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Skinning: Computer Interface Customization

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]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 17, 2012 - 70 comments

Throbbing Gristle

One of the first uses of a graphical throbber was in NCSA Mosaic. Command line versions did exist, but most were a spinning slash. Nowadays, with Ajax, they have become nothing more than variations of spinning gray wheels to indicate loading or buffering. Gone are the more creative ones like, Netscape, whose throbber is a condensed loop of how the dinosaurs became extinct.
posted by wcfields on May 17, 2010 - 37 comments

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