The PC Makeover

A software engineer turns computers into laptop art.

"I'm Jewish," a friend told F. J. van Wingerde, "but I'd convert to Christianity for one of those." She was joking about Fujitsu's Hello Kitty laptop--the kitschiest incarnation ever of the world's kitschiest cat. Van Wingerde, a software engineer at Nokia, decided to play a joke on his friend. With spray paint, decals, a yo-yo, and a feather boa, he and his pal created an even more garish laptop, which they sent to her.

Van Wingerde was so proud of his work, he posted a how-to Web page, which was featured on slashdot.org, a Web site for computer professionals. As a result, van Wingerde got so much traffic on his site, his Internet service provider actually cut him off.

Van Wingerde's laptop impressed us--until we learned it didn't work. So we sent him an old Thinkpad and challenged him to make something more high-tech and less frilly. The result: The lid is a miniature Moonbase Alpha, the setting for the old TV show Space: 1999. It boots up, runs Windows 95--and establishes van Wingerde as the Martha Stewart of information technology.