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December 2007 Archives

December 2, 2007

EAOS anniversary, First Photoshop Layer & The Bug's First Root Beer Float

Space-Time ContinuumAdios November, hola December. Today is the anniversary of my getting out of the Navy.

The military calls it » EAOS [End of Active Obligated Service].

The six years that (seemed like they) would never end. Unfortunately, I didn't learn that counting days-remaining only slows time .. until I was already out.

EAOS Anniversary

I remember walking out of the Admin building (in Bangor, Washington) after signing my discharge papers [Form DD-214]. Tho I still had a few days remaining, the sky (literally) looked bluer (not a figure of speech) ..

.. the grass greener. Birds were chirping. My feet seemed to hover just above ground. Boundless energy at my command. A sense of satisfaction oozed from every pore. Funny how it was obviously late November, yet my recollection of that day seems more like mid-summer.

First Photoshop Layer

» In more-technical news, I created my first image using layers (in Photoshop) today. If you check out the previous entry, you'll see I put some radEyes in the skull pictured on the pirate flag there. Simple, but the technique is the same, no matter how sophisticated you wanna get.

Back when I first heard about Photoshop, a friend mentioned the program's real editing power was accessed by learning how to use layers. Of course, it's much easier to learn when you have somebody showing you how.

Continue reading "EAOS anniversary, First Photoshop Layer & The Bug's First Root Beer Float" »

December 5, 2007

Andy Budd's CSS Mastery Book Really That Good? Initial Impressions + Web 2.0

Back in August, when I was researching the best book to learn CSS, I was suspicious of all the glowing comments at Amazon.com for CSS Mastery.

CSS Mastery | Best book to learn CSSI mean, they sounded too good to be true. I'm especially suspicious of reviewers who post one (and only one) comment, along with those exhorting the reader to either "Buy this book!" or "Don't buy this book!"

Reviews should present the review's opinion, not try to influence purchasing decisions, cuz everyone's criteria is different (.. which is how I came to trust Nate's reviews).

Anyway, curiosity got the best of me, and I started reading CSS Mastery this week. And while some of those comments may indeed be phoney-baloney (who knows for sure?), I can now see what everybody is talking about.

Hard to describe, but it's like a light comes on in your head while reading that book. There's a *clarity* to the way concepts are presented. [Sample chapter posted here.]

I'm not very far into it, but since my initial research, I kept wondering if all the hoopla was justified. Well, it is. I especially like the way the author (from Brighton, England) gets right to the point. [I try to do that myself.]

Continue reading "Andy Budd's CSS Mastery Book Really That Good? Initial Impressions + Web 2.0" »

December 9, 2007

Visitation with Young Children: Can't See Them vs Don't Want to

One of the most subtly-gnawing things I've had to deal with—as a part time dad—is the notion that the Bug (until recently) did not understand the difference between:Baloo happy to see Mogli

  1. I can't see him.
  2. I don't want to see him.

I mean, if your dad can't see you (cuz he's fighting in Iraq, say for example), that's bad enough. But if he doesn't want to .. uh, that's much worse .. something which could affect a child .. their entire life. So it's important the Bug knows » I want to see him.

Whenever I pick him up, the *first* thing I do (soon as we drive away) is make a BIG DEAL about how happy I am to have him.

I mean, I really whoop it up, big time » "Wooo-whooo! It's dada's turn to get the Bug." (High-five's ensue.) Then (after a while) I say, "I wish I could have you more."

"But we have to share," he responds. (It's too cute for words.) Then we do this role-reversal thing, where I protest (like *he* sometimes does) .. "But I don't WANT TO share."

"But we have to share, dad," he repeats. "Mom wants me, too." To which I continue my childish protest, "No. no. no. I don't WANT TO share."

"But we have to share," he says, calmly, like an adult .. until I finally relent and say, "Okay, if you say so."

Continue reading "Visitation with Young Children: Can't See Them vs Don't Want to" »

December 11, 2007

Andy Budd's Book: CSS Mastery

CSS Mastery | Best book to learn CSSStill reading CSS Mastery. Very rich. It's much smaller (thinner) than the Head First book on XHTML+CSS I read earlier this year (only 250 pages vs 650), yet reads more slowly, because it contains much food-for-thought (regarding styling techniques).

On nearly every page, I find myself pausing to reflect .. often muttering, "I didn't know you could do that." It's a book that lends itself to study more than mere reading.

It's obvious the author (Andy Budd, from Brighton, England) is in a league of his own, having "become one with" the language (CSS).

This book begins where the Head First book left off. The first (introductory) chapter presents many of the same concepts and techniques introduced near the end of the Head First book.

The reason I originally considered skipping this book—despite its many glowing reviews—is cuz CSS Mastery is known for its expertise in dealing with (proprietary) browser quirks/bugs found in IE6.

IE7—which fixes many of these bugs/quirks—was released a year ago, so I figured everybody (like me) had since upgraded to IE7, rendering this book (more-or-less) obsolete.

Au contraire. I learned yesterday that IE6 is still the predominant version, comprising half of all browsers currently in use .. including IE7. (Found that difficult to believe, but every survey I reviewed indicated the same.)

So it looks like I need to familiarize myself with the idiosyncrasies of IE6, and therefore CSS Mastery remains relevant.

Continue reading "Andy Budd's Book: CSS Mastery" »

December 16, 2007

Restored First Norton Ghost 12 Hard Drive Back-up Image (Recovery Point)

Radified Guide to Norton Ghost 12 16.December.2007 » Restored my first Ghost 12 image today. (It worked!) You might recall the problems I've been having with the DC input jack on my laptop.

Went to dinner last night and caught a movie. When I returned, the laptop was dead. (Battery completely drained). Normally I shut the lid when/if I won't be using it for a while. Could kick myself for letting it run unattended.

Was able to restore a/c power by jiggling the cable, but the laptop still wouldn't boot. What a horrible feeling (as you know). None of my tricks worked. Even after the battery was fully charged (and I crossed my fingers and said a prayer) » no dice.

Last Known Good config was » no good. Couldn't even boot into safe mode. That's when I knew it was bad.

Still don't know what went wrong. I mean, a dead battery shouldn't prevent your laptop from booting (once power is restored).

But I could load drivers in safe mode (before it would blue-screen and auto-reboot), so I knew the drive itself was accessible (sign of hope) .. cuz I thought I heard it making funny noises earlier.

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December 18, 2007

First Trip to the Gym Since Hurting Neck in Mountain-Biking Accident

Returned to the gym yesterday. First time since I went sailing over the handlebars and landed on my head. It's been 10 weeks.

ArnoldFelt good to throw around some iron. Everybody came up, asking, "Dude, where you been?"

Felt stronger than I expected. No major problems. Neck is still stiff, but no longer painful. My left hip however, felt a little weird on some exercises. Same with my right shoulder.

Fortunately I was in decent shape before wiping out, having mountain-biked regularly prior. But after a month or so of inactivity, the body begins to lose tone. Endurance wanes. You start to feel yucky.

A trainer there, who used to be a physical therapist, said I "need to get increased blood flow" to my neck .. to promote healing. "You can do that," she added, "by applying heat or massage. Both techniques dilate."

So afterwards, I hit the sauna—first the steam, then the dry (dry is hotter). The neck definitely feels better today. I also been getting regular massages, twice weekly.

Ran into my physical therapist at the coffee shop last weekend. "Call me this week," she said, "and we'll schedule an appointment. It's fine if you need to bring the bug."

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December 23, 2007

Learning About Web Hex HTML Color Schemes on the Winter Solstice

Color scheme | atadecer mondroviaWinter solstice yesterday. Shortest day of the year (for those of us living in the northern hemisphere). The word solstice comes from a latin term » solstitium, meaning sun stoppage. Extra cool with a full moon tonight.

The exact time (when the sun reached its southern-most point and began heading back north was 1:08AM EST, which means winter actually began Friday night (10:08 PM) for those of us here on the Left coast.

To celebrate the event I rode my bike around the Back Bay, with Tom, his wife & daughter. My first bike-ride since getting thrown off & landing on my cranium. Nice day. Lots of sunshine.

No mountains, tho. I rode mostly with Tom's (7-yr-old) daughter, who's pace I found comfortable.

Good news » the library (Newport Beach) is gonna buy the books I recommended (both of them) » Bulletproof Web Design (2nd ed.), as recommended by Nate here » Best Book for Learning Cascading Style Sheets » CSS Mastery by Andy Budd, ..

.. and also Dreamweaver CS3: The Missing Manual. (I only have the electronic version of this one, which is harder on the eyes than paper.)

I do my homework when researching which book is best for a particular topic (since a good book can make a big difference), so I shouldn't be surprised. (Tho I am.)

Continue reading "Learning About Web Hex HTML Color Schemes on the Winter Solstice" »

December 27, 2007

Text-to-Speech Programs Software + AT&T Natural Voices

Bad case of Rad Eye ..from reading too much Rad material. She needs a TTS program. Quiet Christmas here in Radland .. with the Bug gone for the holidays. I miss the little guy. Come to think of it, I've never yet seen him on Christmas. There's something I can look forward to. Maybe next year.

Spent my Christmas learning about new technology » TTS, or Text-to-Speech.

Specifically » TextAloud, a program which touts itself as the World's Most Popular Text to Speech Tool (not to be confused with Speech Recognition software, a completely different animal).

I learned that sound-fonts are the things that really make a TTS program sing. The best sound-fonts are reportedly made by AT&T, called AT&T Natural Voices, altho many others compete in this emerging market.

Unfortunately the demo version of TextAloud does not come with any premium sound fonts. And the sound-fonts cost more than the program.

The AT&T Natural Voices sound-fonts weigh in at ~600 MB each .. whereas the TextAloud program is barely 3 MB. Premium sound-fonts use 16-kHz frequency. (By comparison, CD audio is 44-kHz.) Older sound-fonts use 8-kHz (low-quality).

Continue reading "Text-to-Speech Programs Software + AT&T Natural Voices" »

About December 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Ye Olde Rad Blog II in December 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2007 is the previous archive.

January 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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