I AM The Mad Modder

Functional Design Computer Mod“The Mad Modder” was a tag I picked up sometime in 2003. I was known as “Grump” for a long time – not an undeserved nick-name – and in ’03, I was hanging out a lot in case modding forums. I built the computer you see in the picture (click it to see a larger version) and it impressed someone at CPU Magazine and it was featured in the October 2003 issue and I became the first “Mad Reader Mod.” Of course, the title was derived from my nick-name and a few people in the modding circles began calling me “the mad modder.” I even got the domain name, The Mad Modder dot com, which at one time had a pretty nice forum – another one of those things I had to give up when I got sick.

Read more about Functional Design, the computer mod.

But that isn’t what this entry is about. I only mention my case modding because it has been the kind of thing I have enjoyed doing for many years. Oh, not just computer case modding, but modding just about everything. I used to build model cars when I was a kid – customized them and even got published in a model car mag back then. I’ve tried to modify cars, my homes, hell, I even modified the way I pack this damn oxygen tank around – but more on that later. What I am taking the long way around getting to is that I spent the biggest part of this day modifying this website. I just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

The theme I chose for this site was a simple one. Casual, like me, understated colors because I like to pepper my posts with images and graphics, but with an interesting graphic that I immediately knew I was going to be able to replace. The original design looks like this: Coffee Stained Sample Site (sorry, the theme is no longer available, but it was a very light beige color, 2-columns and had a large coffee ring stain in the middle of it). Well, it wasn’t as quick and simple as I had first thought, but I am really happy with the results. I completely re-did the page graphics, changed the color slightly and moved the column overlays a little lower on the page. I originally search the Net for graphics that I could use with a little editing here and there. But, as usual, I wasn’t satisfied.

The Mad Modder Strikes AgainPhotography has been a hobby of mine for a long time. I have a portfolio I show prospective models – yeah, I like taking pictures of women more than anything else – and I like to think I’ve done some interesting landscapes and abstract work. But today was about the website graphics and I am real pleased (just in case by the time you have gotten around to reading this, I have changed the website again, the graphic on the right is a screenshot of the style I am referring to – click it to see it full-size). It took hours to get the pictures just right. I use Adobe Fireworks for most of my work, but I also use Corel Paint Shop Pro – Fireworks can’t be beat for graphics, but for photo manipulation, it’s lacking and I can’t get the hang of Adobe PhotoShop.

I shot a couple dozen pictures of the oxygen tank on a couple different backgrounds. At first, I thought the tank should have no background at all (except for the graphics of the page), so I spent an hour trying to erase it from the picture. But then I thought, the picture I liked the best was on a background that was similar to the color of the page design already, so I just used the Fireworks Fade Image command and played around with the controls until it looked the way I wanted. I had to use the eraser to soften and blend the hard edges left over. The image was too bold and colorful for a page graphic, so I tried a few different things before I finally settled on the sepia-tone look.

The small drug store I have on my bedroom dresser was a bit tougher. I shot a lot of pictures of those in many different configurations. When I looked through all my shots with my favorite image management program (Thumbs Plus), I finally decided on the very first picture I took. This picture is one I had to remove all traces of the background material I used for the setup – an old flannel sheet. It took a couple of hours, but it turned out very nice, I think. Fireworks has a couple tools for removing backgrounds and I usually like the Magic Wand tool the best, but the flannel wasn’t going to go away so easy. I ended up using the Eraser tool and manually traced around every pill bottle and inhaler. My neck was sore, my back ached, my hand cramped up a couple times, but all that pain put a really big smile on my face when I saw the results.

Okay, I’m bragging; after all, I am The Mad Modder. I hope you like my efforts though.

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