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You don’t need to wait for a carnival to satisfy your craving for cotton candy. Instead, build this portable, pocket-size machine to turn granulated sugar into an airy treat.

A DIY cotton-candy machine consists of a small metal container, repurposed lighter parts to provide heat, and a switch-controlled motor to set everything spinning. Slowly pour granulated sugar into the container, and flames from the lighters will melt it. As the motor spins, the liquid sugar will fly out through little holes in the container’s sides, forming thin strands. A paper cylinder placed around the machine will capture them. Once they’ve built up, simply swirl a chopstick around the perimeter to gather the candy and taste your sweet success.

This article originally appeared in the September 2024 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Build Your Own Cotton-Candy Machine.”

Stats

Time: 2 hours

Cost: $26

Difficulty: Medium

Tools

Push pin

Power drill

Soldering iron

Materials

Long-nosed lighter

Torch lighter

Wire

Two-part epoxy

Superglue

Metal stand-off with a screw, washer, and nuts

A small cosmetic aluminum container (found in drugstores) or a metal drink cap

Small project box

DC motor

AA-battery holder

Clay epoxy

Paper, tape, rubber band, and a chopstick

Instructions

To build a system for heating the sugar, first open both lighters. Harvest the large fuel tank, igniter, and hose from the long-nosed lighter and the torch head from the torch lighter.

Use the long fuel hose to connect the fuel tank to the torch head.

For an ignition line, wrap a short length of wire around the metal base of the long- nosed lighter’s igniter and seal it with epoxy.

Push the igniter’s new wire through the torch head— where the torch lighter’s wire previously was. This is the main ignition line.

Connect the main ignition line to the brass part of the torch head. Seal with superglue.

Next, set up the spinning chamber. Epoxy the metal standoff to the shaft of the motor. (When joining two parts together with epoxy, sanding both sides will yield a stronger bond.)

With the push pin, punch holes all the way around the sides of the aluminum container, or drill tiny holes in the metal drink cap. Find the center of the container and drill through it. Add the screws, washers, and bolts to it, and screw it in place on the motor’s standoff.

Solder the battery pack’s terminals to the motor. Since the screw tightens clockwise, make the motor spin counterclockwise to prevent it from unscrewing.

To prepare the project box, plan where you will be placing the fuel valve, igniter, torch head, and spinning chamber. Mark each spot with a marker, and then drill the holes. You can use the photos as a guide.

Inside the cotton-candy machine Sophie Bushwick

Epoxy the motor in place in the box. Glue the battery pack to the outer side of the box. Seal the igniter in place—the end should stick out of the box—with clay epoxy.

Before sealing the torch system in place with the clay epoxy, measure the torch head and aim it at an angle so the flame will touch the near edge of the metal container.

To operate the cotton-candy machine, tape paper into a cylinder that fits around it. Then switch on the motor, squeeze the fuel valve (and hold it in position with a rubber band), and spark the igniter. Let the machine heat for 10 seconds, then place the paper cylinder around it and slowly add the sugar. Collect the candy with a chopstick.

Warning: Take care handling lighters and fuel. The sugar is molten when it comes out, so keep your hands out of the way of hot flying sugar. Also keep hands and paper clear of the open flame—or you might end up making jerky instead of candy.

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Schenker Xmg A505 Review: Build Your Own Gaming Laptop

Our Verdict

The XMG A505 is a versatile choice if you wish to define your gaming laptop experience. Finish quality and style are conspicuously behind the leaders here, although display image is good and the Intel/Nvidia combination means the most challenging games play with ease. The second-fastest storage we’ve ever tested means one quick everyday laptop, even if storage performance counts for near nought when you’re actually playing Windows games.

Build your own gaming laptop with this barebones chassis from Schenker. We review the Schenker XMG A505 power  laptop. Also see:  Best gaming laptops 2024.

Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

If you can’t find the exact gaming laptop you’re looking for, in terms of internal component specification at least, you can always configure just what you need with the help of an empty case and a custom laptop builder.

That’s what Schenker Technologies offers in Germany, with a local office to serve your needs in the UK. And more specifically for gamers’ needs, there’s the company’s sub-brand XMG, geared for gaming.

The Schenker XMG A505 is the 15-inch model from the brand’s Advanced series, effectively the starting point for its XMG-branded gaming machines. It’s based around an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M embedded graphics processor and Intel Core i7-4720HQ, with most other components up for for personal configuration.

Schenker XMG A505 review: Build and design

Like most custom laptops, the starting point is a barebones chassis provided by Taiwan case maker Clevo. Great design and style are not the company’s forté, majoring instead on making solid and traditional chunky cases that channel the 1990s notebook PC. With the help of efficient modern silicon like recent Intel Core series chips and Nvidia mobile GPUs, which require less cool air rammed across to prevent meltdown, the casework has finally come down in weight and size. So now we find a sub-2.5 kg all-up weight for the Clevo N150SD case, relatively svelte at a little under 33 mm fat.

Component choices are very good, for example relegating the cheap low-grade TN screens of yore in favour of the IPS-like 15.6-inch full-HD panel fitted here. See all  laptop reviews.

The angular all-plastic case here carries a matt black finish on lid back and top deck, a virgin field to plant perennial greasy fingerprints, with the underside made from a textured ABS black plastic. Deep open grilles stretch right across the bottom plate, as do many screws for disassembling the laptop, while a single hatch is readily removed by releasing just two screws, to replace the fitted 62 Wh lithium-ion battery pack.

Unusually for even modern 15-inch laptops, an optical drive is fitted on the left side, along with three discrete 3.5 mm audio jacks to cover headphones, mic in, and Toslink digital audio output. On the right is a third USB 3.0 port, separate card readers for regular SD and microSD cards, plus ethernet and VGA ports.

An issue was found in build quality, where the case had not been assembled correctly, leaving part of the side panel standing out by the audio jacks. A strip-down and rebuild would fix this.

To pipe digital video to a modern display there are HDMI and Mini DisplayPort on the back panel below the hinge, along with the DC power inlet and the fourth and final USB 3.0 port.

The keyboard features the usual 15-inch-style number keypad to the right, and the keys themselves are responsive and with slightly more travel than the low-profile keys we find on some modern laptops. Following others’ lead, the XMG has a backlight keyboard, simple white LED with two brightness levels, although it had the worst case of unwanted light bleeding from around the keys we’ve seen.

Best laptops 2024.

Schenker XMG A505 review: Insides

The Intel and Nvidia processors are locked for all A505 configurations, a Core i7-4720HQ and GeForce GTX 960M, the latter with 2 GB of built-in GDDR5 video memory. Also fixed is the 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 AHVA display from AU Optronics. In our tests we found the panel to have excellent colour coverage (96 % sRGB) but more limited contrast with a ratio of 490:1, where the best IPS screens exceed 800:1. Colour accuracy was impressive at Delta E 6.1 maximum deviation, but with an average across 48 swatches below Delta E 1.0.

Raw speed from the processor and memory combination were right in line among its peers using the same CPU and 1600 MHz memory – Cinebench 11.5 scored it with 1.55 points single-core and 6.97 points multi-core, for example. Similarly the Geekbench 3 scores of 3255 and 12516 points were as expected for the specification.

There’s space on board for a regular 2.5in SATA drive too, and our model had a 1 TB 5400 rpm type from HGST.

The A505 also proved relatively frugal in battery terms, returning the second longest unplugged running time of the six in this group, only beaten by the absurdly enduring Alienware 13 and its 10-plus runtime. The chasm between them was still vast though, with the XMG lasting for just 4 hr 16 mins in the same video rundown test. Also see:  Laptop Advisor.

Schenker XMG A505 review: Graphics

Running a GeForce GTX 960M, one model below the ‘965M fitted to the MSI GS60 and three below the top ’980M, the XMG nevertheless managed to demonstrate the sheer graphical power available from Nvidia’s new 900 Series mobile GPUs.

More for reference against general consumer notebooks, we ran the basic Tomb Raider 2013 test, which was dispatched with good three-figure framerates – 123 fps at 720p and High detail, and 102 fps at 1080p and Normal detail. By comparison, Intel’s better integrated graphics solutions will get you around 20-30 fps here.

The sweet spot for this game was the native full-HD resolution and Ultra detail (50 fps); or you could try Ultimate detail and still expect a playable 32 fps, albeit with a minimum that dropped to a less fluid 23 fps.

Batman: Arkham City was fluent at all detail settings and full-HD resolution, right up to its maximum Extreme image quality setting, which averaged a solid 58 fps.

Trade up to the visual spectacle that is Metro: Last Light and you should still find similar framerates at full-HD and High detail (57 fps), although the push to Very High with additional effects finally slowed the A505 to a defeated average of 17 fps. See 

Specs Schenker XMG A505: Specs

15.6in (1920×1080, 141ppi) AHVA matt anti-glare screen

Windows 8.1

2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ (3.6GHz Turbo)

nVidia GeForce GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5), Intel HD Graphics 4600

128GB M.2 PCIe SSD, 1TB 2.5in SATA HDD

8GB DDR3, Kingston HyperX (1866MHz) RAM

Gigabit ethernet

DVD-RAM DL tray-load

1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x VGA D-Sub

802.11ac dual-band 2×2 (Intel Wireless-AC 7265)

Bluetooth 4.0

Onkyo stereo speakers

3.5mm headphone jack, 3.5mm mic in, 3.5mm Toslink digital output

4x USB 3.0

SDXC, microSDXC slot

2.1Mp webcam

62Wh lithium-ion, removable (2 screws) battery

384x267x32.5mm

2473g

battery life: 4 hours 16 minutes

PCMark 7 score: 5798

PCMark 8 Home score (conventional/accelerated): 3014/3473

PCMark 8 Work score (con/accel): 3388/4780

Batman Arkham City (High/Very High/Extreme): 72/71/58fps

Tomb Raider 2013 (Normal/High/Ultra): 102/70/50fps

Metro: Last (Light High/Very High): 57/17fps

How To Host Your Own Minecraft Server

Minecraft is still a very popular game, and a big part of the appeal behind it is the ability to host and run your own servers. It’s surprisingly simple to host a Minecraft server, and you can get one running quickly.

This guide covers one of many ways to get a Minecraft server running, but this method is one of the simplest and most stable server setups possible.

Before You Get Started

If you’re just planning to run a Minecraft server on your local network, this isn’t a concern, but if you want people to be able to play on your server over the Internet, you’re going to need to find hosting for your server.

There are plenty of great options that you can use to host your Minecraft server: Linode and DigitalOcean are usually a safe bet. You will need a VPS (Virtual Private Server) to host Minecraft. You can’t host on cheap shared hosting that’s typically designed for hosting simple websites.

You’re also going to be hosting the server on Linux. While it is possible to run a Windows Minecraft server, Linux is cheaper to host, and it’s generally easier to maintain. Ubuntu is a solid pick when it comes to a distribution. It’s fairly beginner friendly, stable, and it has an active community to help, should you need it.

Everything from here assumes that you have hosting and that you’ve signed in to a terminal, either through SSH or a web interface provided by your host. Any good VPS host will allow you terminal access.

Install the Dependencies

You’re going to need a few software packages before you can run the Minecraft server. You can install them directly with Ubuntu’s Apt package manager. Begin by running the following command in the terminal on your server:

sudo

apt

install

default-jdk

screen

wget

If you’ve never used a Linux package manager before, wait a few seconds while Ubuntu installs your new software. It’ll let you know when it’s finished.

Download the Minecraft Server

Set up the directory where you want to run the server. This doesn’t matter too much. You can do everything out of your home directory, if that’s most convenient for you.

mkdir

~

/

Minecraft

On your regular computer, drop by the Mincraft server download page. Locate the download link for the latest version of the Minecraft server. Copy that link location with your browser.

Back in the server terminal, begin typing the line below:

Paste in the address that you copied, which will look something like this:

You don’t need a startup script, but it’s easier to just combine things into a script so you only need to run one command to start up your server. Begin making a new file by opening it with your text editor. If you’re not familiar with Linux text editors, use Nano.

nano

chúng tôi fill in your script to look like this:

#! /bin/bash

/

usr

/

bin

/

screen

-S

$1

/

usr

/

bin

/

java

-Xmx1024M

-Xms1024M

-jar

minecraft_server.jar nogui

Save your script and exit the text editor. You’ll also need to make your script executable before you can run it.

chmod

+x chúng tôi the Server

You’re finally ready to start up your server. Give it a name that you can easily identify in quotes when you run the script.

Your server will start up, and you’ll be able to connect by entering your server’s IP address in your Minecraft client. Remember to keep your server updated by replacing the server .jar file with new releases.

If you plan on making your server public, it’s worth looking into your VPS host’s tips to secure the server. It’d also be a good idea to enable a firewall. Ubuntu has an excellent option in the form of UFW.

Nick Congleton

Nick is a freelance tech. journalist, Linux enthusiast, and a long time PC gamer.

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How To Setup Your Own Cloud Server With Nextcloud

This article will show you how to setup your own NextCloud server on Ubuntu 16.04. You can set it up at your home, office or even make it available over the Internet.

Right off the bat, with a Pi you’re running NextCloud on a low power consumption device. Also great is the fact that the hardware is decent enough to power NextCloud despite the Pi’s low power footprint. The only downside I see to using a Pi is that your storage is running through USB ports to a secondary device. In some cases this can bottleneck a bit when sharing resources to other USB devices. For most people this is a moot issue, however I’d suggest that you’d want to limit your Pi to images and documents only.

What about NAS (Network Attached Storage) or exposing a PC to the Internet? As a standalone type of thing, I think that running a NAS is overkill. That said, it would be doable to do so with the NAS running other tasks like Plex, etc.

By now, I assume you’ve settled on the destination for your NextCloud instance. The next step is to begin the installation process.

Before we do anything, we need to make sure you’re ready to run what’s called a LAMP stack. This is Linux, Apache, MariaDB and PHP.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Then install the LAMP stack:

sudo apt-get install apache2 apache2-utils

Now let’s enable Apache.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

If for some reason this gives you an error, try this after checking the journalctl for errors…

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

I prefer to use restart vs start as it saves us the extra hassle of checking for its status first. But, that’s just my preferred approach to handling services. Now let’s make sure Apache runs on each reboot.

sudo systemctl enable apache2.service

Now browse to your PC’s LAN address and make sure you see the Apache welcome default page. This is how you know things are working.

Now that we have Apache setup, we need to make sure the directory where you’ll house your NextCloud configuration has the right permissions.

sudo systemctl restart mysql.service

Then make sure its enabled so it starts after a reboot.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

From this point forward, the script is going to prompt you along. You’ll be asked to setup a root password unique to MariaDB(MySQL), disallow remote root access, remove the test database and so on. Once you’ve hit enter for each option, you’ll see “Thanks for using MariaDB!”

With our database software installed, we need to install the last component – PHP. So let’s start off by installing PHP7.

sudo apt-get install php7.0-fpm php7.0-mysql php7.0-common php7.0-gd php7.0-json php7.0-cli php7.0-curl libapache2-mod-php7.0

Once installed, we need to make sure Apache’s PHP is enabled.

sudo touch /var/www/html/test.php

And then…

If you’re looking at a neatly formatted page containing your PHP configuration, you’re all set.

At this stage, you’re ready to download the latest release of NextCloud. I recommend manually getting the latest release link from this link. For those of you doing this on a “headless server”, you could do the following (making sure your link is up to date first).

With the zipped folder containing NextCloud downloaded, you’re free to unzip its contents. Pro tip: make sure you have unzip installed first via your package manager.

sudo chown www-data:www-data /var/www/nextcloud/ -R

This is the point where you’re actually moving past initial server setup and into actually configuring your NextBox installation itself.

Now it’s time to set up your NextBox database in MariaDB.

First login to your MariaDB root password:

mysql -u root -p

Once logged into the MySQL prompt, you’ll want to create your NextCloud database (remember you can choose the database name):

create database YourCreatedDatabaseName;

Next, we want to create a non-root user for this database (You can create any username you wish):

create user UserNameForDatabase@localhost identified by 'YourPassword';

Now we’re ready to setup the proper database permissions for this NextCloud installation:

grant all privileges on YourCreatedDatabaseName.* to UserNameForDatabase@localhost identified by 'YourPassword';

With your database created and configured, we’re ready to flush the privileges:

flush privileges;

And finally, we exit the MySQL prompt:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf

The contents of the conf file will be as follows:

virtualhost :80="" DocumentRoot "/var/www/nextcloud" ServerName YourSelectedDomain.Whatever ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined directory var="" www="" nextcloud="" Options +FollowSymlinks AllowOverride All ifmodule mod_dav="" c="" Dav off /ifmodule SetEnv HOME /var/www/nextcloud SetEnv HTTP_HOME /var/www/nextcloud Satisfy Any directory /virtualhost

If you’re unsure about the domain for the servername for a LAN installation, you can use the IP address. If this is for a server on a VPS or similar, the same applies.

With the VirtualHost set up and ready to go, we need to move it from available to enabled status.

sudo a2enmod rewrite headers env dir mime setenvif

And then:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now we’re done and ready to browse to the NextCloud instance from a web browser. You can browse to the instance with either the IP address or if you setup your VirtualHost for it, you can use a domain name instead. Browse to the instance and you’ll be asked to create an admin account. Also make sure your data folder looks right from what we setup earlier in the article.

Still in the browser, we’ll also be asked to enter the database user, database password and database name that we setup earlier. Remember this isn’t the MySQL root info, this is the database info we setup specifically for NextCloud.

If these steps seem a bit overwhelming for you, I would suggest the following – use VirtualBox. By setting up a VirtualBox VM with a bridged network adapter, you’re able to test out a local configuration without needing to worry about messing up a server configuration. Once you feel comfortable with your skills in VirtualBox, you’re then ready to try out NextCloud on an actual PC, Pi or server.

A Beginner’s Guide To Building Your Own Pc

Building your own PC from scratch gives you the freedom to choose the exact specifications you want, and it often saves money as well. However, the idea can be daunting. You have to source the components, stick them all together, troubleshoot problems, ensure everything works, and install an operating system—all of which requires a lot more work than just buying a computer.

Still, once you get started, the process isn’t all that difficult. With the right guidance, anyone can build a custom PC. So we collected everything you’ll need to know. Go ahead, put together your own computer piece by piece.

The building blocks of a computer

Before you start buying components, you need to decide which ones will work best for your needs. Any PC requires a case to hold everything, a motherboard to act as the nervous system of the new machine, a processor and RAM to slot into the motherboard, a power supply unit (PSU) to regulate electricity, a hard drive to store files, and a monitor to interact with your machine.

Choosing a case is as simple as deciding what you want your new PC to look like and how much stuff you want to cram in it. The latter feature will affect the potential size of your other components. For example, more powerful graphics cards need more room, and robust processors require more cooling space, so if you want a seriously fast machine for gaming or video editing, then go big. On the other hand, if you plan to just stream Netflix, you can get away with a smaller case (without a separate graphics card).

On to the motherboard. This part attaches to one of the case’s interior sides, and other pieces (such as the processor) slot into it. Because of that, you’ll need to pick this component’s size based on the case—most cases will list the types of motherboards they can accommodate. You’ll find that the configuration specification called Advanced Technology EXtended (ATX) is the most common choice, while Micro ATX acts as a popular smaller option.

The other consideration: What do you want to slot into the motherboard? Specific models will house specific central processing units (also called CPUs or processors). Because this is a key spec, every motherboard prominently displays the types of CPU it can accommodate. You do have some leeway—a motherboard will support a particular line or family, rather than just a single one. Once you plug your chosen CPU into the large square slot near the center of the motherboard, you’ll need to dissipate heat by slapping a heatsink or sometimes a cooling fan on top of that (the faster the processor, the bigger the cooling setup). Luckily, most CPUs come with standard heatsinks, so you should find everything you need in the box.

In addition to the CPU, you’ll have to plug in some random access memory (RAM), which gives the computer room to think and handles open applications. Plug in more RAM, and you can work on more files simultaneously, access applications more quickly, run games at higher resolutions, and keep more browser tabs open at once—all without slowing your computer to a crawl. Again, you’ll need to buy the right RAM for your chosen motherboard, but you don’t need to be as particular about this component as you were about the CPU. Just make sure your motherboard has enough RAM slots for your needs. Look for two or four long slots in the motherboard—the manual will tell you the precise location.

You can also give the motherboard a graphics card. As we’ve explained in our separate guide, this component is optional. Today’s CPUs come with what’s known as integrated graphics, enough to power your PC’s display. A separate card only proves its worth when you’re trying to put a lot of fast-moving pixels on your computer’s screen for top-end gaming or you have your machine make graphics-related calculations for video editing. It slots into one of the PCI Express slots on your motherboard, which are usually on the other side of the CPU socket.

A graphics card can improve your gaming, as well as image and video editing. Gigabyte

The most powerful graphics cards need an extra power connection to the power supply unit, which brings us back to the PSU. The key spec you should pay attention to here is the wattage, how much power it can provide to the system. Most PSUs on the market will cover a basic setup of CPU, RAM, and hard drive—but if you’re installing a separate graphics card or an extra hard drive, then you might need more. Cooler Master has a very useful PSU calculator you should use to work out the wattage you’ll need.

Speaking of the hard drive, you’ll need this long-term digital storage to hold your files and applications. The physical component sits in a separate cage inside the case. Then you connect it via cables to the motherboard (for data) and the PSU (for power). When you’re shopping, you can opt for an older hard disk drive (HDD), which gives you more capacity for a cheaper price, or a newer Solid State Drive (SSD), which is much faster but more expensive. You can also choose a hard drive with a greater or lesser storage capacity.

Your new PC will also need a monitor, so pick one based on the amount of screen space you want. Just be aware that the larger the monitor’s size, the more you’ll have to pay. Almost all of the products you’ll find on the market will use HDMI as the connection standard. This lets you plug the video output from your motherboard or graphics card into the monitor’s input.

One component we haven’t mentioned is a DVD or Blu-ray drive. By all means buy one if you think you’re going to use it. But if you do, make sure to purchase a case that has an optical disc drive bay. Once you do, the internal connections are the same as for the hard drive: one to the PSU for power, and one to the motherboard for transmitting data.

Shopping for components

There’s no exact formula for working out the components you’ll need, and there are almost an infinite number of combinations to choose, but don’t panic. As you start to browse around, you’ll soon get comfortable using the common terms and brand names.

You should start with your processor. In this case, you’ve got a choice between two brands: Intel (usually best for performance) and AMD (usually best for value-for-money). Intel offers several generations of i3, i5, and i7 processors, rising in power and price as you go up that list. The newest versions of these processors are the 8th-generation chips, but if you want to go for more affordable option and don’t mind a slight performance trade-off, look for older-generation CPUs still on sale. As for AMD, the second-generation Ryzen processors are the newest on the market, and like Intel, it has a rising scale of performance and price: Ryzen 3, 5, and 7. We don’t have room to give you a complete buying guide here, but benchmarking and comparison tools like CPU Benchmarks can help.

Broadly speaking, an Intel Core i5 processor (or the AMD equivalent, Ryzen 5) and 8GB of RAM will give you a decent mid-range machine. If you want to save money and don’t mind budget-level performance, then downgrade an Intel Core i3 chip and 4GB of RAM. For the fastest, most powerful machine, you’ll want to bump up to an Intel Core i7 chip and 16GB (or more) of RAM.

Picking hard drive storage is a little easier than sifting through the dozens of graphics cards on the market: 1TB is a good size for a capable PC. Get more if you’ll be installing a lot of games or working with a lot of 4K videos; get less if you’ll be mostly working on the web and storing a lot of your data in the cloud.

Once you’ve decided on CPU and RAM, these will guide your choice of motherboard and case. The PSU and hard drive are more independent because most models of these components will fit most motherboards. Still, you should double-check the specs sheet to make sure that they’ll function well together. If you can’t immediately figure out the compatibility, a quick web search or a chat with a customer service representative should help you.

NewEgg is one of the best-known PC component retailers. David Nield

After you double-check your choices, you’re ready to buy. Dedicated electronics retailers such as NewEgg, OutletPC, and Micro Center are good places to start your search. These sites are easy to navigate—computer parts are clearly categorized, so you can jump straight to the type of motherboard or RAM that you require. You’ll also find plenty of PC components on Amazon, but the retail giant doesn’t have the same variety that the dedicated retailers do.

Put together the build

You’ve picked your components, checked their compatibility, and ordered them. Now you’re ready to actually build your computer. You can easily do this within a couple hours—though you should avoid rushing the process if you’ve never put together your own PC before. And if you can enlist the help of a reasonably tech-savvy friend, all the better.

First, set up in a good environment. A hard, flat table is the perfect place for assembly. Avoid carpets, which are uneven and tend to generate static electricity that can damage the components.

Speaking of static electricity, before you touch any components, ground yourself by touching a metal part of the computer case, or by wearing an anti-static wrist strap. As for other tools, a lot of modern cases let you slot in components without them. Still, we’d recommend keeping a Phillips screwdriver on hand, just in case. That’s just about the only equipment you’ll need.

The PC parts you buy should ship with just about everything you need—for example, the PSU will come with its own power cable. Handle all of these components carefully by the edges. When you’re not using them, place them on top of the anti-static bags they came in.

Now you’re ready for assembly. First, fit the PSU into the case, then screw in the motherboard. Next, add the CPU, RAM, hard drive, and graphics card (if you’ve bought one).

Unsure about where to put everything? The instructions supplied with the motherboard and other components should tell you. If they’re confusing or incomplete, an online search should help—make sure your search terms include the exact model names and numbers of your components, or you won’t get the right results.

An Intel CPU inside a motherboard socket. Alexandru-Bogdan Ghita via Unsplash

The processor has perhaps the most involved installation process, but it should also come with step-by-step instructions to help. When you drop it into the motherboard slot, you should see some form of clip or bracket you can use to fix it in place. Apply a thin layer of thermal paste, if it doesn’t come pre-applied on the cooler, then fix the heatsink and cooling fan on top. These typically screw straight into the motherboard.

Once you’ve installed all these pieces, the last hardware requirement is to connect the power cable and actually switch on the machine. You do this via a button on the PSU or the case. When you hit it, you should hear the reassuring sounds of the motherboard and storage drive starting up…that is, if you’ve connected everything successfully. If not, don’t panic. Switch the power back off, double-check all the connections and slots, and then try again.

Troubleshooting problems is a whole new article in itself, but one way to work out what’s going on is if the motherboard emits a beep or two. To translate those noises, Computer Hope offers a comprehensive beep code list. In fact, your motherboard’s manual might include its own decoder. For example, on a Dell machine, two beeps indicates that the motherboard can’t detect any installed RAM. If the motherboard doesn’t offer any tell-tale noises, you’ll have to go methodically through each component, one by one, making sure they’re all correctly seated and connected. Are data and power cables hooked up to the hard drive? Is the CPU heatsink firmly attached on top of the processor? The connections must be solid for the system to work.

Install the operating system

When the hardware warms up, your computer will need an operating system, either Windows or Linux. The best option is to use a different computer to set up a USB drive that holds the necessary installation files. Microsoft has instructions for doing this with Windows, and you can follow these instructions to do the same thing for Ubuntu Linux.

Although Linux is free, Windows 10 isn’t: You’ll need to pay $139 for the direct download, and then you can transfer it to your new PC via USB.

To get your new machine to recognize the USB stick and the software on it, you may need to adjust the way the hardware boots up. Watch the screen for a message about entering the BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/Output System. This is the software on the motherboard, which handles communications between all the different parts of the computer. The motherboard user manual should come with a shortcut key to help you get into the BIOS. You should see a boot order option somewhere, where you can tell the BIOS to load from the USB drive rather than the hard drive or the optical drive. While you’re here, you can check that the motherboard is correctly recognizing the drives, RAM, processor, and all the other components.

After you install your operating system, you should be ready to go! The whole process may take some time, but it’s also a lot of fun. And in the end, you’ll have a PC tailored to your exact specifications.

Discord Emojis: How To Use Them And Add Your Own To A Server

Custom Discord emojis are easy to create and add to your servers. Here’s how to use them to make your Discord content stand out.

You may be familiar with Discord, the popular platform for hosting real-time text, video, and voice chat, but do you know about Discord emojis?

One of the coolest features of Discord is the ability to add emojis to your messages. Many Discord emojis are built into the platform, but you can also add your own custom emojis, turn off emojis, or even remove an emoji from a server altogether.

We’ll show you how.

Bonus: Read the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What are Discord emoji?

Discord emojis are small images that can be used to express ideas or emotions.

They are similar to the emoji you would find on your phone, but Discord emoji are platform-specific. You can use Discord emojis on your server or in messages you send. Emojis can be static or animated (you can even use a Discord emoji GIF), and there are thousands of them to choose from.

Unlike traditional iPhone and Android emojis, Discord emojis are more customizable. Depending on the channel you’re in, you’ll see custom emojis based on the server’s content.

For example, in The Fallout Network (a Discord server based on the video game series, Fallout), there are custom emojis based on in-game items, such as the Nuka Cola bottle or the Pip-Boy.

In the “Instagram” server (it’s a fan server, not owned by Instagram itself), there are lots of custom emojis with an Instagram theme, such as the camera emoji.

How to use emojis on Discord

Discord emojis are super easy to use.

If you’re on the Discord desktop app, you can use emoji shortcodes. All you have to do is type :emojiname: into a text channel or message, and the emoji will appear.

For example, if you wanted to use a cute Discord emoji, like the Instagram logo on the Instagram server, you would type:

:insta:

Or, if you wanted to use a funny Discord emoji, like the Nuka Cola bottle in the Fallout server, you’d type:

:nukacola:

Note: Custom channel emojis can be used on the Discord desktop app. But if you’re using Discord on your mobile device, you’ll need Discord Nitro to use custom emojis. If custom emojis are unavailable to you, you’ll see them in grey.

How to add custom Discord emoji to a server

Wondering how to make emojis on Discord? Custom Discord emojis are fun to use for a variety of purposes: from adding some personality to your server to showing off your brand.

To add a custom Discord emoji to a server, you need the manage emoji server permission, which can be granted to users with administrator server permissions.

If you want to create animated emojis, you’ll need a Discord Nitro account.

Here’s how to add emojis to Discord channels on desktop and mobile.

How to add emojis to Discord channels on desktop

Then, select the Emoji tab.

Next, choose Upload Emoji.

You’ll have the option to crop your file here. Once complete, hit Upload and the emoji will be available for use in Discord.

How to add emojis to Discord channels on mobile

Next, go to the Server Settings.

Then, tap the Upload Emoji button and choose the media file.

Discord emoji size and naming conventions

All custom emoji names must be at least 2 characters in length and under 256KB in size.

Emoji names can contain alphanumeric characters and underscores but no other characters.

Managing custom Discord emojis

Any custom Discord emojis you add to your server will be shown in reverse alphabetical order.

If any user on the server has Discord Nitro, they’ll be able to use your server’s custom emoji in any other server.

You can add up to 50 custom Discord emojis to your server.

Discord Nitro and Nitro Basic users have an additional 50 emoji slots available to them, for a total of 100 custom Discord emojis. Emojis created with Discord Nitro can be used on any server, even if you don’t have Discord Nitro yourself!

How to make Discord emojis

Now that you know how to add Discord emojis to your server, let’s learn how to make them.

You can create a custom emoji for Discord using any photo or image. You can even create Discord emoji GIFs!

To make Discord emojis, choose any PNG image with a transparent background. You can find these in Google search or make your own in Canva or Photoshop. Kapwing also has a custom Discord emoji maker.

Once you have your image, follow the steps listed above to add it to your Discord server as a custom emoji.

You can also download Discord emoji packs from sites like chúng tôi and chúng tôi chúng tôi even has its own Discord emoji server where you can find even more emojis, like anime Discord emojis or Discord emoji memes.

Just use caution when downloading emojis for Discord from the internet, as some sites may contain malware.

How to turn off auto emoji on Discord

Discord tends to automatically convert emoticons into emojis. If you don’t want this feature, it can be turned off.

How to turn off emojis on Discord’s desktop app

Then, select Text & Images from the tabs on the left.

Find the Automatically convert emoticons in your messages to emojis button and toggle it off.

You can now use Discord emoticons without them being turned into emojis.

How to turn off emojis on Discord mobile app

There is currently no way to turn off auto emojis on the Discord mobile app. Even the mobile browser option directs you to the App Store.

We even tried requesting the desktop site through our browser, but no luck. If you want to turn off auto emojis in Discord, you’ll need to use the desktop app.

Disabling discord emojis on single messages

Hey, maybe you want to use Discord emoticons in a single message but don’t want to turn off the auto emoji feature entirely. No problem!

Here’s how you do it:

Type a backslash (), and then type your emoticon code. For example, if you wanted to use the “thumbs up” Discord emoticon, you would type:

:thumbsup:

This will disable the auto emoji function for that particular instance, letting you use any emoticon you want without changing settings or disabling the feature.

How to remove Discord emoji from a server

If you’re the server owner or have authorized Discord permissions, you can remove Discord emojis from your server in just a few steps.

Here’s how to remove Discord emojis on desktop:

Open the Discord app and go to your server. Open your Server Settings and choose the Emoji tab.

Here’s how to remove Discord emojis on mobile:

Choose Emoji to see any custom emojis you’ve added.

If you loved learning about Discord emojis, check out some of our other guides on Snapchat emojis and secret TikTok emojis.

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