Saturday: 27.March.2004

Dawn of the Dead - 2004 Remake

We saw Dawn of the Dead last night, at the Spectrum in Irvine. [Trailers posted here.] This is a remake of the classic cult horror film from 1978. It's fun to see scary movies with a big group - at night .. when it's dark. Critical reviews were good. See here. The movie definitely kept my attention, theater was comfortably-full (7PM screening).

It was hard to get everybody to go, tho. When I told Nick we were going to the movies, he said, "Great! What're we gonna see?" I said "Dawn of the Dead." He said, "Oh. Uh, I can't go. I have to do homework." [How many kids you know who say they can't go to the movies cuz they have to do their homework?]

I said, "Come on, Nick. Everybody's going." He asked who. I told him, "Me, Evan, Nikolai, Mikaela, your mom, Sharon." He interrupted, "Sharon's going?" I said, "Yeah. Sharon's going." He said, "Okay, I'll go if Sharon goes."

The only problem was that Sharon didn't want to go 'cause she's afraid of scary movies. So I told Sharon, "Come on, Shar. Everybody's going." She asked who. When I got to Nick, she said, "Nick's going?" I said, "Yeah, Nick's going." She said, "Okay, I'll go if Nick goes." So I got everyone to go by telling them everyone else was going. Maria helped, saying, "Come on. We'll all die together."

But they only lasted 5 minutes. That how long it took for the first splattering of blood to show up on screen. It was as if their seats were spring-loaded to release at the first sign of gore. Sharon & Mikaela were *launched* from their seats. Catapulted.

continued

Nick was sucked into their vacuum as they all promptly bolted. They couldn't get out of there fast enough. Sharon returned a few minutes later to tell us they were going to see Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed next door, but the kids wouldn't come back in.

The rest of us stayed until the bitter end. We enjoyed it .. altho slept with the light on. =) Heard a noise right as I started to fall asleep. My heart started pounding. No way was I going to "investigate" like those idiots did in the movie. Evan didn't think it was too scary. He said, "I've dated *girls* who were scarier than that."

If you see this movie, don't leave when they start to roll the credits. Because there are still more surprises in store. [Thx to Evan for the pic. He left right after the movie to drive back to UC Santa Barbara, where he just learned that he made the Dean's list for last semester.]

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 27March2004 | Comments (4)

Friday: 26.March.2004

Langa Posse Helps Break RAD Site Record

I noticed that the guide to Partitioning Strategies has overtaken the Ghost guide as the site's most popular feature this month. That's never happened before. After doing a little detective work, I discovered that Fred mentioned the Strategies in his latest newsletter [listed under the heading: 5) Good Site for Partitioning Info].

I'm impressed. That's serious traffic. The server is groaning under the weight of all the visitors. RADIFIED has been mentioned in other newsletters before (such as Lockergnome and InfoPackets), but never seen traffic like this. As a result, the site broke the ten-thousand-visits-per-day mark for the first time ever (see> here and here). You can subscribe to Fred's obviously-popular newsletter here.

continued

I'd like to extend a warm RAD welcome to the Langa posse. Make yourselves at home .. and try not to kill my server while you're here. =) RADIFIED International corporate headquarters are located in beautiful Laguna Beach, California. So grab a surfboard and enjoy your stay.

Posted by Rad at Friday: 26March2004 | Comments (1)

Thursday: 25.March.2004

9/11 Conspiracy Theory Fall-out

Every morning, I wake to an in-box full of comments about the site and things posted here. This morning saw a particularly robust crop. People get fired up over politics. What are the 2 things you should never discuss? (Politics & Religion) Now I remember why I stick to subjects I know about. Anyway, here is one of the (few) nice notes that came in today:

Your site is sweet! Compared to other tech sites, your Guide to Ripping & Encoding felt like reading a good book. Nice layout. Just the right amount of graphics. Well written, and thanks for not dumbing it down too much.

I like how your guides include lots of little bits of additional info, as well as links to other guides. Nice touch. Shows you've done your homework. I also noticed something different about your site. Couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, but then it hit me: there are NO ADS! Don't you want money?

Here's some constructive criticism: On page 2 you wrote: "Plextor [an international company based in Belgium]..." Plextor is a Japanese company (based in Japan). Only their European marketing arm is based in Belgium.

I found you in Google. Thanks for the great info and keep up the good work.
Evan
Maryland

I will admit that I learned a lot from today's nastier notes. And I freely admit that I'm *not* well informed, politically speaking. But who is? Everyone knows the media is biased. If you're not there in the room when key decisons are being made, can you really know what's going on?

Are special-interest groups exerting their influence over these decisions? Most people who already have a position on the issues get their info from sources they agree with. Which yields an increasingly unbalanced perspective. I like to be able to see both sides of an issue.

This is what I *do* know: there was a major (worst in the nation's history) intelligence failure on 9-11, and GWB was at the helm when that occurred. But, to be honest, I don't feel like he's devious enough to participate in a conspiracy like that. (Maybe that's part of the problem.)

Nobody at the cee-eye-aye or eff-bee-eye lost their job as a result, which seems to send the message, "You boys are doing a good job." Heck, I've fired people for way-less screws-ups than that. But all the same teams that dropped the ball are still there. Why wasn't anybody fired? I don't get it. You'd think someone would've at least resigned after a screw-up of this magnatude. Have they no shame?

continued

I'm just having a hard time believing nobody knew them 4 planes were coming. I mean, the government knows when I cheat one dollar on my taxes. Okay, here's what's really bugging me: Either they knew the planes were coming or they didn't. I'm just not sure which scenario paints a scarier picture.

In a separate issue, I feel the need to state that I have the upmost respect for the American soldier, and applaude Time Magazine's recognition this brave professional.

In conclusion, after all the 9/11 testimonies are done, we're left with this fact: It is (or should be) the #1 priority of government to protect its people. On September 11th, 2001, our government failed .. whether you are a Democrat or Rebublican. Even if there were no warning signs, they still would have failed. But there were warning signs, as we now know. Lots of them. People were jumping up and down.

Should they have stopped those planes from crashing into the WTC? Of course! That's their job. God knows we pay them enough tax money. If the people in office can't get the job done, I'm sure we can find someone who can. Exactly where our government failed will be the focus of the 9/11 commision. And to out governement's credit, we have suffered no further tragedies.

As a personal note, I do not go for mass support or bashing. Lots of people here are anti-Busg or Pro-Bush. I prefer to addess each isue separately. Because no one if perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. I like GWB better than most peole I know, but I think he and his administration failed to protect us from terrorists on 9/11. Ultimately, he's responsible. Does that mean he shouldn't be re-elected? Of course not.

[Rad dismounts political high-horse.]

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 25March2004 | Comments (5)

Wednesday: 24.March.2004

9-11 Conspiracy Theory

I usually refrain from addressing political issues, preferring rather to stick to subjects for which I have first-hand knowledge. But after seeing some of the 9-11 testimonies on TV, and the fallout from the book, I have some observations I'd like to share.

These represent nothing more than musings & speculation of someone who avoids getting caught up in political gymnastics. I think I have an unbiased, unemotional perspective, at least compared to people I know.

First, it's 2004. Why did we wait so long to rehash something that happened back in 2001? Wouldn't folks have a better recollection 2 years ago? Better late than never, I guess.

When a new regime takes power, the first thing it does (or should do) is *reward* those that helped put it there, especially if that regime holds *loyalty* in high esteem. What groups did Bush+Cheney come out of? Ansr: Oil+Military+Defense.

Ques: What would be the best way to reward (benefit) the people (old cronies) in those industries? Ansr: You'd want something that sells a lot of bombs & makes oil prices go up at the same time. Can you think of anything that would do that? It might be a fun exercise to check the prices of stocks in those industries and compare them to prices prior to the election, vis-a-vis the market in general.

continued

Next: If you're working in an industry (say, Intelligence, for example) that is being down-sized, what is the best way to keep your friends & yourself from getting pink-slipped? Ansr: Pray for some event that will revitalize your industry. If you're a street sweeper, that event might be a ticker-tape parade. If I knew something bad was going to happen that might keep my friends & myself from getting down-sized, or get more money for me & mine, would I look the other way and let it happen? Would you? You reckon there might be people who would?

Pre-911, the government knew about Arabs in the country wanting to learn how to fly a commercial airliner - not how to take off or land, just how to steer the thing. Come on now, you don't have to be Fellini to figure out that one.

You've heard of guilt-by-association? Well, how about guilt-by-proximity? Is it just a coincidence that 9-11 happened on GWB's watch? Why didn't it happen on Clinton's watch? Coincidence? The economy promptly fell apart on GWB's watch. Another coincidence? Millions of jobs: poof! Again on GWB's watch. Another coincidence?

In school, did you have a kid who always seemed to have trouble doing his homework? Or completing his term paper on time? Someone who always had an excuse? As legitimate as they might sound. At work, it always seems like the same people who screw up, doesn't it? I went to the school where they teach: Where there's smoke, there's fire. And GWB is one smoky dude. So you gotta wonder if he ain't playing with matches.

On the issue of the missing WMDs, if I were king, I'd build a movie set out in the Nevada desert, and fly in some tractor-trailer trucks, put some glowing-blue lights behind them, and slap some radiation tri-blade stickers on the side, and say, "We found 'em!" .. right here next to this sign that says "Baghdad: 50 Kilometers".

It doesn't surprise anyone that we left Osama in Afghanistan to invade Iraq because Iraq has the oil.

Lastly, on the subject of 9-11, perhaps you've heard of the Latin phrase Cui Bono. The Romans used it when investigating a crime. It basically means "Who benefits?" If the wife dies, and the husband gets a million-dollar insurance policy, you can bet he'll be a suspect. Who benefited from 9-11? This ends my conspiracy theory. I might have to run for office now .. or better yet, start my own bomb-making company.

Monday: 22.March.2004

New Web-Hosting Provider

Been thinking of moving the site to a different web hosting provider. I've been with Communitech since day 1 (June, 2000). About a year ago, they were bought by Interland, and the server was physically moved from Kansas City to Atlanta.

I like the Interland support group; they're very professional. But it seems like I've been having a lot of problems. I mean, I *never* had to submit a support ticket with Communitech. Not one in 3 years. With Interland tho, I've submitted 30 or 40 in the last year alone. Usually this is because Apache goes down, and needs to be reset. But I shouldn't have to call and tell them Apache is down. They should know before me.

continued

For the last few months, I've also been having trouble with their Reporting features, which they haven't been able to resolve, which is why I haven't been able to post any site usage stats lately. I must've submitted a dozen tickets on that problem alone. So something isn't right. I just want the site to work, without having to submit support tickets all the time .. like it used to be with CT.

I'm looking at going with Blue Virtual. Far as I can tell, they are highly-rated. (Interland is rated poorly.) These are the guys (I think) who used to work for Communitech, before their company was bought by Interland. Now I pay ~US$25/month for 350-MB of space and unlimited bandwidth (the site uses ~15-GB/month.). Blue Virtual offers 400-MB and 40-GB bandwidth for $15/month. Their prices and features sound almost to good to be true.

But BV uses Linux (Red Hat), which I don't think is as secure as CT's Solaris server operating system. CT also uses a server from Sun Microsystems, whereas BV uses a cheaper box, similar to something you might use for your home box. But if the site is having problems, it doesn't matter *what* kind of box they're running.

My biggest concern is that I'll have to spend a lot of time re-configuring the site, such as re-installing the Moveable Type blogging software, and the Forum software, which involves setting up MySQL permissions. Would I lose all 3,000 posts?

I'd probably have to create new sub-domains, such as ghost.radified.com for the various guides. Not to mention re-do'ing all the email accounts. Feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. Might just have to bite the bullet on this one.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 22March2004 | Comments (0)

Saturday: 13.March.2004

Secret Window

Saw Secret Window last night, at the Big Newport (on the "largest screen in the West"). I was disappointed. It wasn't that scary. The first third was downright yawning. I did however, get the willies really good once. But only once. There were some good parts, but I think my expectations were too high going in.

Nick gave it a 9 (out of 10). But I don't know how he came up with that rating because he had his eyes closed for most of the movie. I kept having to peel his sweatshirt hood down. He would hide his eyes in his hood. And every time the scary parts came, he would go to the bathroom. He must've went 5 times. (We did drink a lot of Coke.)

One time I said, "Come on, you can open your eyes. There's no scary part now." He said, "No way! They always put a funny part right before the scary part."

continued

While we were walking to the ticket booth from the parking lot, Nick said, "I change my mind. I don't want to see a scary movie. I want to see Starsky & Hutch." He was more entertaining than the movie itself.

So anyway, I wouldn't recommend Secret Window unless you plan to keep your eyes shut. All the girls there were hooting & hollering for Johnny Depp, who was recently voted "sexiest man alive" by People magazine. Critic reviews posted here (Rotten Tomatoes).

The previews however, showcased a new crop of up-&-coming scary movies that look promising. I don't know why I'm jones'ing for a good scary movie.

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 13March2004 | Comments (0)

Tuesday: 09.March.2004

Shap's Annual "No Suits Allowed" at LBHS

Saturday night, we went to the theater at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) to watch Mikaela (top-right) sing. She's a freshman there.

Every year, one of the math teachers (Shap, originally from Massachusetts), who happens to be handy with a guitar, lets students choose a song they want to sing and he accompanies them. It's a big event (called "No Suits Allowed"). 16th annual. Sold out every year. In fact, we had to procure our tickets from a 9-year-old scalper, who drove a hard bargain.

Proceeds benefits the Senior class graduation trip. Immediately after graduation ceremonies, the school busses seniors to an undisclosed location (so undesirables won't drop in). This lets graduates celebrate and have fun while preventing them from drinking & driving. They don't know where they're going until they arrive.

30 or 40 students sang different songs. Mikaela sang In the Arms of the Angels, by Sarah McLauchlin. Of course, she was the best one. Her mom was so proud. Mikaela said she was nervous, but didn't look it. It's not easy to stand up in front of an auditorium full of people and sing solo in the spotlight. People were standing in the aisles.

continued

During one song, another student on stage took out his cell-phone and started waving it over his head to the rhythm of the music. Next thing you know, *everyone* in the audience took out their cell-phones and did the same, waving them over their heads in unison.

Of course, *everybody* in Laguna has a cell-phone, even the kids. So it was quite a sight, seeing all those glowing indigo-blue screens and key-pads light up the dark theater. Reminded me of the days when people used to light their Bic lighters at rock concerts. This must be the new hi-tech version. I'd never seen that before.

I heard Matthew Perry was in the audience. He plays Chandler on Friends. Altho I didn't notice him myself. His brother, who sang the last song of the evening, attends LBHS, which has an award-winning drama department. The plays they put on are better than some professional productions I've seen. It's not unheard of for the more-talented drama students to have their own agents.

In addition to the celebs in the audience, Wendy drove down from LA & Evan took the train down all the way from Santa Barbara, (where he's studying Electrical Engineering) .. all to show our support.

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 09March2004 | Comments (0)

Thursday: 04.March.2004

Laguna Beach Art Walk

A reminder for those of you who live here in Laguna Beach that today is the first Thursday of the month, which means tonight is the Art Walk. If you start early enough, you can make a meal out of it, as many of the galleries offer visitors tasty gourmet treats.

Last month, in one of the galleries on Coast Hwy, just north of Dietrich's coffee shop, someone farted and cleared the whole dang gallery. Never seen anything like it. One elderly lady, decked out in a regal outfit with fur trim, looked as if someone had slapped her. She covered her nose and walked out with a horrified look on her face. The stench was indeed horrifying. We're talking potential biological weaponry.

continued

Hope to see ya out on the town, where I'll be sipping Chardonnay while taking in the art. I usually start on the north side of town and work my way south. (Anybody see that huge orange moon setting over the Pacific at ~5AM this morning? Wow.)

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 04March2004 | Comments (1)

Wednesday: 03.March.2004

Hi-Tech War PBS

Watched a PBS special last night: hi-tech war. Many new hi-tech gadgets & weapons were used for the first time in the war with Iraq, in what the government calls network-centric warfare. I tuned in midway through, and, at first, thought I was watching a documentary about video games.

Everybody had a laptop. A map of the battlefield was displayed on screen, complete with grid coordinates. Different battalions were identified with/by different colors. GPS data updated everyone's position real-time (!). So everybody knew where everybody else was located .. so we wouldn't shoot our own guys .. like we did in the first Gulf war.

I was drooling, in geek heaven, watching this technology work. Almost made me want to re-enlist. (Almost.) They went into some detail about the new software used to create a "digital battle command system" called FBCB2 [Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below 2 (thx John)]. Sounds like something created for a Digital Warrior.

continued

Technology doesn't come as easy to older folks (like generals) as it does to younger kids, who grew up with it. You know the new adage: If you have a computer problem, find a 14-year-old. I've found that kids posses an intuitive understanding of computers, whereas older folks often find their use mechanical. So it surprised me to see these gray-headed guys playing (what looked like) video games, and looking comfortable discussing bleeding-edge technology.

I knew warfare was headed in that direction (toward network-centric operations), but this was the first time it has been implemented on such a grande scale. And it seems that the systems really work. You can imagine the headaches they must've had getting everything to work. I mean, I had trouble networking one computer to another, located in the next room.

Not once did I hear a single soldier use the term crash, lock-up, reboot, or blue-screen-of-death. When it works right (politics aside), technology can be a beautiful thing. Seems like much of the technology used in their new network-centric system could've easily been ported directly from online video games currently being used. More info here.