Coder Extraordinaire, Friend of the Skinners, and my Hero

A long time ago, on an internet far, far away…

Customizing programs wasn't really a one-click affair back in Y2K. You had to work at it. Heck, a lot of what went on might have been considered ‘hacking’ by some of the folks who designed the media players and operating systems we skinners were into resurfacing.

But, adversity can breed a kind of closeness between the troops, and morale was high. Back in the day, yours truly was a daily (if not hourly) visitor to, haunting the message board, trading info's and such with the interested. It was such a lively community. Almost anything you wanted to know, someone would tell you. And it was there, in that environment that I first met Redllar.

What I knew of him at the time, and what I will share with you now, is that the man is brilliant. Just so wacky-smart that a lot of what he was into just went right over my head. But when I asked semi-technical questions, he answered in a way that I could understand. Elegantly, simply and with a common touch that made me worship the fellow almost instantly.

I found out that he was a programmer in the best possible way: he created my dream program for me — a little number called Co-ordpad. See, I was hooked on skinning a freeware audio player called Coolplayer. The only gripe about skinning coolplayer was writing the ini file… tracing down the x and y of this button or that was just difficult as hell. So I went begging for a solution on the messageboard, and Redllar made me one.

The program he wrote for me was everything that I had asked for. You loaded up a bitmap of your coolplayer interface and started drawing boxes all over the control surfaces, and the next thing you know, BLAM!! Output of all your x and y coordinates. It just blew me away. And if the function wasn't enough, he made the program skinnable, and just a few versions after it's inception, the program could do all sorts of things my little skinners heart cried out for.

And you might think I would have been satisfied with that. But no. A month or two later I got fascinated with the throbbers in MSIE. I wanted a program to sew my gif animations into long bitmaps for use as throbbers. And Redllar (my hero) cranked out a new program called Bitstrip to do just that. I have used it ever since.

And so have a lot of people. The program made it out “into the wild” in China, where it was a phenom. If you know anyone with a Chinese operating system, get them to do a search of the internet for you. You will be astounded. There were also other eyes, closer to home, focused on Bitstrip, but that comes later. Leave it to say, it was just what I was looking for, and it worked!

But it wasn't just little old me on the receiving end of this genius. Redllar was active all over the place in the skinning community. He built Lompster, an excellent little Recycle Bin program for Virtual Plastic. He worked with the Tek crew on a skinnable solitaire game that let you make your own decks. The guy was a machine…

Alas, Redllar disappeared one day. He left the building. He left my e-mail. He asked me to take all of his awesome programs down from the web. I did. And I was very sad. I went asking around to try and find out why this giant would suddenly disappear.

And here's what I was told: Redllar developed brilliant code to plug in to Windowblinds that made it so much more than what it was. He was trading ideas and writing code and posting it to the newsgroups for windowblinds. And following his modus operandi, he was working on the code for free, for fun, and for the benefit of skinners.

But then something went wrong inside the group that was doing the codeswapping. Something so bad that it made Redllar just want to be done with the whole skinning world in general. And that’s why he disappeared.

Is this story true? I dunno. I got it from two different sources. You may have more. The end effect remained fact, though. Redllar was gone from the internet. The projects that were in the process stopped. All of the sites that we had set up to share and develop his programs were taken down.

I thought that would be it. When Redllar dropped out, he dropped waaaaayyy out. But, about a year later, he returned briefly.

He was working on as admin/coder. He started appearing in the newsgroups, and actually returned my e-mail. I was overjoyed to hear from him and immediately started sending him fan letters. One day, I asked about posting Bitstrip. He was tentative, and basically declined. Knowing that it had gotten “into the wild” in China, I did a google search for the Bitstrip program, just to see where it might still remain lurking on the internet.

Guess where I found it?

So I wrote to Redllar, asking him, basically, if he knew they had it posted on the Stardock website, and if they could do it, why couldn't Tek do it, and was it in compliance with the readme.txt file that came with the program… yada yada. He was livid, and wrote me the only e-mail of his I ever wish I had not opened. And that was that. At least for the rest of my life (to date).

I haven't heard from him again. So you can imagine my joy when I got a note from Plastic saying that all the Redllarware was going to be available again. Looks like sometimes our prayers do get answered.

The list:

  • Bitstrip — the best (if not only) program for creating throbbers, or just sewing gif animations into extended bitmaps. It does what it says.

  • Co-ord Pad — the ini writer. Take a tutorial on it's use at

  • Deskband — A skinnable desktop launcher of sorts, with some great features (alpha).

  • Ezclock — Skinnable clock eating a lot of skins (alpha).

  • Lompster — A skinnable recycle bin with some visual effects. Animation, (optional) buttons to perform tasks, but right click menu also.

  • Yazzle — Your skinnable solitaire solution. Skinnable card decks and lots of other options.

And there you have it — history. All available at Virtual Plastic.

Redllar, apparently is not returning to our world. He just wants to finish it the right way, providing source code for these gems, and making sure we can all get to them. I am, and will remain, a huge fan of Redllar's work, and a big-time admirer of the man himself. Get your copies of the programs above and become a fan yourself.

My huge thanks to Plastic for helping this happen, for his support, and for hosting the apps.

— Kenray, September 3rd, 2003

It's interesting to see whether or not these apps have withstood the test time. I noted whilst taking screenshots that some are more mature, stable than others. Is there still a place for them in this age where the users outnumber the skinners?

Anyhow, good to see them available again (outside the machines of the chosen few).
// craeonics / 669 weeks, 5 days, 18 hours and 53 minutes ago
and I'm usually the last one to jump on the boat, I've seen and skimmed that Lompster thing over and over and over again, time to check it out I think...
*Doreen goes get Lompster
// Doreen / 669 weeks, 5 days, 18 hours and 19 minutes ago
Lompster no likey DesktopX...
*Doreen stupid, had to unload DX and there it was! OMG cute lil marching thingie (I love it!) hehe =)
off to play w/ cute blue marching lompster thingie...
// Doreen / 669 weeks, 5 days, 18 hours and 13 minutes ago
Well, ya know never know what tomorrow will bring. This seems like one of those cases. Lots of twists and turns. I have to say I know what it's like to admire someone, and then find some trates that just aren't admirable.

I'm glad that the apps are back and the source is open. I don't know how long it will take, but things like this tend to get picked up by somebody. At the least there is hope for them now. It's better than the lost state they were in before. Personally, I'm hoping the solitare game will grab some attention.

As for test of time, I think I'm going to reffer back to my last paragraph. They'll probly need to be updated.
// CutTheRedWire / 669 weeks, 5 days, 15 hours and 41 minutes ago
*integer bows
// integer / 669 weeks, 5 days, 10 hours and 41 minutes ago
I'm still giggling over what crae said about Ken's "grand temple" (I have this image now stuck in my head you have no idea) hehe!

anyways, I meant to say before I ran off to go play w/ mr lompster that this was good ken... shame red got so upset and left had he stood his ground and not let his emotions and the "external" source get to him no telling what else he would have brought to the skinning community, but for today, me enjoyed the read again, and is enjoying his lil lompster =)
// Doreen / 669 weeks, 5 days, 5 hours and 13 minutes ago
This is so great :-) I think Lompster was one of the first "skinnable program" (or something related to customization your desktop or so..) I downloaded. And now I have it again, great!

Gonne take a closer look at the card app too, first impression is very nice.

Interesting article Kenray
// PK / 669 weeks, 5 days, 4 hours and 5 minutes ago
Lompster was alpha on pre Win2000 machines. Lots of potential, even though it's quite a simple app. Too bad I never got to skinning it.
// craeonics / 669 weeks, 4 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes ago
Well crae.... here's ya chance ;)

*Bnowman cracks the skinnable whip >:)

Anyways, great to have the 'Redllapps' available again - hehe Lompster does indeed rock :D
Would be great to see more skins than the lonely 5 skins already released.
// Bnowman / 669 weeks, 4 days, 21 hours and 9 minutes ago
this brings back a lot of memories...
// starvingartist / 669 weeks, 4 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes ago
I wonder where this guy is today. So sad that he was crushed by what happened. :(
// Spooter / 669 weeks, 3 days, 15 hours and 55 minutes ago
All you crumudgeons still around?...this does bring back some good memories...from skinz days.
// kendo / 666 weeks, 6 days, 11 hours and 42 minutes ago

I downloaded Lomspter, opened the file but don't know where to go from there. can someone email me what I need to do next. Thanks,

// / 604 weeks, 1 day, 11 hours and 58 minutes ago
Unzip the file double click the .exe and the default skin is "Plastique" click the lil "refresh arrows" which brings you into the options and fool around in there... =)
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 6 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes ago
Unzip the file double click the .exe and the default skin is "Plastique" click the lil "refresh arrows" which brings you into the options and fool around in there... =)
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 6 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes ago
Whoops my browser studdered...
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 6 days, 7 hours and 41 minutes ago
So what in the heck happened to make the guy wig out? The article is pretty vague, and I would like to know!
// andrew_ / 602 weeks, 6 days, 5 hours and 1 minute ago
I've read some of the correspondence Ken mentions and what it all boils down to (as far as I can recall) is that Redllar felt severely disrespected, both on- as well as offline and thus pulled his stuff.
// craeonics / 602 weeks, 6 days, 1 hour and 10 minutes ago

So he punished himself and everyone else who enjoyed his stuff by not doing and sharing cuz a few disrespectful ppl. (which the world is full of)

*sigh* what a loss...
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 5 days, 20 hours and 57 minutes ago
I'm saying nothing :)
// integer / 602 weeks, 4 days, 14 hours and 6 minutes ago
Leave it up to Stardock to ruin a good and free thing.
// John / 602 weeks, 3 days, 3 hours and 50 minutes ago
Whatever or whoever the actual issue was w/ or about you only lose when you give up and run away...
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 2 days, 21 hours and 37 minutes ago

Not believing that stardock would intentionally put up someones app without their permission I got into the way back machine.


Yes it shows bitstrip but it also shows it as having come from somewhere called

I don't believe Stardock were even aware it was redllars bitstrip or that he had requested it not to be distributed.
// pjpowell / 602 weeks, 1 day, 19 hours and 33 minutes ago

Aha, that would explain things. Dezina is Jumbles. She and Ken founded Tek a long time ago and she was hosting BitStrip until redllar asked her to take it down. I guess she had forgotten she had uploaded there as well or so.

I did a search for the file in question when I first heard about this deal (over a year ago), but couldn't find it on the StarDock servers.
// craeonics / 602 weeks, 0 days, 21 hours and 49 minutes ago

Hmm well nobody but he himself knows all the exact facts I guess, but first off it sounds strange w/ all the screaming everyone at Stardock does about the word rip that they would take an app and just stick it up on their spot and "guess" who's it is and "not ask" for proper permission? sounds strange...

Then again for him to get so pissed to just up and leave w/o "making" them remove it and acknowledge the error of their ways sounds strange too...

either way to just give up w/ something you apparently are that passionate about such as he was about his app, he should have fought the fight and stayed (my opinion) the end result is I think he lost alot more than he thought.
// Doreen / 602 weeks, 0 days, 20 hours and 34 minutes ago

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