I did contact the webmaster, I guess I should have mentioned that. He said they hired a developer to do it .. which means of course he cannot redistribute it. Just wonder if anyone's seen anything similar...
component & modules to do what you want. Very customisable.
thumbs resized on the fly will take first mosimage from the article - doesn't need to be inserted in the article in case you want a different pics for preview & content. Or you can set to use category or section images by default.
works on 1.8 - 1.9 not tried on others.
great for creating magazine layouts too