News for May 2003


Radiation tri-blade symbol 30May2003 - Updated the FDISK guide, including the associated PDF. This is the site's 3rd most popular feature, and has been seeing heavy traffic lately. I try to give more attention to the more-popular guides.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 28May2003 - Receive my first message from an old high school buddy, after registering at Classmates.com. I grew up on the East coast [Connecticut], but moved West, to the land of sunshine and surfboards, after growing weary of scraping ice off my windshield.

I can still recall that fateful morning: standing in snow up to my knees, at 5:30, heading to work, still pitch black out, wind howling ominously thru the trees, and having that yellow plastic scraper snap in my hand. It had rained the night before .. temperature plummeted overnight .. covering windshield with ice .. couldn't see squat.

More than that scraper snapped that January morning. Two months later, found myself heading West for a new job in SoCal. Bought a Best of the Beach Boys CD and played it the whole way. [And I don't even like the Beach Boys.] Bought a surfboard and took up the sport. [Much harder than it looks, unfortunately.]

But I did look cool driving around town with that 9-footer wedged into the passenger seat like a tall, skinny date, sticking out of the top of the Rad mobile [the top comes off]. Still have the broken scraper stashed away in my glove compartment. Whenever I get tired of living in Southern California [traffic here sucks], I take it out and fondle it. Helps me remember... See here for the rest of this story.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 27May2003 - The site broke 1-million hits-per-month yesterday .. for the first time. See here. This milestone is arbitrary, but sounds cool nonetheless. Going to celebrate by taking the entire Radified staff out to dinner tonight. [Hope I don't get too lonely eating by myself.] It took almost a whole year to accumulate the first million hits. Now it's becoming a monthly event.

Saw a couple movies over the weekend. Bruce ALMIGHTY was mighty corny in parts, but I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. A Mighty Wind sucketh mightily. This is only the second time I've walked out of a movie and asked for my money back. It wasn't funny, just plain stupid. Just realized both these movies contain the word 'mighty' in their title. Mighty coincidental.

On a more techie note, I've been trying to find a good spam filter. Currently using Spamihilator, but it takes a while to dial in. More options posted here. What I really want is a program that can reach out and smack the living crap out of people who send me spam .. right before it crushes their computer. Something like this would work. Here's a good thread on why bouncing doesn't work.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 23May2003 - Radified received 7,521 hits yesterday .. in one hour. That's a site record. Typically, the site sees between 1K and 2K hits per hour. I traced the source of the top requesting IP address during that hour to a search engine in Munich, Germany. Seems it sent a spider to crawl thru the pages here [the Radified server is physically located in Atlanta] and index them on its servers back in Munich.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 21May2003 - Updated the Guide to Norton Ghost. This is the site's single most requested feature. I also updated the accompanying PDF files. These hadn't been updated for over a year. Been receiving lots of requests for that [updated PDF files]. I didn't want to update them until I updated the guide .. which is now done.

There's even an online HTML version with a black background, which some folks find easier on their eyes. This guide has been popular since the day it was published. Try searching Google for "Norton Ghost" and you'll see what I mean.

In reference to yesterday's post, about CBS airing the 2-part mini-series on Hitler, someone sent me this link. It is loosely translated from German. The original story is posted here [spiegel]. The translation is rough, but it's obvious that what they're saying is that the story is, uh, not based strictly on historical facts .. that they took liberties.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20May2003 - Wendy sent a few photos taken during her graduation ceremonies. They're posted > HERE. More info about her graduation from the world's finest Film school is blogged here.

Tonight is the 2nd and final episode for the television series about Hitler mentioned in the post from 17May. Received a lot of mail about that, including this one from a reader involved in its production:

I work for the company that produced the film. Originally, it was titled The Origins of Evil. But one could argue that evil preceded Hitler's rise. Then it was called Hubris, but this was deemed too tame.

Hitler: The Rise of Evil was eventually agreed upon as it identifies the villain and describes the story's central narrative, which deals specifically with his ascent to power, rather than the more familiar period of WWII.

I hope you enjoy the film. It was a huge effort on the part of many people. We went from finishing shooting on March 14th to broadcast May 18th which is something of a sprint for post production (my area).

I don't know if you have HDTV but it really shines in that format. Unfortunately CBS decided to air it full frame in standard definition. We finished it in widescreen (16x9) and it plays much better that way. I should also thank you for your guides. They're very informative and have saved my bacon on a few occasions.

Best regards,
**** ********
Senior Vice President
Post Production

Alliance Atlantis Entertainment Group

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19May2003 - Perhaps you've already seen this 25-second video. But if not, it's pretty funny .. a frustrated office worker caught on hidden camera demolishing his PC. The 4.9MB file is posted here. I almost feel guilty for laughing so hard, cuz I know the feeling. We've all been there. Yet the more I watch it, the harder I laugh.

On a less-destructive note, the NY Times posted an interesting piece on Dating a Blogger. They make you register [free] before letting you read the article.

Went to Wendy's graduation from Film school at USC this past weekend [see entry for 15may]. Ceremonies held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Found it interesting that people both boo'ed and cheered when one professor, while giving a speech, questioned if we [the United States] should've invaded Iraq.

Seems that folks are still fired up over the issue, and the country is divided over it .. at least here in Southern California. Speaking of SoCal, and LA in particular, here is info about a cool site I found.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17 may 2003 - Looking forward to watching Hitler: The Rise of Evil tomorrow night. His name has become synonymous with evil, so I wonder why they didn't simply name it The Rise of Hitler? My interest however, lies in learning about the historical setting that fostered his rise to power .. which I think this show will address. [2-part series , 2nd part airs Tuesday night]

I already know the series of events that took place during WWII. But I'd like to understand the psycho-dynamics that drove an entire nation to rally behind the man. I've heard him called a skillful orator. But I don't buy that. I mean, I don't care how skillfully someone might articulate his ideas .. if he tells me I should kill my neighbor, I'm not going to get my gun.

Thru my Internet journeys, I've found German people to be some of the most educated and helpful I've run across. The FDISK guide posted here comes from the Doc, a German living in Germany. Heck, they invented the MP3 .. so they can't be all bad.

Even when they're English isn't the best, they still strive to help where ever they can. So this long-time idea I get from television and media as Germans being evil people doesn't wash with my real-life experience and interactions. Actually, it's more the opposite.

After discussing this anomaly with a friend who is part-German and part-Jewish [not a German Jew], she mentioned studies being done on German guilt, as tho it's a famous thing. Supposedly, this guilt is not limited to top Nazis of WWII era, or even the German people of that time, but actually continues to affect the average German citizen to this very day. Can this be true?

Note that, anyone alive today, who is younger than say 70-or-so, couldn't possibly have been involved with Hitler. And many Germans [such as Schindler] risked their lives to circumvent the Nazis. Does the world still hold something against today's German for the things done 65 years ago? If so, maybe it's time to move on.

So I'm looking for a show that will shed light into the mind set of the average person on the street: what they felt and how they thought. Sometimes I regret not taking any History classes in college.

Hopefully this will help me understand why, 65 years ago, the ordinary people in this nation willingly got behind the man who [today] personifies evil itself .. cuz I just don't get it.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16 may 2003 - Just returned from the Matrix Reloaded. In short: I liked it. It exceeded my expectations. Heard some critics say they felt the story/plot was weak. I didn't see it that way. The story was merely more modular. Reminded me of Star Wars a little.

Didn't expect the steamy, erotic parts, or to see Neo's naked butt. Fight scenes were cool, but got long-winded. Remarkable special effects. That circular-panning, stop-action thing they do totally rocks. Kenau gave a surprisingly good performance, as did little Miss Trinity. Posted my impressions on ye olde rad blog. Tried not to spoil it for you. No major surprises.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15 may 2003 - Gone to see the Matrix Reloaded. Doubtful it can live up to the hype and inflated expectations, but should be entertaining.

Wendy graduates tomorrow. If you're familiar with the site's early days, you probably recall the trials & tribulations of a Film school student. Many people [such as Tara] have applied to the graduate Film school program at USC after reading the weekly updates.

Despite returning next semester for extra classes [see entry dated 13may], she's met all requirements and will strut her stuff across the stage at the Shrine Auditorium [Los Angeles], where she'll pick up her sheepskin. You can send a congrats here.

Graduation ceremonies are usually incredibly boring [if you're not the one graduating], but USC always has interesting speakers, such as Spielberg and Lucas, who graduated from USC himself. Last year, Academy Award winning director Ron Howard spoke. I wonder who we'll see tomorrow.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 14 may 2003 - Indulging my technolust once again, I installed Moveable Type v2.63. This CGI-based Perl script is designed to make it easy to update the site daily. See how it looks > HERE [http://blog.radified.com]. Its features rank high on my 'Cool' chart.

MT is touted as "the best" blogging software, tho it's rather complicated to install and configure. A review of various software options is posted here [WebMonkey]. Rebecca posted an interesting history of the web log here. I searched Google for the term 'blog' [contraction of 'web log'] and was surprised to find the phenomena had become so widespread.

I've never used blogging software. For the past year, I've been using my regular HTML design editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver. Before that, it was FrontPage. But I've always wanted to see what true bloggers offer.

When this main page gets full, I manually transfer older posts to monthly archives. Bloggers do this for you automatically, which would be nice. Plus they're designed much more elegantly. I suk at design, but know how to "borrow" aspects from other sites who do it well.

I've gotten a lot of mail over the years from readers asking, "What software are you using to blog?" It took me a while to figure out what they were asking. You can start your own blog [free] at Blogger.com. You don't even need a web site. What's the catch? They'll try to get you to sign up for the Pro version, which cost$.

I could be wrong, but I feel a site needs more than a blog to attract visitors. It's doubtful Radified would see much traffic if this daily drivel was all there was.

Speaking of traffic, today the site broke half a million hits for the month. This means, if things continue at the current pace, May will be the first month Radified breaks the magical 1-million hits per month mark. Keep your fingers crossed. It'll be close. I still recall when the site reached 1 million hits, aggregately. Now it's becoming a monthly thing.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13 may 2003 - Wendy called to say she's packing her bags and heading to Italy. There she'll spend the summer learning about Italian Cinema and Screenwriting at the legendary Cinecitta Studios in Rome. Scorsese's Gangs of New York was filmed there. More info here.

She's never been to Europe. Having accumulated enough airline mileage and academic credits to make this trip free, she couldn't resist the opportunity to study the art of filmmaking while peregrinating the streets of Rome. Upon return, she'll take 3 classes back at USC in her final semester: Advanced Directing, an Independent Production Workshop, and one other not yet determined.

She'll still working on her thesis project film, titled Breakwater, which is almost done. If you're a Radified reader from the site's early days, you remember the weekly updates of her adventures at USC: world's finest Film school.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 12 may 2003 - Saw Bill Gates interviewed on NOW with Bill Moyer. In this special, the Microsoft chairman [world's richest man] said he's going to give away 95% of his wealth [an estimated US$40 billion] in an effort to solve the issue of world health.

This is the best news I've heard in a long time. I almost don't regret spending all that money on Microsoft software over the years. Bill's father, Bill, Sr, is head of the trust fund that's been established, already valued at some US$28B.

Many kids die in third world countries from things such as diarrhea, due to contaminated water supplies, which can be solved by simply installing a well. Here in the US, diarrhea is little more than a nuisance.

This news is especially nice to hear after all the depressing Frontline specials I saw the last few weeks, such as the one chronicling how Wall Street crooks lied about their companies, took million$ and left widows with nothing. And also about how innocent people went to prison for many years. I couldn't even watch that one. Had to change the damn channel. A quote from Bill:

"I'll never be able to put myself in the situation of people growing up in the less developed countries. I thought: 'What's the greatest inequity left?' The more I learned about health and the unbelievable inequity…it shocked me every step of the way."

If anybody can solve the issue of world health, Bill can.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 10 may 2003 - Received word from Gretchen at Lockergnome:

Your site was featured in an e-mail newsletter this week [GnomeSYSTEM]. We have over 250,000 subscribers. You may find your Web logs spinning. This is a nice side effect from being featured. We choose only the best of the best. Please keep us abreast of new developments.

Not sure how they found Radified, but she's right: web logs are spinning, indicating many visitors to the site. Seems that they like my ASPI guide. As more people get into burning & ripping/extracting both CD audio and DVD video, an ASPI layer becomes more of an issue, especially since Windows XP doesn't come with one, and the newest ASPI drivers from Adaptec don't work with many programs [as good as the older v4.60 that ForceASPI installs].

Disneyland was great fun yesterday. We actually went to the other side, called California Adventure. Never been there before. The best ride there is a roller coaster: California Screamer. Doesn't take long to figure out where they got the name.

Like sitting in a jet at the end of a long runway, you wait while hearing a countdown: 5-4-3-2-1. You're then literally *launched*. You feel like you're being shot from a cannon. Your cheeks end up in the lap of the person sitting behind you. We rode it three times, always waiting for the front seat. This is the first time I've gone upside-down in a roller coaster. A very weird sensation.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 09 may 2003 - Taking the day off to spend at Disneyland: happiest place on earth. Received a pair of tickets for my birthday. They expire today.

A few readers sent links to this site, hosting an FDISK guide that looks an awful lot like mine. How does that saying go? .. Imitation is the greatest form of what? I noted his diagram is wrong. The C-drive sits on the outer edge; E-drive sits on the inner. He has it reversed. This would be obvious if he ran benchmarks. I think he's got a Ghost guide, too .. with some nice gfx that also look like mine.

Anybody watch Frontline last night?: The Wall Street Fix. The message I came away with was: In America, if you have money, you can break the law and get away with it.

There's really nothing new about that. Look at OJ. The thing that has so many people fired up is the extent to which these people ruined the lives of others. I mean, they pretty much tanked the whole US economy. It was surprising to see how blatant they were about it .. and that no one is even *trying* to send them to jail.

In a capitalistic society, such as the one in which we live, those with money... [you can finish the sentence]. They ought to at least send a few scapegoats to jail, for crying out loud. What do fines do? If I rob a bank for a million dollars, and I get caught, and make me give back half .. I wouldn't be too upset.

Reminds me of the line in the Oliver Stone film, Wall Street: "How much is enough, Gordon? How many yachts can you water ski behind?"

Radiation tri-blade symbol 08 may 2003 - Too soon to tell, but it looks like May might be the month RADIFIED breaks the magical 1 million hits-per-month mark. [Has a nice ring, doesn't it?] Site usage stats are posted here. If you extrapolate usage stats for May [not posted], it should be close.

I only hope the server stays up. We've been having reliability problems ever since my web-hosting provider [Communitech] was bought by another company. Last month, the RADIFIED server was loaded onto a truck and moved in the middle of the night from Kansas City to Atlanta. Since then the server has been suffering from unplanned outages. And when the server is down, the site gets no hits.

Next month is the site's 3-year anniversary. Three years is a long time in Internet terms. It would be nice to be able to celebrate breaking the mighty 1-mil per month mark at the 3-year anniversary.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 07 may 2003 - Updated the PDF [<-62KB] that accompanies the ASPI guide [<-HTML version]. The PDF allows visitors to download the entire guide, and store it locally on their system .. for easy off-line viewing.

A zipped version [<-37KB] of this same PDF is also available. The compressed archive saves readers a little bandwidth and download time. A similar, printer-friendly PDF allows folks to print out the entire guide .. without wasting ink/toner. This version has shaded areas removed.

The HTML version is updated every few months. But the PDF hadn't been updated for over a year. Readers were asking, "Why post the dang PDF if it's not up to date?"

Valid question. It takes more time to update the PDFs [two versions]. The ASPI guide already has two HTML versions: standard white background and alternate black background. With multiple versions of each format, updates become more involved.

Before updating the PDFs, I figured I might as well update the guide itself first. Since its original posting two years ago, it has been updated many times. Whenever an update is needed, I also review the entire text for readability. I get lots of mail complimenting how readable it is for such a techie guide.

I don't think it's because I write that well. Rather I feel it's because I've gone over it so many times. Most people can edit better than they they write. Given a couple of years, anybody can produce a clear guide. Most things you read on the Net are posted and forgotten.

Speaking of updating & revising, I also updated the guide to PC Stability Factors. This one has no PDFs, nor a black-background version. So updating it is a breeze.

I get most of my ideas on how to write clearly from this guide on How to Write Plain English. The book is here. I also try to follow Dr. Jakob's guidelines. Adobe Acrobat Reader can be downloaded free from Download.com. I try to spend 30 minutes each day doing something to improve the site.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 06 may 2003 - Err, I'm embarrassed. Red face I've been corrected: Cinco de Mayo is *not* Mexico's Independence day [that's 15 September]. Rather, it's a celebration of a victory against the French in 1862. Let that be a lesson to you: you can't believe everything you read here. But, hey: the beer's still cheap. Smile

On a less humiliating note, I saw a copy of Wendy's thesis project film: titled Breakwater. She played it on her laptop. Literally, thousands of hours have gone into this 12-minute short. It's very good. The intro scene is remarkable. I tried to get her to let me encode and post a Real-media copy here so you can check it out, but she said there are copyright restrictions.

To edit her thesis, she's using a combination of Avid Xpress v3.5 and Vegas v4.0 on a dedicated [video-editing only] Windows XP Pro boot. She recently added a 120-gig Firewire external drive to compliment the 40-gig internal drive her laptop came with.

Photos from the weeks of shooting are posted here. About 20 other short films are posted here. MY favorite is the black-n-white one titled BodyMind [need a broadband connection & RealPlayer]. Speaking of new movies, The Matrix Reloaded, due out next week, made the cover of Time magazine. More info posted here.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 05 may 2003 - Happy Cinco de Mayo! Like the 4th of July here in the States, this is the day Mexicans celebrate their country's independence [from Spain].

Cinco de Mayo stampHere in Southern California, with its large Mexican population, Cinco de Mayo in a big deal. Many colorful festivities are planned. I like the day because Mexican beer goes on sale. You can buy cases of Corona and Dos Equis cheaply. There's nothing like a frosty mug of Negro Modelo [+ lime wedge, of course] with a couple fish tacos, a pile of nachos and some fiery, homemade salsa, guac & sour cream.

If you live on the East coast [where I grew up], I'm sad to say you don't know what real Mexican food is. That Taco Bandito fast-food joint down the street ain't it.

Of course, the pizza here sucks. Folks on the West coast don't know what real pizza tastes like. What I wouldn't give for a pizza from Pepe's or Sally's right now. I've stood in line, braving sub-zero temperatures, waiting for a table there. Needless to say, pizza is not the reason Mexicans come to SoCal.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02 may 2003 - Made minor cosmetic changes to the home page. Changed the color of the background in the top corners [containing links to 'bookmark' & the translation flags] .. from black to dark gray. Also changed the background color surrounding title headings, such as 'New' and 'Forums'. These used to be silver. Now they're gray.

The new look feels similar to moving furniture around the house. It's the same stuff. Just looks different.

Posted the news update from April 30 on trojan horse scanners in its own page. I didn't expect it to take so much space. But it wouldn't stop growing. I try to keep these daily updates short & sweet. Speaking of short & sweet...

Sidney sent this link to a story published by the LA Times. It discusses the plight of four college students who got busted by the RIAA [Recording Industry] for hosting MP3s on their college network. The same story is posted at Boycott RIAA. An excerpt from one of the parents:

Noting that he owns thousands of records and CDs, Andy Jordan added: "They [the RIAA] have sued one of their most avid customers. The RIAA says that they wanted to teach these kids and their families a lesson. The lesson we learned is that we will never, ever buy another product from any of those companies again. That's the lesson we're going to tell everyone."

I already get too much mail on this subject, so I'm not going to comment. The Radified Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD Audio has become surprisingly popular. If you search Google for "mp3 encoding" or "ripping cd", you'll see what I mean. I think this is how they find me.

I've had people argue with me for weeks that I shouldn't be able to rip my own [legally purchased] CDs to my hard drive, and make a compilation CD of my favorite [legally purchased] songs. Seems a bit absurd, no?

The new X-men: X2, is out today. May take the boys to see that tonight. The Matrix Reloaded comes out on the 15th .. looking forward to that. I designed my splash page [7-second timer will kick you back here] after the Matrix.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 01 may 2003 - Adios April, aloha May. Posted photos from the trip to Idyllwild. Idyllwild is a remote town situated in the beautiful San Jacinto [yuh-sen-toe] mountains above Palm Springs, California. The town sits at an elevation of 5300-feet: one mile above sea-level.

There we hiked to the top of the Devil's Slide trail. That's what Shar wanted to do for her birthday. The trail begins at 6,300-foot elevation and climbs to 8,000-feet, over the course of 2.5 gorgeous miles. My legs are *still* sore.