Awesome Windows 7 Wallpapers and Themes Straight from Microsoft!

In my job in the help desk, I remove a lot of viruses. A lot of times these viruses come down with fancy screen savers, wall papers, and general themes designed for specific holidays or whatever the reason may be. To avoid viruses, I advise people to download their themes straight from Microsoft. Unlike the good old days where themes were complex, large, and not even that great, the new themes for Windows 7 are stunning, awesome, beautiful, amazing, cool, stellar – pick your adjective. You can see just one of the many wallpapers below, in the screenshot where I describe how to get to these themes.

Many themes, like many of the stock Windows 7 themes, include multiple wallpapers which your computer will cycle through periodically. They will automatically adjust the “Aero Glass” color scheme, and most will change the sound scheme, though most don’t include new soundscapes – they just use the ones that came with Windows 7. My favorites are fractal art, dark abstracts, and ice water. That’s right, ice water. High definition photographs of ice cubes in water. There’s a similar, more colorful theme called party ice.

To access them, go to the desktop of your own computer. Minimize everything so you just so your existing wallpaper and desktop icons. Right click off in an empty space on your desktop, then click Personalize at the very bottom of the right click context menu. From there, look for the link option that says “Get more themes online.” I have linked to it in the text, but if you ever need to find it again, that’s how easily you can get to the page.

Once you’re on that page, pick your theme, and click the download link. When prompted, just click RUN instead of Save – the theme will download and store itself on your computer automatically. You don’t have to worry about where the downloaded file went, the theme will be installed just by selecting Open! Even if you change themes later, you can always go back to the personal menu and switch between your themes!

The themes themselves traverse the entire spectrum: dark and brooding, colorful and happy, game related (Halo, Gears of War, Bullet Asylum and more games have hi-resolution wallpapers on this page), landscapes, hi-def photography, Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween, Year of the Dragon, Rabbit, Tiger… the list goes on and on. Download these high definition themes for free, from Microsoft.

2008 – Ludo – You're Awful I Love You

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Back in 2008, Best Buy promoted Ludo’s album unlike almost any other album I’ve ever seen being specifically promoted by a big box store. I’m not sure what the big deal was, what Best Buy had at stake, but they pushed this album over and over. Outside of the commercials, I heard almost nothing about the band from anyone I knew. Lucky for you, I’ve been a long time fan of the band and actually liked that album quite a lot. I think it’s time you go back and give it a listen.

Ludo has that classical pop punk sound that you’ve gotten used to. Certainly a poppier sound than any emo band out there at the time, but a lot of their lyrics were very dark and filled with lament and loathing. You’re Awful I Love Youbegins with a track filled with backhanded compliments and the kinds of analogies that let you know that someone actually thought about the lyrics they were writing, rather than cranking them out so that just any artist who picked the song from a catalog could be the one to record it.

Ludo has been a band for a long time, and this was their national debut. While they may not appeal to everyone out there, if you like creative and unique lyrics you’re in for a treat. “I found God in a catalytic converter, in Topeka on a Monday night” is just one line that you genuinely think you could overhear in a place like Topeka. “Fill my soul with vomit then ask me for a piece of gum” is over the top for some people, but it does a great job of getting right to the point, doesn’t it? You know people like that, who are toxic for you and couldn’t care less what they are for you, it’s only about you are for them and what you can do for them.

Then you come to a song like Lake Pontchartrain, which feels like an epic story being told to song – all in a neat three and a half minute package. Listening to the story unfold makes you think you’ve listened to “that one six minute song on the album” and then you realize no time at all has passed, but you’ve been involved in a story that was so well written you were busy picturing it like a movie playing in your mind. After that, the band moves on to the next track. You don’t have time for the credits to roll, you’ve already been shuffled along to an upbeat song trying to help someone get through their heart break: “Love, such as it ends… into the flames we’ll start again.”

You’re Awful I Love You probably appeals more to teens, but musically and lyrically, it is a fairly creative and well crafted album. It’s extremely well produced, each track catchier than the last – at least for the first half of the album. The second half of the album feels a little slower and less energetic, but that’s not a bad thing after the pace the first half of the album set. You’re also given a nice treat which breaks from the darker imagery of the first several songs, when you have a luagh of the expense of a creeper. You know the type of guy, a “stage five creeper” as the girls on my college campus used to call guys like Go Getter Greg. “I haven’t seen you at the pool since the barbecue / Not that I’ve been checking / here’s the deal I’ve got this thing for work this weekend and I was wondering if you don’t have anything going on then maybe / okay, hey, that’s cool you’re busy but we should hit up Jose O’Flannigan’s for Jello Shots your call it’s okay not this week / but Monday…” It’s a series of pickup lines by the kind of guy who thinks he has the pick of the litter, but really has no idea how to talk to women. “You could use a guy like me in your life” the lyrics go, as we all have a laugh at the expense of Go Getter Greg. The video reminds you that there is no single “uniform” to identify a “creeper” like that – it could be anybody.

The album’s not perfect, and some people will pass on it as a bit of teeny-pop-punk. But give it a listen when you’re on a long drive some time, you’ll laugh along with some of the absurd lyrics and it’ll keep you awake and moving with the undeniably catchy hooks.

Downloading your Gamertag to a new or a friend's Xbox 360

I had a friend over at my place this weekend and we wanted to play a few games. Since he hadn’t brought his gamertag with him on flash drive or anything, we decided to download his profile (or “Recover his Gamertag”) to my Xbox 360, so that some of his profile data and any achievements he unlocked while here, would all all be syncrhonized to his profile. It’s pretty easy to do, and here’s how we did it:

  1. Press the Guide Button on your controller
  2. Select Download Profile. A large screen will pop up and describe the process, go ahead and click Download Profile again.
  3. Enter Live ID (your email address)
  4. Enter password
  5. You’ll see a download status bar reading: “Hi GAMERTAG!” Downloading your Profile, Avatar info, etc…
  6. Sign in

Done! You don’t want to forget to re-recover your gamertag when you get home, or else some things will get out of sync. Microsoft has all of the good details on their website. The article also describes how to move your profile to a new console, or delete a profile, etc… useful stuff, enjoy!

Video: OXM's Exclusive Halo 4 Interview

OXM’s Ryan McCaffrey had an exclusive interview with 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor for a first look at Halo 4. They talk about “punchier” sound effects, revamped graphics, and new multiplayer map designs – including one level that will take place on a Forerunner shield world. It’s only a few minutes long, so cherish every minute of it, and go thank everyone at by subscribing to their magazine!

NOTE: The embed come seems to be hit and miss. If the video doesn’t load, follow this link to watch the video. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on it!