Professional Case Modder Interview - mashie
Person Interviewed: Johan Grundstrom / mashie
Company Position: Professional Case Modder
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Johan Grundstrom aka mashie was born in Sweden in the mid seventies. In 1998 he put an angle grinder to a computer case for the first time unknowing that he a few years later should lift his arms as the winner of The Summer 2002 CPL Consummate Computer Competition (C3) taking home the biggest cash prize ever. His cases have been featured in printed media all over the world such as America, Taiwan and United Kingdom. Now the media notices him again after several other mods such as the Anemone and the Intel '3' case with his newest work: The Y2K bug.
Could you tell us a little about yourself, beside the fact that you?re a professional casemodder and live in the U.K. ?
Ok, I grew up in a small town named Jonkoping in Sweden. Moved to the UK four years ago. I have always been tinkering with stuff, mainly hardware. Take it apart and then hopefully put it back together working again.
Any particular reason you moved?
I got a great job opportunity while at university so I took it. I'm still living happily here four year later.
Was Anemone the first 'real' project you did, or just the first one that caught major attention?
It was the first 100% custom case I built, and by having it as one of the first worklogs on the web it did attract a bit of interest and traffic. The first PC mod was an old celeron 300a that needed more air back in 1998. Just before Anemone I did build Syrinix, a watercooled PC. Syrinix was the first case of mine that ended up on the HardOCP frontpage, all cases following have received the same treat.
The latest creation, the Y2k Bug... Why the bug in the first place? How did the idea of 'I'm going to make a Y2k Bug Case' get started?
I got the idea last year while building Oenone: I had been watching Starship troopers and liked the shape of the "tank bugs" and then somehow the y2k-bug was a good way to make it computer related.
Hence the slight giger-esque material instead of a metallised look?
Yeah, we all know the y2k-bug was evil so an evil look was preferred. The bug did probably go through 20-30 different designs, at first I wanted it built like the "3" with watercut aluminium but unfortunately, what seems like a good idea at first can be a nightmare to make a reality.
I can imagine creating a 3D detailed bug in CAD would be quite a feat for ?just? a casemod.
Definately. Also, the size would have been too big, so a thin skin was preferred. So when the idea for aluminium was dropped I looked back at the material I used at the moment in Oenone, carbon fibre.
I noticed the mod guide for that. I was going to ask what material you preferred working with, guess that answers that.
Yes, it?s easy to cut, light and very strong. For the techo organic material, which by the way is built mainly by controllerboards from old hdds, I was thinking of this small organic bug inside a computer slowly assimilating hardware.
A lot of comments - mostly on slashdot - went around about the risk of modding your Hard Drives. Some swear by using damp rooms to keep dustfree, others rely on luck. What's your trick?
Well hard to say since the drives did die in the end. I used the damp bathroom approach to keep the dust out. It was probably the lack of a screw holding the centre axis of the platters stable that really killed them.
The bug did ironically win, then.
Yes. I was lucky the drives still could be used as eyes and a third drive did fit inside.
When you work on your mods, do you keep budget in mind or do you just splurge out on parts as the funds arrive?
Well I normally don't look at the cost at all; I simply get what I need to get the job done as an approach. I do spend 2-3 months sourcing every part before they are all ordered at once.
Any pricetag you could mention for the Y2k bug? I imagine carbon fibre and all those parts didn't come cheap.
I really don't know what the total cost is, since I got some nice friends at Intel, ATI and Soltek to help out with parts as well such as CPU, videocard and mobo. The carbon fibre used is about $30 per square meter. The case without any hardware is just a few hundred in material after all it is only plastic tube, balsa wood, t-shirts, carbon fibre, milliput and epoxy.
Do you get any feedback on what you're doing from family, friends, spouse?
My parents and sister are quite impressed?the friends at work, well they have not grasped the idea of modding really. So they think of me as that crazy swede... But then the whole community online seems to like what I do.
I guess modding still needs to become more mainstream before it's considered 'normal', like tuning a car. I don't suppose you do any car mods?
Well, I drive a 420bhp sportscar so no mods are needed unless a way to glue the driver?s license to the wallet so it won't be lost...or taken.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a senior network engineer taking care of all support for the IP backbone of one of the new 3G mobile phone networks. It was quite fun to have the title "senior" at 24.
I bet. What kind of education did you acquire?
Well nothing computer related really. I was supposed to be an Automation Engineer once upon the time. Robots are fun.
You haven't considered building a bot/mod for robot wars?
It has crossed my mind but I don't have the tools required, you can't build a robot wars bot in the bathroom/kitchen table.
I'd imagine not. It would be quite interesting to see mashie.org bot kicking the crap out of good ol' hypnodisc though.
Yeah, but that can wait until the bots are autonomous and not radio controlled.
What kind of pc setup are you currently using as workstation, looks and specs?
As workstation I use Oenone, I like the all SGI theme, even the mouse is SGI branded. Yesterday I got hold of the original SGI speakers as well on eBay which was the only missing component to get a 100% theme, the hardware is a P4 2.4/533 with 512MB PC1066 RDRAM and an ATI 9700pro plus a WD800JB HDD.
Would we ever run into you on the local CS servers? Do you game, at all?
Well I used to play a lot of TFC back in ?99, 2-12hours per day over 9 months. It was fun but in the end I was so fed up I didn't touch a single game for over a year. UT2003 is fun and so is CoD, not that I really play that much at all nowadays, maybe a few hours per week at the most.
Lack of time or lack of interest?
Both, there is more fun stuff to do, such as planning new mods.
This or That's
Dr. Pepper or Bawls?
I must say Bawls then since Dr. Pepper is awful. Diet coke is the mashie approved modding drink.
Headphones or surround sound?
Headphones for games, surround sound for movies.
Brains or Brawl?
Early bird or Night owl?
Night owl definately.
Black or white, as in, Yin or Yang?
Plug & play or plug & pray?
plug & play, you almost miss the old IRQ conflicts.
Almost. And then you remember the old blue soundblaster setup screens.
Anything you'd like to add?
It is quite funny that SpLiZaaT?s splat logo is inspired by my old syrinix case.
Yes, SpLiZaaT got inspired by what he called my "ghetto mod." ;)
Is that how the 'splat' case came to be?
*strokes beard* eeeeeenteresting. Here?s some free room to add a corny comment or catchphrase. Feel free to make a fool out of yourself if you so wish.
Measure five times, cut twice. The measure twice, cut once approach simply doesn't work.