News for January 2010



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Rad: Newport Beach, California




Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.25 » Fireworks is a hybrid graphics editor (supports both bitmap & vector in same document) that Adobe bought from Macromedia in 2005. It's sorta like Photoshop, but designed with web graphics in mind, and it seems to be making a comeback. I used it to prep the image that accompanies today's entry.

While familiarizing myself with its toolset, I learned that certain tools (e.g. » the vector-path scrubber) were designed to be used primarily with a TABLET .. such as those made by Wacom.

Intuos4 by WacomWacom Intuos.4 Pen Tablet

Really? So I checked the Wacom site. Very cool. Definitely qualifies as techno-lusty. Better grab a towel before visiting, cuz you'll likely drool all over your keyboard.

Their most popular model seems to be the » Medium-sized Intuos pen-tablet (now at version 4), which sells for » $319. Tons of positive reviews from folks who rave about it.

They also have a Small Intuos.4 that sells for » $229. (Reviews listed for the Small tablet seem to be grouped together with those for the Medium.)

Wacom is a Japanese company established in 1983, with US headquarters in Washington state.

They also make two high-end tablets for their Cintiq series (sin-teak) » the 21UX, which sells for » $1,900. And the »12WX, which sells for » $925. Compare these 2 top models » here. Both obviously designed for creative professionals.

With an eye toward marketing their wares to the average joe-consumer (rather than being limited to just the high-end professional), Wacom recently released their » Bamboo series, which sells for only » $85.

Their Bamboo 'Fun' model comes with a slightly bigger screen and additional software bundled, doubling the price to » $170.

Note the version of Photoshop Elements that ships with the Bamboo is NOT the latest .. otherwise (at $85) it would be a killer deal, since PE.8 sells for $80 by itself. [ PE.8 = latest; Bamboo ships with PE.7 ]

My buddy Steve is a fellow technoluster who works as an editor in the Film industry down in South Africa (.. Johannesburg, or Jo'burg, as the local Afrikaans refer to it). You might remember him as the fellow who sent the photos of Mozambique and Cape Town and Drakensberg. He's been using a Small Intuos for 6 or 7 years. Here's some of his comments from our exchange last night:

Today's entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » Wacom Intuos.4 Pen Tablet

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.18 » Happy MLK day. The Bug is back. Woohoo! He spent the holidays back East, visiting relatives. I missed him something fierce. While away (for 3 weeks), he turned 5. I missed both Christmas & his birthday. (Come to think of it .. I've never seen him on Christmas. Ever.) So we had some catching-up to do.

HelicopterThe Bug Turns 5 | A Reason to Celebrate

I got him one of those remote control flying helicopters he wanted. Found one on eBay for $15. From Hong Kong. (If you find a better deal, lemme know.)

Hard to believe they could sell it so cheaply .. especially when my buddy just bought one locally for $80. And his wasn't even made of real metal. So I wondered if the Hong Kong copter might be a scam, or bait-n-switch.

But it arrived fine. Just like the model pictured. (Took a week, tho.) Flew great, too. We were pretty stoked when that puppy lifted off the first time.

Are ya ready, dad? Ready for lift-off? Okay .. tell the passengers to climb aboard and fasten their seatbelts. Here we go.

The ad said "for ages 8 & up." But the Bug was able to fly it better than me after only 30 mins of practice. It's more fun than I thought it would be.

They claim it flies for 6-8 minutes with a full charge. But we flew it for 15-20. Maybe 25. Cuz you don't fly it constantly, but land intermittently. Practicing a nice, soft landing (on the bed) was the first order of business. We used a DVD case as a landing pad.

It charges thru either thru a cable attached to the remote control (which is powered by 6 AA batteries), or via a supplied USB cable. (The USB port on your computer supplies ½ an amp, which is decent.)

I chose this particular model cuz of its battery rating (» 180-mAh), which was the best I found for a copter that size. A higher rating means more power & longer flying time.

One little quirk about this model » because it has a GYRO, you need to turn it ON while it's sitting on a level surface .. in the upright position .. to properly 'orientate' the gyro. Not the easiest thing to do (tiny switch).

Today's entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » The Bug Turns 5 | A Reason to Celebrate

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.10 » I had problems installing MODx Revolution (« a cool, new PHP-based Content Management System). I tracked the source of these problems to 'permission' settings applied to certain files & folders within the /modx installation directory.

suPHPsuPHP vs Running PHP as an Apache User (using mod_php)

Every file and folder on a Linux server has an assigned permission setting. These settings control WHO can do WHAT (.. to/with a particular file or folder). The 'WHAT' aspect addressees the authorization to:

.. or some combination thereof. For example » 6=4+2 = read + white, while 5=4+1 = read + execute, and 4 = read-only. The 'WHO' part is divided into the following categories:

The most-permissive of these settings is » 777 (4+2+1) which lets any-BODY do any-THING (.. known as 'world-writable'). In other words, it would let anybody (including a hacker) » read, write & execute my file(s). This is why most admins cringe at the idea of setting a permission to 777.

The first 7 is cool, cuz that lets ME (the file's 'owner') do whatever I want. The second 7 is also cool, cuz it lets the members of a GROUP (that I select) do certain things (such as read, write & execute files). It's that last 7 where the trouble lies. It lets anybody else do whatever they like. Not good for security.

MODx 2.0 RevolutionWhile installing MODx, I discovered (thru trial-n-tribulation) that I needed to set certain directories (deemed 'writable') to 777 .. in order for the program to install. And I wasn't the only one experiencing this problem.

For me, sadly, this was a deal-breaker. I was excited about the new MODx Revolution (currently at beta5). It has some really cool features. But I was unwilling to operate with any files or folders set (permanently) to 777.

Before abandoning my quest however, (to explore MODx Revolution), I decided to see if I could find a solution.

While searching, I noticed some files & folders within the /modx directory that had an 'owner' listed as » 'nobody' .. something I'd never seen before. [ The 'owner' of all other files on my server is normally listed as 'rad.' ]

This mysterious Mr. 'nobody' (I learned) is the default Apache user. (Tho I hear it can sometimes be listed as 'apache'.)

In a practical sense, when your system is configured to run PHP as an Apache user (which is common .. also called the 'web server user') .. any files or folders CREATED by the PHP program/script will be assigned an owner of 'nobody'.

Today's entry concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » suPHP vs Running PHP as an Apache User (using mod_php)

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.06 » Movable Type 5.0 was released yesterday (on the 5th). I installed it today. See here » Ye Olde Rad Blog 4. I decided against upgrading MT v4.33, which is currently installed at this subdomain » mt4.radified.com. It contains ~200 entries, such as this one.

Movable TypeInstalled Movable Type 5.0

Rather I installed a clean/fresh version of MT5 .. with a brand-spankin' new database (UTF-8, of course). Didn't want to chance losing those 200 entries.

Beautiful piece of software. I've been using Movable Type since 2003, when I installed v2.63 .. to the subdomain » blog.radified.com (« which contains 343 entries).

I also have v3.35 installed » HERE (103 entries). You can see I have ~7 years of experience with this software. So I've seen how it has progressed. Impressive development.

Notice I was 'blogging' for 3 years before I knew there existed a word for it. This is why I named it » 'Ye Olde Rad Blog.' I liked the play between the old(e) & new terms.

People would write and ask, "What blog are you using?" I didn't know what they meant. They used the term 'blog' as a noun, but references I saw used it as a verb. So their questions confused me.

"Blog? I use Dreamweaver." [ They really meant to say 'blogging software.' But I didn't know such a thing existed.' ]

Movable Type merely helps automate the process I was using. These days they're calling it a full-blown CMS (Content Management System) .. rather than just a blog. Whatever. "Ye Olde Rad CMS"? I don't think so.

You know what Joel says » Good software takes 10 years. Get used to it. MT was first released back in 2001. So it's nearly 10 years old. Very polished, feature-rich and rock-solid stable. Even for a whole-number, point-oh release.

Movable Type NecklaceBut I don't use Movable Type to create content. I find its web-based interface too clunky. Rather I use Dreamweaver to generate everything. It's way faster. The same entry in MT's text editor would take twice as long. (Maybe more.)

When generating content, you want it to flow out of you .. like a river of ideas & insights. There are delays associated with any web-based interface. When generating content, those delays stifle creativity.

Today's entry concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » First Post with Movable Type 5.0

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.05 » I have something to show you. Something very exciting. Sexy, even. "What it is, Rad?" you ask, oozing with curiosity. "A picture of a European supermodel? Lying scantily-clad on the sandy beaches of St. Tropez?"

Sexy Shot of MySQL Database Tables Sporting UTF-8 Collation

Sexy SwimsuitNo, my fellow technoluster. Something far more enticing. And seductive. See » HERE (.. but only if you're 18).

No, your eyes don't deceive you. That's right » a screen-shot from phpMyAdmin showing the tables of a MODx database using the UTF-8 character set and utf8_general_ci collation. Smokin', ain't it?

"But, Rad. I thought you said that was impossible?" It is! .. For mere mortals.

"How did you ever pull it off?" Well, I can tell you that banging my head against the wall produced only limited success. It may've even impeded the process. (I can't remember.)

To be honest, I'm not really sure WHAT the magic-bullet was. Cuz I made a number of changes (including enabling suPHP) .. which I'll tell you all about. I learned a lot. But first, I need to take care of some biz .. and get some coffee. (Was up pretty late last night. Where did I put that Advil?)

I bet you could probably use a cold shower, yourself .. after ogling over that image. (Drool-city.) Supermodels simply can't compete with the sex-appeal of a racy UTF-8 database. Sorry, doll-face.

For easy linkage, today's entry has been duplicated in Ye Olde Rad Blog III .. see here » Sexy Shot of MySQL Database Tables Sporting UTF-8 Collation

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Jan.01 » Feliz año nuevo. Most Content Management Systems (such as Drupal & MODx) work in conjunction with (require) a database. So do blogs (such as Movable Type) & forums (such as SMF).

MySQL is the world's most popular database software for web-based applications (.. such as CMS's & blogs & forums). It's what I use. It's the only database system I've ever used.

Changing MySQL Database Character Set & Collation Defaults (or not)

cPanel / Web Host ManagerThe Rad VPS (« physically located downtown Chicago) uses the cPanel/WHM control panel to help administer the site. cPanel makes it stupid-easy to create a new MySQL database.

You simply » enter a descriptive name for your new DATABASE (such as » rad_modx) and click the button labeled 'Create Database.' cPanel talks to MySQL and creates the database for you. Viola! Done. Too easy.

To use your new DATABASE, you'll also need to create a USER (such as » rad_modx, conveniently same as the database_name). Give this USER a password and click the button labeled » 'Create User.' Voila! Done creating new USER.

Lastly you need to assign a particular USER to a particular DATABASE. You do this by selecting both from their respective drop-down menus (one lists all available DATABASES, the other all possible USERS) and clicking the button labeled 'Add.'

Then you assign to this USER the appropriate PRIVILEDGES (normally ALL) necessary to perform the database functions. Click the button labeled 'Make Changes' and you're done. Voila! As if this weren't easy enough, cPanel even has a wizard to walk you thru these steps.

MySQL Database ManagementSo, in order to configure a database to work with a particular web application (such as Drupal or MODx), you need 3 pieces of info:

  1. database_name
  2. user_name
  3. user_password

Couldn't be easier. Tho I sometimes forget the final step of actually assigning the USER to the DATABASE (after creating both). Creating new DATABASES is not something I do on a regular basis.

RADIFIED currently uses 5 databases. Three for the blogs » 1-each for the 3 different versions of Movable Type I have installed .. based on v263 (installed 2003), v335 (installed 2007) & v432 (installed 2008). Another for Drupal (2008). And 1 for MODx Revolution (beta5), which I installed a few days ago.

The Rad forum, which uses YaBB, doesn't use a database. (At least not yet.) Might be worth noting here that Movable Type, Drupal, MODx & YaBB are all OPEN SOURCE (better than free) .. as is MySQL.

While installing MODx a few days ago, I noticed they include an option to test your database connection & credentials .. to see if MODx can access it okay.

Today's entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog III .. see here » Changing MySQL Database Character Set & Collation Defaults (or not)

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