Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cooler Master Storm Scout Cabinet – Ramp Walk

Frontal Assault - Green - Illuminated

My cyborg arm has been itching for a few days due to the lack of the modding for an insanely long time. So, solely to satisfy the inner BuckRodger, I decided to dump my previous cabinet and freshen things up.

I am also a photography hobbyist with a Canon 500D and since spending the whole Diwali snapping fireworks, I wanted to do something different. So, I went with a mod that would look the coolest in pictures :D As you may be able to tell, shooting colourful lights is the best kind of photography I like. (Straight LowDown -  See all the pics of this cabinet – slideshow, set)

Enter Cooler Master Storm Scout (see manufacturer page, video review). I purchased one from along with some neons and internal lighting paraphernalia. I spent the last weekend switching cabinets and installing the internal lighting.

This is my first time with a ‘proper’ cabinet. I was amazed by the tool-free design, the solid steel, wire management, dust filters, wire mesh and side window. The best however is the quality of cooling it provides. My system temperatures went down 10 degrees right away in comparison to the temps in the previous cabinet. The handles on the top are really sturdy and made it very easy to move it around for the ‘photoshoot’ ;)

It is such a shame that I didn’t move to a branded cabinet earlier then now. The benefits are so many and indispensable once you have tasted them.  The stock fans are huge and very well placed. It is also such a wonder that the cabinet is so quite. 

Mode - Radical GreenMode - Radical RedMode - Radical Blue

Radical Modes (Green/Red/Blue) - Rear View

Another feature I really love is the small switch on the front panel that can switch ON/OFF the LEDs and attached with the other additions I made works very well when you need it to be dark. In addition I installed a parallel port controllable relay to turn off the chassis fans as well. It is very handy when you want that zero decibel  sound level. I use Win7’s powershell to switch to a quite mode that throttles down CPU and GPU clocks and runs my tiny utility to switch of the fans. When I get time, I am planning to write a full utility to control the internals of a system via the age old parallel port electronics addon method.

Frontal Assault - Mode GreenFrontal Assault - Mode Red

Frontal Assault - Mode Green and Red

Other owners of the same cabinet may be really happy to know that the ceiling fan actually has speed control support. The default wireup of the cabinet just attaches it to the +12v rail and we can disconnect it from that and plug it into the mobo. Which will allow us to monitor and control the fan speed. Unfortunately, and this is the only thing I dont like about this cabinet is, the other fans dont have speed control capability. It would have been nice to have a switch like the the ones offered by Antec.

HDD Rack - Inside PreviewRead Exaust - MulticolorXFX Power 1 - Inside Preview

HDD Rack, Read Exhaust and the GPU

This cabinet is a far cry from my last 500Rs one. That one was so old and so modded out that it had become rickety like a UP Roadways Bus. Years ago, I had to mod it out to make it functional(new HDD rack, front exhaust, addition front panel USB etc) to my hardware and was unable to upgrade from a long time as I knew that the other local ones would have the same shortcomings and would required modding. So I am very happy that this cabinet is already functional and so I am free to concentrate on visual pleasure alone!

This brings me to the end of the outside view of the cabinet. I will do the internals next time, when I get time. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Dont forget the view the other equally awesome pics slideshow, set.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

PhotoSketch: Simone here I come…

There are times when I am really mad at my chosen field of professionalism (as if.. ). But there are also times when ‘awesome’ doesn't seem to suffice as well, which makes life worth living. Today is such a day. Come along and enjoy the ride..

(: Oh! and btw if you haven’t see S1m0ne yet then jump out of your office window, in front of a truck, grab a gun and point at the guy in the mirror or do whatever preference you have towards suicide. :)

We have all seen a variety of awesome stuff in novels, sci-fi movies, on the web, in computer games, in great software and web applications and in unique project, we as devs, may be a part of (Google OS someone? :p). Some of those transcend and stay as a part of our subconscious. For eg a few things for me are The Matrix, A fire in the deep, Abduction, Chromosome 6,  Windows 7 :D, etc etc. This one is a newest entry in that collection. The ‘think and make real’ kinda stuff.

What if

  • you could draw a sketch on a tablet and have it turned into a real image with real people, objects and background?
  • you have been going crazy about that wedding photo of yours what missed a crucial item, like a family member, an emblem or ur pet?
  • you want to add that special someone in a really nice pic of urs or a missing friend in a group photo ?
  • you want to see yourself kayaking or hiking in that dream destination or want to stand next to the president?

Forget photoshop just PhotoSketch.

A group of students in China have created PhotoSketch, a project that does exactly what I just described: it takes a rough, hand-drawn sketch, scours the web for photos that match, and runs them through an algorithm, stitching it all together. Watch this video presentation, you will not regret it:

Now we just need to add another dimension to it (No! my dear Einstein I don’t mean Time.. we already have that in the video progress bar :p ) and -> S1m0ne here I come !!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Discovering Windows 7 – Awesome Explorer

Who would have thought that the work ‘awesome’ could possible be used near ‘explorer’. I mean, no one ever goes “Dude, windows explorer is awesome!”. Ever. I though that those words together should be called a ‘grammatical mistake’ :p

It is totally not the case now. Even after months of using Win7 I, almost everyday, keep discovering new features and ingenuities.

I was trying to fix tag information for the music I recently got from amardeep. He never has neatly organised data. So I was doing the usual. Select a group of files >Right click> Properties > Details tab and fill it up or something similar can be done from Media Player’s library but with only the advantage of a smoother UI. Right?

I then noticed details pane in the lower part smoothly displaying all the tag info. Some elements were missing so I did the obvious (Right Click) and sure enough there as a menu to control the details and a couple options. I chose the large size to see more property elements.


I intuitively moved my mouse over the displayed data and noticed the value getting highlighted as if they could be edited. I was like wow that is great. No need go to the details pane. Just select files and you are a bunch of clicks/steps faster. You dont have to repeat the RightClick>Prop>Details for each group of files you select to edit.


It was great discovery up till now but as soon as I moved to try something more complex it became awesome. Lets take the example of a folder I have called ‘Top Singles’ where I keep the latest hits and add new numbers as they hit the top (pretty great method to only filter and collect the best songs only). In such a folder the tags are hard to manage as you cant group them because they are from different artists/albums etc. This method greatly reduced the effort required in such places.

Earlier I had to create and update a bunch of playlists there to manage updates in single folder. For e.g. if I want to listen to a particular week’s updates hits in the order they were in at that time.. impossible right? Just try it..

Anyway, I started editing some tags with this method and, you are gonna love it, then came the biggest ‘aaaaaah’ from my mouth. Just as I started typing the edit fields came alive with real-time suggestions based on my library! Don’t believe me? have a look -


At the very least this feature completely kills the misspelling mistake (which resulted in really bad looking library like artists would have ‘Kailas’ and ‘Kailash’. Really messing up playback selction. In addition it further speeds up the task and offers us a strong overview in cases where, say, we forgot the artist name/spelling etc.

I wondered what else can we do with this thing.. and it occurred to me -  the search field! I went to the top directory and entered  a search for which I knew the results were spread out in many folders.

Here is a search for “List top songs or music videos since June 2008 by Beyonce or Eminem” :D

This was just a forced complex search. Now imagine this(search, live suggestions tags etc) for all files and documents! Tagging made super easy which in turn makes further searching and tagging easier. It is an exponential relationship. And dont forget Windows media center and other network stream devices that Win7 can attach to. It makes navigating on them many times easier. Even more mind boggling is, try to associate this with the open search filters/addon capability of Windows 7. Like searching or flickr or even a torrent site in inclusion to you network, Homegroup and libraries!

Tell me you are in love, shout aloud “Awesome Explorer” :)

Windows 7 Boot Errors - No More !

How may times have we been plagued by a failed boot manager? Remember ‘NTLDR Missing’ or ‘No OS found’ or ‘Boot manager failed to load…’

Well I got one today, after a long time, on my desktop. It was absolutely fine yesterday night when I switched it off. Something clashed/broker windows was left unbootable.

Earlier one would be frantically running around to find a rescue disk or a windows setup disk to boot from and somehow remember how he had fixed it the last time.

Enter Windows 7. Simply restart the system and the next time you get a sweet screen with the options -

“Fix problems that are preventing windows from starting” Now tell me that isn’t sweet!

I just press enter and it does it’s thing. Kudos to the devs and the leads taking initiative to implement such functions :)

It also goes to show that end user software is now in that phase of crossing over from dumb to intelligent. I wonder what wonder will come next…