Normally I don’t delve into current events, or for that matter any event. I like to give information on technical problems and show people how to do projects on my blog. But while I was traveling through a Meijer store a week ago I found something so ironic it needed to be shared on the internet. (For those of you who are not familiar with Meijers, it is a shopping center like Wal-Mart only based in the mid-western United States.) While looking to see if there were any PC games on clearance I passed by an inactive Xbox 360 display. But it wasn’t turned off, the Xbox on display was just suffering a disturbingly common problem called the Red Ring of Death.
I think it is funny how a store expects you to buy a product that has obvious flaws. True, microsoft is addressing those problems, but that still didn’t stifle the chuckle I got walking by this.
Oh yea, I’ve heard from reliable sources that Meijers has let this go on since at least December. Great business practice.
And if you think that was photoshoped, here is the video:
Many people have heard about how to format a hard drive. Some mistakenly believe that just because you can’t view your data, that means its not there anymore. Formatting C:/ does nothing but delete the references to your data, the data is still there for people to find if they are looking for it. There are many programs that can detect this data and recover it – for both good and bad purposes. I know of a few live Linux installs that can do this, see my earlier about live Linux CD’s for those those.
I would like to mention that there is no sure-fire way of deleting data from magnetic media. If you overwrite it, delete it, or wipe it, there will always be a way to recover the original data. However, there is a bright side to that flaw, just because you can recover it, doesn’t mean it will be cost productive for a thief or other interested party to do so. The following tip will help reduce the likelihood of data recovery, but once again there is no sure fire way of protecting your magnetic data – short of igniting a pound of thermite over your hard drive and melting it.
If you are selling your computer you either want to wipe the hard drive completely, or destroy it and make the buyer get their own. Personally, I like taking the hard drive out and making a clock out of it. But for those who need to sell the hard drive too, here is a free (I’m all about some free) program that has 4 built in flavors of wiping your hard drive – or just individual files. It’s called Eraser, and its homepage is here:
Eraser uses 4 main algorithms that overwrite the data you tell it to. It will overwrite 1, 5, 7, or 35 times. The 1st option uses only random data to overwrite the data, the second and third options use a Department of Defense algorithm, and the last one uses the Gutmann method. It is one of the best methods out there to reduce the likelihood of data recovery.
With Eraser you can create automated erasure events, erase the free space on your hard drive, and choose a custom method for erasing. Meaning that you can customize the number of times Eraser overwrites data. It can be set anywhere from 1 to something around 999,999 times. Needless to say, It would take a long time for your hard drive to complete that many cycles, but if you had something you absolutely had to make sure that nobody ever saw, you might need to pick that option.
What I like most about Eraser is the addition of an “Erase” option when you left click on files and folders in Windows. I never “delete” anything anymore, I erase it.
You may have heard the various exploits of PC modders out there who decide to get a clear acrylic case and turn their computers into oil filled silent machines of death and destruction. The problem with most of them is that they are filled with vegetable oil, or some other heavily organic oil that will spoil after a month or two and needs to be replaced. There is an easier alternative: Mineral Oil. It doesn’t spoil, it doesn’t smell, and it is absolutely crystal clear and has the appearance of water. Which begs the question, why not put a computer in an aquarium filled with mineral oil?
This project is so unnatural, it defies logic. Drop an expensive piece of electronics INTO A VAT OF CLEAR LIQUID?!?!? WHATS WRONG WITH YOU MAN?!?
Nothing, mineral oil is an insulator. This means it has no effect on electronic equipment. Gotta love chemistry and physics.
If you are going to attempt this project on your own, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If you have all of the hardware necessary (a computer), it will cost you about $30 to get a 5 gallon aquarium from somewhere like K-Mart or Wal-Mart.
- Finding 5 gallons of mineral oil is INSANELY HARD. It is considered a strong laxative, and can be used on horses. Some farm equipment dealers might have gallon jugs for about $11 apiece, or you can do what we had to do, and buy 37 individual pints and buy out two Wal-Marts and a K-Mart worth of mineral oil:
That’s a LOT of laxative. The total was just a tick over $60 for that, Which brings the total cost of the project to about $90 – $100
I scored onto the plexiglass where the screw holes on the motherboard are, and drilled where it was scored, so that way I could screw the motherboard onto the plexiglass. If you are doing this project, DO NOT try to screw the motherboard onto the plexi without drilling it first! It will crack!
Check out how the power supply will fit at the bottom:
Then see how the plexi/mobo combo fit into the aquarium with the power supply:
We got lucky and the aquarium came with a suitable top to seal everything up in nicely. It even had a place where we could have the exit to the cables, but it was in the wrong spot. So I fixed that with a dremel and a carbide bit:
Here is what it looks like from the top:
We made absolutely sure the glue is dry before we continued. There was a gap of about 3 days before we began the next phase of the project. After you connect all of the cables, fans, and other junk, its time to put the oil in. We decided to just go for it rather than test it out, and everything turned out fine. The following pictures are of us filling it with mineral oil, and it still working.
Monitor with dry computer, with bag underneath to prevent spillage from harming the floor.
It boots before the oil:
Trust me, use a funnel
Linux boot screen:
From the back:
The hard drive needs to be outside of the oil. There is a membrane pressure switch that will shutdown the hard drive if it is submerged in anything.
Had to hot glue the wires and everything on the top. This was to seal it in case of accidental bumping, and help prevents what little evaporation will happen over the years:
After we emptied the bottles:
Here is the leetupload.com tutorial on how to do the project.
Please Digg this story at: http://digg.com/mods/Oil_Cooled_PC_5_Gallons_of_Silent_Death
Have an old Quantum Fireball laying around collecting dust? Does that 1990′s era, 4 GB hard drive in your desk drawer make you laugh when you think of your 1 TB RAID Array? Well turn it into something useful! This tutorial will show you how to turn that craptastic HDD into a thing of beauty, a clock.
First lets get the material list. It is quite large, and depending on the hard drive you have, you may need more, or less. This is what I needed for a 9.something GB Quantum Fireball from 1998:
- Old/Neglected Hard drive
- Massive set of drill bits
- Hobby Lobby Clock kit ($5.99)
- Epoxy or other extremely strong glue
- Set of latex gloves (if you have superglue – I’ve glue my fingers together many a time)
- 3/8″ Drill bit capable of drilling through metal
- Parts dish
- Hack saw
- Nail file capable of filing metal
- 2 Hours of free time
- a vice
- 6 inches of stranded copper wire
I think that’s it. A lot of stuff eh? But its worth it, you will be known as the classy geek.
Take all the screws on the outside that you can see off. Then take the ones that you can’t see off. These will be hidden under stickers that said “Warranty Void If Removed”. Screw warranties, we’re making a clock! When you’re done, it should look like this:
Flip the HDD around and use a punch to hammer out the spindle shaft:
With the two heads that will become the minute and hour hands separated from the rest of the read/write block, file one down until it is short and the size of an hour hand:
poking out through the hole in the middle:
First, let me define what war-driving is. Its where someone drives around and tries to find a Wi-Fi hotspot in a neighborhood, business, park, whatever. They want free Internet access – or if they are a different kind of person, they want to intercept information that could compromise your passwords, online bank accounts, even your identity. There are ways to protect yourself from these people using software that helps to encrypt your traffic. I’m not much of a software guy, so I’ll go into the hardware options.
- Wi-Fi Paint
- New invention, you can either buy paint, or an additive that you add to latex paint
- A physical sheet of metal, such as sheet aluminum, aluminum foil, brass screen, or any other metal that can be used as a Faraday cage.
I have no experience with the first option. It seems rather simple, the concept is that it it turns the paint in your home or office into a Faraday cage. If you don’t know what that is, check out the Wikipedia article here.
What I do have experience with, is the sheet metal option. If you go to your local hardware store you can find some aluminum flashing. This stuff is awesome. You can make just about anything with it, but it comes in especially handy with this hardware mod. The design I am showing in this post is for one-directional shielding. If you have a road near your house, this is a good thing to have. Or if you suspect a neighbor is dropping in on your wi-fi, use this to block him/her out.
WARNING! USE GLOVES! SHEET METAL IS EXTREMELY SHARP AND EVEN IF YOU ARE CAREFUL, YOU WILL GET CUT! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I think I got it from Home Depot a few years ago, can’t remember. Anyway, you need to cut a section about 1.5′ by 10″ and fold it into thirds, kind of like an open tri-fold board. then trace the bottom of that onto a second piece of aluminum, cut that out, and put that on the bottom like so:
Glue the bottom:
I’ve experimented with different positions and the results they give, and found that this configuration with your wireless router is the best:
(This is a hotspot finder available at electronics stores)