Fancy yourself an artsy fartsy type? Well, we'll see your collection of Monet replicas and raise you (lower you?) The Royal Data Throne, a geeky storage container for all your crap. And by that we mean keys, loose change, pocket lint, receipts, Tic-Tacs, and whatever else you can fit in a PCB structure that measures 12 inches by 11 inches by 5 inches.
While our Data as Art gallery went down mighty fine for many Maximum PC readers, we weren’t fooling ourselves: this is Maximum PC, the magazine that shows you how to build computers, not Maximum Software. You folks want hardware - and hey, who are we to disappoint?
We cast our net far and wide to dredge up 25 of the flat-out coolest examples of people repurposing components from PCs, VCRs, CDs or whatever and prove that, yes Virginia, hardware can be art, too. Where else can you find terrifying robots made out of mice and hard drives?
Numbers, percentages, bits of data; normally, we tend to look at these tidbits as information, useful for statistical analysis and not much more. Accounting isn’t sexy. Spreadsheet programmers don’t cultivate the same star power as lead programmers on video games. But numbers and raw data hold a unique and powerful allure their own – just ask John Carmack.
Art is about freedom of expression, and it sometimes results in controversial pieces that challenge the social norms or intentionally push the boundaries of decency for one reason or another. But does there ever come a point when artwork crosses the line? A 1TB external hard drive sitting on a white pedestal at the Art 404 gallery begs that very question, the one you have to ask when someone crams $5 million worth of illegally downloaded software into a storage device and calls it art.
There are lots of way you can recycle your old PC parts. Turning your obsolete processor into a keychain is a classic example and one that's easy to do. If you're a bit more skilled and have enough hardware laying around, you can build an entire city model using motherboards. Arizona artist Joe Dragt came up with a different way to breathe new life into old hardware, and his creations are full of win.
No one should escape the deflating experience of suddenly feeling old by seeing something they once used now exhibited in a museum. (“Hey, I used to have a rotary landline telephone just like that!”). To bring this discomfort to younger folks than ever before, some enthusiasts in Silicon Valley are founding a Digital Game Museum.
The thought of jamming a digital camera into the back our cranium doesn't strike us as a particularly pleasant experience, yet that's exactly what a New York City art professor decided to do. Wafaa Bilal, an assistant arts professor at New York University, had the camera 'installed' earlier this month as part of a controversial art project called "Third Eye." The project sparked a debate over campus privacy, but as it turns out, Bilal had a bigger roadblock to work through. Pain.
It only makes sense to follow last week's "Best Mouse Ever" review on Maximum PC with a listing of some of the best freeware and open-source tools for making the most of your handheld input device--or, in layman's terms, the mouse.
If you think that's an easy task, than I have a golden, $500 mouse with your name on it. Simply put, there's just not that much love for the ol' mouse in today's software world. I suppose that makes sense, however. I have a flashy gaming mouse, yet, the only real software I used to extend its functionality is the very app, shipped by the manufacturer, that helps me customize said mouse's buttons. That's all you need, right?
I have indeed managed to find five apps that do their part to enhance your one-handed experience with your computer. At the end of the day, I'd still opt for a flashier mouse over a new piece of software when it comes to really making your input device rock. However, that's not to say that these programs aren't cool or useful in their own rights. Give ‘em a shot and let me know what you think in the comments!
Microsoft Paint has come standard on Windows PCs for a good long while now. While we have a soft spot for Paint, it hasn’t really changed with the technology. Now Microsoft research is working on an application that could be this generation’s Microsoft Paint. It’s called Project Gustav, and it actually looks pretty impressive.
Gustav is meant to mimic real paint in a way that the (apparently poorly named) MS Paint, never has. The application plays nice with Wacom tablets for a more realistic painting experience. Different colors don’t just flow together in Gustav, they blend to create new colors just like real paint. The angle and speed of brushstrokes also create authentic looking ridges and swirls. It’s not that we are art experts here, but Project Gustav just looks like fun. There’s even multitouch support if you fancy some finger painting. There’s a video preview here, if you want to see the possible future of art on Windows.
We love finding uses for old hardware seeing as we go through so much of it. The hard drive clock is a classic. We’ve seen it, and like it, but it’s getting old. However, one intrepid modder at the Hacked Gadgets site has reaffirmed our faith in the concept of the hard drive clock.
The modder, known as NatureTM, created a clock made from a still spinning hard drive. The hands are actually created by a single line of LEDs in the spinning platter. With mad scientist level math skills, NatureTM programmed the controller to flash at intervals to make it appear that there were moving hands on the clock. He used an open hardware prototyping platform called Arduino to control the time display.
NatureTM plans to release code at some point. So before you know it you’ll be ruining hard drives trying this yourself. Hit the jump to check out the full video.