Wednesday, March 31, 2010

mepis 8.5

Warren Woodford released Mepis 8.5 this week. From the release announcement:
Warren [Woodford, Mepis founder] continued: "For 8.5 we started with the stable Debian Lenny core and then selectively introduced updated packages that make SimplyMEPIS 8.5 a more timely OS. It could be thought of as similar to a 'Lenny and a half' kind of release, but of course with the MEPIS vision."
Specifically 8.5 utilizes a 2.6.32 kernel for up to date hardware support. It has the new KDE 4.3.4 desktop, yet retains much of the familiar MEPIS/KDE look and feel, so users can slowly become familiar with the new features in KDE 4.3. The new MEPIS Welcome Center guides users through their first steps with MEPIS including finding documentation, connecting with the community, and optionally installing additional apps and language packs.
Warren concluded with: "OpenOffice, Firefox, and other user applications have been updated about as far as is possible while remaining consistent with a Lenny foundation and upstream Debian packaging. Today we are releasing a CD sized ISO. In the coming weeks we may release a larger ISO with more preinstalled packages. Then we will begin work on the next release. Depending on the timing of Debian, it will be synced with the Squeeze Final or maybe with Squeeze Freeze."

While I'm curious to see how well Mepis does with KDE4, I'm thinking that I'll hold off on Mepis 8.5 and stick with Mepis 8 until Mepis 10 comes out in about a year. That'll give Warren some time to work with KDE4; the Lenny-based M8 will still be fine to use in the meantime.

long live libraries!

Apple's IPad is not going to kill public libraries, says The Baltimore Sun's Dan Rodricks, in the article "No app can replace city's need for vibrant libraries," March 16, 2010.

nba tidbits

As of March 30th, 2010...

James (CLE) - 29.8
Durant (OKC) - 29.6
Anthony (DEN) - 28.6

Howard (ORL) - 13.3
Lee (NY) - 11.8
Randolph (MEM) - 11.8

Nash (PHO) - 11.1
Paul (NO) - 10.9
Williams (UTA) - 10.5

Rookies Scoring:
Evans (SAC) - 20.2
Curry (GS) - 16.5
Jennings (MIL) - 15.8


Eastern Conference Standings
Atlantic W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
y-Boston 47 26 .644 -- 23-13 24-13 12-2 30-15 Lost 1 7-3
Toronto 36 37 .493 11.0 23-13 13-24 9-4 26-19 Won 1 4-6
New York 26 47 .356 21.0 16-22 10-25 5-9 18-28 Lost 2 4-6
Philadelphia 26 48 .351 21.5 12-25 14-23 7-8 14-31 Lost 1 3-7
New Jersey 10 64 .135 37.5 6-31 4-33 3-13 7-39 Won 1 3-7
Central W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
y-Cleveland 58 16 .784 -- 32-4 26-12 11-2 35-9 Won 1 9-1
Milwaukee 41 32 .562 16.5 26-11 15-21 9-5 27-17 Won 2 7-3
Chicago 35 39 .473 23.0 21-16 14-23 9-5 22-22 Lost 1 4-6
Indiana 28 47 .373 30.5 20-16 8-31 5-10 20-26 Won 1 7-3
Detroit 23 50 .315 34.5 16-21 7-29 2-14 15-30 Lost 8 1-9
Southeast W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
x-Orlando 52 22 .703 -- 30-7 22-15 9-6 34-13 Won 2 8-2
x-Atlanta 47 26 .644 4.5 30-7 17-19 7-7 27-17 Won 1 7-3
Miami 40 34 .541 12.0 22-16 18-18 9-7 26-19 Won 5 8-2
Charlotte 38 35 .521 13.5 27-9 11-26 9-6 22-23 Lost 1 6-4
Washington 21 52 .288 30.5 12-24 9-28 3-11 15-30 Lost 16 0-10
Western Conference Standings
Southwest W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
x-Dallas 49 25 .662 -- 26-11 23-14 7-6 27-18 Won 2 6-4
San Antonio 44 29 .603 4.5 26-11 18-18 8-5 26-18 Lost 1 6-4
Memphis 38 35 .521 10.5 22-15 16-20 3-8 20-25 Lost 2 6-4
Houston 37 36 .507 11.5 21-17 16-19 8-5 25-21 Won 1 5-5
New Orleans 35 40 .467 14.5 23-14 12-26 6-8 24-24 Won 1 3-7
Northwest W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
x-Utah 49 26 .653 -- 30-8 19-18 7-8 27-18 Won 2 7-3
x-Denver 48 27 .640 1.0 30-6 18-21 10-4 29-16 Lost 2 4-6
Oklahoma City 45 28 .616 3.0 24-13 21-15 8-4 24-20 Won 1 6-4
Portland 45 29 .608 3.5 24-13 21-16 7-7 29-16 Won 3 8-2
Minnesota 14 60 .189 34.5 9-27 5-33 3-12 7-39 Lost 16 0-10
Pacific W L Pct GB Home Road Div Conf Streak L10
x-LA Lakers 54 20 .730 -- 32-5 22-15 12-2 32-13 Lost 1 8-2
x-Phoenix 48 26 .649 6.0 29-9 19-17 12-4 31-16 Won 8 9-1
LA Clippers 27 47 .365 27.0 19-17 8-30 3-10 13-33 Lost 2 2-8
Sacramento 24 51 .320 30.5 17-19 7-32 4-10 15-30 Lost 5 2-8
Golden State 21 52 .288 32.5 16-22 5-30 5-10 12-34 Won 1 4-6
x-Clinched Playoff Spot; y-Division Champ; z-Clinched Home Court

another great book

Recently finished A Perfect Spy, John Le Carré. Took me a long time to get through this one, although I enjoyed it tremendously. Twice, I got maybe a hundred pages or more into it and then started completely over again. I enjoy Le Carré's writing that much.

The novel's about British spy Magnus Pym. Loved the proverb that opens the book: "A man who has two women loses his soul. But a man who has two houses loses his head." Very appropriate for the story.

the women

The NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four is set. On Sunday, April 4th, the #1 seed from the Sacramento Region, Stanford (35-1), will take on the #3 seed from the Kansas City Region, Oklahoma (27-10); the #1 seed from the Dayton Region, Connecticut (37-0) meets the #4 seed from the Memphis Region, Baylor (27-9).

UConn is on a 76-game winning streak. They're the overwhelming favorites. In their run through the Kansas City Region, they baked Southern by 56, trounced Temple by 54, spanked Iowa State by 38, and crushed Florida State by 40.

Some folks say UConn's dominance is bad for the game. I disagree. Was UCLA's 88-game win streak bad for men's college basketball?

Stanford's only defeat was to UConn, back in December -- an 80-68 loss at Hartford, Conn. Stanford was the last team to beat UConn, back in the 2008 Final Four. The two teams are each one win away from meeting for this year's championship.

UConn figures to have little trouble with upstart Baylor, which finished 6th in the regular season in the Big 12 with a 9-7 record. But folks will tune in to see how freshman Brittney Griner fares against the Huskies.

Griner is the same player who, a few weeks back, was suspended for two games after punching Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle in the face. She stands 6'8" and wears a size 17 or 18 shoe.

Griner's numbers in this year's tournament:

vs. Fresno State: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
vs. Georgetown: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 14 blocks
vs. Tennessee: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 10 blocks
vs. Duke: 15 points, 11 rebounds, 9 blocks


Griner holds the NCAA women's single-season record for blocks, and the record for blocks in the NCAA tournament. Phenomenal player.

Almost lost in the commotion is Oklahoma, headed for their second straight trip to the Final Four after dismantling Kentucky, 88-68. The Sooners lost sisters Courtney and Ashley Paris from last year's team. They were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 (ended up at 11-5, tied for 2nd). Then they lost guard Whitney Hand to a knee injury early in the season. But they've managed to fight their way into the Final Four again.

Stay tuned. Nobody's touched UConn in ages, but who knows? It's tourney time! Anything can happen!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

history of white people?

A book that might get some attention: The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter. Painter is a black woman...

A recent review of the book at The New York Times, by Linda Gordon:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Detroit Southwestern

I remember that back in the 70s, Detroit Southwestern always seemed to have one of the toughest basketball teams in the state of Michigan. In general, if you played for a team from outside of Detroit (like I did, in Ann Arbor), you measured yourself against Detroit teams. You wanted to be able to compete against the kids from "the City."

Looks like times have changed for Southwestern H.S. and other Detroit schools. Like the city itself, Detroit high school basketball has fallen off dramatically, according the Yahoo! Sports article by Dan Wetzel, "The game dies at Southwestern High."

That heartbreaking article talks about the murder of 86 year-old Clarence "Sonny J" Jones. As Wetzel relates:

The August 2009 murder shocked and outraged Detroit, which isn’t easy to do these days. Jones wasn’t just any person though. For decades he was the final safety net in his Southwest Detroit neighborhood, someone who would help people find jobs, pick up the groceries when times got tough and serve as a father figure to generations of kids in need of one.

“A great man,” Detroit police chief Warren Evans declared.
He was perhaps best known as a constant presence around the powerful basketball team at Southwestern High School, which has churned out dozens of Division I basketball and NBA stars such as Jalen Rose...

Michigan Class A Semi-Final match-ups at the Michigan State University's Breslin Center, Friday, March 26th:

Ann Arbor Huron (22-4) vs. Southfield (18-5)
Kalamazoo Central (25-1) vs. Detroit Denby (16-9)

Class B, also Friday at the Breslin Center:

Detroit Country Day (24-2) vs. Muskegon Heights (21-4)
Lansing Sexton (20-5) vs. Richland Gull Lake (22-3)

Linux in the House!

50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

This article lists business users of Linux, home & scientific uses of Linux, government users of Linux, and educational users of Linux. Some might surprise you. The U.S. Postal Service, for example!

Checking out the comments following the article, I see that there might be many more that were not mentioned, like Venezuela, NASA, and AutoZone. One person commented:

The public transportation system serving almost a million inhabitants in and around Oslo uses Debian Linux servers for its real-time display system that shows when to expect subways, buses, and streetcars all aaround the city and quite a bit beyond. It also displays information about incidents that affect the traffic, which has been quite often this winter ...

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Linux is Not Windows"

Here's an article that people frequently point new Linux users to:

"Linux is Not Windows"

I don't know how helpful it is. I must confess that I've never read through the entire article.

But once again, I was browsing in the Ubuntu forums and someone started a thread about his experiences with Ubuntu. He mentioned that he'd been a Windows power user for 12 years and had been looking at Linux for 2 days.

One of the replies included the following:

You have two options:

1) Learn to use Linux - which is actually very easy.

2) Use Windows.

Honestly, I'd say it would seem you'll be happier with Windows, since it's the so-called 'Power Users' who tend to find themselves the most lost on the easy to use but highly flexible Linux based desktop.

I'd have to agree with all of that.

The next line of that reply mentioned the "Linux is Not Windows" article.

"Why do new users give up on Linux?" Variations of that question are always popping up on Linux forums. It's an interesting question. But I always turn it around: Why didn't I give up on Linux? Why do so many others stick with it, learn to use it, become happy with it?

I know that in my case I was highly motivated to learn to use Linux. I basically wanted to find a way to be able to always have a computer, even if I found myself in a situation where I couldn't afford Windows or a Mac. That was my motivation, to free myself from having to pay so much. Also I was challenged to see if I could learn to use Linux.

Along the way, I found out that Linux actually works out better for me than Windows.

Linux might not work out better for you, though. But what I like to tell people is what I kept in mind while I was learning to use Linux: That lots of other people are happy with it, and there must be a reason for that.

Monday, March 8, 2010

ready for pc-bsd?

Distrowatch review of PC-BSD (by Jesse Smith).

I quickly skimmed the article and went right to the "Conclusions," which ended with:

After using PC-BSD for a week, I'm very impressed with the project. With the exception of some of my notebook's hardware, I ran into no serious problems. Fortunately the live DVD makes it easy to test hardware before committing to installation. The installer is a work of art, the package manager is easy to use, even for less experienced users. The desktop is attractive, stable and responsive on my machines. The documentation, which builds on the FreeBSD Handbook, is first class and the system's defaults are reasonable. Having popular codecs and Flash pre-installed is a nice touch and makes PC-BSD ready-to-go straight out of the box. In my opinion, this operating system isn't quite as user-friendly as Mandriva Linux or Linux Mint, but it's not far behind and, on my hardware, it performs faster. In my eyes, PC-BSD is ready for The Desktop.

Sounds nice, but again, we're talking about a review by someone who uses the system for only a week... But it's a good review, and Smith tried it out on a desktop machine, on a notebook, and in a virtual environment.

Something to keep in mind for you Linux users who don't have anything better to do and might want to give BSD a try!

laptops, etc.

I'm noticing that more and more people prefer laptops (or notebooks or netbooks or other portable computers) over desktop PCs.

I have a few reasons for preferring a PC. A friend of mine points out that his laptop is just as powerful as a PC; but I know that I can get a better PC than laptop for the same amount of money.

You do pay for the portability and for "the cool factor."

I don't need to carry my computer around with me. I don't mind if I have to go to the room where my computer is to get online, instead of being able to get online from anywhere in the house. I figure that if things get to that point, maybe I need to get away from the computer for awhile!

I already have a dang cell phone that's pretty much turned into an appendage. Isn't that enough?

So, I also have no need for a wireless router.

I like the big, old, PC boxes. I can get my hands into 'em, to be able to easily swap out hard drives and other parts.

I like that I can easily swap out my keyboard if I spill a drink on it. I can have a drink sitting near my computer and not stress out over it.

I like keeping my computer safe at home instead of taking a laptop out and having to concern myself with keeping it protected.

I like keeping things as simple as possible, sometimes.

Unless and until laptops and notebooks become very, very inexpensive, I'm going to stick with my old PCs. Why not?