Pimp My Mac (cont'd.)
Okay, I've blogged in various postings rather seriously about the upgrade to my PowerMac G4.
Now it's time for something lighter, but still in the same vein. Basically, I thought it was a pity that you couldn't see from the outside how cool this Mac now is. And what better way to announce that than to write it on the machine? But seriously, a short note with Marker saying "This sucker is fast" doesn't cut it. Moreover, I've mentioned numerous times how pretty this Mac is, and I wanted something that doesn't damage the look too much.
Then I remembered rub-on letters. So, I went into town, and in the last two stores that still sell drawing and writing supplies here in Heidelberg, I found some. The first, Knoblauch, said they weren't being produced much anymore, but they had one set left. It was a decent Times typeface, but not really what I'd had in mind for my G4.
Then I went to Werner (Hauptstr. 76, near Märzgasse - they also sell bath lotions, artists' supplies, postcards and develop pictures), and they had a whole bunch of LetraLetters in various typefaces and sizes in a back room. I finally found a set of 5mm letters that I liked, and was surprised to find it was one of my favorite fonts: Gill Extra Bold.
Now, the face of my G4 is rather dark, so I would have preferred white letters, but apparently those are very rare. Werner had no white rub-on letters at all, and according to the info on the back of the sheet, only one style of Helvetica was available from LetraSet in white. However, I went with black, and it's fairly decently visible still.
So I unplugged the G4 once more and turned it 90 degrees so the front faced up and I had a decent working surface. I removed the horrible sticker the computer dealer had glued to the front and cleaned up the surface with a dab of benzine (careful to pick a kind that doesn't damage plastic). Then I took a strip of tape and applied it to the front, as the baseline for the letters. If you use clear tape, you may want to tape a thin strip of paper underneath it, because the plastic foil the letters are applied to is a little milky, and clear tape won't show through.
Next I took my CD-labeling pen and marked the start and end of the words I wanted to write. There are small lines under each LetraLetter, that you can line up with the baseline, so it's easy to just measure those to find out how wide a particular character is. Just be sure to include a little more room for spacing between characters, and don't forget to add 5mm or so for spaces between words. Then I got started. The spot at the bottom that I picked was a little hard to access without twisting the sheet with the letters on it (which you shouldn't do ... they might come off), but it's manageable.
You can clearly see when a letter comes off the sheet when rubbing them on. Just make sure you don't take off the sheet until the letter is completely rubbed on, because once you've removed the sheet, somehow rubbing on more will cause the letters to stick to the sheet again, coming off the surface. I lost one 'C' that way, which is a pity, because in German that's a rather rare letter, and thus there were only four.
After rubbing on the letter, take the included waxed paper, put it on top the letter and rub some more. That should make it stick more firmly to the surface and keep it from coming off again (while the letter won't stick to the waxed paper). If you make a mistake, you can scratch off the letter again easily. This is a curse and a blessing, because obviously it's easy to scratch off these letters accidentally, but in the end you get a really professional-looking result.
I found a credit card or similar plastic card works nicely for rubbing on the letters. The rounded corners are good for rubbing off the small letters, while the straight edges work nicely for rubbing over the whole line with the waxed paper. And since it's plastic, it's also soft enough not to damage the sheet or the casing. Here's how it turned out:
I admit it runs a little too much towards the right. If the line looks like it's not parallel to the drive bays, that's simply because the photo wasn't quite taken head-on.