News for June 2004


Radiation tri-blade symbol 28June2004 - Updated the Black Beast. I was planning to revise that page to incorporate an LGA-775/socket-T CPU (such as this one) with a motherboard based on the 925X chipset, but there have been reports of glitches with those new components.

It's not unusual for new technology to have problems. Rather, it's expected. Much as I like (lust) new technology, I still prefer the stability of mature technology. In a couple of months or so, Intel will release new steppings of these components that will fix the problems. That will be the time to migrate, or maybe when they release the 925XE chipset, which supports a FSB of 1066-MHz.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 25June2004 - Thought I'd catch Fahrenheit 9/11 on opening night, wanting to see for myself what all the hoopla is about. But I wasn't alone. About a gazillion other people had the same idea. When we arrived, two different lines stretched far in both directions from the theater (for two different screenings). People (with tickets in hand) were lined up over an hour early .. to get good seats. It was a *madhouse*.

The 7 o'clock show was sold out (we arrived at 6:30) .. as were *both* 7:30 screenings, and even the 10 o'clock shows. Every ticket for every show today was sold. The girl at the ticket booth said they'd been sold out since yesterday. People went online and bought their tickets thru Fandango.

We were bummed. Haven't seen this type of hysteria since Lord of the Rings. Maybe tomorrow. We saw Stepford Wives instead. Lots of talent, yet disappointing.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 24June2004 - Friends had a problem with their PC that I've never heard of before (thought I'd heard it all). The power button was pushed so hard that it caused the rod/plunger in the power-on switch (located right behind the power-on button) to jam inside the switch. So when you pressed the power button, nothing happened. (this case) I didn't know that could happen.

Of course, this is the worst computer feeling in the world. The symptoms appeared as if the power supply had died, yet the power LED on the motherboard remained lit. So naturally, replacing the PSU did no good. Once I recognized the problem, and pried out the rod/plunger from inside the switch (using paper clip & tweezers), the switch reset itself and all is well with the beast again.

On a less problematic note, Michael Moore's controversial new film, Fahrenheit 9/11, opens in theaters here tomorrow. It won Best Picture at the Cannes Film Festival and has already broke single-day records in New York City.

I saw Moore's last flick, Bowling for Columbine, and while he makes valid points, I think his films would appear more credible/professional if he replaced his ugly self (overweight, wearing tattered sneakers) with a professionally-clad interviewer.

<soapbox> Politically speaking, I think our increasingly polarized country would do well to refrain from wholesale siding with either conservative or liberal camps, with either the republicans or democrats, and evaluate each issue on its own merits.

Of course, this requires a little independent thinking (which too many people avoid at all cost. God gave each of us a brain for a reason.). Those who hold to one party line usually let that party (other people) do their thinking for them (dangerous).

Since presidents are only human (and humans make mistakes), it's unlikely that ANY president ever did everything right or nothing right. Yet many people talk like they are either pro-Bush (love everything the man does) or anti-Bush (hate everything he does). Of course, I realize that some presidents are more human than others.

Instead of praising or denouncing Moore's film outright, I would expect the discriminating person to realize that while Fahrenheit 9/11 does not represent an unbiased, objective perspective, it may still contain salient points worth considering. </soapbox>

I'm guessing Moore titled his polemic after the 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451, a story about censorship,which takes place is a dystopian world where books are banned/burned and critical thought is discouraged. (Certainly worth reading.) 451-degrees Fahrenheit is (supposedly) the temperature at which paper (books) ignite.

Here in Laguna Beach, we used to have a great little combo coffee-shop/book-store located on Pacific Coast Hwy named Fahrenheit 451, where you could sit down with a cappuccino and peruse the latest titles. Some weekends, they even had live music. But it's no longer there, replaced by a furniture store. I miss that place.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 23June2004 - Received my Gmail "invites" (see entry from 15june2004). Google gave me 6. A link magically appeared at the top of the page: Invite a friend to join Gmail.

I used the first 5 to reward some of those who have contributed to the site, such as Joshua, who helped (December 03) craft the Windows Install Guide, but reserved one to open a new account for myself under another name (the site name). So, in a week or so, I should be able to invite 6 more. Guess this is how Google is controlling growth before going public with Gmail.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 22June2004 - I noticed Abit has an Alderwood (i925X-based) motherboard to market: the AA8-Duramax. Newegg has it IN STOCK (update, looks like they have since pulled it off the self).

I usually prefer Asus boards, but Abit is my second-choice, and I wouldn't hesitate to get another Abit board. (Anybody remember the legendary BH6? with C300a @464MHz. That was my first system build.) But Asus doesn't have any 925X boards out yet.

Oops, looks like I spoke too soon. Asus *does* have a 925X board out: the PDAD2-Deluxe. It wasn't there yesterday. Altho I can't find it listed for sale at Newegg.

Not to be confusing, but there's also a *Premium* version of this board. See this thread for a discussion on the differences between the two. Don't 'premium' and 'deluxe' mean the same thing?

Radiation tri-blade symbol 21June2004 - First day of summer (here in the northern hemisphere), and longest day of the year (most hours of sunlight), called the summer solstice. A fitting day for the boys at Intel to release their new chipsets, which represent the biggest changes to the PC industry in the last 10 years. See HERE for the official press release.

If you look at Intel's chipset page, these new chipsets are now listed there. But I don't see any Asus motherboards listed that contain the new chipsets. Wesley at Anandtech did a comparative review and found little performance difference between products previously available (875 chipset/DDR-1) and the new stuff. So there might not be much to get excited about. Starting today, the days get shorter.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20June2004 - Saw Dodgeball last night, starring Ben Stiller. Incredibly stupid movie, but I couldn't stop laughing. The theater was packed. Even the front row was full. Had to sit way down front cuz we didn't get there early enough to find good seats. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a FRESH rating. Lots of surprise-cameo appearances at the end (Lance Armstrong, William Shatner, Chuck Norris, etc.).

Dodgeball beat out Terminal for the #1 spot this weekend. But Terminal (see yesterday's post) is a much better film. I think that people need a break from seriousness after all this war/torture/hostage news we've been getting lately.

On a more retro note, theaters here will be re-screening the Indiana Jones trilogy starting next month, beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). How cool would *that* be to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen again?

I know the Indiana Jones series are considered "consumer" flicks and not true "cinematic art". Call me proletariat, but I love those movies. They're some of my favorites of all time. Temple of the Forbidden Eye is my favorite ride at Disneyland.

I wonder what type of response these re-screenings will receive. Ignored or sold out? They're screening on an obscure night (Wednesday). So only true fans will be there.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19June2004 - Saw The Terminal last night (opening night): the new movie from Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who looked 10 years younger in this film). Subtitled: "Life is Waiting". Trailers posted here.

I liked it, rating it somewhere between good and very good on the Rad scale. Spielberg's movies are often a metaphor for life, and this one is no exception. In that respect, it reminds me of Joe vs the Volcano (another Spielberg movie founded upon an implausible premise starring Tom Hanks).

In The Terminal, Hanks plays a Victor Navorski, from Krakosia, a country in Eastern Europe, which erupted in a coup right after he left. At JFK airport (New York), he falls into a bureaucratic crack (Krakosia) and cannot enter New York City, but rather must wait (live) in the airport until the United States "recognizes" his country's new government.

We saw it at the Big Newport, 7-PM screening. Place was comfortably full. People applauded afterward. Not the best movie you'll ever see, but certainly worth seeing. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a FRESH rating (67%).

The movie I'm *really* looking forward to seeing is the Bourne Supremacy (July 23rd), starring Matt Damon. My type of flick. I loved the Bourne Identity (see entry dated 15june2002).

Radiation tri-blade symbol 18June2004 - Alex sent word (from the Netherlands) of an update to Motherboard Monitor, now at version MD5 hash (drag-n-drop): 1545866c07dbe796036e3bb8206a453a.

MBM now supports over 1,000 motherboards. Some motherboards however, do not contain the necessary sensors that MBM needs to gather info about the system (like some Dell laptops, for example).

Almost everyone I know uses it (it's free). It's a well-coded program with a sophisticated installer. (I helped craft/edit the text you see displayed on some of the installation screens for the English version.)

I configure my copy to read CPU and motherboard (case) temperatures, and CPU usage (percent). For more info, see step #3 here: PC Stability Testing. If you need help configuring MBM, the forums are here.

You can download MBM here (1.22-MB). Expect servers to be slow the first few days. Eventually some 35 sites will mirror the file for him. New releases of MBM have been known to kill more than a few servers. In other words, it's a popular program.

Friday is the best day to release new software because it's typically the slowest day of the week (traffic-wise). I mirror the file for him on my Downloads page.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17June2004 - Before downloading new or updated software from Download.com, it pays to take a minute and read some reviews. While there will always be people who have a problem with any software, no matter how well-coded, you should be suspicious of any software/updates that has/have more negative than positive reviews, such as the case with ZoneAlarm v5.xx. See here.

Further insights can be gleaned at User forums. I mention this because some software (such as ZoneAlarm) can be difficult to uninstall. Word to the wise.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16June2004 - Picked-up a spill-proof keyboard today. Inexpensive. About US$10. Nothing fancy. Your typical PS2 model. Already have an illuminated keyboard (on the USB port) for working at night, on the vampire shift. Both sport a low-profile, slim design, which I like, with short key-stokes and soft feel .. similar to using a laptop.

I've ruined many keyboards by spilling things of them. You name it, I spilled it, killing 3 keyboards in one month alone (which might be a Guinness record). So I'm tempted to dump a glass of water on this one, to see if its features work as advertised. But I won't. Shouldn't be long before an opportunity to perform the requisite "operational test" will arise.

ALL keyboards, in my opinion, should be spill-proof. Seems like the smallest spill renders them useless. I've learned to keep a spare stashed away in the closet .. just in case. Anyway, I really like the feel of this one.

In other news, the boys at Microsoft are preparing to release Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP. Today they released RC2, which is the Release Candidate 2 (of/for SP2). RC1 was released back in March. SP2 will focus on security issues, which is a good thing for those of us using WXP, because its new features are designed/available for Windows XP only.

You can download it here. Altho it looks like you need to be an official MS beta tester (or know someone who is). It's always a good idea to create a back-up Ghost image before installing *any* new service pack, whether RC or official release.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15June2004 - I opened a GMail account today. This is the new mail service from the boys at Google. From what I've seen so far, it looks like a well thought-out approach, as is everything Google does. (They recruit the best talent.)

I don't think GMail is open to the general public yet. A friend at Berkeley (San Francisco Bay Area) knows people working on the new system. He sent me an "invite" to open a new account. (See below.) The best thing is that I was able to select a great user-name (minimum 6 characters): my first choice. On most free web-mail sites, it usually takes me 10 minutes to come up with a name someone hasn't taken already.

XXX has invited you to open a free Google Gmail account. The invitation will expire in three weeks and can only be used to set up one account.

To accept this invitation and register for your account, visit XXX. Once you create your account, XXX will be notified with your new @gmail.com address so you can stay in touch with Gmail!

If you haven't already heard about Gmail, it's a new search-based webmail service that offers:

• 1,000 megabytes (one gigabyte) of free storage
• Built-in Google search that instantly finds any message you want
• Automatic arrangement of messages and related replies into "conversations"
• Text ads and related pages that are relevant to the content of your messages

Gmail is still in an early stage of development. If you set up an account, you'll be able to keep it even after we make Gmail more widely available and as one of the system's early testers, you will be helping us improve the service through your feedback. We might ask for your comments and suggestions periodically and we appreciate your help in making Gmail even better.

To learn more about Gmail before registering, visit here.
The Gmail Team

1,000-MB of storage. I had to look at that again. At first I thought it couldn't be true. Dang. That's a lot of space. I'd never have to delete another message .. for the rest of my life. Scary, ain't it?

By contrast, Ziplip (secure mail service) offers only 2.5-MB of mail storage (for free). They charge US$40 per year for a 5-account package with 10-MB of storage per account. And that doesn't include their $25 set-up fee. I forget how much space HushMail offers. Heck, this whole web site runs on only 350-MB.

It's certainly the fastest web-mail service I've ever used, but that's probably because not many people are using it yet. I only wish there were some way to import my Outlook Express address book.

The interface looks like this (screen shot, 1260x850, 40-KB), I especially like GMail's "Report Spam" button/feature. I'll be playing with it more in the coming weeks and let you know what I think. Other links you might find interesting: Getting Started with GMail, and Introduction to GMail. In a few days, they tell me, I'll be able to "invite" 3 people myself.

More links I just found: What's behind Gmail's popularity? and Fledgling Gmail hits the geek spot. Also found these utilities: an importer and Gmail to POP3 converter. It also looks like Yahoo mail and Hotmail will be increasing their storage capacities to compete with Gmail.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 14June2004 - Updated the world-famous Radified Guide to Norton Ghost. This update contains insights from readers, which include clarifications for things like using Ghost with USB drives (thx Judd) and across an LPT connection (thx roxe). Also repaired some dead-links to SatCP's guide (thx Leslie), and comments on getting your own copy (thx Mongo). Hopefully, I didn't forget any.

Also updated the PDFs, both the downloadable zipped version (97-KB) and printer-friendly version (155-KB, with shaded backgrounds removed to conserve tone/ink). The Ghost guide remains the site's single most popular feature, with ~1K requests for it daily. Try searching for the query-string "norton ghost" and you'll see what I mean. Only the Symantec site itself is more popular. Speaking of the Ghost guide, I received this note today:

I have been studying your Ghost article and working my way through it. I have learnt more with your few pages than the 200+ pages from the manual!

Leslie D.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13June2004 - The blogging software I use, MovableType, has transitioned to a pay-licensing scheme with the release of its v3.0 "Developers Edition". It will still be free for single-user sites like mine, but most people are furious (see the hundreds of comments listed after this announcement), calling the new licensing schedule restrictive and damn expensive.

Seems SixApart (the company that owns MT) is back-peddling with this "clarification", but most people (such as Mark) will still be dumping MT and moving to other blogging software such as WordPress (formerly b2/cafelog), which is licensed under the GPL, or TextPattern.

Blogging is a huge phenomena. I was doing it before I even knew what "blogging" was, or before I heard about blogging software. The page you're reading now was created with Macromedia Dreamweaver, as is most of the site. (I started with FrontPage.)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 12June2004 - The single best computer-upgrade most people can make is switching to a broadband connection, either cable or DSL. No matter how doggy your old jalopy might be, the difference between dial-up and broadband is dramatic. All other upgrades pale in comparison.

I am somewhat of a broadband spokesperson. The most common response I get from dial-up hold-outs is, "I don't go online that much." And that was my response when I had dial-up. But that's only because dial-up is so slow. I haven't met a single person who regretted getting broadband. Nevertheless, I do everything I can to make this site dial-up friendly.

Other common upgrades are: more memory/RAM, bigger monitor, flat-panel monitor, addition of a DVD burner, faster/bigger/another hard drive.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 11June2004 - RADIFIED corporate offices will be closed today in honor the national day of mourning for former president Reagan. We appreciate all the letters of condolence from our international readers. The flag at Heisler Park has been flying at half-mast all week.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 10June2004 - Received a note today from the nice folks at GuruNet. They make an easy-to-use reference tool comprising both an encyclopedia and a dictionary (and more).

Rad, you've written about us before (thanks!) so I want to update you about recent advances in GuruNet. In a nutshell, we've made more content available for free, and for the first time we've made GuruNet available through a web version (by visiting www.gurunet.com) and also through an IE toolbar.

A Mac version is due mid-June as well. An annual subscription for complete access to full content costs only US$30. The official press release is posted here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and, of course, we’d love to see you share the update with your readers.

Michal Gorlin Becker
Business Development

Altho Michal wants all of you to sign up for the US$30 subscription, GuruNet's free version is a valuable reference tool in its own right. Everyone should find useful, especially those of you with a broadband connection (faster results). GuruNet's claim-to-fame is its 1-Click feature, which works like so:

You're reading an article at your favorite website and come across a word you don't understand. Simply hold down the ALT key and click on the mystery word. GuruNet will instantly pop up with a definition or explanation of the word. Simply close GuruNet and you're back where you were. Very easy to use.

I had an English professor (at Franklin & Marshall college) who boldly declared: "Look up every word you don't know. That's how you get A's in all your subjects." This is something I still endeavor to do. GuruNet makes "looking up every word you don't know" incredibly easy (simply ALT-click), which comes with the free version.

I receive many such requests to pimp software, since the Best Software Programs guide has become so popular. Try searching for the query-string best+software+programs and you'll see what I mean. GuruNet is one of the few worth mentioning. You can download it here. And if you subscribe, tell 'em Rad sent ya.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 09June2004 - Since posting the photo of Buddy last week, I've received several notes from readers who went out and got kitties of their own .. my favorite of which is one from Evon, posted here (24-KB). Adorable.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 08June2004 - If you use both ZoneAlarm (firewall) and Diskeeper (defragger), be aware that there is a conflict between the two with the latest version of ZoneAlarm: v5.0.590.015 when using Diskeeper's boot-time defrag feature. You can read about the problem (and a work-around) at Diskeeper's FAQs posted here (FAQ #1). From the FAQ:

When you update your ZoneAlarm software to the latest build as of June 2004, you may encounter an issue which, in some cases, prevents Diskeeper from performing a boot-time defragmentation. The boot-time operation will not run because it cannot gain direct access to the disk.

In these cases, a message is displayed stating that the boot-time operation cannot run due to restricted access. (This situation can also occur when simply running the Windows CHKDSK disk checking utility when your computer boots.)

You can usually find a solution to just about any computer problem by using Google (or your favorite search engine) to search for a query-string comprised of the error message itself. Chances are some poor sap has already had the same problem .. posted a question somewhere .. and found a solution.

A boot-time defragger allows you to defrag files that cannot be defragged while Windows is operating (because it reserves access to them for its own use), such as the page file, the MFT, or master file table.

A boot-time defragger also allows you to organize folders together and place them at the beginning of the drive. You configure the boot-time defragger and then reboot. It will defrag those usually-locked files before Windows starts. It's usually a good idea to back-up your drive first. Not all defraggers have a boot-time feature.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 07June2004 - Didn't think it would affect me, but I felt the twinge of sorrow upon hearing the news of former president Reagan's passing. I never felt that for any other president.

I was in the Navy when Reagan took office in January, 1981. The Dog & I were stationed aboard a nuclear submarine home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Reagan, as you know, was very pro-military. He basically started a "Defense" spending-war with the Soviets and they went broke trying to keep up. That was the beginning of the end for the "evil empire".

The change in the military when Reagan took office was dramatic. Within days, everyone's attitide rose. It felt as if Reagan's own optimism trickled down through the ranks. People started telling jokes again. Morale soared. We could actually sense his influence some six thousand miles away in Hawaii. Remarkable.

Conversely, under Jimmy Carter (we called him "22 percent-Carter" in reference to the soaring interest rates at the time), life in the military was gloomy. Reagan changed that almost overnight. He made us feel appreciated for serving our country and good about being American. That's what I remember most about the man. May he rest in peace.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 05June2004 - Today is the site's 4-year anniversary. If you scroll to the bottom of THIS PAGE, you can read the very first RADIFIED entry.

Four years is a long time in web-life. Much has changed since then, both in the world of digital technology and personally. I can't even begin to imagine what the next four years will bring. But I know it will be fun and exciting.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 04June2004 - I have a special treat for you today: Buddy's Umbrella [60-KB, 1035x660]. That cat is too cute for his own good.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 03June2004 - I've been researching web-hosting providers, because my current provider, Communitech (Kansas City), who was subsequently bought by Interland (Atlanta), charges me $32/month ($25 if paid annually). Back when I first set up the site (some 4 years ago), this was a reasonable rate. But now you can get more for le$$.

I've whittled down my research to the following 7 hosts: LunarPages (review), .. VenturesOnline (review),.. ICDSoft (review),,.. HTTPme (review) and WebIntellects (review),.. Burton (review) and DreamHost (review).

I like the way Webhostingratings provides an opportunity for hosters to dispute negative reviews (such as the one posted here in red background) and basically say, "You're full of malarky, pal." That helped me make my decisions.

But moving the site to a new host can be a royal pain, especially when you have to reconfigure things like forums and blogs (dasebase-driven). I've never done it before, so I'd be operating on the steeper slopes of the ever-treacherous learning-curve.

So I called Communitect/Interland, my current web-hosting provider, and asked what was involved with terminating service. They said they need 30 days advance notice and asked why I was leaving. I told them they're charging me too much diñero. So the girl (with a sweet Georgia accent) connected me with an account rep, who analyzed my usage and offered to cut my monthly fee in *half*.

So I'll be staying with them for now, for US$16 a month, which is a reasonable rate , and now I don't have to switch, altho some day, when I have more time, I would like to switch, just to say it's something I've done .. another feather to add to my hat (repertoire) of digital skills.

But if you're looking for a web-hosting provider, those companies I listed above are reportedly the best. Note that I need/prefer a Unix-based server. Unfortunately, my current host does not have a very good rating (2.1 out of 10) Things quickly went down hill after the company (Communitech) was bought by Interland. I don't think they're that bad anymore.

This site is hosted on a Sun Microsystems Enterprise 250 server featuring dual-UltraSparc processors with 2-Megs of RAM, running the Solaris 64-bit operating system with RAID-5 SCSI drives.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02June2004 - I usually try to post my own original content (no matter how lame), and not simply link to other sites, but I found an LCD Buying Guide that is simply excellent. So, if you're in the market for an LCD (flat-panel monitor), you should find THIS helpful. My only question is: why does the same flat-panel cost much more (~US100) if it has a DVI connection, than an analogue D-sub?

As a follow-up on this theme, Nate (Duke alumni) sent this link on Dead Pixels (along with kudos). The dual flat-panels I just purchased for the Beast, the NEC/Mitsubishu 1760V-BK, clearly stated the unit's dead-pixel policy: Replacement or Refund for 8 or more DEAD PIXELS ONLY!