Friday, December 25, 2009

Playing football -- worth it?

I have to wonder if that manly sport of football is worth it, especially after reading articles like this one from Sports Illustrated.

Former Oakland Raider Dave Pear is one of many former players suffering from injuries sustained during their careers.

"Don't let your kids play football," he says. "Never."

Think about that next time you're watching a game, celebrating the "toughness" of your favorite player. Or do we really care?

As long as it isn't my kid.

work ethic

"Hard work pays off," I like to repeat to my son.

It seems that kids in the U.S. too often don't understand that, though.

Check out Kara Miller's column at boston.com, "My lazy American students."

Loved this line:

If you’re used to playing video games like “Modern Warfare’’ or “Halo’’ all night, how do you fit in four hours of homework? Or rest up for class?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Free Office Suite App

The SoftMaker Office 2008 office suite is currently available for free at http://loadandhelp.com/home-en.html. They have versions for Windows and Linux. From their FAQ page:

What SoftMaker Office 2008 includes

  • TextMaker 2008, the friendly, full-featured word processor
  • PlanMaker 2008, the reliable, full-featured spreadsheet
  • SoftMaker Presentations 2008, an alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint
  • BasicMaker 2008 (Windows only), a BASIC scripting language
  • Unrestricted software, can be used perpetually
  • Seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office
  • Discounts on future versions

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uncomfortable with Google? Other Search Engines

Does Google's privacy policy make you feel uncomfortable? Not me... I'm one of those who is guilty of repeating the phrase "Google is your friend." But it's a personal decision -- depends on what worries you about internet privacy.

Anyway, there are search engines that you might prefer using instead of Google.

ask.com gives tells you about the info they collect in their Privacy Policy. This article at cnet.com examines some of the major search companies, and ranks ask.com above AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

Mozilla vet Asa Dotzler recommends switching Firefox's search from Google to Bing. I don't know how many people would feel much more comfortable with Microsoft's Bing than with Google, though.

Some others you might want to consider:

Scroogle Scraper

ixquick.com

eTools.ch

Whatever search engine you use, it's probably a good idea to take a look at their privacy policy.

And, if you're concerned about internet privacy, you might want to check out the Smart Computing article, "Is Your ISP On Your Side? When It Will & Will Not Protect Your Privacy," especially the concluding paragraph:

In The End, Privacy Is An Illusion. Yes, there's a trade-off for the convenience of using the Internet and e-mail: loss of privacy. Sure, you can send messages to relatives, friends, and colleagues quickly, and you have access to the world of online shopping, information, and entertainment. If someone wants to track your movements online, however, he can. After all, it's not that hard to do, and with today's laws, ISPs have more leeway than ever to give up your privacy in the name of security. Whether this new outlook has any effect on the average user, only time will tell; but the ISP, given the right pressure, certainly has the legal right to hand over a lot of information about you. You may want to think about that the next time you go online.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Will Boise Get a Shot?

After USC's stunning loss at Washington, Iowa's upset win at Penn State, and Oregon's crushing win over Cal, it's probably too early to predict an undefeated season for Boise State. But the #5 Broncos seem to have no major tests remaining on their schedule. Only two of the teams ahead of them in the polls (Florida, Texas, Alabama, and LSU) can possibly finish undefeated before the start of the bowl season -- three of those teams play in the SEC, and only one can emerge undefeated after the SEC championship game.

If Boise State finishes without a loss, and there aren't two undefeated teams in front of them in the polls, will the BCS system reward Boise State with a shot in the BCS championship game?

Considering their questionable schedule strength, would they deserve it?

We'll see how things play out, but once again the BCS system is showing its flaws, only a month into the season. I have several issues with the way things are in college football right now -- having the AP and USA Today polls coming out before the start of the season is one thing (how can anyone know how good a team is before they even play a game?). Crowning a so-called "national champion" without a playoff is another.

Just to further expose the BCS for the farce that it is, I really hope that Boise State finishes undefeated and that not more than one team currently above them in the polls does. Then we'll see what the voters decide. It doesn't matter if Boise State goes on the the national championship game and gets crushed. What matters is that someone outside of the "Big Six" conferences gets a chance to compete for the title. What matters is that we somehow get the ball rolling towards a playoff system -- my hope is for a 16-team playoff.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ichiro


Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is out with a calf injury. Hopefully, he'll come back healthy this season; he's only 11 hits from his 2,000th MLB hit. Ichiro is in his 9th MLB season; nobody has ever gotten 2,000 hits in his first nine seasons. Nobody has ever gotten 2,000 hits in any nine-season stretch.

He also has 184 hits this season; if he reaches 200, it'll be the ninth time in nine years that he's done so, a record in the Major Leagues.

Ichiro, 35, is batting .359 on the season and .333 for his MLB career. He played in Japan's Pacific League for nine years before coming to Seattle, hitting .353 and piling up 1,278 hits, including a Japanese single-season record 210 hits in 1994.

He's on pace for 231 hits this season, which would break the record of 227 hits by a 35 year-old, held by Sam Rice and Nat Lajoie.

He has batted over .300 in every one of his nine MLB seasons, including .372 in 2004, when he broke the MLB record for hits in a season with 262. In his nine seasons, he's led the league in hits 6 times and in batting average two times.

Wait, here's more. He led the league in stolen bases in 2001, and that year was named the American League MVP and the American League Rookie of the Year. He was the MVP of the 2007 All-Star game. He was won a gold glove as an outfielder in each of his first eight seasons. He's been in the All-Star game in each of his nine seasons. He currently has the highest batting average among active players.

Who knows what kind of numbers he'd have if he'd spent his entire career playing in MLB. Ichiro is a legendary player, already one of the all-time greats.

Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote a nice piece about Ichiro in "Ichiro defies critics and odds," and talks about Ichiro's chances of reaching the 4,000 hit mark (Pete Rose territory!).

For more on Ichiro Suzuki, check out this Wikipedia article.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Answer

Yeah, I've criticized Allen Iverson as much as anyone, but as he sits in limbo waiting for a team to pick him up, let me give him his due.

Iverson is currently #16 on the NBA All-Time Leading Scorers list (Kobe Bryant is #17). That's total points. As for points per game, Iverson is #5 all-time (27.1)!

In his 14-year career, he's dished out an average of 6.2 assists per game, quite respectable for a high-scoring shooting guard.

He's #12 all-time in total steals, and tied for #6 all-time in steals per game with Fat Lever at 2.22.

He's averaged over 41 minutes per game; the all-time leaders in that category listed at nba.com are Wilt Chamberlain (45.8), Bill Russell (42.3), Oscar Robertson (42.2), and Elvin Hayes (38.4).

Over his career, Iverson's had season-bests of 33.0 ppg (2005-06 with Philadelphia), 8.0 apg (2004-05 with Philadelphia), and 2.8 steals per game (2001-02 with Philadelphia).

The 6'0", 165 lb. guy known as "AI" and "The Answer" will go down as one of the best small guards (and one of the best players) to ever lace 'em up.

Santa Fe Mountains

Views from the Santa Fe Mountains above Santa Fe, New Mexico, part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southern-most subrange of the Rocky Mountains, on an overcast August day. Photos taken during my mom's (MALsPa's Ma, as she called herself once!) recent visit to New Mexico.





And up near at Ski Santa Fe, Santa Fe's ski area, a cool mountain stream and a little view of the forest.







"Sangre de Cristo" is Spanish for "Blood of Christ." For more about the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangre_de_Cristo_Mountains.

Health Care Reform

While I agree with Mr. Obama that health care reform is sorely needed in this country, somehow I doubt that significant changes are in store.

For most of us, it would help if we simply reform the way we take care of our own health. How many health problems are a result of things we do to ourselves? Smoking, drinking, drugs, over-eating, poor diet, lack of exercise...

Dude. Most of us just need to be smarter. Look out for #1. Take better care of yourself.

Still, I hope Mr. Obama is successful. Too many people can't get the help they need, can't afford it. There's got to be a better way.

point releases

Hm, interesting question at the Linux Mint forums:

"What ever happened to the update releases of mint 5? I've been waiting a year now, still no sign."

Because Mint 5 (Elyssa) is an LTS version, a point release would be a good thing for anyone who wants to install it at this stage. Otherwise, you're gonna have tons of updates to pull in. Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (their LTS version) has released a couple, I think. Even Mepis has released 8.0.06 and 8.0.10 this year.

So what's up at Mint? Not sure. Maybe a point release is just too much to ask, with everything else they have going on, like the Mint Debian project, among other things.

Here's one person's reply to the question above:

"If it's that important to you why not simply install the point two release of Hardy Heron, and from there install the mint tools and change your repos to that of Elyssa. This will give you the closest thing to an Elyssa point release as you are going to get."

Better yet, install the point two release of Hardy and forget about Mint until next time. If you're gonna go through all that trouble, I can't see any reason to bother with Mint at all -- I mean, Mint's a fine distro, but after all this time, I don't see any big advantages to running Mint instead of Ubuntu, and there might even be a few drawbacks.

But I have to say, for people like me who started out with Elyssa when it was fresh, and have kept it updated, we're in good shape. Of course, for someone who doesn't have it backed up, if you bork your system and have to reinstall, well... If that was me, of course I'd pass on Elyssa and move on. She'd understand. :-D

You can lead a horse to water...

...but you can't make him drink, as the saying goes. And you definitely can't make him think!

I don't waste my time anymore suggesting to people that they try Linux. I figure that if Linux is a good fit for a person, that person will most likely gravitate towards it naturally. She or he will be looking out for an alternative to Windows, and will find out about Linux and want to try it, without any help from me.

Folks who know that Linux is out there, or who don't know about it and don't seek it out, are most likely not the kind of people who would want to take the time to learn to use it.

My friend ComputerBob included this quote from The Windows Secrets Newsletter in his post from today:

“It sometimes seems like we spend more time protecting our PCs than actually using them. Sadly, in the modern computer age our systems are under continuous attack. Even worse, those attacks take ever-new approaches to break into our PCs and steal our personal data.”

That's not the case for those of us who use Linux. I spend almost no time at all concerning myself about protecting my PC; and I watch in amazement when I'm in computer stores (which isn't often anymore) as customers drop big dollars on Windows operating systems, office suites, games, security software, and other software -- none of which Linux users have to pay a dime for! I listen patiently (a bit less patiently these days) as friends of mine complain about viruses, worms, corrupted files, and other problems they are having with their Windows computers.

I just shake my head, and, walking away, think for the umpteenth time, "I'm sure glad that I use Linux!"

WNBA - Heating Up!

We're getting down to the end of the regular season in the WNBA, and teams are jockeying for playoff position. Standing going into tonight's games:

Eastern Conference Standings

W L Pct GB Home Road Conf Streak L10
Indiana 19 7 .731 -- 12-1 7-6 15-2 Lost 2 7-3
Atlanta 15 12 .556 4.5 11-5 4-7 9-10 Won 1 8-2
Connecticut 14 13 .519 5.5 10-5 4-8 8-11 Lost 1 5-5
Washington 13 15 .464 7.0 8-6 5-9 9-9 Lost 2 3-7
Chicago 13 15 .464 7.0 9-4 4-11 7-9 Lost 3 5-5
Detroit 12 14 .462 7.0 6-6 6-8 6-11 Won 3 6-4
New York 11 16 .407 8.5 6-7 5-9 7-9 Won 2 5-5
Western Conference Standings

W L Pct GB Home Road Conf Streak L10
Phoenix 18 9 .667 -- 10-4 8-5 11-6 Lost 1 6-4
Seattle 16 11 .593 2.0 11-3 5-8 12-5 Won 3 5-5
Los Angeles 14 13 .519 4.0 8-4 6-9 8-7 Won 6 8-2
San Antonio 11 16 .407 7.0 7-6 4-10 7-8 Lost 3 3-7
Minnesota 11 16 .407 7.0 6-8 5-8 5-10 Lost 6 1-9
Sacramento 9 19 .321 9.5 5-8 4-11 5-12 Lost 1 5-5

Each team has 34 games in the regular season, so each team has seven or eight games remaining. The top four teams from each conference make the playoffs.

Tonight's games:

San Antonio at Indiana: San Antonio has been playing poorly of late, and is in danger of losing their playoff spot. Indiana has dropped their last two, but first place in the East seems secure.

Atlanta at Detroit: The Shock are trying to make a run the playoffs, and have won their last three. Atlanta will try to hold onto 2nd place in the East.

Connecticut at Seattle: The Sun are currently in 3rd place in the East, but can't afford a mis-step here, with four teams hot on their heels. Seattle seems to have gotten back on track with three straight wins, and still has a shot at first place in the West.

Phoenix at Los Angeles: Phoenix has been a bit inconsistent lately, but they're still holding on to first place in the West. The Sparks' Candace Parker, last year's MVP and Rookie of the Year, is finally coming around after having her baby, and L.A.'s been hot, winning six in a row. They've had their problems this season, but I don't think anyone relishes the thought of facing them in the playoffs!

Individual statistics leaders (I'll have to leave Minnesota's Seimone Augustus out of this listing because she only played in six games before going down with an injury, but she was averaging 21.0 ppg):

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix - 20.8 ppg
Becky Hammon, San Antonio - 19.7 ppg
Lauren Jackson, Seattle - 19.3 ppg

Erika Desouza, Atlanta - 8.9 rpg
Candace Parker, Los Angeles - 8.7 rpg
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago - 8.6 rpg

Sue Bird, Seattle - 5.8 apg
Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix - 5.2 apg
Ticha Penicheiro, Sacramento - 5.2 apg

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix - 2.8 3PTs made per game
Shameka Christon, New York - 2.6 3PTs made per game
Becky Hammon, San Antonio - 2.3 3PTs made per game

Tamika Catchings, Indiana - 2.9 steals per game
Nicky Anosike, Minnesota - 2.8 steals per game
Alana Beard, Washington - 2.4 steals per game

Candace Parker, Los Angeles - 2.0 blocks per game
Tangela Smith, Phoenix - 1.8 blocks per game
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago - 1.6 blocks per game

Timed Random Wallpapers in Fluxbox

I've always like both Openbox and Fluxbox, but neither of them come with an automatic wallpaper changer. The one that comes with KDE is great; in GNOME, I use the wallpaper-tray application, which can be installed with Synaptic. I missed having a feature like that whenever I switched over to Openbox or Fluxbox.

I wrote about how I got an automatic wallpaper changer going in Openbox in this earlier post. I figured I could use a similar approach for my Fluxbox installation in Mepis 8.

In Fluxbox, I use feh, and I can run the following command from a terminal to get a random wallpaper:

fbsetbg -r [path to directory containing backgrounds]

So I started out with a wallpaper-loop.sh script similar to the one I'd used in Openbox:

~/wallpaper-loop.sh

#!/bin/bash

while true
do
fbsetbg -r /home/steve/.fluxbox/backgrounds
sleep 360
done


Then I created ~/.fluxbox/autostart.sh:

~/.fluxbox/autostart.sh

#!/bin/bash

/home/steve/wallpaper-loop.sh


Next, I edited this line in the ~/.fluxbox/init file:

session.screen0.rootCommand: ~/.fluxbox/autostart.sh


For reasons I can't explain, this procedure worked to give me random wallpaper changes, but I was getting them at odd intervals -- every few minutes instead of every 6 minutes like I'd specified. That problem seemed to fix itself once I rebooted the computer.

So, it works fine here! Now I can enjoy random, automatic wallpaper changers in Openbox and Fluxbox like I do in KDE and GNOME!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

xkill

The xkill command in Linux has turned out to be one of the more useful commands for me. It's good to turn to when an application freezes up. Blogger Steven Rosenberg writes about it here.

In short:

"On the same window as the application you wish to kill, open a terminal window and type xkill at the prompt. Your cursor turns into a "X" that kills whatever you left-click with the mouse."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bias?

Fans of college football teams in the West know that in the polls, their teams don't get the respect that teams from the Mid-West, East, and South get.

I took a look at this season's USA Today Preseason Top 25. Keep in mind, if a team starts out low in the polls, or unranked, it becomes that much more difficult for that team to make it into a major bowl game at the end of the season.

Here's a listing that shows a team's preseason ranking, and in parentheses, their ranking at the end of last season and last season's record.

Note: Teams from the "Far West" (further west than Texas, or should I say, states that either straddle the Rocky Mountains or lie west of them) are highlighted in bold, showing an interesting pattern.

Teams from the West who are starting out ranked higher than they were at the end of the season ("Far West" teams in bold):

#2 Texas (#3, 13-1)
#3 Oklahoma (#5, 12-2)
#11 Oklahoma State (#18, 9-4)
#12 California (#25, 9-4)
#22 Nebraska (not ranked, 9-4)

Teams from the West who are starting out ranked lower than they were at the end of the season ("Far West" teams in bold):

#4 USC (#2, 12-1)
#14 Oregon (#9, 10-3)
#16 Boise State (#13, 12-1)
#17 TCU (#7, 11-2)
#18 Utah (#4, 13-0)
#24 BYU (#21, 10-3)
#25 Oregon State (#19, 9-4)

Now, teams from the East, South, or Mid-West who are starting out ranked higher than (or even with where) they were at the end of the season:

#1 Florida (#1, 13-1)
#5 Alabama (#6, 12-2)
#6 Ohio State (#11, 10-3)
#7 Virginia Tech (#14, 10-4)
#8 Penn State (#8, 11-2)
#9 LSU (not ranked, 8-5)
#10 Mississippi (#15, 9-4)
#15 Georgia Tech (#22, 9-4)
#19 Florida State (#23, 9-4)
#20 North Carolina (not ranked, 8-5)
#23 Notre Dame (not ranked, 7-6)


And teams from the East, South, or Mid-West who are starting out ranked lower than they were at the end of the season:

#13 Georgia (#10, 10-3)
#21 Iowa (#20, 9-4)

Hmm.

Sure are a lot of teams from the East, South, or Mid-West that the pollsters think are better than they were at the end of last year. Only one team from the Far West is ranked higher than they ended up last year -- California.

LSU, unranked at the end of the year, was voted into the top ten (at #9). Based on reputation, I guess.

Notre Dame went 7-6 last season and finished unranked, but they start out at #23. I mean, it's Notre Dame, right? Gotta vote for 'em.

Does a bias exist against Western teams? If you're in a Rocky Mountain State, or to the west, here's yet another example of what folks have been saying for years.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

XMarks

I use multiple Linux distros, and occasionally I'm on the internet with Windows Vista, so I finally decided give the Firefox synchronization tool XMarks a try.

XMarks is the new incarnation of Foxmarks, and is available as a Firefox add-on. It synchs your bookmarks between different operating systems and/or computers.

So far, it's gone off without a hitch. XMarks comes with a friendly GUI, and places an icon conveniently at the bottom right of the Linux Firefox window. It includes a "Discovery" module that helps XMarks provide you with top sites based on your Google search, site info, and automatically suggested tags. I turned off all of the Discovery options.

Good add-on for Firefox users who multi-boot or use multiple computers -- your bookmarks are always available!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Timed Random Wallpapers in Openbox

Finally got a perfect random wallpaper set-up in Openbox! This set-up starts my ~/wallpaper.sh script when I log into Openbox and finds a new (random) wallpaper, every six minutes, from my ~/photos-openbox directory.


~/wallpaper-loop.sh

#!/bin/bash

while [ 1 ]
do
/home/steve/wallpaper.sh
sleep 6m
done


~/wallpaper.sh

#!/bin/bash

WALLPAPERS="$HOME/photos-openbox"
ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )
RANGE=${#ALIST[*]}
SHOW=$(( $RANDOM % $RANGE ))

feh --bg-scale $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$SHOW]}


~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh

# Programs to launch at startup

#numlock
numlockx &

#screensaver
xscreensaver &

# Programs that will run after Openbox has started
(sleep 2 && fbpanel) &

#My wallpaper (random wallpaper script - calls wallpaper.sh)
(sleep 3 && /home/steve/wallpaper-loop.sh) &


Very, very nice! Thanks to frisil at the MepisLovers forums for the tip on the infinite loop. I'd spent a lot of time trying to find a way to get a random wallpapers in Openbox; the wallpaper.sh script by itself did this, but adding a line for it in the autostart.sh script only gave me a new wallpaper each time I logged into Openbox. This set-up works about as well as KDE's automatic background changer or GNOME's wallpaper-tray.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No A/C in AZ

Found an article at azcentral.com about a Phoenix-area couple who have vowed to go without air conditioning for an entire year!

http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/decor/articles/2009/08/08/20090808acless0809.html

They also have a blog page about the experience, or experiment, whatever you want to call it.

I know that after living in the Phoenix area for 24 years, I grew tired of air conditioning, and almost never use it since I've moved to Albuquerque. But it's hard to imagine making it through a Phoenix summer without it! This couple was motivated by environmental concerns; I applaud them for their courage!

8 Linux Window Managers/Desktop Environments

Blogger Damien Oh discusses some of his favorite Linux window managers and lightweight desktop environments in "8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux," at makeuseof.com.

There's a lot of confusion in the Linux world about the difference between desktop environments and window managers. Oh doesn't help things by using the term "desktop managers." In short, a window manager is less resource-intensive and comes with fewer features than a complete desktop environment. Folks with older computers might prefer to use a window manager instead of something like GNOME or KDE. Folks who don't like to use the command line and who like having more well-developed applications available, and who aren't restricted by machines with low memory, and who don't want to have to figure a lot of things out, might be better served by sticking with a full desktop environment.

Some of the environments he mentions (Xfce, FVWM-Crystal, and LXDE) are light-weight desktop environments; the rest are window managers. For more info about window managers and desktop environments, see: http://xwinman.org/

In the comments following the article, some folks mentioned Openbox, which might be my favorite; others bemoaned the lack of any mention of tiled window managers like wmii. I did try wmii for a short time, but not long enough to learn to use it well. I had the feeling that tiled window managers aren't for me.

Anway, the article's worth taking a look at.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Openbox in Lenny

Recently installed the window manager Openbox, which I love as much as Fluxbox, in Debian Lenny after previously installing it in Mepis, and then later in Mint Elyssa and Ubuntu Hardy. I'm using the KDE version of Lenny.

Openbox takes a bit of work to install and set up, but in the end you'll have a very nice, light-weight, attractive, usable desktop.

For Lenny, I started out by installing the following packages from Synaptic (default repos):

- openbox (brought in libobparser21, libobrender21, openbox-themes)
- obconf
- obmenu (brought in libffi5, python-cairo, python-glade2, python-gobject, python-gtk2, python-numeric, python-support)
- fbpanel
- numlockx
- feh (brought in giblib1, libid3tag0, libimlib2)
- xscreensaver (brought in xli, xscreensaver-data
- xscreensaver-data-extra (brought in libnetpbm10, netpbm)
- xscreensaver-gl
- xscreensaver-gl-extra (brought in libgle3)
- menu, the app for the Debian menu, was already installed

Openbox doesn't come with its own panel; I had previously used pypanel, which is nice, but it wasn't in the default repos; so I went with fbpanel. fbpanel is cool, confiigurable, and comes with it's own menu, populated by the Debian menu package.

I found multiple Openbox entries to log into from my kdm log-in screen, including one titled "Openbox" and another titled "Openbox (Session)." The latter is the correct one to use, because the former does not reference any autostart script.

I installed xscreensaver so that I could use the GL Text (Clock) screensaver, a favorite of mine.

Instructions for using and configuring fbpanel were found in man fbpanel.

I used an autostart script (created ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh) and a script that I'd found and tweaked that gives you an random wallpaper each time you log in (~/wallpaper.sh). The wallpaper.sh script uses photos from my ~/photos-openbox directory Here are the scripts I'm using:


~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh

# Programs to launch at startup

#numlock
numlockx &

#screensaver
xscreensaver &

# Programs that will run after Openbox has started
(sleep 2 && fbpanel) &

#My wallpaper (random wallpaper script)
./wallpaper.sh


~/wallpaper.sh

#!/bin/bash

WALLPAPERS="$HOME/photos-openbox"
ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )
RANGE=${#ALIST[*]}
SHOW=$(( $RANDOM % $RANGE ))

feh --bg-scale $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$SHOW]}


I added an entry in the Openbox menu for wallpaper.sh so that I can manually change to a new (random) wallpaper whenever I feel like it.

I tweaked fbpanel -- changed the default menu icon, altered the clock's font color, etc.; and filled in the Openbox menu (which I prefer to use instead of the fbpanel menu) to my tastes, using the GUI ObMenu. Here's my Openbox desktop in Debian Lenny:



Simple, clean, and nice, just how I like it!

Rattlers of the AFL

The latest news is that the Arena Football League has suspended operations indefinitely, after having canceled the 2009 season back in December.

M.A.L. and I were fortunate enough to have attended several Arizona Rattlers games at America West Arena in Phoenix. The games were fun and high-scoring. And loud.




Memories of the music blasting; the t-shirts and towels being shot into the stands (fans scrambling for them); the rabid fans; the copper-colored helmets; seeing the players up-close; brutal hits -- players slamming into the walls on the sidelines; field goals sailing through the narrow uprights; the 50-yard indoor field; seeing guys who'd "almost" made it to the NFL, former college players, some former NFL players; the Rattlers' "Enforcer," "Spike," driving his bike onto the field before the start of games; the Rattlers' Sidewinders Dance Team...



It was great fun, and we miss 'em.

The Rattlers were coached for several years by former ASU Sun Devils and Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White. In 1992, they became the first Arena League team to sell out their entire home schedule. They made it to 5 AFL championship games in 11 years, winning it all in '94 and '97.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

cheating

I don't know how many current and former Major League Baseball players have used steroids, but it's certain that there have been a lot of them. Some folks say, "Well, it wasn't against the rules," I think until 2005, so how can we call these guys "cheaters?"

The guys who were doing steroids were trying to hide it. They didn't want anyone to know. That tells me that they knew that what they were doing was wrong.

It doesn't matter if it was "illegal" or not. I once heard someone say, "If you have to hide it, it's probably wrong."

They knew they were cheating, living a lie, pretending to be getting by on their talent and skills while trying to get an edge by using something that they didn't want everyone to know they were using. I don't think we should sugar-coat it or make excuses for them.

Linux eBooks

I think I've mentioned some of these before, but here are 5 Excellent Downloadable eBooks To Teach Yourself Linux.

Carla Schroder's Mulit-Boot Tips

Linux guru Carla Schroder discusses Linux multi-boot tips at LinuxToday. In particular, I agree with the following:

The common wisdom is to have a shared home directory in a multiboot setup, but this has its own set of potential problems because it mixes data files and configuration files. So when you're trying out different distributions, your desktop settings may not translate gracefully across all of them. So what's the answer?
The answer is simple: create a separate data partition, and let every distro that you install have its own unique ~/home for your dotfiles. You'll jump through a couple of extra hoops to make your data directory accessible across all of your installed Linuxes, but it's no big deal, and it's easier than trying to make your dotfiles work across multiple distros and desktop versions.


I do the same thing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

favre

So, Brett Favre finally decided to stay retired.

Good.

Soap opera's over.

isotopes

The Albuquerque Isotopes defeated Oklahoma City 6-2 tonight, leaving the 'Topes sitting 2 1/2 in front of Oklahoma City in the PCL American South. The two teams face off again tomorrow night and Thursday night.

M.A.L. and I took in Friday night's game vs. the Iowa Cubs at Albuquerque's beautiful Isotopes Park. The ball was flying all over the place in the mile-high air. Abq pounded Iowa, 16-8, behind Brett Harper's six RBI and two home runs.

The 'Topes pounded out an Albuquerque record 24 hits.

While I miss seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks at BOB (Bank One Ballpark, now Chase Field), to me it's a lot more fun going to Isotopes games. The tickets are cheap, the seats are great, and the weather is fantastic. Great place for some baseball!

fireworks

Sadly, Candace Parker of the Sparks wasn't in the lineup, but the WNBA All-Star game was about as entertaining as it could be.

Seattle's Swin Cash returned to Connecticut, where she starred at UConn, to lead the West to a 130-118 victory over the East with an All-Star game record 22 points.

Sacramento's Nicole Powell, formerly of Stanford, and before that, Phoenix's Mountain Pointe H.S., was a late replacement for the injured Lisa Leslie; Powell turned in a stunning performance, tallying 21 points in less than 21 minutes. She went 8 for 14 from the field, including 5 for 9 from three-point land.

Besides Cash, former UConn players included Diana Taurasi of Phoenix (18 points, 7-11 FG, and a lot of flashy passing), Sue Bird of Seattle (16 pts, 10 ast, 6-8 FG, 4-5 3PT, 5 reb), and Connecticut's Asjha Jones (6 pts, 6 ast, 4 reb).

The game was close through 3 quarters -- the West led by six going into the 4th. The most remarkable thing to me was that players from both teams were filling it up. The East's shooting tailed off in the 4th quarter, but the West finished at 51.5 percent from the field, including 18 for 39 (.462) on three-point shots. It was an up and down affair, fun to watch.

It was the highest scoring game in WNBA All-Star history.

Watching Taurasi and Bird playing together made me want to see them together for the Mercury.

Late in the game, the teams cleared the way to allow Chicago's Sylvia Fowles a chance to throw down a dunk. She blew the first one, then got another chance and put one down. Kinda hokey, but it's still news any time a woman gets a dunk in a game, and especially in the All-Star game. Fowles led the East with 17 points.

Now, it's back to business. The LA Sparks, down 6.5 games in the Western Conference, and in 5th place, have some serious catching up to do. Lisa Leslie is still out. Candace Parker is just rounding into shape. The Sparks defeated Minnesota tonight, 76-70. Parker finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds; veteran Tina Thompson picked up 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

But the Western Conference-leading Mercury pounded Connecticut, 95-80, behind Cappie Pondexter's 29 points. The Mercury, 14-5, have the most wins in the league. Indiana, an 85-81 winner over Washington, sit at 13-4, best in the East (Katie Douglas had 34 points and 9 rebounds in tonight's win).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

new bookmarks

Here are a couple of web sites that I recently added to my Firefox bookmarks:

wired.com: http://www.wired.com/

GeekDad - Raising Geek Generation 2.0: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jupiter Hit Again?


You might remember back in 1994, when the comet Shoemaker-Levy spectacularly broke up and slammed into the planet Jupiter. Looks like another comet has hit Jupiter. Stories here and here.

boys of summer

Once again, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees are locked in a battle for 1st place in the American League East.

Boston has led the division for most of the season, but has dropped to second place following four straight losses (the latest, last night to Texas, 4-2) combined with five wins in a row by the Yankees (they beat Baltimore last night, 6-4).

The two teams are always at it, and the history of the rivalry goes back a long way. Currently enjoying David Halberstam's Summer of '49, a look at the 1949 pennant race between the Yanks and the Red Sox. Joe and Dom DiMaggio. Ted Williams. Yogi Berra.

It was another time. Post WWII. All three teams (Dodgers, Giants, Yankees) were still in New York. The A's were in Philly. The Pacific Coast League was still the big league in the West.

Teams traveled mostly by train. Fans checked out the games on the radio, and scoured box scores in the newspapers. Multi-million dollar contracts and steroids were unheard of. Jackie Robinson had only recently ('47) broken the color line.

The Curse of the Bambino was in full swing.

It's late July, and there's a long way to go in this season. The Yanks and the Red Sox might battle it out until the end; Detroit is holding on to first place in the AL Central, and the Dodgers lead the NL West by nine games.

(My poor Diamondbacks sit 20 games back in the NL West.)

The Boys of Summer. Gotta love it.

E-Books?

In "E-Readers: The End of Bookstores?", Jason Young writes about how E-Readers like the Sony eReader and Kindle have transformed his reading habits. He speculates that bookstores will soon be a thing of the past.


Not for me, and not for M.A.L.

I can't envision a day when I'll prefer using an E-Reader to having a good book in my hands.

I can't imagine us not stopping into bookstores or libraries. Or not browsing through second-hand stores looking for used books (these days, this is how I find most of the great books that folks see me carrying around).

Nothing against E-Readers. I think they're a great thing.

But does it beat having hard copy in your hands? Not in my book!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's Your Money

As Ulysses notes:

Windows 7 Prices

Preorder – Starting June 26 until July 11, 2009, Windows users can preorder Windows 7 Home Edition and Professional. This is a limited time offer. This is an upgrade version and NOT the full version. Upgrades are available for Windows XP and Vista users only.

  • Preorder Windows 7 Home Premium Edition $50
  • PreOrder Windows 7 Professional $100

Family Pack – Allows 3 PCs in a single household to be upgraded to Windows 7 Home Edition. This is an upgrade only. Details on this offer is sketchy. Wait for Microsoft’s official announcement.

  • Family Pack Windows 7 Home Premium Edition $150

Upgrades – Upgrades are available only for Windows XP and Vista users only. Earlier versions are not supported.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade $120
  • Windows 7 Professional Upgrade $200
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade $220

Full Version

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full Version $200
  • Windows 7 Professional Full Version $300
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full Version $320

Buying a PC now – Starting June 26 to October 22 and beyond, buyers of PCs with Windows XP and Vista installed can upgrade to Windows 7 for FREE. This is a bit deceiving because the actual cost is outlined below in the OEM which is passed on eventually to consumers.

OEM Price - Cost after October 22 when you buy a brand new system with a Windows 7 operating system. The cost is passed on to the consumers by vendors. Currently, the OEM cost are: Windows XP $15, Vista Home Basic $97, Vista Home Premium $121, Vista Business $153 and Vista Ultimate for $205. See the OEM prices for XP and Vista.

  • Windows 7 Starter Edition OEM $50 (1)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium OEM $200

This means, if you buy a $700 PC, you paid for $500 for hardware and $200 to Microsoft for the operating system.

(1) Please note that Microsoft has placed a limit on the hardware requirements for the Starter Edition. Vendors have to comply not to install Windows 7 Starter Edition on anything less than the following: 10.2 inch screen, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, 64GB solid state, and on a single core processor with less than 2GHz.

Europe – If you live in Europe, you poor souls, expect to pay a lot more, almost double for what the US users will be paying. After all, Microsoft has to pay all those programmers to strip IE from Windows 7 and also pay for the new packaging of Windows 7E. By the way, there is no upgrade, just the full version.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full Version €120
  • Windows 7 Professional Full Version €286
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full Version €300

Competition – Finally, let’s compare the rest of the competition:

Mac OS X

  • Mac OS X Leopard Upgrade $29
  • Mac OS X Leopard $129
  • Mac OS X Leopard Family Pack $199

Linux

  • Linux Upgrade $0.00
  • Linux Full Version $0.00
  • Linux All Universe Pack $0.00

Monday, July 13, 2009

FF 3.5 in Lenny

Since it isn't in the repositories yet, here are my steps for installing Firefox 3.5 in Debian Lenny:

- Went to the Mozilla site and downloaded the firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 file.

- Used Synaptic to install bzip2.

- Copied the firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 file to my ~/ directory.

- Extracted the file there with:

$ tar xjf firefox-*.tar.bz2

- Started Firefox 3.5 with:

$ ~/firefox/firefox

This seemed to work fine, so I created a launcher for Firefox. I didn't remove Iceweasel. My bookmarks and setting from Iceweasel came over to Firefox intact.

Firefox 3.5 is noticeably faster than Iceweasel. There's a nice button on the tab bar for opening a new tab. The tool for clearing private data has changed a bit. Seeing a few other minor changes, and no problems so far with this installation method, although I don't think it's the recommended method for Debian.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Chrome OS

Here's a ComputerWorld article that explains what the new Google Chrome OS is all about:

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135293/Opinion_Why_Google_Chrome_OS_matters_already_on_Day_1

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Send a Manpage to a Text File

There are a few different ways to convert a Linux manpage to a text file. Using the ls command as an example, you could save the ls manpage as a text file by using one of the following commands:

$ man ls > ls.txt

or

$ man ls&> ls.txt

Those will give you the text file ls.txt in your current directory.

Those might leave you with some weird formatting characters in your output, so here are a couple of other commands that I'd use instead:

$ man ls | col -bx > ls.txt

or

$ man ls | col -b > ls.txt

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mint Gloria

Here's a short review on the latest Linux Mint release: Hands on with Mint 7.

Linux Mint 7, codenamed "Gloria," looks nice, but I've decided to stay with "Elyssa," the LTS version that came out awhile ago. It's running fine, and will be supported for a few more years, so I'm in no hurry to keep up with the latest Mint releases.

Mint's one of the nicest distros out there, and highly recommended for new Linux users as well as veterans. It is, of course, based on Ubuntu, and quite similar to it, at least under the hood. But it's ease-of-installation factor seems closer to something like Mepis or PCLinuxOS.

Live CD Rescues Me Again

With one of my hard drives apparently failing, I found myself turning once again the the wonderful Mepis live CD.

Using the Mepis 8.0 live CD, I used gparted and rsync, applications that are both included on the CD. I formatted a new hard drive with gparted, then used both applications to copy data from my old partitions to the new drive.

Worked out wonderfully. I'm back up and running, and all system are go. Can't say enough about how important live Linux CDs are to me.

Nixon

Almost finished with an interesting book: Leaders: Profiles and Reminiscences of Men Who Have Shaped the Modern World, by Richard Nixon.

Nixon had a nice, clear writing style; and he was certainly one of the most well-traveled American presidents, well-schooled in diplomacy, and familiar at a personal level with many of the last century's greatest figures.

His chapters on Churchill, Adenauer, DeGaulle, MacArthur, and Yoshida of Japan were quite captivating, and he provided a fascinating look at Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek, and several others.

Incredible read. Interesting how my respect for Nixon has grown over the years. It may be that his efforts at creating ties between China and the U.S. ultimately spelled doom for the Soviet Union; his accomplishments in Asia might result in historians seeing as him as one of the greatest U.S. presidents ever. I hope that Mr. Obama reads this book.

Can Parker Spark the Sparks?



The L.A. Sparks Candace Parker set the WNBA on fire last year, winning the Rookie-of-the-Year award as well as the league's MVP award.

She missed the first part of this season after having a baby, but she's back. L.A. loaded up with some other players, like the great Tina Thompson, and Betty Lennox. But Lisa Leslie is out with a bad knee, and the Sparks have had trouble meshing. L.A. has struggled to a 4-6 start, only good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference, 3.5 games behind the resurgent Phoenix Mercury.

But this is still a formidable team. Lennox and Thompson are two of the best players the league has seen; Candace Parker, as she works back into shape, can carry a team; and Leslie will have something to say about how things turn out.

The Indiana Fever, with Katie Douglas (16.9 ppg), Tamika Catchings (14.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg), and Tammy Sutton-Brown (10.4 and 7.4), have jumped out to a league-best 9-2 record, winning their past 9 straight games.

The Mercury's Diana Taurasi leads the league in scoring (21.2 ppg), and teammate Cappie Pondexter is third at 20.2. Rookie DeWanna Bonner has been a nice addition.

Minnesota took a hit when Seimone Augustus (21.0 ppg) went down with an injury after 6 games, but they still sit tied for 2nd with Seattle in the Western Conference. Seattle's Lauren Jackson (19.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is still a force, and Sue Bird is still a great guard.

Perhaps the biggest surprise this year is the fall of the Detroit Shock, who have crawled to a league-worst 2-7 record after coach Bill Laimbeer stepped down. Detroit is the defending champion. The Shock have signed veteran Anna DeForge (a favorite of mine from when she played with the Mercury), and Karl Malone's daugher Cheryl Ford is back from an injury, but it may be too little, too late.

The season's still young. Candace Parker looked like the best thing to come into the league in some time last year, and the Sparks still might be the team to beat. They're loaded, on paper. Watch out.

Exciting Times in the NBA

The dust is starting to settle in the NBA after draft day and some interesting trades and free agent moves. How things will play out next season is anyone's guess, but here are some of the moves that might make things turn out much differently than this season:

- The Boston Celtics acquired former Piston Rasheed Wallace, which may shore up their front line and provide some insurance for the suddenly injury-prone Kevin Garnett.

- The Lakers picked up Ron Artest from Houston.

- Cleveland got Shaquille O'Neal from Phoenix.

- The Clippers picked up Oklahoma's Blake Griffin in the draft, which may finally end years of draft day frustrations for that club.

- Golden State drafted Dell Curry's son, Stephen Curry, who might turn out to be a great scorer like his dad.

- Detroit fired coach Michael Curry, hired former Cavs assistant John Kuester, and picked up Ben Gordon from the Bulls and Charlie Villanueva from Milwaukee.

- New Jersey's Vince Carter moved to the Orlando Magic.

- The Mavs picked up Shawn Marion from Toronto and kept Jason Kidd.

- San Antonio grabbed Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee and Antonio McDyess from Detroit, and drafted Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair, a great rebounder for his size.

- Oklahoma City drafted Arizona State's James Harden, adding a scorer to a roster that includes Kevin Durant.

- From the ACC, Denver picked up North Carolina's Ty Lawson, and Larry Bird's Indiana Pacers drafted the former Tar Heel Tyler Hansbrough. Gerald Henderson of Duke joined Charlotte.

There are probably more changes to come. Allen Iverson is still floating out there. The Suns will probably keep Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, but maybe not. Detroit might not be finished making moves. 2009-10 should be interesting!

Chrome OS

Google's Chrome Operating System isn't slated to come out until the latter part of next year, but it's creating quite a buzz.

Will it spell doom for Microsoft? Probably not. But it does alter the computing landscape, and it gives computer users another option, and another reason to use something else besides Windows.

For more on Chrome OS:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html


http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/07/google-drops-a-nuclear-bomb-on-microsoft-and-its-made-of-chrome/

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-google-launching-os-firing-torpedo-into-microsoft-and-apple-hold-2009-7

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135402/Analysis_Five_ways_Google_spits_on_Microsoft

Sneaky Tactics to Make You Stuff Your Face

The MSNBC article "8 ways the food industry can hijack your brain" might give you something to think about before you load up at your favorite restaurant. Scary, coming on the heels of more news that obesity in the U.S. continues to rise.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

flowers

Artist: Miss Janine Vigil!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where to Get Linux

A blogger talks about ways of obtaining Linux at http://windows2linux.tech-no-media.com/2009/06/where-do-you-get-linux-from.html.

He doesn't mention my favorite method. I like to buy Linux CDs from online sources such as linuxcd.org and osdisc.com. I've been able to get single live/install CDs for less than $5 bucks, including shipping.

For those who don't know, "live" Linux CDs (like Knoppix) allow you to "test drive" Linux without installing anything to your hard drive. The system runs completely from RAM, and while it's slower than an installed system, it's a nice way to take a good look at Linux. Most live CDs now include the option to do an installation to your hard drive. These CDs contain complete operating systems, and there's tons of additional software is available for free -- all you have to do is download it.

Also not mentioned by the author are the free live/install CDs that Ubuntu sends out. They even pay for the postage. You might have to wait several weeks for them to arrive, but the key word here is "free." I've taken advantage of this offering, obtaining several Ubuntu and Kubuntu CDs over the past few years. Ubuntu might not be the perfect operating system (is there one?), but it's almost always good enough to use, and to keep me from needing to purchase any Windows software.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Greatest?

After the Lakers won this year's NBA Championship, the accolades poured in for coach Phil Jackson. Now with 10 rings, he's being called the greatest NBA coach ever.

It's difficult to dispute, since the only measuring stick is the number of titles won. But I hesitate to jump on the bandwagon. As with great players, there have been many great coaches who won fewer or no championships. So many things have to go right: You need to have the right players, the right organization (top-to-bottom), and you need to get the right calls in the game.

You never know how things would have turned out for Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen, for Kobe Bryant without Shaquille O'Neal or Pau Gasol, or for Jackson without any of those players, or without a GM or owner who could put together the right collection of players.

During the Lakers' series with Orlando, there were a couple of games that could easily have gone the other way. The Lakers escaped with a win in game 2 when Courtney Lee missed a potential game-winning lay-up. They escaped with a win in game four after Dwight Howard missed a couple of free-throws, any one of which would have iced the game for the Magic.

And nobody knows how things would have turned out if Boston's Kevin Garnett had not gone down with an injury and missed the playoffs.

Phil Jackson had no control over any of those things. He may simply be the most fortunate NBA coach ever.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catching Fire

Here's a NY Times review of Richard Wrangham's book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Wrangham puts forth the idea that the harnessing of fire and eating cooked food played major roles in humans evolving to what we are today.

I haven't quite seen this idea expressed before, and I'm quite interested in obtaining this book.

For an except, see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/books/excerpt-catching-fire.html?_r=1&ref=books. Here's a tidbit:

Our ancestors therefore responded to the advent of cooking by biologically adapting to cooked food. Cooking re-shaped our anatomy, physiology, ecology, life-history, psychology and society. Signals in our bodies indicate that this dependence arose not just some tens of thousands of years ago, or even a few hundred thousand, but right back at the beginning of our time on earth; at the start of human evolution, by the habiline that became Homo erectus. ...

Claudia Dreifus spoke with Wrangham: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/science/21conv.html?ref=books.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Blind Woman and a Camera

I work in a photo lab, where I also sell digital cameras.

Yesterday, I had one of my more interesting experiences. A blind woman, accompanied by a helper and a seeing-eye dog, came in to purchase a camera for herself.

Yes, I sold a camera to a blind woman.

No kidding.

It would never have occurred to me that something like this would happen on this job.

She was fairly knowledgeable about computers, memory cards, etc. I sold her a memory card reader and a memory card and a camera bag. She bought a FujiFilm camera. She asked for recommendations, and I didn't really know what to recommend, so I told her that my first digital camera, purchased back in 2001, was a FujiFilm camera, and that it had held up so well that I purchased another one last year. She was an oriental woman and had heard of Fuji and knew that they made good cameras. I put one in her hands that was a particularly well-built camera, the FujiFilm Z30. It's sort of the latest in the same line as my original camera, with a sliding front cover that you can close when you aren't using the camera, to protect the lens. These are sturdy cameras that can survive being dropped -- I know that from experience!



I sold her the orange one.

I have no idea how she's going to manage to take good photos -- how does a blind person focus on the subject? But, she left quite happy.

My "ComputerLog"

When it comes to working with computers, I'm the type that needs to write everything down. At work, I keep a journal of everything that I do on the computers, and I find myself referring to these notes over and over again.

At home, I started doing the same thing several years ago. I had a notebook where I tried to write down anything important that I was doing on my computers. I ended up copying everything into a Word document. Later, I started using OpenOffice for my word processing, and these journals evolved into a series of "ComputerLog" documents; I start a new one each year.

These documents are tremendously important to me, especially ever since I started using Linux, and I refer back to them all the time. I typically use OpenOffice's Find & Replace function to search out topics that I need to read about, or to see what steps I've taken in the past to accomplish something.

Thus, my current document is called ComputerLog2009.odt.

I don't know how other folks keep everything straight, but I highly recommend this or a some similar approach to anyone who uses a computer. Writing everything down and keeping good notes makes life with computers much easier.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Latest and Greatest

I run a multi-boot, all-Linux set-up, with Debian, Mepis, Mint, and Ubuntu, but with the exception of Mepis (currently using Mepis 8), I haven't kept up with the latest versions of each distro.

With Debian, I'm sticking with the "Stable" version, currently Debian Lenny. Debian Testing sounds fine -- my buddy ComputerBob has been using it, with few problems. But Lenny will remain as the "Stable" version for a few years, and I don't plan to change anything until then.

Mint and Ubuntu put out LTS (Long-Term Service) versions. The last of these were Mint Elyssa and Ubuntu Hardy; these will be supported for a few more years yet. Since then, Mint has released Felicia, and this week, Gloria. Ubuntu has come out with Intrepid and Jaunty, and will release Karmic Koala later this year.

Mepis has no long-term version, and it isn't a "rolling release," so I go with each new release with that distro. I'll keep doing so for as long as it remains a solid distro on my machines.

I'm happy to see things continuing to move forward, but have no desire to try to keep up. Next year, I plan to install Mepis 9 when it comes out, but barring something unforeseen, perhaps hard drive failures or any new computers falling into my lap, I should be sticking with Debian Stable and the LTS versions of Mint and Ubuntu for a few years. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Seems like a good approach to me.

Lakers

Some things that stand out about the Lakers' 103-94 win over Denver in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals:

- The Lakers shot .487 from the field and dished out 25 assists, compared to .386 and 17 for the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant took only 13 shots, finishing with 22 points. The Lakers were clearly moving the ball around. That kind of teamwork, that kind of ball-movement is the way the game is supposed to be played, and it's why the Lakers look like the favorite to win it all this year.

- Lamar Odom stepped up with 19 points and 14 rebounds. I've felt all along that Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum are the keys for this team; they have to play for well for the Lakers to win. Or, at least, one or two of them needs to play well. Gasol chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Bynum didn't show up on the glass, getting only 2 rebounds, but picked up 9 points in about 18 minutes. Between the three of them, they got the job done.

- The Lakers clearly put forth the effort on defensive, with 5 blocked shots by Gasol and 4 by Odom. The problem here is that some of those blocks would have been fouls if the game had been played in Denver. No matter. It was in L.A., as would be game 7, if the series goes that far.

- Meanwhile, the Nuggets went 7-24 (.292) from three-point range. J.R. Smith's shooting was miserable: 3-13 from the field, 1-10 on 3-pointers, finished with 7 points. Nene Hilario could only come up with 4 points before fouling out.

- Carmelo Anthony was an erratic 9-23 from the field. He did connect on 12 of 13 free throws and finished with 31 points. But he collected only four rebounds and turned the ball over 5 times. He's got to play smarter.

- Chauncy Billups picked up 12 points on 4-7 shooting. He dished out 5 assists, and had 3 turnovers, which is a lot for him. "Mr. Big Shot" went 3 for 6 from beyond the arc, but only got to the line once, making his lone free throw. The Lakers can live with that kind of performance.

Denver is certainly capable of turning things around and winning game 6. But it seems that the Lakers are too smart and too focused to let this series get away. Kobe has quietly taken his game to another level; he's suppressed his formerly wild game and it's bringing out the best in his teammates. But everyone knows that he can turn it on at any time. The Nuggets need to put it together and come with a great performance to even have a chance at winning the series. I don't know if they have it in 'em.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chauncy Billups

Whatever ultimately happens in the Lakers-Nuggets series, this much can be said:

Chauncy Billups has been a point guard on teams in Conference Finals for seven straight years -- six straight with the Pistons, and now this season with the Nuggets.

Last night, the Nuggets tied the series at 2-2, defeating the Lakers, 120-101.

Billups' line:

24 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 0 turnovers, 1 steal. Only 7-16 from the field, but 9-9 from the free-throw line.

Not spectacular. Billups only shot 1-6 from 3-point range. But "Mr. Big Shot" still came up big. His one three-pointer came on a pull-up jumper following a J.R. Smith steal with 10 minutes left, giving the Nuggets an 83-70 lead. Dagger.

Before Billups came to Denver, the Nuggets were lucky to make playoffs. After Billups left Detroit, the Pistons were ousted in the first round this season.

"Mr. Big Shot." Chauncy Billups. Future Hall-of-Famer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Malware on a New Computer

"Can you trust that new PC to be malware-free?"

Clone Him?

LeBron James, after the Cavs lost to Orlando in game 3, despite James' 41 points: "There’s only one of me ... If I could clone myself, we’d be all right."

Yeah, but cloning humans is still far into the future... And, that comment certainly shows James' lack of confidence in his teammates. They should feel insulted.

In the present, the Cavs are only one King James stroke from being down 3-0 -- LeBron hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to steal game 2. Game 4 is tomorrow in Orlando, and Cleveland looks to be on the ropes. Nobody except James has stepped up in the series for the Cavs. In game 3, Orlando trailed by only a point at the half, despite having Dwight Howard on the bench for most of the half, in foul trouble.

The Cavs need help, in a bad way.

Linux Preinstalled

Having to learn to install Linux, to partition hard drives and to set everything up, keeps a lot of people from ever giving Linux an honest shot. My first real experience with Linux came with a computer I bought that came with Linux preinstalled. I still use the computer, but I didn't stay with the the distro that it came with (Linspire).

A Linux Preinstalled computer makes it a lot easier to step right in and use Linux right away. It's the best way to really compare things to a Windows computer, which typically come with the operating system installed.

Here are some web pages that'll help you find computers that come with Linux preinstalled:

http://www.berkeleylug.com/?p=168

http://www.linux.org/vendor/system/index.html

http://lxer.com/module/db/index.php?dbn=14

A few Google searches can help you out, as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Buggy Whip

Linux Today's Carla Schroder writes of the anti-malware industry that their "existence depends on Microsoft Windows and the entire leaky MS application stack never ever getting fixed." She mentions the buggy whip analogy -- that "when automobiles became popular, they put the buggy whip makers out of business."

That's the situation with Microsoft and the anti-malware industry. There's money to be made as long as people keep using Windows, and as long as Windows continues to attract malware.

Here's a link to Schroder's article:

http://www.linuxtoday.com/it_management/2009052202735OPBZCY

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why Can't YOU???

Article posted at LinuxPlanet: 75-year old Ubuntu User Learns From Books.

Yeah, "Linux is too hard." Right.

MicroSD USB Card Reader

Got a laptop/notebook? Got a microSD card in your cell phone? Check out this nifty card reader from EagleTec:



Awesome little space-saver!

Check it out at http://usb.brando.com.hk/eagletec-usb-nanosac-micro-sd-card-reader_p00905c031d15.html

Transferers or Quitters?

Former Michigan quarterback Steven Threet has transferred to Arizona State, where the thinks he will fit in better than with Michigan's run-and-gun offense.

He previously transferred to Michigan from Georgia Tech.

I wondered, when a college QB transfers to another school, how often does it result in success?

I couldn't find any statistics on the subject, but it seems to me that guys who transfer don't usually amount to much.

If you're a college football coach, do you really want a quarterback who transferred from another program instead of fighting it out for a starting spot? At best, it seems that a transfer might give you a good back-up, some depth at the position, and a guy who'll challenge your starter.

At worst, it gives you a guy that'll quit on you when the going gets tough.

The bet here is that Threet will go down as a guy who couldn't cut it at three different schools.

Not My Problem

I don't want to go so far "Helios" in The Thin Line Between Victim and Idiot, but there sure are lots of Windows users who do know about Linux but who continue to deal with Windows problems and refuse to use Linux. They have their reasons.

And when I refuse to give them free help with their virus-infected, fragmented machines, I have my reasons.

Think about it. Why do anti-virus companies like McAfee and Symantec exist? To protect users? Or is it to make money?

It's in their best interests if you keep using Windows and keep needing protection from malware.

Why do computer repair shops exist? To make money, right? Who are they making money off of?

Not Linux users. You can be sure of that.

You pay for your Windows computer, then you pay to keep it protected. And when things go wrong, you pay someone to fix it. And most people accept that as they way things are.

Cool. It's your money, it's your time, and it's your problem.

The 42 Club

ESPN's Bill Simmons list of NBA players who played at least 13 playoff games and averaged 42-plus points, rebounds and assists combined during one a playoff run (since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976):

Michael Jordan (6 times): 49.4 ('89); 50.7 ('90); 45.9 ('91); 46.5 ('92); 47.8 ('93); 43.8 ('97)
Shaquille O'Neal (4X): 43.6 ('98); 49.2 ('00); 49.0 ('01); 43.9 ('02)
Larry Bird (4X): 42.0 ('81); 44.4 ('84); 43.4 ('86); 44.2 ('87)
Moses Malone (2X): 43.0 ('81); 43.3 ('83)
Magic Johnson (2X): 43.8 ('86); 42.5 ('91)
Karl Malone (2X): 43.0 ('92); 42.9 ('94)
Hakeem Olajuwon (2X): 44.2 ('94); 47.8 ('95)
Tim Duncan (2X): 42.7 ('01); 45.4 ('03)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1X): 47.1 ('80)
Charles Barkley (1X): 44.5 ('93)
Kobe Bryant (1X): 42.8 ('01)
Allen Iverson (1X): 43.7 ('01)
Kevin Garnett (1X): 44.0 ('04)
LeBron James (1X): 44.7 ('06)

Quite a list.

Are there any players who are gonna crack The 42 Club this season? Take a look:

After nine games:
LeBron James - 34.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists. Total = 50.9!!!

After 12 games, Carmelo Anthony is at 39.5. With 14 games, Kobe Bryant is at 38.1.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Through A Kid's Eyes

Here's what can happen when you put a digital camera into the hands of a kid.



Photo by Ish, age 7.

Forwarding Emails

To all the folks who like to forward cute, cool, or interesting emails to all of their online friends:

Thanks. I don't mind receiving them. Sometimes I really like them.

But, here's an idea. Quite often, I don't know most of the other recipients on your list. And they don't know me. Most of us probably don't want our email addresses appearing in the text of your forwarded email. How about deleting them out before forwarding the email on?

And, if you're sending an email to a bunch of people who don't know each other, how about sending "blind copies" ("bcc") instead of cc's, or instead of sticking everyone's address in the "To:" field?

Might cut down a bit on the spam that we all get.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All NBA

The All-NBA selections:

First Team:

F LeBron James (CLE)
F Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
C Dwight Howard (ORL)
G Kobe Bryant (LAL)
G Dwyane Wade (MIA)

Second Team:

F Tim Duncan (SA)
F Paul Pierce (BOS)
C Yao Ming (HOU)
G Brandon Roy (POR)
G Chris Paul (NO)

Third Team:

F Carmelo Anthony (DEN)
F Pau Gasol (LAL)
C Shaquille O'Neal (PHX)
G Chauncy Billups (DEN)
G Tony Parker (SA)

If you don't agree with these choices, remember, they were voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters. What do they know?

Among those who were left off:

- Kevin Durant (OKC), who had a better year statistically than Carmelo Anthony and perhaps Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol, was sixth in the league in scoring, but failed to lead his team to the playoffs;

- Deron Williams (UTA), who was second in the league in assists;

- Kevin Garnett (BOS)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mepis Gets Reviewed

LinuxPlanet recently ran a very positive review of Mepis 8.0 -- Before Ubuntu Was SimplyMepis: A Long-Term Review.

Mepis is overshadowed by the more popular distros like Fedora, Ubuntu, and SUSE, but this Debian-based, KDE distro really takes a backseat to none. I've been using it for over three years as my primary Linux system.

The reviewer's comments about Mepis 8.0 ring true here; the only thing that I'd add is that Mepis 8 shipped with a problem for dial-up users, one that I had not seen in previous releases. It seems that when you're using kppp for your dial-up connection, Mepis 8 will freeze up when you disconnect from the internet. While the problem has not been fixed yet, I've been able to get around it by installing gnome-ppp and using that instead of kppp.

Mepis is generally much like Debian Stable in terms of being solid and dependable. It uses the Debian Stable repositories, along with Mepis repos. I also run Debian Lenny, and Mepis is like an easy-to-install version of Debian, with a few handy Mepis tools thrown in. I don't see much difference between the two distros, once installed and configured. And the MepisLovers forums have a reputation of being top-of-the-line in the Linux world, with a friendly, knowledgeable, no-nonsense membership.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Linux Ebooks

Check out 10 Free Linux Ebooks For Beginners.

Pavs writes, "This is the first part of the series, in the near future we will have a list for “Intermediate and Advanced Linux Users” and “Linux System Administrators”."

Something to take a look at now, and something to look forward to. Good stuff!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

About Linux Distros and Choices

The techradar.com article "Best Linux distros for power users, gamers, newbies and more" presents the following opinions:

Best distro for newbies: Ubuntu 8.10/9.04.

Best for OS migrants: Linux Mint.

Best for families: Qimo.

Best for everyday use: Fedora 10.

Best for business: OpenSUSE 11.1.

Best lightweight distro: Puppy Linux 4.1.2.

Best for the sysadmin: Arch Linux.

Best for the coder: Mandriva 2009.

Best for servers: CentOS.

Best for music production: 64 Studio.

Best for gamers: Live.linux-gamers.

Best for multimedia: Mythbuntu.

OK. It's a multi-paged article, which is why I summarized things here, but it's worth reading. Still, the conclusions are a matter of opinion, of course. Something like Debian or Mepis or PCLinuxOS might fit your needs much better than the distros listed above. For me, there really is no "best Linux distro."

Another article I found at this site is "The pain-free guide to switching Linux distros: How to effortlessly swap between distros without losing files." It's an interesting and useful article; but for my purposes, multi-booting with a few different Linux distros, with one or more shared data partitions, is a better approach than trying to choose "the best distro" and sticking with only that one. But, that's me. The beauty of Linux is that you can choose from a number of approaches; whatever works best for you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The LeBrons

Trenton, my nephew, told me earlier that he thinks the Lakers will win the NBA championship this year. A lot of other folks agree.

But, I watched today as the Cleveland LeBrons, I mean, the Cleveland Cavaliers, demolished Atlanta, 97-82, to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

LeBron James put up 47 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists. He shot 15-25 from the field, including 5-10 from 3-point range, and hit 12 of 16 free throws.

The Cavs may not have any other superstars besides James, but they may not need 'em. They certainly put the clamps on the Hawks, holding them to less than 20 points in three of four quarters. Every time Atlanta made a run, the Cavs defense tightened up. The Hawks looked out-matched. They had no answer.

Cleveland has now won seven straight playoff games, each by double-digit margins. Roy S. Johnson blogs that The Cavs just may go for fo' fo' fo' this postseason, as Moses Malone predicted for the Sixers back in '83.

The Sixers went fo' five fo' en route to the title that year. The Cavs would actually have to play four playoff series, not three, but with the way they're looking right now, fo' fo' fo' fo' isn't out of the question.

Any arguments that the MVP award should have gone to Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade or Dwight Howard seem ridiculous now. There's never been anybody like LeBron. Powerful, great hops, nice passer, great in the open court. It's scary to imagine him playing on a team with other great players... What if he was playing for Boston this year? For the Lakers? Instant title.

The only question now is what happens when the Cavs run into a team that can actually play defense? The Hawks are clearly not that team. The Celtics might be, but Boston might not survive their series with Orlando. Will the Magic be up to the task? Will the Lakers? Or will Cleveland's role players be able to step up? Or... will they have to? Right now, the first order of business seems to be "Stop LeBron." I don't know if anyone can, but that's why they play the games.

Although the Lakers seem to be a lock to make the Western Conference Finals now that Houston's Yao Ming is out with a broken foot, they're not a sure thing for the NBA Finals. Denver leads Dallas 3-0 in their series, and the Lakers might have their hands full with the Nuggets. Chauncy Billups and Carmelo Anthony are playing better than ever, and the Lakers look vulnerable, especially with their weak bench. Denver has guys that can bang. Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin might be enough to offset the Lakers' front line, and Denver should be able to score on them. It'll be an interesting series if these two teams meet, and that looks like it's a sure thing. I think the Lakers had better bring their "A" game.

If the Lakers and the Cavs meet in the Finals, the Cavs have the home-court advantage. That might be more important for Cleveland than for the Lakers. The Lakers have the edge when it comes to experience. But they may not have the edge when it comes to the hunger factor. And Andrew Bynum doesn't look like he's really back.

Could be Cleveland's year. Trent, watch out.