News for March 2003


Radiation tri-blade symbol 31mar2003 - After running Windows 2000 Pro for years, I finally swapped over today to Windows XP Pro. I held off for a long time due to phantom problems regarding SCSI hard drives. After realizing these problems were merely imaginary, I decided to make the move. But it took me forever to install programs & configure system settings. WXP is definitely more elegant than W2K. I got a few more things to tweak, but there's no going back now.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 29mar2003 - You may've noticed Radified was down last night. The site disappeared ~9PM, pacific time. I had no email, no FTP: nothing. Posted a quick question at the Communitech forums and discovered my server had been loaded onto a flatbed truck and was being physically moved from Kansas City to Georgia.

I ran a trace this morning, and, sure 'nuf, it shows the server is now located somewhere northwest of Atlanta. My web hosting provider [Communitech] was bought by a company named Interland. Hopefully Interland will provide service that's just as reliable. Everything seems okay this morning. It actually seems a little zippier than normal. It's not a good feeling when your site disappears.

My buddy Evan went to a LAN party today at DefCom3 up in Marina del Rey, where these games are available, running off some 40 PCs. He'll be wearing this shirt and playing Couterstrike. Supposedly they are shutting down the place for "maintenance" and hosting a private party limited to invited guests.

More LAN party info is posted at LANPartyCoalition,.. LANParty.com, and BluesNews. Guides to hosting your own LAN party are posted here and here. I've never been to one myself, but people who have say that you get spoiled.

A decent Internet connection offers pings of about 50 [milliseconds]. The term ping refers to the time it takes [usually measured in milliseconds] for a signal to make a roundtrip from your PC to where ever the online game you're playing is being hosted [could be anywhere in the world] .. and get back again.

LAN connections typically see single-digit pings .. in other words: ~10 times faster than a good Internet connection. That's what makes playing at a LAN party so cool .. not to mention all the love that's being shared across those blazing-fast connections.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 28mar2003 - You've probably already heard this quote of the day, but it bears repeating for those who haven't:

You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is white, the best golfer is black, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance and Germany doesn't want to go to war. -Anonymous

With regard to indulging your technolust, I must confess I've been lusting after the new Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card. Currently using the Radeon 8500, which isn't bad, but nothing like the "most visually advanced 3D performer on the planet".

They won't be released for a few more days [the 31st]. But I can't see spending $400 on a gfx card [128MB version], especially when they become obsolete so quickly. Actually I don't like paying more than $150.

I must have a thousand dollars worth of old gfx cards collecting dust in the closet. Maybe I'll open a museum someday. Anybody remember the Voodoo2-SLI from the now defunct 3Dfx? Perhaps prices of the 9700 Pro will drop when the 9800 comes out. They're still ~$300.

The 9800 Pro comes with its own 4-pin power connector, just like your hard drive and CD-ROM. In other words, it requires a lot more juice than a normal gfx card. You can find reviews posted at the Firing Squad, .. Digit-life, [love that red PCB] .. [H]ard|OCP, .. Anand's and many other places. The kids have been bugging me to get one.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 27mar2003 - The list of Freeware Programs continues to grow as readers [from all over the globe] write in with links to their favorite free software. I had no idea freeware was so popular.

Last night I created a Ghost image before updating all my drivers & software programs, including Windows updates. This way, I can go back to my original system configuration if I start experiencing quirky problems. Then I defragged my drives and created a post-update image. If my system continues to run well for a few weeks, I'll delete the pre-update image. I try to do this every few months. Feels therapeutic, like washing the car.

I have a folder that contains links to all the sites I need to visit to download these updates. This makes it quick & easy. If I hustle, I can usually be done with everything in ~60-90 minutes, depending on how well things go.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 26mar2003 - The list of freeware programs posted a few days ago has become a big hit. It never ceases to surprise me which features become popular with readers, and which ones don't. I would've posted that page a long time ago had I known it was going to be so requested. Thanks to all the folks who wrote in with their favorites. The list has doubled since first being posted.

It's clear that you can do a lot with a PC these days without spending a lot of money on software. The average person doesn't need the advanced features offered by professional programs. And some programs, such as TMPGEnc & EAC, are better than anything you can buy.

So put away your credit card. Save your money for something like a broadband connection. This way you can download these babies in a flash. In fact, I'm downloading OpenOffice right now: 49.6 MB, 350 KBps.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 25mar2003 - Saw The Hunted today. It was okay, but I walked away disappointed. Benicio Del Toro gave a great performance. Everything he does impresses me. But I thought the movie had too much Kung Fu-ish fighting. It reminded me of one of the Rambo series. I liked Tears of the Sun better, which is a similar (military-minded) movie. The Hunted is worth seeing if you don't set your expectations too high.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 24mar2003 - My Oscar predictions for the 22nd did not fare well. Of all the friends assembled for the event, my predictions fared worst. Frank's choices were most accurate. [u suk, frank. Smiley] I still stand by my selections. There's no way Chicago was better than Gangs of New York. It wasn't even in the same league. All the winners are posted here.

I guess that's what makes the movies so subjective: the same film I love, you might hate. No harm done. I thot Gangs of New York was the year's best film and it walked away without a single award. What a rip.

And how about the music award? Eminem never even sang that song in 8-Mile. They rolled the credits over it at the end while everyone was walking out. He wasn't even there to pick up his Oscar. Sup wit dat?

Steve Martin was funny. I cracked up when he said: I just saw the teamsters helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 23mar2003 - Posted a page containing the best freeware programs. Key word in that sentence: free.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 22mar2003 - The 75th Oscars air tomorrow night. They're a big deal here in Southern California, where Hollywood makes its home. The list of nominees is posted here.

I'm predicting Daniel Day Lewis will win Best Actor, Martin Scorsese Director, Catherine Zeta-Jones Supporting Actress, Julianne Moore Best Actress, Paul Newman Supporting Actor, Chicago Cinematography, and Gangs of New York Best Picture. If wrong, I can always go back and edit this entry to reflect the true winners. Smiley

Gonna get together with some friends up in LA and make an event of it. My buddy Frank thinks The Pianist will win Best Picture.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 21mar2003 - Upgraded the forums to SP1.2. Radified uses YaBB [Yet another Bulletin Board], an Open Source Perl script. From their downloads page:

SP 1.2 fixes problems not reported by SP 1.1 beta testers, as well as HTML improvements, security fixes & optimizations. You should notice significant improvement in the operation of your forum. This is considered a *critical update* and it's recommended that everyone upgrade.

This 'update' was more like a new install. There are lots of files to replace, and if one isn't right, the whole forum won't work. Afterwards, I was sweating bullets when I got a blank page. I knew I shoulda left it alone, I thought.

I've done this upgrade enough times to know all the places where something can go wrong. For example, the files must be uploaded using ASCII protocol [in FTP client]. If you use either the Auto or Binary setting, the board won't work. Also, I have a directory named YaBB. One of the board's default settings points to yabb [no caps]. If I don't change that setting to YaBB, it won't work. That one isn't very obvious either.

But after tweaking and configuring various settings, it seems to be working okay. I swear the forums seem zippier now, but I'm probaly just imagining it. SP1.2 was released January 27th. I wouldn't have upgraded if they didn't consider it 'critical'.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20mar2003 - Getting lots of mail about the war: some for it, most against. I don't know enough about the real situation over there to comment with authority. Ask me about booting from a scsi hard drive or the best way to rip & encode CD audio, and I can converse. These are things I've actually done. What do I know about the real situation in the Middle East? Only what the media and my government want me to know. Heck, I never even been there.

What I *do* know about is the PCMark 2002 benchmark. I downloaded this freebie last night [8.4 MB] from Download.com. Results for the mighty rad rig are posted here [35KB]. But I'm getting this error message, and can't find the dang files anywhere.

Also been getting lots of mail regarding the security-related posts of March 17 & 18. Most interesting is one from Jim Homer who sent a link to a site called Diceware. This site discusses ways of generating passwords [passphrases] that are hard to crack [take longer than 6 minutes with LC4].

Diceware is a method for generating passphrases using dice to randomly select words from the Diceware Word List. Each word in the list is preceded by a five digit number. All the digits are between one and six, allowing you to use the outcomes of one roll with five dice to select a unique word from the list.

I changed my password using this method. LC4 is still working on it [brute force crack]. I'll let you know how long it takes to crack this one.

Another reader recommended Hushmail, which I just signed up for. It seems more secure than Ziplip, which I've been using for years. I don't really need such high security. I simply find it interesting.

I updated the Radified Guide to Norton Ghost to include a batch file [scroll to bottom of page] sent in by Maurice Taquino. Also Alex sent word that he released a new version [] of his popular Motherboard Monitor. Grab it here.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19mar2003 - A Rad reader was cruising the web when he came across this site [Circant]. He sent me the link and said: "Note the last post from Saturday, March 15".

The first pointer has to be to Radified. Rad's site is my benchmark for a blog. One day I hope to be able to offer friends and maybe others a guide that is as diverse and interesting. Some great guides including how to rip high quality MP3s, partition disk space effectively and use Norton Ghost. Most of all Radified is about how to have fun with technology. Take a look at Rad's Digital Warrior section and see how high you rate as a technocrat.
posted by Anthony at 3/15/2003 03:32:01 PM

A benchmark for a blog: my head is swelling so big I can barely fit thru the front door. If you're not familiar with the term blogging, see here. Only recently did I learn that I've been blogging for years. When Sidney asked me last October [21st]: "What is blogging," I replied: "Not sure, but I think it's British slang for talking about meaningless bullshit." That's obviously before I knew I was doing it. =) Heck, they even have blogging software now [more here].

Everyday I try to add another tidbit of helpful or interesting information. It wasn't that long ago when the site generated virtually no traffic. Now we're close to breaking 1 million hits per month. Blog on, baby!

Radiation tri-blade symbol 18mar2003 - PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy, is a program that allows you to keep your confidential data secure (private), whether it's in transit across a network or over the Internet, or stored locally on your hard disk. PGP is the brainchild of Phil Zimmerman, and was free for a long time. Now it's owned by a company called PGP Corp.

They still offer a freeware version, but have removed most of its functionality. They probably want to encourage users to upgrade to [read: pay money for] the personal version [US$80, for 1 year, $165 for a perpetual license]. Anyway, I thought I'd upgrade to version 8.0 [released 03dec2002]. What a mistake that was.

PGP installs Encrypt & Decrypt buttons [plug-in functionality] to your email client [I use Outlook Express], which allow you to easily encrypt & decrypt your email. With the freeware version of v8.0, these buttons no longer work. Instead a dialogue box pops up saying: This feature isn't available with the freeware version. You need to upgrade to the Per$onal ver$ion for plug-in functionality.

I traded a few emails with PGP's "Limited Support" group, asking them what's the point of even releasing the freeware version of v8.0, because it has been stripped of all its good features. Their reply:

You can use the current window or clipboard encryption option offered in the PGPtray. You may also use Hotkeys found in PGP Options to this end. With Freeware you are not allowed the use of plug-ins or PGP Disk.

If you're using Windows XP, you have no choice but to use the freeware version of PGP v8.0, because v7.03 doesn't support WinXP. Or you have to pay for the personal version, which offers the cool features. If you're using Windows 2000, I recommend you stick with PGP v7.03 [freeware], which is loaded with all the cool features.

I actually uninstalled v8.0 and reinstalled v7.03 [Win2000]. My PGP public key is listed with my contact info, linked at the bottom of this main page. I like all that crypto-techno-cyber-geek stuff.

Windows 2000 offers a similar Encrypting File Service (EFS), which you can read about both here and here [how to here]. Windows XP Pro offers a similar feature. More info posted here. While we're on the topic of encryption, I also like Digisecret. It's only US$29 and user friendly. Snadboy's Revelation is a nifty utility that allows you to see your passwords hidden behind the stars.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17mar2003 - Happy St. Patty's day. Erin go bra and the luck of the Irish to ya. Today is the day to drink green beer & consult with leprechauns amongst the 4-leaf clovers.

After reading Ice Czar's list of Internet Security related links, I've been playing Rad-Hacker with a few programs such as the LC4 password cracker [uh, "Password Auditing & Recovery Application" for those who have a problem with the word "cracker"] from @stake. LC stands for LOpht Crack. Hardcore hackers teaming up with industry.

Thought I had created a tough Windows Administrator password to crack, but LC4 broke it in 6 minutes .. using the brute force crack option [screen shot]. Pretty pathetic, wouldn't you say? I'm using a Pentium4 1.6A CPU overclocked to 2138 MHz. You can download a 15-day trial here. Fun stuff. I found it here. See the Radified Guide to The Best Software Programs and Applications for more cool programs.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16mar2003 - Posted Ice Czar's list of Internet Security links. If you've ever wanted to learn about the subject, this is a great compilation of references.

I noticed he prefers NOD32 as his Antivirus software of choice. Might have to check that out myself. You can grab a free trial version here. An installation guide is posted here. Speaking of AntiVirus software, I noticed that AVG now offers a free version, which you can use for life (personal use only). I posted my own little ditty on Network security here.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15mar2003 - Saw Tears of the Sun last night, starring Bruce Willis. Bruce takes a team of Navy Seals into the jungles of war-torn central Africa to rescue/extract a doctor, priest & 2 nuns from an approaching group of rebel forces (bad guys). There his conscious gets the best of him and he abandons his original mission .. which adds another 90 minutes to this movie.

Good movie, great cinematography. The jungles, with an occasional fog, make for gorgeous filmmaking. Worth seeing. I loved the soundtrack. Moody African chants. Depressing in parts showing graphic scenes of man's inhumanity against his fellow man. But that's nothing new. We see it everyday on the six o'clock news.

Before the flick, I saw previews for an upcoming film titled Anger Management, starring Adam Sandler & Jack Nicholson. Made me laugh out loud. Admittedly, I have a warped sense of humor, but I'm looking forward to this one.

It's so indicative of how bureaucratic systems tend to unwittingly create the very things they attempt to stamp out. You don't have to deal with bureaucracies very long to appreciate the humor in this. They couldn't find two better people than Nicholson & Sandler to drive home the message.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 12mar2003 - The kids came over last night and wanted to install a copy of Asheron's Call 2 [Fallen Kings] on my PC. This role-playing game from Microsoft allows you to play online with thousands of other people via a monthly subscription service. Their computers didn't meet the minimum hardware requirements, so it wouldn't even let them install it.

After updating my video card and mouse drivers, the game installed fine. I have a Radeon 8500 gfx card and a P4-1.6a overclocked to 2138 MHz. We created an online subscript account and launched the game. [Kids are so impatient.]

The game offers over a dozen different worlds to choose from. The graphics looked surprisingly beautiful. At night, when the monitor is the only source of light in the room, the game look absolutely stunning. It actually feels like you're in another world. Of course, they fight over who plays.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 11mar2003 - I'm still busy with 'things' (you how how life can get sometimes), but want to take a minute to check in and say 'hey'. It always surprises me to see how site usage surges when I take a break from these daily updates. For example, the site set a new all-time record a few days ago on the 6th. Not sure why that happens, altho much of the traffic comes from links like this.

Anyway, I had my first yoga class last weekend. I have worked out in weight rooms and gyms most of my life, but this was the first time I tried yoga.

The first thing I noticed was that I was the only guy in the room. Then I noticed how stiff I was compared to everyone else. It became painfully obvious how weak my intrinsic muscles are. I can do squats and bench-presses fine, but these yoga moves kicked my butt. I mean, 7-month pregnant ladies were making me look bad.

I was sweating like a pig, but enjoyed the experience. Most compelling is that yoga is a 4,000 year old practice. People were doing yoga over a thousand years before the roots of Western civilization sprouted with Socrates, Plato & Aristotle.

It was kind of strange working out while incense was being burned and listening to meditative music. They usually play hard, driving music at the clubs. Yoga is very much in vogue right now here in Southern California.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 01mar2003 - Putting the site on auto-pilot while I take care of other things for a while. Hope find what you came looking for.