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Mod of the Month March 2014

Mod of the Month March 2014

We’re finally getting some decent weather here in the UK after a pretty appalling winter so those of us that have been flooded, frozen in or just plain don’t like tinkering out in the shed when it’s a bit nippy, are gearing up for a spring and summer full of modding. There’s already been plenty of action in our modding forum this month too. Several projects have been completed, as you can see in our monthly Modding Update, and there are some fantastic in-progress projects in the works too.

We’ve picked six of our favourites this month, which we’ve highlighted over the next few pages and you can vote for the ones that catch your eye too. Head over to our modding section and modding and project log forums to see more – there are plenty of amazing projects to see and guides to follow. We’ve also got our Case Mod Index and Scratchbuild Index too – you can see what other people have done modding-wise with particular cases or build materials and we give a prize to one lucky entrant each month.

Mod of the month is proudly sponsored by Mnpctech. The Mnpctech guys are regulars on our forums and, in addition to being avid modders themselves with some awesome projects to their names, the Mnpctech online store is also well worth a visit from every modder.

Mod of the Month March 2014
The winner of Mod of the Month will get one of these awesome prizes from the Mnpctech store itself. There will be some new and exciting products from Mnpctech on the horizon too, but for now feast your eyes on these pieces of true PC bling.


Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 1 – Pair of 120mm RED Sharkoon Shark Blade Silent Cooling Fans

Sharkoon SHARK Blade fans are equipped with a fluid bearing for long life and ultra-smooth operation. The special 3D curved design with striped air guides steers the airflow straight through the fan blades, thus preventing air turbulence – the main cause of wind noise. Fan speed: 1000 rpm, Start voltage: 7 V (DC), Max. airflow: ~56m³/h (33 CFM), Max air pressure: 2.63 mm-H2O, Noise level: 19 dB (A)


Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 2 – Mnpctech Screw’d M3 PC Radiator Screws

“M3 Radiator Screw’d” fasteners have anodized rings to dress up radiator grills or match your custom PC accessories or liquid cooling components. They work with the following PC Radiator Manufacturers with M3 threads.
*Winner has choice of 3 sets of same color and size (12 total)

Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 3 – Pair of Modder’s Work Gloves

These work gloves are made from combination of syntrex leather and spandex for dexterity. Recommended for use with power or hand tools or bending Acrylic or PETG tubing with heat gun.

Thanks to Mnpctech for stumping up such fantastic prizes again this month. We’ve got six very promising projects for you again, so it’s time to vote for your favourites. Don’t forget that you can vote for more than one project if you’re finding it tough to choose one over the others. MOTM is a competition for in-progress projects. You should consider potential, originality, execution and show of skill when voting.

This Month’s Contenders

  • Minecraft Creeper MbKr by kier
  • Minions Mod by Ronnie Hara
  • Project KUBUS by XTSX
  • R.O.G Reactor by Zsolt Guriga
  • The G5-yufi by thegyufi
  • ZdMods – Project 720 by Meelobee

Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014
Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014

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Antoine Leblond leaves Microsoft

Antoine Leblond leaves Microsoft

Microsoft veteran Antoine Leblond is to leave the company after almost 25 years, an apparent victim of recent executive shake-ups.


Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond has told colleagues he is leaving the company as of today, after almost 25 years in the company’s Office and Windows divisions.

Leblond started his career at Microsoft working on the company’s best-selling Office productivity suite alongside Steven Sinofsky. When Sinofsky shifted across to head the Windows division, Leblond followed and become heavily involved in the development of the cloud storage portion of the company’s Windows 8 operating system as well as speaking publicly regarding its exclusive DirectX features.

When Sinofsky left the company in November 2012 following the poor reception of Windows 8, the future looked unclear for Leblond. When no expanded role was provided as part of Ballmer’s July 2013 shake-up, Leblond’s days looked numbered; a fact seemingly confirmed when incoming chief executive Satya Nadella announced his own reorganisation earlier this month, again with no mention of Leblond.

After almost 25 years, I’ve decided it’s time for me to go out and see what the non-Microsoft world has to offer,‘ claimed Leblond, in an email to colleagues obtained by Re/code. ‘Every single day I have had here has been amazing in its own way, and I will never look back on all of these years with anything but fondness, pride in what we’ve accomplished together, and a real appreciation for having been lucky enough to be part of so many awesome things. I am sad to leave all of you, but also incredibly excited for what comes next.

Today marks Leblond’s last day at Microsoft; the company has yet to issue an official statement regarding his departure.

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EC greenlights Games Production Tax Credit scheme

EC greenlights Games Production Tax Credit scheme

UK games companies, like Revolution Software, can now apply for tax breaks under the long-delayed Games Production Tax Credit scheme.


The European Commission has greenlit the Games Production Tax Credit scheme, a programme of tax breaks for the UK games industry that will allow for a claimed £188 million in addition investments through to 2019.

The Association for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) has welcomed the news with the launching of roadshows designed to show how the programme can benefit UK games developers and publishers. The credit scheme isn’t open to all, however: those wishing to take advantage of it will need to submit their projects to the British Film Institute (BFI) for a ‘cultural test,’ in which it will be decided if the game represents the culture of the UK – meaning games like Grand Theft Auto, developed in the UK but set in the US, would not qualify.

This is very welcome news for the UK games industry that will secure economic and cultural sustainability for the industry as a whole,‘ claimed Noirin Carmody, chief operating officer of Revolution Software and UKIE board member of the news. ‘The tax breaks will maintain creativity and innovation in established games businesses like Revolution resulting to increased growth and encourage new start-ups.

‘Revolution have been writing games in York for over 24 years and during this time we have experienced how difficult it can be to balance creating original content with the commercial realities of a crowded global marketplace and attracting the best talent. The new tax breaks will give us and other games business of all sizes, throughout the UK, an amazing opportunity to attract skilled talent that we need to make new and exciting British content that can sell to an expanding global audience.’

The tax breaks aren’t being considered a panacea for the games industry, however. ‘Small companies, like those formed by increasing number of Abertay University graduates, face many other problems to getting a company off the ground including getting the right business advice, gathering enough cash to found a business, and then seeking out the business opportunities for contract work, investment and publishing deals,‘ explained Professor Louis Natanson of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abartay University. ‘What Scotland and the UK need for future economic success is a sustainable games industry ecosystem, which includes tax breaks, industry-relevant education for students, links with active investors and publishers, business and marketing support, and innovation in terms of how games projects raise investment.

‘Today is a very positive day for the UK’s games industry, but continued hard work from educators, game developers, industry supporters and government is needed for this high-growth, high-potential industry to reach its full potential.’

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Mapping the human face in 900 megapixels


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

Daniel Boschung is a cartographer, but not as you know it.

He creates intricate photographs captured by his robotic camera that provide incredibly high-resolution overviews of paintings and insects.

For his latest project, Boschung set his camera on faces. He asked his subjects to remain perfectly still for 30 minutes as the robot took their portrait.

Each of the finished photos consists of 600 individual shots all stitched together. The level of detail captured is amazing, turning a regular portrait into a map of the human face. Eyelashes, stray hairs, and pores get captured in all their macro glory with incredible depth-of-field. Just like a gigapixel image, you can zoom in and out to explore every facet of the photo.

The photos are all taken by an ABB industrial robot that has been programmed specifically to take the images in the correct order and orientation. A Canon 5D Mark II is the workhorse responsible for churning out the images, equipped with a 180mm macro lens that has been customized to act as a telecentrical lens. This means that the optical image of the actual aperture stop is set at infinity.

Illuminating 600 images taken in quick succession would usually present a problem with overheating and variable color temperature when using normal studio flashes, so Boschung used the Scoro S 32000 RFS 2 from Broncolor.

The finished product. You wouldn’t look particularly happy either if you had to sit perfectly still with no expression for half an hour.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

You can explore the finished portraits on the project Web site and take a closer look at how the robotic camera arrangement operates in the video below.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Imogen Heap’s magical music gloves make for handmade beats

Mi.Mu Gloves

Mi.Mu gloves imbue their wearers with wizard-like musical powers.


(Credit:
Mi.Mu)

Grammy-winning British artist Imogen Heap says she’s always been a bit frustrated by not being able to navigate computers and mixing boards with the same fluidity other musicians can play more traditional instruments. To solve this, she’s “joined forces with the nerd underworld, creating musical gloves using new sensor technology allowing me to compose and perform music with computers in an intuitive way.”

We first reported on the gloves back in 2011 when Heap debuted them at a TED conference. Now, the artist and her team of engineers and scientists are seeking funding for their “Mi.Mu gloves” through a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise £200,000 (about $330,000 USD) to bring the technology to the masses.

According to the fundraising page, the gloves will work along with popular music software programs to translate body movements to music thanks to embedded sensors. “Imagine,” the site says, “that instead of turning up a fader in order to bring in a sound or add reverb, you could be raising your arms to achieve the same effect. Or to move a sound around the room, you could simply point where you want it to be.”

Not only do the gloves promise to make electronically generated music more intuitive, they should also make it more fun to watch as artists swoop around the stage conducting all those zeros and ones with their hands rather than sitting behind decks of equipment. Speaking of which, gloved artists will also have an easier time moving equipment around since making music could be done with only the gloves and a laptop, as long as they can plug into a venue’s sound system.

The gloves will recognize a variety of hand gestures, including flexed fingers and sharp movements such as those made when playing a kicking set of air drums. They have holes where the palms are to allow for hand claps and cut-off tips to allow the wearer to play other instruments. Best of all, when you wear them you have wizard-like musical powers.

I could tell you more about the gloves, but really, who wants to read more when they can listen to some amazing “handmade” music in this video of the gloves in action?

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3D-printed corset wraps model in revisionist Eden

3D printed fashion
(Credit:
Lori Grunin/CNET)

Multimaterial is going to be the next big thing in 3D printing, allowing for multiple colours and materials in a single print session. And 3D-printing company Stratasys is right in the vanguard with its Objet500 Connex3, unveiled in January.

The printer has three nozzles, which makes it possible to print in three materials at the same time — or three different colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, for an entire rainbow of colour options.

What could you do with such a printer? Well, the potential options are amazing. But perhaps an artist is the best person to showcase just how beautiful 3D printing can be. Michaella Janse van Vuuren, a South African artist, designer, and engineer, has used the Objet500 Connex3 to create a range of fashion accessories in a collection she calls the Garden of Eden — a subverted version of the biblical myth in which, she says, the woman is free and powerful.

“This is the first time that I’m using a 3D printing technology that truly allows me to make something so close to an end product,” van Vuuren said in a Stratasys statement. “The ability to combine rigid and flexible materials in one piece is something that is so rare, and introducing color into the process inspires us creatives to think in a whole new way.”

3D-printed shoes
(Credit:
Stratasys)

The collection consists of some truly gorgeous pieces: a stained-glass-inspired corset based on the Tree of Knowledge, made of three different rubbery materials in clear, solid black, and pink-hued plastic, fitted using body-scanning technology; several pairs of shoes based on the serpent, with the snake forming the heel from rigid material and a more flexible upper; a serpent belt from multihued rubber material; and fish bracelets made from both rigid and flexible materials.

“Depicting the water features in the Garden of Eden, the Fish in Lilies bracelet explores rigid mechanical solutions to bend the bracelet around the wrist while the Fish in Coral piece experiments with different material properties to create a more rubbery part,” van Vuuren explained.

Van Vuuren has not mentioned whether she will be selling the collection on her Web site, or whether it is an art piece not meant for consumer release, but Garden of Eden is only the beginning — not only for van Vuuren, but for an entire new generation of 3D-printed design.

3D-printed shoes
(Credit:
Lori Grunin/CNET)

“I have only scratched the surface of the possibilities with the Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer,” concluded van Vuuren. “Not only does this technology replace traditional methods of fashion manufacturing, it enables one to manufacture in a completely new way. The ability to include different material properties and beautiful jewel-like colours in a single print run is absolutely ground-breaking. Like paint on a canvas, this 3D printer is a powerful tool for engineering and creative expression — I cannot wait to see the objects that this technology will enable.”

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Marc Whitten is officially leaving Microsoft after 14 years on the Xbox programme, joining network audio specialist Sonos as chief product officer.


Xbox head Marc Whitten has officially ended his 14-year career leading Microsoft’s gaming division with the news that he’s leaving to take on a new role at network audio specialist Sonos.

Whitten was a member of the original Xbox team back in 2000, and has been involved with the brand ever since. Overseeing all three generations – Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One – of Microsoft’s console programme, Whitten has decided to move on and is to become the chief product officer at Sonos.

I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community, claimed Whitten in a statement to press and customers. ‘Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Marc for more than a decade and he has always led Xbox forward with a focus on our fans and delivering a platform that developers and creators can embrace to deliver incredible games and entertainment,‘ claimed head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer of Whitten’s tenure. ‘We wish Marc well, while looking forward to the next chapter of Xbox.

The Xbox team will now report directly to Terry Myerson, whose expanded role now sees him leading Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox software platform development. This, however, is temporary, with Microsoft indicating it will be seeking a permanent replacement for Whitten in the near future.

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Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

Cubli
(Credit:
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia))

Some robots do something useful, like ordnance disposal. Some robots do something artistic, like produce music. Some are more interactive. And some robots are just danged cool.

On that note, we’ve recently stumbled across Cubli, a little cube-shaped robot made by Gajan Mohanarajah, Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at ETH Zurich. Cubli isn’t designed to build a wall or translate slime mold. Instead, it’s based on a very simple idea: “Can we build a 15-centimeter-sided cube that can jump up, balance on its corner, and walk across our desk using off-the-shelf motors, batteries, and electronic components?”

Balancing is not necessarily difficult to achieve (although it looks amazing); the trickiest part was in getting the cube to jump up from a resting position to a balancing position, since it releases a burst of energy to do so, and needed to be kept stable. The solution was to use momentum wheels, which are the same kind of flywheel used for altitude control in spacecraft.

These momentum wheels were then also used to help the cube balance by using the reaction torques‘ acceleration and deceleration.

“These torques are what the Cubli’s structure ‘feels’ when the three motors attached to it accelerate or decelerate the wheels,” Mohanarajah explained. “In fact, Cubli’s controller tries to minimise wheel velocities in addition to keeping the structure upright. This method is more reactive to external disturbances and reduces vibrations and sensor noise.”

The resulting robot is able to jump from a resting position to balancing on an edge, then a corner; and it can “walk” by jumping up, balancing on an edge and falling onto another side of the cube, effectively rolling along. It’s really cool stuff, and we’d love to have one of our own just to play with.

(Source: Crave Australia via Robohub)

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Quadcopter captures footage of active volcano

volcano
(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Active volcanoes, for obvious reasons, are hard to study up close. They’re dangerous to human-piloted aircraft — as well as human bodies — which means footage of active craters is difficult to obtain.

YouTuber Shaun O’Callaghan, however, figured out a way: with a quadcopter. He attached a GoPro action camera to a DJI Phantom and flew that baby right into the crater of Mount Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Amazingly, the drone escaped unscathed — even getting up close and personal with lava that can reach temperatures up to 1,200 degrees Celsius — and O’Callaghan successfully demonstrated that volcanoes are awesome.

Also how effectively quadcopters can be used for research where humans can’t go. But we’d like to think it’s at least equal parts awesome.

Check it out for yourself in the video below.

(Source: Crave Australia via Dronehire.org)

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Kaiju monsters go high-fashion for ‘ultra’ shopping center debut

Mother of Ultra is makes even the tallest supermodel look short in this latest ad campaign to promote the newly renovated Amu Plaza Hakata in Japan.

Mother of Ultra makes even the tallest supermodel look short in the latest ad campaign to promote the newly renovated Amu Plaza Hakata in Japan.


(Credit:
Tsuburaya Productions)

The ultimate superheroine Mother of Ultra is the perfect supermodel for an ad campaign to celebrate the “ultra renewal” of 97 stores in the Amu Plaza Hakata shopping center in Japan.

Mother of Ultra, as well as kaiju monsters Alien Baltan, Dada, and Pigumon strut their stuff on the catwalk. In other videos, Mother of Ultra invades the city of Fukuoka itself, modeling the latest fashions most likely found in the newly updated shopping center.

While this is only an ad campaign, it would make an amazing monster movie with some of the most iconic “Ultraman” characters turning fashion victims into ultra fashionistas.

Here’s hoping other kaiju characters follow in their fashionable footsteps. If anyone can rock a Spencer Hart suit, it’d be Godzilla.

(Via Kotaku)

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