Radified News for February, 2002

Radified Tri-blade 28feb2002 - Mom & Sidney invited us over for dinner last night. While there, Sidney mentioned that he bought a shiny new, 80GB IBM hard drive that he wanted to partition and format. Uh, did someone say, 'partition'? .. as in FDISK?

We had problems with FDISK recognizing only 13GB of the 80GB drive. We doubled checked the invoice and the drive's label, and sure enough, he had an 80-gig drive. So I suspected that he might need a BIOS flash. So we downloaded the latest BIOS for his
Asus CUSL2 motherboard.

But after flashing the BIOS, we had no screen. The monitor was totally black. His computer, which worked perfectly before I came over, was rendered completely useless. It's not like I haven't done this before .. just never had it happen with someone else's computer. Sidney uses the motherboard's onboard video. Needless to say, he did not look like the happy camper you
see smiling here. If looks could kill...

Screwing up someone's computer is the pits. I would've stayed there all night, to fix the problem, if need be. I finally restored video by unplugging the power supply cable and yanking the button battery, which reset the BIOS. Whew.

But FDISK still wouldn't recognize more than 13GB. Then I remembered that
FDISK can't recognize drives larger than 64-gigs .. without a special update .. which we downloaded & installed. The new version of FDISK recognized the entire 80-gigs. Oh happy days.

We created several partitions & formatted each one, with a problem. Have you noticed how much better food tastes after you solve your computer dilemmas? Steaks never tasted so good. =)

Radified Tri-blade 27feb2002 - Finally converted to the new 'Cox.net' ISP, from 'Cox@home' .. now that Excite is going out of business. Tomorrow is the drop-dead date (end of month). Waited long as I possibly could, hoping they'd iron out all the bugs by the time I converted.

I have 2 PCs with 4 boots per PCs (2K regular, 2K dedicated for audio/video-editing, ME for games, and XP), so I could've spent a lot of time converting these machines. But when I called to ask a question about a problem I was having, they said that I was already converted .. (they checked my IP addy). Whew! What a relief. We don't use their mail, so that's no problem.

Big news in the silicon world: Intel dropping support for Rambus DRAM. I don't get it. Soon as RDRAM prices fall below those of DDR RAM, Intel jumps the RDRAM ship. For years they've been making decisions that seem like the opposite of good sense. It's like Ground Hog Day all over again at Intel. 

This throws a monkey wrench into the decision of which system platform represents the best option. Maybe this is just a bad joke. Just when I was getting ready to break out the credit card for some
Northwood 1.6A @2.13GHz + PC1066 lovin' .. this.

Radified Tri-blade 26feb2002 - Posted 10 photos from sunset today, at Crescent Bay, Laguna Beach. See here. I use BreezeBrowser to create these web pages. With the click of a single button, all photos (thumbs & larger images) are generated automatically, along with the web pages.

From the time I walk into into the door, the photos can be posted on the web within 5 mins. The next version of
Photoshop is supposed to support this feature.

That's '
John the guitar player' you see there. I snuck up behind him, and asked if I could take his picture. Scared the bejesus out of him. He stayed a little too late and got soaked by a big wave. Walked home wet (but happy). I told him that I would post his picture on the web when I got home.

I also have one 'stitched' photo for you .. of
Moonrise over Shaw's cove (46KB). Stitched photos are several photos, sewn together with special software (that came with the camera). Tonight will be the brightest full moon of the year. Wendy is thinking of shooting a scene for her thesis project film at this location. 

Radified Tri-blade 25feb2002 - Upgraded the Rad forum software to SP1 today, from the original Gold release. Service Pack 1 was released 15dec2001. I'm finally getting around to it. The upgrade went well (surprisingly enough). Seems like all messages remain intact. Took only ~10 minutes. 

Haven't noticed any glaring problems yet, altho I don't care for the new default color scheme (see
here for example). I prefer color schemes that are easy on the eyes .. not too bright .. which is like staring at a 100-watt light bulb.

All the readability reports that I've read claim that online readers prefer black text on a white background. I don't know why. Hurts my eyes (after a while). White text on a black background is referred to 'negative text'.

I just found their
Template Vault. They have ~150 different templates. Here is one with a 3D style, for example. I could spend hours looking thru them. Think I'm gonna go with this one. The basic look of the forum is changed by replacing the default file template.html with a custom one. They also have a board mod tool, but I'm sure what it's for.

I use
YaBB (Yet another Bulletin Board) forum. There are so many forums to choose from. I've always liked vBulletin ($160), and FuseTalk ($249). I like YaBB cuz it works & it's free. =) phpBB is another freebie that I like.

Radified Tri-blade 23feb2002 - Updated the Norton Ghost User's Guide to include a variety of screen shots. If I would've known that they were going to be so easy to grab, I would've included screenshots a long time ago. They should help the visually-oriented person understand how to use the program better. 

I also converted the last two pages of the guide to the new style-sheet format, and created a new PDF file. That completes the first-ever major rewrite of the Ghost guide, after more than a year's worth of patchwork updates. The Ghost guide is the first-ever Radified Guide .. in the history of the universe.

It's been downright hot here in Southern California the last couple of days .. midsummer-like.

Every so often I stumble across a site that I think is cool. I found one such site here:
The Phrase Finder: Meanings & Origins of Phrases. Read thru a few of their phrases and see if you don't agree.

Radified Tri-blade 22feb2002 - Major update to the Norton Ghost User's Guide today. I've been meaning to do that for some time now, especially since it's the site's single most requested feature. Every page has been converted to the new style-sheet format, except for the last two, which are small pages. I'll finished them up later today.

I was surprised by how ratty the guide had become. Over the last year, I had inserted many sections of text, duplicating much of the same information. With this completely new rewrite, I pruned away much dead wood, and was actually able to eliminate one whole page (now 8 pages). I also created & posted a new downloadable printer-friendly
PDF file (now 28 pages). 

Radified Tri-blade 21feb2002 - Wendy attended the West Coast unveiling of Avid's new Xpress DV v3 editing software last night. The event was held at USC's Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (Los Angeles). Attendance was by invitation only. Wendy was able to go because she is the assistant to the head of USC's Editing department (Jim Mitchell), and Avid is an editing platform (the best).

I scanned the invitation for the event and
posted it here (47KB). Their motto is "Anything else is like editing with hedge clippers." =D The Dean of the Film school, Elizabeth Daley, was there. Word is that she is a master at courting the industry to support USC with the technology that it needs. Avid has donated lots of equipment to the school. Wendy edited a 16mm film project on an Avid Composer during her 546 semester.

Yet it wasn't Avid's new editing software that made the event so special, but rather that
Robert Zemeckis himself was going to be there. Wendy said that she wouldn't have wanted to go if 'Bob' wasn't going to be there. 

Zemeckis donated the funds to build the building (~$5M).
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped furnish the building with the coolest equipment. Wendy said she was able to get a few steps from him, but that "they had him pretty well protected, so that you couldn't actually approach him."

Wendy printed out a copy of her script before she left the house, so that she could hand it to him if she was able to get close enough. But it wasn't to be. Afterwards, they whisked him out the back like the secret service removing the President from a hostile situation. =)

While chatting with one of the Avid reps after the event, Wendy mentioned that she has the Avid software loaded on her PC and uses it to edit at home. Surprised, the rep exclaimed with big eyes, "Already?" Wendy clarified by saying, "Well, version two, I mean." =)

While there, Wendy was also able to meet the President of the
American Cinema Editors: Tina Hirsch, who is considering replacing Wendy's boss (Jim Mitchell) as the new head of the Editing dept at USC. It's not clear if Wendy would be Tina's asst if she takes the job, but we can't think of a better person.

Radified Tri-blade 20feb2002 - Have a special treat for those of you who've never been to the Rad shack: a couple pix of the Rad station. I always feel like I know people better after I've been to their home. Perhaps you feel the same.

This is where I do my Rad stuff. Excuse the casual look. Takes a lot of hard work to look that disheveled. =) Wendy's desk is to the left. She insisted that I post a shot with me in it. I posted a full-blown monster-sized 1.5MB file of the
first photo here (2272x1704). Don't click on it unless you have a broadband connection.

Radified Tri-blade 19feb2002 - The big news in the digital world is that someone apparently produced a key generator for both Windows XP & Office XP. Pertinent info posted here (The Register), here (Heise, German, translated with Google). All other links that I had are already dead.

On a somewhat related note, Microsoft has posted a comprehensive
security update to all recent versions of Internet Explorer. I have already downloaded & installed this .. no problemo.

Radified Tri-blade 18feb2002 - Converted the first two pages of the SCSI guide to the new style-sheet format. This gave me more pleasure than converting any of the other guides, as the SCSI guide is my personal favorite. With 14 pages, it's the single largest Radified guide, and I've struggled more with it than with any of the others. It required much more work than I had originally anticipated.

I feel that the new style-sheet based pages look more professional than the older ones .. that I made before I knew what a
style-sheet was. This puts a more professional looking face on my favorite guide. The CUSL2 guide is next on my list.

Radified Tri-blade 17feb2002 - Back on the bean, baby .. vrrr00m, vrrr00m (reference: 14feb post). Life is good. Sky is blue once again. Birds are singing: chirp, chirp. Had a head ache for two straight days & slept like Rip Van Winkle. Amazing how much difference caffeine makes.

I learned that an espresso with a little half-n-half is called a 'breve' (brevie). Whatever it's called, it never tasted so good. =)

Converted the first two pages of the
Guide to Ripping CD Audio & MP3 Encoding to the new style-sheet formatting. Of all the major site guides, that leaves only two remaining with the old style format: the SCSI guide, and the Asus CUSL2 Motherboard User's guide .. which still gets requested surprisingly often .. especially for an older motherboard (that I still have).

Radified Tri-blade 16feb2002 - Converted the first few pages of the Norton Ghost User's guide (site's single most popular feature) to the new style-sheet formatting .. for a good first impression. Many people simply download the zipped PDF, and don't even access the other HTML pages. I've been meaning to do that for a while. 

Posted 11 more test photos taken with the new
digital camera. See > here. This is a beach in Laguna called 'Wood's Cove'. Just playing around with the camera, getting used to the controls & settings.

I also posted one image straight from the camera >
photo here (2272x1704, Superfine JPEG compression) so you can get a better idea of the quality that the camera is capable of. It's almost 2MB, so don't click on it if you don't have a broadband connection.

Wendy takes my new camera almost everyday .. on location scouting for her
thesis project film. I think she went to Santa Monica today, with her producer, Nancy. They also have a meeting with the casting director, to look at headshots of prospective actors & actresses.

I enjoy looking at
headshots. It's surprising how large of a stack you receive (mail)  when an ad is placed for a USC student film. All USC thesis films are screened at the Director's Guild in Hollywood (Sunset blvd), seen by all the mucky-muck directors .. so they are quite the big deal. 

It's surprising how people never look like their headshot. When you see them in person, you have to ask, "Who are you?" Then you look at their headshot and marvel at the wonders of modern photographic technology. =)

Radified Tri-blade 15feb2002 - Digital house-cleaning today. Updated drivers, defragged hard drives (freeware version), and created new back-up Ghost images. I have a folder on my desktop labeled 'drivers', where I keep links to all hardware drivers. Makes it easy to download updates quickly.

Even cleaned off my real desktop. There's something therapeutic about that .. like washing & waxing the car.

Radified Tri-blade 14feb2002 - Happy Valentines day all you digital lovers. I got my sweetheart a shiny new hard drive for Valentines day: 120GB IBM 120GXP. Beautiful piece of technology. I know it's not the most romantic gift, but you know what they say: it's the thought that counts.

Wendy was hinting at getting her something girly, so I stopped into a lingerie boutique yesterday. I couldn't believe how much they money they want for so little fabric. I can't see spending $100 on cloth that wouldn't fill a thimble. And heck, it doesn't spin at 7200rpm. Maybe if I wrap the drive with some chocolates...

Every once in a while I go off the bean for a few days. It's surprising how addictive coffee can be (I like espresso with a little half-n-half). Withdrawal symptoms are brutal. I feel like somebody ran me over with a tractor, and have a headache that won't quit. Impervious to Advil.

Besides feeling generally miserable, I can hardly keep my eyes open. I could swear that there's two sumo wrestlers jumping up and down on my eyelids. I just want to go lie down and sleep .. for
a hundred years. In a few days, after that first, sweet cup, I'll be healed. =)

Radified Tri-blade 13feb2002 - If you read the news for 07feb, you know that Doc's Über FDISK Partitioning guide saw a recent surge in requests due to a link from fdisk.com. This increased traffic seems to have carried over to the Hard Drive Partitioning Strategies guide, which addresses the same topic from a different angle.

I give the most attention to the
most requested features. So I updated the Partitioning Strategies guide (first two pages) to the new style-sheet format. You can compare the first two pages with the last two to see how the changes came out (4-page guide).

I also modified all of the style-sheet-based pages to percentage-based widths, instead of being based on a number of pixels. The old method was to fix the table width at 740 pixels. That way, a reader with screen resolution of 800x600 (or larger) wouldn't have to scroll side-to-side.

I changed these pages to make the table 78% of screen width (for everyone). This way, the readable portion of everyone's page consumes about 2/3rds of the page's width .. after you add in the red margin strips. That seems to strike a nice balance between wasted space and textual clutter.

Using a fixed-width setting gave readers with large, high-resolution screens (>1152x864) a small strip of readable text down the center of their screen .. and filled the screens of those with small, low-rez monitors (<1024x768). Now everybody's screen should look similar. I learned this strategy by reading
Dr. Jakob's book on web usability.

Radified Tri-blade 12feb2002 - Been having problems with my Internet connection. My provider, Cox, is transitioning to their own equipment. They were using Excite, who is going bankrupt. It's been frustrating. The connection always comes back when they answer the phone, then goes away soon as I hang-up.

Wendy posted some
shots from location scouting .. for her thesis-project film. She is looking for a cave to shoot her sea-serpent scene. She also posted a cool film-strip interface for her film. It still needs work, the the main structure is there. Several of her classmates already want to copy the format.

She has taken over my new camera. I had it for one day, and that's the last I've seen of it. She's taken it location scouting everyday. =/ And now that she has a class learning Photoshop &
Director, she's trying to rub my nose in it, saying, "I bet you don't know how to do this..." 

Fires are burning out of control here in Southern California. My eyes have been burning all day. You can see the smoky sky in this photo.

Radified Tri-blade 09feb2002 - Posted my first php scripting web page today. It's simple PHP code, but a start. I've been reading this book.

Radified Tri-blade 08feb2002 - Stopped by the beach yesterday, just before sunset, to test the new digital camera by grabbing some quick shots. Posted a dozen of them here. It's hard to judge the camera's quality from these shots, cuz the original images are monster-sized. The posted images are but a small fraction of the originals.

If you have a broadband connection, you can get an idea of the camera's quality by checking out an image
posted here. But be warned: it is over a megabyte (1.25MB, 2272x1704). If you're on dial-up, it will choke your modem.

The cool thing is that the
Breeze Browser program generates all the web pages automatically .. with all the thumbnails and larger images .. at the press of a button. All I have to do, is upload the directory that is created.

If you knew how hard and long I slaved on creating the pages that comprise the
Half Dome and Yosemite backpacking features .. well, I don't even want to think about it.

From the time, we walked in the door, I can have the photos posted on the web within 5 minutes: plug camera in, upload photos (USB), select images (click on), press 'HTML' button, press 'Generate HTML' button, upload web pages & images to web site. Bingo. Amazing.

The camera automatically captures all the exposure data for each image, and that data is automatically uploaded with the image. Suh_weeet.

Also posted a couple of 'stitched' images. That's where you take several shots of a panorama, and 'stitch' them together using special software (click on images & press a button). Pretty cool. The first one is
posted here (56KB), and the second is posted here (45KB).

The house on your right with the aqua-blue picket fence in that second shot is where
the movie Beaches was filmed (starring Bette Midler, tear-jerker chick-flick), at Crystal Cove state park .. up the road a few miles .. between Laguna Beach & Newport Beach. 

Radified Tri-blade 07feb2002 - Checking in. Still alive. Been learning lots of stuff pertaining to digital photography. Just finished reading DP's page of glossary terms. Very helpful. There's much more to learn than I bargained for. But I'm starting to get a handle on things (whew).

Installed a
LensMate adapter today, with a protective UV filter .. to keep from scratching the lens. I also installed all the software that Canon includes with the G2, and have been testing a few of the programs from BreezeSys (better than Canon's).

I transferred a few test images into the PC (USB). No problems to speak of. Everything worked without a hitch. I'll have some sample shots for you to peruse soon. (Having lots of fun learning.)

Pertaining to the site ..
Doc's Über FDISK Partitioning guide has seen a sudden jump in popularity. Normal daily usage was ~200 per day. All of a sudden, beginning Monday,  it jumped to ~400/day.

Wish I knew why, or what factors make a particular guide suddenly increase in popularity. I would've thought that the increase would be more gradual. I have given up trying to figure out what drives site usage statistics.

Update: I found the culprit:
FDISK.com dropped a link to Doc's guide. That's where all the extra traffic is coming from. If you search for FDISK with Google, you get fdisk.com. (the site rocks.) Doc's guide is located near the top of page 2 from the Google search.

Radified Tri-blade 04feb2002 - My new digital camera arrived today. This represents my first foray into the world of digital photography. I've been watching the scene for a couple of years and finally decided to take the plunge. When you run web site urging readers to indulge your technolust, you ought to have a digital camera. =)

I'm surprised at the amount of
information that's required to work with digital photography. Even for someone who loves to delve into techie stuff, it's a synapse-straining amount of data to process. I read that word-pressing is more complicated than the typewriter, and that in the same way, digital photography is more complicated than film photography.

So I  simply put my head down (and ear-plugs in) and plowed through the
150-page manual. Now my head hurts. (Where did I put that bottle of Advil?)

Several readers wrote in and suggested that I write a Radified Guide to Digital Photography, but that could quickly become huge. The
SCSI guide was like that: I thought (mistakenly) that I could capture everything in a few short, pages. The SCSI guide is now 14 pages .. and they ain't short. Entire web sites are devoted to the subject of digital photography.

I posted
25 questions based on the Canon G2 from info that I got from the manual. The answers are included at the bottom of the page. It will give the uninitiated a taste of what the learning curve involves.

Next I plan to learn how to use BreezeBrowser, and transfer my test images into the computer. I'd like to visit the Huntington Gardens, in Pasadena, to test my new toy on a larger scale. Or I could just mosey around Laguna and snap some shots to go with my page on Laguna Beach Eateries.

Radified Tri-blade 02feb2002 - Saw the movie Monster's Ball today. This is one of those movies that's best seen when you know *nothing* about the story walking into the theater. I won't give any spoilers (there are none), but if you plan to see it, you may not want to read this.

First of all, this movie is not about a Monster's Ball. Imagine a scenario where
Bill Gates ends up pimping Open Source (not for profit) software, and Linus Torvalds is found guilty of monopoly business practices .. and you have some idea of where this movie goes.

From the very beginning, I got the impression that the people who made this movie know how to tell a story. The first few minutes are spent watching Billy Bob sleep in a dimly-lit corner of the screen (pretty gutsy). The good thing is that, if you miss the beginning of the movie, you don't miss anything.

The story never gets in a hurry. The entire movie moves at a leisurely pace .. (for a reason, effect) .. in Georgia. Even the film's color palette is muted.

What's most interesting is how the storytellers make the absurd seem inevitable (not easy to do). But that's how real-life is .. aint it? The dialogue was sparse and natural, never forced or awkward. Seeds were planted well in advance; when they spouted later in story, it left me with a sense that the story was well thought out.

You could say that this is a 'different' kind of movie, and I would recommend it for that reason alone (there are other reasons .. 'different' doesn't necessarily mean good). You might say that the filmmakers took a risk with this movie. They did not shy away from confronting uncomfortable & disturbing themes (often without warning). Plenty of surprises turn the story unexpectedly, but never without a purpose.

Halle Berry, who normally plays a pretty face (and plays it well) took a giant step forward with this film. Her acting career will never be the same. Billy Bob Thornton continues to impress me. Anybody who has the guts to go to Hollywood with a name like 'Billy Bob' must have lots of talent.

The kid who played Billy Bob's son,
Heath Ledger (Knight's Tale) held how own. At the end of the 'bathroom scene' where he slinks down to the floor, against the wall .. he gives a look that's probably the best acting of the entire movie (not to take anything away from the other actors).

The theater was packed (5:30 showing). Only a few rows in front were empty. Not many theaters carrying this film.

I had high expectations going into this movie, from readers who wrote in and said they saw it, which is usually a recipe for disappointment. This is not an
Arnold flick (which is what I was expecting - fast & furious, cuz the rapper Sean Combs is in the film). If you go see it, be ready to see a different type of movie. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Radified Tri-blade 01feb2002 - First day of February. Installed Windows XP Pro today. Didn't have a single problem (touch wood). I had been running a Release Candidate version until now. Loaded XP to a 6-gig SCSI partition (10Krpm, 18-gig drive), after first reformatting the partition (just in case). Now I need to install all my software programs (tedious).

I broke up the Intel Northwood Pentium 4 CPU guide into 3 pages. It always surprises me how large these guides grow. All of my guides begin with a single page, usually copied from an email that I sent to a friend. Each of the 3 pages now downloads much quicker, and readers don't have to scroll as far.

I also converted the article on PC Stability Factors to the new style-sheet format.

Site usage statistics for January are in. All measurable stats made significant increases last month as the site's popularity continues to grow. January was the first month that Radified used more than 10-gigs of bandwidth, and broke half-a-million hits.

Wendy started crying like a baby today. Come to find out, a pen broke in the clothes dryer and made ink spots all over her favorite clothes. I thought it was rather humorous, but bit my tongue and tried not to laugh. I guess she really liked those clothes. 

Eddie Bauer is having a clearance sale, so we ordered her some new clothes. Heck, at those prices I even ordered myself some jeans & t-shirts. =) 

Linkage to -> [News for January, 2002]

Linkage to -> [News for March,2002]

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