30 april 2003 - Perhaps, like me, you also thought your anti-virus program protected you against the ravages of trojans and worms. But, if you read up on these pesky critters, you'll learn that anti-virus programs provide only limited protection.
What is a trojan you ask? I had the same question. Update: The rest of today's news grew too large for the main page. It has since been moved its own page. See here: Trojan Horse Scanners.
29 april 2003 - Spent Sunday afternoon at The Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. They have 150 acres of gardens there, containing plant species from all over the planet, growing in a variety of landscapes. I posted a few photos here from the trip.
Our visit coincided with the annual rose festival, during which some 4,000 plants bloom in peak fragrance. Walking through the rose garden smelled like heaven on earth. The aroma of roses was everywhere. Interesting how each different species has its own, distinct, signature scent.
My favorite however, was the Desert garden. I also liked the Japanese garden. Inside, we enjoyed the William Blake exhibit, but didn't have time to see the one for Queen Elizabeth. They don't let you use flash inside the museums, so I couldn't get enough light to grab any pictures there. Lots of security, so I didn't even try.
Henry Huntington made his money in railroads at the turn of the century. He's dead now. Besides building the gardens, he also collected rare books. The library is impressive, containing one of the 12 remaining original Gutenberg bibles [priceless], printed on vellum [parchment]. Considering that Gutenberg was named "Man of the Millennium", it made the trip seem even more special.
A wall in the rear part of the library contains a huge, stainless-steel door, some two-feet thick: the kind you see protecting bank vaults. Beyond that door is where they keep all the rare books not on display. The general public can't go back there. Photos of some of these rare items are posted here. The Huntington is one of the most impressive places I've ever been. A map of the grounds is posted here.
On a more technical note, Alex sent word [from the Netherlands] that he just posted an updated version of Motherboard Monitor, now at v220.127.116.11. He has been tweaking, improving and fine-tuning this utility for *years*.
I use it to constantly monitor my CPU & case temperatures and percent-CPU usage from my system tray. Launching the program allows you to check a variety of system parameters, including voltages and fan speeds. You can also set alarm values. Highly configurable. Powerful little utility. If you stop by his site, tell him Rad said 'Hey'.
28 april 2003 - Stumbled across a nice Linux install guide, compliments of The Inquirer. Egan did a good job. Worth bookmarking and saving for a rainy day. Like me, he also prefers Mandrake [review posted here, download here].
You can freely download an ISO image of *any* Linux distro, burn it to CD and immediately install the new operating system on your PC. [It helps if you have a broadband connection for the download.] The good news is that Linux runs best on older computers. This gives the Linux community more time to write and fine-tune drivers. Trying to install/use Linux on systems with brand new hardware is where you run into problems.
Every good geek should get their feet wet with Linux. It's the noble thing to do. You can get all your questions answered at the JustLinux forums. That's where I go when I need help. Helpful folks hang there.
Speaking of new hardware for which no Linux drivers exist yet, Intel just released their 875P chipset: code-named Canterwood [What the heck is a Canterwood?]. I was taught in Computer Science class that the chipset is the single most important component in a computer. The reason for this lofty claim is because the chipset limits the other components a computer can use.
For example, the particular CPU you can use is determined by the chipset - not the other way around. This is why it's a sound stategy to consider the chipset *first* when designing or purchasing any new PC. [They're more fun to build yourself.] The chipset comes on, and is part of, the motherboard.
Canterwood targets performance improvements in three main areas: digital media, gaming, and broadband networking - all good places where the extra performance won't go to waste. Its most significant new feature is the 800 MHz Front Side Bus [FSB], provided by a dual-channel 400 MHz DDR RAM configuration.
News about this new chipset is posted all over the web in great detail, so I won't duplicate it here. People are already using motherboards containing the 875P. Official Intel press release posted here.
Usually when a new chipset arrives on the scene, it provides an opportunity for you and me to purchase CPUs designed for a lower clock rate [533 MHz FSB] and crank them up [read: overclock] to the higher [800 MHz FSB] .. thus getting top-dollar [~US$600] performance inexpensively [for ~US$140].
This is what I do with a P4-1.6A [designed for 400 MHz FSB] running rock-solid stable at 2.14 GHz [534 FSB]. So I'm in no big hurry to move to Canterwood. Tomorrow I might have some info for you about the trojan horse & worm detecting software I've been playing with.
27 april 2003 - Received a bunch of mail regarding the links [flags] to translation services I set up yesterday. A few were supportive, but most read like this one:
On a more positive note, I saw The Quiet American last night. It was good. I feel comfortable recommending it. The storyline sounded corny [two guys love the same woman], but the movie moved along at an engaging pace and held my interest. The lead actor, Michael Caine, was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film.
The historical setting was interesting: Saigon back in the 50's, before the United States got into the war. At this time, the French were fighting there. I don't think many Americans realize that the French fought in Viet Nam before the United States got involved. Quicktime trailer posted here.
26 april 2003 - We're back. Spent the week hiking in Idyllwild. Man, are my legs sore! Nice and quiet up there in the mountains. I took a bunch of pictures. Might post some later this weekend. Hiked to the top of nearby mountains. Had to tromp through some snow to get there. Ever notice how empty water bottles are crushed when you come down from the mountains?
Added links to several common language translations [Italian, German, French & Spanish] at the top of the main page, and also on/for the ASPI guide. Google provides these translations free. Other sites charge a lot of money for this service.
The site regularly gets hit hard from sources in foreign countries. Most recently, this happened Monday night. Notice the spike that occurred at about 11 PM. The requesting IP address hit Radified for about 85MB. That represents the entire site contents hosted here. I traced the origin to somewhere in Beijing (Peking), China.
I tried to provide a link to Chinese and other language translations, but Google only offers the four I posted. I contacted the person responsible for the requesting IP address and asked what they were doing downloading my entire site. He said he was translating Radified into Chinese and is indexing it on a search engine there.
So it looks like readers in China will soon be getting Radified and indulging their technolust.
20 april 2003 - Happy Easter. We'll be away for spring break this week. I'll leave the site up for you to peruse at your leisure. Hasta luego.
19 april 2003 - Updated the ASPI guide and Partitioning Strategies: two of the site's more popular features. This required nothing major, but the biggest problem is that, over time, link-rot sets in as outbound links to other sites deteriorate & go bad. Altho not my fault, this makes the guides look neglected.
Also, hard drives have grown larger. An intelligent discussion of partitioning strategies needs to address these larger-capacity drives. In order to stay current, all guides need periodic attention. Links contained in the guide to CD ripping & MP3 encoding rot at the fastest rate. That's probably cuz things change fastest in those fields.
In the guide to Partitioning Strategies, I changed the "assumed" drive from a 45-gigger to a 120-gigger. Back when the guide was originally published [June, 2001], 45-giggers were the norm. Now everybody seems to be going for the 120-giggers. They offer the best bang [gigs of storage space] for the buck .. about one US dollar per gigabyte. Not bad. 250-giggers are available for a premium.
And speaking of the ASPI guide, I noticed it climbed to the #4 position in a Google search for the term 'ASPI'. When this guide was originally posted back in June of 2001, it debuted way back on page #8 [ranked by Google at position #80]. I watched it climb steadily as Google re-sorted their results each month. When it hit the first page [top 10], I noticed a big jump in the guide's popularity.
Radified gets more traffic from the term 'ASPI' than any other search engine query. Other sources for the guide's popularity are links from sites such as Sony,.. NT Compatible,.. VCD Easy,.. DART,.. Slow gold,.. tburke,.. CDnGo,.. Zittware,.. the avon lady,.. Dell support and a slew of others. And Radified links don't rot. I never change or remove them.
17 april 2003 - Updated the firmware on my digital camera [Canon G2], from v1.01 to v1.10. Never done this before, but it was easy. Simply download and upload new firmware to the camera's compact flash card and select "Upgrade firmware" from the camera's list of menu options. I want use the camera to take pics at the Huntington gardens in Pasadena.
Also installed the demo of NOD32: toued as the world's best anti-virus program. I've been using Norton AntiVirus forever, cuz it comes with Norton System Works Pro, which can be purchased for cheap [US$12]. Ice Czar was the first to suggest NOD32. I did some independent reseach and found that NOD32 is indeed highly-respected throughout the industry, winning more 100% awards from Virus Bulletin than any other AV program.
I scanned my drives [6 physical, 17 logical, almost 800,000 files] with both Norton AV & NOD32. Neither found any virii. I've been contemplating Internet security lately cuz the Frontline special, Cyber war, airs next week. I would like to have the best anti-virus & firewall protection available. Who wouldn't?
Many people feel that a separate PC running Linux functions as the best firewall for the home user. Since Linux runs fine with old hardware, you can stick a throw-away PC in the closet. After configured, it doesn't even need a monitor or keyboard. I probably have enough spare parts lying around to build a decent Linux box.
15 april 2003 - Spring break! I want to get away for a few days and visit places like the Huntington Library [in Pasadena]. The Huntington has over 200 acres of botanical gardens, including the Japanese garden, the Shakespearean garden and the Desert garden. I'm sure all you ganja smokers would love to hang out in the herb garden. My favorite is the Jungle garden.
This should be the perfect time of year of go, especially after all the rain we've been having. I also love Magic Mountain. I'm like a big kid on those rollercoasters. They're so scary I've seen grown men *cry* getting off. Or maybe head up to Yosemite. I hear the waterfalls are raging this time of year. So if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know where I am.
Today might be a good day to share a few emails from the inbox. I always appreciate hearing from Rad readers, and have made many friends from all over the world. Alex, for example, is from the Netherlands: a place I've never visited. He wrote the popular Motherboard Monitor. You'll find a link to Radified there, listed to the left, under the heading: Sites I like. You'll also notice I provide a mirror for downloading his software. Here's the first. It just came in a few minutes ago:
Rad note: Personally, I've always been leery of software that collects detailed data about my system, especially if it tries to connect to the web right afterwards. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. The next letter comes from a reader in response to this page, where Buddy [the cat] took a perch on my monitor.
One more [uno mas]. Hard to quit, cuz my ego loves these letters.
Of course, I get my share of critical mail, too. Like this one:
Ivan didn't list a residence, but I traced the origins of his email to Belgrade, Serbia/Yugoslovia. I wrote him back & said, "If you read only a fraction of the messages I get every day from dipshits, you'd understand why I have a contact page." [I wanted to say "from dipshits like you" but bit my tongue.]
12apr2003 - Upgraded the Rad forums to SP1.3 [released 06apr]. It went smoothly. Forum upgrades always make me uneasy. Only takes one little oversight to make the whole upgrade go awry. Then you get this error instead of the forums.
I'm thinking of converting the boards to YaBB SE, which is based on a PHP/MySQL implementation [port] of the original CGI [or Perl] YaBB script .. but not sure I have the huevos [nerve] for that. Conversions from pre-existing boards are always more notorious than clean installs. The PHP/MySQL version is supposed to run faster, and use less bandwidth & CPU power. This board [audiofora] uses YaBB SE.
Update: I installed a *new/fresh* version of YaBB_SE here [not an conversion]. Not sure it seems faster. But the install was slick as greased whale snot. I mean, you simply upload two files [install.php & yse151.ya]. After pointing your browser to install.php, the board installs itself right before your eyes .. kind of like executing setup.exe when you install a program. You just keep hitting the Next button.
For the original version of YaBB [CGI or Perl], you have to upload a zillion different files into a bunch of different directories. Then you have to go into the Settings file & edit the heck out of that thing as it pertains to your site [change www.mysite.com to www.radified.com, etc.]. The SE version does all that for you. It even creates the directories. Suh_weeet.
I had trouble getting MySQL to cooperate. After creating a User account and database, I didn't know I had to enable 'Privileges'. They are disabled by default .. which seems stupid, cuz nobody is going to create an account with no privileges.
Privileges consist of the following items: Select, Insert, Update, Delete, Create, Drop, Alter, Index. Don't ask me what they mean. Reminds me of configuring an FTP server. This is my first time creating a MySQL User account & database. My web-hosting provider [Communitech] allows me to use/create 5 of each [Users/databases]. They make it easy to do this.
11apr2003 - Anybody watch Frontline last night? Kim's Nuclear Gamble, subtitled: "Examining the highly unstable relationship between the U.S. and North Korea and how it has brought the world to the brink of a nuclear showdown."
I've always felt North Korea represented a more serious threat than Iraq. Maybe they won't use nukes themselves, but they might SELL them to someone who will. That's a big temptation for a nation with a desperate economy. And everybody knows that desperate people will do desperate things.
I've been to [South] Korea twice. I remember they imposed Marshall law there. You had to be off the streets between midnight & 4AM. They told us, "The ROK [pronounced 'rock', which stands for Republic of Korea] marines patrol the streets with automatic weapons. This is not America; if they see you during those hours, they *will* shoot you."
I also remember prostitution was legal there. Altho the girls were nothing special to look at. Seemed weird having them come up and say, "I love you long-time, baby." The most striking thing I recall was the landscape: lots of green hills, their tops shrouded in fog. Gave the country a mystical aura. It let me know Dorothy was no longer in Kansas.
Frontline is simply the best show on television. Here in Southern California, it usually airs Thursday at 9PM. Next week's show, titled Cyber War, looks interesting, too. Maybe I'll invite over some of my hacker buddies and watch it with them.
10apr2003 - A way the government might fund the war: offer temporary control of tanks, helicopters and jet fighters to gamers around the world. In the safety of their own homes, they could use a modified version of current gaming technology to hone their gaming skills in a real-world arena... for say, US$19.95 per 10-minute session.
Ammunition & fuel cost extra. Charges would automatically appear on credit card statements. The deluxe package includes cruise missiles and stealth fighters. B2 bombers could come with the 2.0 upgrade. Of course parental consent forms would be required for use of tactical nukes and chemical weapons.
Bizarre as today's blog might sound, I think the technology is already here. Maybe wars in the future will be fought from a gaming console, buried deep within underground bunkers, waged by the best gamers of the day.
You get there by: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services.
I went thru it & disabled all the services he had listed as 'ON' [Manual or Automatic] for the first two columns [Default Home & Default Pro - I use Pro], but 'OFF' [Disabled] for the last four columns. The others I didn't change. My system has NO problems.
The only eyebrow raiser was his recommendation to disable System Restore. That's one of the first configs I make after installing Windows, but I have Ghost to rely on, should something go wrong. I wouldn't turn off SR if I didn't have Ghost.
If you don't config you services per his guide, it's still a good idea to browse thru & see all the things Microsoft has running on your system .. probably without your knowledge.
He also has a Redhat 8 install guide. These guides can be invaluable if you want to try your hand at Linux. Altho I prefer Mandrake, I feel every good capitalist should become familiar with Linux. Redhat is the most popular distro. Redhat9 is available for download now. I doubt there much difference between installing RH8 & RH9. Heck, all versions of Linux can be downloaded FREE.
09apr2003 - Radified was down most of the night. This is the longest down-time since the site went online .. some three years ago. It's sad for me, but even sadder for others who have resold accounts that represent their business. It's tragic.
The sad thing is that, for years, Communitech has provided exceptional support and service. The site was rarely down. They responded to problems within minutes. But down-time is becoming a regular thing, now that CT has been sold to Interland [based in Atlanta, Georgia]. And there's nothing I can do about it .. except move to another provider. They don't even respond to my posts.
Last night, I had email, FTP & ping, but NO web pages. They simply needed to restart Apache [web server]. I'm not a Unix server guru, but that's what other guys were saying. All I know is that it sucks when you work hard on building a web site, and no one can get in because your "provider" isn't providing the service or support needed to keep your server up.
CT has a 99.5% uptime guarantee, but that's laughable right now. I'm hoping this is just a phase while they're making adjustments. I've been hoping to break the magical million-hits-a-month mark, but that ain't going to happen if the site keeps going down for hours on end.
08apr2003 - If you read the entry from March 29th, you know my old web-hosting provider [Communitech in Kansas City] was recently bought by another company [Interland: Atlanta, Georgia]. Lots of old Communitech loyalists are unhappy with Interland. I've posted questions in the CT forums lately, which haven't been answered.
Maybe they're too busy with the move to respond. I dunno. It would be a hassle to move the site to a different provider. Radified has well over 1,000 web pages with a dozen subdomains. I've been noticing problems with bandwidth lately. Usually the site offers blazing bandwidth [200-500 KBps]. Recently tho, I've been seeing numbers like 5 KBps, which makes the site seem doggy. No one at CT seems to care.
CT offered a "price freeze guarantee," which means they'd never raise rates, even if they raised rates to new customers. Most clients doubt Interland will honor this agreement. I got in with CT back when they offered unlimited bandwidth. The site has never used more than 20 gigs a month, and usually only uses half that much, but it's still nice to have the "unlimited" feature.
A lot of the old CT regulars are "voting with their feet" and leaving. From what I hear, Interland is a big porn hoster, and many people don't want to be associated with that for moral or ethical reasons. Porn also sucks lots of bandwidth. I don't care what else they host. I just want Radified to be fast and stay up. So if you experience problems with the site, at least you'll know what going on.
Anybody see the college basketball championship game last night? It started as a blow out, but turned into a good game at the end. The Syracuse Orangement beats the Kansas Jayhawks.
07apr2003 - Wendy called and said the nice folks at Sonic Foundry [from Madison, Wisconsin] sent her a complimentary copy of Vegas [video & audio editing program] and few other programs for her to try [not a demo limited to 30 days]. She's been wanting to get her hands on this software for a while, cuz it contains a strong audio-editing component & she's currently cutting the soundtrack for her thesis project film [titled Breakwater].
Whenever she wants some software, she writes to the company and tells than that I'll mention their software on my site. The Radified Guide to the Best Software Programs is a popular destination for folks looking for the right software application. Try searching Google for "best software programs" and you'll see what I mean. It's actually listed ahead of the bestsoftware.com site.
Sonic Foundry makes many excellent software programs. All are surprisingly user-friendly for the power they wield. It's not easy to make a powerful program user-friendly. Sound Forge has been the Windows-standard audio-editor for years. CD Architect is one of the coolest programs I've ever used. All their products are listed here.
Wendy also got the latest version [v3.5] of Avid Xpress DV [which only works with Windows XP]. She has experience editing video with several different programs, including Avid's flagship Media Composer, [at USC, for editing film footage] Apple's versitile Final Cut Pro, the popular Adobe Premiere, a few others, and now Vegas. She plans to give SF some feedback on their editing software for letting her have a copy.
To hold all these video files, she picked up a new Western Digital hard drive and mounted it in a Firewire enclosure. This portability allows her to edit video on her laptop, and then shuttle the files to school, or schlep them to a friend's house for working on them there.
She also picked up a new digital camera yesterday: the Canon Powershot S30 [another review is posted here], which she'll use with BreezeBrowser - another cool program [for owners of a Canon digital camera]. Most of the photos posted on this site - such as these and these - were assembled and processed with BreezeBrowser. What used to take me all afternoon can now be done with a single click.
05apr2003 - Downloaded and installed Folding@Home. F@H is a client for what's called a distributed computing project. DC clients use your spare/free CPU clock cycles to perform complicated mathematical computations that benefit the scientific community.
Clients exist for many different DC projects. For example, Prime95 is the original. It uses an algorithm to search for [factor] a specific type of "perfect" number [Mersenne prime]. Another is SETI [Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence], which analyzes radio signals collected from deep space .. for patterns that might indicate signs of intelligent life. RC5 cracks "uncrackable" cryptography keys to promote the need for stronger encryption standards.
The DC philosophy is this: Most of the time, your PC uses only a small percentage of its processing power [when you're not playing video games, that is]. Smart guys have devised a creative way to harvest/harnass some of this "wasted" processing power.
Add the collective processing power of thousands/millions of computers from all over the world [via the Internet], and presto! > you have yourself an instant super-computer. Hence: the remarkable power of distributed computing .. not to metion saving the millions of dollars it would cost to purchase a super-computer of equivalent processing power.
You should merely know that various DC projects exist, and which ones are most popular. If you want to get involved in one of them, that's entirely up to you. I only had one misgiving with F@H, which I posted here. I'm running it right now [at 85% CPU power], with no problems.
04apr2003 - Installed & ran the new 3DMark03 benchmark ["The Gamer's Benchmark"]. But first I had to install version 9.0 of Microsoft's DirectX drivers [actually DX9.0a]. So I posted a question over at the Rage3D forums to see if anyone using my particular gfx card [Radeon 8500] had any problems after installing DX9.
Anyway, these benchmarks aren't as exciting when you don't have the latest/fastest gfx card & CPU. My system ain't bad, but it's certainly not state-of-the-art. I have a P4-1.6A running at 2138 MHz. My 3DMark score was 1403 [33KB] at 1024x768 and 1812 at 800x600.
I think the folks who make this benchmark are in cahoots with gfx card manufacturers. They make it so these games barely run on my system, which isn't that bad. Looking in the FPS window [Frames Per Seconds], I saw the numbers 4 and 5 a lot. The screen looked like a dang slide show.
Most hard core gamers feel they need 60 fps for a smooth visual experience, never to drop below 30. This is a bone of contention among some, as films you see at your local movie theater look fine at 24 fps. But film frames contains what is known as 'motion blur'. In other words, when an actor walks across a screen, his image will blur slightly in that 1/24th of a second. The faster he walks > the more the blur.
This cues the brain and helps provide for a more accurate visual experience. But video games contain no motion blur .. which is why they don't look super smooth until ~60 fps. American television (NTSC) contains 60 half-frames per second (interlaced) .. or 30 full frames. I think European TV (PAL) contains 24 full fps. Most people prefer European TV to American.
It's always interesting to see how things are developing with the gaming industry. Graphics quality keeps getting more impressive. 3D games today are simply stunning. Beats the heck out of Pac-Man.
03apr2003 - I reverted back to v4.60 (1021) of ASPI layer drivers [for Windows XP Pro]. For some reason, neither of my two favorite CD audio rippers [EAC & CDex] like the latest version [v4.71.2]. These programs kept locking up [not responding]. Soon as I installed v4.60 [via ForceASPI] however, they both worked flawlessly.
Using ForceASPI, I first created a back-up of my old ASPI drivers [dumpASPI], then I completely removed my old ASPI layer [killASPI]. Finally I installed v4.60 [instASPI] and rebooted. Voila! Worked like a charm. Others seem to echo these sentiments.
The Radified Guide to ASPI is currently the site's 2nd most popular feature. Only the Guide to Norton Ghost is requested more often [~1,000 times each day]. A Google search for the term ASPI returns a link in the top half of the first page [ahead of the Adaptec site itself, which actually *writes* these drivers]. It is translated into more languages than any other Radified guide.
This guide began as a brief email to a friend. Now look what happened. Here are a few of the sites sending folks to the ASPI guide: Slowgold,.. tburke,.. Burn-at-once forums,.. Zittware,.. VCD Easy,.. Fireburner forums,.. NTCompatible,.. Kurth.org,.. CDnGo,.. Afterdawn [pop-up],.. dartpro,.. winmx italia,.. TechIMO forums,.. Techspot,.. CDFreaks,.. the avon lady,.. Vidomi forums. I think the Plextor guide looks a lot like mine.
02apr2003 - Installed custom error pages today. Only takes a few minutes, but adds a professional look to the site. See here:
I've seen other sites use them and always liked the effect the give. I never liked the default 404 Error - File Not Found page. I changed the default glaring-white backgrounds to relaxing-black. White makes me feel like I'm staring at a 100-watt lightbulb. I feel like I need to find my sunglasses.
You can get really fancy with these error pages, adding elaborate graphics and things like that, but I prefer the simple look.
Most errors come from people trying to download files from the Downloads page .. that no longer exist. Usually someone in a bulletin board forum somewhere will post a link to a file that subsequently gets upgraded [especially Alex's Motherboard Monitor, which is very popular]. That's why it's always best to link to the page itself and not the individual file, which changes frequently.
For the 404 Error - File Not Found page, I included a link to the 'Downloads' page, cuz that's usually what people are looking for anyway. On all error pages, I also included links back to the home page [this page you're reading now].
01apr2003 - There's never been a better time to "go SCSI". Now that prices of the Atlas 10K IV are less than $200 [for a 36-gigger, much less than the price of a good 3D gfx card], the upgrade is hard to resist. Or, if you really want to wax decadent, you can opt for the Cheetah 15K.3 [prices here]. It's currently the fastest animal [er, hard drive] on the planet. This falls under the heading of: Indulge Thy Technolust.
The Radified Guide to SCSI will help you configure your new beast. In my humble opinion, this is one of the better upgrades a power user can make. Only a broadband connection and a good monitor make better upgrades .. long as you have enough memory and a good graphics card.