News for May 2005


Radiation tri-blade symbol 31.may.2005 - Updated the Black Beast. A bad case of link-rot had set in there.

I have much to say about the subject of link-rot: the bane of web masters everywhere. There's one source I know of whose links never rot: The Inquirer. Any link to an Inquirer article will always remain valid .. just like a Radified link.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 30.may.2005 - Today we honor the fallen by taking time to remember their sacrifice, especially the 1657 soldiers who have died in Iraq.

My own little 6-year stint in the military taught me this: nothing else comes close to the challenge I faced daily while enlisted. Even my worst days now are better than my best days then. No matter how challenging life becomes, it's always a breeze compared to those 2192 days.

When I finally got out, my DD-214 (discharge papers) described my tour of service as "arduous". I didn't even know what that word meant. I had to look it up in the dictionary, which described it as:

  1. difficult and tiring:  requiring hard work or continuous strenuous effort
  2. steep or demanding:  very difficult to traverse, endure, or overcome

I thought, "damn right." The military, if nothing else, changes your perspective on life. My Navy buddy, the Dog, said it this way, "For years after you get out, you feel like life is too good to be true. There's a looming sense that it's all going to come crashing down on your head at any moment. But it never does."

And we never had anybody shooting bullets at us, which must increase the stress-factor considerably. War quotes posted here (should be required reading in our schools).

Radiation tri-blade symbol 28.may.2005 - PC maintenance is scheduled for today. Think of it like a tune-up for your car, cuz it's hard to indulge your technolust if your beast ain't runnin' right.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 27.may.2005 - In local news, the 24th Annual Corona del Mar Scenic 5K Race is scheduled for June 4th. That's one week from tomorrow.

Online registration is open until noon on the 30th, for $25. After that it's $30 at selected locations. Gorgeous course. 5K meters = 3.1 miles. It's sure to be a fun time for everyone. So dust off those running shoes all you techies.

I also want to be a good host and re-mention Mr. Magoo's Guide to BitTorrent, which shares with you the mojo on how to get that new file-sharing program up & running on your own PC. This weekend might be a good time for that. Remember to share responsibly.

After posting the guide a few weeks ago, Mr. Magoo has continued to update & clarify various sections in response to overwhelming reader feedback. He even added another page to address "Common Problems" people were having.

In other techie news, we hear Intel has embedded Digital Rights Management (DRM) into its newest CPU, the dual-core Pentium D, and the 945 chipset that supports it. Story here.

More dual-core info here. Ah, here is the best info I've found on the subject of dual-core, aka Pentium D. I'd wager some clever geeks will patch that DCM code quicker than you can say reverse engineering.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 25.may.2005 - Upgraded the forum software today (YaBB), from v1.3.2 to v1.4. Primarily security stuff:

  • Session ID protection added
  • Javascript execution in shadow tags now blocked

.. and some bug fixes. Requires users to re-login afterwards. I almost forgot my dang password and couldn't log into my own forum. How embarrassing. Lemme know if you have trouble with your password. I can send you a new one.

Rumor has it AOL users may have problems staying logged in with v1.4 cuz of their dynamic IP. I always sweat bullets whenever I upgrade the forum software. Also added the option (a mod) to create Polls.

YaBB is getting ready to release v2.0 soon, which adds a long list of new features. Version 2.0 is currently at Release Candidate 2 (released 27.april). Folks who want to install a forum on their site might also consider Simple Machines. All freeware.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 24.may.2005 - Today I pulled a letter from the Rad mailbox to share with you. One of the best things about running a site like this is all the people I hear from, who live all over the world. The subject of the message is titled: Most Useful Site since TOM's:

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Kudos & a milestone

Radiation tri-blade symbol 23.may.2005 - Been receiving mail from readers noting how summer is almost here, and that they're itching to build a new system (computer) this summer. So I dusted off the old template I used when designing the Black Beast.

The new "2005" system will be based on the Intel 955X chipset, which adds future-proofing with its support for 1066-MHz FSB. That's the only decision I've made so far.

The CPU selection has been narrowed down to two options (both Pentium 4s): either the 3.2-GHz 640 (US$280), or the 3.4-GHz 650 (US$414). Is the extra 0.2-GHz worth an extra $135? Probably not. I expected prices would've dropped faster than they have.

It will take a few days to wade thru the info and come up with something new. The new chipsets have been out long enough to allow plenty of time for the boys at Intel to iron out all the bugs.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 21.may.2005 - In a galaxy far, far away ... I saw the new Star Wars yesterday. Had to catch the matinee, cuz the later shows were all sold out.

What a spectacular event. Lucas was criticize last time (Episode II - Attack of the Clones) for abandoning the element of "story" and relying too heavily on wiz-bang special effects. Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) presents a richly-layered, tightly-woven story.

What does it take for an altruistic Jedi to turn from the light and embrace "the dark side"? That's the backstory behind episode III. We see young Anakin Skywalker, the "chosen one", forsake his noble Jedi brothers and become transformed into Lord Darth Vader.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: Rad review

Radiation tri-blade symbol 20.may.2005 - Thought I would beat the crowds and see the new Star Wars flic last night (Episode III - Revenge of the Sith). But it was sold out. Surprising for a Thursday night, especially cuz the Big Newport seats over a thousand people. The camping area on the lawn of the Big Newport had been full for days.

George Lucas, the director, graduated from USC Film School, the oldest & best Film school on the planet. He's a big techie himself. Supposedly, he got the idea for Star Wars while talking to Joseph Campbell about the Power of Myth.

Maybe I'll try again tonight, but Friday will probably sell out even quicker. Strong reviews.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 19.may.2005 - The phone rang last night. Friends called to say, "Dude, turn on 60 Minutes." CBS was broadcasting an interview with the Commanding Officer of that nuclear sub (USS San Francisco) that ran into an underwater mountain back in January.

What struck me most about the interview was how the Captain accepted complete responsibility for the accident, even tho the Navy had provided him with inaccurate underwater maps, which did not show the mountain, and had plotted his course for him.

It was strange seeing the 60 Minutes correspondent actually *defend* the Captain, when they are typically the ones making the accusations. The 60 Minutes guy says, "But they plotted a course that took you right into that mountain." And the captain responds, "That's right, but the safety of the ship is still ultimately my responsibility."

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: 60 Minutes interviews Captain of nuclear sub that ran aground

Radiation tri-blade symbol 18.may.2005 - Jumped in the ocean today, down at Crescent Bay. Caught a few of the big waves that rolled in. I can body-surf okay, especially when I have my Churchills. Got knocked around pretty good. One wave put me thru "the washing machine". Ka-runch.

Today is the first day I got in the water this year *without* my wet-suit. That always marks the beginning of summer for me.

On the flip-side (in autumn), the day I have to turn on the heat for the first time always marks the beginning of winter (.. usually late-November, or early-December). A sad day. But today's a happy day. Feels good to get wet and get pummeled by Mother Nature.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 17.may.2005 - Saw the movie Crash last night. Rotten Tomatoes rated it Certified Fresh, which is one reason why I went. All CF-rated films I've seen have been excellent.

Crash is about "the complexities of racial conflict in America." A rather ambitious undertaking. And it does a superb job at addressing this aspect. Many familiar actors & actresses lend their talents. Can't remember the last time I recognized so many faces in one film.

It reminded me a little of Pulp Fiction, the way it was disjointed. Many seemingly unrelated scenes are strung together, which tie together only at the end. This is not my favorite style of film.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> CRASH: A review of the movie / film

Radiation tri-blade symbol 16.may.2005 - Was surfing the web last week, when I came across double-green-underlined words (forget which site). So I clicked the "what's this" link, which led to this page.

Turns out it was an advertising program. Since the Google thing went so well, I decided to apply for this other .. to see what gives. Today I got the following letter:

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: Vibrant Media IntelliTXT contextual keyword advertising

Radiation tri-blade symbol 15.may.2005 - Winky won! Descriptions of the fight can be found at Sports Illustrated, and MSNBC, and New York Times .. San Francisco Chronicle. I thought it would be closer. The bout should air next Saturday on regular HBO (not Pay Per View).

This sets up a championship bout between Winky and the decade-long middleweight champ: Bernard Hopkins. What a good fight *that* would be. None is cagier than Hopkins, who owns more belts than he can carry. But, at 40 years of age, father-time is fast on his heels. Few boxers have more title defenses.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 14.may.2005 - I called all the local sports bars to see if anyone was hosting tonight's fight (refer to yesterday's entry). Only National Sports Grill was game, but only at their Buena Park & Torrance locations ($20 per-person cover).

I talked to the owner of one local place, here in Orange county. He said it's just too expensive. I don't feel like driving up to Los Angeles to see the fight, so I'm out of luck. I even searched the web to see if I could find a webcast. Looks like the odds are 3-2 in favor of Tito. That sounds about right.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 13.may.2005 - Today is Friday the 13th. Beware of black cats & other such unlucky things.

Major boxing match tomorrow night: Winky Wright (48-3) vs Felix "Tito" Trinidad (42-1, Puerto Rico). This will be a serious fight. Too many fights, it seems, are arranged to produce a desired result. But this one has all the makings of a real contest.

I wonder who the Vegas odds-makers are giving the edge to. Probably Tito, cuz he has the knock-out power. But Winky has never been knocked out.

I admire Tito for not ducking tough opponents. He has fought all the big names (.. and usually wins). This doesn't surprise me, tho, because I grew up on the East Coast and knew some Puerto Ricans there (large PR population resides in New York City). They are a very proud, nationalistic people. Prouder than any group I've met. At least the ones I knew.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Felix 'Tito' Trinidad vs Winky Wright

Radiation tri-blade symbol 12.may.2005 - While rooting around in the forum's administrative functions, I came across a feature to select Moderators.

Like any good geek, I love to tinker, and see what happens. So I selected one of the forum's more helpful members: Mr. NightOwl (who hails from Washington state .. aka God's country .. I used to live there myself .. for two glorious years) and assigned him Moderator status .. without asking, and without really knowing what that entailed.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> RAD Bulletin Board Forum Moderators

Radiation tri-blade symbol 11.may.2005 - Made my first-ever trip to Wal*Mart yesterday. Friends can't believe I've never been before. Cuz many of them *live* there. I've been trying to avoid the store, especially after watching the scathing Frontline special: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

But I'm a capitalist at heart, and have been curious to see what all the hype is about. So yesterday, I left the comfort of Laguna and made my way to the store that is world's largest company.

At first, I wasn't very impressed. It was certainly no Bloomies or Saks. No gorgeous models strolling the aisles, offering to spritz me with expensive perfume. Seemed more like K-Mart. But then I got to looking around, and checking *prices,* and that's when I became impressed. I mean, some of their prices were real eyebrow-raisers.

To mention just one example, they carry the laundry detergent we use. But theirs comes in a container three times the size, yet cost only half the price we normally pay. In other words, Wal*Mart offers *6* times as much detergent for the price.

Amazing. I've seen bottled water costing more. Hard to criticize a company for offering such attractive prices. Easy to see why it has become so popular. I originally went looking for a car battery charger. Found just what I wanted for US$25 (6-amp). Expected to pay twice that. </walmart>

Radiation tri-blade symbol 10.may.2005 - Posted a new guide today. Hot off the press. This one deals with the exciting, new peer-to-peer file-sharing programs: BitTorrent & BitTornado, which are based on a new technology that represents the future of file-sharing. It's becoming all the rage.

I'd like to say I wrote it myself, but it actually comes compliments of a reader: Magoo. A quote from the guide:

Recently, a new file-sharing solution has emerged. Enter BitTorrent: new kid on the block. Using a special tracking program, called a torrent , BitTorrent is able to download files 10 - 50 times faster than previous peer-to-peer file-sharing programs. .. These types of blazingly-fast download rates aren't possible with any other file-sharing programs.

The dictionary defines the word torrent as: a fast and powerful rush of liquid. So you get the idea: FAST transfer rates. You'll find the 4-page guide, which includes screenshots of BitTorrent in action, posted here: Magoo's Guide to BitTorrent & BitTornado.

Radiation tri-blade symbol 08.may.2005 - Congrats to Mikaela, who had her confirmation yesterday. The *bishop* was there (the guy with the cool hat) to preside over the ceremony. Celebration afterwards. (Best pot roast I ever ate.) Mikaela looked beautiful, downright angelic.

Yesterday was also my favorite party of the year. On the Saturday following Cinco de Mayo (a reason to celebrate here in SoCal), Teri & Alan host their annual fiesta. This year, it happened to fall on Siete de Mayo (7th of May).

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Celebrations & Massage in Laguna Beach

Radiation tri-blade symbol 07.may.2005 - If you're a regular, you know about my buddy Battman, who left (in October) to begin his life-dream of touring the world. Today I received his 8th (& shortest) update:

"I'm in Goa, INDIA. On the west coast. The Arabian Sea. Just looking around, checking things out." (photos and more and even more)

Back in the 60's, Goa became famous as a haven for hippies. Its Garden-of-Eden-like climate drew hippies from all over the world. There, they would consume psychedelic drugs (LSD, etc.) and play a special type of music (now called Goa Trance), which was designed to stimulate their brains in a way that induced a trance-like state.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here: Goa Psychedelic Trance Music (from India)

Radiation tri-blade symbol 06.may.2005 - Been fielding questions about computer maintenance. So I compiled a list of items to give you an idea of what I do to keep my rig running tip-top. See here:> Computer Maintenance

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Radiation tri-blade symbol 05.may.2005 - Happy Cinco de Mayo! More info here.

Reminder for those of you who live locally here in Laguna Beach (La Beana Gooch), that today is the First Thursday Art Walk. Things get hoppin' ~6PM, & wind up around 9 or 10.

Hope to see you out on the town, sipping free wine & munching tasty hors d'oeuvres .. getting some culture at the hundreds of art galleries & enjoying the sights. Looks like a nice day today.

My recommendation for a place to eat: La Sirena Grill on Mermaid street (downtown, near the library). Mexican cuisine at its finest. Try their salmon taco & chicken tortilla soup. So yummy. Cheap, too. If you want fancy (expensive), go right next door to Sorrento Grille: my favorite restaurant in Laguna. Their specialty: pork chops (to die for).

Radiation tri-blade symbol 04.may.2005 - How do you decide which computer hardware & software purchases to make? Especially when there are so many choices? And everyone seems to have a different opinion?

Say I'm interested in purchasing a DVD burner. Which brand should I get? Which model? Single or dual-layer? +R? -R? or both?

When researching such purchases, I have always put more stock in the things I read in community bulletin board forums, than what a formal reviewer might say.

People in forums tend to talk more plainly. If something sux, they'll say, "It sux." And I can ask specific questions .. whereas formal reviewers tend to mince their words, and are unlikely to answer my queries.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Finding reliable online info about computer hardware & software

Radiation tri-blade symbol 03.may.2005 - Received my first check from Google yesterday. Wasn't very much, cuz it only included the period ending March 31st. And I only began running their ads midway thru that month. And it took some time to code their ads into my pages.

So it looks like they pay about a month behind. But it was good to know they actually send a check, and I didn't have to ask for it.

Working with the ads has consumed more time than I'd like to dedicate. It has taken some tweaking to find a style I feel comfortable with. Heck, I probably changed them half a dozen times already. It's tedious work, not the type of thing I find very engaging. But I feel they're working better with the site's design.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> First check from Google for AdSense ads

Radiation tri-blade symbol 02.may.2005 - Saw ENRON: Smartest Guys in the Room at the movies last night. Was hesitant to go, cuz I know the ENRON story: how the nation's once-7th largest company, seemingly overnight, turned into the biggest corporate failure in history .. how top executives made off with million$, while rank-in-file workers lo$t everything, including their pensions ..

.. how management encouraged employees to continue buying more worthless stock, while they were secretly selling off their own shares. It was the worst corporate scandal ever.

The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> ENRON: Smartest Guys in the Room