News for October 2003


Radiation tri-blade symbol 23October2003 - I've been accused of being addicted to blogging. While I feel that these daily entries *do* provide some therapeutic value, similar to keeping a journal, or relaxing in a hot tub, I honestly don't feel "addicted" to them.

So I've decided to abstain .. for a week: seven grueling days of doing without my blogging fix. Long enough to see what will happen. Will I turn into Mr. Obnoxious? as some predict? Or become irritable, like the smoker deprived of his smokes? Will I become belligerent, like the alcoholic separated from his sedative? Or will I simply find a new creative outlet? We'll see.

Before I go, I'd like to say thanks for all the letters of encouragement. While I don't have time to respond to each and every one, I do read them all. Many of them make me laugh my @ss off. You folks are funny. This past weekend brought a particularly bountiful batch of kudos. Here's one of the kinder examples:

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Addicted to blogging.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 22October2003 - Been considering adding a new feature to the site. Previously, I told myself I was going to concentrate on maintaining the guides I already have. They all require periodic updating. I planned to focus on *quality*, rather than quantity .. but lately, I've been jonesin' to create something new. The features listed in the 'New' category to your left are no longer new.

One idea for a new feature that I've been kicking around is a detailed guide to installing Windows. By that, I mean taking a new system from blank hard drive to Ghost image. This would include the installation all device drivers, such as chipset drivers, Windows service packs and updates, and basic Windows configuration. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Potential new feature.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20October2003 - I've been trying to determine what to do with the blogging software that I installed back in May. At first, I installed Movable Type just to see what all the hubbub was about. People were saying great things about this software, which resides on your web server (not on your PC, like most software) .. which means entries can be made from any computer with an Internet connection.

I also heard that MovableType was difficult to install, and you know how I enjoy a good technical challenge.

After the installation (no, it wasn't easy, but I had no problems), I was impressed. Friends followed suit. I liked it so much that I considered using MT to generate this main page (that you're reading now), and not simply use the software as a techno play-toy. I also liked that search engines (such as Google) seem to give priority ranking to my blog entries .. increasing site traffic.

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Movable Type, Blogging and Google.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 18October2003 - Here's a program some of you might enjoy. Suppose you're listening to your favorite Shoutcast stream (such as Groove Salad or SmoothJazz), and you hear a song you really like, and you'd like to save that song to your hard drive, so you can replay it until you buy your own CD.

What you want, my friend, is StreamRipper 32: an Open Source program. (Open Source is better than free). I tried it and it really works. Except, by the time I downloaded and installed the thing, the song was over. =(

Configuration is simple. Click the little button beside the Destination box in order to tell SR32 where to save your streams. Click the little down-arrow beside the Genre box and select your favorite genre. Then click the Refresh List button. Everything else should be self-explanatory (e.g. Start Rip and Stop Rip). The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> StreamRipper 32.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17October2003 - So I'm sitting there last night, watching the Yankees battle the Red Sox. It's the bottom of the 8th and the Sox are up 5-2. And I hear somebody say, "Looks like the Sox are headed to the Series." I didn't say anything, but rather, think to myself, "Obviously, this poor sap doesn't know about the curse."

I thought everyone knew about the curse. The score could've been 100-2, and it wouldn't have mattered. The Sox *still* would've lost. It may have taken 2 extra innings, but they finally did. They lost: 6-5. It was like clockwork. So it must be true: the Sox really are cursed.

It's called the Curse of the Bambino. But how cool would it have beenS to see them win for once? .. and break the curse? Maybe next year? (Yeah, right.) Maybe they should change their uniform, or the name of the team? Confuse the ghosts. The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Boston Red Sox: Curse of the Bambino.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16October2003 - Here in sunny Southern California, all the major grocery store chains are on strike. This suks cuz you still have to eat. I've never been a member of a union, but am nonetheless sympathetic to their cause. If possible, I'd rather not cross the picket line.

So I went to Albertson's late last night, around 10PM, to pick up a few things, figuring all the picketers would have long gone home. No way. They were still there. But they were cool. I chatted with them for a few minutes.

Inside was a mess. Mass confusion. It took the girl *forever* to check me out. I even told her how much the yellow bell peppers cost, but she said, "I still have to enter the code," which she couldn't seem to find. Frustration.

I asked if she was concerned about getting her @ss kicked by the picketers. She said she was more worried that her dad might find out. He is a teamster rep, and would kill her if he knew she was crossing a picket line. (They call them "scabs" here.) The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> California grocery store chains on strike.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15October2003 - I've always admired sites like Doug Shaw's (left winger) and Orrin's (right winger) that publish reviews on the top 100 English-speaking novels of the 20th century .. as listed by the Modern Library. These works have stood the test of time. Defied obscurity.

How nice would it be to sit down and read all 100 books? Boy, would I be able to impress my friends. The NY Times reviewed some of these books here. The Brothers Judd have posted their own concise list with grades A thru F.

I find it interesting that Ulysses (by James Joyce) was ranked #1 by the Modern Library board, yet given a grade of 'F' by the Brothers. In their words: "Hard to give a low enough grade to the single most destructive piece of Literature ever written."

Doug said, "I was not smart enough to understand it. I had a horrible time reading it, and will never read it again." Orrin said: "A novel that could only be read, understood or enjoyed by its author. Spare yourself." The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Book Reviews of 20th Century's Top 100 Novels

Radiation tri-blade symbol 14October2003 - Saw Under the Tuscan Sun last night. As Sidney says, it's definitely a major chick-flick. But I still enjoyed it. I mean, who wouldn't love to get divorced from a cheating partner and move to a villa in Tuscany?

Stars Diane Lane, who everybody seems to like. Based on the novel by Francis Mayes. I heard the book spent a lot more time describing food, the meals, and even included recipes. Trailer posted here. The landscape-shots were postcard gorgeous.

I could've sworn they based several of the shots on scenes from old Fellini films (English site here .. any Amarcord fans out there?). The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Under the Tuscan Sun.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13October2003 - Been busy building a new system for a friend. Takes more time than I seem to recall. But I've done this enough times now to feel comfortable I can do it right, avoiding the common mistakes.

The system looks something like the black beast. It was designed and configured using known stability factors. The hybrid SCSI / ATA disk storage system was partitioned in accordance with these partitioning strategies, using FDISK.

The system is based on a zippy 2.8C-GHz Intel Pentium 4 CPU. First thing I did after installing the operating system and some basic programs and applications was to create a back-up Ghost image. We tried to use the latest version of Adaptec's ASPI layer drivers. But they gave us problems, so we had to revert back to old reliable v4.60 via ForceASPI. I ran a few cursory PC benchmarks and everything looks sweet.

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> New Computer Build: The Black Beast.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 08October2003 - Arnold! It wasn't even close.

I was surprised to hear this is big news not only here in California, but everywhere around the world. The thing people find so interesting (I think) about this election has nothing to do with politics, but rather that an immigrant (from Austria) can come to this country with nothing more than a burning ambition and become a movie star and the governor of its most populous state. I mean, he can't even annunciate the language very well. Yet he's living the American dream like nobody else.

What really pissed off most people about Gray Davis (old governor) was the car tax. A few days before the election, everyone started getting bills in the mail, tripling their car tax. The timing couldn't have been any worse. This meant that a typical 2-car family would end up paying ~$1,000 in car-tax alone. Arnold said he would repeal the car tax. Many people went to the polls, not to vote for Arnold, but rather to vote *against* the car tax.

The remainder of today's drivel on this topic is posted here:> Arnold wins! Governor of California.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 06October2003 - We'll be out of town for a few days .. for business (and hopefully some pleasure). While we're away, I'll leave the site up for you to peruse at your leisure. There's beer in the fridge and food on the stove. Make yourself at home.

Looks like traffic from Friday's Lockergnome link was too much for the Radified server to handle. (See previous entry below.) It killed the site for several hours. But not before visitors downloaded thousands of Ghost PDFs (95-KB). The printer-friendly version (153-KB) was especially popular.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 03October2003 - Lockergnome featured the Radified guide to Norton Ghost in their newsletter today (listed under heading: GnomeFAVORITE). Back on May 9th, they featured the ASPI guide (listed under heading: GnomeSYSTEM).

Chris Pirillo has a popular site. He claims to have over 250,000 subscribers. Featured articles send the stats counter spinning. If the site is slow, you'll know why. Update: here is what the site usage stats look like so far today. Notice what happened around noon.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02October2003 - I noticed the download pages for both Alex's Motherboard Monitor and Trojan Defense Suite contain something called MD5 checksum .. followed by long hashes, such as: 799ac45a1c7e570c53dd27839b8379de.

Did some research and discovered that that MD5 is an algorithm (mathematical formula) developed by a Professor at MIT, that serves as a digital security mechanism of sorts, which is "a way to verify data integrity."

I also found two free program you can download. One is MD5 hash, the other WinMD5. I tried both, and they both work fine. With the first, you 'open' the file you wish to check by navigating to it. With the second, you drag-n-drop the file into/onto the WinMD5 program. I was actually surprised to see such a large hash reproduced so accurately.

Anyway, with an MD5 hash and one of these free programs, you can be certain no one has tampered with the program file(s) you are downloading, and that you got the whole enchilada. I dig all that crypto-techno-über-geek stuff. Update: We've had some clarification on how MD5 ensures secure files. From Marc Hollins:

The original publisher of the file calculates the MD5 hash from the file and posts the hash on his web site. You download the file and calculate another MD5 hash from the downloaded file. You compare the original hash with the one you generate. If they match, you know your file has not been tampered with. Hope that helps.

The fixed-link blog for today's entry is posted here: MD5 Checksum hash.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 01October2003 - I love October, especially the first two weeks. This is the only time of year I get homesick and miss New England (grew up in Connecticut) .. where the leaves change color .. the days are perfect, nights crisp. I like the smell of falling leaves in the air.

One time, when I was a punk-kid, my friends dared me to jump off a rock head-first into a big pile of leaves .. not too smart .. damn near broke my neck. Saw stars for a few minutes. In the Navy, my superiors would always complain that my hat wasn't on straight. I think it's cuz my head is crooked now. So, if I seem "not right", that's probably why. =) Looking back, it's a miracle I made it out alive.

In Southern California, we don't get the change of seasons. Here, it seems like just another gorgeous day, except not quite as warm and the water gets cold. Need to break out the wetsuit.