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

Radio Active PodcastWhere 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 Alzheimer’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.

Getting the Show

Show Notes

  • Nuketown News
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Canon Photo Printer Stops Working.
    • HP Scanner Stops Scanning.
    • Currently Reading
    • Currently Watching
    • Computer Repair Frustrations
  • Promo: Heart of the Hunter
  • Netheads
    • Gain experience for doing chores.
    • The Mopcast Banditos…
    • You can blame Mur Lafferty and Doug Rapsome for this one.
    • 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.
    • ChoreWars
    • DBAN: Darik’s Boot and Nuke
  • Promo: The Tome
  • Book Review: Rainbows End
    • By Vernor Vinge
    • 381 pages
    • Tor Books
    • Published May 2006
    • In 2025, brilliant poet and unrelenting bastard Robert Gu wakes up from the 25-year-long nightmare of Alzheimer’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.
    • 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.
    • Details
    • Summary
    • Review
  • Promo
    • Goblin Broadcast Network
  • Outro
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