Commercial case modding services

casemods.jpgCase modding is one of the most recent iterations of the computer hobby that we have come to know and love. Whereas before a computer hobby consisted of just sourcing and using fast computer parts in order to get the most performance out of your computer and also tweaking each part in order to further get the most juice out of it and make it perform beyond its stated speed. Now, it has spilled on to the actual aesthetics of the computer, most particularly on the case itself.The initial case modding projects actually involved functionality more than aesthetics. The first mods that computer hobbyists made involved providing better airflow in the case – this involved putting additional blowholes in the case (actually drilling holes that would be big enough to accommodate additional fans) as well as better cable management (before the advent of rounded IDE cables, hobbyists actually individually stripped each IDE cable so that they can make their own rounded cables while others meticulously folded the flat cables in order to make it smaller and thus provide more air circulation inside.

But in recent years, modding has become more commercialized with lazy hobbyists now turning to case modding companies to make the projects for them. This recent trend has actually removed the element of these projects being home grown and being a labor of love. There are even forum threads that discuss the services offered by commercial case modding companies that offer “Custom” services to computer owners. I am ambivalent about this development, on the one hand I cannot fault these people for taking advantage of an obvious demand for such services. But I also have to say that modding is really a hobby that you should be doing on your own so that you can feel pride in your work.

Cold Cathode Light Dilemma

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I have been modding my computer cases for the last four years. No really drastic moddings though – more efficient cable management, drilling additional blowholes and more efficient air flow by inserting carefully placed fans inside the case. I am not the flashy type of guy so I hardly put in any “bling” on to my PC in terms of lights and all those UV reactive parts. I just do not think that those kinds of modding ideas are for me. The only light – related accessories I have is my illuminated keyboard and mouse pad (which is quite useful when gaming with no lights on, lest you wake the kid) and my optical mouse with changing lights from Belkin, a giveaway given to my wife by the local Belkin distributor here.I felt that I had no use for cold cathode lighting that is quite popular among other modders who want to transform their drab PC cases into virtual light shows. At one point I did get enticed to at least put one cold cathode light in my rig for more practical purposes – I want to clearly see what is inside the case if I want to check out the fans or find out if it already needs cleaning. But partly through laziness and an inability to find a cold cathode light that is not a garish green, magenta or blue I decided to forego the project.

And it looks like I did the right thing, based on a thread at Casemodgod.com, it looks like cold cathode lighting is a bit of a hazard because the inverter has a tendency to overheat and actually melt down and catch fire, while the light still remains on! I’ve seen one of those infamous pictures where the inside of the case looked like an arsonist had a barbecue and it made me realize that, yes, I made the right decision after all.

Documenting a computer problem

ibm computers.jpgAt some point in the lifespan of your computer, it will be inevitable that you will encounter a problem. This could either be with a certain software or application that you have installed (probably the most common problem) or it could be with regards to certain hardware issues. There are some problems that you can actually fix on your own especially if you have even just an intermediate knowledge of computers. These are problems that you should not worry about as much because you already know how to solve it. The real difficulty comes with problems that you yourself cannot handle and solve on your own. These are the kind of problems where you will need professional assistance.In order to help the professionals solve your problem quickly you will need to document the problem that you encounter. You can do this by Copying the image on your computer screen. Here is how to do it:

* You can decide to press either Shift + PrtScrn or Alt + PrtScrn in order to copy an image that is displayed on your computer screen and place it on the operating system’s clipboard. Pressing Shift + Prtscrn will cop the whole screen while pressing Alt + Prntscrn will only copy the active window.

* Now open Wordpad which is located at Start / All Programs / Accessories / WordPad

* Type and describe as accurately as possible what you had been doing with your computer before the problem happened in the WordPad window.

* Now click on Edit / Paste in order to copy the captured image on to WordPad

* Save the file and then print a copy of the document. You can then give this document to the technician or IT professional so they can have an accurate account of the problem.

Computer maintenance tips: some last minute tips

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The past two blog posts have been about tips that I’m sharing with PC users a way for them to keep their PCs in great shape. Maintenance is the key towards having a trouble free PC. If you do not even do any kind of cursory maintenance on your PC chances are that you will encounter problems more frequently and sooner than a PC user who keeps regular maintenance of his computer.Below are some last computer maintenance tips that you should perform on your PC. Follow these tips to lessen any problems down the road:

* Ensure that your hard drive is performing optimally and its physical condition is ok by performing Scandisk regularly. Doing this will allow you to know if you are beginning to get bad sectors on your hard drive, the kind of information that you should know about ASAP especially if you have sensitive and important data stored on the hard drive.

* Delete the temporary internet files to free up space and also speed up browsing. You can set up Internet Explorer to automatically delete temporary internet files by going to Tools/ Internet Options/ Advanced. Go to the bottom and select “Empty Temporary Internet Files when browser is closed.”

* It would be a good idea not to use Internet Explorer as your browser because it has a lot of security flaws that could potentially harm your system. Consider using Firefox or Opera instead, two browsers that are less likely to have security breaches.

* Try to get the latest Java download to keep your system up to date.

* Download the SiteAdvisor plugin, which provides safety ratings for the sites that you visit, helping you prevent visiting websites that can harm your computer.

More computer maintenance tips

pc2.jpgBelow are a few more tips that will help you keep your computer in good working condition:* Install anti spyware software in order to help you detect malicious software like spyware and opportunistic cookies and scripts

* Put up a personal firewall. A growing number of anti virus applications are beginning to bundle personal firewalls in their products. A personal firewall acts like a barrier of “safety” between your computer and the digital wild. By setting up a firewall you can protect your computer from hackers and other attempts to breach the security of your computer. Personal firewalls also give a level of protection against spyware.

* Be extra careful when downloading and installing software that you do not know about on the internet. There are many PC users who get so excited about getting various software on the internet that they completely forget that some very nasty things may be riding on these executable files and will attach itself to your computer when the executable file is run. Some of these problems can be so severe that you will have no choice but reformat your hard drive and reinstall your OS.

* Look at the programs installed on your PC and uninstall any applications that you think are unnecessary or useless to you. This is a good way of freeing up hard drive space and it also streamlines your system.

* You should also be careful when downloading music on the internet. If you really want to download and you do not want to stop at least stick to one website that you trust and do not download stuff without any compunctions.

Performing computer maintenance

You do not need to be an IT professional or an advanced PC user in order to keep your PC in tiptop shape. Just follow some of the steps and recommendations below as a way of keeping your computer in shape so and thus eliminating certain factors and conditions that could result in problems further down the line.* Do not forget to install a goo anti virus software on your computer. This is probably one of the most crucial pieces of software that you should install in your computer in order to keep your computer in good shape and prevent any problems from happening. Installing the anti virus application is only half of the preparations though. You should remember to set the program to download the latest updates and then install it automatically. You should also use the anti virus software by doing regular full system scans of your system. Lastly, you should always check if the virus definition files on your anti virus software is up to date.

* program your PC to download and install Windows Updates automatically. The Windows Updates usually include system patches for your operating system as well as patches for both bugs and security related matters. By installing these patches you can limit the incidence of problems on your computer and on the software.

* You should install an anti spyware application as a means of monitoring your system for any possible spyware intrusions. This application can also help you detect and eliminate any spyware.

Keep your PC running optimally

Because of the high demands of a growing number of applications and utilities on computers it is always a good idea to keep your computer running at its full speed to avoid slowdowns, sluggish responses and even a crash.There are many ways that you can keep your computer running its best. Just follow these simple steps:

* Regularly update your operating system. This ensures that your OS has the latest security patches that makes it harder to penetrate your system by Trojans and other malicious code.

* Make sure that you have an anti virus program installed in your PC and always update it the engine as well as the database files regularly – even daily if it is possible. These updates have the latest information and cures for the viruses that crop up on the internet on an almost daily basis. You should also actively use your spyware detection applications by periodically scanning your PC for any malicious software

* Familiarize yourself with the applications and processes that are running on your PC so that you can more easily identify what is wrong with your PC if something happes. You can use the Windows Task Manager – opened through ctrl+alt+del – in order for you to more easily recognize what items are currently running on your system. You ca also use the MSConfig tool in order to find out what programs are loading during startup. You can remove the items that you think are not that important to free up ram space and also hasten the boot time.

* Remove unnecessary programs on the tool bar so that you won’t have to run any unimportant applications that can slow down your PC and also slow down the startup time

* Regularly defragment your Hard Drives so that they will run and access files more efficiently.

Cool it!

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Probably one of the most crucial factors when it comes to modding and overclocking your rig is the issue of cooling. In fact, cooling is one of the prime motivations for modding cases before. There was a need to lower system temperatures to prevent a system from hanging, locking up or from degrading the components and its performance. So a way to solve the problem of overheating is to cool down the system. Thus the first case mods were made to allow users to install additional fans to their systems. From there of course, modding became more than just functional but also creative.Up to now, even with PC case manufacturers already considering ambient temperature in their designs (thus the proliferation of cases with more provisions for fans) cooling is still a major problem because components are now heating up more because of faster speeds. Also of serious consideration is the fact that more enthusiasts are also overclocking their systems in order to suck the most juice of their components. Because of this, cooling is one of the most discussed topics in various overclocking and modding forums. I myself have been looking for a good source for cooling and I haven’t found it… until now.

I luckily stumbled onto to Ocforums.com, which has a whole section just on cooling subjects, problems and solutions. I love going to one stop sites because it saves me a lot of time going from one site to another just to look for one answer. This forum is also filled with experts so that you can ask your questions and be confident that someone who is really adept at the hobby will answer your questions.

Awesome monstermod at Dingka.com

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The PC case modding community is one of the most robust and active on the internet. These online communities are so active and the members so helpful to one another – they practically define community. The reason for this is that their hobby – which is case modding – can be a relatively hard and technical endeavor. There are so many things to consider – mechanical, mathematical, electrical, and creative – that these factors can actually overwhelm a person much more someone who is just starting out with his hobby.The most exciting part of these communities though is that you get to see the various worklogs that case modders post so that you can see the progress of their new projects.

One project that has really caught my attention is the so called Monstermod of Willettfx. This may probably be one of the most ambitious mods I have seen. Basially, the modder is planning to put an animatronic face on his case. Animatronic puppets are used in movies, imagine the puppet in Child’s Play or even the face of the Alien in the Alien movies and you get the idea.

Willettfx has actually made his first monstermod back in 2003. But he said that he thinks that his idea is due for an upgrade so he is building a monster with animatronic features – this baby is going to be rolling his eyes and actually snarling!

Willettfx’s project is just halfway through but it is already creating a lot of buzz in the community. I look forward to seeing the finished mod in the next few weeks.

Fix a scratch on the LCD Screen

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Every few years, the standards that are associated with computer peripherals change. For example, the previous CD-Rom standards were upgraded to CD writers, then it became DVD drives and the now, the accepted standard are DVD writers.LCD monitors are the new standard in computer displays. Though they have not yet replaced CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors completely, LCD monitors are fast rising in popularity because of their extremely sleek looks, lower power consumption and more convenient footprint on a desk.

LCD monitors at this point are still quite expensive though and thus, extra care should be given to the unit so that it will maintain its pristine condition.

Probably the most important part that should be taken care of in an LCD monitor is the screen itself. The screen is not as tough as the glass tube of a CRT. If you have an LCD screen you will notice that only a clear, thick plastic separates your fingers from the actual components of the LCD. It is imperative that you take care of your LCD screen as much as possible and prevent it from being scratched.

There is a way though of repairing a scratched LCD screen though that is inexpensive and very easy. All you need is Vaseline petroleum jelly to fill the scratch on the LCD screen. This very simple remedy works because the optical density of Vaseline more closely matches the LCD face compared to air.

All you need to do is to clean the surface of the screen and then take some Vaseline and fill the scratch with it. Gently wipe off the excess Vaseline taking care not to wipe too forcefully so that you leave some inside the scratch.