Many people are familiar with computer case modifications, thanks to the photogenic nature of mods. On the software side, most operating systems feature some potential for customization, though this is often limited to tweaking the colors and sounds. For some, this isn't enough. Enter "skinning," the casual term for interface customization. To a degree, the history of the media player Winamp (YT, 7:03; transcript with pictures) mirrors the history of skinning. From a version 0.2, a visually dull app in June 1997, to easy user customization in version 2 in September 1998, and the complexly customizable Winamp3 in August 2002. Wired captured something of the excitement at its peak in an article from 2000, before computing began shifting to more closed devices. Now approaching a post-WIMP (windows, icons, menus and a pointer) era, where skinning is done with alternative launchers. But for those still using traditional computers of one sort or another, it's not too late to modify your interface. [more inside]
Revolution OS [1h25m Google Video] is a 2001 documentary which traces the history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs (and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs), including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf. [more inside]
Behold Oddpost! Like they say, it really is "indubitably the most astounding web-based email application on earth." I was skeptical, but their drag-and-drop interface is so clean and functional that comparing it to Microsoft Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail is like comparing a Frank Lloyd Wright house to a birdcage made of Tinkertoys. All DHTML, so it requires IE 5+ on Windows. Netscape, Opera, Mac, and Linux users are out of luck. (Welcome to the effects of market share.)
Perhaps AOL isn't that bad. I've never liked AOL, but this recent article makes me want to give the company a big hug. Finally, people are stepping up to the Microsoft juggernaut and deciding to use other means to deliever content and run their own machines. AOL is trying to cut costs by migrating from UNIX and Windows to a Linux environment on the server-side. On the client side, they will apparently be pushing the use of Mozilla instead of their previous default browser, Internet Explorer. This has the potential to impact the web enormously, as AOL's 30 million subscribers will soon be using Mozilla as their browser. Web designers will have to start sticking to w3c specs instead of using MSIE-specific coding, which will hopefully force Microsoft to follow the specs more closely. Begun this browser war has. (via /.)
Netscape Communicator 4.74 Final has been released. This is reported to be the last in the 4.xx series browsers before Netscape 6 comes. Warning: this time it finally tips the scales at just over 20 megabytes for the Win32 version, wow. It's supposed to be a better Linux implimentation.