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22 April 2000

I have been receiving quite a few reports of people not being able to download DarkStep from Tripod. If you are experiencing this problem, you can also download the file from here. The previous link is actually to the file area of the EGroups site for the DarkStep support list. If you subscribe to the support list, take the time to look around the site because it has quite a few interesting resources including a file download area, a chat area and links to other useful resources.

I got up in the morning with the feeling that I'd missed something - then I realized what it was. Though there is a notification list for people to get notification of DarkStep events and new builds (link at the bottom of the page <g>), there is no support list for DarkStep anymore as our server has gone the way of the dinosaurs. So I decided to create a new list which will be our permanent support/discussion list. You can either subscribe by e-mail or by going there.

Of course, the DarkStep web-based message board is still active here. So these will be the DarkStep resources for the near future till we can get our server going again. But they will continue to function as DarkStep resources even after we get our server running again so that you will always have access to some form of DarkStep resource even if our server goes down again. Have fun and enjoy the dark side :-)

21 April 2000

Guess what? The new build of DarkStep is ready for beta testing!! :-) I am so excited because the new build has lots of new stuff in it which makes DarkStep such a pleasure to use ... but don't hurry off now and start downloading because the documentation is not updated and so you'll need to read all the stuff here to find out about what's changed and how to use the new DarkStep! (Of course, you can use this link, start the download and continue to read ... <vbg>)

So what's new you ask? Well ... almost everything in the core :-) The first thing you'll notice is that the distro does not have a Step.Rc file included so you don't have to worry about it overwriting your existing Step.Rc. This is because the core does not use the Step.Rc file any longer for storing settings. All core settings (including the settings for the Console) are now stored in the registry. Now I know that this may turn off some of you but before you swear off DarkStep for ever <g> just give it one more shot and see how you like it ...

Once you extract all the files from the distribution ZIP file and either run DarkStep.Exe or restart your machine, you'll be prompted by a dialog which asks you whether to set DarkStep as your shell. This is a one-time message which will not be displayed on your machine ever unless you reinstall Windows or switch to a different machine. If you don't use a shell switcher like LiteSpawn, it is OK to say "Yes" to the dialog. It will then detect the version of Windows that you are running and modify either your System.ini file or the registry to set DarkStep as the shell. Now remember that this is a beta build and I haven't tested whether the system file modifications go along smoothly. So don't say "Yes" unless you have backed up your system files and know how to recover in the even DarkStep does screw things up in some way :-) (Those of you who do dare to try this option, please let me know what happens becasue that will help me squish any potential bugs or problems ...)

If you did say "Yes" to setting DarkStep as the shell, DarkStep will prompt you as to whether you'd like to restart your machine after the changes. If you say "Yes" you should be presented with the normal Windows shutdown dialog which would allow you to either shutdown the computer or restart it.

Once DarkStep starts, you'll notice that it now has the Console open by default. This is for the benefit of new users who've simply installed the core components and would normally have been presented with a bewildering bare desktop :-) If you did have an existing install, the system should start up fine but you'll notice that none of your modules are loaded and if you had a custom skin for the Console that that skin is not loaded. All of this is due to the new way that core settings are stored - the settings aren't there yet.

So how do you put the settings in? Simply right-click on the border of the Console and you'll see a simple popup menu which has five options: "Configuration", "Loaded Modules", "Import Settings", "Export Settings" and "About". Don't be fooled by the "Import Settings" option - it is not there for you to import your existing Step.Rc's :-) That and it's sister option "Export Settings" is there so that you can import your registry settings from one machine to tranfer to another machine. It does not have anything to do with your Step.Rc settings ...

The option that you should concern yourselves at this point is "Configuration" - if you select it, you'll be presented with a property sheet which will allow you to set your DarkStep core settings, the modules that you load and the Console settings. As everything is graphical, I hope it is self explanatory. The only thing that would need explanation might be the background and text colors for the Console. Simply click on the color itself to be presented with a color selection dialog.

Once you've configured DarkStep to your liking, you'll have to restart DarkStep for some of the settings to take effect though you will see some settings (like the text color and background color for the Console) taking effect immediately. If at this point you try to recycle by typing !recycle in the Console, you'll see that it has no effect at all. Why? Because recycling has been taken out of DarkStep!

"No more recycling? How are settings to take effect then?" I hear you ask :-) Well, most of the core settings necessitate DarkStep to quit completely anyway. I do have to recode some of the Console so that any config changes will take effect immediately. That just leaves modules and modules can now be recycled individually via the new module manager! So how do you access the module manager? Simply select the "Loaded Modules" option from the DarkStep popup menu that you access by right-clicking on the Console.

If you were to try the "Loaded Modules" option now, you'd simply see an empty dialog as no module are loaded. But you'll also see that there is a button which allows you to load modules immediately. So click on the button, use the browse dialog and select the modules that you want and they'll immediately be loaded. You'll see that the listbox for loaded modules is a multi-select list box. So you can select several modules and click "Recycle" or "Unload" and they'll all be recycled/unloaded!

That's about it for the new DarkStep! Have fun and let me know what you think, the bugs you discover etc. and we'll try to make DarkStep even better before this particular version is released publicly!!

Wow, it really has been a long time!! That Y2K thing is all behind us and the last time I updated these pages, it was still looming on the horizon :-) Anyway, I have been really busy with coding and real life and other stuff that I just haven't had the chance to update my Journal. But finally I've had to do so because the official site for DarkStep has gone into hiding once more <vbg>

We had some trouble with our server and so is no more for the time being. But that doesn't mean that coding on DarkStep has stopped. In fact, I have just concluded five days of rewriting most of the core of DarkStep and have a version now that I personally am very proud of. The only problem is that new software has to be released and where am I going to release DarkStep if the official site is gone? That is where the Journal comes into play once again :-)

I have decided to make this site the main release site for DarkStep for the time being. Not only that, I've decided to open up beta testing of DarkStep to the general public at large! The public releases of DarkStep that have been released so far have always gone through a private beta testing cycle before release and the idea with the opening of the beta testing is to get the opinions of a wide variety of DarkStep users so as to make DarkStep rock solid before a public release.

Unfortunately, the current build has one problem - it seems to run only on my machine for some strange reason :-) So as soon as I fix that problem, I will be posting the beta builds at this site. If you'd like to be notified as soon as the builds are posted, you can subscribe to the Cyber Chronicle mailing list I set up. The original purpose of the mailing list was for something entirely different but now I will be using it to keep DarkStep users updated of new builds and news. So await the next release - it's gonna be good :-)

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