Rainy

During my usual cruising and daily downloading in Skin Town, I happen to come across a priceless application called Rainlendar, which is a free skinnable Calendar.

It made me ponder on the skinning community as a whole and how things have changes over the years and how very rare it is becoming to find things for free anymore.

And here we meet a programmer who has not only provided us with several great free apps, but it seems he has kept himself hidden very well behind his applications, so I thought it would be nice to try to find out a little more and also introduce such a talented and generous person to all of us that are actually using his applications.

Tek: Hello Rainy “Thank you” for giving me your time to do this interview. I really appreciate it =)

Rainy: No problem. I'm happy to answer a few questions.

Tek: Would you share some personal information about yourself with us, since you seem to have kept yourself hidden behind your programs pretty good! hehe =)

Rainy: Well, there isn't much to tell. My name is Kimmo Pekkola and I'm 28 years old software engineer from Tampere, Finland. I work full time in a small software company, which means that I usually don't have too much time for Rainlendar and my other hobby projects.

Tek: So when and what exactly brought you to internet land? Was it skinning or programming?

Rainy: I've been programming quite a while now, but actually the first thing that I started to do with computers was graphics. But that was very long time ago and nowadays I mostly do graphics just to create some example skins to deliver with my applications.

Tek: What language do you write your programs in?

Rainy: Mostly C++ but that depends on the application. Some things are easier to do with a bit more higher level languages like php and python. Rainlendar and Rainmeter written in C++ and directly on top of Win32 API (I'm not a huge fan of MFC or ATL and such).

Tek: Are you self taught or did you take courses to learn programming?

Rainy: When I began coding I didn't have any programming education. Just some books and a lot of determination :-) Since then I've graduated from university with software engineering as my major so I do also have some academic education too.

Tek: Was it difficult to learn or easy for you and how long did it take you before you were able to write yourself a program on your own?

Rainy: I started first with Assembler which really isn't the easiest language to start with so the progress wasn't very fast. Mostly I just looked at other people's code and did some modifications. It probably took about few years before I created some real application from scratch.

3FX RL by danillooc

Tek: What was your first program you wrote? Was it Rainlendar or something else?

Rainy: I've actually done plenty of stuff before. I think my first program was called Raindir, which was just a simple dir command for Amiga with nice looking output. I also developed a program called Rainboot, which got some popularity during the end times of Amiga. Those two applications were also the first ones in series of Rain*-products. In addition to those I've also written few demos and intros for Amiga.

I waited quite long before I switched to the PC world. The first thing that I did with this platform was probably some Litestep or Winamp plugins.

Tek: RainBoot? Can you tell us something about that?

Rainy: I don't own an Amiga anymore so I don't think I have much material for that app. Rainboot's development was continued by Andreas Falkenhahn, who has since rewritten it completely. There is some more information and few screenshots on his website over here.

Tek: Where do you get your ideas for developing your programs? Is it from cruising around the net looking at other apps or friends asking you to create things for them or just something you yourself need and desire to create for your own needs?

Rainy: Mostly I do things that I need or think I need. The idea for Rainlendar came from one of these desktop wallpapers that have the current month's days painted on it. I thought that it was a nice idea but why not make it dynamic so that you could use any wallpaper and still have the calendar painted on it. So, Rainlendar was originally created just as an eyecandy but it actually got evolved into something useful.

Nowadays most of the ideas come from the users, who are quite willing to share them with me :-). I also have few ideas for new apps that I might start writing if I find some free time for them.

Rewind by Moshi

Tek: Why did you decide to release your litestep modules as seperate programs?

Rainy: The main reason was that I wanted to use Rainlendar at work but didn't want to install Litestep there. So, I removed the Litestep-dependent stuff from the plugin and created a small launcher for it. The executable actually is basically the same in both Rainlendar and Rainmeter. It just starts the dll, which contain all the actual functionality.

Tek: And how long did it take you to write Rainlendar?

Rainy: The initial version with basic funtionality was created in quite short time. Probably took just few weeks or so. That was over three years ago, after which I've been adding new features and fixing bugs and the application is still far from finished. I've also rewritten the whole program once from scratch and I actually should do that again since it has again grown bigger than what it was originally designed for.

The development speed varies quite much from time to time depending on my motivation and what kind of stuff I'm doing at work. After writing code 8 hours straight at work I usually don't feel like doing the same at home. But sometimes the inspiration just hits me and I get quite much done in a single weekend.

Tek: What was involved to get Rainlendar out there and noticed?

Rainy: Not much. I really haven't done any promoting except sent a mail to Litestep's mailing list when a new version was released. Mostly the word just spread from news sites and from these “Show your desktop”-threads in various message boards. A screenshot where someone had Rainlendar in it usually got people interested and they started asking what the calendar was.

Thredz port done by SS GOKU

Tek: Are you surprised at how well known it and popular it has become and is still becoming?

Rainy: Yes, I am. I was expecting some kind of popularity among the skinning community but what surprised me is that there are quite a lot of normal users who are using Rainlendar just because they find it handy (instead that it looks neat):-) Rainlendar gets about 20 000 downloads per month and the installer version is about 10 times more popular than the zip package.

Tek: What are some of your most favorite skins you have seen made for Rainlendar to date?

Rainy: I actually don't use different skins too much. I do check them out from time to time in skinning sites, but because I am running the latest development build of Rainlendar and testing the new features, I'm usually just using some test skin.

I am a fan of moshi's analog clocks for Rainmeter though. You can find them at Skinbase.

Tek: How many skins approximately would you estimate are available for your apps around the internet currently?

Rainy: For Rainlendar probably few hundred. I haven't kept track of the exact amount of them but I do visit the skin sites peridiocally to check out the new skins that people have made. It's nice to see that there are many people creating skins for Rainlendar.

Tek: Yes, that must be a highlight seeing people not only using something you created but watching all the creative skins they are making for it as well.

Tek: Are there any special features you are planning to add in future builds of Rainlendar?

Rainy: I've neglected to add new skinnability features to Rainlendar lately since I've been adding some actual functionality to the app. The skinning support is not as flexible as it could be, so that's at least one thing I'm going to improve in the future. My todo-list for Rainlendar is quite long (it's not the one in the screenshot :-) so there will be plenty of other new stuff too added in the future. Here's a screenshot of the latest development build that I'm testing at the moment:

The TODO-list will be a new feature in Rainlendar, which I've found quite handy already. I'll be adding also a better alarm system as well as skinnable alarm dialog.

The weather information is a test skin for a still unreleased version of Rainmeter (the graphics are from a Linux Karamba skin).

Tek: Yikes! That weather test skin looks pretty interesting, did I mention I love to beta test??? *hint* *hint* =)

Tek: Have you had any feedback on your programs?

Rainy: Yes. And plenty of it. In the early days when the programs were just Litestep plugins things were a bit quieter. After creating the standalone version of Rainlendar and after the user base got bigger the daily email flood grew so big that I had to set up a support forum so that I wouldn't have to spend all my free time answering to the same questions over and over again.

Tek: So what do you think the future has in store for your apps?

Rainy: I haven't thought about that too much. Rainlendar and Rainmeter seem like neverending projects as there is always some new features to add and bugs to fix. I'll probably have to stop adding new stuff someday so that I don't bloat them too much, but considering how much stuff I have in my todo-list that day is far in the future.

Tek: Where do you see shelldom heading in the future?

Rainy: Customization of applications is very popular nowadays and I see no end to this trend. The success of 3rd party shells depends what Microsoft will do with their next version of Windows. I guess they are adding some better customization support for Explorer (or whatever the shell is going to be called), which might take away some of the users from other shells. That of course depends how well they will implement things.

Tek: And I guess I've been nosey enough on you so we can end the interrogation here, again thanks for giving me some of your valuable time and letting us know alittle more about the man behind these great apps and I also would like to say Thank you for making these free apps available for us on behalf of myself and I'm sure the others that are using and enjoying these as well. =)

If by chance any of you Tek readers are missing out on this free skinnable Calendar or any of his other great apps, you can go visit Rainy's site over here

— Doreen, November 8th 2003

His Rainmeter is a fav, esp in litestep. You can just queeze it in anywhere. I've got to get into Rainlender one day. I have to say, I think this is the the first time I've seent he guy "speak", so to speak. =^.~=
// Red / 512 weeks, 3 days, 4 hours and 20 minutes ago
"Rainlendar gets about 20 000 downloads per month" ...Holy crap Batman!!!!! Heh, congratulations are in order Rainy, keep up the good work! :D
// qwilk / 512 weeks, 3 days, 1 hour and 59 minutes ago
Yeah, and that was over a year ago. I have this hunch its popularity has increased even further these past twelve months.
// craeonics / 512 weeks, 2 days, 17 hours and 49 minutes ago
Specially since now it has it's very own section for skins on Wincustomize.com (which it did not at the time when I interviewed him)
// Doreen / 512 weeks, 2 days, 11 hours and 28 minutes ago
I have never used any Calendar software in my PC as all missed some points. This software is almost perfect.
// Vikas Sethi / 512 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour and 14 minutes ago
My first time of speak in any graphic public forums.. and i dont have anything more to say that the %%perfect% is flawness and rain's program are flawness even if it has somebugs in skining part sometimes.. Maybe this is the strongest program i ever had and it's allways handy/needed, thx alot for it!... keep up the good work /www.starjive.com
// Chris Starjive / 512 weeks, 1 day, 18 hours and 34 minutes ago
Great interview :D
// danilloOc / 511 weeks, 4 days, 4 hours and 34 minutes ago
Finally some info of who this mysterious Rainy is. :) I've been using Rainlender for about two years now and it just keeps getting better. I gotta admit that I save a lot of time not having to clean up around my computer now after the Todo-list came along. :)
// The Hangovered Duck / 511 weeks, 2 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes ago

I wish I would have interviewed him "after" I started taking my coding class (but did not know I was going to take one at the time argh!) so many diff questions I would have liked to ask him, one thing is for sures I have new found respect for C++ coders and to code up apps like Rainy has made for us "and" give them away for free is beyond most human understanding and/or appreciation.

So hard to believe most ppl grab and use these apps and can't afford a "Thank you"
// Doreen / 507 weeks, 2 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes ago
Look at it as a learning experience. You've got a new context to derive questions from now.
// craeonics / 507 weeks, 2 days, 4 hours and 27 minutes ago

Oh yessss, for loop, while loop and do loops (whoopy dooo!) hehe

on a serious note though if I had already learned the little bit I've now learned this interview would have been different. (Plus I really can appreciate the work that goes into the app itself now "instead" of just the skinning aspect of it, which is all I ever was attracted to before)
// Doreen / 507 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour and 3 minutes ago
oh yeah.
// oh yeah? / 505 weeks, 2 days, 17 hours and 23 minutes ago
Yeah.
// Doreen / 505 weeks, 2 days, 8 hours and 55 minutes ago

Heh, i've managed to promote rainlendar among a few of my friends. The latest version finally provided xp/2k transparency support with desktop mode, which i love the most about it.


The first time i saw it was while searching for XPthemes... i found some themes with a neat-looking calendar on them and after searching a bit, the author explained that the application is Rainlendar. The author was lightstar (lightstar1.com) and he explained it in his FAQ (and you can still find it there).


Oh, and great respect to Rainy. I'm still studying at high school, while working as a programmer, mostly java, a bit of c++. Making something that good (simple, beautiful, practical and popular) by myself is small dream of mine. ;)
// Sky Cry / 504 weeks, 6 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes ago

*Doreen is taking taking C++ too and all this teacher is letting us make is a medley of diff glorified calculators in a console box. =(

I doubt I'll ever get to make a Calendar w/ transparency, since the calculators seem rough enough! hehe
// Doreen / 504 weeks, 6 days, 10 hours and 12 minutes ago
Rainy codes all day and then goes home and codes all night for play too! that's something to be admired!
// Doreen / 504 weeks, 6 days, 10 hours and 10 minutes ago

Well, Rainy isn't a god, but he's done something worth admiring from my point of view. There's always someone better, but finding your place and your pace usually isn't that hard.


Doreen, noone said you have to be a programmer. The interview was interesting. *hint* *hint* ;)
// Sky Cry / 504 weeks, 6 days, 3 hours and 56 minutes ago
Argh! my cable just died and resurrected. Anyways Sky no me will never be a programmer (that stuff is harder than I thought and I'm only trying to take maybe 1-2 classes or enough to write one small ppc app that's all, but g'luck w/ your goals as one! =)
// Doreen / 504 weeks, 5 days, 21 hours and 12 minutes ago
Heh, thanks. Do what you like best and beat everyone at it ;)
// Sky Cry / 504 weeks, 5 days, 16 hours and 0 minutes ago

comment

I'm a new fan of Rainlendar and want to express my gratitude for creating this great little utility for free. I was searching for something like this and had found another program that wasn't nearly as good that was shareware, not freeware. This one is much more versatile, and I am happy that I found it. Needless to say, I ditched the other program. :)


I truly admire and respect programmers that develop software and use C++ and similar languages.


Keep up the good work and thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
// name Dawn / 503 weeks, 0 days, 22 hours and 50 minutes ago
Oops, I thought the "name" and "comment" tags wouldn't show up in the post. C'est la vie!
// Dawn / 503 weeks, 0 days, 22 hours and 48 minutes ago

I thought I would also say thank you to Rainy. I've been using Rainlendar for about 2 years and love it. I won't switch to any other calendar app. Rainlendar is by far, the best - which is strange that it is free. ;)


Great interview, too!
// Alisha / 500 weeks, 2 days, 9 hours and 25 minutes ago
I dont ve anywords to say my appricitation to this guy,, he and his product is PERFECT!!! its simply THE BEST in the lot.. this is the first comment i ever typed, i m doin this to show my respect to this man.. he realy deserves,, i com 2 tecknidermi from rainy's site only.. THANK YOU DEAR
// Humzafar / 448 weeks, 6 days, 13 hours and 36 minutes ago

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