Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the little guy

Sports is all about the underdog, the little guy.

Earl Boykins, 5 feet 5 inches, out of Eastern Michigan University, born in Cleveland.  How do you measure heart?  Boykins is in his 12th season!  OK, so he's never been a superstar, and he's had to come off the bench a lot.  But he's had some good years.  And how many so-called basketball players never make it the NBA, let alone hang in there for 12 seasons?  Gotta love it.

Oh, yeah, and he dropped 22 points on the Lakers last night as the Bucks won at the Staples Center!

widget dashboard

My widget dashboard in KDE4 in Linux Mint Isadora.  Nothing fancy, just a few tools.


For the first time, I created a bootable Linux USB flash drive.  I used the MultiSystem application ( with Ubuntu Lucid to add a couple of distro's live CD sessions to a 4 GB flash drive.

I had to go into my BIOS and change the boot order, and I after doing that I was able to boot into live sessions of Linux Mint Debian and Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick).

Works good; the systems run much faster than from a live CD, and being able to put more than one on a flash drive is convenient.

I would use a larger flash drive (maybe 16 GB) for an actual installation, or to run a persistent mode; and, ultimately, it's cheaper to use CDs for live CD sessions than it is to use flash drives, although the prices of the latter continue to drop.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the scale of the universe

An incredible presentation at this web page:

Makes ya feel a bit insignificant, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

mice, mouses, meeces

In computing, what is the correct plural for "mouse?"  I prefer to say "mouses."  The following from The Free Dictionary explains things:

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (third edition) and the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language endorse both computer mice and computer mouses as correct plural forms for computer mouse. The form mice, however, appears most commonly, while some authors of technical documents may prefer either mouse devices or the more generic pointing devices. The plural mouses treatsmouse as a "headless noun."
Two manuals of style in the computer industry – Sun Technical Publication's Read Me First: A Style Guide for the Computer Industry and Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications from Microsoft Press – recommend that technical writers use the term mouse devices instead of the alternatives.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I hate John Grisham novels!

Actually, I enjoy them, but the problem is that I can't put them down!

Every time I start a Grisham novel, I end up staying up too late at night, trying to finish it.

A friend of mine recently gave me five Grisham books.  Even though I've been trying to go slowly with them, even reading other books between the Grisham novels, I've already gone through three of them:

The Last Juror.
The Testament.
The Brethren.

Two more to go.  Two more late nights coming up...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

die, BCS

Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan's new book, Death to the BCS, looks like it might make waves.

The Yahoo! Sports story, with excerpts.

Their blog page.

And, another excerpt.

I think most people agree that a playoff would be the correct way to go (I'm in favor of a 16-team playoff), but what kind of stood out for me while reading those excerpts was how the BCS system goes to such great lengths to keep the little guys down. Some folks say that a team like Boise State doesn't deserve to play for the championship until they schedule more road games against teams from, say, the SEC. But if the BCS wasn't in control, teams like the BCS would be getting a lot more money, and a lot better recruits, than they're getting now, and they'd be presenting a much bigger challenge to SEC, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big Twelve, ACC, and Big East schools.

The BCS schools can't have that. It isn't about a level playing field; it's about staying in control.

So, the Big Six conferences get 82.3% of the money. The MWC, WAC, MAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt Conference are left with the remaining 17.7%. This way, the little guys will always be little guys, and the BCS schools will always stay in charge.

Put a playoff system in place, with the money more evenly distributed, and with every team having a shot at going all the way, and all of a sudden perhaps Boise State doesn't look like such a bad option for a 5-star recruit who normally wouldn't consider Boise State because it isn't a BCS school. All of a sudden, TCU and Hawaii have a chance at landing much better players, more t.v. time, more money to build bigger stadiums, and maybe even (gasp!)home games against SEC teams.

The problem isn't that Boise State and others don't schedule enough games against teams from BCS schools. The problem is that the BCS "Cartel," as the authors put it, gives all the advantages and most of the money to teams from those Big Six conferences.

It's an injustice; and that's why I'll always root for non-BCS teams against BCS teams, and it's while I'll always ignore college football once the regular season is over.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the upset factor

The current Sports Illustrated has a cover story called "Boise State: The Great Debate." I'll be interested to check it out, but Yahoo! Sports' "Dr. Saturday" blog makes some points about the whole debate that I think we can all pretty much agree on. Here's a link:

The great Boise State debate heats up, but is it the one we should be having?

The two concluding paragraphs pretty much sum things up:

When in doubt, reject the premises. My solution to the Boise debate is the same as it's always been, since BSU (along with Utah) ran the table in the regular season for the first time back in 2004:  a) Yes, obviously Boise State (or Utah, or TCU, or Nevada, or any other I-A team that puts together a perfect season against a I-A schedule) deserves a chance to compete on the field for a national championship; b) Because of the subpar schedule, the Broncos probably don't deserve to be one of the top two teams that play for the nominal title in the current system; therefore c) The current system should be abandoned for one that allows more deserving teams a chance to compete – i.e. a playoff.

The real debate should be about why college football has a championship structure that forces us into the unnecessary debate over the merits of a wildly successful upstart at all, when every question could be settled beyond a doubt with actual football instead of conjuring up make-believe scenarios. As usual, the final answer is: The BCS sucks.

By the way, one of the things I was thinking about yesterday is how, in any football league besides the Football Bowl Subdivision (the FBS, formerly known as Div. I-A), a team can get hot late in the season, squeak into the playoffs, and take it all the way to the championship. That's one of the biggest issues I have with the BCS system. Like a couple of years ago, when the Giants and the Cardinals met in the Super Bowl; no way that could have happened under a BCS-like system.

For me, one of the greatest things about sports is "the upset," and the possibility of an upset. To me, that's why the games are played -- that's what sports are all about, or should be. The BCS system practically kills "the upset factor" because it's impossible for "the little guys" to string together a series of upsets and make it to the championship. No "Hoosiers" stories. The big boys always have the upper hand.

Oh, well. I seriously doubt that I'll live long enough to see a good playoff system in college football's top division. Even if Boise State or TCU managed to sneak into this year's championship game, and against all odds, actually win the dang thing, it would be bittersweet to me even if it were to happen because there would be other teams that, in my opinion, deserved a chance to compete for the title, but who got left out. If it turned out to be, say, Boise State vs. Alabama for the championship, who's to say that a team like Ohio State or Oregon couldn't have beaten one of those teams in a playoff setting? Or, another example, what if Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines actually managed to get hot and run the table this season? Under the present system, they'd still have virtually no shot at making it to the championship game. That's simply not how things should be.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2 free .pdf books - linux cli

Here a links to a couple of free books about the Linux command line, available for download in .pdf format:

Introduction to the Command Line (Second Edition), by Nicholas Marsh

The Linux Command Line, by William E. Shotts, Jr.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

kudos to the champs!

Tonight, the Seattle Storm won the WNBA championship by sweeping the Atlanta Dream. Seattle went undefeated in the playoffs, and won the clinching game, 87-84.

And, what a team effort! All five starters scored in double figures: Swin Cash, 18 points; Lauren Jackson (the league MVP), 15 points; Camille Little, 15 points; Sue Bird, 14 points; and Tanisha Wright, 13 points.

That's good basketball.

Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry scored 35 after struggling earlier in the series. Great season for Atlanta, though!

That's Seattle 2nd WNBA title.  Number of titles, all-time:

Houston Comets, 4
Detroit Shock, 3
L.A. Sparks, 2
Phoenix Mercury, 2
Seattle Storm, 2
Sacramento Monarchs, 1

stunning poll results

Over at the MepisLovers forums, somebody started a poll asking what age group members fall into.  The categories:

- 12 or younger
- 13 to 18
- 18 to 25
- 25 to 30
- 30 to 40
- Anything above 40

I figured that most members would be in the 40+ age group, but the results so far have still been quite surprising to me.  So far, over 89% of the respondents said they are 40 years old or older!

Some reasons mentioned for this:

- Young folks are far more interested in gaming and portable devices, and far less interested in tinkering around with Linux.  Younger folks just want things to work; older folks are more interested in how things work.
- Older folks are more likely to post at Linux forums like MepisLovers.
- A lot more people out there fall into the "Anything above 40" range than the other ranges listed.

Well, my son, M.A.L., age 17, uses Mepis here, but he is not a member of the MepisLovers forums (or any other Linux forums), and seems to show very little interest in learning anything at all about Linux.  Loves the internet, though!

wolverines ranked

When I found out that the University of Michigan's football team is ranked #20 in one poll and #22 in another, I was thinking, "I've heard this song before."

Last year, in week #4, before the bottom fell out, the Wolverines were ranked #20 in one poll and #22 in another.

It seems like this year's team has a very good chance of going 5-0.  Maybe even 6-0.

But this is the team that won only a single Big Ten game last year.  This is the team that lost last year at Illinois, 38-13.  That went 1-7 after starting 4-0.

And they stunk the year before that, too, going 3-9 on the season.

This year, they beat UConn.  So Michigan joins the list of teams picking on Big East teams.  That puts them up with decent FCS teams.

They beat Notre Dame, just like they did last year.  So what?

They've got Denard Robinson at the helm, and he's had a great start.  It's all good.

But Denard is just one guy.  He's had two great games against some questionable opponents.  Was the QB position really UofM's biggest problem the past two seasons?

Denard doesn't play defense.  Have we forgotten how terrible UofM's defense has been for the past two years?

Folks, the jury is gonna be out on this team until they get into Big Ten play.  Like I said, I've heard this song before.  How they qualify as a Top 25 team is beyond me.

the distro hopper stopper

PCLinuxOS fanboys are no different from those of other Linux distributions in believing that their distro is "the best out there."  At the PCLOS forums, they call their distro "The distro hopper stopper."

PCLOS is a very nice distro, but whether it's the best or not is certainly a matter of opinion.

I installed PCLOS KDE 2010.07, and, on the whole, found it quite pleasant to use.  As I mentioned in pclos revisited, it shipped with KDE 4.4.5, but updates were available for KDE 4.5, so I quickly brought 'em in.  I'm running KDE 4.5.1 in PCLOS now.

After about a month of usage, here a few things that bug me about it:

- Amarok and JuK constantly crash with segmentation faults here.  I finally got tired of trying to find fixes and installed Exaile, which works perfectly fine for my purposes.  (I'm also running KDE 4.5.1 in Linux Mint, on top of the main GNOME installation, but I'm having no problems their with either Amarok or JuK.)
- PCLOS doesn't include manual pages by default, and it's kind of a pain to get them installed.  Boo!  Linux without man pages?  Not cool.  Fortunately, man pages are available online.
- The PCLOS forums don't allow any discussion whatsoever of other Linux distros.  I couldn't even discuss Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is perhaps the biggest story in Linux in quite awhile.  I don't understand the forum rule prohibiting such discussion; kind of seems like they are forcing their members to keep their heads in the sand, or to wear blinders.
- I'm running the desktop with the "Different widgets for each desktop" setting turned on so that I can have different wallpapers on each desktop.  Problem is, whenever I start a new session, I get taken to virtual desktop #4 instead of #1.  Haven't run across this bug in KDE 4.5.1 in Mint.
- Synaptic, while faster than it was in the previous PCLOS versions that I've tried, is still significantly slower than in other distros.  I'm sure that part of this has to do with the fact that PCLOS is an .rpm distro, not a .deb distro.
- Another minor annoyance with Synaptic in PCLOS is that it doesn't allow you to view changes in a terminal as they take place, although after the changes have been made a window pops up showing some of the messages that were output.

None of these problems are "showstoppers" for me.  As I said, I enjoy using the distro.  The positives far outweigh the negatives.  Texstar & Co. have really done a remarkable job, and I would not hesitate to recommend this distro to anyone, especially to folks new to Linux.

kde4's split screens in konsole

Finally noticed the split screen feature In KDE4's Konsole!

At first, I thought, "This is silly," because the split screens don't work independently of each other like you'd expect -- like split screens in Konqueror, Krusader, and Dolphin.  When you type something in one screen, the same thing gets typed in the other screen.

Here's a left/right view, from PCLinuxOS 2010.07:

I thought this was a bug, but it turns out that it was intentional, as explained here:

It is a console output cloning tool so that you can see two views of the same scroll buffer. For example, if you are a developer, and you need to compile something really big (like say, KDE), then you can read through the scroll at your own pace on one side, while still monitor the output progress simultaneously. This is not a multi-panel model like Konqueror, so much as it is a cloning mode that lets you see more than one thing at a time within the same buffer.

But then I realized that with the use of tabs, combined with the split screens, the split screens can be used to show the output of different commands.  Here's a top/bottom view:

Useful tool for something like viewing a manual page on one side and running a command on the other side!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Linux Directory Structure

Here's a good article that explains the file system structure in Linux:

Linux Directory Structure (File System Structure) Explained with Examples

Not every Linux distribution will have exactly the same directory structure as shown in this article.  For example, here are the directories under / in my PCLinuxOS installation:


Friday, August 27, 2010


Since my favorite automatic wallpaper changer, wallpaper-tray, isn't available right now in Debian's Squeeze repos, I had to find another solution for my Squeeze GNOME desktop.

I ended up settling on Drapes, even though that app doesn't let you simply select a directory to use a source for your wallpapers.  I ended up using a work-around for Drapes as describe in this blog.

It'll work for now, but I still may go back to wallpaper-tray if it becomes available.

By the way, here's a link to Ubuntu Genius's Blog, the main page of the blog I mentioned above:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Chris Bosh, in a Sports Illustrated article, talking about loyalty: What place should loyalty have in free agency, from the perspective of the team and the player?
Bosh: It should have none. Loyalty is an added bonus. It's great that some guys want to be loyal, but you can be unhappy trying to be loyal, and there's no reason to bring loyalty into the business room. It's like if you try to buy something from your friend for five bucks and then find another guy is selling the same thing for four, and your friend wants to know, "What about the loyalty?" And you're thinking, "I don't want to spend five dollars."
People have to look at it as a business. Fans get very wrapped around it because it's a sport. And sports are a little different but they're businesses first and that's how we have to choose sometimes. Sometimes people understand, sometimes people don't.

I can see both sides of it.  As a pro athlete, you have to look out for #1.  But on the other hand, it's the fans who are a coughing up big bucks to go watch these guys play, and sports fans are loyal to a fault.

Like me, I'm a Raiders fan even though I can't stand Al Davis and I can't stand the losing over the past several years.  But it doesn't matter because I'm still gonna always be a Raiders fan.  Well, maybe not if they move back to L.A., but you get my drift.

So, why shouldn't the fans expect loyalty out of the players?  Brett Favre going to the Vikings and playing against Green Bay?  I just can't stomach it.  

Shaq with the Celtics?  Any team but the Celtics!  Well, almost any team, because Shaq playing for the Suns (and any true Suns fan can never really love the Lakers!) was almost as bad.  Almost, but not quite.

Yeah, I understand it's all business.  I understand that the owners aren't gonna show any loyalty to any player.  So, like I said, I see both sides of it.

But as a sports fan, I like it when a professional athlete sticks with one team throughout his career, or at least for as long as he realistically can.  Character has to mean something.  When a guy does like Johnny Damon or Shaq or Favre and goes and plays for an arch-rival like that, I mean it's like if Archie Griffin would have transferred to UofM, or Dennis Franklin suiting up for the Buckeyes.  Like Magic with the Celtics, or Bird with the Lakers.  I just can't see it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

tabbed application windows in kde4

Finally remembered to check out a "new" feature in KDE4 -- tabbed application windows.

This is something that I love to use in Fluxbox.  There, you simply drag a window's title bar onto another and you get one window with two tabs.  In KDE4, you right-click on a title bar, click on "Move Window to Group," and choose the group of applications that you want tabbed.

It's a great feature in Fluxbox, and a pretty good feature in KDE4.  I noticed, however, that switching between tabs in KDE4 isn't as snappy as it is in Fluxbox; and, the applications themselves seem a little bit slower when they're tabbed.  Because of these things, I'm not sure how much I'll use tabs in KDE4, but it's nice to have the feature available.

wnba leaders

Final results from the 2010 WNBA regular season:

Points per game:
1. Diana Taurasi, PHO, 22.7
2. Cappie Pondexter, NYL, 21.4
3. Angel McCoughtry, ATL, 21.1
4. Candace Parker, LOS, 20.6
5. Lauren Jackson, SEA, 20.5

Rebounds per game:
1. Tina Charles, CON, 11.7
2. Rebekka Brunson, MIN, 10.3
3. Candace Parker, LOS, 10.1
4. Sancho Lyttle, ATL, 9.9
5. Sylvia Fowles, CHI, 9.9

Assists per game:
1. Ticha Penicheiro, LOS, 6.9
2. Sue Bird, SEA, 5.8
3. Linday Whalen, MIN, 5.6
4. Becky Hammon, SAS, 5.4
5. Penny Taylor, PHO, 5.0

Blocks per game:
1. Sylvia Fowles, CHI, 2.6
2. Candace Parker, LOS, 2.2
3. Tina Charles, CON, 1.7
4. Chante Black, TUL, 1.6
5. Tammy Sutton-Brown, IND, 1.6

Steals per game:
1. Tamika Catchings, IND, 2.3
2. Nicky Anosike, MIN, 2.0
3. Angel McCoughtry, ATL, 1.9
4. Candice Wiggins, MIN, 1.8
5. Jia Perkins, CHI, 1.7

3-pointers made per game:
1. Diana Taurasi, PHO, 2.6
2. Candice Wiggins, MIN, 2.6
3. Becky Hammon, SAS, 2.2
4. Leilani Mitchell, NYL, 2.1
5. Katie Douglas, IND, 2.0

Friday, August 20, 2010

college football

NCAA football will soon get under way.  The USAToday's pre-season rankings:

USA Today Ranking

RankTeamRecordPtsLast Week
1.Alabama (55)0-01469--
2.Ohio St. (4)0-01392--
5.Boise St.0-01215--
6.Virginia Tech0-01052--
13.Miami (FL)0-0728--
14.Penn St.0-0508--
17.Georgia Tech0-0455--
18.North Carolina0-0445--
20.Florida St.0-0374--
22.Oregon St.0-0263--
24.West Virginia0-0169--
Others Receiving Votes:
  • Cincinnati 135, 
  • Houston 76, 
  • BYU 66, 
  • Arizona 65, 
  • Mississippi 48, 
  • Clemson 44, 
  • Stanford 41, 
  • Connecticut 40, 
  • South Carolina 38, 
  • Notre Dame 38,
  • Washington 26, 
  • Missouri 23, 
  • Navy 12, 
  • Oklahoma St. 11, 
  • Michigan St. 10, 
  • Boston Coll. 10, 
  • California 6, 
  • Arizona St. 6, 
  • Texas Tech 5, 
  • South Florida 4,
  • Texas A&M 3, 
  • Temple 2, 
  • Northwestern 2, 
  • SMU 1, 
  • Northern Illinois 1, 
  • Nevada 1, 
  • Mississippi St. 1, 
  • Cent. Michigan 1