Now this is cool. I mean, this is so cool that it makes everything else look plain in comparison. You want something totally useless but very good looking? Something you can do which has no value at all except it looks great and will make you the envy of your friends.
It’s an add-on to Internet Explorer called Neoplanet. And it’s wonderful. What Neoplanet does is to give you the ability to add “skins” to your Internet Explorer browser.
What are skins? These are a theme which modifies the look of your browser. My favorite is a skin which changes all of the buttons to smiley faces. The faces frown when they are looking at you then smile when the cursor passes over them.
My wife likes the valentine skin, which changes the colors to pink and the buttons to, guess what, hearts.
In addition to changing the buttons, Neoplanet adds sounds (which can be pretty annoying), changes fonts and colors, and basically makes your browser take on the theme of the skin. It’s pretty darn cool.
But now comes the real question: can you create your own skins? Of course! There is a whole manual on the Neoplanet site which explains exactly how to do that. It’s about as complicated as creating a desktop theme.
Neoplanet actually does offer an extremely cool, useful feature called Flyswat. This is similar to the Alexa function of being able to see related data at a click, but, in my opinion, is a little more tightly integrated into the browsing experience. What Flyswat does is underline every word on a web page that it has more data about. This is great for finding out more information about a company, for example, or a product.
Neoplanet includes a chat engine, email, channels and dozens of other useful, and not so useful, features. They also reportedly have a Netscape version in Beta.
But you want to know the really cool thing about Neoplanet? It’s completely free! How do they make money? From advertising, referrals, and so on. So we, the internet community, yet again get a substantial benefit from attempts to find a decent way to advertise and market products. It’s actually very neat.