News for November 2003


Radiation tri-blade symbol 28November2003 - We're back. Spent most of our vacation (4 days) at Two Bunch Palms: a natural hot springs resort & spa, located in Desert Hot Springs. "An oasis of tranquility in a world of stress." I took along my digital camera, and planned to snap some photos for you to peruse, but never got around to it. Soaking in hot springs all day turned me to mush.

Two Bunch is all about peace & quiet, rest & relaxation (no pets, no kids, no cel phones). Long time Rad readers will remember Wendy from her Film school chronicles. She's the one who first took me to Two Bunch, some 6 years ago. But we're no longer together. So the first thing I did, after making reservations, was to call her up and gloat: "Guess where we're going?"

She couldn't believe it. She had made reservations (with her new honey) for the EXACT SAME DAYS. What are the chances of that happening? I thought it might be fun for all four of us to hang out together, but Wendy didn't quite see it that way. She wanted me to cancel my rezers, or change them to a different time. No way, José. In the end, we all actually had a good time. But, yes, the coincidence was strange.

The remainder of today's drivel is posted here:> Steppenwolf visits Two Bunch Palms.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 22November2003 - We'll be heading out bright & early tomorrow morning to spend some time in the desert around Palm Springs, resting & relaxing. Might do a little hiking in Joshua Tree while we're there. If we don't make it back by Thanksgiving, I want to wish you all a happy one. Eat until it hurts.

In the meantime, I'll leave the site up for you to peruse at your leisure. There's vittles on the stove and beer in the fridge. Make yourself at home. Adios amigos.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20November2003 - Longhorn is the code-name for Microsoft's next-generation Operating System: the successor to Windows XP (which was code-named Whistler). It is still a long ways off, a couple of years. But you will begin to see alpha and beta copies floating around the Net.

The best way to get a copy is to become a beta tester [sign in using the guest account 'BetaReq' (case sensitive)], or know someone who is. My previous contact is no longer in the program. He used to give me his log-in and password, so I could download the latest revisions directly from M$ (fast, secure download).

I keep a partition dedicated on my system so I can always play with the latest OS-toy from M$. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a copy that downloads faster than 1-KBps, which would take 100 years to download. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Microsoft Windows Longhorn.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19November2003 - I caught a touch of the crud that's been going around. Been trying to get some rest, so I'll be better by Thanksgiving. TheraFlu is great stuff. Makes it easy to sleep.

In the meantime, I've been working on a new Radified guide: a Windows Installation guide. Little by little. Blowing my nose every few minutes. To do it right, I've been installing WinXP over and over, making notes as I go. Should be done soon. It gets dark so early these days.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13November2003 - After dinner last night, while sitting around the fire with a group of learned friends who were sipping cognac and discussing the meaning of life, St. Anselm's Ontological Argument came up (for the existence of God).

Anselm lived about 1,000 years ago (1033-1109) in Canterbury England. Ontology is the study of being & existence. Philosophy can be fun. Anselm's celebrated argument is a mind-bender, which is said to be the most written about philosophical argument ever. It goes something like this:

  1. * [First premise] One of two options are possible: either God exists in reality or he doesn't (you should have no problem with this part)

  2. * [Second premise] It is true that the idea of "God" exists in your mind, where you *conceive* of God as the most perfect being possible, or "the being for which none greater is possible", or "the greatest conceivable being". (this should be no problem either)

  3. * [Third premise] It is certainly possible that God exists in reality. (yeah, still no problem .. similar to point #1)

  4. * [Fourth premise] I can conceive of a God that exists in reality. (obviously .. similar to points #1 & 3)

  5. * [Fifth premise] Things that exist in reality are greater than those that exist only in the mind. E.g. the real Eiffel Tower is greater than the one that exists in your mind. (still no problem, this is the key part of the argument)

    * [Here comes the tricky part. Pay attention.]

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> St. Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 11November2003 - Here in the US, it's Veterans day. I am a veteran, thank-you very much. I served in the Navy, aboard a submarine, a nuclear submarine: called an FBM [Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine] .. colloquially referred to as a "boomer" .. home-ported out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I've heard it said that a boomer out of Hawaii is the best sea-going duty you can get. There were two crews for the boat: blue & gold. We were "the goldies": the good crew. The "bluies" were a rather dysfunctional lot if you ask me. Too damn serious and always screwing things up .. things we had to fix.

Each crew took turns with "the boat". We each had it for 3 months, and would fly to Guam ("Guam USA: Where America's Day Begins" the signs read): a long-@ss flight, crossing the International date line, to pick it up. There was a 5-day turn-over, where the bluies informed us of everything they broke during the previous 3 months, before flying back to Hawaii .. where you do nothing but lay around in the sun and spend the day at the beach for 3 months.

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Life on a Boomer.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 08November2003 - I have a friend who is a student at Saddleback college in Mission Viejo, California. He recently responded to a vague ad at the college for a job paying $16/hr, and discovered it involves selling Cutco knives for a company named Vector Marketing in a program titled Work for Students.

He has already attended several (unpaid) sales classes. Today he asked to borrow $145, and I thought it strange he had a job where he pays *them* money. So I did a little research and discovered literally *hundreds* of allegations of fraud and deceit, saying this is a major scam .. all over the country and in Canada. Perhaps you know a someone who might benefit from this information. Here is only a small fraction of what I found:

Unfortunately, I think he already left to go give them the money. The fixed link for today's post is here:> Vector Cutco 'Work for Students' Marketing Scam.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 07November2003 - Updated the Black Beast. Faster processor, lower prices. More performance for less money: the story of technology. Added reader comments. The new Matrix Revolutions is out. Might have to go see that this weekend.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 06November2003 - I've been watching the Nova special on String Theory titled: The Elegant Universe. String theory is a new model of the universe that attempts to resolve the differences between (unify) Quantum Field Theory (based on Quantum Mechanics) and Einstein's General Relativity. The best explanation of String Theory (called M-theory by some) is found here: A Theory of Everything.

The show is hosted by Brian Greene, a professor of Physics at Columbia University (NYC) who wrote the best-selling book similarly titled: The Elegant Universe. He does an excellent job of explaining concepts so the average person can understand them.

String Theory
is still only a theory. It hasn't been proven yet. Some say it never will. But it has much mathematical support behind it, which provides promise. Yet it would suk to spend your whole life studying something, only to discover on your deathbed that your theory was wrong. Here is the Official String Theory site. More here. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> String Theory on Nova.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 05November2003 - Here's a nifty program you might enjoy: GuruNet. It's based on the old Atomica, which you might be familiar with. I've had GuruNet installed for a few weeks now and decided to keep it.

GuruNet is "super-reference tool", including search-engine, dictionary, spell-checker, thesaurus & encyclopedia. It also performs language translations. They explain their product here.

For search-engine, I use Google and Fravia's page. For dictionary, I use WordWeb and Onelook. For encyclopedia, I use Encarta and Wikipedia. But GuruNet allows you to find the definition of any word by simply holding down the ALT key and clicking on the word. This makes it super-easy (1-click) to look up any word you don't know. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> GuruNet: 1-click Reference Tool.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 04November2003 - 60 minutes, the popular, prime-time weekly television program produced by CBS News, featured a segment titled Pirates of the Internet. In it Lesley Stahl delved into the (under)world of downloaded movies. They quickly discovered that you can download pretty much any movie you want, often before the official release date.

She mentioned Kazaa: the "world's most downloaded software application", as the tool of choice, and how a federal judge ruled that such file-swapping programs are perfectly legal. She interviewed Wayne Rosso, president of Grokster, a similar peer-to-peer file-sharing program. One comment Rosso made really stuck with me. He said, "The hacker will always win."

I agree. If a protection scheme is based on *software* of any kind, some hacker somewhere will break it. It's just a matter of time. And it usually doesn't take them very long, either. There is no such thing as an uncrackable software protection scheme. Anything can be "reversed". The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Downloading pirated movies & Ripping DVDs.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 03November2003 - Been having trouble with spammers depositing their offensive crap in the comments sections of my blogging software. And it's not just me. Many people with Movable Type are having this problem. If you read their 10.15.2003 entry on the MT homepage, you'll see where the authors of this award-winning software (listed under Best Practices) address this issue.

Fortunately a guy name Jay Allen has whipped up a little program called MT-Blacklist (v1.5), which not only blocks spammers' entries, but also allows you to delete prior entries (de-spam). The MT software, strange as it might seem, does not (yet) provide this feature.

We were hit by a variety of spammers: Casinos, hotels, and Viagra, about 5 from each. It upset me more than I imagined it would. Most frustrating was that I couldn't do anything about it .. until MT-Blacklist was released. Here is a screenshot of the program interface (13-KB). The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Blog spamming bastards.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02November2003 - Today (and yesterday, November 1st & 2nd) are the Dias de los Meurtos. The English translation: Day of the Dead. This is when Mexicans remember their ancestors. Note that it comes right after Halloween, when the nights are longer than days, and continue to grow even longer for a few more months (until the winter solstice on December 21st).

Here in Southern California, with its large Mexican population, the Day of the Dead is a big thing. The tradition is some 3,000 years old. Cultural traditions like this interest me for some reason. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Mexico's Day of the Dead.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 01November2003 - In returning from a week of self-imposed blogging exile, I must say: it was harder than I thought it would be. These daily entries have become a habit, and you know how difficult it can be to break deeply ingrained habits.

Even if you don't live in California, you probably heard about the fires. Here in Laguna, we are half way between the blazes raging to the north and south. The cars were dusted with ash if we didn't put them in the garage. It looked like snow. We had to close the windows to keep it out of the house. It still got in.

The days developed a strange, yellow tint. I think the ash filtered the sunlight in some weird way. It looked as if you saw the world thru yellow-tinted glasses .. like the end of the world was coming. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> California Fires.