Updated: July 8, 2013
Recently, I was asked to review the Instant Rainmeter Desktop Customization Tool How-to e-book, written by Ken Lim. It's a short, 70-page book, intended for Windows enthusiasts, searching for an innovative way of making their desktop experience richer and livelier. All right, without much further ado, let's see what the book can do.
Quick read overall
While the book spans about 70 pages, the useful content is limited to only about 50 pages, spread across five chapters. The book is a very, very quick read, with a plenty of screenshots and snippets of code, so you can breeze your way through in under one hour.
The book's chapters do give structure to the content, but they are not really necessary, as they discuss one single topic, which is how to customize the Rainmeter software for intermediate and advanced users. It starts with the pretty straightforward installation. Next, the author leads you through several steps of tweaking, showing you how you can change the default behavior of the desktop by adding interactive applets showing quotes, hardware meters and other useful and less useful information.
The chapters feature lots of screenshots, which help, as well as detailed blocks of code, which are used to specify and define the custom behavior. Toward the end, you will encounter a more liberal use of input arguments, command substitution and even regular expressions. For Linux users, especially those well familiar with the Conky desktop tool, the principle and the application will appear similar. However, for most Windows users, Rainmeter will be a departure from their more GUI-oriented practices.
The book finishes rather abruptly after giving you a sampling of quick tips and ideas, and you're left wondering how much effort and skill is really needed to fully exploit the power of Rainmeter. Then, you might ask yourselves, to what end, because there are many programs that cater to similar needs, out of the box.
Priced at GBP5.94, the Rainmeter Desktop Customization book bears a hefty value for what is essentially a typical tutorial for nerds and friends, the kind of which you can find online in popular Windows blogs. Moreover, it discusses a fairly self-contained, niche topic that does not have many other applications beside the obvious.
The material is presented well, and within the given scope, it does what is expected. The author makes a good use of text, code and images, and creates an interesting story of a topic that should be considered quite dull. But the tag is way too high, and the overall usefulness of a book like this, in the long run, is rather questionable. Let's say 3.5/5.0.