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I decided to go completely case-less. Most of you guys probably think I already do that, since I never have a case on my devices when I’m filming a new video.

But that, as it turns out, hasn’t been so. I used to only keep my iPhone nude for aesthetic purposes on film. As soon as I hit the shutter release on my camera to stop filming, back in the case she went.

Then I read something that changed my perspective on things. After seeing this post by John Gruber, I started thinking. Why are we so obsessed with encapsulating our devices in protective covering? Aren’t we ridding ourselves of the pleasure of using it as it was intended and designed to be used?

I decided to embark on an experiment. One that could prove costly, but at the same time provide me with a since of liberation. I was going to go case-less…

That was two months ago, and I’ve never looked back. It’s hard for me to imagine ever going back to using a case after using my iPhone 5 without one for the last two months.

I will admit that I have yet to throw caution completely to the wind, not yet at least. I purchased AppleCare+ just in case my phone is cosmetically damaged to the point where it bothers me. I’ve also placed a thin square patch of film on the back on my slate iPhone 5, because the anodized aluminum is so prone to scratches. That being said, it’s barely even there, and it’s certainly not providing me with any real protection in the event of a catastrophic drop.

I’ve received some pretty funny responses from friends, family, and even random strangers upon them seeing my case-less iPhone 5.

“You must be pretty brave to do that,” noted one stranger in a local Starbucks.

“That’s insane!” proclaimed an OtterBox obsessed friend.

Just a few months ago, I would have at least sympathized with them, but now I think they’re downright ridiculous for covering up such a fine piece of hardware. They pay all of this money for a device, and they don’t even get to touch it, can’t even feel it, and can barely see it. It all seems silly to me now.

Of course, going case-less has its downsides. For one, it’s inevitable that you phone will suffer from a few scratches here and there. These scratches are largely unnoticeable without a thorough examination of the device, or without the sun hitting it at just the right angle, but they’re there.

The slate iPhone 5, as you know, is prone to scuffs due to the anodized aluminum coating. I’m a victim of “scuffgate“, and I do notice more than a few areas on my iPhone where the bare metal is showing beneath the coating. Again, it’s not something that’s immediately discernible, but a close up view will reveal the imperfections.

I have to admit, at first, I was kind of annoyed with the hairline scratches on the screen, or the scuffs on the aluminum housing. I began to second guess the rightness of my decision to go without a case. But then I got to thinking, I really use my iPhone. I mean I really use it. As someone who blogs about iOS devices for a living, I put my iPhone through more stress than the average iPhone owner. It truly is a testament to the design of the device, that I only have the few scratches and scuffs that I do.

I’ve dropped my iPhone on a hardwood floor multiple times. I lay it face down or face up on virtually any surface. I’m always placing it in my pocket with keys and other potentially dangerous objects, and yet, it still looks virtually brand new.

All things considered, I do not regret my decision to go case-less one bit; not one iota. It’s such a liberating feeling to be able to directly interface with your device without any barriers. You don’t have to worry about cases interfering with the camera, or being too bulky. You get to truly enjoy an item, which by its very nature, is truly meant to uninhibitedly touched.

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Making A Case For Classical Music

Making a Case for Classical Music New York Times’ Tommasini champions the new

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Anthony Tommasini (CFA’82) talks about his role as chief classical music critic for the New York Times. Photos by Joshua Paul

At an age when schoolmates were captivated by Mickey Mantle, Anthony Tommasini had a different idol: Giacomo Puccini. When he was 15, he would ride the train to Manhattan from his Long Island suburb to blissfully endure the vertigo of the fifth balcony of the Metropolitan Opera House. There, he soaked up the exhortations of a pining Tosca and the arias of a lovesick Madame Butterfly. From then until now, when he occupies a seat in the orchestra, the chief classical music critic of the New York Times has been consumed by music.

He has also been a weighty supporter of boundary-pushing artists like Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, Los Angeles composer Stephen Hartke, and composer and 2009 Pulitzer finalist Harold Meltzer. When George Steel, a relative newcomer to opera, was hired two years ago as general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera, Tommasini applauded what others saw as a risky move. Now, the company is inarguably on the upswing.

Born to musically indifferent parents, Tommasini as a preschooler incessantly picked out tunes on a toy keyboard, “like Schroeder,” he recalls. After he persuaded his parents to buy an actual piano, he attracted attention not only for his playing—at 16 he won a competition performing a Mozart concerto at Manhattan’s Town Hall—but also for his unbounded appetite for musical knowledge.

Tommasini—Tony to his friends—is no snob. Winner of the School of Music’s 1998 Distinguished Alumni Award, he is as likely to wax poetic over Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls as he is over Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Alceste. To the occasional grumblings of insular opera aficionados (“…the narrow limits of Tommasini’s personal aesthetic seem to constrain his appreciation of large segments of the wide world of opera,” sniffs one blogger), Tommasini is committed, he says, to writing reviews that speak to both specialists and novices. “I’m a generalist, in the very best sense of the word.”

His mentors include composer Virgil Thomson, the New York Herald Tribune music critic from 1940 to 1954, and Richard Dyer, now retired after 33 years as the Boston Globe’s classical music critic.

His long friendship with Dyer began in December 1986, when the Globe critic asked the young freelancer, who had contributed a few pieces to the paper, if he would be willing to drive to Worcester on New Year’s Eve to cover a Pavarotti concert that was a recap of one Dyer had already written about.

“He’d been well trained as a musician,” says Dyer. “He really did know what he was hearing. As my predecessor, Michael Steinberg, once said, ‘I was interested in people who shared my standards, but not my taste.’”

Tommasini brought a fresh outlook; he was interested in new music and over time, says Dyer, “he became more widely and profoundly educated.”

After contributing for almost a decade to the Globe, Tommasini decided his apprenticeship was over. “I wanted a job,” he says. “But there was no job.”

His partner was about to attend medical school in New York, and a friend suggested that Tommasini come to New York and be a freelancer. “I did,” he says, and wrote for several publications until the Times offered him a contract, which led to a staff position and culminated in his promotion to chief classical music critic in 2000.

A fixture on behalf of the Times at the Bayreuth Festival and other long-esteemed classical showcases, Tommasini is equally attentive to new, occasionally disastrous incarnations of staples such as Puccini’s Tosca or Mozart’s Don Giovanni. And he is distinguished from many classical music critics by his passion for American composers and underperformed contemporary works that excite and astonish him, such as Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera.

The classical music world’s general resistance to new compositions irks Tommasini. “You don’t hear people saying, ‘I love movies, but who wants to go to a new movie?’” he says. “Suppose you had a repertory theater that produced four new plays, four 19th-century plays, and four early to mid-20th-century plays”—the same ratio “would be a radical season for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.”

And he dismisses people claiming classical music is elitist. “What does it cost to go to a rock concert or see the Yankees or the Knicks play?” he asks. “Rush tickets, at $20, can be for the best seats in the house, and there is more free classical music than any other art form. BU alone has about three events a day.”

“Of all the performing arts, classical music has been the most hopelessly bound to past repertory,” Tommasini wrote in the Times’ Critic’s Notebook in 2002. “It’s essential for those who want this art form to have a future as well as a history to encourage new work and cajole ensembles, orchestras, and opera companies into supporting living composers. Yet such calls are not meant as a criticism of the standard repertory. These works have survived for a reason. The problem is that repertory staples are trotted out too often for their own good.”

“What I admire in Tony’s criticism is not only his wide and deep knowledge of music—rare is the critic who holds a doctorate in music and has made professional recordings—but the humanity of his outlook,” says Alex Ross, who covers classical music for The New Yorker. “In a phrase, his writing is keen and kind.” And according to Dyer, “Tommasini was a nice guy 20 years ago and he still is, in a job that has corrupted more than one. He never puts on airs in his writing or in his thinking.”

His home, although it boasts location, location, location (it’s a stroll away from the iconic Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and a person unafraid of heights can lean out the window for a sweep of the entire park, east and south to Manhattan’s glittering skyline), is as free of ostentation as Tommasini himself. Photos of family and friends punctuate shelves housing a vast CD collection. A wall in his Spartan home office, where he writes his Times reviews and essays, is a portrait gallery of friends lost to AIDS. Those early, cruel years of the HIV epidemic still resonate with Tommasini and have infused him with an ever-percolating gratitude for his professional accomplishments and good fortune, the surprise of rich new musical works, and the companionship of the man he loves.

Born in Brooklyn, Tommasini grew up in a family of five in Malverne, N.Y., where his first exposure to live music was a production of the 1956 Harold Karr musical Happy Hunting, starring Ethel Merman. Later he would take his parents to concerts, but for years his classical fix came largely from an unwieldy collection of records, which in those days, he recalls, cost no more than $3. “In seventh grade I went to St. Paul’s, a small, all-male private school in Garden City, where I was the music,” he says. He taught himself to play the organ he alone commanded every morning at chapel. “I liked being a big shot.”

At the end of his sophomore year, Tommasini was accepted to a summer program at Dartmouth College sponsored by Juilliard Prep. The experience transformed his life both musically and socially. “I was home,” he says. “The one thing I’d never done was play with other musicians, and the program threw me in with them; they were used to it, but it was all new for me. I remember wasting time just going to orchestra rehearsals for hours.”

Tommasini was admitted to the highly regarded Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, but he opted for a broader liberal education at Yale. “I knew I was smart, and I wanted to go to a good college,” he says, “but I also thought, I’m a talented pianist, but I’m not great.” After four years of music woven into solid academics, he went on to earn a master’s in music at Yale, followed by a doctorate at the College of Fine Arts. Under the tutelage of BU’s Leonard Shure, Tommasini rethought his prospects as a concert pianist. Shure was “an astonishing pianist and teacher, and I never knew I could work so hard, partly because we were all terrified,” he says. Throughout his late ’70s and early ’80s years at BU, he waited tables at Victoria Station. “It was exhausting,” says Tommasini, who also taught piano privately until the day he began teaching music at Emerson College.

When he came up for tenure in his early 30s, Emerson did away with his position. “The moral of the story,” he says, “is that the best thing that ever happened to me was not getting tenure at Emerson, or I might still be there, and none of this would’ve happened.” His Emerson experience taught Tommasini a lesson he likes to pass along to young people: “It’s very important to have perseverance, but you don’t want to be so fixed on a goal” that you miss other opportunities.

It was at Emerson he encountered Virgil Thomson. At the time, the school’s focus on musical theater meant that talented singers weren’t getting roles because “they weren’t good actors or they were fat,” says Tommasini, who decided to embrace productions where the music came first. When Emerson staged the Thomson opera The Mother of Us All, Thomson loved the production, and a friendship was born. In 1984, Thomson, who had produced a series of lyrical musical portraits of subjects ranging from his Paris contemporary Gertrude Stein to the colorful New York mayor of the 1930s and ’40s, Fiorello LaGuardia, composed one about Tommasini. Tommasini in turn played piano on a recording of some of Thomson’s works. He later focused on Thomson’s portraits in his doctoral thesis, which became the biography Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle, published in 2004.

After Emerson, Tommasini was casting about for teaching positions, when he offered himself to the Globe, and to Dyer, whom he knew slightly. For two years Tommasini photocopied every Globe article he wrote and sent them to Thomson in New York. “We’d meet at the Chelsea Hotel, where Thomson had an apartment, for the postmortems,” says Tommasini. “Between him and Richard Dyer, I had the best mentors.”

Nearly 30 years later, Tommasini says, he still looks to the legacy of Thomson for the humanity and humor that bring criticism to life. “It’s impossible to come up with words to describe a piece of music, and every day I have to come up with those words, and it’s always been hard and never gets easy,” he says. “But Virgil came up with the most homespun ways to get across how music sounded. No one ever topped him at that. It was miraculous. And hilarious. And charming.”

His place in the firmament of music scribes secure, Tommasini still considers himself part educator. “I still care a lot about illuminating things and about teaching,” he says. “Some opera bloggers hate me because I don’t throw terms like tessitura around. But if I’m writing a review of Das Rheingold, I’m also writing for people who have never seen an opera.”

After experiencing a 2002 Metropolitan Opera performance of Madame Butterfly in the company of a young friend unfamiliar with the tragic story, he wrote: “The uplift in Madame Butterfly comes from Puccini’s music. As the story sinks into tragedy, the searing, melodically haunting music expresses the inexpressible about infatuation, selfless love, foolish devotion, motherly bonding, and abject shame. That Puccini takes you so deep provides a kind of comfort—the comfort of sad truth.”

Rather than glorying in ownership of a towering international voice in what he calls the most conservative of the performing arts, Tommasini appears humbled by the notion. He’s accustomed to people expressing envy of his concertgoing lifestyle, but reminds them that the real work—the writing—comes afterward. It’s hard work, always. And when it comes to producing that work, on deadline, day after day, says Tommasini, his status, however powerful, is mainly a distraction.

“A lot of people are waiting to see what I’m going to say, but if that were in my head, I couldn’t write,” he says, describing music criticism as a mix of opinion and news. Unlike theater critics, whose opinions can close a Broadway show, music critics can encourage or discourage readers to attend a production that is going to have its 11 performances no matter what a reviewer says. But the self-effacing Tommasini does apply his influence, happily, when he implores concertgoers to open their minds and expand their horizons.

Tommasini believes we have entered what he calls a “postdogma period,” characterized by American composers and musicians from the new generation. These are the people who, with Tommasini cheering on the best of them, will, he writes, “save classical music from itself.”

Susan Seligson can be reached at [email protected]. Alan Wong can be reached at [email protected]. Devin Hahn can be reached at [email protected].

This article was originally published in the Winter-Spring 2011 edition of Bostonia.

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Hex Code Iphone Wallet Case Review

Ever since I saw Twelve South’s BookBook, I’ve wanted an iPhone wallet case. As a carrier of both an iPhone and a wallet, the convenience of combining the two was rather appealing.

But other than Twelve South’s case, there didn’t seem to be a lot of viable options available. And I didn’t necessarily like how the BookBook case, well, looked like a book. Luckily, I recently discovered the HEX Code Wallet Case.

I found the HEX Code case on Apple’s website. Made of genuine leather, it’s offered in both black and brown versions, each costing $49.95. I felt the black case looked a bit more classy than its counterpart, so I ordered it.

I’ve been using the case for three days now, and I must say I really like it. It’s gorgeous, comparatively thin, and has completely replaced my daily need for a wallet. But it does have some major caveats, so let me break it down for you.

The Good

The photos on Apple’s website don’t do the HEX Code Case justice. Much like I’ve done with the iPhone, I’ve caught myself staring at the case in reverence. It’s extremely thin, at least compared to the other wallet case combo options, and incredibly sharp-looking.

As for functionality, the case serves its purpose. I find the three card slots on the inside of the cover to be perfect for my daily errands. It holds my driver’s license, and both my bank and credit cards. If you typically carry more than three cards on a daily basis, the HEX Code will obviously come up short. More on that in a minute.

The last component I wanted to mention under the “Good” category was the case’s attached elastic band. It’s quite ingenious. When the case is closed, the band holds the front and back covers together tightly to keep the case slim.

The Bad

Though the HEX Code looks great, it has some major downfalls. For starters, using your iPhone while it’s in the case is a bit awkward. You have two choices: using it with the front cover loose and flapping about, or with it folded behind your phone — both make talking on the handset and texting somewhat unpleasant.

Another caveat of the case is that there are only three card slots. While I found this to be just fine for my needs, others who require more card space or room for other items in their wallet might find this to be a deal-breaker.

The biggest problem with the HEX Code Case, for me at least, is that there isn’t a camera hole. This means that if you want to snap a quick picture of something, you must completely remove your iPhone from the case to do it. Obviously I knew this when I ordered the product, but I guess I didn’t think it’d bother me as much as does. I’m seriously considering cutting a hole in the case.

But issues aside, I love the HEX Code case. So much in fact that I continue to put up with the above-mentioned annoyances. I would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a classy wallet-case combo in the $50 range.

Operations Analytics Case Study (Level : Hard)

In previous few articles (beginner, intermediate and queuing theory), we have completed a variety of case studies used in operation analytics. One of which was based on assignment algorithm in call centers. Today’s case study will be similar but we will now look at a more broader level instead of individual caller assignment. We will formulate this problem in a similar fashion as we try a transportation algorithm. While solving this problem, we will try multiple well known solutions to the transportation problem.

Operation Analytics and Investigating Metric Spike Case study

You own a call center with 1000 resources. Each of these resources have gone through a different set of trainings. These training combinations are A,B,C,D,E and F. For instance set A is the population who have gone through training 1,2,3,4,5 and 6. Similarly, set B has gone through some other set of trainings. The distribution of these callers are

A : 200

B : 200

C : 100

D : 100

E : 250

F : 150

Also, the calls you get on a daily basis have different types of queries. This can again be classified into 4 categories. Let’s call them X,Y,Z and W. Each of these category can be identified through an IVR and you can try to allot any caller to these customers. On a daily basis you get following distribution of calls :

X : 20%

Y : 30%

Z :  15%

W : 35%

The number of calls might vary with days but remains almost constant at this ratio. With every set of trainings, you get a different type of skill set which enables a caller to resolve varied type of calls in different time. For instance, a set A agent can resolve a call X in 10 minutes. Following is a grid, which you can refer to check the resolution time for each combination :

Here is the catch! Your objective is to complete the work of all the callers in the least aggregate time. This will allow you to train them on different skills and therefore decrease the resolution time dynamically. Ultimately, you want a dynamic system which can do such an allocation on real time. However, for now you need to make the assignment so that you minimize the total time taken by all callers combined.

Kick Start the process

As of now, the problem is open ended till you assume the actual inflow of calls to a certain number. To simplify things, let’s assume that we have a balanced transportation problem in hand. Following is the distribution of calls :

X : 200 calls

Y : 300 calls

Z : 150 calls

W : 350 calls

Total calls : 1000 calls

Hence, the number of agents and calls are exactly equal. Even if the total number of calls increase, our current solution will still be valid as the ratio holds true.

Introduction to transportation problem

This is a classic transportation problem where the time is just a substitute of cost. Here, we try to minimize the total cost by making the right set of assignments. We can either solve it through a simplex or a tabular solution. Transportation problems are generally solved in two steps :

Identifying a basic feasible solution

Finding the optimal solution

For this article, my focus will be to complete the first step. I will leave the second step for the reader and based on the response on this article, will publish the second part as well if required.

Identifying a basic feasible solution can be done through 3 approaches :

North west corner rule (simplest of all)

Minimum cost method

Penalty cost method

North west corner rule

The process is very simple. We just assign the maximum possible values on the north west corner till we exhaust all the callers. We start as follows :

Here we were able to make this assignment because both supply and demand is 200. However, we make an assignment of a value which is the minimum of two, which coincidentally is the same here. Now we have exhausted both the first row and first column. Hence we move to the cell (B,Y) and make the next assignment. Sequentially we make all the possible assignments.

Now we calculate the total time which in this case comes out as 7550 minutes. To simply evaluate the results , we assign all A’s for X type of calls. We will divert around 33% of Y type calls to C type agents and 66% to B type agents & so on. This is generally the least optimal solution and we can get better results by the rest two methods.

Minimum cost method

This method is slightly evolved version of the last one. Here we simply try finding out the smallest time which for a combination of caller-customer that are available. For instance, if we look at the entire cost matrix, we find the minimum time is for X customer being attended for caller D, hence we make the maximum assignment at this combination.

Finally we arrive at the following assignments :

The total time for this assignment now reduces to 3900 minutes which is almost a 50% reduction on the overall time.

Penalty cost method

This is an even more evolved version of initial assignment procedure. Here we start with calculating the difference between the minimum and the 2nd minimum time for each row and column. This is basically the cost of not making an assignment in the current iteration. Following is our penalty cost table :

As we see the penalty cost is maximum for the caller types D. And we need to immediately assign the maximum value to caller D. Once done, we again recalculate all the penalty costs and move on with the assignment. Finally, following are the assignments

The total cost here is 4400, which is not better the last method. However, there is no guarantee of which algorithm wins in any iteration. It completely depends on the chances you break the tie in favor of lowering the cost or in opposite direction.

Thinkpot End Notes You can test your skills and knowledge. Check out Live Competitions and compete with best Data Scientists from all over the world.


Microsoft Patent Case Draws Strange Alliances

A patent challenge that almost forced Microsoft Word off the market is going to court, and experts say its outcome could have a significant impact on the way patents are awarded.

Illustration: Lou BeachThe U.S. Supreme Court will start to consider on Monday the challenge of a technology patent assigned to i4i, which lower courts said Microsoft infringed in its flagship Word software.

Currently, when a patent holder accuses someone of infringing a patent, the burden is on the infringer to prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that the patent is invalid, said Sarah Columbia, head of the intellectual-property litigation practice group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

In hearing this case, the Supreme Court could decide to lower that standard of proof, she said.

Bolster a Patent?

While arguing against the validity of the i4i patent, Microsoft presented new evidence that had not been considered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office when it granted the patent. Microsoft argues that with the new evidence, the burden of proof should be lowered to “a preponderance of the evidence,” rather than the stricter clear and convincing evidence, Columbia said.

She envisions three possible outcomes from the Supreme Court. At one extreme, it could lower the standard of proof for patents so that accused infringers have only to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a patent is invalid.

Alternatively, the court could lower the standard of proof only in situations where an infringer presents new evidence that the patent office has not already considered, as Microsoft has done.

A third option is to leave the current required standard of proof unchanged.

If the court does lower the standard, it would become easier to invalidate patents, Columbia said. “Over time, if the burden of proof is lowered to prove invalidity, you’ll find more cases where patents are found to be invalid,” she said.

She and others describe other potential consequences.

“There is already enormous pressure for patent attorneys to file every piece of prior art they can think of. If you create this double standard, where art that’s not before the patent office somehow weakens the patent, there’s even more pressure to [file every piece of prior art],” she said. “We already have a situation where the examiners are fairly overwhelmed with the volume of work. I think we’re going to make it worse” if the Supreme Court sides with Microsoft.

Challenger: Innovation at Stake

I4i paints a more dire picture. “The implications are gargantuan,” said Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i. “The whole system for innovation in this country is predicated on the patent system. If patent rights are eroded to where there’s no point in having a patent because you can’t enforce it, that will disrupt policy and the practice of disclosure.”

The resulting uncertainty could cause some inventors to decide against patenting their technology, which would mean others couldn’t license the technology to build on top of, he said.

Microsoft countered that “questionable patents that should never have been issued” stifle innovation.

“Responding in litigation to these bad patents imposes a tax on all innovative companies and ultimately on the consuming public,” Andy Culbert, Microsoft associate general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.

The company argues that i4i should never have been granted its patent in the first place. “Microsoft’s solution to prevent this type of abuse is to have the courts apply the burden that generally applies in all civil cases – the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard — to prove a patent invalid,” Culbert said.

Industry Chooses Sides

A wide range of companies have lined up on each side of the case. Some make unusual bedfellows. Supporting Microsoft are Apple, Google, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Supporting i4i is a longer list, including 3M, Bayer, 19 venture capital firms, the U.S. government, and six former commissioners or directors of the patent office.

“If you look at the group that filed amicus briefs, you can see pretty clearly the companies that filed on Microsoft’s side tend to be companies who get a lot of lawsuits against them on patents, and in particular a lot of lawsuits against them by what we call nonpracticing entities,” Columbia said. Often called “patent trolls,” these companies buy up patents and then seek infringers they can pursue for royalties.

While big companies like Microsoft have their own patents to defend, they also get sued frequently, often by patent trolls. “They must be thinking they would rather have the standard lowered for these nonpracticing-entity cases,” she said.

Pharmaceutical companies, such as Bayer, are hit less by nonpracticing entities and are more likely to assert their own patents, she said. “Big pharma really uses patents to keep away the [generic brands] so they don’t want the standards lowered,” she said.

The case dates back to 2007, when i4i sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing a patent covering a technology that lets users manipulate the architecture and content of a document. It said Microsoft infringed the patent by allowing Word users to create custom XML documents. In 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found in i4i’s favor and ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word products in the U.S. in their current form. Microsoft eventually removed the feature in order to continue selling the product.

How To Open A Pc Case Safely

Knowing how to open your PC case properly, whether for dust cleaning or to install a new part, is an important skill when owning any computer. I remember vividly trying to open my first PC case, only ending up breaking it and inhaling copious amounts of dust.

In this article, you will learn the best practices for opening any PC case properly, how to avoid critical errors and some other valuable tips (such as breathing dust-free air), so stay tuned till the end!

Preparing Before Opening Your PC Case

A few things to remember while handling any electronic devices is to have sufficient space to place your PC, so you can reach the side panel easily. 

What’s important here is that you never want to disassemble it on plastic surfaces or carpets, since that can cause static electricity discharges and destroy your hardware parts.

If you do this on your desk, also ensure that there are no liquid spill hazards. It’s always a good practice to wipe your PC case with a soft cloth before handling it so that you don’t fill your desk with dust and debris. 

How to Open a PC Case

Depending on the brand and manufacturer of your PC case, it might have slightly different ways to open the side panel. Almost all PC cases are held back with screws on the backside and snap in place using small insertions around the edges of your PC side panel. 

Here are the exact steps to do this. Make sure not to skip any and do them in order:

Turn Your Computer Off

When doing any manipulations where you are handling, repairing, or modifying any PC, the first thing is to power it down correctly. 

Unplug Any Cables From Your PC

All PC cases have an on/off power switch at the Power supply at the back, start by toggling it off. Then you can continue by pulling the power cable connected to your power supply unit on the backside. 

Remove All Connected External Cables to Your Case

The next step is to unplug any connected peripheral devices, screens, and everything. An important thing to remember is that specific cables such as VGA or Ethernet cables can’t just be pulled by force. They either have a small clamp that snaps in place or are held in by screws. 

This step will make handling the computer and opening the PC case much more accessible.

Remove All the Side Panel Screws on the Back

Most PC case side panels are held in place by two to four big screws on the backside. 

Find an appropriate screwdriver that fits snugly and remove the outermost screws from the PC case. Please note, just remove the side panel screws, not the surrounding ones that hold the actual computer together.

Most PCs use Philips-head style screws, and some PC side panels can also be unscrewed without any tools or feature a simple clamp instead of screws.

Take care where you put all the screws, since finding and replacing the same side panel screws can be difficult.

Remove the Side Panel

Start by gently pulling and twisting the side panel until all retaining slide locks are disengaged. Some side panels come off once unscrewed, but most are held on every side or corner by a few small metal slide locks. If you face too much resistance, double-check if all the backside screws are removed to avoid damaging your case.

Some side panels use glass, so be careful how you handle such side panels. 

How to Safely Clean Your Opened PC Case?

Now that you opened your PC case, hopefully hassle-free, you can proceed to perform some essential maintenance. Every couple of months, this should be done to keep your PC running quietly and under cooler temperatures. 

The number one most important thing is never to use a vacuum cleaner, as it could short circuit your PC components.

The second thing is, please do any dust removal in an open or well-ventilated space. Also, use a dustproof respirator or mask, so you don’t inhale all the dust during cleaning. 

Here are the steps on how to remove all the dust from your case:

Go in circular motions and check that every angle and corner is covered. Pay special attention to the fans’ CPU, GPU, and air intake fans. Don’t also forget to dust off your power supply unit. 

How to Put Your PC Case Back?

The steps to assemble your opened PC back are as follows: 

Using moderate pressure, insert the screws on the back side panel to the case itself.

Tighten the screws, but pay special attention not to over tighten them. You are not assembling a space shuttle, so there is no need to have the screws on as tight as possible.

How to Prevent Dust Buildup On Your PC Case?

The most practical tip that will minimize the times you need to go through the lengthy disassembly and cleaning process is to keep your environment well ventilated. 

The second most important thing is to never place your PC directly on top of a carpet, especially if there are air intakes on the bottom of the PC case. 


Opening your PC case can seem intimidating, but it’s a straightforward procedure once you know it. Taking precautions beforehand is also important to avoid damaging expensive and sensitive components, especially during massive GPU and CPU price inflation.

Now you know how to open, clean, and reassemble your PC correctly.

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