Rad News for March 2010



Set up a monthly donation of any amount via Paypal
Rad: Newport Beach, California




Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.30 » The Bug spilt water on my laptop (.. while playing RIFT over at Miniclip). Didn't seem like very much. Maybe an ounce. I wiped the keyboard with an old tee-shirt. No problem.

Laptop + Liquid = BSOD

Twenty minutes later » the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). What happened? he asked.

That's the blue screen of death, I said. Not good. The laptop wouldn't restart. BIOS error said it couldn't even find the dang hard drive (media). "No operating system found." Never a good sign.

I lifted the laptop and found a little puddle beneath the hard drive that I'd missed upon my earlier wipe-up. There's the problem, I said.

I mopped up the puddle but the laptop still wouldn't start. Couldn't get past the BIOS media-not-found error.

Glass of waterAll the while, the Bug is bugging me, Dad, when can I play Crazy Chicken Pirates? A little frustrating.

I tried restarting a dozen times. No dice. We finally went to bed. Next morning (before I headed to the kindergarten orientation) it still wouldn't boot. Now I was getting worried.

This entry concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » Laptop + Liquid = BSOD

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.27 » The Bug begins kindergarten this fall. Can you believe it? (I can't.) After picking him up from daycare this week, I asked if he wanted to stop by and check out a school in our neighborhood. Maybe we can get a nickel-tour. I said. It was a gorgeous day and the school was only a few blocks out of our way.

School busIdea of Kindergarten Freaking Me Out

The lady there at the office seemed very nice, but offered no such tour since school was "in session." She informed me however (holding out a flyer printer on lime-green paper), that an 'orientation' for parents was scheduled for Friday (yesterday).

So I went. There I found 50 or 60 parents assembled in an auditorium.

The idea of kindergarten, I must confess, is kinda freaking me out. Seems like just yesterday I was changing his poopy diapers. Now we're looking at kindergarten? What happened? Where did the time go?

Yesterday's orientation class made me realize my baby is growing up .. a little too fast if ya ask me. Sometimes I push down on his head and tell him, Stop growing! He says, Dad, even when you push on my head, I'm still growing. (Well, stop it, I said.)

Weird feeling it is. Can't quite wrap my mind around the idea of him heading off to kindergarten. The idea makes my heart heavy. End of the early years. People have long been telling me that they're small for only a short time. And to enjoy it while it lasts. Well, here we are.

This entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » Idea of Kindergarten Freaking Me Out

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.21 » Finally learned enough about PHP programming that my studies are gaining traction. 'Traction' is defined as the ability to connect new information to things previously learned .. instead of filing away the discrete bits for another day (like I've been doing). New practice-examples have been incorporating many of the principles I previously learned.

PHPGaining Traction with PHP

Satisfying feeling .. like I've begun moving forward, making real progress. The pieces of my PHP puzzle are starting to fit together.

Up to this point, it felt as if my studies were based on little more than blind faith .. cuz I couldn't see how things I was learning about the language would work for me. That picture is now beginning to take shape.

I'm even starting to ask decent questions .. much more sophisticated questions than I used to ask. (The ability to ask good questions should not be underestimated.)

Plus I play-around with the code, seeing what happens if I try different things. This is one of my favorite parts of learning.

One of the reasons I began to learn PHP was cuz I wanted to be able to customize the new MODx Revolution Content Management System (CMS, currently at RC1, released just today), which is written in PHP.

But it appears that learning PHP does not necessarily translate into mastery with a PHP-based CMS. Learning a CMS, some say, is like learning a whole new language. (Hard to believe, no?)

For example, I just received an email from E-dawg [ .. who turned 26 today. I told him 26 was a good age cuz that's how old Einstein was when he published his papers in Special Relativity and mass-energy equivalency, known as E=mc². ] He has always said that learning PHP is easy. But today he said:

This entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » Gaining Traction with PHP

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.17 » Erin go braugh and the luck of the Irish. I'm not Irish (and certainly not very lucky), but the Dog is pure-bred. He says, if you catch a leprechaun, they will take you to their pot-of-gold, which the leprechaun will offer as a bribe in exchange for its release. Deal.

What happens when the Kung Fu master meets the battle-hardened street-fighter? Likewise, what happens when you pit the programming skills of a (classically trained) MIT grad with those of a self-taught code warrior (aka über-hacker)?

LeprechaunThe Theory-Hardened Street Coder

Found a fascinating article that adresses these very comparisons. (Thanks, Nigel.) Written by Dr. Mark, it's titled » Hackers & Fighters.

It's one of the best pieces I've ever read on the Internet. Single page. I've always heard the best programmers were (are) self-taught.

Saw The Hurt Locker last night. [ You know when you're in it. ] Won 6 Oscars, including Best Picture. Historic flick in that it was the first-time a WOMAN was ever nominated (much less won) an Oscar for Best Director.

I like to see ALL the films that get nominated for Best Picture, cuz I feel they give us an insight into our CULTURE, it's state, and maybe even where it's headed.

I mean, movies become part of our culture. And these films are those the Film industry itself holds up as THE BEST for a given year.

This entry concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » The Theory-Hardened Street Coder (Computer Programming)

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.15 » (Beware the ides of March.) Reader mail. Matt from Brooklyn writes to mention some freeware he likes. [ That reminds me: I need to update the Rad Freeware guide. ]

I've received some other recommendations from other readers. Have you noticed how freeware just keeps getting better & better? I normally watch FileHippo to see what software has been newly released and periodically demo different programs. See here for Matt's note & recommendations:

Indian Point nuclear plantReader Mail from Brooklyn - Freeware


I really like the collection of freeware you have listed on your site. Here’re two programs I didn’t see that you might like.

(1) RightMark CPU Clock Utility - for underclocking a processor. It saved my laptops from overheating. See this for details.

(2) Sandboxie - for separating programs (esp. Internet browsers) from your system.

Matt, in Brooklyn, NY

This entry concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » Reader Mail from Brooklyn - Freeware

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.14 » Few months ago I was sitting in church (minding my own business) when the minister read aloud a verse of scripture that said something like » 'Whatsoever things you ask for, you shall receive.' (I forget the exact verse.)

Cirque du Soleil - KoozaCirque du Soleil & a Confession

Anyway, that scripture stuck with me .. even after the service was over. Almost like it was following me around. Couldn't stop thinking about it.

While walking to the car (out in the parking lot), I kinda got the impression god was telling me, encouraging me, Go ahead. Do it.

Now, I normally never pray for 'things'. I figure god already knows what we need. (There's even a scripture that says as much.) So I see no sense in bothering him to ask for more 'things'.

But there *was* something I wanted » to take the Bug to see Cirque du Soleil. That's something I had been thinking about ever since I heard the circus was coming to town.

This entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog v4 .. see here » Cirque du Soleil & a Confession

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.08 » Been learning to program. Woohoo! Previously I spent considerable time learning *about* programming, particularly the pro's & con's of the various languages (.. something I enjoyed). Now however, I'm focused on learning the actual nuts-n-bolts of coding. Very different experience. More so than I would've imagined.

Aptana StudioProgramming | A Novice Reflects

Something shifted today. Programming used to seem like something done at a desk 10-steps away (so to speak) .. by others, at a distance. Today it became something done here on my laptop.

I can now see what others meant when they suggested I 'just start' .. no matter what language I happened to choose.

Seems many of the initial concepts introduced to the aspiring programmer (such as data types & logical operators) apply to most programming languages. So learning these concepts is what's really important .. more than the syntactic details of any particular language.

Also seems like I was always searching for a conceptual framework upon which to begin learning a language. Hooks upon which to hang the things I would learn. A file system into which I could deposit & organize this information.

Finally found that 'framework' in (I'm almost embarrassed to say) » a 'Dummies' book (of all places), where the author asserted that programming was similar to writing a recipe, where you document the various steps required to fix your favorite dish.

That made sense to me. It was something I could relate to. Moreover it marked the point at which I quit learning 'about' programming & programming languages and began to actually focus on learning the nuts-n-bolts of a particular language.

Programming as a recipe. The recipe paradigm. Simple concept. Simple usually works best. (For the novice.)

Many courses and books use the 'don't-be-limited-by-the-programs-others-write' argument as their reason for learning computer programming. But that approach never really resonated with me. I never felt limited by the programs written by others, seeing there are so many good ones to choose from.

This entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » Computer Programming | A Novice Reflects

Radiation tri-blade 2010.Mar.02 » Even more interesting than cool technology is » people. Homo sapiens are a fascinating lot, especially those who reside at either end of most any distribution bell curve. What motivates them to do the things they do? What do they value above all else? And why? What life-experiences have contributed most strongly to their view of reality?

Where Men Win GloryWhere Men Win Glory

Pat Tillman was one such person. He's the pro football cornerback who "traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a bad haircut."

He walked away from a $3.6-million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army after the hijackings of 9-11.

Contrast his behavior with that of Bernie Madoff, who said that money & profits were "all that mattered." Seems their values could not be more different. THERE's a comparative study in 'priorities' if ever I saw one.

Difficult to reconcile the two. Actually, Bernie is easier to understand. (Greed gone wild.)

So when I heard that Krakauer had written a book on the life of Pat Tillman (titled » Where Men Win Glory), I was interested .. even after the 6 years that've passed since Tillman's death. (While Bernie is still alive.)

[ Loved Krakauer's » "Into Thin Air." One of my all-time favorites. Was sad to see that story end. I also greatly enjoyed reading » "Into the Wild." ]

The title comes from a passage taken from Homer's Iliad (written 8th or 9th century BC), where Diomedes (who fights on behalf of the Achaeans) speaks to Glaucos (representing the Trojans):

"Who among mortal men are you, good friend? Since never before have I seen you in the fighting where men win glory. Yet now you have come striding far out in front of all others in your great heart."

So I checked the local library. Yes, they had a copy. But there was/is a long wait. I am #33 on that list. Never been more than #2 or 3 before. For anything. So it seems a LOT of people are waiting to read this book.

Fortunately, one of the librarians suggested I order the audio-book (comprised of 11 CDs). The wait for that was much shorter. Not many know about the audio-book it seems. (I didn't.)

I listened to the first CD yesterday (.. while fixin' some puttanesca). Wow. Intense. Story takes you deep quickly (.. into Afghanistan, the "graveyard of empires"). Recall that Afghanistan defeated the mighty Soviet Red Army in their 10-year war.

This entry continues & concludes in Ye Olde Rad Blog 4 .. see here » Where Men Win Glory

XHTML 1.0 Strict » Validate | • | Return to » Top

« News for February, 2010 « PREVIOUS || TOP || NEXT » Rad News for April, 2010 || [Archive Index]