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Copyright © 1999 Mars Saxman - all rights reserved

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, visit or write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

Latest news and information about Starfish are available at its web site:


Starfish is an ordinary application and does not need any special installation. Simply launch it and run. I like to place it in my "Startup Items" folder so that it will load automatically when the computer starts up, but that is optional.

Starfish will create a small file named "Starfish Prefs", in the Preferences folder. It will also store the current pattern in the System folder. The current pattern file is called "starfish.pict", and can be opened in Photoshop or any other program capable of reading PICT-format files. In MacOS 8.5 and later, the pattern file is stored in the Desktop Pictures folder (in the System folder), which is where the Appearance control panel keeps its pattern files.


You may choose any of five sizes for your patterns: small, medium, large, full-screen, and random. Small, medium, and large patterns are random values proportioned to the size of the main monitor. Patterns in these sizes will all be roughly the same size, but the exact dimensions will differ. Full-screen patterns, however, are always exactly the same size as your main monitor.

If Starfish does not have enough memory available to create patterns as large as you request, it will fall back to the next smaller size. If you ask for "large" or "full-screen" patterns but keep getting "small" or "medium" looking tiles, try giving Starfish a larger memory partition. You can change an application's memory partition by selecting its icon in the Finder, then clicking "Get Info" in the File menu. Try adding memory 500k at a time until Starfish produces results you like.

By default, Starfish only creates new patterns when you specifically ask it to. You can create a new pattern any time by clicking the "New Pattern" button, or by selecting "New Pattern" in Starfish's "File" menu. If you decide you don't want a new pattern after all, click the "Cancel" button.

The white square in the lower right corner is a preview swatch. As the pattern is generated, it will be drawn - in miniature - inside the swatch. This is mainly to satisfy curious folks like the author who want to know what's going on at every step, but it also has some practical value in allowing you to cancel the pattern in advance if you don't like the way it's turning out.

If you would prefer to have Starfish create new patterns automatically, select one of the timer options . "When the machine starts up" creates a pattern whenever Starfish is launched (using the assumption that you will leave Starfish in your "Startup Items" folder). "Every day" creates a new pattern once per day, regardless of the number of times you start up and shut down in the course of the day. "Once every" lets you specify a number of minutes or hours. If you enter zero, Starfish will simply produce patterns as fast as it can.

The palette menu lets you control the appearance of your patterns. Colours in created patterns will always be taken from whichever palette you've selected from the list. "Full Spectrum", which is the default, gives Starfish a free hand to pick whatever colours it likes. These picks range from the inspired to the awful, so if you are looking for variety you may prefer "Random". Random mode picks a new palette for each pattern, which ensures variety while avoiding colour clashes.

Known Problems:

- The preferences box occasionally forgets which colour palette you selected and switches back to "Full Spectrum". Oddly, this is a lie - the generator will continue to generate patterns using your chosen palette.


7 December 1999, version 1.4
- Included new elliptic blend "bubble" generator
- Rewrote desktop setter to use theme calls if available, thus fixing the long-standing memory leak in 8.5 and 8.6

24 September 1999, version 1.3b5
- Added preview swatch to Preferences window
- Allowed users to control the generator's colour palette

27 July 1999, version 1.2
- Added "Cancel" button to halt pattern generation
- Fixed "blank pattern" bug
- Added support for multiple monitors and improved pattern-application code
- Included new linear wave interference generator
- Improved multitasking for less drain on system resources when running in the background
- Doubled the rangefrac generator's resolution, for sharper images in Large and Full-Screen modes
- Allocated GWorlds in temporary memory, reducing the Starfish memory partition size

13 July 1999, version 1.1
- Added code to handle 'quit' apple event, allowing graceful system shutdown
- Fixed sanity check in generator code which erroneously rejected all patterns taller than they were wide
- Added handler for Apple menu items
- Increased abilities and parameter range of the "spinflake" and "coswave" generators for more diverse images
- Improved blending code, for 72% average improvement in generation speed

28 June 1999, version 1.0: First release.

Original file name: Read Me - converted on Thursday, 9 December 1999, 18:11

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