News for June 2005


Radiation tri-blade symbol 28.june.2005 - Working with a Rad reader to bring you a Guide to eBay. I couldn't sell my way out of a wet paper bag, but he has experience since '97. I reviewed his guide and was impressed. We'll drop you a link soon as we get things figured out. I think you'll be impressed, too.

Oh, and Magoo is also working on another guide. (BitTorrent was his first, which he just updated today.) His new one will be on Eliminating Spyware. But it will be a few weeks before he's ready to go public.

And don't forget NightOwl's Guide to Creating Bootable CD/DVDs (with or without a floppy drive). I'm trying to be a good host and give adequate air-time to the hosted guides. Several other interesting ones are in the works.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 27.june.2005 - Started updating the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio (MP3s). The link-rot has been incredible. The only links on the first page that were still active were the ones to my own pages.

I call it rapid accelerated link-rot. I mean, it's so dramatic, compared to the other guides, that I feel compelled to give it a name. It has plagued the MP3 guide since it was first posted, several years ago, in the spring of 2001.

The good news is that actual content contained in the guide has finally stabilized. So I won't need to update the actual information so drastically. But dead links infer neglect and need to be fixed.

This is one guide where I bit off more than I could chew. The subject of ripping and encoding are actually two separate topics. You could write *book* about each.

I strive to keep the guide streamlined, but there is simply so much information on these topics. And I find it all so very interesting.

With that said, the big news today (coincidently) is the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hollywood and against the Grokster file-sharing service. You can read the court's actual decision here. It was unanimous. Lots of discussion around the Net.

Appears to be disagreement over what the court's decision actually means. See here for insights from a lawyer who actually read the decision (brave man). In the words of Wired: Grokster loss sucks for tech. More from the EFF (the good guys). I found their quotes page most enlightening.

Nobody asked me what I thought. Anybody ask you? The only voice the little guy seems to have in all this comes from his entertainment dollar. If he stops going to the movies and stops renting them .. maybe the entertainment industry won't be able to afford so many lawyers.

Seems to me, Grokster et al will simply move off-shore, out of reach of the US legal arm. The Internet doesn't stop at the border. Innovation will follow, migrating to countries less legally hostile. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 25.june.2005 - Been receiving many inquiries from folks looking to write their own guides. They ask if I think a guide on a certain topic will do well.

My response is always the same: I don't know. There are guides I thought would become very popular, such as the one on PC Stability.

Then there are others I posted merely for convenience, such as the ASPI guide, thinking only a handful of folks would be interested. In both cases I was wrong. The only way to find out is write it.

When I first started talking to Magoo, he had several ideas for guides, but was leaning toward one on how to build a server. I thought the one for BitTorrent would do better, cuz it seemed to apply to a larger audience.

Fortunately, the BitTorrent guide *has* done surprisingly well, with about 600-800 page views daily. But he has worked very hard on it, too, adding additional pages, insights, tricks, links, and continually grooming the text.

Most people want immediate results, but I tell everyone that it takes about 18 months for a guide to reach maturity. That's how long it takes for a guide to peak in search engine rankings. In that time, some of the other, competing guides will disappear, as their authors discover it takes sustained effort to keep a guide current.

There are some tricks to achieving a favorable search ranking. But mostly it takes (1) time, and (2) a well written, well-organized guide (which also takes time). Content is the word I hear most frequently. Content is king. And of course, word of mouth is always the best advertising. If you want immediate results, have a martini.

I think I scared away many people with my real-world assessment. Only about half of those inquiring actually take the next step to begin putting words on paper. And many languish there. It's not as easy as it might seem. But if you persevere, the rewards can be surprising, not to mention the digital karma you can accumulate.

The main thing is to find a topic you enjoy and know well. Then, all that's left is working the text .. which usually involves finding your voice. It can be a lot of fun, honest. =)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 24.june.2005 - Got a massage yesterday. I have the best massage lady in Laguna. People who do massage for a living go to her for their own work. She totally has the mojo going on. Puts you on another planet. Feel like jelly afterwards.

We trade computer work for massages. Last year, I built them a monster PC designed to edit video (using Avid Xpress Pro). Good to see it's still running tip-top.

Dual flat panel monitors sitting side-by-side, four hard-drives. 15K-rpm SCSI boot/system drive. Beautiful machine. All black. No skimpage anywhere.

Anyway, I came home from the massage and passed out. Had the wildest dreams. Dreamt I was working in a nuclear plant when it started to melt down. Seemed so real. All the radiation alarms were going off.

Then I dreamt I was vacationing at a beach cottage in South Carolina when a tsunami hit. Saw the giant wave coming. Just like on TV. Realized I was going to die. Woke just as the wave came over the cottage. Remember thinking, "So this is how it ends."

Anyway, glad to be awake. =) I'll probably stay up late tonight. Still amazed how *real* it seemed. On a less fatalistic note, here's another picture of Rad Jr, who's growing like a weed.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 22.june.2005 - Google sent word of their new Optimization Tips (for their ads). These new guidelines reflect a study I've seen analyzing how the reader's eye glances over a web page. Areas receiving more attention are called hotspots. Google also claims wider format ads perform better. Quote:

As a rule of thumb, wider ad formats tend to outperform their taller counterparts. The reader-friendly format has a lot to do with this. Readers absorb information in thought units (that is, several words at a time).

The wider format lets them comfortably read more text at a glance without having to skip a line and return to the left margin every few words as they would be forced to do with a narrower ad. The wider ad format also lessens the likelihood of readers leaving the ad unit altogether.

Obviously Google is the expert when it comes to ad performance, since that's how they make their money (zillion$). I'm sure they've invested heavily in researching the topic.

So far, I've converted only the Ghost guide to the new ad formatting, since I was working on that guide anyway.

Sure enough, yesterday set a new RAD record for most clicks in one day (Google pays only for *clicks,* not page views).

Of course, one day isn't enough of a sample to be sure the record performance is due to the new ad format, especially since I also broke up that guide from (previously) 9 to (currently) 15 pages.

So there are now more ads visible and available for reader clickage. But the preliminary numbers are encouraging.

Changing ad formats is incredibly boring, especially since the site contains over a thousand pages. It's all copy-n-paste. I've changed styles enough to know what's involved.

I was also reluctant to position ads on the left side of the page, which seems more intrusive, but that's where Google recommends putting them. But sites such as Earthtimes puts them there and it doesn't bother me.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 21.june.2005 - Continued to break up the Ghost guide into smaller pages. It's now 15 pages. Purely cosmetic update. Improved the guide's organizational structure. Page sizes are now more manageable. Glad to be done with that. So tedious. Now I remember why I let the pages grow so long.

First day of summer today, longest day of the year. Summer solstice.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20.june.2005 - Updated the Ghost guide .. to break up some of the larger pages into smaller ones. As new information is added, some pages gradually grow larger, until they become unwieldy (the eternal scroll).

Yesterday, the guide consisted of 9 pages. Today there's 12. And I should probably break up a few more pages into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

But I hate this part of the job. It's so tedious: making sure all the links and page descriptions correspond. Zero creativity is involved.

After it's done tho, the improved organization makes it easier to work with, and new information can be added more easily. Just noticed that tomorrow is the guide's 5-year anniversary.

Speaking of tomorrow .. June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year (here in the northern hemisphere) and the beginning of summer. Woohoo!

After tomorrow, the days start getting shorter. Here in Laguna, Lagunatics will be out banging their drums and celebrating around campfires at the beach well into the night.

Speaking of Lagunatics, we got invited to brine-shrimp release yesterday, occurring at Heisler Park, where a group of people got together to pray for a bunch of brine shrimp before releasing them into the ocean.

You can't make this up, folks. Only in Laguna. Now if they were going to *eat* them shrimp, I might've gone. =)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19.june.2005 - After working with Mr. Magoo on his (now world-famous) BitTorrent guide, and others on their guides, I noticed I was repeating much of the same information. So I got the idea for a new Radified guide: on how to write a Radified guide [the standard by which all other guides are judged]. =)

Most of the guides began like this one: as a series of emails to friends. Once I begin repeating the same information, it becomes easier to simply paste the info into a web page, post it on the 'Net, call it a Radified guide and send a link containing the information.

A side benefit of this approach is that search engines quickly find these guides. Word starts getting out. Techies post links to these guides in bulletin board forums. Next thing you know, we've gone international. Traffic explodes and we start receiving mail from all over the planet saying how helpful we've been.

Over the years, I've learn much about how to craft a guide .. so it's readable, easy to navigate, sees healthy traffic, and receives good ranking from search engines. Unfortunately, most of what I learned came the hard way.

A few months ago, I made an offer to anyone who who could write well, that I would host their guide and give them 2/3rds of the revenue it earns (2 for you, 1 for me, since I pay the taxes on the revenue).

Several people responded. Most recently: Mr. Magoo, with whom I've traded dozens of emails while we dialed in his guide, which is currently seeing 600-800 page views daily. I'm still working with others on theirs.

Writing a guide is harder than it looks, especially one that's clearly written and well organized. But it can also be a lot of fun. In case you're wondering, the offer still stands. Meanwhile, I'm going to get started on the new guide.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17.june.2005 - Saw Batman Begins last night. Very different from all other Batmans. I liked this one best. Enough to put it on my official Recommended list. The others seemed more playful & fun compared to this one, which explores the dark side of Batman's past.

FEAR plays a major role in this Batman. Or more importantly, *facing* your fears: turning toward them, instead of away from. Confronting & embracing the discomfort this typically brings. Of course, the concept now forms the basis for a popular TV show.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: Batman Begins: Film / Movie Review

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16.june.2005 - Most clicks ever yesterday on Google ads. Altho a record number of clicks does not necessarily translate in record revenue, because each ad-click pays differently. Some clicks pay pennies, while others pays dollars.

So some days see relatively few clicks, accompanied by large numbers in the corresponding revenue column. While other days, like yesterday, see many clicks, with only meager revenue. But it's still good to see the numbers growing. All things being equal, more clicks = more revenue.

But alas, all things are not equal. And I have no control over which ads Google displays, nor which ones people click on.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15.june.2005 - Dang, Just realized I missed the site's 5-year anniversary, which occurred back on June 5th. Must've been distracted by the landslides in Bluebird canyon.

All 5 years are archived here. The very first RADIFIED entry is posted at the bottom of this page. Ah, a few things have changed since then.

I shudder to think how many times I've moved since then. My buddy, the Dog, holds the record, tho. He has moved 40 times since he was 18. No moss gathers on that boy.

Five years is a long time in web life. So many sites have disappeared since. Can't help but wonder what the next 5 years will bring.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 14.june.2005 - RADIFIED set a new site record a couple of days ago with over 20,000 visits. See here. Actually, almost 22,000. The numbers continue to grow.

Most visitors find their way to the Guide to Norton Ghost, which is more popular than ever.

The Guide to Installing Windows XP has also been seeing increased traffic, as is the guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio. Mr. Magoo's BitTorrent guide is also receiving its fair share of traffic.

Speaking of Magoo's guide, I have another idea for a new RAD guide, which I'll share with you later this week. I got the idea for it while working with Mr. Magoo on setting up his guide, which has become surprisingly popular in only a short time, receiving 600-800 page views daily.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13.june.2005 - I know somebody with a room to rent here in Laguna Beach. Sweet place. Quiet neighborhood. North side of town. Crown Point area. Beach side of Coast Hwy. Walking distance (barefoot) to Crescent Bay.

If you know anyone looking, give them my contact info, located at the bottom of this page. Discount for rad readers. Surf's up and the water is warm.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 12.june.2005 - Been busy dealing with life. You know how crazy things can get sometimes.

Saw Mr. & Mrs. Smith last night, which is not very different from what I'm going thru. Didn't think I'd like it (the movie), but I did.

It made me laugh hard. Anyone who has ever been thru marriage counseling should be able to appreciate this movie. Saw it at the rinky-dink theater here in Laguna. Place was packed. Had to sit way up front.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 07.june.2005 - Saw Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe & Renee Zellweger. A Ron Howard film. While waiting for the show to start, I overheard a guy across the aisle say, "Ron Howard has never directed a bad film."

Not sure if that's true, but he's one of the few directors whose every film I see. He spoke at the USC Film school graduation a few years back. Surprisingly humble for a guy who won the Oscar for Best Director (2001, A Beautiful Mind), noting how he *still* has to fight executives for creative control of his films.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: Cinderella Man: Rad film / movie review

Radiation tri-blade symbol 04.june.2005 - Posted photos of the restricted area of Bluebird Canyon, where a landslide destroyed million-dollar homes 3 days ago on June 1st. See here: Photos of Bluebird Canyon: landslide destroys homes in Laguna Beach.

Maria lives in Bluebird Canyon. She has a resident's pass, which you need to get into the restricted area (past two police checkpoints). Photos taken early this morning.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02.june.2005 - A reminder for the local folk who live here in Laguna Beach: today is the First Thursday Art Walk. Hope to see you out on the town tonight, sucking up a little culture, along with the complimentary chardonnay. Even geeks need a little culture now & then.

I counted *six* choppers hovering in the skies over Bluebird Canyon today. The constant noise must get annoying after a while. The choppers don't move; they just sit there in one place, hovering motionless. They leave no doubt about exactly where Bluebird Canyon is located.

I saw the letters "Fox News 11" on the side of one chopper. Some are the big, fancy "corporate" choppers .. the kind that scream by with a high-pitched whine. They fly overhead on their way to & from Bluebird canyon, which is a mile or two from here. Even *that* is starting to get annoying.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 01.june.2005 - RADIFIED set a new site-usage record last month with over 2.4 million hits. It wasn't that long ago when the site didn't get 2.4 million hits all year. The numbers continue to grow. Indeed all metrics set new monthly highs.

Breaking news: Here in Laguna Beach, Maria just called and said the city is evacuating her and everyone else who lives in Bluebird Canyon, because houses are sliding down the hill.

Over a dozen homes have slid down the hill so far and are completely destroyed. 20 other homes have been damaged. The land continues to slide. So she's afraid the houses above her will land on top of hers.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: Landslide destroys million-dollar homes in Bluebird Canyon, Laguna Beach