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The internets are full of modding guides for just about every common modding technique in use - and some not so common ones. This is a boon for beginning modders grasping the basics and even advanced modders looking to expand their bag of tricks. The ‘net truly is a great resource. That said, the ‘net is also a medium that, by it’s very nature, is so scattered it takes search systems built with cutting edge NASA grade technology to find anything. Guides are spread out from site to site and are quite often small stand alone articles that don’t build on previous skills, or worse, assume the reader has certain skills already. Still, that’s better than nothing - if nothing was all we had. Nothing is not all we have though.
There are some very good modding resources out there in the form of books. That’s right, I said books! You know, the old school printed stuff? That’s right, real paper books - not PDFs - true tree killer's.
These tomes of uber modder knowledge are like secret arsenals for the modder. Most cover tools, techniques, safe work practices, and have plenty of examples from some of the best modders out there. And heck, they all have plenty of pictures so even Murphy can read them. They are also full of content you will be hard pressed to find on the interwebs and typically go into enough depth that you won’t feel like you’re flying blind on a project. No man-cave (sorry, person-cave) is complete without a few of these:
Maximum PC's Guide to Extreme PC Mods, by Paul “Crimson Sky” Capello and Jon “WhosYourDaddy” Phillips. You didn’t think Maximum PC would be caught dead without a modding reference of their own did you? This is by far what I consider a Modder’s Bible. It’s about 300 pages of modding "how to" covering everything from populating your tool chest to tips on photographing a completed mod. Paul Capello is well established as an uber modder and runs The Best Case Scenario. Jon Phillips is a former Editor-in-Chief of Maximum PC - and is currently an Editorial Director for Future USA (MPC’s publisher). The book contains a number of case studies including a highlight on Russ Caslis who built the well known Millennium Falcon mod. Must have really. Que Publishing, $29.99 USD.
Speaking of Russ Caslis, he put together his own modding book. ExtremeTech's Going Mod details nine case mod projects as well as going over tools and techniques from beginner to advanced. I find this book is a great compliment to MPC’s. If you are the type that just can’t get your head around having real paper books in the workshop, Wiley, the publisher, offers an e-version. And, yes, a detailed description of the famous Millennium Falcon mod is one of the projects covered - right down to the X-Wing mouse. Wiley, 420 pages, $24.99 USD.
Building Extreme PCs, by Ben Hardwidge is O’Reilly’s contribution to the modding community. I have to admit I have not had a chance to pick this one up, however, Hardwidge is a writer for the UK Mag Custom PC and I hear tail that he managed to shoehorn a P4 3.4ghz rig into an old Sinclair case (that I have to see). I will be taking a look at this one. O’Reilly, 192 pages, $24.99 USD.
Other modding references include, PC Chop Shop: Tricked Out Guide to PC Modding, by David Groth, PC Modding for Dummies, by Joel Durham, and, if you can find them, the four volumes of the PC Modder reference series from Sandhills Publishing are excellent. These are out of print but can sometimes be found on the modding circuit. Shame really, Sandhills would be wise to bind them into one volume and publish it. They don’t seem to recognize the value of what they have. If you already have one of these, hold on to it - they are sought after.
These references won’t build mods for you, but they will inspire, educate, and just plain entertain.
Since “How To” seems to be a bit of theme today, our bling comes from MNPCTech in our forums. A “back to basics” video on DIY side window installation.