Archive for April, 2012

A kick-ass case mod makes for a kick-ass PC. It’s that simple. No matter whether you’re rocking a Sandy Bridge-E or a Celeron, a water-cooled, LED-lit, hand-tailored and custom milled chassis stops traffic and sets lips a-whistlin’ like nobody’s business, proverbs about books and their covers be damned.

The past six months have seen a flood of truly outstanding case mods hit the Interwebz. So we decided to take the time to showcase the best of the best in (mostly) recent memory — with a little extra help from master modder Bill Owen of MNPCTech, Case Mod Blog, Mod Men and Maximum PC Star Trek PC fame.  Because who knows the cream of the crop better than one of the cream of the crop?

The first 10 mods come hand-picked from Bill himself, while we rounded out the rest of the gallery with even more eye-catching case mods, including six that were chronicled in our very own Maximum PC Modder’s Workshop forum. Click on a pic to get an expanded view of it, or hit the links underneath the images to see in-progress work logs of the builds. Enjoy the eye candy!

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Love gaming on Linux but don’t have a taste for Wine? Look for a nice hot helping of Steam-brewed titles to come to the rescue sometime in the future. After a couple of years of rumors — and denials — that Valve was working on a Linux port of its blockbuster Steam service, it looks like the project is actually happening. Valve recently invited Mike Larabel, the man behind the Phoronix website for Linux lovers, out to the company’s offices to give him a glimpse of the Steam for Linux in action.

Larabel’s reporting of the experience is getting hammered and is only available intermittently, but here it is in a nutshell: Larabel was able to boot up an early, working version of Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 on Ubuntu while he was visiting Valve. The game loaded natively with the AMD Catalyst Linux driver — no Wine conversion necessary. Larabel reports the company plans on porting other Valve titles to run natively on Linux and is bugging the developers of other Steam-offered games into doing the same, but the initial public beta version of Steam for Linux — which Larabel says “is not too far out” — could be limited to L4D2 alone.

Apparently, Gabe Newell himself has taken the lead on the Linux project to get it up off the ground, and he’s been screening and hiring Linux OpenGL devs recommended by Larabel. The upcoming release of Windows 8 may be hastening matters; Larabel says that Newell’s negativity for Windows 8 is “stunning.”

Could we really see a basic version of Steam for Linux later this year? Valve has yet to comment on the report. Larabel and Phoronix have stellar reputations, though, so we’re crossing our fingers and holding out hope.

Image credit: Phoronix/Mike Larabel

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Getting to know your neighbors better used to involve a lot of legwork: heading next door for dinner, chatting over the fence, signing up for the Neighborhood watch, et cetera. The times, they are a-changin’, though, and a new study commissioned by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office suggests that these days, all you have to do to understand your fellow man is buy a used hard drive.  Almost half of all used hard drives tested by the organization still contained information from their previous owners.

By “almost half,” we mean a whopping 48 percent. A full 11 percent of the hard drives contained personal information, while 3 percent of the 200 drives tested contained really, really personal information, including copies of passports, resumes, tax info, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, health information and full bank details. Some of drives originally came from businesses; everyday folks weren’t just scanning birth certificates into PCs.

“At least two of the hard drives contained enough information to enable someone to steal the former owner’s identity,” the ICO press release noted starkly. The agency also released a report of their findings. [PDF]

Of the 52 percent of drives that didn’t contain information from the previous owner, only 38 percent of them were actually wiped; the other 14 percent were damaged and unreadable, highlighting one of the major risks of buying used technology.

“We live in a world where personal and company information is a highly valuable commodity,” says ICO Commissioner Christopher Graham. “It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands.”

You know what? We agree. Wipe your hard drives when you’re done with them, folks. Check out this handy-dandy article to see how to completely erase your hard drives, SSDs and thumb drives.

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For a lot of Maximum PCers, a single monitor just won’t cut it. But if fragging n00bs and juggling spreadsheets is better on two screens, wouldn’t it be even better on three? Now imagine how mind-blowing gaming would be on six screens. Actually, don’t imagine it — do it! TUL’s new PowerColor HD7870 Eyefinity 6 is the first 7870 Radeon graphics card capable of pulling of a sextuplet of screens.

Of course, some six-display Radeon 7900 series cards have already hit the streets — *cough* — but the PowerColor HD7870 Eyefinity 6 is the first current-generation midrange AMD card to pull off a half-dozen screens. Then again, if you’re plopping down the cash for six monitors, the extra $50 to $150 bucks for a Radeon 7900 might be money well spent for higher frame rates if you plan on getting into gaming.

The card uses six DisplayPort connections to pull off the feat. Spec-wise, the PowerColor HD7870 Eyefinity 6 sticks to stock reference speeds, so it rocks a 1GHz GPU and 2GB of GDDR5 memory tootling along at 1,200MHz (4.8MHz effective). No word on pricing or availability, but most Radeon 7870 cards fall in the $330 to $380 price range.

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If you haven’t been paying attention to CISPA, or Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, it’s time you started doing so. It’s a bill that, according to many, is every bit as controversial as SOPA and PIPA were, and that was before a proposed amendment written by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) upped the ante by giving the Department of Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano a scary amount of authority to “intercept” online communications.

Here’s the part you need to digest:

“In receiving information authorized to be shared with the Federal Government under this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to acquire, intercept, retain, use, and disclose communications and other system traffic transiting to or from or stored on Federal systems and to deploy countermeasures with regard to such communications and system traffic for cybersecurity purposes…”

As CNet points out, this would give DHS authority to snoop all networks owned by the federal government or operated on its behalf, such as AT&T and Verizon. Networks operated by the FBI and even the White House are all fair game. So are your IRS tax returns.

In order to tap into such networks, DHS would have to deem that it’s “reasonably necessary” to do so, which privacy advocates undoubtedly will find a bit too broad in scope. The same applies to pre-amended versions of CISPA — it’s just too broad and vague.

Nevertheless, CISPA’s authors are confident the bill will pass when it’s put up for a vote this Friday, according to Mashable.

“We’ve gone through most of the privacy concerns expressed by privacy and civil liberties communities and by technology companies like Facebook,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), according to Mashable. “They have been very good working with us on language to get the bill to a point that helps them protect users and protect their civil liberties.”

You can read the amendment in its entirety here (PDF).

Image Credit: Flickr (DonkeyHotey)

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