We love to have tons of cool electronics hooked up to the big living room TV -- who doesn’t? But, if you’re like us, your significant other is less keen on seeing all that awesome black plastic and shiny metal, and you probably did the same thing we did: Went out and bought an overpriced, crappy piece of mass-produced furniture that has doors. Doors! And what do those doors do? They create hot pockets of electronics-killing heat that will shorten the life of our precious gear. All to keep the wife happy.
Fear not, heat haters. We put the Maximum PC brain trust to work in assembling a quick, quiet, and easy cooling solution for, well, just about any cabinet you’re willing to cut a hole in. We tested our solution with two of the hottest pieces of hardware we could find: an Xbox 360 and an AppleTV. With both boxed turned on, and with the door closed, the internal temperature of the cabinet quickly hit 130F. But after we mounted our heat-triggered fan, we saw the internal temperatures hovering a scant degree or two above room temperature. Want to find out how we did it? Hit the jump!
We at Maximum PC remember a time, long ago, when having a dual-monitor setup was enough to establish some pretty serious nerd cred. These days, however, everyone and their grandma are playing World of Warcraft and checking their email at the same time on their two screens. So what’s a guy got to do to stand out from the pack? Here’s one idea: run two computers in tandem.
Synergy is a free, open source program that allows you two control two or more computers with a single keyboard and mouse. The linked computers behave as though they were simply different monitors in a traditional multi-monitor, single-computer setup. That is to say, if you drag the mouse off the left side of the right monitor, it appears on the left monitor, directing all keystrokes to that box. More impressively, Synergy synchronizes the two computers’ clipboards and even their screensavers.
SSD’s are hot, but how do you mount your new 2.5-inch solid state drive in a 3.5-inch bay without it looking ghettolicious?
The answer: Use a VelociRaptor’s extruded aluminum shell with Intel’s wicked fast SSD. The result is one a combination even better than peanut butter and chocolate if we may so say our selves.
Does it make sense to do this with a live VelociRaptor? Probably not, but we just happened to have a dead unit and rather than toss it in the garbage, we shucked out the dead drive by removing the four Torqx screws and mounted the Intel X25-M in its place. You can actually do this with a live VelociRaptor but you’ll immediately void the warranty on the drive. Does an SSD need all that aluminum to keep it cool? The answer is no, but it sure looks cool, right?
A network-attached storage (NAS) device is the Robin to a LAN’s Batman. The two should be inseparable, and for good reason. A NAS box gives you a guaranteed way to store all of your files and stream your media. Running a NAS box also means that you don’t have to boot your power-leeching desktop rig every time you want to access your files from another device.
But you don’t have to go out and purchase a NAS device. You can build a superior alternative using spare parts left over after upgrading your PC.
One of the biggest challenges Maximum PC readers often face is the never ending battle we endure when it comes to restoring the PC’s of family and friends. We often find ourselves bombarded with machines that may have once been configured by us, but have become infected or modified beyond recognition. The good news is that Microsoft finally has a solution and it comes in the form of a free add on for Windows XP and Vista which promises to restore sanity to your world.
Windows Steady State goes far beyond a simple group policy editor. It gives users the protection and peace of mind that until now could only be matched by a virtual machine. Simply put, Windows Steady State gives you nearly unlimited control over what can and cannot be done on a protected PC. With the ability to flush unwanted changes with each reboot every new session can be as fresh and snappy as the day you first installed the OS.
The obvious application for Steady State is anyone who maintains a large fleet of public computers, but I would argue that it works just as well for anyone who maintains a troublesome household computer with friends or family who just can’t resist opening email attachments. Steady State gives administrators full control over how users access the internet, how they import and export data, and even what programs they can use. Interested in learning how to master this amazing new utility?
Read on to learn how to configure Steady State for your application.
Partitioning your hard drive has never been easier. Free options, including the Windows install disk, make this once monumental task a fairly simple two-click experience that many of us don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about when we first install our OS’s. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate your storage needs up front, and many users just assume they are stuck with decisions they made long ago.
A typical user could have many reasons for breaking up a hard drive into multiple volumes, but partitioning your drive after installing an OS is typically a destructive proposition -- one that usually involves backing up your data, formatting, and starting clean. Commercial solutions such as Norton Partition Magic has existed for years and allows you to preserve your data while resizing volumes, but what if you’re working on a limited budget (or completely without one)? That’s where GParted comes into play. This free and open source disk partitioning tool was designed for Linux, but luckily for us Windows users, it comes bundled in a live CD or USB version called Parted Magic which takes care of the Linux requirement.
In this guide we will look at how to use the interface to resize, delete, or create new partitions, all without losing your data or starting over. This will come in handy if you made your Windows partition too large or too small, or if you’re happy with Windows XP, but want to give Vista a spin. Backups are still heavily advised, but with our help, and a bit of luck, you won’t need them. Read on!
Setting up a streaming TV show on the Internet is a pretty easy task. You grab a webcam, plug it into a PC, and use an Internet streaming site to host your amateur show. We’re stressing the amateur part because let’s face it, we’ve all seen enough YouTube stars to know the score.
But since this is Maximum PC, we’re kicking it up a notch and showing you how to become an online video producer. First off, we’re upping the number of cameras to two. Second, we’re going to show you how to stream your video live. By using Ustream’s (www.ustream.tv) online interface, you’ll be able to switch back and forth between your two cameras. Give your audience two different views of your head! Or more likely, use the second camera to feature a special guest or sidekick.
Find out how to be your own internet celebrity after the jump.
And as a full-featured Windows replacement, no other Linux distribution comes close to Ubuntu, which features a full suite of pre-loaded desktop applications and an easy to use installer. Ubuntu contains many unique and innovative qualities designed to make it less intimidating the average Windows user who may be looking for a change. One of these features is called Live CD. Once you have downloaded and burned a copy of the Live CD ISO, you will have the ability to launch a fully functional copy of the Ubuntu to test out driver compatibility and to sample the user interface, all without installing a single file to your PC. This guide will walk you through testing your hardware and installing a dual boot setup all without formatting or repartitioning your hard drive.
Take control of your ever-expanding video and movie collection, so you can play whatever you want without spending hours searching for it!
We’d love to tell you that there’s a single free program that’s ideal for keeping track of every kind of video content you own—but we can’t. We have, however, discovered a pair of free programs that can make almost any video collection easy to manage!
There’s nothing we dislike more than firing up a fresh, new installation of an operating system only to find a slew of hotfixes, updates, and patches awaiting us through the Windows Update mechanism. Granted, we can take some small comfort from the fact that the updating process is relatively automatic—but not so when it comes to outfitting a new OS installation with all the requisite driver packages.
But you can reduce the time and effort it takes to get a fresh install into tip-top shape. By creating a slipstreamed installation disc you’ll have all the patches, fixes, drivers, and options you need at the ready to be easily and automatically integrated into your next OS install—be it XP or Vista.
Hit the jump and we'll show you how how to create a no-fuss OS installation disc that contains all the hotfixes, drivers, and options you’ll need.