News for July 2002


Radiation tri-blade symbol 31jul2002 - Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 is out, altho unofficially. Read about it HERE. You can download it HERE (124MB from microsoft.com). I have downloaded the file, but not yet installed it, as it's not listed on their official service pack page .. or maybe it was removed.

I'm waiting for word from the street. Any reports? Even official-release service packs have been problematic. You should definitely create a pre-update image with Norton Ghost before installing any operating system service pack. Once the file is officially released, expect servers to be slooow, as everyone and their grandmother will be downloading it. You might want to grab it now, while servers are still blazing fast.

I don't use Windows XP very much cuz of the known performance problem with SCSI drives, and I am a SCSI kinda guy.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 29jul2002 - Every Sunday afternoon during the summer, Laguna hosts Music-in-the-Park (free) in Bluebird Canyon. A Blues band played last night. I'm usually not a big blues fan, but these guys were good. Lots of music lovers showed up. Some photos from afterwards are posted here.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 26jul2002 - Full moon had me wired last night, so at midnight I walked down to Heisler park, which some tout as the most beautiful spot on the California coast. Found giant waves rolling in from a swell off the coast. I mean, really big ones. There's something about roaring waves in the moonlight that draws people to the shore like vampires to a blood bank.

Seemed like more people were at Heisler last night than normally during the day. After walking thru the entire park, I took the steps down to a surf spot called the Rockpile, which you can see in THIS photo (taken during low tide. As you can imagine, only really good surfers surf the Rockpile.) Hopped over the railing, which you're not supposed to do, and perched myself on a rock that juts out between where the biggest waves break.

Everything was cool for twenty minutes. The moon was so bright, the roar deafening .. foamy white water everywhere. Then a monster-sized breaker rolled in. Caught me completely off guard. Almost knocked my ass in the drink. Completely drenched. Not a dry spot anywhere. Must have swallowed a gallon of seawater. Fortunately the water was warm. Not sure why I started laughing.

I think it's important for people to balance their technolust with a healthy dose of nature. Whatever you might do, whether it's backpacking .. camping .. diving .. hiking .. white-water rafting .. snorkeling .. sailing .. or .. surfing .. get out and enjoy the summer .. while I find some dry clothes. =)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 25jul2002 - RADIFIED set a new daily high for number of Total visits: 4924 (back on the 22nd). Pretty close to 5000, a milestone I've been looking to break for a while now. 5000 visits daily translates to a new arrival every 15 or 20 seconds .. not bad for a site free from those flickering, advertising animations.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 24jul2002 - Changed the color of this center section from dark-gray (code #333333) to black (code #000000). Received mail from readers (most recently Lauri from Finland) who claim that the blue links on the dark-gray background are difficult to read.

The particular shade of gray displayed for #333333 varies from user to user. On my screen, it looks almost black. But, again, it depends on a number of variables, such as the type of monitor (shadow mask, aperture grill), monitor settings (brightness, contrast), graphics card, drivers, etc.

The top corners, to the left & right, are coded for #333333. But their links should be white (easy to read). On my monitor, there isn't much difference between the the center section and the top corners. I've noticed on other monitors however, that the dark-gray background (#333333) didn't look very dark. This should increase the contrast of the blue links with the background, and make them easier to read.

On another note, several readers have written and said they liked site's layout & page design so much that they stole (copied-n-pasted) the code for their own. That's cool. You know what they say: imitation is the highest form of flattery. =)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 23jul2002 - I took a peek at the site's usage stats for the month, and it looks like another record is in the making .. in terms of number of visitors, requested documents, and bandwidth used. Won't know for sure until the end of the month. But if the current trend continues, all measured metrics will set new highs.

Like a good restaurant that doesn't advertise, most site traffic comes from word of mouth (so to speak) .. from sources such as THIS ONE (DSL Reports), THIS ONE (Helpfromtechs), THIS ONE (listed under 'Software/Utilities'), THIS ONE (PC Support), THIS ONE (Speedguide), THIS ONE (CD Ripper requirements), THIS ONE (VCD Easy, listed under 'How to install/check the ASPI drivers").

THIS ONE (Cadtutor, near bottom, listed under Where can I find out more?), THIS ONE (FDISK.com), THIS ONE (CDROM guide), THIS ONE ([H]ard|Forum), THIS ONE (X-faqtor, listed under What's New and Relevant), THIS ONE (Pinnacle), THIS ONE (Delltalk), THIS ONE (Tom's), THIS ONE (Slowgold), THIS ONE (CloneCD), .. and many others.

The top search queries that bring visitors to the site are: force aspi .. norton ghost .. cd ripping .. hard drive benchmark .. climb half dome .. computer benchmarks .. mp3 encoding .. cd audio to mp3 .. fdisk tutorial .. hard drive partitioning .. northwood pentium .. SCSI guide .. guide to the best software .. backpack yosemite.

Still looking to break the magical 1 million hits per month mark. That will put the site in another league. But it doesn't look like we will get there this month.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20jul2002 - Saw K-19: The Widowmaker last night. Based on a true story, but it's no documentary. Stars Harrison Ford, who plays the captain of a Soviet nuclear submarine during the height of the cold war, back in the early 60's. I found it amusing that the (supposedly Russian) cast spoke English with an obvious Russian accent. =)

I enlisted in the Navy after high school. Was subsequently stationed aboard a US nuclear submarine, home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. So watching this movie made me feel like being at work. They did a good job of portraying a captain whose goal is to accomplish the mission at all costs. I can still remember working 35 straight hours, without sleep, many times (.. and then partying after I got off work. You can do that kind of thing when you're 21 years old. Not any more, tho. =/ )

Good movie. I don't feel qualified to comment on its entertainment value, or recommend it, cuz I lived on a nuclear submarine for 2 years .. which skews my perspective. I noticed a few glitches where they obviously portrayed things for dramatic effect .. that would never have happened in real life. But everyone expects that from Hollywood.

Harrison Ford did a great job. I noticed in the credits that he was listed as Executive Producer. I think that means he invested some of his own money .. usually a no-no for actors.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19jul2002 - ATI released its newest graphics card yesterday: the Radeon 9700. Even tho the card won't hit the street for another month, gamers everywhere are already drooling over it, hailing it as the New King. GameSpy posted a concise review here.

Ed posted a dissenting comment here. He makes valid points that few run 1600x1200 (I run my desktop at 1280x1024 & games at 1024x768), and that the (p)reviews aren't objective. But everybody already knows that. Sites that say nasty things don't receive pre-release hardware, forfeiting the traffic that accompanies such reviews and therefore precious advertising revenue. So what else is new? You gotta read between the lines.

ATI is a Canadian company. Until now, nVidia has held the titled of World's Most Powerful Gaming Card. Gaming cards are big business. nVidia was recently added to the S&P500 (replacing Enron, that piece-of-shit company that ripped off so many working folks while execs sold their stock and walked away with millions before the bad news went public).

With 107 million transitors, the processor on this card contains one of the world's most complex chips. It has nearly *double* the silicon horsepower of my new Intel Northwood Pentium 4 CPU (55 million). Rumor has it that the card will ship with a separate, external power adapter.

While gaming cards excels at 3-D graphics, they don't necessarily produce the best 2-D (normal desktop work). I currently own the Radeon 8500 gfx card, which, in addition to providing excellent 3-D, also produces sharp 2-D, which is where I spend most of my computing time. Gfx cards can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the images displayed on your monitor.

I like to jump online and play an occasional round of Quake III, but usually get my butt kicked. But I enjoy watching the kids get on there and kick butt. In fact, little Nicholas was here today playing Counterstrike while his mom went to her yoga class.

I will probably indulge my technolust and get one of these new bad-boys when the prices drop to reasonable levels (<US$200). It usually take s a few driver updates after the initial release before the card will run without glitches. I'll let all the 'early-adopters' work out the bugs.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 18jul2002 - I was going to mention how cool the Pageant of the Masters is. It's Laguna's marquee event. Signs posted along the main roads coming into town read: Laguna Beach - Home of The Pageant of the Masters. Some websites even include the Pageant on their list of 100 things to do before you die.

The Pageant, as it's called here in Laguna, runs all summer long: from 07july to 31august. Almost every night. But I just noticed that the entire Pageant, for the entire summer, is SOLD OUT. That sucks. I even called their 800 number to confirm. You can still get tickets from places like this. But they're ridiculously expensive (altho offering great seats). Sometimes scalpers hawk tickets outside before the show. Often you can score if you arrive early.

Hard to describe the Pageant, but they use real people to create famous works of art on stage. They're called "Tableaux vivants (living pictures), which recreate art works using live performers with creative lighting/backdrops." They create an impressive optical illusion. It's one of those things that you have to see to believe.

The theme for this year's pageant: Heroes & Heroines (after the tragedy of 9-11). The show always ends with Leonardo DiVinci's The Last Supper (188KB JPEG). The show is held at the Irvine Bowl (which is not in Irvine). Outdoors, under the stars. Educational to boot.

You either have to buy tickets in March, when they go on sale, or know someone in the cast, who gets tickets as part of their compensation. It's difficult to get good seats. Even in March. We live walking distance from the Irvine Bowl. The Pageant is truly one of the coolest things I've ever seen. The only show that impresses me more is Cirque du Soleil.

17jul2002 - Dentist today. My dentist's motto is Painless dentistry. I asked him, "Isn't that somewhat of an oxymoron .. like military intelligence?" Actually, he's as close to painless as you can get. The July 11th entry details the gory circumstances of my busted tooth. Next week I return to have the gold inlay set.

Brought along a few custom music CDs I had laying around. Gave them to the girls at my dentist;s office as a peace offering. They actually played one of the CDs while drilling my mouth. Also gave a few Rad CDs to Pia at the eye office next door. She's a sweetheart. I have one CD titled 'Relax' that I made specifically for dealing with the aggravation of bad-traffic days.

16jul2002 - Test-captured some video clips with a Canon GL1, using Avid XpressDV 3.0. My new Firewire card (refer to yesterday's entry) seems to be working fine. But I can't get the audio to work with Avid. Maybe it's cuz I have two sound cards and Avid is trying to use the one I normally don't use. I have yet to configure a video-editing system that worked perfectly the first time.

15jul2002 - Installed this Firewire card today. It will give me the ability to capture & edit video. Pyro (US$49) made by ADS, designed to work with Avid XpressDV. Speaking of which, I noticed Avid released v3.5. (We're still using v3.0.)

Did some research & heard nothing but good things about v3.5. Seems that Avid is serious about staving off competition from Apple's Final Cut Pro and other up-and-comers to the world of video editing.

The card installed without a hitch. The O/S (W2K) automatically installed the drivers. Haven't had a chance to test-capture any clips yet, but don't expect any problems. No IRQ conflicts. That filled my last PCI slot (NIC, SCSI, 2 sound cards & now Firewire). Five slots.

14jul2002 - Saw the Robin Williams HBO special. One of the funniest things I've ever seen. Absolutely hysterical. Laughed my babushka off. Live on Broadway. I'm sure they'll air it again. You don't want to miss this.

13jul2002 - The book to get if you want to learn why so many people hate the United States, even tho we dole out gazillions of dollars worth of aid to other countries each year, is THIS one, titled: Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam and the Future of America. Note the Anonymous author. That usually means you'll get closer to the truth.

I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has an acquaintance, who heard through the grapevine .. that this book is as accurate as anything you'll find in print. Nuf said. The conclusions the author draws may be debatable, but the foundational facts allow you to arrive at your own.

When 9-11 went down, I didn't know what the heck was going on, politically speaking. But I knew that a lot of people were very pissed at the US. Usually, when people are *that* pissed, it's not for purely imaginary reasons. And I knew I wouldn't find the real dope on CNN. Public television only presents the tip of the iceberg. I think everybody knows that.

Anyway, the first question to pop into my head on 9-11 was, "What the heck did we do to piss off so many people this badly?" Back then, I figured that, if you dug deep enough, you'd find oil (money) at the root. This book answers the "what-the-heck?" question as accurately as you'll find without knowing someone on the inside.

12jul2002 - Saw Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks & Paul Newman. Good flick. Easy to recommend. I didn't like it as well as Bourne Identity or Minority Report. But this is probably due merely to personal preference, cuz I prefer techie movies. Road to Perdition is a gangster story set in 1931. Definitely worth seeing.

Most striking was how well Hanks & Newman, two acting powerhouses, shared the screen. These guys can pick and choose their parts. I thought the personalities of these two male bettas might clash on screen, but not so. On the contrary, when they shared the screen, 1+1=3. The effect was truly synergistic.

I was also struck by how masterfully the ending was executed. Minority Report also had a similarly, well-executed ending. Both were satisfying in that respect. I won't say more, cuz I don't want to ruin it for you.

The youngster who played Hanks' son has a lot to be proud of. He had a big job sharing the screen with not one, but two acting heavyweights, and held his own. Good casting there. No doubt the lad has a bright future ahead. Paul Newman is getting old, but he still rocked. (I buy his salad dressing all the time.)

And of course, Tom Hanks simply kicked ass. As he always does. The guy is amazing. In this film he plays the strong, silent type. So believable, no matter what role he plays. Looked like he put on a few pounds for the part.

11jul2002 - Busted a tooth this morning while chomping on a bowl of crunchy cereal. A corner broke off one of my top, back teeth and the filling fell out. Knew there was trouble when I started spittin' chunks of metal. Felt a gaping hole in my tooth surrounded by jagged edges.

It didn't hurt. Even when my dentist blew air in the hole. He whipped up a temporary fix and made an appointment for some gold-work next week, which will add to my already impressive portfolio of oral precious metals.

Everyone I've told asks the same question: Which cereal? Heritage by Nature's Path. Probably should've stuck with Cap'n Crunch. =)

06jul2002 - Saw Men-in-Black II yesterday. It sucked. I liked the first one. I like Tommy Lee Jones. I like Will Smith. But I hated MiB 2.0. Hated might be too strong of a word, but I'm certainly not recommending it. Seems like they were trying to ride the coattails of the original success. The lame flick didn't prevent the theater from packing with people, tho. Big theater, too. My advice is to save your money, or see either Bourne Identity or Minority Report, which were both much better.

05jul2002 - Might as well wax ultra-patriotic and turn this holiday into a long weekend. Hard to get back into the swing of things for only one day. Great fireworks last night. This was the first 4th of July since the horror of 9-11. Everybody seemed more patriotic.

The best grand-finale I ever saw. Or maybe it's cuz I sat so close. So close that hot cinders dropped on my face. Next time I'll know better and sit upwind. A private party nearby hosted fireworks that ran twice as long as the city's. Might go see Men-in-Black II today.

04jul2002 - Corporate offices of Radified International are closed today in observance of the holiday celebrating US independence. God bless America.

God Bless America

03jul2002 - The site set a new daily usage record with 4744 visits. See here. I think that translates to a visit every 15 or 20 seconds. The previous record was 4345. Still looking to break the magical 5000 mark. I consider 5000 visits a day respectable, especially for a site with no advertising. Thanks for all the letters of encouragement. A bunch of traffic is coming from this site.

02jul2002 - The espresso maker I ordered back on June 21st arrived today (finally). Ooh, baby. Gonna run down to the local (Diedrich's) coffee house and get a pound of fresh-ground espresso. The unit came well-packaged with an instructional VHS tape and a hardback book. You can tell these people (Saeco) are serious about espresso.

The first thing I noticed is how heavy it is, even without water. This speaks of quality, metal construction (not cheap plastic). Reminds me of a Mercedes. Hard to believe this is their cheapest unit. It's supposed to allow even a novice to make good espresso. The list of precautions made me laugh. The include the most absurd things. Stupid stuff similar to: Don't allow a water buffalo to so sit of your new espresso maker.

Is the Internet slow today? My connect is dragging. I ran a trace, and everything up around San Francisco and the Midwest is crawling.

01jul2002 - First day of July. That means summer has arrived with a vengeance. Here in Laguna, it also means that traffic triples and you have to drive the back-roads to get anywhere. The weekends are especially nasty. Best to leave the car home and walk to town. The water has finally warmed up and I've begun snorkeling the local beaches.

Site usage stats for the month of June are posted here. New site record for bandwidth usage (17 gigs).