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: