26May2004 - I was having trouble with MT-Blacklist:
the anti-spam plug-in I use for/with Ye
Olde Rad Blog (which is powered by Movable
Type). MT-Blacklist was filtering many seemingly innocent
posts, even those I made myself. I was getting an error that said: Your
comment could not be submitted due to questionable content. I couldn't
post comments to my own blog. Talk about frustrating.
It took a while, but after some trial-n-error, I finally figured out
that MT-Blacklist was (oddly enough) banning comments that contained
the *dash* character. I checked the list of banned
sites, and sure enough, there it was: a single dash as a banned
site. Not sure how it got there. Maybe a stray key-stroke while I was
the list. Soon as I deleted that entry, the problem disappeared.
Speaking of blog-comments, the granddaddy is the "Vector
/ Cutco 'Work for Students' Marketing Scam". If you search
for the terms 'Vector
Cutco', you'll find this popular page listed near the top. Scroll
down and read some of the many responses, both for & against the
Vector/Cutco marketing company. Surprisingly, it has become one of the
25May2004 - I've been getting questions
on the nuances of how to select the right memory (RAM). I admit it can
be confusing, so I'll try to break it down (Radify it) for you.
Most current-generation motherboards, such as the Asus P4C800-E
Deluxe, which I like, support two channels of DDR400
RAM. DDR400 is synonymous with PC-3200. These are different
standards that (to you & me) mean the same thing. A dual-channel
configuration implies you use two sticks of RAM (for
The XMS series
makes purchasing two sticks easy, because they offer what are called
TwinX Matched Memory Pairs. These "matched
pairs" are designed to work together in a dual-channel
Reader comments: 1. Dual channel works fine with
any even number of DIMMs, not just two. Most dual channel
motherboards support four sticks. If you install matching
DIMMs in each pair of slots, you'll get dual channel performance.
2. TwinX is a marketing tactic, not a design. While
it may be true that Corsair qualifies TwinX modules for working well
together, they're no different from ordinary Corsair DIMMs (of the
same specs) sold individually.
If you opt to go with Corsair's XMS series RAM (I did), you have a
few questions to answer. The first is, do you want 512-MB
(2 X 256-MB sticks) or 1-GB (2 X 512-MB sticks) of
memory. Since you get double the memory for ~50%
more ca$h, I recommend 1-Gig, But your system will likely run fine with
512-MB of memory.
The remainder of today's geek-speak is posted here:> Memory
(RAM) Primer, Corsair XMS modules
24May2004 - Looks like you *can* get a
12X Plextor PX-712A
DVD burner in RAD_BLACK. (You first have to click the green "Buy
Now" button and look to the menu on your left. See the BLACK
DRIVES link there? Thx Len). See HERE
(US$209 direct). I noticed they'll also have one with the (faster) Serial
ATA interface available next month.
Altho I haven't been able to find
any 12X media. Even 8X media is not
very common. Most DVD +/-R media still seems to be of the 4X
variety. At about a buck-a-disc, DVD discs co$t more than CD-R media
(700-MB capacity), but hold ~7X more
data (4.7-GB). So, on a co$t-per-capacity basis, the
two are roughly equal.
If you want to transfer a large amount of data (such as your entire
collection) to your new
computer (or wherever), you can burn a bunch of (20)
DVD discs. But the best way is still with an external
hard drive, using a Firewire (50-MB/sec) or USB
2.0 (60-MB/sec) connection. (This
drive offers both.)
22May2004 - Some readers wrote to ask if
Ghost works with the Plextor
708A DVD burner, because it is not listed on their page of tested
DVD drives (scroll down near the bottom and click the little "+"
sign next to the words "Tested DVD drives").
So I tried it myself and found that it does indeed work. I had no problems,
2003 from the Windows interface with the latest live-update patches
applied. Ghost automatically found the drive and began burning on the
subsequent re-boot into DOS. I used CDR discs, not DVDs, because I didn't
have any handy. But I expect they would work just as well.
Note that Plextor
has released the PX-712
(a 12X DVD burner), which sells for US$195,
but is not yet available in rad_black.
As a side note, this DVD burner that I had to RMA
back to Newegg on Tuesday the 18th
was return on Friday the 21st. That's a fast turn-around.
Newegg sent a brand-spanking new DVD burner and this one works fine.
20May2004 - As promised, here's the partitioning
scheme I used to partition
the four hard drives in the video-editing
beast I just built.
Note: The 15K-rpm Cheetah was surprisingly quiet. At first I thought
it wasn't running, until it appeared in FDISK.
Also, I installed both operating systems onto the Cheetah BEFORE installing
any other hard drives into the system.
- F: Plextor 8X DVD burner,
(black, secondary master)
- Hard Drive #2: 120-GB Seagate
7200.7 IDE/ATA (primary master)
G: 15-GB reserved for another operating
system, if needed, maybe Windows
Longhorn when it comes out (NTFS, primary)
H: 30-GB for audio files associated
Xpress Pro (NTFS, logical)
I: 30-GB for normal/misc storage, such as downloads,
drivers, back-ups, ripped
CD images, MP3s,
etc. (NTFS, logical)
J: 40-GB for back-up Ghost
images (FAT32, logical)
- Hard Drive #3: 160-GB Seagate
Serial ATA (connected to onboard
K: 120-GB dedicated for video files
associated with Avid Xpress Pro (NTFS, primary)
L: 40-GB for back-up video files
not currently being used (NTFS, logical)
Note: It was interesting to see Avid automatically assign the K
drive (120-GB) as the place where it will capture/store
video. In other words, it must've scanned all the drives and selected
the *largest* one for storing video. The program itself is installed
to, and runs off, the E drive. I manually changed the
drive designated for storing audio files from K to
H, so both audio and video files have their own (physically)
separate hard drive and controller.
- M: Plextor
Premium CD burner (black, 52X, secondary
- Hard Drive #4: 160-GB Seagate
External drive, supporting both Firewire
and USB 2.0 interfaces, being used with the Firewire controller/port
that comes on the Audigy2
N: 160-GB drive for sharing files with others. Copy
files to the external drive, unplug it & hand it over (NTFS)
The capacity of the external drive actually shows up in Windows explorer
as 150-GB after formatting. The drive is shipped with
FAT32 formatting. But FAT32 has a 4-GB file limitation, so I re-formatted
it as NTFS, which has no such limitation. Took forever to format that
There's a total of about 500-gigs there (half a terabyte).
And the system has plenty of expandability built into
it. The SCSI controller supports 16 devices, but is
using only one. There is one free IDE/ATA port (primary slave), and
one free onboard Serial ATA port. Also Firewire supports daisy-chaining
up to 128 devices. There's also a RAID
controller (Promise) built into
the motherboard (two separate Serial-ATA ports).
Every time I added a new hard drive, the system wouldn't boot. I had
to enter the motherboard
BIOS and re-configure the hard drive order. Each new hard drive would
become the #1 hard drive, which needs to be/stay/remain the SCSI Cheetah,
because that's where the operating systems are located/stored.
Once I changed the SCSI back to being hard drive #1, the system booted
normally. Seems that onboard controllers (on the motherboard, such as
IDE/ATA and Serial ATA) automatically take priority over those located
in PCI slots (such as the SCSI card). All drives have active
cooling for long life.
19May2004 - The beast
goes to its new owner today. I'll be sad to see it go. I was getting
used to those twin 17-inch flat
panels sitting on my
desk and using that blazingly fast system. Done configuring everything.
I synchronized the two desktops so that the two different operating
systems would be more integrated.
For example, as you know, if you dual-boot, you will have two different
email & Favorites bins, which can be a hassle, especially if you
need mail or a link in one o/s, while working in the other.
So I worked a little mojo and configured them so the email clients in
both o/s'es would access/use the same files/folder/directory. I did
this with as many items as possible by moving files/directories to a
The last thing I did was to create a back-up Ghost
image of each operating system. Actually, I made *three* images
of each: one right after the initial installation
& configuration of Windows XP. Another after installing all
and a third after the final system integration and configuration.
I also created one partition
(FAT32) on a different
hard drive to be dedicated solely for storing back-up Ghost images.
It's my favorite partition, I might add, because, if they totally hose
the system, or even kill the boot drive, I can easily restore
I've been getting questions on how I partitioned the four drives in
that system. Maybe when I'm done I'll post that info. Right now however,
I need to box everything up. But on the boot drive (a 36-gig
SCSI beast), I did this:
C: 2-GB Primary (FAT32) for boot files & common
D: 10-GB Logical (NTFS)
for WXP Pro containing programs
for all normal PC functions
E: 24-GB Logical (NTFS) for WXP Pro dedicated solely
for editing with Avid
Xpress Pro, along with other programs associated with video-editing
(such as Sound
Forge & Photoshop).
I also reserved one partition (15-GB, NTFS) on one
of the other drives, in case we need to install
another copy of Windows .. for whatever reason (maybe for Windows
18May2004 - I spoke too soon. While testing
burner, I discovered it was defective and needed to be RMA'ed.
I remember thinking something was fishy when I originally opened the
box. It came with a different piece of tape than the CD
burner (also a Plextor), as if someone had returned it. The tape
was barely sticky, as if due to repeated use. Whereas the tape on the
(good) CD burner took a knife to cut off.
The unit would not read any discs (CDs or DVDs). I even tried updating
No dice. When inserting a disc, a yellow light on the drive illuminated
for a few seconds, then went out. The CD icon also came on for a second
(the one next to the cursor) then went away.
So it recognized that a disc had been inserted into the drive. But when
I tried to access the data from the drive (in Windows explorer), it
said: "Please insert a drive into disk F". I tried
it in another system. Same thing. So back it went.
Did a system stability
test, by running the system max'ed out for two hours (using both
& Prime95 concurrently).
It didn't even hiccup. Rock solid.
17May2004 - Done building the behemoth
system (the one mentioned last
entry). It's a sweet machine and was a lot of fun to build. No problems.
I noticed that a 17-inch flat-panel monitor (1280x1024)
is plenty big. You don't really need a 19-inch flat
panel. And with two, twin, turbo-charged flat-panels, sitting side-by-side
(=2560x1024), there's a huge amount of desktop space to work with.
This was my first time configuring a triple-monitor system: two 17-inch
flat-panels plus a 14-inch NTSC (TV) monitor. Special software from
Matrox that came with the Parhelia
made this a snap.
The last thing I did, after configuring the multi-monitor set-up, was
to install Avid Xpress
Pro (on its own dedicated WinXP
Pro boot). My friends were able to purchase this (regularly-priced)
for a student-discounted price of $295.
Xpress Pro has all the features of (the more-popular)
Xpress DV, plus
many other features.
A side-by-side comparison of the two is posted
This is also the first time I've ever used a dongle.
A dongle a physical, key-like device that you plug into a USB port.
It enables the program to run. Many companies, which produce more expensive
software programs, use dongles as copy-protection strategies.
Note that Avid also offers FREE
DV, which is a stripped-down version of their professional video-editing
software, along with many good tutorials.
I disabled the network card in the Avid-only operating system, so I
didn't have to install any anti-virus software or firewall. Nothing
and Avid Xpress Pro. Less chance of quirky conflicts
being generated. Another, separate boot (also WinXP Pro) contains all
normal PC software.
Some other system specs are a 3-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 1-gig of low-latency
RAM, 4 hard drives (including a 15K-rpm SCSI
beast, 160-gig SATA dedicated for video, IDE & Firewire/external).
It's pretty tight in that case, with all those hard drives, cards &
cables, plus a CD burner & a DVD burner. Cramming all that hardware
in that case
(black aluminum) was probably the most challenging part. The only thing
we're still waiting for is the special, color-coded
12May2004 - Building a new system designed
specifically for editing video with Avid
Xpress Pro, based around a modified Rad
Rig, with a Matrox
here) as the key
component, which is the only graphics card capable of supporting
dual-displays *plus* an NTSC (TV) monitor output.
So I'll be out-of-commission for a few days, tackling this beast. It'll
be a monster, a beast, a behemoth. Just fired up the espresso
machine. Might as well leave it on. God, I love this stuff.
This will be the biggest geek-project I've ever undertaken. As mentioned,
the system will be multi-monitor, plus multi-drive, including 15K-rpm
SCSI for boot, 160-gig
SATA dedicated for video, a regular IDE drive for audio & back-up,
and an external
Firewire/USB2 drive for sharing video files with others. About 500-gigs
in all. I'm working out the optimal partitioning
strategy right now. It'll probably take half a day just to partition
& format those drives.
Planning to configure a multi-boot, with one operating
system dedicated solely for editing video (to minimize the chance
of quirky compatibility/stability
issues). I even printed
(PDF) a copy of my own Windows
XP install guide.
Half of editing video is wrestling
with the technology. This system should eliminate that aspect for him,
so he'll be able to spend his time concentrating on the fun, creative
08May2004 - I watched some of the Rumsfeld
testimony yesterday. Seems like Congress is now waiting for the
American people to weigh in.
First & foremost, after the images themselves, I was struck by the
fact that it was digital
technology that precipitated this whole scandal. By
that, I mean, digital photographs burned to CDs, leaked to the press.
This wouldn't have happened 10 years ago.
Rumsfeld himself agreed that words alone can't convey the sense of shock
the photos do. I can tell you all about how cool Heisler
Park is, for example. But nothing can replace photos,
which is why I use so may of them on my site. What's that old adage?
A picture is worth...
On a similar note, I have a funny story about when I was in the military.
My mother called her congressman and told him the military was mistreating
me. It was embarrassing at the time to have all my bosses call me in
and ask, "So, how ya doin'?"
But it illustrated to me how the military jumps when even a single congressman
gets involved. Maybe I'll relate the entire story later, if I get the
chance. Now, many years later, it's seems pretty humorous. Back then
tho, it was rather humiliating to have your mommy call and complain
that her boy was being mistreated.
The remainder of today's drivel is posted here:> Iraqi
Prison Scandal, Congress & the Military
07May2004 - Sidney
link about CD/DVD disc rot. In the Ghost
guide, I have long recommended storing images on hard drives, rather
than on CD/DVD discs, due to anecdotal reports of reliability issues
with optical media. Now there seems to be some solid support for that
On a less techie note, I played hooky
yesterday and snuck off to the
Huntington, where they offer free admission every
1st Thursday of the month. What a mistake
*that* was! Half of Los Angeles must've been there.
The place was packed. Bus-loads of screaming kids were
running everywhere, all wearing the same colored t-shirts. I've been
there a half-dozen times over the years (never on a free-day, tho) and
never seen anything like this. The pungent stench of body-odor permeated
the packed museums. Poor Pinkie
& Blue Boy.
Next time, I'll gladly pay my $12.50 and go on a regular
day. A little old lady who works there told me the best time to go is
when it rains lightly, cuz you have the whole place
to yourself, and the rain brings out all the smells.
Van Helsing comes out today.
killed it, but I still want to take the
kids. No one is allowed to close
their eyes or leave,
like they did the last
time we saw a scary movie.
06May2004 - Being the 1st
Thursday of the month, tonight is the Art
Walk here in Laguna
Beach (or, La Beana Gooch, as some call it). If you live
here in sunny SoCal,
you might be interested that the Huntington
Library & Botanical Gardens (cool place, located in Pasadena)
admission today (normally $12.50). It's good to get
away from your PC and give your eyes
On a more technical note, I've been designing a system for friends who
want to edit digital video with Avid
Xpress DV, so they can create their own professional videos, instead
of out-sourcing the job, which can get expen$ive. Did some research
on which components would be best suited. For a video-editing system,
it's best to design the system around the editing program you plan to
use, selecting components that offer maximum compatibility.
For example, I learned the people are having the most success with the
XGL graphics card, and that the Matrox
Parhelia is the only gfx card that features a triple-head
option (dual-monitors *plus* a TV-output to preview your changes), which
is the coolest way to edit. A dual-boot configuration, with one operating
system dedicated solely to editing video minimizes the chances for
I started with the rock-solid stability
strategy behind the components selected for the Rad
Rig, and modified it for the job at hand. (By adding more hard drives,
more RAM, multi-monitor, different graphics card, etc.) I might end
up building it for them .. we'll see. I suggested they look into purchasing
system, but they can get expensive, and you don't get as much performance
as you would if you rolled your own (built your own system).
05May2004 - Been out-of-town for a couple
of weeks. Good to be back. Noticed there's a new nasty worm
out, called W32.Sasser.B.Worm.
I found it interesting that the worm "Copies itself as %Windir%\Avserve2.exe".
Then it says: "Note: %Windir% is a variable. The worm locates
the Windows installation folder (by default, this is C:\Windows or C:\Winnt)
and copies itself to that location." In the Windows
XP Install guide, I recommend installing Windows to a partition
OTHER THAN the C drive, because some viruses specifically target the
C drive. But in this instance, my strategy would not have worked.
Make sure your virus
definitions are up-to-date. It only affects WXP
& W2K, not WMe
or W9X. You can download
a fix from Microsoft. You can also download a removal
tool (FxSasser.exe) from Symantec. More Sasser info posted
here. I downloaded both and checked my system. It said I'm clean.
Also make sure you have a recent Ghost
image and are protected behind a well-configured Firewall.
See Ice Czar's link-farm for more in-depth info on
The remainder of today's drivel is posted here:> Cinco
de Mayo & Sasser worm