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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Radio Active #53: Computer Repair Frustrations, Boot and Nuke, ChoreWars, Rainbows End

by Ken Newquist / July 25, 2007
Book Cover: Rainbows End

Where do Rainbows End? Find out in Episode #53 as I review Vernor Vinge's near-future science fiction thriller in which a 75-year-old man awakens to find his Alzhiemer's cured, his body rejuvenated to that of a teenager ... and the world transformed almost beyond belief.

I also talk about what I'm reading (Pushing Ice, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and watching (The 4400, Doctor Who, Season 2, vent about some gadget repairs that aren't going well, and obliterate two Windows hard drives with secure deletion tool DBAN.

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Show Notes

  • Nuketown News
    • Currently Reading
      • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: A fast, enjoyable read that provides a suitable ending to the fantasy series. It's sad to see it go … but it went out with style.
      • Pushing Ice by Alistair Reynolds. About a deep space ice mining crew working near Saturn when suddenly the ice moon Janus breaks orbit and starts accelerating out of the solar system.  Review of Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End later on.
    • Currently Watching
      • The 4400, Season 3: In Season 2, we learned that the U.S. government engineered and administered a powers-blocking drug to the 4400 that sickened most of them and killed two dozen. Now the drug is gone … but what happens when the 4400 are allowed to realize the true extent of their powers?
      • Doctor Who, Season 2: The new Doctor has arrived. He's got the zany dark thing down pretty well; not sure if I like him better than his predecessor, but the first few episodes have been good.
    • Computer Repair Frustrations
      • Canon Photo Printer Stops Working.
      • HP Scanner Stops Scanning.
  • Promo: Heart of the Hunter
  • Netheads
    • ChoreWars
    • DBAN: Darik's Boot and Nuke
      • Got an old computer that you want to scrap or give away? Better erase the hard drive first, which is what Darik's Boot and Nuke is for.
      • Supports seven different erasing techniques, including DoD 5220-22.M, which makes seven passes over the hard drive.
      • Can be used with CD or floppy (and that was the key for me -- the older PCs I wanted wipe didn't boot from CDs, but would boot from floppy)
      • Process takes a while -- probably about an hour for a 20 GB drive, but it's worth it.
      • NewsForge review: A great tool for obliterating your data.
  • Promo: The Tome
  • Book Review: Rainbows End
    • Details
      • By Vernor Vinge
      • 381 pages
      • Tor Books
      • Published May 2006
    • Summary
      • In 2025, brilliant poet and unrelenting bastard Robert Gu wakes up from the 25-year-long nightmare of Alzhiemer's to find his body and mind rejuvenated, and the world radically different from the one he remembers.
      • His son, Bob Gu and his daughter-in law Alice are essential agents in the war on … well, the exact nature of the war against The Next Bad Thing. What that is, no one can tell; it could be something old and conventional like suitcase nukes or something wholly new, like genetically engineered viruses designed to attack specific races.
      • He also finds they have a daughter, Miri, who's easily as brilliant as they are, even if she's only a kid. And to his horror, he has to go to school with her.
      • He's sent to the local high school to learn the essential skills for living in this new age, everything from "wearing" computers on his person to navigating virtual reality worlds to performing the instant search and analysis that everyone older than three-years-old can do.
      • He finds himself struggling to adapt to this new world, terrified at his inability to recover his poetic voice … and disgusted by his new found insight, and even enjoyment, of mathematical and technical problems.
      • What he doesn't realize is how dangerous this new world is … and what it means for him, his friends new and old, and his family.
    • Review
      • The book's cover describes it as "a novel with one foot in the future". That's exactly what it is.
      • The book follows an emerging threat to the world, one that may be its most terrifying yet: You've Gotta Believe, or the first truly effective mind-control.
      • The YGB plot proceeds from multiple angles, and reaches a thrilling conclusion by book's end.
      • But the storytelling takes a backseat to the technology for most of the novel, and it was the compelling nature of that future (for good and for evil) that moves the reader along, not the plot itself (which does come into its own eventually).
      • The wearable computers -- which the user can interface with through subtle body gestures.
      • Virtual worlds, viewable through contact lenses, overlaying the real world.
      • "Belief Circles" competing for attention on the world stage, some originating in the first world, some in the still-developing one.
      • Golden minefields of future science, which may or may not work on your particular genetic makeup.
      • High schools where students are expected to research and analyze their world … and then take action on the results.
      • Almost everything in the world is pre-packaged, with no "user serviceable parts". And it's awesome when Robert has the sudden, overwhelming urge to cut one of those components open to see what's inside.
      • A major subplot -- the digitization of a library by pulping its books -- is a great take on similar debates happening today.
      • All in all an engaging, fun read that offers an amazing (and occasionally terrifying) vision of a future.
  • Promo
  • Outro
Audio icon NuRA-2007-07-23.mp325.81 MB


Yeah, it is nice to know we've got two more movies coming, especially since the last two movies were pretty good (at least for readers of the books; not sure how well they work for newbs who haven't read the fiction).

It's amazing that GenCon is what, two weeks away? I can't wait, and I'd definitely like to meet up with folks at the con. I'm going to be heading to the Podcasters Party and I'll post some rough notes on the rest of schedule later this week.

I got my tickets and Badges in the mail the other day. I completely forgot that I signed up for the party and it never occurred to me that you, Chuck, Lonnie, Mick and the rest of the podcasters would be there. Duh.
I spend the entire year just waiting for this(I do other stuff throughout the year but you know what I mean) and the closer it gets the more I can't wait.

Are the Dragons Landing folks going? I thought they were bowing out of GenCon this year so they could go next.

I do need to get one more podcast out before I leave for GenCon to remind folks I'm going to the Podcaster Party.

What I'm trying to come up with now is my GenCon shopping list. I really need to listen to a bunch of podcasts between now and our departure date so I can figure out exactly what I want to buy. Spirit of the Century is definitely on the list. So are a set of Q-workshop dice. Beyond that though, I'm not sure.

Maybe Chuck and Lonnie aren't going. I know they are pretty busy and the show is taking a break till they catch up.

I've already started my list. There are a few systems I've never played I would like to pick up :Hero 5e, Castles and Crusades, True 20, and the new Monte Cook World of Darkness d20. My version of Call of Cthulhu is 2 editions old so I may pick up a newer copy. Then I would like to get Arkham Horror.
This year I think I will focus on trying to get into some pickup games and demos for games I've never heard of. Plus I would love to get into more seminars. I signed up for the writers workshop on Sat.

Demos and new games are definitely what I'm about this year. I've only got two D&D games slotted, and I think I'll only end up playing in one of them.

Regarding Call of Cthulhu, I think the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign book is supposed to be reprinted in time for GenCon, so I might pick that up. The "Trail of Cthulhu" book, which is supposed to radically transform the way investigations are handled, may be out as well, and I'll definitely want that.

This being the 40th anniversary I'm expecting this one to be pretty big. I haven't heard much in the way of any "big" announcements, but I'm sure there is going to be one really good game release or event to look forward to.
This is the first year I'll be able to go for more than just one day and I plan to take advantage of it. One day is barely enough time to run through the exhibit hall. I never have the time to really go through it and see everything. There is always tons of stuff I miss that I hear about later. So this year I plan to get as much out of it as I can.

I'm thinking we'll hear an announcement about D&D 4th edition at the con; 4th edition, 40th anniversary ... it fits so well that the marketing guys heads will explode if they don't do it.