Archive for April, 2013

Okay, here’s one of my fav’s & not the type of mod you usually see?

I’d had this antique silverware box for a long time- can’t recall where I got it from, probably a flea market or garage sale. I have a soft spot for things like this- buy it, put it away, remember I have it, try to think of a use, then put it away again- lol.

At any rate, I’d been reading (at the time) about the mini-itx form-factor motherboards and- zing! Finally! I knew something cool would pop up if I gave it enough time…Just so happened that I also had been playing with a lot of the smaller Linux distros about the same time- and (the clincher)- had been given a dremel tool set for that year’s b’day. So, I got to work!
Silverware Mod-box photo 1-Silverwaremodbox.jpg

Measuring & cutting out the rear of the case & the lid was a bit nerve-wracking.

Rear Cut-outs photo 2-Modbox-cutouts.jpeg

Next, came the fit-out of the PSU & the board. It was really difficult to get the backplate lined up. I had to use washers on the brass stand-offs to get the right height.

PSU/Board test-fit photo 3-BoardampPSUtestfit.jpg

I think the hardest part was drilling the holes for the fan & motherboard as I had to measure exactly–> from the outside. I didn’t want to drill from the inside & splinter the wood.

Case fan   switches   standoffs photo 4-CaseFanampSwitches.jpeg

Everything fit in- I never bothered with an optical drive because I had an external (even then!). But looking at those PSU wires was killing me.

Top, front photo 5-Top-frontview.jpeg

I tried to find dark blue tape to wrap & hide the wires- but had to settle for hideous, tarp-blue instead.

Almost done, wires wrapped photo 6-NearlyDone.jpg

Here’s the rear of the case, finished.

Case rear finished photo 7-CaseRearw-hinges.jpg

So basically, I cut out the back, rearranged the hinges, then drilled the mounting holes. I used momentary switches from Radio Shack for the power & reset buttons. I dropped one side of a couple of jumpers over each of the power pins- and fed a piece of bell wire to the other side to provide power. Lastly, used a hole saw to cut out a spot for an adjustable case fan to keep things cool (putting the case on rubber feet gave it some place to pull air from).

It’s totally silent & no one would ever suspect what’s inside? Fast-forward to today & I still have it & it’s still fine as a web browser/light work unit. If I ever wanted to resurrect it, I could go PATA-SATA adapter & SSD.

Epia Mod Complete w/Linux! photo 8-ModcompletewithBeatrIXLinux.jpeg


Warning: Microsoft rant ahead!

Posted: Monday 15 April, 2013 in Uncategorized

I really have to get this off my chest & out there. It bugs me to no end every time I read something where some clown is extolling the “virtues” of Microsoft, the train wreck that is Windows 8, & especially the foisting of touch-screens onto the unsuspecting, non-tech-savvy public. After spending two decades convincing us all how wonderful and “impossible to live without” the mouse is, we’re now being told to go back to pre-mouse days and “keyboard shortcuts”. Really.

Now, before anyone reads this and goes off on a tangent about how people wouldn’t buy into this if it wasn’t just the best thing since sliced bread, consider a few things:

The world is being stuck with Windows 8- and not because it’s innovative. Or better. Or easier. Or more fulfilling. No.

It’s there because Microsoft had touch-technology (Surface) burning a hole in it’s pocket for years and they were tired of waiting for everyone to “get on-board” and slobber over touch devices. They also wanted to somehow merge all operating systems into one so there’s less upkeep on their end. Not so it’s easier on you, mind you. Easier for them.

Think back only two years ago or so. There were a plethora of beautiful, sub-$300, dual-core CPU netbooks available. They came stock with either XP or Windows 7, 250- 320GB storage, 1-2 GB RAM, wireless, webcam, bluetooth…keyboard, USB ports, camera card reader, external VGA port. All for under $300.

Keep in mind that XP & Windows 7 are an actual operating system. Hard drives provide local storage. USB drives provide accessible external access to more storage via a universally available cable. You can attach a printer or a camera, or whatever to these little 7 – 10″ netbooks.

Now, consider what happened in the six months immediately following the “push” of the touch-screen tablets? These robust & full-featured netbooks simply disappeared. Why? They were selling like hotcakes, as they say…Except–> a certain company needed the path cleared in order to roll-out touch-screen devices. Without touch-screen devices, Windows 8 would be even more reviled & pointless than it is now.

So, out come the tablets. The “viewers” of the internet. Dependant on internet connectivity to be useful (unless you’re using it as a glorified book reader, which is another rant). No internal storage to speak of. A system driving it that can be compared to “XP-lite-made-by-Playskool”. Not a real operating system, exactly- more like a bookreader that also lets you shop online. Whee!!!

But guess what? These little, anaemic, viewers of the internet- with no storage, few with actual USB ports, proprietary internal non-user replaceable battery, requiring a cover, a keyboard, extra storage cards (if yours is a lucky one which accepts them), stylus, & proprietary cables…Many have the very same specifications as their netbook cousins with far less capability–> and cost the same or more! And don’t forget- you have no storage to speak of. No more hard drive. Ah! But don’t worry- you can “buy” some more extras to go with that “viewer”: external, wireless hard drives are now out (holding another battery to be charged & cared for). I’m thinking that when you go to buy that device, you ought to pick up a big bag to carry that plus all of that other cr*p you need to haul around just to make the thing worth having…you know, the stuff you bought to “build a netbook out of a tablet”?

I know what comes next- “what about cloud-storage?” & “get with it, this is 2013, local storage is so passé”. Yeah, except I sort of like having my stuff where I can reach it–> without having to hope & pray for an internet connection to get it!  That’s where the netbooks shined- they were the best of both worlds.

Okay, before you fret over the untimely demise of the netbook– look around the shops once more. You’ll see that I’m only “partly” correct. The small, light netbooks haven’t actually disappeared entirely… You see, certain companies are aware that these things did sell & that there is very much a market for people who understand that a real operating system, local storage, a decent screen & a keyboard are actually more productive than a fingerprint-covered, stripped-down viewer-toy.

But! There was no room for the netbook to sit alongside a tablet and to command the same price. It would have been blatantly obvious to even the least, tech-savvy consumer that the netbook was a much more robust device for the same money. It would have stalled sales & Microsoft needed to find a way to sell touch-screens & Windows 8–> so???  The solution was simple & money-making: keep netbooks, rename them “ultrabooks”, increase the specs (even though it’s not necessary for what you’d use them for) so you can increase the price. Done! Now, all “net” (oops), I mean “ultra”books start at around $600. No more competition with tablets.

What you’re left with is this- consumers who do not want to switch to Mac or Linux have zero choice. It’s 8 or nothing. It’s touch-screen, or you pay hundreds more. Soon, Windows 7 will become unavailable completely. Then, what will you do?

I’ll tell you what-

Linux Mint

“From Freedom, Came Elegance”

Free, beautiful, open-source, developed & supported by people who do it because they love it with a passion. If you don’t know what Mint is or have never heard of Linux- feel free to comment & I’ll tell you all about it. You’ll be amazed!

You do have a choice.

Linux Mint.    🙂