next, you'll need a library of
bitmap files, archived in a .ZIP file made by a program compa-
tible with PKZip from PKWare, Inc. Consequently, you must
already have a copy of PKZip or you must obtain, through your own
means, an archive containing Windows bitmaps suitable as wall-
paper. You probably already have a copy of PKZip since the pro-
gram is normally found on BBSs in a .ZIP file. The freeware ver-
sion of WallBlaster will only work with a library file called
WBLASTER.ZIP. It should reside in the Windows sub-directory,
along with the WallBlaster program itself. Once you've created a
library file for WallBlaster, start the program like any other
Windows application and you're done.
The images displayed by WallBlaster must be normal Windows
bitmap files that can be loaded as wallpaper by the Windows Con-
trol Panel. Assuming you have a copy of PKZip and would like to
create a wallpaper library, all you need to do is move the wall-
paper files to an archive (library) called WBLASTER.ZIP. The
files MUST NOT include their current path in the .ZIP file, mea-
ning the wallpaper library must not be created using PKZip's -p
or -P options. An sample PKZip command line for moving two wall-
paper files in the current directory into WBLASTER.ZIP is shown
D:\WINDOWS> PKZIP -m WBLASTER CHESS.BMP PANTHER.BMP
One could have used an asterisk wildcard (*.BMP) instead, to
move both files, but because Windows possesses bitmaps that can
be tiled, you probably want to be very specific when adding wall-
paper files to a WallBlaster library. WallBlaster doesn't handle
tiled bitmaps, because there's little to be gained by compressing
Prior to starting WallBlaster for the very first time, you
might want to go into the Windows Control Panel to set the
current wallpaper to (None), using the Settings:Desktop... menu
option, since WallBlaster will delete the current wallpaper file,
to make room for a new file. While you're at it, change the
wallpaper orientation to center. When WallBlaster changes the
wallpaper, not only will it delete the previous wallpaper file
but if will change the corresponding profile string (Wallpaper)
in WIN.INI with the complete pathname of the current wallpaper
A sample of the WallBlaster profile section in WIN.INI, is
WallBlaster Manual Page 4
The program automatically inserts those lines into your
WIN.INI file when you start it initially, for those individuals
who're not comfortable editing the WIN.INI file. You can also
invoke WallBlaster from the load= line under the [windows]
section in WIN.INI, in order to change the wallpaper every time
you start Windows.
WallBlaster is what I call a "hot-button", meaning that it
doesn't use a window equipped with a menu bar -- or other con-
trols like buttons -- and always appears as an icon at the bot-
tom of your screen. The few commands that the program supports
are transmitted via the icon's system menu. A left double-click
on the icon immediately decompresses and displays the next image
from the library, as if you had manually selected the "Display
Next" option from WallBlaster's system menu.
WallBlaster's default settings changes your wallpaper once
every thirty minutes. A profile string in your WIN.INI file con-
trols the interval between wallpaper changes. You can adjust
this value manually by editing WIN.INI and changing the
TimerInterval profile string in the [WallBlaster] application
section. TimerInterval is measured in minutes, so make it equal
to 20, for a twenty-minute wallpaper switch. If you prefer to
change the wallpaper only once per session or only on demand,
make TimerInterval equal to 0. Setting TimerInterval to 999 will
enable demonstration mode, where the backdrop will be changed
once every thirty seconds.
When it starts to extract the next file from the library,
the program changes the pointer/cursor to an arrow overlapping
two squares that looks like WallBlaster's icon. As a new file is
retrieved from the archive, the previous wallpaper file is dele-
ted, since it's assumed that the file is already contained in the
wallpaper library. The complete pathname for the wallpaper file
is displayed in WallBlaster's caption, along with the number of
times it's changed the wallpaper during this session.
WallBlaster primarily works with full-screen bitmaps, be-
cause little is gained by compressing a small graphics image. So
WallBlaster doesn't tell Windows to "tile" smaller images, nor
does it interpret the contents of any file contained in its li-
brary. Tiled wallpaper tends to be displayed more slowly than
full-screen wallpaper. The freeware edition of WallBlaster adds
a single operational command on its system menu, the Display Next
WallBlaster Manual Page 5
menu option displays the next image from the library, chosen com-
pletely at random.
You can tell WallBlaster to decompress files in the
background -- meaning allow other computing activities in
Windows to continue while it's decompressing a file -- by
setting Bkgd=1, under the [WallBlaster] section in WIN.INI. If
you'd prefer to get rid of WallBlaster's caption that displays
the name of the wallpaper file, add Quiet=1 underneath the
[WallBlaster] section. Either of these settings can be reversed
by using a 0, instead of a 1.
The following shows the complete [WallBlaster] section of
WallBlaster will use D:\WINDOWS\WBLASTER.ZIP as the current
wallpaper library, the wallpaper will change every 30 minutes,
wallpaper files will be extracted from the library in the
foreground, and WallBlaster's caption will only show the
It should be noted that decompressing a complex (dithered)
color VGA file is not as fast as simply displaying the same image
-- already uncompressed -- directly from the Control Panel.
However, performance is acceptable and on a machine with a 20 MHz
386DX CPU, the program will extract and display a 150 KB
wallpaper file in about 3 - 7 seconds. If latency is a concern,
adjust the TimerInterval to a higher setting like 60 minutes or
higher. Files won't decompress faster, but the delay will be
less noticeable due to the longer interval. Monochrome (black
and white) images decompress in one or two seconds, as do full-
color images that are composed of large regions using with a
single primary color. Moreover, WallBlaster can decompress
images in the background.
There's Gold In Them There Hills...
The freeware edition of WallBlaster doesn't "nag" you about
registering your copy of the program, because it's been adjusted
to display only the first six images in its library file. This
is adequate for most people, but those who really enjoy the
wallpaper feature of Microsoft Windows 3.0 have an incentive to
get one of the commercial editions which will allow the use of
alternate library files. Another inducement to buy one of the
commercial editions of WallBlaster -- called Personal
WallBlaster and Professional WallBlaster -- is a DDE interface.
WallBlaster Manual Page 6
DDE ? Yes, Personal/Professional WallBlaster support Dynamic
Data Exchange, at least the EXECUTE portion of the protocol.
Since WallBlaster doesn't really have data of its own, the other
parts of the DDE specification don't apply. However, sending
commands to WallBlaster via DDE does make a lot of sense....
As an individual, WallBlaster is just a way to make one's
electronic desktop more dynamic and eye-pleasing. But there are
other potential and practical uses for a dynamic wallpaper dis-
play. Just as icons are used to convey information to a user
about the purpose of its "parent" application, one can use mul-
tiple wallpaper images to indicate a user's current context in a
large application system. For example, let's imagine we have an
application system for a law firm. This application system is
composed of four principal subsystems: client communications,
data base and document management, travel planning, and event
scheduling. Each of these activities are logically distinct and
could be represented by a different wallpaper image that coin-
cides conceptually with the current activity. One could scan a
photograph of telephone with a rolodex next to it, to create a
wallpaper file for activites associated with client com-
munications. A photo of a room with file cabinets could be used
to depict data base and document management services. Travel
planning activities might be shown against a backdrop containing
a commercial airliner. The event scheduling subsystem could be
represented by a picture of a day-at-a-glance desk calendar.
The individual options within a particular application area
could be triggered via large buttons containing a bitmap or icon
for a specific action associated with the current application
area. While individuals might be able to take advantage of this
technique, enterprises using sophisticated application systems
comprised of multiple programs, will find the meta-application
features of Personal/Professional WallBlaster most helpful.
Personal WallBlaster has dialog boxes to set run-time op-
tions on the the fly, as well as a DDE interface that can change
wallpaper on demand.
Professional WallBlaster adds full programmabilty to
Personal WallBlaster by providing a library of functions callable
from C or other development tools for Microsoft Windows, like the
Whitewater Group's Actor or Asymetrix' ToolBook. The application
designer/programmer can add application-specific buttons to a
backdrop (wallpaper image), in addition to the DDE interface
already available with Personal WallBlaster. Actually, Pro-
fessional WallBlaster is a combination of a programming library
along with a copy of the Personal WallBlaster program. The
package also includes sample source code illustrating how to use
the library. Another use for Professional WallBlaster can be
found in kiosks that use touch sensitive screens. Images can be
composed using a drawing program, saved as bitmaps, then assem-
bled into a hierarchical set of screens that navigate a user
through easy-to-use applications like a building/campus direc-
WallBlaster Manual Page 7
tory, a personnel data base, or desktop manufacturing applica-
tions like the media copiers used to mass-produce software on
floppy disk. Since most of the time, one would want to immedia-
tely load specific wallpaper files by programmed request,
Professional WallBlaster won't extract these files from its li-
brary. The designer of the application system simply gives these
high-priority files an application-specific name in the
WBLASTER.INI file and he/she can quickly switch wallpaper images
using a DDE EXECUTE command.
Part of the reason for writing WallBlaster was that I had
access to a large library of digitized images, available on a
number of popular bulletin boards. Most of the images came from
GENie, CompuServe, and BIX. Therefore, upon obtaining a copy of
WallBlaster, if you need to know how to create your own wallpaper
library, here's how it's done.
Typically, I've found that the best digitized images are
saved in .GIF (Graphics Information Format) files, a format made
popular by CompuServe. Since Windows can't directly read .GIF
files, it'll be necessary to get a program that will be able to
convert these .GIF files into .BMP files. A program that's been
very helpful for this task, is WinGIF, from SuperSet Software, in
Orem, UT. WinGIF is a shareware program, that can be obtained
from most BBSs that have a download library for Windows programs.
You can probably get WinGIF via the same BBS from which you
There are plenty of great images in other graphics file for-
mats, but you'll have to rely on your own means for getting them
converted into .BMP format.
WallBlaster has companion products, including a ZIP archive
utility that's a true Windows program. PersonalBlaster can ex-
tract, add, and view items from/to .ZIP archive files.
ProfessionalBlaster can manage .ARC archives as well. Both pro-
grams can handle DDE EXECUTE messages, so most menu options can
sent as DDE EXECUTE commands.
If you like any of these products, you may purchase them
directly from WrightWorks. We offer them via mail-order to keep
prices low, so that folks, regardless of their budget, will find
Technical support for WallBlaster and the Blaster archiving
utilities is available via e-mail on BIX.
WallBlaster Manual Page 8
Mail is collected daily from these systems and is the easiest way
of contacting WrightWorks about its products. Naturally, for
more immediate assistance you can contact us by phone.
WallBlaster Manual Page 9