Sunday: 31.July.2005

Unclaimed money

For years, I've been receiving mail saying, You might have unclaimed money waiting. "Yeah, right" I thought, tossing each envelope into the trash.

But last week, I decided to call the number and sure 'nuf, I *do* have unclaimed money.

Seems an insurance policy I purchased long ago (when a friend needed me to sign up, so he could keep his job as an insurance salesman) had lost track of me (cuz I moved so many times since).

continued

Turns out, the company went public, and their procedure at the time for dealing with policy-holders who could not be located was to turn over any funds to the state.

It has been years since I got that policy, which has grown considerably in value. I won't be independently wealthy (like many of you), but it's a nice chunk o' change.

I had to provide copious documentation proving I am the person named in the policy. All the forms had to be notarized, certified, registered and signed in blood.

So if you get a letter saying, You might have unclaimed money available, don't immediately dismiss it like I did.

The company that helped me recover these funds asked for ~7% of the recovered amount. Seems fair enough. The lady I spoke with was very helpful, despite my skepticism. She sent me all the forms & documents I needed to claim my money.

When I took the package to the post office, to register it, the guy behind the counter saw the address and said, "Here's another one! How much are you getting?" I guess this is more common than I thought.

The state forms say, "Don't even *think* about calling us until at least 6 months have passed." You can bet, six months and one day, I'll be on the horn calling Arnold, saying, "Where's my money, Arnold?"

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 31July2005

Wednesday: 27.July.2005

Treasures of King Tut (Tutankhamen) arrive at the LACMA

Treasures of King Tut (Tutankhamen) come to Los Angeles The legendary treasures of King Tut (Tutankhamen) have arrived in Los Angeles. They'll be on display at the LACMA until November.

The tomb of Egypt's most famous pharaoh was discovered back in 1922 by Brit Howard Carter.

Tut ascended the throne at the tender age of 9. The boy-king ruled for only a decade before dying (murdered?) in 1323 BC (before either the computer or Internet were invented).

continued

While researching Tut, it surprised me to find so many different dates regarding his birth, death & the discovery of his tomb. Not that it matters, but you'd think everyone would agree after all these years.

Most interesting, of course, is the curse. Many movies have been made about it.

Tiks cost $25 weekdays, $30 weekends. For an extra six bucks, you can rent an accompanying audio tour (well worth the price). Other US venues will be Fort Lauderdale (1st half of next year), Chicago (2nd half 2006) & Philadelphia (most of 2007).

I've always been fascinated by ancient civilizations. I even took a class in Archeology (at F&M). Can't wait to go. Maybe after this heat-wave breaks. Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Can't help but wonder if there's anything to that curse: Death Shall Come on Swift Wings To Him Who Disturbs the Peace of the King. I must admit, even while composing the entry for today's post, I noticed the software (both Dreamweaver & MoveableType) was responding strangely, in ways I'd never seen before. Nothing seemed to work right. Had to reboot repeatedly. Probably just a coincidence.

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query-terms: king tut tutankhamen pharoah treasures

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 27July2005

Monday: 25.July.2005

Shoutcast Nearing a Quarter of a Million Listeners

Shoutcast listening statistics for 25.July.2005 I noticed Shoutcast is hosting nearly a quarter of a million listeners. I've been watching the numbers grow for several years now, and can remember when <1,000 listeners tuned into their streaming MP3s (back when everybody was worried about Y2K).

By January 2001, Shoutcast was averaging 10,000 listeners daily. They broke 20,000 six months later in July 2001.

In October 2002, they broke 50,000 (see entry for 23.October). Then, in January 2004, they cracked the 100-K mark. Now they're closing in on a quarter-mil. I'd call that exponential growth.

continued

As more people subscribe to broadband connections, the number of Shoutcast listeners grows proportionately, because the higher bandwidth allows access to higher-quality streams (higher bit-rate songs).

The Doc (whose FDISK guide is posted here) was the one who first turned me onto the world of MP3s and MP3-streaming. I remember asking, "Uh, what's an MP3?" [The Doc is from Germany and a German company (Fraunhofer) invented the MP3 encoder.]

College kids quickly discovered the MP3 .. about the same time university dorms were being wired with Ethernet connections (file-sharing in its infancy). Then Napster came along and life seemed too good to be true.

It was. The courts shut down Napster while the RIAA demanded police haul 13-year-olds off to jail and incinerate their computers. Ah, the good ol' days. More info at SaveInternetRadio.

Shoutcast is brought to you by Nullsoft, the same people who make Winamp (which, as you know, really whips the llama's arse). Small world. Peak listening hours seem to be between 9Am & noon (Pacific time).

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query terms: streaming mp3 audio

Posted by Rad at Monday: 25July2005

Sunday: 24.July.2005

DirectSound output plugin generates nasty hiss with songs played using Winamp, while waveOut does not

Finally hooked up my computer's sound system yesterday, which includes the sound card, the mixer (which Buddy likes) and speakers.

Last year, I lent the system to a friend who was mixing a score for a movie/video. But after getting everything back and hooking it all up, I noticed a terrible hiss.

At first, I thought they broke something, or maybe something got damaged in the move.

But after further investigation, I discovered the hiss disappeared while listening to music streamed off the 'Net, which meant the hardware wasn't damaged (my biggest concern).

Further detective work revealed the nasty hiss could only be heard while playing songs with Winamp.

continued

So I downloaded & installed a different player: Foobar. Again, no hiss. Which meant the problem was isolated to Winamp.

But I prefer Winamp (which, as you know, really whips the llama's arse). I use v2.81 lite, cuz it's still the best version (which can be downloaded here, along with my favorite skin: ampesizer-grayblue).

Anyway, while comparing the configurations of two players, Winamp & Foobar, I noticed they were configured to use different output plug-ins.

Winamp was using the DirectSound output plug-in, Foobar was configured (by default) to use waveOut. I had changed this setting in Winamp when I loaned the hardware last year. Cuz I have another sound card in my system (cheapie old SoundBlaster Live) ..

.. which I used while the good stuff was gone. I configured Winamp to use DirectSound with the SoundBlaster because the Winamp FAQ on DirectSound said it was better. But it had been so long, I forgot about making the change.

Soon as I reconfigured Winamp to use the waveOut plug-in, the hiss went away. Woohoo! So waveOut is the way to go. Not sure why the DirectSound plug-in (a Microsoft invention, which is part of DirectX) generates such an awful hiss with my good sound card, and not with the krappie one. It shouldn't matter.

Listening to the SmoothJazz stream (128-kbps) at SKY.fm now. Sounds so good, compared to the junky system I was using before.

Further investigation at the Winamp FAQ on DirectSound reveals: "WaveOut uses software mixing only, which makes it less prone to system-specific probmlems (see below), while DirectSound can use hardware mixing if available, which is known to cause sound qualtiy issues with certain configs"

For more info along these lines, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query terms: waveout output plubin winamp directsound

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 24July2005

Saturday: 23.July.2005

Upgrading Big Al's copy of Avid Xpress Pro video-editing software

Spent the evening last night at Big Al's ranch. He has a monster video-editing system (which I built for him, back in May, 2004).

It's configured to dual-boot (Windows XP Pro), with one boot dedicated to running nothing but Avid Xpress Pro (Avid is the most respected name in the world of video-editing software).

This particular copy of Windows is isolated from the Internet. Its network adapter is disabled. Avid recommends disabling automatic updates to the operating system, which can sometimes conflict with its editing software.

Last week, we installed his new Avid Mojo, a hardware accelerator for digital video. That was cool.

Last night we upgraded his copy of Avid Xpress Pro to v4.6 (form 4.3, which was over a year old). This giant 250-MB upgrade is similar in size & scope to that of Windows service packs.

continued

So first, we backed-up everything, by making a Ghost image. Then we upgraded both his copy of Windows to SP2 *and* Avid Xpress Pro to v4.6. Each a major upgrade.

The digital gods must have been smiling cuz everything went beautifully. He was even able to continue editing the projects started with v4.3. I was concerned about this cuz the v4.6 installer had us first uninstall the older version. I wasn't sure if it would uninstall his current projects, too. (That woulda been ugly.)

The last thing we had to do was re-install drivers for the Mojo, which subsequently updated its firmware (by itself) from files contained (apparently) in the new version of Xpress Pro. It was beautiful.

I'm not going to attempt any more digital gymnastics for a week, cuz I've probably used up my allotment of luck for at least that long.

Al's system has 3 monitors: two 17-inch flat panels and a 19-inch TV on which to view the final product. It has 4 hard drives, including a nasty SCSI boot/system drive to run/service both the operating system and the Avid editing program itself.

One hard drive is dedicated for video files, another for audio, yet another is external (USB), so he can grab files and go. Tons of memory (RAM). All easily upgradable if need be. Beautiful system. A work of art, if I do say so myself.

With the Avid software, Big Al also received a "dongle" (key) that plugs into a USB port which allows him to use/run the program. This is the only software program I know of that uses a dongle for copy protection. Maybe Maya.

Afterwards we had barbeque ribs (pork), grilled veggies, corn on the cob, steamed asparagus .. out on the deck .. under the stars .. with a full moon .. hearing the waves crash .. listening to streaming jazz (from SKY.fm). Oregon honey beer never tasted so sweet. =)

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: avid xpress pro video-editing software

One final comment .. on a moe pugilistic note: tonight, HBO will be re-broadcasting the boxing match between Bernard (The Executioner) Hopkins & Jermain (Bad Intentions) Taylor .. for the (undisputed) middleweight title. You could only see it on Pay-Per-View last week. Ding-ding .. "Lay-dees & gentlemen .. and in this corner ... weighing in at..."

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 23July2005

Wednesday: 20.July.2005

Letter from RAD in-box: Brandon's yearly note of gratitude

Today I have a letter from the Rad in-box to share with you. The subject is titled: Yearly note of gratitude. See here:

I first found your site as a neophyte. But I'm no longer a neophyte, thanks primarily to Radified.

Back around the turn of the millennium, a Google search for Norton Ghost returned your Ghost guide. I remember reading for so long that my eyes felt like sandpaper.

continued

Back around the turn of the millennium, a Google search for Norton Ghost returned your Ghost guide. I remember reading for so long that my eyes felt like sandpaper.

So I printed a copy and began scribbling notes in the margins. I still have that old copy here in a binder, and have read it at least a dozen times over the years. I don't need to read it anymore, though.

I still review your partitioning guide as a refresher before sectioning off a new drive.

RADIFIED has been my home page since that first discovery. No, I haven't read your whole site. But your site has helped add many tools to my toolbox. EAC, LAME --alt-preset insane (I don't care if I cant hear it, I still want to feel it with the subwoofer).

Ghost -or -auto (had a little problem until I discovered the switches), Feurio!, PQ, FDISK to start with.

I've read your blog since "before you knew you were a blogger". That was funny. "Hey, guess what? I'm blogging." LOL

I enjoy your input. Like the recent updates on your router experiences. I share similar experiences. Been there: "Don't know why it started working but it did..." Now, DONT TOUCH IT! I now subscribe to the philosophy that says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," especially since free time has become scarce.

How's your son? Mine is 2 already. They require so much time & attention. Love the photos.

It's mysterious to me why, but I really appreciate your continuity. I read your blog and appreciate that it's always there, over the years. It's like a unifying element to the info-glut on the Internet. Here is something I can rely on, can keep track of it, keep up with it, learn from. It's always there and never in my face.

Thanks for 2005.
Brandon
Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada

__________ NOD32 1.1173 (20050719) Information __________

This message was checked by the NOD32 antivirus system.

RAD note: Links added for the sake of readers not familiar with items referenced. Reflects minor editing. I review the partitioning guide myself before divvying up a new drive. =)

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 20July2005

Friday: 15.July.2005

Editing digital video with Avid Mojo & Xpress Pro

Installed the Avid Mojo last night (video-editing on steroids). The hardware is bigger than it looks in photos. It's nearly the size of a motherboard.

Things didn't go so well. I told Alan to expect some glitches. It's normal to work thru problems. The Mojo (doncha love that name?) offers numerous features, but primarily offers real-time viewing of effects with no waiting for rendering. Speeds up the editing process considerably.

continued

Alan is a former race car crew chief, so he likes things fast. He already has a dual-monitor system (twin 17-inch flat-panels), with a third monitor = 19-inch TV upon which to view the final product.

At first, the video didn't even appear on the monitor. We only saw a logo for Avid Mojo. Discouraging. But a simple reboot fixed that. (We hooted & hollered the small victory.)

But the video seemed jerky, played intermittently (which is why he bought the Mojo in the first place). Nothing we did fixed the problem. After a while, the Mojo exhausted my bag of tricks.

So we decided to upgrade to v4.6 (the latest) of Avid Xpress Pro (4.3 currently installed), and downloaded the monster 250-MB upgrade).

At first, when we launched Xpress Pro after connecting the Mojo, I was surprised to see Xpress Pro ask to "upgrade" the Mojo's firmware. But it actually wanted to install an *older* firmware version.

I'm guessing that, since the Mojo is brand new, it probably comes with the latest firmware installed. But the version of Avid Xpress Pro we're running is older (v4.3), so it might install the Mojo firmware version made to run with that version of Xpress Pro.

In other words, I'm guessing that each particular version of Xpress Pro comes with its own Mojo firmware .. made to work with that particular version of Xpress Pro. Because I could find no downloads for Mojo firmware on the Avid site.

I bet when we upgrade Xpress Pro to v4.6, it will likewise upgrade the version of firmware running the Mojo. We tried not to install the older Mojo firmware, but the program (Xpress Pro) would quit automatically if we declined.

Anyway, things suddenly started working fine .. tho I'm not sure what we did to remedy the problem. He's going to play with it a while before we make an image and upgrade the version of Xpress Pro and the video card drivers.

I configured his system to dual-boot, with one operating system dedicated solely for editing video (network card disabled, minimal programs installed) and another, separate boot (O/S) for for all normal PC-rated functions.

If you need more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query terms: avid mojo xpress pro edit digital video

Posted by Rad at Friday: 15July2005

Friday: 08.July.2005

How much is RADIFIED worth?

Been receiving inquiries lately from companies interested in buying the site (most recently this one .. you can turn off the music by clicking the speaker, top-left of page).

I'm not interested in selling the site. (It's my therapy.) But I *am* interested in how much they figure it's worth, which I'm sure is directly related to how much they figure it can earn. (I did learn a few things in Economics class.)

And I can be bought .. for the right price. (I'm a capitalist at heart.) But I doubt they can afford me.

continued

Many Rad readers have invested in Google stock. So they're familiar with the outlook for Google's profitability, and that of other companies which generate revenue by selling ads. These readers periodically send me links to articles discussing the outlook for online ads.

Back when the dot-com bubble burst, a few years ago, ad revenue went down the toilet. Thousands of sites disappeared, including many good ones. But Radified remained unaffected, since we only recently started running ads.

But articles I've been reading say ad revenue is making a comeback, because it has demonstrated tangible results (increased sales) for its sponsors.

Consequently, more companies continue to allocate a larger portion of the advertising budget to online ads. At least, that's what I'm hearing. In other words, the outlook is bright.

Speaking of ads, yesterday the site set a new record for number of clicks. The revenue wasn't particularly great (since different ads pay different amount$), but it's still encouraging to see the numbers continuing to climb. (The Google agreement stipulates I'm not supposed to share numbers, otherwise I would.)

Some of these companies which are interested in purchasing the site, say they also would consider hiring me to continue to run it. That might be cool, but I'm sure it would cramp my style. Right now I answer to no one. And again, I doubt they can afford what my ego would require.

Friends tell me there are many things I can do to increase revenue. For example they say my pages are too long. Google only lets you code 3 ads per page. Consequently, many of my web pages contain extended sections with no visible ads. My web-guru buddies say this is bad for revenue.

For example, look at the first page of the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio. Notice how you can't see any ads the second half of the page (except for the very end). And the *guides* are what generate the vast majority of the revenue for the site.

I will eventually break up some of the longer pages into smaller ones. When I did that with the Ghost guide recently (from 9 to 15 pages), ad revenue from that feature jumped proportionately.

But it's more time-consuming than it might look. And it's not much fun, either. No creativity involved. All drudgery. So I'm in no big hurry.

They also claim I'm crazy to offer PDF versions of the guides, because people will download the PDF (which contain no ads) and never be able to click any online ads (Google only pays for *clicks*, not mere page impressions.)

Anyway, from what I'm hearing, it seems like now is a good time to buy quality sites, and as you know, none offers more quality (and originality) than Radified. =)

Posted by Rad at Friday: 08July2005