Edd Mann Developer

Decorating the walls of your desktop

I have gone through many desktop wallpaper phases in my time, whatta’ strange topic to even discuss. It all started with the selection of dull wallpapers provided with Windows XP, who can forget ‘Bliss’. In-time I soon realised that there was a whole world of wallpaper goodness out there, moving onto the top ‘babes’ found on skins.be. Coupled with a patched UXTheme.dll and an over the top theme, its safe to say I did not really take too much consideration into what was covering my computer walls.

A blast from the past, we all remember this wallpaper

Bliss Wallpaper

Sadly years passed before it finally dawned on me, think of the hours we spend in front of are computer?, how many times a day are we greeted with the same pixels making up are wallpaper?, it all adds up after time.

A completely over the top analogy would be the time one takes to pick out the right colour/pattern for their newly decorated house. It can take days, months or even heated conversations over dinner, think of Steve Jobs and the washing machine. The reason you invest so much time into that decision is that your going to have to live with the result for a long time to come. I told you this analogy was way over the top, and luckily for us changing a desktop wallpaper is only a one click action. That being said, do not let it mask the fact that when you do find a wallpaper(s) that appeal to you (similar to a text editor theme or terminal font) it can stick around for a long, long time.

I remember when I first got setup with dual displays (I do not think I could ever go back), I found two wallpapers that complimented each other so well that I resisted the numerous urges to switch for the next 2 years. Even with multiple system rebuilds and a heap of OS reinstalls, there they were, making my computer as homely as a machine can be.

I never really took the time or had the realisation for that matter to invest any real brain cycles into exploiting this real estate as a learning tool, then I found cheat-sheets. I had known about and regularly used paper cheat-sheets for many years, but never had I thought of moving them to the desktop (hell, nothing was pushing along the ultimate wallpaper duo).

How it all started…

What planted the seed was when I was going through my ‘poker phase’. I had found a simple wallpaper online that had the different hand combinations/basic rule-sets, and thought it was time to part from my beloved wallpaper combo (at least for a short period). I would like to write that making this small change returned huge dividends and I became the next Phil Hellmuth (with less brat), ranking WSOP final table every year, but suprising to no one I can not. What it did do however was deeply set the rules and hand combinations of poker into my mind, quicker than I could ever have done with a daily glance at a paper cheat-sheet or a couple of webpage scoll-bys.

A movie scene light bulb went off in my head, whatta’ way to remember content. Without any true effort and applied for years before in classrooms across the globe, in the form of times-tables and world map posters - I could learn and digest any subject I wanted directly on my desktop.

As a geek, of course my direction soon turned to combining this new found technique with unix commands and vim keyboard shortcuts. It was not long after, that both monitors were filled with a rotating selection of wallpaper cheat-sheets I had uncovered online, relating to the topic I was learning at the time.

Cheat-sheets for everyone!

With this small nostalgic tour over and out I leave you with some of the best cheat-sheets I have had the joy to paint my virtual walls with for the past year or so.

Vim Shortcut Wallpaper by Michael Klein

Vim Wallpaper

Git Visual Cheatsheet by Stephanie Robesky

Git Cheatsheet

Periodic Table of Typefaces by Cam Wilde


No longer should your desktop be plagued with an oversized windows logo or a black hole, turn your sights to a cheat-sheet and get some learning done!