Meet the Modder - Dave Williams (aka Macroman)

Meet the Modder - Dave Williams (aka Macroman)


Introduction

...as if one were needed! Today I'm going to be interviewing Macroman; the legendary creator of Macro-Black. This case, in a single stroke, changed the world of modding as we once knew it, with its ultra-stealthed design that would send a B-2 bomber running off in tears. A member of the Bit-Tech staff team and although honest, open and friendly he is quite an illusive figure in modding circles.

The Interview

Matt: Before we start can I just thank you on behalf PC Review for allowing us to interview you.
Macroman: Thank you. It's a pleasure and an honour to be here.

Matt: How did you get started in the modding world and what was the first thing you ever modded?
Macroman: To be honest, I can't remember how I got started in modding. Being of an engineering persuasion, I have modded virtually every type of equipment I have ever owned for as long as I can remember. I got involved in the internet "modding world" several years ago as a consequence of browsing various forums. I was horrified at much of the advice being dished out, especially the electrical side of things, was wrong and in some cases downright dangerous. I felt compelled to correct this and hopefully prevent people damaging their expensive systems or worse, themselves.
The first thing I can remember "truly" modding was a transistor radio many years ago when I was about seven. I fitted a headphone socket to it so I could listen at night without disturbing my parents. That was also when my fascination with electronics began.

Matt: Many modders have claimed that your case 'Macro-Black' is the single best mod ever made, I'm inclined to agree. Where do you get the inspiration for something like that?
Macroman: Thanks for the compliment. It is difficult to say. Where does anyone get their inspiration? The answer is, I don't know. I see something and a switch inside me is flipped and suddenly I see the finished thing in my mind. Sometimes I see a thing and I want to mod it, other times I see something which inspires me to create something from scratch. If that makes sense?
As for the Macro-Black, I saw Koolvin's Crystal Clear PC , and in my mind I instantly saw Macro-Black almost down to the final details. Don't ask me how, these things just happen. I kept thinking to myself. "A transparent PC with a window in it. Cool or crazy?"


Matt: Shortly before you joined the Bit-Tech staff team you co-managed a hardware/modding site of your own called Razor-Tech, what happened to it?
Macroman: Without beating about the bush, it became too popular too fast and hence too costly to run. So Dougie and I decided to close it. It was about the time Koolvin invited me to join bit-tech.

Matt: What does 'modding' mean to you?
Macroman: That's not an easy question to answer. I know there are some who would say it is a "passion" or "it's my life" but for me modding is part of my life. It is something I have always done since being a little kid. that's why I became an engineer. I mod almost everything I get my hands on. In my younger days it was called customising. ;) As regards PC modding well, that is just an incidental to the rest of my modding madness. Let me give you an example...
The other day my wife and I were shopping for bedroom furniture. We had visited just about every shop we could think of and could not find anything that would fit our needs. Finally we ended up in a shop which had something close (ish) to what we wanted. whilst looking at the furniture in question I said to my wife, "I can cut a few inches of the bottom, slice a bit off the width and convert some of those drawers to a cupboard". "Fine, sounds like a plan" she replied. It was then when I noticed a couple watching us who had overheard our conversation. They couldn't believe what we were planning to do to this expensive piece of furniture.
My point is, I believe modding is about freeing yourself from the restrictions of mass marketing and what the manufacturers say you should have and realising one's individual needs and wants and implementing them. You may look with your eyes but you see with your imagination!


Matt: You're well known for your skill in electronics and have provided the modding community with many impressive circuit guides that continue to be used in many mods. How important do you think electronics is to the modder?
Macroman: It is just a tool, a means to an end if you will, but it is a very important one. In many cases it is the electronics that brings the final project together and gives it life. the hard part about publishing electronic projects is having circuits with excellent performance whilst being buildable by most modders. That is why you don't see microcontroller projects from me. Most people do not have the equipment to produce them. Ideally I would like to bring out a range of kits based on my projects. this is something I have been looking into.

Matt: The main feature of your cases is of course stealth. What attracts you to this particular style more than any other?
Macroman: Hmmm I had never thought about it like that but you're right. I guess I am a minimalist at heart so as little fuss and clutter in appearance appeals to me. I mean each amp in my HiFi only has an on/off switch and a volume control! I like the idea of things that change appearance and reveal their true identity when you switch them on. I guess I must have been a conjuror in a previous life. ;)

Matt: What particular thing really gets on your nerves in the modding world at the moment?
Macroman: That's a strange question but one thing that does annoy me is the insistence that some people seem to have, that every mod has to be original and invented by the particular modder who is showing off their work. I constantly see comments regarding a lack of originality or " it's been done before" when someone shows off their pride and joy in the forums. C'mon guys, modding is about expressing yourself and being individual. If you see a mod by someone else and you like it, then use it in your own project if that's what you want. Be yourself, not what others tell you that you should be.

Matt: As I'm sure our readers are aware, you've released info of two cases into the public domain (Macro-Case and Macro-Black), are there any more that you haven't yet published?
Macroman: There are quite a number which have never been published which were made long before I bought a digital camera so they have never been published. There are a few others which have been published such as "Culance" and "Project 3G Clear". I did publish a black tower case which introduced the neon string baybus some years back but that is now sadly lost apart from a few pics I may, (hopefully), have on my hard drive. There are other, more recent projects which have not yet been published.

Matt: With all the talk of BTX form factors, 64Bit CPUs and even Quantum Supercomputers, do you think modding has a place in the future of computing and, if so, where?
Macroman: Yes modding has a place in the future, but like most things it will evolve and change over time. Modding in 2-3 years time will be very different from now. In the future I think that for most people modding will involve buying "off the shelf" mods or pre-modded gear. In other words as manufacturers bring designer cases to the mass market, modders will become everyday consumers. The death of the beige box is nigh and soon every bought case will be a fashion statement. That leaves the hardcore modder struggling, (and probably succeeding), to find new and inventive ways of expressing their individuality. Modding started off as an underground culture, it is now becoming mainstream, in a few years when every one has bought a designer PC, it will return to the underground, inhabited by the hardcore. Manufacturers may produce cases with style, it takes a real modder to make one with charisma.

Matt: After the extraordinary works of Macro-Case and Macro-Black, can we expect to see anymore revolutionary mods from the world of Macroman?
Macroman: Yes, yes you can. Indeed, yes. :D

Matt: Excelent! Thanks for your time Macroman, its much appreciated.
Macroman: Not at all, the pleasure is all mine. It's not often I get the chance to rant on in public. Take care and happy moddin'.

Final Thoughts

After interviewing Macroman its clear to see that he has been, and continues to be, a major influence on the 'customisation' scene. He's been modding longer than most modders have been alive and soldered more diodes than I've had hot dinners. He truly is the voice of wisdom in the modding community.

Shortly after taking part in this interview Macroman was interviewed by The Independent, read the full article here.

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Matt Jason H
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