I think it would be fair to say that most of the people who create skins have never met, alive and in person, another skinner. There are billions of people on the planet, and only a few thousand active “gui creators”. To actually sit at a table with another skinner would, statistically, count as a rarity.
So, I consider myself very fortunate to have recently had that pleasure.
Music Match Jukebox, for those who are not familiar with it, is an MP3 player, internet radio tuner and CD burning program all wrapped up into one. Although it does not have the name recognition of Winamp, it is vastly popular (there was and article featuring it just this month in PC World magazine).
MMJB is a skinnable program. In many ways, though, it is a skin job like no other. A complete mmjb skin has hundreds of bitmaps. The authors of the program have not sought, nor do they encourage, skinning from the general public. A site the size of Deskmod only has 9 MMJB skins (at this writing), and venerable Deviant art has just a few more.
So, MMJB skinners are a tight little club. I have had e-mail contact with the majority of people who skin this program, because I do it, and I like to find out if any other skinner has developed any “tricks” or shortcuts for the process. It was in this fashion that I first met Graypony.
A few months ago, the upload numbers at deviant art and deskmod got a big boost in the MMJB department. Out of nowhere, this Graypony person appeared, and uploaded some of the finest skins ever created for the MMJB program. All were authorized ports of other skins, and all were exceptional works. Naturally, I desired to know how this person was doing so much, so well, so fast. So, I e-mailed.
For several weeks, Graypony and I would trade e-mails, discussing the challenges of the program, the rewards of a complete skin, our methodologies and shortcuts. After a while, we agreed to work on a skin together. I could write a whole other article about that experience, and how rewarding it was. But suffice for the moment to say that Graypony and I developed a strong positive working relationship, and generally became friends.
In August, I became aware that Graypony and I had similar taste in music, and I found out that Graypony was coming to my hometown of Raleigh-Durham to attend a concert. So we decided to meet up, and I would come face-to-face with a fellow skinner for the first time in my life.
Right off the bat, let me say that you simply must try to do this at some point. Meeting another skinner face-to-face should be the skinning equivalent of the Hajj. Imagine that your native tongue is Polynesian, and that you lived in France, speaking French day in and day out for years, without ever meeting another Polynesian, and then, one day, you met up with another Polynesian person and suddenly got to use your native tongue fluently again. That is what it was like.
Graypony and I met at Kings Barcade in Raleigh to see the Tori Amos “Birthday” show, at which appeared one of our mutual fave artists. That night we pretty much deferred to our respective companions, and refrained from talking in “geek”. We all watched the show, sank a few brews, and had a good old time talking about music, our hometowns, all the stuff you chat about when you meet interesting people for the first time.
But, the next day, we went to Beadman's Grill on campus at UNC Chapel Hill and spent five hours immersed in the discussion of skins, skinning, programs, programming, and all the accoutrements of the art. We exchanged ideas, concepts, critiques and criticisms. I got to talk about this art without typing for the first time ever, and what a joy it was.
I learned about the deep secrets of the MMJB ini, stuff that I could not suss out myself, because it was more programming oriented than graphic oriented. I was able to pass on a few tips that I have held very close to my chest for a long time. And just generally, we spouted on about x and y coordinates, color naming, transparency regions and a hundred other things that only a skinner could understand or appreciate.
We solidified our friendship, made some plans for future projects, hit a few clubs, and then the weekend was over. Back to the Instant Message and the e-mail.
For every Muslim, in their lifetime, if they are capable and can afford it, you are required to make the journey to Mecca. This journey is called “the Hajj”, and every year millions of the faithful make it.
Again, I assert that all skinners should attempt, at least once, if they are capable and can afford it, to go and meet another skinner face-to-face. This should be our “Hajj”. The rewards are beyond accounting, and the interaction enriches our efforts and experience.
Deviant art has a “meetup” page, so check that out. Take a few moments to see if there is a meetup in your town, or somewhere close enough for you to attend, and go. If not, create your own meetup, or just try and meet your “best skinning buddy”.
You won't regret it.
— Kenray, September 8th 2002
Spiced it up with a link or two.
A link or two? you look like you went link crazeeeee! hehe
good reading masta slacka... =)
one of the things that made my life a little "richer"...you've just got to try it
Like Kenray, I knew no other 'skinners' either. Only faceless words on the screen. Mr. Kenray, Sir! I also enjoyed the experience, beyond words (Only because on my limited vo... vocab.... number of words I know. hehehe)
PS: Lisa *didn't* make me do *this*.
I never knew that "GRAYPONY" was soooo talented. I guess someone out there had to / has to create those skins. Good going Graypony.
From a fellow faceless (sort of) internet friend:
Brian and the "BRUNSTER"
I happen to know graypony personally ; He's a fine man! He's a great person, loving, funny and just and all around great guy!
Ya, I almost met up with a person or two, but I always falls through. One of these days I'll run into one, but that could be awhile. I wonder if it counts if I tewach someone else to skin? ^.~
MMJB is for simplicty of use, not for simplicty of skinning.
Nice article :)
I just wish there were more skins for MMJB 7+