This section answers some of the most commonly asked questions regarding GCN. If you already have GCN installed, you may access the built in help system under the 'Help' menu within the program. If are unable to find the answer for your question on this help page, please Contact Us.
Getting StartedWhat are the minimum requirements to run GCN?
In order for GCN to run properly on your computer, you need at least a 486DX/66
or higher computer, Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000 or XP, 5 MB of
free disk space available, 8 MB RAM, and Internet Explorer 4.01 or later.
If you do not have a Windows operating system, please see:
To download GCN, click the 'Download Now' button located on the main page (http://www.gcn.cx). You will then be prompted to either Open the program from it's current location, or save the program to disk. We recommend that you choose to save the file to disk, but that you save it to a location where you can easily find the file after downloading. Once the file has completed downloading, locate the file 'Setup.exe' in the location you saved it, and run the file to begin the installation.
To install GCN after downloading it, first locate the program: 'Setup.exe' where you chose to save the file. After accessing the program, the Setup Wizard should begin. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation of the program. Once the Installation is complete, there will be shortcuts created on the Desktop and in the Start menu, which you can use to later access the program. After finishing the Installation process, GCN should automatically begin.
After the Setup Wizard completes, you will be ready to run GCN! To load GCN, double-click one of its shortcuts which were created during the Install process. The Wizard Creates shortcuts in two places on the Desktop it places a globe icon with the label 'GCN', in addition a GCN folder is created in the Start menu's Programs section. When you access GCN you will see a loading screen momentarily before the main window is displayed. When you first open GCN, you will see a 'Sign On' window. The last step you must complete before signing on is registering an account. To register, simple click the button which reads 'Register' and you will be taken to a form which lets you choose a username and password.
Before you can connect to the service, you must be logged on to the Internet. If you are connecting to the Internet from behind a firewall, you must make sure that port 7500 is not being blocked by it, as this is the port the GCN Server listens on. Also note that you will not be able to connect to GCN through a proxy server. If none of the above circumstances apply to you, then the service may be temporarily down, and try reconnecting at a later time. If you continue to experience difficulties please contact us with the details of your Internet connection.
If you get an error that your screen name is not registered, it is because you need to register an account before it can be used. Registration is an extremely simple process, you only need to choose a user name and password. To register your account, select 'Register Name' on the Sign On screen, and then click the button which reads 'Register'. Bear in mind that in order for the registration to remain active, you must sign on with this name once every 240 days.
Now that you are online, you probably are interested in finding others to chat to. The fastest and easiest way to begin chatting with someone is to enter a Lobby. Lobbies are rooms which are automatically generated and will set you into a room with under 20 people in it. To enter a Lobby, click sign on to the service using your registered name and password, then click the Chat icon on the top toolbar. A menu should drop down, at the top of which you should see 'Enter Quick Chat'. Click the 'Enter Quick Chat' item on the menu and you will be placed in to a room instantly. To find a list of all public rooms currently occupied, click the Chat icon at top, and then select 'List Active Rooms'. To find other people that are online or share similar interests, you may use the 'Search Profiles' feature under the 'Profiles' icon at top.
If you ever need more help while you are online, and your answer can't be found in this document, you can access one of the three built in help features under the 'Help' menu within GCN. Under the help menu, there is access to the Help file, a manual on how to use GCN, Help Message Boards, to post your questions to, and live Help Chat Rooms, filled with volunteer members ready and waiting to help you.
Common ProblemsI downloaded GCN, but now why am I getting a corrupted file error?
That error occurs when the Setup file does not completely download. Try redownloading the file again until the download finishes completely without canceling prematurely. If you continue having problems downloading the Setup file, try downloading from this alternate location by clicking here.
GCN does a self scan on itself every time you load it. If the file has been tampered with or modified in anyway it will generate an error while it loads. The most common reason for the file being modified is a virus infection. We urge you to immediately run a virus scanning program on your computer. If you do not already have one installed you may conduct a free online scan by clicking here. Once the virus has been disinfected, redownload, and reinstall GCN, and it should run without problems.
If you are unable to connect to GCN, first, make sure that you are connected to the Internet, and that your connection is working properly. If you are using a firewall on your Internet connection make sure that port 7500 is not blocked, as this is the port the GCN server listens on. In order to use GCN your computer must have a true Internet connection, if you are connecting through a Proxy server then you will not be able to connect to GCN. If you have been able to connect to GCN in the past, but are experiencing difficulties now, it is possible that the service is temporarily down, please try reconnecting at a later time.
In order for GCN to appear properly you must be using a minimum of 800x600 resolution. To set your desktop to this resolution, right-click on the desktop, and select properties. Then click on the settings tab. You will see a slider bar which you can use to change the resolution you should apply the settings without restarting. Also in order for GCN to appear properly you must be using small fonts. To set this, click the 'Advanced' button on the settings tab and then if you are not already using small fonts, you can will be able to set it. Note that for this option to take effect, you must restart your computer.
If you have recently reinstalled GCN, or installed GCN on a new computer and your screen name no longer appears on your sign on screen when GCN is loaded, then you must manually add the name back to the list in order for your preferences to be saved. To do this open GCN or sign-off if you are already on GCN. Then select 'Edit Screen Name List' from the 'Options' menu.
If you or others get an error which says 'Unable to Connect' when you send or receive Invitations for Voice Chat, Video, Games, Whiteboards, or File Transfers, then that means the inviting person has a firewall. If you use any type of Firewall software, then disabling it should solve this problem. Windows XP has a built in firewall, to disable it, go to the 'Control Panel' and access 'Network Connections' and uncheck the box that says 'Protect my PC'. If you connect to the Internet through a LAN, Cable, or DSL, and are behind a Router, or if you are on a computer which uses NAT to access the Internet then there is a feature within GCN which allows connections to get through to your computer. To use it, you must first enable port forwarding on your router, and it to forward incoming connections to the IP address of the computer you are using. Then you must use the 'Configure Firewall' feature under the 'Options' menu in GCN to set the actual IP address which your router uses to access the Internet. Be sure not to use this feature unless you know what you are doing, if not done properly it can also cause others to not be able to connect to you. To fix this, open the feature, and click 'Cancel'.
To first see if your Web cam works with GCN, close ALL other programs which use the camera, and then click 'View Outgoing Video' under the 'Options' menu. If it works properly, then you should see the captured video momentarily after opening this window. If you do not see yourself, but you have installed the drivers for your cam, try using any other capture devices from the drop down list in the top left of this feature. If you still have problems, please seek additional help from our Staff in the help room by pressing the 'F3' key. If you get an error that says unable to capture frame, but you are able to see your captured video, then click the 'Format' button, and set the format to 24; RGB.
In order for you to contact friends on other services such as AIM, MSN, ICQ, or Yahoo, you must setup Jabber. Jabber is the feature that allows you to link to other services. Note that you can not enter your friends screen names on to the Online list, or message them directly, you must go through the Jabber feature. For more information on how to setup Jabber, please click here.
General QuestionsWhat exactly is GCN?
GCN is an online communication service that has everything you could possibly need, including chat rooms, games, voice, video, instant messages, file transfer, a translator, whiteboards, a co-branding kit, and much more. While on GCN, you can talk to family, friends, co-workers, or even meet new people in public or private rooms. GCN does not ask you for any personal information, nor does it use Spy ware and other illegal software like some of its competitors. The best part is, though, that GCN will always be 100% free.
No, all that is required is that you choose a username and a password.
No, nor does GCN bundle with any other spy ware programs.
No, since we ask for no personal information, we do not and can not require a minimum age. We do, however, recommend adult supervision of children while using the service.
No, GCN does not censor.
No, and if anyone does
ask for it do not give it to them. You should also report the matter
to any of the people with the words "Tech Suppport" in their
profile. See also:
No, GCN is and always will be completely free. It is supported by the advertisement bar located at the bottom of the GCN windows. Clicking these ads helps support GCN.
No, GCN is kept free by it's one rotating ad bar.
Nearly all Windows operating systems, including Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP.
Yes, it is possible to run GCN on a Mac, however you need a Windows emulator, such as: Virtual PC.
Yes, you can use GCN with Linux if you have software such as WINE, which is freely available. It will also will allow you to run most other Windows programs. To download it click here.Will GCN work with any Internet connection?
Yes. However if you have problems, please see:
Yes, GCN currently provides a free e-mail newsletter to anyone interested. It contains the latest news on GCN, as well as cool stuff outside of GCN and special feature articles. If you wish to subscribe, simply send an e-mail to email@example.com with *SUBSCRIBE* in the subject line. Please note that your e-mail address will not be given or sold to any third parties or other individuals, and will only be used for the GCN newsletter. You can easily unsubscribe from the mailing list by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with *UNSUBSCRIBE* in the subject line. We ask that you forward the newsletter to any of your friends who you think might be interested, however, GCN is not responsible for forwarded e-mails.
On all of the toolbar icons, you will find that one letter is underlined in its name. By holding down the Ctrl key and pressing one of these letters, you can open the feature mouse-free. The keyboard short cuts are also listed under Window>Toolbar. Finally, you can access menu items by holding down the Alt key, then pressing the first letter of the menu, then the first letter of the item in the menu, etc.
No, but you must sign-on to each account at least once every 240 days to prevent them from expiring.
Yes, although they do night highlight blue, in chat rooms and private messages, clicking on a hyperlinks will open them in GCN's internal browser. Hyperlinks do not work in places such as message boards, however, so you have to copy and paste the URL into another browser to view the Web sites.
To learn more about the story behind GCN and how it began, click the 'Press' link on the main page (http://www.gcn.cx/press.html).
GCN has been in development for the past four years, and is constantly being improved. It was created in the programming language Visual Basic, and has had the contributions of many throughout it's development. There is however a simple way to get started with your own communications service. GCN offers a Co-Branding kit for free to individuals and organizations alike to create their own custom versions of GCN and distribute them. To learn more please click the 'Co-Branding' link located on the main page (http://www.gcn.cx/branding.html).
You can upgrade GCN by clicking the 'Upgrade to x.x.x' button on the main page (http://www.gcn.cx/). You must install the file in the same way you did the setup program, it is best to install it right over the old file so that your personal settings are not lost.
Toolbar FeaturesHow do I send e-mail to other GCN users?
You can send internal e-mail to other GCN users by clicking on the Compose button on
the toolbar. Then,
enter the user's screen name and type your e-mail.
The e-mail will be sent regardless of whether the recipient is online or
not. If the user is offline, they will be able to read your message next time they log
onto that screen name.
If you are online and receive an e-mail, a distinct sound will be played, depending if you have sounds turned on or not. You can quickly see how many messages you have in your mailbox by looking at the Read icon on the toolbar. The number in the upper left corner tells you how many e-mails you have. Clicking on the Read button lets you read and delete any e-mails that have been sent to you.
To instantly get into a Chat Room and begin chatting, you can use
the Enter Lobby feature. To access this feature, select 'Enter Quick
Chat' from under the Chat menu. This will put you into a public Chat
Room, prefixed with Lobby, and followed by a number. You will be placed
into the first lobby which contains under 20 users, however, you can
still access full lobbies by going to Chat, and then using the 'Enter
Chat Room' and entering the name of the Lobby you wish to access.
For help on this, please see:
You can either enter a public room by going to 'Enter Chat Room'
under the Chat menu, or a private room by going to Chat and then 'Enter
Private Room'. You will then be prompted for the name of the room
that you wish to join. Note if the room does not exist it will be
created at the time you enter it.
Any user can search for public rooms, and see who is in them. Private rooms, however, cannot be searched through, and you cannot see who is in a private room without entering it. Therefore, the only way you can know about a private room is if you know its name, or if you're invited to it.
To register a chat room, there are two days to do it. The first way, you will need to join the chat room you want to register. For help on this see: How do I enter a chat room?. Once you have entered the chat room, type /register <password> in the chat room, with <password> being the password you want to set for the room, and hit enter. (See How do I administer and control my room? for information on what the password is used for.) If the room is already registered by another user, you will not be able to register the room. However, if the room is not registered, then you should be successful, and receive an @ next to your name in the room list.
The second way, is to goto the Administer panel (See How do I administer and control my room?) and enter in the room name that you wish to register at the top (check the private box if you want the room to be private) and press Look up. If the room is not registered already, you will be prompted to register the room. If so, follow the dialouge boxes.
You can search through all public chat rooms by using the 'List Active Rooms' feature located under the chat menu. To narrow your search, choose a search method from the pop down menu, enter key words, phrases, and or numbers, and click 'Search'. You can then enter the chat rooms by double-clicking on them from the list or by selecting the room from the list and pressing Join Room.
To see a list and short description of all the Chat Room commands, type /help into any room
that you are in. Note that to use some of the commands you must have Operator status.
See: What are Ops? for more information.
All commands in chat rooms require you to type a / and then the command. The
following is a description of each command you can do in any chat room:
Go to 'Favorite Rooms' under the Chat menu to view your list of favorite rooms, which you can easily modify with the Add/Edit/Delete Room buttons. You can also easily 'Join' rooms 'Show Occupants' of any public room with one click. There is a default list of rooms that comes with GCN, which you can modify to your liking.
You can invite users into a chat room by bringing the chat room you wish to invite someone into to the front of the GCN screen (all other windows behind it), and then go to Chat, and then Invite and enter the screen name of the person who you wish to invite.
Go to Chat>Administer and enter the name of your room. From there, if you are signed on with the owner screen name (usually the screen name that registered the room), you can automatically access all of the controls. They include setting and/or locking a topic, setting a description, opping a user in a chat room, and appointing SOPs and AOPs. If you are not signed on with the owner screen name, you can enter the password of the room to temporarily gain Owner controls.
Ops are operators, or room moderators. They always have a @ sign next to their name. Operator status is appointed by any operator simply by them typing /op <screenname> with <screenname> being the appointed Op. Operators have the ability to kick and ban other users out of chat rooms, and change the room topic if it is not set.
AOPs stand for Automatic-Operators. They are appointed by a SOP or the owner of a chat room under the Administrator controls. Their power is that they are always automatically Opped when the enter that chat room. SOPs, or Super-Operators, are like AOPs except that they can add other AOPs and delete posts from the room's message board. See How do I administer and control my room? for information on the room owner's power.
There can technically be only one screen name set as the owner, but if you want
multiple owners, or you want to have owner controls on your other screen names,
you should probably just add yourself as a SOP for all of your screen names, and
then log in with the password when you want owner controls.
Yes. But you can only see who is in a public room, but not private rooms. To view the members currently in any public room, go to Chat>Show Occupants. Then type the name of the chat room and hit enter.
Go to the Message button on the toolbar, enter the screen name of the person that you would like to communicate with, and click OK. A small window should pop up, in which you can privately talk with the other user. Note that the other user must be online for you to be able to PM them.
Click on the Locate button on the toolbar and enter the screen name you wish to locate. If they are online, you will see what public rooms they are currently in, what version of GCN they are using, what server they are on, how long they have been idle, and at what time they signed on.
GCN currently has two games, Connect Five and Chess. More are soon to come, though. All of GCN's games are located under the Games button on the toolbar. To play a game with another member, select the game from the Games button on the toolbar, enter your partner's screen name, and wait for them to connect.
Yes, GCN can be set to block popups by unchecking the check box in the bottom right of the Browser window.
You can Add, Edit, or Remove all of your bookmarks by going to Bookmarks>Edit My Bookmarks. You can also quickly add bookmarks while in the GCN browser by clicking on the Bookmarks symbol (two from the right) on the browser toolbar.
All of your bookmarks are located under the Bookmarks icon on the toolbar.
No, not at this time. You have to enter them manually.
You can send files to other members by clicking on the Upload button on the toolbar, then entering the screen name of the online recipient, locating the file on your computer, and then clicking the 'Send' button.
You can view another member's profile, regardless of whether they are online or not, by going to Profiles>View a Profile. Then enter the user's screen name. A window will pop up with their profile, as well as an optional Go to Website button, which will take you to the user's Web site that they entered when they edited their profile.
You can write your profile, and then update and restore it by going to Profiles>Edit My Profile. Your profile can also contain a picture, which people viewing your profile can access by clicking on the Load Picturebutton. If you do not want to enter a picture, then just leave that field blank.
You can search for profiles by going to Profiles>Search Profiles, choosing whether to search through all profiles or just profiles online, and entering key works and/or phrases to help narrow down the search. Leaving the search blank simply displays all profiles in either category.
Yes. Go to Profiles>Search Profiles. Then choose 'Search Screen Names Online' from the drop down list and hit Search, leaving the text box blank. The resulting screen names are all of the people currently online.
Click on the Boards button on the toolbar and enter the name of the message board.
From there, you can read and write posts, as well as write to the author
of posts. If
you are a SOP or higher in the chat room with the same name as the board, you
can delete posts.
When you register a chat room, you automatically register a message board along with it. So, to set up a message board, all you have to do is register a chat room with the same name as you want the board to be named.
Since message boards come with all chat rooms, the best way to search through message
boards is to search through all public chat rooms.
Currently, the only way you can delete posts after you have submitted them is if you are a
SOP or higher in the board's chat room.
If you aren't, you'll have to ask someone who has that status to
Jabber is a feature on GCN that allows you to be on 4 completely different chat services while on GCN. They currently are AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, and MSN. That means that while you are on GCN, you can also be signed on to any or all of these services as well. To learn more about Jabber, visit www.jabber.org.
First, click on 'Options' at the top of the screen, then choose
'Instant Messenger Settings'. A window will appear with a place
to login to the left, and to the right. The first step is to
setup a Jabber Account. On the left, choose a Jabber Username
and Password (it does not have to be your GCN Username and Password),
select 'Register New Account', choose any server, and click Connect.
If done so correctly, the circles at the top on the right side
should now be enabled. Choose which server you wish to connect
to, enter in your usernamd and password for that service, and press
connect. It should then appear enabled below, with a checkmark
to it. A checkmark indicates that you are currently connected to that
service. If not all services allow you to connect, try registering
a new Jabber Account on a different server.
Only some services such as Yahoo and MSN are capable of retrieving your contacts list. For the other services you will need to manually enter your Contact by selecting the 'All Contacts' option while looking at the 'Contacts' tab.
First, you need to open your online list by clicking on the Online
List button on the toolbar. Then, click Edit List. From
there, you can add and remove screen names from your online list.
To remove screen names, simply click on them and press delete.
Note that the maximum number of screen names that you can have on
your list is 45.
To use voice, you need a microphone and speakers. First press the Voice button on the toolbar. Then enter the screen name you wish to speak with and press 'Call'. If they accept the connection, you can talk back and forth, holding down the 'Talk' button when you are speaking. When you are done talking, just close the window and the connection will be closed.
In order to use your video camera with others, you need to first press the Video button on the toolbar. Then, enter the screen name that you would like to cam with, and press OK. After the connection is complete, you can invite as many users as you want by entering their screen names and pressing Send Video.How do I use video?
You can easily ignore other users by right clicking on their name and choosing Ignore. This will automatically put them on Universal Ignore. You can also insert or remove users manually by going to the Ignore button on the toolbar. From there, you can also choose what specific features you would like to restrict or allow.
First, click the 'Translate' icon on the lower toolbar. Then, enter the text you wish to translate into the top text box. Choose the language of the text you just entered from the pull-down menu on the left, and choose the language you wish to translate it to using the drop-down list on the right. Then press the 'Translate' button to begin the translation.
The Whiteboard is a fun and useful feature on GCN that allows you to design works of art or share pictures with another person. To access it, click on the 'Whiteboard' icon on the bottom toolbar. Then, enter a screen name and press Invite. Once you have connected, you can begin dragging the mouse around the board to make lines. The Color button changes the color of your "pen", the Eraser button will turn your pen into an "eraser", and the 'Clear' button will wipe the Whiteboard completely clean. You can also paste pictures on your clipboard into the Whiteboard with the Paste button or drag-drop image files in. You can then move them around with your mouse. Finally, you can save your picture by clicking on the Save button.
The easiest way to share pictures with other users is to open a Whiteboard with them
and paste your pictures into that, or you can just send the picture file to them with the
Upload feature. See:
First, click on the My Media button on the lower toolbar. Then, select a folder containing music that you would like to listen to. The music files should show up on the right side. Click on one of the songs and press Play. You can then Pause or Stop the music, as well as skip forward and backward with the << and >> buttons. Finally, you can check Loop to continually loop the song you are playing, or you can check Cycle so that the songs in your music folder will continuously play in consecutive order.
Voice Chat is a feature that allows you to speak with a group of others in a chat room. First, enter a chat room with others who also wish to voice chat. Then, press the Voice Chat button on the lower toolbar. The chat room should expand to show you your Voice Chat controls. Once at least one other person is using Voice Chat in the same room as you are, you can talk to each other by pressing the Talk button down once, and pressing it when you are to stop talking. You can also use your Hot Key for this. When you are done, press the Hang Up and Close buttons to end your Voice Chat session.
To view and refresh the Welcome screen, click the 'Welcome' icon on the lower toolbar.
The 'Home' button on the lower toolbar takes you to GCN's home page, www.gcn.cx in GCN's internal browser.
Menu FeaturesHow do I Log Events while I'm on GCN?
You can log
events during a certain time period on GCN by going to 'Options' and
slecting 'Prefrences' then choose 'Logging' on the drop down menu.
There are three different things you can choose to log. Logs are stored
in \GCN\Logs\YourName\. You can view the log folder by clicking
'File' then choosing 'Open Folder' and selecting 'Logs.
You can back up your settings on GCN by going to File>Backup Settings.
Then, you will be prompted to enter a floppy disk, where your settings
will be backed up so that you can restore them at a later time.
You can restore settings on GCN that you previously backed up by going to File>Restore Settings. Please note that you must be signed off to do this.
You can quickly open all of these folders by going to File>Open Folder, and then selecting on the folder you wish to open.
Go to File>Apply Skin to apply a skin to GCN. Note in some cases you may have to restart GCN for all the changes to correctly take place.
You may either go to File>Exit, or click the 'X' in the top right corner.
While you are signed off from GCN, go to Options>Edit Screen Name List.
Go to Options>Windows Volume Controls to change the volume controls.
Go to Options>Modify Browser Settings to change your browser settings.
Yes, please see: Will GCN work with any Internet connection? for more information.
Go to Options>Change Password to change the password of the screen name you are currently signed on as.
Locate a staff member, who will direct you to an administrator who will give you a hint
to help you remember your password.
To change your font, go to 'Options' then choose 'Prefrences' and select 'Font' from the drowp down menu. Here you can change your text size, style, and font. Note that only you will see your preferred fonts, other users who you talk to will not see your preferences.
Your Hot Key is a key that you can set which will take the place of the Talk button in voice chats, making it easy to talk mouse-free. You can customize your Hot Key by going to 'Options' and then selecting Chat' and then pressing 'Set Voice Chat Hot Key'.
Go to 'Options' and check the box that says 'Show Online List at Signon'.
You can shrink the top toolbar to make more room for windows by going to Options>Text Only Toolbar, which hides the icons on the toolbar and leaves only the toolbar's text.
You can disable all of GCN's sounds by going to 'Options' and then choosing 'Sounds' from the drop down menu. You now have a list of sounds that you can turn on or off. Checking the sound means that it will be played.
You can sign off GCN without quitting and log onto another screen name by going to Sign Off>Sign Off.
Version information for GCN can be found under Help>About GCN...
StaffWho are the staff members and what do they do?
Staff members are GCN members who volunteer their time to help other members.
If you ever need help, you can almost always find a staff member waiting to assist you. See:
Staff can most easily be found in the Help Rooms. To access the
Help Rooms press the "F3" or "F5" key. Staff members
in that room will have 'Tech Support' in their profile. See:
All staff members have a profile labeled 'Tech Support', so just
view a user's profile to see whether or not they are staff. See:
No. If anyone does please report them to GCN Staff. Please see:
If you are a somewhat of a longtime member of GCN, and are interested in being a voulnteer for GCN, you can fill out an application at http://apply.gcn.cx. The GCN Staff Team will review your application and if approved you will be allowed to help out in 'NewMemberHelp'.
SkinsWhat is a Skin?
Skins change the general appearance of GCN, including the toolbar icons, background,
and title bar, sounds, title bar, and can also alter such things such as the Lobby,
Home Page, and Welcome Screen. Please see:
You can download skins at a variety of places; the easiest place if from the main page (http://www.gcn.cx/skins.html) by clicking 'Download Skins'. You may also download from: www.tieku.net, and marcus.gcn.cx.
In order to customize GCN and make your own skin or co-brand, you need the Branding Kit. This can be downloaded by going to the main page (http://www.gcn.cx) and clicking the 'Co-Branding' link at the bottom of the page. From there, you can download and install the kit, and begin creating custom versions immediately. The Branding Kit allows you to change the background and icons, change the room that Enter Lobby will take you to, change the welcome screen, and much more. You can even distribute your branded version for free. GCN skins are other people's branded versions of GCN.
No, skins will not change your GCN settings. However, they may change your Lobby, Home Page, Welcome Screen, etc.
A Co-Brand is very basically the same thing as a skin, however because a Co-Brand is meant to
be distributed to users who do not already have GCN, Co-Brands are usually bundled with the
GCN Setup program. Skins are lighter versions meant for users who already have GCN which want
to experiment with different interfaces. If you are interested in creating your own Skin or
Co-Branded version of GCN, then please see: