July 26, 2007

This Blog Has Been Discontinued | Replacement Blog Is Online

Posted at 22:52 in News . | | 0 Comments

I have decided to discontinue this blog which is powered by Movable Type and instead have decided to switch over to WordPress. The link to the new blog will be posted here shortly. I tried countless times to get this blog to upgrade into the new version of Movable Type. Unfortunately, Movable Type's method of dealing with Templates is quite crappy and complicated to say the least. My page formatting was all over the place. In fact, I ended up having to restore the entire database from a backup over a week ago which caused me to lose the last two posts - the Radar Post and RhianBlock.com post.

This blog will remain as an unedited archive. New Blog is located at HTTP://WWW.RHIANBLOCK.COM/BLOG

Technology can sometimes be so fun huh.

June 8, 2007

Going to Nascar This Sunday - Pocono 500

Posted at 14:53 in News . | | 0 Comments

Well for the first time ever, I will be attending a Nascar race. I got two free tickets ($75 per) to go to the race being held up in the Poconos this Sunday. Pocono is a triangualar shaped course and we will be sitting in what they call the Terrace section just after the final turn leading up to the start/finish line. I will be going with Jeremy who will also make this his first appearance at such an event.

Should be fun.

May 18, 2007

Apple MacBook Superdrive (CD/DVD) Scratches Discs. Big Time Apple Engineering Flaw In Design. Beware!

Posted at 15:12 in Computer Tech . | | 0 Comments

E-mail: rhianATvazoom.com

It seems to be a well known problem on the Internet forums that the MacBook has a serious engineering flaw with its internal CD/DVD drive. IT SCRATCHES ALL DISCS WHEN THE MACBOOK IS TILTED SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT.

Ok sorry for the caps but that sentence itself should be only a joke. It's definitely not and I will second it. I experienced the failure of two important discs as a result of having placed them into my MacBook. My Windows XP cd and vehicle navigation discs were trashed after having had rings of deep scratches embedded onto their surfaces.

Don't believe me? Go ahead and test it yourself and you are bound to receive similar results. One might argue.....well why are you tilting the notebook with a CD/DVD spinning inside. My response would be ... jackass it's a laptop and not every situation would have it sitting on a nice and level surface. Just carrying it with a drive spinning inside can cause the circles of death.

The is obviously a huge engineering flaw Apple left undiscovered in their product. I contacted Apple about 4 days ago to explain my troubles and they never mentioned a known problem once over the phone as they arranged to have my still warrantied computer sent out to them for repair. I just received it back today with paperwork describing that a new drive and even keyboard were replaced in the service work. I still experience the same results as I now have confirmed two more brand new DVD+R were scratched very badly when I inserted them and walked over to a friend with it still spinning inside.

Unfortunately, this is probably my last Apple notebook ever. It's ashame but they should admit this engineering defect and recall them and/or replace them with re-designed units.

Check out some of these other postings on the Internet discussing the same frustrations or just do a Google search on the topic:

May 10, 2007

My Website and Various Other Stuff

Posted at 11:58 in Various . | | 0 Comments

I really need to get around to updating my RhianBlock.com website. The thing has fallen way out of day. In fact, my resume isn't even close to in date. I can't believe that I registered the website in July of 1999. I was just finishing up the two year college over at Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. I remember being really excited about technology at that point in my life. Back then things were quickly evolving and the Internet was gaining in popularity. My website resided on a computer over in media at the old Y100 building (What is now a Dental office) near the Granite Run Mall.

Looks like I will be headed to New York City the 23rd/24/25th for work to relocate a server room. This will be a nice little getaway. I have never actually stayed over in the city itself.

Vazoom is still going steady. I am not sure what the future holds with the website and the services I am currently providing to businesses and people through it. I am going to be moving all my websites over to some new equipment very soon to help improve speed and reliability. The Dell equipment I have things on now is starting to crap out. I still have some backup servers in both Havertown and up in upper Newtown, Bucks County.

That's all for the moment


May 8, 2007

My Next Car Modification

Posted at 16:33 in Saturn Sky . | | 0 Comments

Ok I am on a roll here. My car so far has a total of 3 modifications done on it as of today. The new 2.5" Magnaflow exhaust, the illuminated Wind Restrictor, and the Fujita Cold Air Intake. Now drum roll please.....

My next minor modification primarily for visual enhancements, will be to paint my engine cover and fuse box under the hood. From the previous post you can see how the vehicle's engine bay looks now. Attached to this post is a good idea from another forum member's vehicle of how my car will look like once things are complete. I am sending both my engine cover and fuse box cover away to a guy in NY in about a week to have the work done.

As shown, the engine cover will be painted black with all letters and lines done in red. The fuse box will get a coat of black paint in addition to a red trimline along the edge.


April 30, 2007

My Fujita Cold Air Intake Has Been Installed Into My Redline

Posted at 15:53 in Saturn Sky . | | 0 Comments

First post in a while. To summarize the previous set of posts, the squirrels are no longer a threat. All is well on the home front.

Now onto this past weekend. With Jeremy's help, I installed the Fujita cold air intake into my Sky. It took a while but it went in without much hassle. The only snag came when step 28 of the instructions asked for an adaptor piece to be placed on the vacuum hose connection to the Fujita pipe. Apparently, this was never included. So, I spoke to Kappashphere (resellers) and they are having Fujita send me the piece. I was able to drive the car but I wouldn't want to run it this way for too long.

My impressions are that the Fujita is an excellent method of making the car sound and look a bit more tuned up. The blow off valve now emits more "Pahchiiiiii" once you come off the gas. I also like how as you press harder on the gas, you start to hear the CAI noise becoming more pronounced. Definitely a must for any with this same vehicle.

Here are a couple of images of the intake (Click for Larger Images)


March 23, 2007

Squirrel Update

Posted at 13:52 in Daily Activity . | | 0 Comments

And the results of the squirrel round up

Squirrels 5 Rhian 2

I managed to capture 2 of the sqirrels by luring them in with tasty peanut butter and Capt'n Crunch cereal. The trap itself left something to be desired. It definitely needed to be larger in order to make the squirrel enter further into the cage.

The one that I purchased from Home Depot failed because the squirrels were able to rush out before the door closed down on them. I received my new spoiler and car cover in the mail already. For the moment, I am retiring the cage. Now its time to see if things get better

March 20, 2007

Today - I have declared war on squirrels

Posted at 22:16 in Daily Activity . | | 0 Comments

Over the past several days squirrels have decided to ravage the cover which protects my car. Not only did they destroy the cover with a total of 15+ holes, but they also put scratches on my rear spoiler.

This declaration of war brought me to Home Depot where I purchased a squirrel cage. I am going to trap the little f**kers and bring them countless miles away. From there I hope they get crushed by a 18 wheeler.

A new cover has cost me over $160 in addition to the $190 spoiler I ordered to replace the scratched one. Tonight, the cage sits waiting on the back of the car. Some cereal trailing into the cage which has a nice helping of peanut butter should hopefully do the trick.

Say HELLO to my Little cage you Mutha (censored) Squirrels

February 20, 2007

Sirius and XM Satellite Proposed Merger

Posted at 10:47 in News . | | 0 Comments

The latest news in the radio industry is that Sirius satellite and XM satellite radio have announced a plan to combine forces and merge. Currently, they are the only two paid subscription services of their type in the country.

Rhian says.... there is no way in hell this will be approved. This is what we know as ... let's say it together ... a MONOPOLY.
See, the thing is when these channels were allocated by the FCC there were apparently rules set forth dictating that there cannot be one entity owning both licenses.

As is typically the case, both companies are saying that it will be a great thing for the consumer. HaHa. Since when was no competition a good thing for a consumer. Let's get real here. This is going to be an interesting one. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), a organization which represents the broadcast community has come out strong against the proposed plan.

February 7, 2007

Have You Defragged Lately? - What Is Fragmentation Anyway?

Posted at 11:35 in Computer Tech . | | 0 Comments

Rhian D. Block

One of the servers which control the services for this website along with the web hosting and email services for Vazoom was performing a bit slow. It took forever to copy files and the hard drives looked as if they were going to explode from the amount of head movement taking place inside of them.

I decided to check the file fragmentation level of the server, and low and behold this is what I found. The red basically indicates files/folders etc.. which are scattered across the hard drives in no logical order. I have never seen a drive so fragmented before. The fragmentation process takes these messy files and re-organizes them. A good example would be taking a messy room and looking through everything in order to clean it up neatly so that things were easier to find and get hold of. Over time, your hard drives stores and deletes data leaving gaps of open space. In order to put additional information onto the drive (Word Document, Excel Document, Games, etc..), data must sometimes be broken up between disjointed locations across the hard drive because it's too large to fit into the one open spot. Things end up being cut up and placed a little bit here and a little bit over there. When you go to access that data however (Opening a Word Document for example), the mechanical arm of the hard drive must go all over the place (Or disk platter in the case of a hard drive) to find and piece together all the parts of the file. It take longer than if the information were to be bundled right next to each other like a little happy family.

I would probably suggest running de-fragmentation at least once a month. Of course, running it multiple times over the course of a month won't do any harm either.


January 30, 2007

Blue Ray and HD DVD Cracked

Posted at 13:20 in News . | | 0 Comments

Reports are that Blue Ray and HD DVDs have now been successfully cracked.

From reports on the Internet:

The copy protection technology used by Blu-ray discs has been cracked by the same hacker who broke the DRM technology of rival HD DVD discs last month. The coder known as muslix64 used much the same plain text attack in both cases. By reading a key that is held in the memory of a player playing a HD DVD disc he was able to decrypt the movie being played, and render it as an MPEG 2 file.

The latest Blu-ray hack was performed by muslix64 using a media file provided by Janvitos, through the video resource site Doom9, and applied to a Blu-ray copy of the movie Lord of War. In this case, muslix64 didn't even need access to a Blu-ray player to break through the DRM protection included on this title.

Both HD DVD and Blu-ray use HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) for playback display authentication and similar implementations of AACS (Advanced Access Content System) for content encryption.

In both these cracking procedures, the hack goes around, rather than defeats, the AACS encryption used as part of the content protection technology used by both next-generation DVD formats. The attempt relies on obtaining a particular movie's unique "key" and cannot be quickly used to rip content across all titles encoded via a particular format, as tools like DVD Decryptor make easy with standard DVD titles. Other forms of normal DVD decryption have been overcome with tools such as RipIt4Me.

muslix64 has however posted a tool which supposedly allows other to try extracting the keys of other Blu-ray Disc movies themselves.

BD+, the second type of content protection on Blu-ray, has yet to be cracked, although currently it is a less used form of the Blue Ray standard. Basically, it's not even being used yet.

Blu-ray and HD DVD both allow for decryption keys to be updated in reaction to attacks, for example by making it impossible to play high-definition movies via playback software known to be weak or flawed. So muslix64 has for the most part started a game between hackers and the entertainment industry, where consumers are likely to face compatibility problems while footing the bill for the entertainment industry's insistence on pushing now flawed DRM technology on an unwilling public. Think about buying a movie and brining it home only to find out that your player must be have its firmware upgraded or the unit replaced entirely. Boo.

January 23, 2007

Some of my Life

Posted at 23:41 in About Me . | | 0 Comments

Early in our lives, I guess we all have those thoughts which pose the question - "What will I be when I grow up?" "What do I want to do?"

I never thought I would ever be involved in computers.

I recall some of my first ideas on what I wanted to be when I grew up. First, it was a pitcher for a baseball team. Then, it was an astronaut. Heck, I had toy space shuttles and big photo books of space exploration. The Challenger explosion in the 80s is most likely what scared me off. Plus, I am not a big fan of heights so hovering miles about the Earth may have been tough to deal with.

While in high school I once again became quite certain of the career I would have when I grew up. I wanted to be a meteorologist. Maybe one of those weather forecasters on tv, or more behind the scenes at a place like the National Weather Service. Earth Science class in high school with my teacher, Mr. Munz really made it fun to analyze the weather and its related sciences. Soon after, my career path led me to getting involved with radio as many who know me are quite aware. My first real career was working as a broadcast engineer for many years at one of the top Philadelphia radio stations. But, the era of computers and my interest in the subject matter made it hard to stay as interested in Radio Frequency. I wanted to be more involved with those things called computers.

Thinking back to when I was about 14 or so, the first exposure to computers came at Christmas one year when my brothers and I were presented with a state of the art x486 computer. I think this sucker ran with a clock speed of 66Mhz and you had to deal with that annoying thing called conventional memory when you wanted to try and play a cheesy game. The manufacturer - Leading Edge - which is probably out of business, came to be my first test of the future technology for the world. I actually ended up messing up the new machine on the first or second night of operation. I was upset but luckily I was able to call my aunt and uncle to provide much needed technical support. I believe the system was running Windows 3.1.

I would sometimes go to work with my dad on days off from school, or during days off in the summer break time. One of the places he occasionally visited for business had an employee whom my dad was friends with. He was also a really good resource for my technical inquiries. The Internet wasn't really available like it is today for searching up a quick solution to a problem. I still remember the day that the guy handed my dad the 20+ floppy disks of Windows 95 to load onto my computer. I was so excited. I guess I am a big dork, but dorks can be cool at times right?

Today, I have obviously stayed in the realm of computers and related Information Technology.

January 16, 2007

Back From My Trip To Vegas

Posted at 1:05 in Daily Activity . | | 0 Comments

Well I arrived back into town late Sunday night from a fun 5 day stretch in Vegas. Two highlights of the trip were the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2007 and the Adult Entertainment Expo (AVN 2007).

We were able to easily walk into the CES show at the Sands Expo without any trouble whatsoever. Surprising, given the fact that the show wasn't open to the general public. There were all types of new and upcoming gadgets from all the major companies across the globe. Additionally, the Ziff Davis run DL.TV Internet show was recording a total of 3 shows from the expo. DL.TV is by far the best tech show available on the web. The two hosts of the show - Patrick Norton and Robert Heron go over the latest and greatest in gadgetry in addition to answering many viewer technical questions. Patrick had worked on other popular tech shows previously - one of which was called The ScreenSavers

It was exciting to speak to Patrick about the show and tell him my thoughts about the production they do for their two day a week show. On the final day of the CES we actually ran into Patrick as we walked back to the Wynn hotel where all of us had chosen to park. We spent about 15 minutes chatting about various event happenings over the weekend as we walked through the Wynn casino floor. It was nice to find out that he was a down to Earth and friendly guy. Check out the show if you ever have time (http://www.dl.tv)

Patrick Norton from DL.TV and Me on the final day of the CES 2007 Show

The other major event taking place at the Sands was the Porn expo. All types of adult film stars traveled throughout the premises in the typical arrangement of slutty wardrobe you may stereotype a porn star to be wearing. What a crazy time. We even finished off the trip with Ron Jeremy walking right by us on the way out of the Adult Video Awards show taking place at Mandalay Bay. To keep the blog post PG rated let me say that it was quite entertaining and a change of pace from the geek driven electronics gathering.

Porn stars and me = Giggidy Giggidy - Aww Yeah!


January 8, 2007

Graduation and Trip Back to Las Vegas

Posted at 12:02 in Various . | | 0 Comments

A lot of time has gone by since I last posted here. Since my last post, I have officially done the graduation ceremony at Eastern University. Luckily, I made it in time since I woke up super later. It was nice to see the St. David's campus for the second time. The only news worthy thing out of my graduation ceremony is that the announcer mis-pronounced my name. For all you out there .... RHIAN is pronounced R-Y-A-N. NOT REEHAN. I mean come on, since when would RHI be pronounced as REE.

In other news I am leaving for Las Vegas with Jeremy and Will (Another friend both Jeremy and I work with at Computerline and MicroEndeavors...aka Ed Martini is a Loser)
We are leaving Wednesday and returning Sunday night. Tickets were under $500 which includes airfare, hotel (Sahara Hotel & Casino), and car rental. This will be my third time to Vegas and I believe Jeremy's fourth.

Not much has changed with my car, I still love this thing. It was rated the 3rd fastest car of 2007 by Car and Driver magazine. WhooHoo! I am bringing my car back to SoundWaves tomorrow to have the Navigation radio installation finished. SoundWaves (http://www.s-waves.com) tinted my windows and will complete the installation process of the Pioneer AVIC D2 GPS Nav system with IPOD control and Sirius Satellite radio by tomorrow.


December 17, 2006

Saturn Sky Owner's Meeting

Posted at 20:29 in Saturn Sky . | | 0 Comments

Today, I met up with a number of other people who own both Sky base versions, Sky Turbo versions, and Solstice models. They are members of the forum site - SkyRoadster.com

Our meeting point was the GM manufacturing facility located in Wilmington, DE. This is the facility that built my car, and all of the other people involved. In one of the pictures below you can see the very large factory in the background in addition to all the vehicles waiting to be shipped to their new owners.

We took about a 14 mile route which led us from our meeting point on up to Kennett Square, PA. The twists and curves in the road were a great way to show off what the car's got in terms of handling ability. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind. It sticks to the road like glue. And, it's very fast.

We ended up at a pretty good Mexican restaurant and then dispersed from there.
General Motors Plant - And Our Cars
Hey Look!  It's My Car
Jeremy and I
Images of the Cars
Images of the Cars
Images of the Cars