Installed a new blog today! .. based on Movable Type 5.0, which was released yesterday (January 5, 2010). All new entries henceforth will be published there. This will therefore be the FINAL ENTRY for this blog (which contains nearly 200 entries).

See here » Ye Olde Rad Blog 4.

First entry from the new blog posted here » First Post with Movable Type 5.0

[ Older blogs » Ye Olde Rad Blog II .. and Ye Olde Rad Blog v1.0 ]

Test update to MySQL 5.1.51

I have something to show you. Something very exciting. Sexy, even. "What it is, Rad?" you ask, oozing with curiosity. "A picture of a European supermodel? Lying scantily-clad on the sandy beaches of St. Tropez?"

Sexy SwimsuitNo, my fellow technoluster. Something far more enticing. And seductive. See » HERE (.. but only if you're 18).

No, your eyes don't deceive you. That's right » a screen-shot from phpMyAdmin showing the tables of a MODx database using the UTF-8 character set and utf8_general_ci collation. Smokin', ain't it?

"But, Rad. I thought you said that was impossible?" It is! .. For mere mortals.

"How did you ever pull it off?" Well, I can tell you that banging my head against the wall produced only limited success. It may've even impeded the process. (I can't remember.)

To be honest, I'm not really sure WHAT the magic-bullet was. Cuz I made a number of changes (including enabling suPHP)  .. which I'll tell you all about. I learned a lot. But first, I need to take care of some biz .. and get some coffee. (Was up pretty late last night. Where did I put that Advil?)

Feliz año nuevo. Most Content Management Systems (such as Drupal & MODx) work in conjunction with (require) a database. So do blogs (such as Movable Type) & forums (such as SMF).

MySQL is the world's most popular database software for web-based applications (.. such as CMS's & blogs & forums). It's what I use. It's the only database system I've ever used.

cPanel / Web Host ManagerThe Rad VPS (« physically located downtown Chicago) uses the cPanel/WHM control panel to help administer the site. cPanel makes it stupid-easy to create a new MySQL database.

You simply » enter a descriptive name for your new DATABASE (such as » rad_modx) and click the button labeled 'Create Database.' cPanel talks to MySQL and creates the database for you. Viola! Done. Too easy.

To use your new DATABASE, you'll also need to create a USER (such as » rad_modx, conveniently same as the database_name). Give this USER a password and click the button labeled » 'Create User.' Voila! Done creating new USER.

Lastly you need to assign a particular USER to a particular DATABASE. You do this by selecting both from their respective drop-down menus (one lists all available DATABASES, the other all possible USERS) and clicking the button labeled 'Add.'

Then you assign to this USER the appropriate PRIVILEDGES (normally ALL) necessary to perform the database functions. Click the button labeled 'Make Changes' and you're done. Voila! As if this weren't easy enough, cPanel even has a wizard to walk you thru these steps.

MySQL Database ManagementSo, in order to configure a database to work with a particular web application (such as Drupal or MODx), you need 3 pieces of info:

  1. database_name
  2. user_name
  3. user_password

Couldn't be easier. Tho I sometimes forget the final step of actually assigning the USER to the DATABASE (after creating both). Creating new DATABASES is not something I do on a regular basis.

RADIFIED currently uses 5 databases. Three for the blogs » 1-each for the 3 different versions of Movable Type I have installed .. based on v263 (installed 2003), v335 (installed 2007) & v432 (installed 2008). Another for Drupal (2008). And 1 for MODx Revolution (beta5), which I installed a few days ago.

The Rad forum, which uses YaBB, doesn't use a database. (At least not yet.) Might be worth noting here that Movable Type, Drupal, MODx & YaBB are all OPEN SOURCE (better than free) .. as is MySQL.

While installing MODx a few days ago, I noticed they include an option to test your database connection & credentials .. to see if MODx can access it okay.

Created a dedicated 'Guides' page. See here » Radified Guides. Been meaning to do that for .. eons. This will allow me to off-load the guides listed here on the home-page, so I can clean it up.

MODx Content Management System (CMS)I indented & right-aligned every other link .. to make them easier to read. What do you think? When the links were all lined-up together & left-aligned, they seemed too .. similar.

Eventually I'd like to include a representative graphic for each guide/link. But for now, I just wanted to create a page that contains a repository of the links to all our guides.

On a related note, I've been looking more deeply into MODx, the Content Management System (CMS). They are fixin' to release a new version (complete-rewrite, from the ground up, based on PHP5) .. called » REVOLUTION. (Current version is called » EVOLUTION.)

Drupal would be cool, but it's way too sophisticated for what I need. I don't want/need a PhD in CMS's. Here's a MODx site, for example. (I used to live in Lancaster, PA .. the heart of Amish country. Nice people there.)

I'd like to become intimately familiar with a good CMS .. as another skill to add to my digital toolkit. Only way to do that is » use one daily.

The good people at MODx claim a 'Release Candidate' version of REVOLUTION will be coming » "Winter 2009" (.. which is now). [ Notice how the words 'Summer 2009' have been lined-out. ] UPDATE » They just changed the RC date to "Spring 2010". Hmmm.

The MODx site is running REVOLUTION. I'm in no hurry, tho. Rather make a good decision than a hasty one.

First day of winter, otherwise known as the » winter solstice. The word solstice means 'sun stopping,' because the sun appears to cease its southerly trek for a few days around this time each year, before heading back north.

Pooh's Heffalump MovieThe exact time when the sun reaches its southern-most point = 10:47 AM PDT. Interesting how they can pinpoint the exact moment.

Today is the longest night of the year (most hours of darkness). Starting tomorrow, the days begin to lengthen. The seasons are caused by a tilt (23-degrees) in the earth's axis .. as we make our annual trip around the sun.

Of course, if you live down in the southern hemisphere, everything is reversed. Today is your first day of summer, with the longest day of the year. Summer solstice.

Consider this » the earth is 92 million miles from the sun (give or take a few mil). Let's call that distance » the 'radius'. We can calculate the distance of our annual orbit by using the formula for the circumference of a circle » pi x diameter .. which = 3.14 x 184 million, which means we travel » 578 million miles every year (around the sun) ..

.. at a speed of 578-MM / 365 days per year = 1.58 million miles per day, which = .066 million miles/hour, which equals » 66,000 mph (if my math is correct). That's almost 100 times faster than the speed of sound. We're bookin'. Better fasten your seatbelt. Imagine hitting something at that speed. Ouch.

The seasons remind us of the cycle of life .. rebirth, renewal .. that no matter how dark things might get, brighter days are coming. And that dark days come to us all.

The 101st annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade began Wednesday. It goes on every night in Newport Harbor (from 6:30 to 9PM) 'til Sunday, which is the grand finale. Saturday will probably see max crowds. We went last night (Thursday) and the island was hoppin'. Electric.

101st Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat ParadeThe boats are colorful and fun to watch. Sure. But the best part of the boat parade is simply being out among the festivities .. with a big crowd of Orange County people, who are all in a festive mood .. exuding the Christmas spirit. (And it's all free.)

All the houses on the island are decorated to the hilt. (One guy told me his electric bill was $600/month. His meter was spinning like a dang gyro.)

Some years the weather is freezing (by Southern California standards), being on the water, but last night it was downright balmy. We saw at least two brass bands, complete with tuba, playing your favorite Christmas songs.

The Bug brought along his scooter (razor), which worked well for getting around. We started on Balboa Island and rode the ferry across to the peninsula, where we played in the fun zone for a while. (I let him beat me at air hockey, 7-to-5, and then shoot a gun in a stand-up video game, where he blasted lots of villians.)

Of course we had to get some hot buttered popcorn, and after that, a light-saber from a sidewalk vendor, who pushed a dazzling cart surrounded by eager kids. What a great time we had.

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The White House re-launched its website on Drupal. Can you believe that? Not sure why this blows my mind. In searching the web however, I see many others have also sat up and taken notice.

George Washington at the White House running on DrupalNo doubt the White House has content to manage. Sure.

But I think the reason it's so unexpected is that Drupal is simply too cool & cutting edge for the White House .. which we normally associate with stodginess and somnolent formality.

Then there's the fact that Drupal is not an American product. It was born in Belgium, at the University of Ghent (.. as a message board for fellow-students enrolled there).

And you know how RADICAL college students can be. Downright revolutionary at times.

It could also be that we associate politicians with being less-than-honest about their true intentions .. while Drupal is open source, and therefore completely transparent. (Imagine how people might feel if Hitler were caught parading around town wearing a scarf knitted by Mother Teresa.)

Dare I mention how the government TAKES your money .. without even a thank-you note, and gives it to people who have much too much already. While Drupal, released under GPL, is better than free (as in 'free beer'), cuz it's also open source (free as in 'freedom').

The whole thing feels grossly incongruent .. as tho two vastly different worlds have collided. Matter and anti-matter. Good omen, tho .. for both the White House and Drupal.

Futuristic Dream

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Had my first futuristic dream last night. It seemed so real, vivid. Most striking is how dismal and gray everything looked. No color. No trees. No plants -- anywhere. Concrete all around. A canopy of low-hanging clouds block out the sun. The air was cool, damp, dank.

The futureToxins have accumulated in the environment -- or so my dream goes -- to the point they've affected 10-15% of the population. Those most sensitive among us have reacted violently.

Especially affected are creative types » artists, musicians, poets .. what Ezra Pound calls the antennae of the race. [Tho not me.]

I'm standing in a parking lot that's surrounded on three sides by the industrial walls of a medical facility, some 3 or 4 stories tall. It seems to be a cross between a hospital and a high-security Psych ward. Gray, dreary skies hang low overhead.

A whoosh of steam startles me. A large, disc-shaped metal plate opens in the middle of the parking lot. Others run away, scattering in all directions. Up from a treatment facility located deep underground rises a grotesque body strapped to a gurney. It hardly looks human, but is.

When the steam clears, two attendants, dressed in white lab coats, wheel the gurney into the building. They take the heavily-sedated patient up to one of the rooms.

No single toxin is responsible for these adverse reactions, but rather an aggregate that has accumulated in the environment over many years. [ How I know this I don't know. You know how dreams are. ]

I need to retrieve something from the room where this new patient was taken. Drat! I should've fetched it earlier, I think.

Have a special treat for you today. Earlier this year I spent my Saturday mornings (8 weeks worth) up at Chapman University, here in Orange county. There I participated in a co-parenting course called » Kids First (.. for a second time, both court-ordered).

The curriculum is designed to help divorced parents put aside their disappointment & resentment and focus on putting their » kids first. (Hence the name.) Excellent course, taught by seasoned professionals who really care. ($300)

Friedrich NietzscheMy particular classes were held in the same building where Chapman's Philosophy / Religion department is located.

[ The combatants, uh I mean parents, are assigned to different classrooms, as you might expect, to minimize the number of brawls. ]

Posted on the bulletin board outside the office to the Philosophy department was a large laminated poster that contained a list of the major philosophers throughout history, with a representative quote beside each name.

I enjoyed reading those quotes each week .. so much that on the final day I stayed late to copy them down, along with the name of each philosopher and their corresponding dates. I've been carrying around that piece of paper ever since. (Tho it's getting ratty.)

Today I finally transferred these quotes to 3 web pages (7 entries per page), and included a picture for each philosopher (which the original poster did not have). I also added a brief historical description to complement each entry.

Grok'ing the Ah-ha Moment

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One of the most satisfying experiences a technoluster can have is becoming proficient with a new technology, especially one that's not easy to master. Geeks sometimes use the word » GROK, which basically means you 'get it'.

The term was coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land (SciFi, 1961). The martian word implies you understand something (such as how a particular technology works) .. on an intuitive level, in a satorial kind of way.

Stranger in a Strange LandThe difference between possessing a working knowledge of a particular technology and 'grokking' it is difficult to describe. Grokking impies a deeper understanding .. that surpasses mere facts & figures.

It suggests you can 'see into' the inner workings and comprehend how the different elements interact.

I've been studying CSS (off-n-on) for months, applying the concepts I learned (.. cuz that's how I learn best). And today I finally 'got it'. It came in a flash .. known as the » ah-ha moment.

[ Hmmm. That's interesting » I was looking for a good article to link to the phrase » 'ah-ha moment,' when my Google search returned a page referencing CSS. Surprisingly coincidental, no? Seeing that I didn't query the term 'CSS' (only » 'ah-ha moment').

What are the odds of that occurring? Of those two concepts being found grouped together so prominently (link #2)? Of all the possible topics in the world, CSS comes up. Maybe it means something. ]

It's not like I didn't understand CSS before. I'd long been reading about and felt comfortable wielding the technology .. using it to whip up sophisticated layouts. But now it seems my insights were superficial .. that I was merely applying recipes, cookbook style, mechanically.

Today's insight came so dramatically that it felt like I'd swallowed a ball of CSS enlightenment. "I finally get it," I muttered. Incredibly satisfying experience. Accompanied by a feeling of arrival, completion, mastery.

Of course, this doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about CSS. Far from it. Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours to master a skill. But I now 'see' how it works .. on an intuitive level.

I would love to be able to plug a cable into my brain and upload a whole slew of other cool technologies (.. like they do in the Matrix). Unfortunately, that ain't how it works. Nor can you grok something by sheer force of will. (If we could, I'd be grunting loudly.) You 'get it' when you get it and not a moment before.

Tho I'm curious about what happens at that moment. I mean, I knew everything I did about CSS now in the moments before I 'got it'. I've also been studying Programming. Maybe that helped yield insight, cuz CSS in some ways resembles programming.

The experience, in retrospect, could be described as a 'breaking thru,' or a 'crashing thru,' or a 'falling thru,'. The thing you 'break thru' seems like a semi-translucent crystalline membrane .. that obscures your vision .. from seeing deeply .. into the inner-workings.

The distance traveled (knowledge-wise) was very small, yet the resulting effect was dramatic .. sort of like the view you get when cresting a big hill. The straw that broke the camel's crystalline back, you might say.

eDawg's New Quad-Core Beast

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My buddy eDawg just built himself a new beast. Here's a copy-n-paste from the invoice (totaling $1325 + tax). He's using dual flat-panel monitors imported from a previous system. See here:

    Antec Nine Hundred Mid_sized ATX PC Case
  • Case Antec | Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Retail » $100
  • PSU Corsair | CMPSU-750TX 750W SLI + CrossFire Ready Retail » $110
  • Motherboard ASUS | P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 X58 Intel Chipset Retail » $290
  • CPU Intel | Core i7 920 Bloomfield 2.66G 45N Quad-Core - Retail » $290
  • 2 x Memory | Corsair XMS3 6GB DDR3 PC3 - Retail » $320
  • VGA XFX | Radeon HD 4870 1G 256-bit GDDR5 HD-487A-ZWFC PCI Express 2.0 x16 Retail » $145
  • Hard Drive 250G | Western Digital Caviar Blue 7200-RPM 8MB Cache SATA2 - OEM » $45
  • DVD Burner Lite-On | Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW SATA - OEM » $25
  • Windows 7

This system has 12 gigs of memory (2 x 6-gig sticks). That's downright decadent. I think he could arrested for having so much memory (without a permit). We hate you, eDawg. Actually, that motherboard can handle (up to) 24 gigs .. in triple-channel mode.

I said, "Dang, you probably oughta call your local power company and let them know whenever you're fixin' to start that beast .. so they can tweak bus frequency up to 62-cycles, so you don't bring down the whole western grid."

I asked why he didn't opt for a giant 2-TB drive for storage, or a 10K-rpm Raptor to run his system & programs .. or better yet » a solid state drive (drool).

I remember back when we ordered and built his very first custom system. That wasn't long after eDawg's dad married my friend » Maria. We all lived in this big 5-level Euro-style mansion that eDawg's dad built (which later sold for several $mil) cut into the hillside high above Laguna .. with a killer 180-degree view of the Pacific. Ah, the good ol' days .. sitting out on the deck and watching the sun go down.

Have a special treat for you today » my Nuclear Grade Stew recipe (2 pages). I've made this stew at least 50 times over the years .. probably closer to a hundred. Now that autumn is here, and the nights are getting chilly, it's time to break out the crock pot.

Crock PotFor the pages that contain this recipe, I designed a new, single-sidebar layout .. another liquid-elastic hybrid. See what you think.

For previous web pages, I used a design that comprised dual-sidebars, one on each side, cuz I liked the balanced, symmetric look provided by that layout. So this feature took longer to complete than expected, cuz I first had to code the CSS from scratch.

I've made this stew for the Bug many times (cutting the veggies into smaller pieces so they fit easily in his little mouth). So it's made with lots of love. He digs it.

Been lagging on entries lately, as you mighta noticed. Been dabbling in Programming. Kinda got lost. Big subject.

On the personal side, I took the Bug kayaking last week .. out on the Newport Back Bay. (No waves there.) He later confided, "Dad, at first I was a little scared. But now I'm not scared." We stopped at a small island where he got out and searched for buried treasure.

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