Archives For computers

Unlike a couple of years ago when I practically lived on Twitter, now I only check it a few times a day.  I guess after 90,000 tweets, I sort of got burned out, especially when many of those I used to have great conversations with on the service aren’t on there much if at all anymore.  However, when I do check it, once in a while I still come across some incredible gems like this video below.

One of my local news reporters and twitter followers @joannawise tweeted this video recently created by Chiron Bramberger and whether or not you are a fan of Miley Cyrus (personally, I am not a fan but I’m more of a metalhead anyway), if you are a geek and especially if you have a love for computer hardware, you are going to love this incredible spoof/cover of her “Wrecking Ball” music video.  I suspect this is probably going to be the only time you will ever see computer chip robots swinging on hard drive platters and crashing through walls of RAM sticks to some 8-bit music.  As a computer hardware enthusiast, this made me just plain giddy.

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[via @joannawise]

Anybody who knows the full extent of my geekiness knows that I love to build my own computers and I have a slight obsession with graphics cards.  The last couple of gaming machines I have built, I have gone for the most expensive cards available at the time which were dual-GPU cards that I think set me back at least $750.  Of course I never need that kind of performance at the time but I like to make sure my machines last me a while and that usually does the trick.  My gaming desktop which I am currently writing this on will turn 4 years old in a month and I am only now starting to plan my next build.

Anyway, speaking of graphics cards, I came across this fantastic AMD Radeon graphics card cake that I thought those of you who are hardware enthusiasts would love!

This Radeon GPU cake was created by james111333 from the Overclockers UK forums.  I’d say he did one heck of a job!  Now I can’t decide if I want to eat some cake or build a computer.  Better yet, why don’t I do both!

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AMD Radeon GPU Cake

AMD Radeon Graphic Card Cake

[via AMD Gaming]

It never ceases to amaze me the crazy and awesome things that artistic people come up with.  I know I am not the artistic type just because I would never conceive of something as crazy and apparently awesome as Darth Vader combined with a tank in the style of steampunk.  I often wish I had been born as more of an artistic type but as long as I can at least appreciate cool art, that is good enough for me.  Speaking of cool art in the form of a steampunk Darth Vader Tank, the creation below is pretty neat!

Artist Gabriel Dishaw is the creator of this awesome Darth Vader tank and to build it, he used a toy tank (obviously), computer parts, typewriter parts, airplane parts, wire and more.  He was selling this work of art for $1000 but it looks like I was a little slow in posting about this because it is sold already.  I wouldn’t mind being the proud owner of it but I can’t afford to spend that much just to have a cool Darth Vader tank.

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Darth Vader Steampunk Tank

Darth Vader Tank

Darth Vader Tank

Darth Vader Steampunk Tank

Darth Vader Tank

Darth Vader Steampunk Tank

[Source:  Gabriel Dishaw via Nerd Approved]

I have a ton of old electronic stuff laying around and stored away in boxes but I have never really considered shaping them all into some sort of work of art.  I suppose the main reason for that is that pretty much all of my parts still work and I prefer to keep them in working condition just in case I ever want to use them again some day but not everybody pack rat like I am.  Well, speaking of taking a ton of old electronics and re-purposing them as art, that is exactly what one person did with this incredible Darth Vader mosaic!

Argentinian artist Elisa Naranja Metálica Insua is the creator of this spectacular Darth Vader mosaic made of miscellaneous electronics.  I would have never imagined you could make Darth Vader out of old cameras, iPods, cell phones, Game Boys, PlayStation controllers, floppy disks, SNES cartridges, keyboard keys and so much more.  This is a work of art is called “Darth Vader Skywalker Hellwalker” and measures 130 x 90 cm.

I would give anything to hang this amazing creation on my wall!  I could spend hours just identifying all of the parts that were used.  How many can you identify?

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Darth Vader Mosaic

Darth Vader Electronics Mosaic

[Source:  Elisa Naranja Metálica Insua via Reddit]

Just over seven years ago I used to be obsessed with hacking Sony’s PSP gaming handheld and spent many hours hanging out in forums where other PSP enthusiasts were talking about everything PSP related that Sony didn’t want you to know about.  Although I didn’t have the skills at the time to be one of the people on the leading edge that was looking for new ways to hack the gaming handheld, I was constantly installing custom firmware, cool homebrew apps and even fixing parts of my PSP that had broken (tip:  Don’t use those aftermarket joysticks that you attach to the thumbstick because it puts too much torch on the mechanism and will break it pretty quickly and it is a real pain in the ass to fix).

While hanging out on those forums, one of the regular topics was putting custom faceplates on your PSP.  At the time, there were two main manufactures of PSP faceplates (one better than the other although the not so great one had some cooler colors) but there was one place that everybody agreed was the best place to get them, a website called DecalGirl.com.  That was my first introduction to Decal Girl and their amazing business.  I ended up buying a number of PSP faceplates from them which I loved but after a couple of years I stopped messing with PSPs and kind of forgot about them.

A few years later, I found myself needing to try to disguise my MacBook Pro (long story) and that is when I remembered that their main business is skins for pretty much any kind of gadget and I decided to see if they were even still around.  Of course they were and when I was browsing their site for a cool skin for my MacBook Pro, I found that they had grown significantly in terms of the number of devices the offered skins for as well as cool designs.  After spending a couple of hours trying to figure out which skin design I liked best, I pulled the trigger and ordered my first skin.

I was a bit nervous about the purchase because I had tried on a number of occasions to apply screen protectors to my devices like the PSP and it has always been a miserable failure because of dust, air bubbles and other things and I was fearful that I would have that same luck again.  Unfortunately, my fear was confirmed.  When my skin arrived, it was slightly bent (thank you package delivery idiot) and partially due to that, I couldn’t get it on without major air bubble issues for the life of me.  After screwing with it for quite a while and just making things worse, I balled the skin up and threw it away.  That was when I decided to contact Decal Girl about my experience.

Skin Application Instructions

Decal Girl Skin Installation Instructions

They immediately got back to me about my issues and sent me another skin free of charge but this time they also posted a video on YouTube to show me how to apply it so I wouldn’t have those issues.  Apparently I was the only idiot at the time to have such an issue so the how-to video was shot just for me which made me feel special.  A couple of days later my new skin arrived and with the help of the instructional video, I got the skin on with no problems this time.  I was once again an extremely happy customer!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago (I am a about 2 months late in getting this posted), Decal Girl contacted me about reviewing some skins on Global Geek News and I jumped at the opportunity as I had a number of naked gadgets.  They ended up sending me a number of skins to try out including ones for my MacBook Pro (the one I have been using for the past 2 years has held up great but after food spills and stuff on it, isn’t looking its best anymore), my PlayStation Vita, my iPad 2 and my Kindle Paperwhite (can you tell I love technology?).

Below are my thoughts and pictures of each skin both before I put them on and after.  Apologies for the less than stellar picture quality as the lighting was not ideal and the pictures were taken with my iPad 2 camera.

The Packaging:

The shipment came in a large cardboard document envelop (I guess that is what you would call it) with a stiff piece of cardboard inside to prevent the previously mentioned package delivery idiot from damaging them.  Each skin was then put in its own plastic protective sleeves which came with the skin and application instructions.  Very well done.

Kindle Paperwhite Skin

Decal Girl Kindle Paperwhite Skin

The Kindle Paperwhite Skin:

The skin I choose for my beloved Kindle Paperwhite was called Cloud Temple which has an Asian style temple sitting on a cliff overlooking a canyon.  Upon taking the skin out of the package I noticed it had a matte finish which was quite nice and on the e-reader wasn’t so bright as to distract from the reading experience despite its cool look.  Of course the whole design is on the back of the Kindle while the front has the design simply covering the edge of the Kindle.  Applying it was pretty simple although working with the front piece was a bit tricky because I was terrified I would accidentally rip it or not get it centered properly to look nice.  However, even though the skin is extremely thin and feels a bit like it would rip easily, it is tough enough that it went on just fine after a couple of attempts to get it centered perfectly.  The result looks quite nice and the added thickness on the back didn’t have any effect on the already insanely tight Kindle Paperwhite case which is a huge plus.

iPad 2 Skin

Decal Girl iPad 2 Skin

The iPad 2 Skin:

My experience with the iPad 2 skin which was a design called Black Hole (I am a bit of a space nut and this one was glossy rather than matte for those keeping track) was very similar to that of the Kindle Paperwhite except due to its larger size, I was even more terrified of ripping the front side of it than I was the Kindle skin.  Of course it ended up holding together just fine although with the iPad 2 being a larger device, it make it a bit more difficult to get the skin on straight.  That wasn’t a big deal on the back but lining it up just right with the screen took some work and I still couldn’t get the bottom of the skin to line up just right.  It was not a problem of the skin so much as my fat hands.  However, the one thing I did notice about the iPad skin is that it it really changes how the device feels in your hand.  What I mean by that is that while the skin is extremely thin, the edge is very noticeable on the touch part of the screen and especially on the back of the device.  I find it to be a little annoying/distracting but not enough that it has made me want to take the skin off.  I guess I have just gotten use to it.  Of course since I keep my Kindle in a case I don’t really notice the issue with it although it is still noticeable on the back side if you don’t.  However, one big positive is that even with the glossy finish, it feels like it gives the iPad a little more grip so it doesn’t feel like it is going to slip out of your hand as easy as a naked iPad does.  Overall, it is quite nice if you have a steady hand to apply it and don’t mind the little edge you end up with because of it.

Assassin's Creed PlayStation Vita Skin

Decal Girl PlayStation Vita Skin

The PlayStation Vita skin:

The PlayStation Vita skin that I chose was the AC3 Collage considering I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan.  Like the skin for the Kindle, it has a matte finish which looks quite nice on the Vita.  Unfortunately, unlike the other skins, the Vita skin is an enormous pain in the butt to apply.  Unlike the previously mentioned skins which had one piece for the front and a second to cover the back, the Vita version is far more complicated.  There is the large piece that covers most of the front which wasn’t too bad although I had to punch out holes for the speakers myself as they were still slightly attached to the skin when I peeled it off of the paper it came on.  The real pain started when I tried to apply the part of the skin around the buttons and thumbsticks.  The pieces are extremely thin rings and getting them in place and looking right was not easy.  I am still not exactly happy with how they are on there but it was the best I could do.

AC3 Collage Skin on the Vita

AC3 Collage Decal Girl Skin on the PlayStation Vita

As far as the backside of the Vita goes, the skin comes in a bunch of pieces due to the shape and features of the handheld.  The time and effort required to apply them all felt like it wasn’t worth it.  The result looks good, its just it was a pain dealing with all of those tiny sections.

Decal Girl ACIII Skin for the Vita

Assassin’s Creed III Skin for the PlayStation Vita

The end result looks nice and certainly gets the attention of gamers when they see it although the matte finish makes it feel cheaper in my opinion.  Overall, I would say if there is a design for the Vita you really like and you don’t mind some tedious work to get the design on there, go for it, otherwise I would avoid it.  One other thing to mention is that I was warned that removing the skin on the Vita could leave residue behind on the device unless you use some heat from something like a hair dryer on it for 10-15 seconds before attempting to remove it.  One last thing to note is that even though you are covering the rear touchpad with the skin, it doesn’t hurt its functionality at all.

The MacBook Pro skin:

Finally, the skin for the MacBook Pro was the design called Harbinger.  I decided on that design because it was very similar in color and setting to the skin I have been using the past couple of years that I am constantly being complemented on but instead of a giant ringed planet, it has what looks like the aurora borealis.

Before I could install the new skin, I had to remove the old one.  The first thing I noticed was just how hard it was to get off.  I suspect using some heat would have made it easier but I didn’t have any at the time.  However, for as easy as they are to kind get off and put back on again when you are putting it on to make sure you have the design on right, trying to take one off after 2 years is not easy.  It took about 15 minutes and all of the strength my arms could muster to remove the old skin’s death grip from my MBP.  For as hard as it was to get off, it is nice to know that it has enough of a grip that it isn’t going to just peel off on its own.  I was really impressed that for as tight of a grip as it had on my MacBook Pro, there was no sticky residue left behind.  Unfortunately, due to the amount of force that I had to use to get it off, by the time it was off, it was so crumpled up that there was no way I could put it back on again if I wanted to.  But since I had a new one, that wasn’t a real concern for me.

Harbinger MacBook Pro Skin

Decal Girl MacBook Pro Skin

After the old one was removed, I recalled how to install the skin from the video a couple of years ago and a couple of minutes later, I had the new skin applied and looking great.

One thing to note about all of the skins is that when there is a curved surface involved such as the lid of the MacBook Pro or the back edges of the iPad 2, there is going to be a gap around the edge where the device is still going to be visible because otherwise trying to put a flat skin on a curved surface isn’t going to end up turning out very well because you are going to have bunched up corners.  Just something to keep in mind!

While I love the original looks of my MacBook Pro or just about any of my gadgets, there is a lot to be said for having a skin on them to give them a more personalized look and feel.  You would be amazed at how many people will comment on them!

In conclusion, if you are looking to give you laptop or other gadgets a unique look that will make you the envy of all of your friends, there is no better place to get skins than from Decal Girl.  They offer a fantastic product with more designs and supported gadgets than you could ever dream of and they have perhaps the best support I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.  You can’t go wrong in buying a skin from them (although I might advise avoiding putting a skin on your Vita just because I think it is more effort than it is worth for a lot of people) so if you want to make your gadgets look really cool, buy from them with confidence!

Lately, I have been thinking that I need a chair more suited to my level of nerdiness than my plain old office chair.  Of course my initial thought was trying to find a bunch of broken video game cartridges and building a throne of video games like the throne of games I posted a long time ago.  However, considering I don’t game as much as I use to and spend most of my time pounding away at a keyboard, I think a keyboard throne like the one below would be much more appropriate for me.

The crafter of this spectacular keyboard throne is Mike DeWolfe.  He took a chair and 20+ keyboards and shaped and melted them into this awesome nerd throne.

I’m not sure if this would be the most comfortable throne in the world but it is a throne fit for the king of nerds (me)!

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Nerd Throne

Keyboard Throne

[Source:  Mike DeWolfe via Obvious Winner]