Thursday, April 30, 2009

Linux the Easy Way

In my post Ways to Try Linux, I mentioned getting a computer with Linux preinstalled as a nice way to jump into things. This LinuxPlanet article discusses that approach.


To me, it's deplorable that in the NBA playoffs, so-called "hard fouls" are an acceptable part of the game. The game wasn't meant to be played that way.

Orlando's Dwight Howard has been suspended for game 6 of the series with Philadelphia for an elbow thrown at Samuel Dalembert. The Celtics' Rajon Rondo should have been suspended for his hit on Chicago's Brad Miller. The hard hits are the norm, and the penalties for them are weak.

Current situation in the NBA Playoffs (seedings in parentheses):

Western Conference:

(1) Lakers win over (8) Utah, 4 games to 1.
(2) Denver wins over (7) New Orleans, 4 games to 1.
(6) Dallas wins over (3) San Antonio, 4 games to 1.
(5) Houston leads (4) Portland, 3 games to 2, game 6 tonight at Houston.

Eastern Conference:

(1) Cleveland sweeps the (8) Pistons in 4.
(2) Boston leads (7) Chicago, 3 games to 2, game 6 tonight at Chicago.
(3) Orlando leads (6) Philadelphia, 3 games to 2, game 6 tonight at Philadelphia.
(4) Atlanta lead (5) Miami, 3 games to 2, game 6 Friday at Miami.

Playoff Leaders:

Points: LeBron James (CLE), 32.0
Rebounds: Dwight Howard (ORL), 15.8
Assists: Deron Williams (UTA), 10.8
Blocks: Kendrick Perkins (BOS) and Tyrus Thomas (CHI), 3.2
Steals: Rajon Rondro (BOS), 3.2

Eating Right

Harvey and Marilyn Diamond's Fit for Life describes a healthy eating style focused on fresh fruits and vegetable and proper food combining. I liked the idea of having only fresh fruit to start out the day, a high volume of fresh fruits and vegetables, and not combining carbohydrates and protein at the same meal. Eating this way is a good method for keeping yourself healthy and keeping your weight down.

For more info on the concepts, see:



Peace, love, forgiveness, humility, non-violence -- some of the things that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma, was all about. Yet, as with Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King, Jr., violence ultimately took his life.

Just finished Louis Fischer's The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. Check it out, take a ride.

An excerpt:

General Douglass MacArthur, supreme Allied military commander in Japan, said: "In the evolution of civilization, if it is to survive, all men cannot fail eventually to adopt Gandhi's belief that the process of mass application of force to resolve contentious issues is fundamentally not only wrong but contains within itself the germs of self-destruction."

More On The Flu

To put things in perspective:

"U.S. seasonal flu kills 13,000 since Jan."

"Common flu far more deadly than swine flu in U.S."

From the latter article: "The Centers for Disease Control estimates 36,000 people die annually in the United States from the flu."

The Swine flu has a scary name and a lot of hysterical media coverage, but so far it's nothing compared to the common flu. Let's not get freaked out yet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flu Scare

It's been reported that something like 159 people have died from the Swine Flu in Mexico, although the World Health Organization (WHO) has only positively linked seven deaths to the disease.

"There are 64 confirmed cases in the United States in five states," said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and so far, one confirmed death in the U.S.


The flu kills something like 500,000 people worldwide each year, so why the current media-driven hysteria about this new flu strain? I'd say that your chances of contracting and dying from it are tiny compared to your chances of dying in a car accident this year.

Friday, April 24, 2009


So what if ESPN's Bill Simmons gets it right less than half the time? As a sports writer, Simmons is a baller. He's like a gym rat down at the IM building (pick your campus). Always there, always bringing it. Over-doing it, but with style. Playing for the love of the game.

Here's Simmons, the Celtics/Red Sox/Patriots fan, hatin' on the Chicago Bulls' Yoakim Noah:

I hate Joakim Noah. I hate looking at him. I hate his hair. I hate how he dunks. I hate the way he high-fives. I hate every reaction he has. I hate his game. I hate the way announcers pronounce his name. I hate the story that I've heard a million times about his tennis-playing father. I want the Celtics to win for a variety of reasons, but one of them is because it means Joakim Noah would lose. I want him to cry when it's over. And we are only two games in. I can't imagine how I'm going to feel about him by Game 5. He's like a cross between Bill Laimbeer, Marcus Camby and Lisa Bonet.

That last line is classic Simmons...

To get Simmons in full-effect, check out "Celtics-Bulls is one for the ages."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sony Minidisc

Sony makes great products. I'm usually very happy with their quality. What I don't like is the proprietary nature of the storage media they choose for their products.

Sony digital cameras, for example until recently would only take the memory stick or memory stick pro duo memory cards, while most other cameras were using the cheaper, more popular SD or XD cards.

M.A.L. and I have a few different portable music players. We mostly use the so-called "mp3 players." I say "so-called" because the ones we have will also play some other formats besides .mp3, like .wma (and in one case, the open source .ogg format, which I prefer to use).

The mp3 players built into our cell phones are particularly nice, and quite convenient.

However, I still find myself going back to my old Sony MZ-S1 Minidisc players.

I tried a few different Sony Minidisc players, but settled on this more bulky version because of the solidly-built exterior. Less sturdy versions tended to break too easily when dropped. Sony wasn't very successful with their lineup of Minidisc players; flash mp3 players, of course, have proved to be much more popular. They're certainly easier to carry around. But Sony's ATRAC3 format for music is, in my opinion, superior to .mp3 format in terms of sound quality. In fact, it isn't even close.

Unfortunately, ATRAC3 can't be played on any mp3 players; and, I don't know of anything but Sony players that can use their minidiscs.

The Sony Minidisc players use the NetMD and Sonicstage software applications for ripping and recording music. Sadly, those applications run only in Windows, and there's no open source alternative for Linux that I know of.

Fortunately, we keep Windows XP on a computer in a back room.

I have dozens of minidiscs laying around, containing hours and hours of music. My two MZ-S1 players are still running fine, and the music simply has a better, richer quality than I've been able to get from any of our mp3 players.

And these things run forever on a single AA battery -- 54 hours, according to the specs.

Sony supplied cheap, pitiful headphones with these players. A good pair of earbuds is a must; once acquired, they do justice to the great ATRAC3 formatted music.

So, despite M.A.L.'s chuckles, the old man continues to turn to the tried but true.

I'm gonna run these Minidisc players until they wear out.

Here's a Wikipedia article on the subject:

Also, check out these pages at

point guard

Think the Denver Nuggets are happy to have PG Chauncy Billups on the squad?

Game 1, first round of the NBA Playoffs, Denver blew out New Orleans, 113-84. Billups tallied 36 points, 8 assists, and 0 turnovers; he shot 10-15 from the field, 8-9 on three-pointers, and 8-8 from the free-throw line. Chris Paul, his much-celebrated counter-part for New Orleans at point guard, scored 21 points to go along with 11 assists and 4 turnovers. Paul went 7-19 FG (2-5 3PT), and 5-5 from the line.

In Game 2, Denver won, 108-93. Billups: 31 pts, 4 ast, 0 TOs, 8-15 FG (4-6 3PT), 11-11 FT. Paul: 14 pts, 13 ast, 5 TOs, 5-11 FG (0-1 3PT), 4-4 FT.

Paul was decent, except for the turnovers.

Billups was... MONEY!

The next two games are in New Orleans, so we'll see how things play out. But the Nuggets have to feel good about their floor general. So far, he's done exactly what he was brought in to do. The only question here: How did the Pistons ever let this guy go???

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Digitalize Music from Cassette Tapes

Have a few old cassette tapes that you'd like to save digitally? Check out this Lifehacker web page:

I used to have a Philips CD recorder that I used to record from cassette/LP/radio to CD, but this method, using the Audacity application (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux) is nicer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Google Is Your Friend

Ways to Try Linux

This LinuxPlanet article mentions 3 easy ways to test-drive Linux. They are:

- Wubi, the version of Ubuntu that runs like an application inside of Windows
- live CDs
- installing Linux on a spare computer

All good routes to take. I'll offer another one. Do a Google search, and you'll find that there are lots of vendors out there who sell computers with Linux systems preinstalled. Usually, these computers are a lot cheaper than Windows or Mac computers.

One of the problems folks have with trying Linux is that issues crop up with hardware that was meant for Windows. A computer that comes with Linux preinstalled won't have those issues; it'll be a computer made for Linux.

The two times that I've purchased computers with Linux preinstalled, I was able to start them up, get online, and get to work almost right away. They helped me get a feel for the operating system without having to immediately learn a lot about Linux. I used them as spare computers while I was learning about Linux.

The downside of this approach: I felt that I would have learned more about Linux faster if I'd had to install it and struggle through things instead of already having a Linux system that could already do the main things I needed it to do.

After about a year of using my first Linux computer alongside my Windows XP computer, the thing that struck me most was how little maintenance was required for the Linux machine in comparison to my Windows computer. In Windows, I was still constantly updating my anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff in Windows, doing time-consuming downloads for Windows security security updates, and monitoring my firewall. In Linux, I was starting up the computer and just going right to work.

I started to feel that Linux was simply superior, and so I went ahead with my first attempts at dual-booting Windows and Linux on the same machine. I used that approach for awhile, but eventually decided to keep Windows XP on a spare computer and use Linux on my main machines.

Another very nice thing about preinstalled Linux computers: Once you've learned a bit more about Linux, you might want to try out a different Linux distro than the one that came on your machine. More than likely, a computer that came with Linux preinstalled will accept other distros much more easily than a Windows computer would, with very few (if any) hardware issues. I'm still using both of the Linux computers that I purchased, but not with the distros that came with them. Most other distros that I've tried have worked fine on them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Source

I wonder how James Michener's The Source was received back in the early 60s when it was published, not long after the creation of the state of Israel.

Michener built this novel around an imaginary archaelogical site somewhere between Damascus and Jerusalem, and created a story that goes back to almost 10,000 years B.C., even before the dawn of Judaism.

The novel takes a look at the good and the bad of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic history and culture. I had the feeling that many religious people must have felt somewhat uncomfortable with the book. The inescapable idea set forth is that religions and gods are created by people, and that quite often, those concepts imprison folks and lead to a great deal of pain and suffering.

I couldn't help but think of the current situation in the Mideast, the ongoing, apparently unresolvable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians (aren't Israelis technically Palestinians?). For more info about the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict and its history, these web pages might be worth taking a look at:

Linux Instead of Windows

Here's a post at the Raiden's Realm forums that might interest folks who are wary of using Linux instead of Windows. The poster doesn't say much about what's not right with Linux, but for most of us Linux users, the "pros" far outweigh the "cons."

By the way, here's a link to Raiden's Realm, one of the best sites out there for Linux news and info.

Dreaded Debian Forums

At the Debian User Forums, "RTFM" -- "Read The [Fine] Manual" -- is often the best advice that's given when someone posts a question. And I really don't have a problem with the message; if you're going to use Linux, you need to look at the documentation and do some research. I feel the same way about when people buy a digital camera, or a new cell phone. Read the manual, read the documentation. There's a reason why people take the time to write that stuff.

My problem with the Debian forums is that too often people there reply with such rude, condescending, vulgar remarks. And that the forum moderators allow it to happen. It's as if some of the forum members get a big thrill out of berating people, making people feel stupid. It's the one big negative thing about Debian Linux.

There are lots of ways to help people without saying "RTFM."

Some of these guys at the Debian forums, just once I'd like to meet one of them down a dark alley. It's easy to act all big, bad, and tough when you're sitting in front of a computer terminal in your mom's basement. But "real men" don't need to do that. Too many of these guys act like kids who have secret desires to be bullies and the only way they can do it is with a keyboard.

Debian's a great operating system. And the Debian User Forums are loaded with helpful info. But, come on, mods, clean this stuff up. Debian doesn't need this foolishness.

Tiger Tamed?

Yahoo! Sports Dan Wetzel, in "No chance for Tiger and Phil at Augusta," predicts that Tiger Woods will fail to come back from 7 shots down in the Masters tomorrow.

As he points out, it could happen. The guys in front of Tiger Woods aren't big names in golf. But, as Wetzel sayd, only "twice in the 75-year history of the event has a seven-shot, 54-hole deficit been erased."

A come-back now by Woods would certainly enhance his already incredible legend.

Whatever happens, I'm getting tired of folks drooling about Tiger Woods being one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Okay, I'll admit it: My knowledge of golf consists of one fun night playing miniature golf at an amusement park, and a few times playing frisbee golf at the park.

But, I contend that frisbee golf involves more athleticism than does golf. And it might be a lot more exciting.

When I see golf on t.v., I see guys walking around, trying to hit a little ball with their clubs. Seems about as exciting as watching guys fishing for bluegills in some small lake in Northern Michigan.

There's no defense. The guys aren't out there pushing themselves to the limits of their physical endurance. As I've said to my buddies, it seems to be less of an athletic sport than Playstation.

I'll give this to Tiger Woods: He's probably the greatest golfer of all time.

But please don't try to tell me he's one of the greatest athletes of any time. I ain't buying.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lights Out

With the Dallas Mavericks' 130-101 win last night over Utah, the Phoenix Suns are officially out of the playoffs.

The Suns were in 1st place in the Pacific Division last year before they traded Shawn Marion for Shaquille O'Neal. Since then, it's been a free-fall.

It strikes me that when Shaq left the Miami Heat, he left a broken-down team. Then he came to the Suns, and now they're broken-down. Coincidence?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Simply Browsing

When I was new to Linux, one of the first things I wanted to do was to take a look at the filesystem. To do that from the command line, I had to acquire a bit of an understanding of how a Linux or Unix filesystem is set up, and learn a little bit about the cd and ls commands.

Another approach, of course, is to simply use a GUI (graphical user interface) file browser like Konqueror to take a look at things. We'll take a quick look at both approaches.

In Mepis 8.0, whether I open a terminal or Konqueror, the starting point for either one is my /home/steve directory. In the terminal, I'll see this command prompt:


This prompt is showing my username ("steve") and the current directory ("~" indicates my "home" directory, /home/steve). The "$" indicates that I'm operating as a "normal" user; if I was operating as the "root" (adminstrative) user, I'd see a "#" symbol.

By comparison, I can open up Konqueror, which will also start me off in my /home/steve directory. Here's how it looks (remember, you can click on any of these images for a larger view; or, in Firefox, right-click on the image and select Open Link in New Tab or Open Link in New Window):

At the left, I have the "Root Folder" view showing, with all of the directories under "/" visible. At the right is everything inside my /home/steve directory. Above, the location bar shows the current directory. I can click on any of the items in either list to move around and view the contents of a directory or file. I can also type in something in the location bar to move around.

If I want to use the terminal to move around and view things, I have to make use of the cd and ls commands. The cd command means "change directory" and the ls command lists whats in the current directory.

Over in the terminal, if I want to see the contents of my /home/steve directory, I can simply type ls and press enter, and this is what I'll see:

The terminal is showing me the same items that Konqueror shows.

The ls command has many options. You can find out about all the things you can do with ls by looking at its manpage -- type man ls. To exit the manpage, simply type q and you'll be brought back to the command prompt.

For example, the -l trigger gives you a "long listing format" instead of the view seen above:

Now, let's say I want to view a different directory -- the /boot/grub directory, for example. In Konqueror, I can just go to the left panel and click on the "boot" icon, then click on the "grub" icon, and I'll see something like this:

Now I can see the contents of the /boot/grub directory.

To do the same thing from the terminal, I need to move into the /boot/grub directory by typing cd /boot/grub. Then I can view the contents of /boot/grub by typing a ls command. In this case, I'll use ls -l again:

Again, I can see the same directories and files in the terminal that I could see in Konqueror.

Konqueror has a very nice feature called "Show Terminal Emulator" that opens up a terminal right inside Konqueror. It's very helpful to a new user because it lets you see what the terminal commands might be corresponding to what you're doing in Konqueror.

For example, when I start in my /home/steve directory in Konqueror and click on the "boot" icon and then the "grub" icon to move into the /boot/grub directory, the terminal emulator at the bottom shows the corresponding terminal commands for doing the same thing:

I can then type commands right in the terminal emulator just like I could inside of a normal terminal. Here I'll use the ls command again to get a listing of the contents of /boot/grub.

Sometimes I prefer to use Konqueror for file browsing; other times, it's easier to do it from the terminal. And often, I want to use the terminal emulator inside of Konqueror to see both views, so that I can compare things and see what commands are being used.

Either way, browsing around the Linux filesystem isn't all that difficult. It's helpful to know how to do it both ways.

Friday, April 3, 2009


In Linux, the "root" account is the administrative account. In most of my systems, I'll have a "user" account that I use for most things, and a "root" account that I almost never log into. This is a little different than in Windows, where most users go with only one account, and do adminstrative tasks from that same account.

When I need to do adminstrative tasks in Linux, I stay in my "user" account and gain "root" access in one of a number of ways. I can go to the command line and type su and my "root" password; or I can open a file manager like Konqueror and gain "root" access through that.

Ubuntu-type distros do things a bit differently. There, you'll have no "root" account, but you can gain adminstrative access by using the sudo command, for example. The password is the same as the one for your "user" account.

This isn't a comprehensive explanation of the situation, but you get the general idea.

One thing I found confusing at first about Linux is that besides the "root" account, there's also the root directory -- denoted by "/" -- and there's root's home directory, denoted by "/root." (One thing to keep in mind is that what Linux users call a "directory" is pretty much the same thing as what Windows users call a "folder.")

The root directory is the top of the filesytem in Linux. All other directories live under the "/" directory. Here's a look at my "/" directory in Debian Lenny:

So in Linux, the directory structure looks something like this:


And so on. For more info on the Linux filesystem (directory structure), try doing a few Google searches. Here are few pages that can give you an overview of the way things are set up (but, there's lots more out there!):

The "/root" directory contains the settings and files for the root account, in the same way that the "/home/[username]" directory contains the settings and files for "username's" account. In my case, I don't log into the root account or use it for much of anything, so my "/root" directory in Debian Lenny is mostly empty, except for some "hidden" files and directories (everything with a "." in front of the name is a "hidden" file or directory and will not appear in a Konqueror window unless you use the "Show Hidden Files" option; at the command line, you can use the -a trigger with the ls command to show the "hidden" files in a directory) that I rarely even look at:

Many users find it irritating to always have to enter the root password to do adminstrative tasks; but this arrangement is one of the reasons why Linux is so secure. A hacker can't do much to your system without having the root password; and if you're never logged into the root account, you're much less likely to do something dumb and mess up your system.

I found the Linux way to be quite confusing at first, but now it seems much more sensible than having things like C: and G: drives in Windows, and I find myself much more at ease navigating through Linux directories than I ever was working with Windows folders.

Soul -- Sweat

Picked up a CD recently: Keith Sweat's The Best of Keith Sweat: Make You Sweat.

What is it about Sweat? He doesn't have that cool, mellow voice like Luther Vandross or somebody. The music is mostly synthesized-sounding stuff. The lyrics aren't all that deep.

But the man brings it from the heart like very few others. "How Deep Is Your Love." "I'll Give All My Love To You." "Something Just Ain't Right." My brothers out there, you know what I'm talking about. We've all been there. Sweat brings it on home, says what we want to say. Throws a little Roger Troutman-type thing in there, just to keep it real.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling it with my baby, or when it's just getting a little too rough for words, I still have to turn to Keith Sweat. Pop in the CD, bring the funk, let him "say a few syllables," as my boy Bostic used to say.

My man. Sweat comes from the soul.

Help for Dial-up Users?

An article by a compassionate person: "Help people without broadband around the world."

As a dial-up user, I can't download Linux like people with fast connections do, so I order Linux CDs. Doesn't cost much; but one reason I continue to include Ubuntu on my system is that Ubuntu ships CDs worldwide, for free. They even pay the postage.

As far as I know, Ubuntu is the only distro that does this. It has to be quite expensive. But I'll bet that it has a lot to do with why Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro out there.

I'm sure there aren't many folks out there who have a high-speed connection and would be willing to help out dial-up users in the way that the article suggests. But Linux dial-up users stick together and help each other out. I'm not the only one who drops in at Linux forums to help out other dial-up users.

We get lots of fun comments. "I thought dial-up went out with the dinosaurs." "Get a high-speed connection." "I was a dial-up user, years ago... got broadband and never looked back!"

Problem is, for a number of reasons, not everyone can get a high-speed connection. And, that's okay. Many of us are doing fine without it.

But we're here, and we quietly continue to use Linux. We struggle with it, sometimes. Ubuntu doesn't make it so easy to connect to the internet via dial-up, and I've heard that the latest releases might make things even more difficult. KDE distros like Mepis do make it easy, but Mepis dial-up users have been having a problem with kppp, the dial-up connection tool, which freezes up the Mepis 8.0 system upon disconnection -- a problem that, at this writing, has not been fixed (or even addressed) by Mepis developers. (I've gotten around this problem by installing the GNOME dial-up tool, gnome-ppp, but while this has worked fine for me, at least one Mepis user reports the same freeze-ups occurring with gnome-ppp.)

The good thing is, there are ways to get Linux without a high-speed connection; and once you've got it, it's usually possible to connect to the internet. We may not be able to download music and video like everyone else, but we can send emails, browse the internet, participate in Linux forums, and... blog.

More Crying

Two pro athletes who are looking like selfish brats: The Pistons' Allen Iverson, and Jay Cutler, formerly of the Denver Broncos.

Cutler was upset because the Broncos looked into trading him for Matt Cassell, who stepped in (quite nicely, by the way) for New England's Tom Brady last season. Poor baby. Never mind that trades are a part of the business. Never mind that Cutler was only 17-20 as a starter for Denver. Never mind that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen later said that Cutler "is the man around here." Cutler's wittle feewings were hurt; he didn't feel the love, and he wanted out.

The Broncos finally traded Cutler to the Chicago Bears.

Iverson came to Detroit from Denver after being traded for Chauncy Billups. Now Denver sits in 1st place in the Northwest Division while the Pistons are floundering in the Central Division, a whopping 25 games behind division-leader Cleveland, and clinging to the Eastern Conference's 7th spot for the playoffs.

Iverson never fit in as a starter for the Pistons, and so now they have him coming off the bench. Now Iverson is complaining about his playing time, and says he'd rather retire than be a non-starter. "I can’t be effective playing this way. I’m not used to it." Poor baby. Never mind that the Pistons couldn't win with him in the starting line-up, or that Richard Hamilton was simply the better player. Never mind that the Pistons went into a tailspin with Iverson, while Billups has led Denver to 50 wins faster than any time in their NBA history.

Like that guy in the old commercial said when somebody pointed out that there's no "I" in "team": "Yeah, ain't no 'we' either!"

For these two guys, it's not about doing what you have to do to make the team better. It's all about "me." Winning championships? Who cares. If I can't be a starter, if I can't be "The Franchise," I'm taking my ball and going home. Play a supporting role? Actually battle for a starting position? Are you kidding?

Dudes. Quit crying. Go out and play ball. Get in where ya fit in.

Take note of how Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals went about his business when the Cards drafted quarterback Matt Leinart out of USC and gave him the starting spot. Warner didn't whine; he supported Leinart, then won the job back and led his team to the Super Bowl.

Take a long, hard look at how Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce worked it last year for the World Champion Boston Celtics.

Leave your egos at the door. Please. You ain't all that.

Don't Cry

When Arizona was given a spot in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, some people complained that the Wildcats didn't deserve to be included, and that other teams were more worthy. Folks thought that teams such as Saint Mary's, San Diego State, or New Mexico should have made it into the touramant instead of Arizona.

I thought Arizona was deserving, and I discussed why in my blog entry, "Arizona Belongs" (3/20/09).

Not that a case couldn't be made for those other teams.

Saint Mary's went 25-5 in the regular season and finished 2nd in the West Coast Conference. They lost to Gonzaga in that conference's tournament championship game, 83-58.

San Diego State made it to the Mountain West Tournament championship game, losing to Utah, 52-50.

New Mexico finished in a three-way tie for the Mountain West regular season championship with Utah and BYU.

Gonzaga, Utah, and BYU all made it into the Big Dance, along with Arizona.

Saint Mary's, San Diego State, and New Mexico were left out, and played in the NIT instead.

Here's how the teams fared.

Arizona made it to the Midwest Regional Semi-finals of the NCAA tournament by upsetting Utah and beating Cleveland State before getting clobbered by Louisville, 103-64.

Saint Mary's lost in the quarterfinals of the NIT to San Diego State, 70-66.

San Diego State lost to Baylor in the NIT semi-finals, 76-62.

New Mexico went out in the 2nd round of the NIT, losing to Notre Dame, 70-68.

None of those four teams were all that impressive in post-season play, but Arizona made some noise in the NCAA tournament, while the other three teams fell flat in the NIT. The view here is that the NCAA Selection Committee got it right; Saint Mary's, San Diego State, or New Mexico could have proven them wrong by winning the NIT.

Neither team was able to do it, so they didn't prove that they belonged in the Big Dance.

(Penn State did back up their claim that they should have been in the NCAA Tournament by winning the NIT.)

My point: Don't cry about being left out of the Big Dance unless you can then go out and win the NIT. Otherwise, you're just gonna look silly. Saint Mary's, San Diego State, and New Mexico couldn't cut it against the little guys, and so they had no right to complain about being left out of the NCAA Tournament.

Linux File Browsers

There's no shortage of file managers (or, file browsers) available for Linux. Here's an article that explores 10 of them:

I've tried out most of these, but I always go back to using Konqueror. Konqueror double as a web browser, but that's not the reason that I'm attracted to it.

What Konqueror gives me that the others don't is multiple split-screen viewing. Some of these file browsers, like Krusader or Dolphin, give you split screens where you can view two screens in one window. But as far as I know, only Konqueror lets you have more than two split screens. It's a feature that comes in handy for me so often that I end up going back to Konqueror no matter what other file browser I have installed.

A typical situation for me:

Below, I have Konqueror opened in Debian Lenny so that I can view the following directories: my /home directory; the /boot/grub directory; the /etc/apt directory; and the /mnt directory.

This gives me quick and easy access to several directories, and it's the main reason why I prefer Konqueror over other file browsers.

The above-mentioned article ends with the following: "As a conclusion, some say that ls and cd make up a file manager too, and I certainly won't argue against that ;-)"

I concur. Quite often, rather than opening a file browser, I'll go directly to the command line, cd to a particular directory, and run a ls command to view the directory's contents:

steve@debian:~$ cd /etc/apt
steve@debian:/etc/apt$ ls -al
total 44
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 2009-03-06 21:35 .
drwxr-xr-x 97 root root 4096 2009-04-03 09:11 ..
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 2009-03-06 19:58 apt.conf.d
-rw------- 1 root root 0 2009-03-06 19:32 secring.gpg
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1244 2009-03-06 21:35 sources.list
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1228 2009-03-06 21:34 sources.list~
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 2009-02-07 17:41 sources.list.d
-rw------- 1 root root 1200 2009-03-06 19:32 trustdb.gpg
-rw------- 1 root root 5801 2009-03-06 19:32 trusted.gpg
-rw------- 1 root root 5801 2009-03-06 19:32 trusted.gpg~

This approach is just as useful to me as using a GUI file browser, and provides pretty much the same info, but at a glance.