February 2009 Archives

When I finish using my laptop each night, I gently close the lid and shut my eyes. When I wake each morning, I lift the lid, press the power button, and return to where I was working. (Been doing this for years.)

Ubuntu Linux 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

This morning however, the laptop wouldn't start. The BIOS loaded fine, and transferred the start-up sequence to GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader).

But GRUB failed to offer a boot option, and instead kicked me back (automatically) to the BIOS .. in an endless (tho very short) loop. Sukage maximus.

Not much you can do when the boot loader fails to offer an option. I tried powering-off the laptop & powering it back on. Still no dice. "This ain't good," I muttered, wiping the sleep from my eyes.

Last summer, I installed a copy of Linux » Ubuntu 8.04, Hardy Heron (.. to a separate 20-gig partition, formatted as EXT3).

As part of the installation, Ubuntu automatically installs a copy of the GRUB boot loader, which has worked flawlessly .. (uh, until today, that is).

My hard drive is pretty new, so I didn't think it was a problem with the drive itself failing. So maybe GRUB somehow got corrupted, I thought .. tho I did nothing that should've affected it. I mean, GRUB sits in the Master Boot Record (MBR), and I have no reason to go there.

To make matters worse, I haven't backed up in waay too long. Just yesterday, the thought passed thru my head » "You need to back up your system drive soon."

I'm not even gonna say how long it's been .. cuz I'm kinda embarrassed .. especially since Radified is very much about backing up your hard drive (with industrial strength Cloning tools).

Frontline is my favorite TV show. I like the way they take the viewer inside places we'd normally never be permitted. (Deep inside.) And I like their understated narrator » Will Lyman.

Hank Paulson: Secretary of the Treasury who presided over the economic meltdown of 2008

Yesterday they released a documentary titled » Inside the Meltdown. One of the most hair-raising programs I've seen.

Many smart people (and very highly-paid, too) were so enchanted by the glitter that they apparently failed to notice they were undermining the foundations of our economy. (Or maybe they did notice, but didn't care.)

Sad. Tragic. Disturbing.

Speaks volumes about certain parts of our culture and its priorities .. where profit-n-loss usurp right-n-wrong .. and even common sense gets shoved aside .. when there's money to be made. These people give capitalism a bad name.

It wasn't like nobody saw this coming, or didn't try to stop it. The Chairman of the FDIC, Sheila Bair, was one of those waving a red flag far back as 2001 regarding a potential crisis in the subprime market. (That had to be a frustrating experience.)

If you play the video-excerpt posted on THIS page, you'll hear Sheila say (in her own words):

"For years there were bills in congress to try to address 'predatory lending'. They just couldn't get the political momentum to get anything done. And I think that's because everybody was making money. It's very difficult to get the political will in Washington to move when everybody is making a profit."

On THIS page, we read reports of Bernanke telling members of Congress things like, "After today, we won't even discuss the Great Depression, because this is much worse. Nothing like this has ever happened before."

The new term we learn is » moral hazard (or lack thereof) .. tho I don't see how 'morals' has anything to do with it.

The big day came on Monday September 29, 2008, when the Dow plunged 777 points, its biggest-ever single-day drop .. shortly after the government (suffering from bail-out fatigue) let Lehman Bros fail.

Watch the remarkable hour-long special » HERE. What a picture it paints of how close to the edge we live, and the condition of our (fracturing) economic foundations.

Last fall, Adobe released Creative Suite 4. The CS4 upgrade featured a new Flash Video encoder. Encoding Flash video is a big deal cuz video-on-the-web is a big deal (and getting bigger every day), and cuz Flash video is the predominant web-video format .. with some sources claiming usage as high as 84%.

Adobe Media Encoder CS4

The new CS4 Flash Video encoder comes with the following products:

  1. Flash CS4 Pro
  2. Premiere Pro CS4
  3. After Effects CS4

Up to CS3, this encoder was called the » Flash Video Encoder (FVE) .. or the Flash CS3 Video Encoder (FVE.CS3). [ *** See UPDATE note #1 at the end of today's entry. ]

With the release of CS4, Adobe change its name to » Adobe Media Encoder (AME) .. or Adobe Media Encoder CS4 (AME.CS4) .. cuz it does more than encode just FLash Video files (FLV).

If you search for the terms » Adobe Media Encoder CS4, you might wind up » HERE, a page which contains a 62-MB *upgrade* (v4.01) to the AME.CS4. But nowhere could I find a download for the AME.CS4 encoder itself (a stand-alone version).

You might also stumble across this page, titled » Flash Media Live Encoder 3 (FMLE.3), which offers a free download (~5MB). But the free FMLE.3 encoder is not the same product as the Adobe Media Encoder that ships with the CS4 versions of Flash & Premiere Pro.

Even more confusing .. you might stumble across links to something called the » "Adobe Flash Media Encoder" (FME - note no 'Live' here). But this is not the new AME.CS4 encoder either.

Actually, this is an older version of Flash Media Live Encoder 3 (FMLE.3). With version 3, Adobe added the word 'Live' to differentiate this product from the new AME.CS4 encoder.

Wrote my first program today. Instructions for converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Simple, but more challenging than I expected .. considering I can do the conversion in my head with ease (TCel = TFahr-32 x 5/9).

Felix the Cat & his Bag of Tricks

Here it be » (define (TFahr>TCel f) (* 5 (/ (- f 32) 9))). [We all have to start somewhere.]

Kinda glad they password-protect the solutions page. Forced me to figure it out on my own. (Cuz if they hadn't, I definitely would've peeked.)

I am enjoying learning Programming .. something that was missing from my repertoire of techno-skills (digital bag of tricks). I mean, how many geeks do you know who can't program? I just never had a compelling reason to learn.

My only frustration comes from not being able to assimilate the info faster. There's a scene in the Matrix .. where Neo & Trinity are stranded on a rooftop. Spying a chopper, Neo asks, "Can you fly that thing?"

"Not yet," she replies before whipping out her cell and calling Tank (who's sitting back at the Control Panel). "Tank, I need a program for a V-212 helicopter. Hurry!"

Her eyelids flicker for a moment before popping open. "Let's go!" she says, running toward the chopper with her newly upgraded skill-set.

While recovering from the crud this weekend, I took the opportunity to work thru a video-tutorial for Dreamweaver CS4 .. consisting of ~10 hours worth of instruction and 18 chapters.


So I've gotten up-to-speed on DW.CS4 .. the world's finest web design software. (This page you're reading now was created with Dreamweaver.)

Excellent tutorial. Last year, I worked thru the same title (» Essential Training) for Dreamweaver CS3, which was also good. But this one (done by different guy) was noticeably better.

I especially liked how the guy who narrates this video tutorial (for DW.CS4) spent significant time focusing on the intracacies of working with CSS.

The Flu Season & Runaway Semi's

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Woke a few days ago feeling weird. Within hours, it felt like I'd been run over by a semi. My symptoms (a quick search revealed) suggested I had the flu.


Now I've had the flu before (and I ain't 'fraid of no stinkin' flu), but this one came fast-n-furious .. a particularly vicious strain.

Most striking was the severe fatigue. Felt like I might not ever have any energy again. Didn't even have enough energy to focus mentally (concentrate).

Also had a wicked-high fever. My body pumped out enough BTU's to supply the industrial energy needs a small, third-world country.

Ate fresh oranges and drank water by the liter. Tried to rest, but that wasn't always possible.

Woke last night drenched. You know that lovely feeling? Nothing quite like waking in the middle of the night to find everything you're wearing clinging to your skin .. cold, damp & clammy and smelling rather funky.

Jay Leno's Retro Super Bowl ad

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I liked the Jay Leno Super Bowl ad best .. despite its absence of any cool computer gfx (.. perhaps because of).

Jay Leno's Retro Super Bowl ad

It was short (20 secs), scoring points for brevity, while featuring a classic car with a classic song. Very retro.

The setting allowed me to reminisce about trips I've made up the California coast (usually to Big Sur .. where Deetjen's is the place to stay).

Most impressive was that Jay conveyed his message without using any dialogue whatsoever (his stock-in-trade). Effective communication with images-alone is more difficult than it looks.

Jay, come get me next time you decide to cruise up the coast.

As mentioned last week, here's a brief ('Radified') intro to the introductory course on Programming I've been researching » How to Design Programs (HtDP).

This entry is distilled from info contained in the Preface. If a real programmer could check my phrasing for accuracy (to ensure no glaring errors) I'd appreciate it .. cuz I'm not yet familiar with all the terminology. See here:

How to Design Programs | An Introductory Course on Programming

Everybody should learn to program! Programming teaches a variety of skills (e.g. » critical reading, analytical thinking, creative synthesis, & attention-to-detail) important to many professions.

Educators should therefore give Programming the same priority as Math or English. [ RADical statement, no? ]

The HtDP course de-emphasizes the details of programming languages in order to focus on » the design process.

Two things make this course different from other introductory courses on Programming:

  1. Explicit design guidelines (comprising a 6-step process that begins with Analyzing-the-problem and concludes with Identifying-errors-thru-testing).
  2. The DrScheme programming environment (which is able to grow with a student as they master more material).

Programming boils-down to two essential concepts:

  1. Relating one quantity to another
  2. Evaluating a relationship by substituting values for names

The Scheme programming language allows students to focus on these two basic aspects, making it the natural choice for beginners. Students are therefore able to develop complete programs during their very first session.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2009 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

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