I'm Going Soft in the Head


As my home remodel nears completion I begin to fantasize about the new little project adventures waiting for me. And, I begin to refresh my mind of all the little half-done adventures put on hold by “Project Office.” Along with these thoughts come remembering the things I’ve done before and trying to recall my first mod.

I suppose my first mod was back in 1995. I set up my IBM Aptiva with a microphone that would sound activate the system and play, “ Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert ”, from the game Berserk . This was followed by Microsoft’s (or was it IBM’s?) stock female reading voice saying, “dialing 9 1 1.” Sounds silly now, but back in ’95, you couldn’t just download a sound sample and recording software was more than a “few clicks away.” This little project took me weeks. In the end, it didn’t work well either. The microphone wasn’t sensitive enough to “hear” someone. Bless the shoddy construction of University area housing though, anyone over 80 pounds walking into the room would rattle the floor so much that my mouse would trigger a wake event. Of course, so could the garbage truck at 5 am.

This got me thinking about soft mods and why we don’t see more of them (outside of games). The reasons I figure are plenty. For example, Hard(ware) mods often communicate themselves well in static images. Soft mods often require the user to experience them. That’s tough to do even in today’s “Web 2.0 will immerse you” atmosphere. I mean, a few screen shots of a working LCars touch screen desktop are nice, but you really need to actually touch the thing to get the feel for what it’s all about. But, is making a product that communicates itself well in a static image all modding is about?

This brought me back to the place I begin, whenever I think about modding. It’s a personal endeavor that can only partially be explained with a mod log or digital image. Modding is about the experience of building and using your custom rig. If we forget that, all we are doing is making eye-candy for the masses. Nothing wrong with eye-candy, but it’s not always fun. Fun is thirty-six 12v LED fans strapped side by side and crammed into a PC window opening. That may not make a pretty picture and it may not be truly functional cooling – or even original, but it is fun.

As I finish my little “home mod”, I think I will be revisiting that old LCars project of mine – and maybe make a few more strange active desktop interfaces (depending on Vista’s flexibility). Sure, I see blue flames, acrylic, and epoxy in my future, but I also see a bit of code and a few sound bytes. Who knows, maybe next time I need to coax a few refreshment pennies out of the Friday gang, my system may do some of the talking .

Hmm...where did I put the USB metal detector?

Happy Moddin’

Today's Bit of Bling comes from none other than Mnpctech in our own forums .

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