Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lions, Tigers, and Bears!

Detroit and Chicago are the homes of sports teams bearing the names of the chant that Dorothy, the scarecrow, and the tin woodsman chanted as they marched along the yellow brick road to Oz.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

Well, the New England Patriots have had their way with the NFC North Division, beating three of the four teams in that division, most recently squeaking out a victory against the hungry Chicago Bears. The Patriots defense could be counted on to put a halt to the Bears offense, which they did by getting three interceptions and a fumble recovery. However, they had three fumbles of their own lost and two tipped balls that turned into interceptions.

New England can't do that against the best teams and expect to continue to win. The Bears are a very good team, but not a top echilon team in my book. No NFC team is at the top this year in my opinion. The Giants are erratic, much more so than the Patriots, the Cowboys have greatly improved, but they don't scare me as an opponent to any of the top five AFC teams, nor does Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Chicago, San Diego, or anyone else I can think of.

New England has to prove that it will not beat itself. They can probably play somewhat sloppy and still beat the Detroit Lions, but unless they start to execute much more cleanly, they are going to find a short post season again this year. That would be too bad. The Patriots, once again this year, have overcome major losses and have still performed. Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau, major contributers to the defensive success, look like they are out for possibly the season, though there is a chance that Rodney will return in time for post season play.

New England lost their two starting wide receivers, and those their offense is respectable, it ranks number eleven both in passing and rushing, if I read recent statistics correctly. Losing Deion Branch and David Givens to free agency has not been easy to handle. Better watch out - after this season, starting cornerback Asante Samuel is an unrestricted free agent. Will he be next on the list of those to go?

Patriots have done a great job of having a system in place where good players can plug in with a few stars to keep it all together. Can this formula be sustained? I think the Patriots can remain atop the AFC East for at least a year or two more, possibly longer. The question is whether or not they can bring home another Super Bowl or not.

To get closer to that answer, Patriots need to demonstrate near perfect football against a team they should handily beat. Will they squeak out a win, or worse, come unglued, unfocused, and lose, or will they show themselves to be champions, not necessarily running up a 50-0 score, but playing great football with all of their starters, getting into a situation where they are well out in front, then they can do their famous substitutions and start fine tuning all aspects of their team?

I pick New England to win easily. What I do not know is which New England team will show up. I want it to be the ones who strive for perfection. Let's see what happens.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beat the Packers convincingly, can we do the same to the Chicago Bears?

The New England Patriots have had a great road record this year, and they have also had an easy time with the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, but they meet a much more formidable opponent in the Chicago Bears, when they host the Bears at Gillette Stadium.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Patriots in need of a win!

The New England Patriots travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin's Lambeau Field this Sunday for the first time in nearly a decade. Last time the Patriots played Green Bay in the regular season, Tom Brady was still a student at the University of Michigan. He can still remember Green Bay trouncing his much beloved San Francisco 49er team (his favorite growing up), and frankly, my favorite of the eighties and nineties as well.

New England Patriots have been the replacement team for those great 49er teams of Rice, Craig, Montana, Young, and others.

But during that same era, Green Bay has also hosted many winners, and their quarterback, Brett Favre still has that rocket arm and the youthful exuberance, even at thirty seven, of a child running around in a field. He has grown up, though, and his team may be growing up around him. This year, he seems to have a line that can protect him long enough to launch his missiles.

Too bad the Pack have not proven that they have a defense to match their offense.

I want to see my New England Patriots win this one big. But unless they can put some pressure on Favre and also get some consistency to their own offense, they will continue their recent slide. I hope they turn it around in a BIG WAY this weekend in Wisconsin!

Been a long, long, long, long lonely time!

Well, it has been months and months since I have used this blog! Since last year, I have become much more a fan of the Debian based Ubuntu distros and their derivatives. The 6.06 release marked some major improvements, but the 6.10 release did even more. SimplyMEPIS 6.0 is now based upon Ubuntu, and it exceeds the simplicity of the Kubuntu components upon which it is based.

Xubuntu is a reasonably lightweight distribution if you have older hardware, and Xfld is a technology preview of XFCE that presents a nicely configured Live CD implementation of Xubuntu that you can, if you wish, install to disk.

Other desktop oriented distros that have done a good job this year include SimplyMEPIS 6.0, Freespire, Xandros 4.0, and one that I have recently come to appreciate - SLED 10: SUSE Linux Enterprise Distribution 10.

SLED is a GNOME based distribution that contains carefully chosen applications and a very nicely done desktop that is perhaps the leading alternative for enterprises to consider if they are contemplating replacing some or all of their corporate desktops with a commercial Linux distribution. Xandros 4.0 is also a very good implementation, but Novell already knows corporations and they know what to do with this. I give SLED a decent chance of getting a slice of the corporate desktop market if there really is one.

I have to say I am beginning to wonder about that. I have been using Linux productively at home since 2001. I used to use a UNIX desktop system at work all the time. To think that either a UNIX or a Linux desktop is usable is not even a question for me, but apparently it is for most other people, otherwise it would already be in widespread use.

I think people are reluctant, if not afraid, to try something new. They do not want to spend a lot of time learning something else, so unless it is a plug in and go kind of proposition, it often won't happen.

I am here to tell you that you easily could plop in either Xandros 4.0 or SLED 10 on a workstation either at home or in the office and immediately start to do useful work. Neither one is the most complete media giant distro, but they both contain the basic word processing, Email, and Web browsing components needed to do 90% of the corporate communications, plus other Internet tools and some media capabilities.

Personally, I have been using SimplyMEPIS 6.0 at home for months for about 90% of my work, Freespire for about 5% of my work, and many other test distributions along the way, and each of them has proven capable of reading Web pages (and I tend to use Web mail, so I get my mail, too). I have been able to do routine editing with them, so the bottom line for me is they all get the job done.

What is particularly nice about SLED and Xandros 4.0 is that they both have a physical resemblance quite similar to what someone used to Windows can get used to. Are they identical? No. Are they similar? Yes, in function, but different in the applications they run, which are functional equivalents with more secure interfaces to the underlying system.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Been a while!

Since I last wrote, I have acquired and used Xandros 4.0 Home Edition Premium, Kubuntu 6.06 in a five CD shipment I received from them (I have given away one of them so far), and I have tested SimplyMEPIS as it approaches release.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Second disk getting well populated

I do not have as much spare time as I once did to do software testing. By day, I am now a software project manager. By niight, I have family and other responsibilities. I do, a couple of times a month, though, downlaod and install various software distributions, so my second disk is finally getting well populated.

Kubuntu and Xubuntu work GREAT!

Kubuntu and Xubuntu have to qualify as two of the most improved distributions this year. In my book, they now rate among the top distributions, at least for my style of custom home desktop system.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New *Ubuntu stuff

I am not a big fan of the base Ubuntu stuff, but I do, from time to time, try out the other Ubuntu derivatives, and this evening, I am downloading and burning both Kubuntu and the brand new Xubuntu, both in Live CD form, and both in release 6.06 Beta Live. I will see how stable they run from Live CD before I decide whether to install them to the hard drive or not.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Trying out more distros

It has been a while since I have been able to either blog or test out distros, but tonight I hope to do a bit of both. Right now I am burning an ISO image for a Debian Live Sid image, and I previously burned and installed a recent test version of QiLinux. I have not had a chance to run either of them, but I have partitions set up for both, and I have installed QiLinux, just have not tried it out yet. I use GRUB to manage the boot blocks for my partitions, so I just have to set up a few new entries and load them both, then later I will give each a try.

I do tend to be partial to Debian based distros. My every day desktop is Libranet 3.0, which is really more of a Debian Sid distro now than anything else, since Libranet's future is uncertain. I really like Kanotix, SimplyMEPIS, and Xandros, too, plus I generally keep a version or two of Mandriva, Fedora Core, a BSD, and sometimes PCLinuxOS around. Right now I have KateOS out there, too.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Disk working fine, time to populate it

Once I took the time to open the case of the system again, I had no trouble locating the source of the problem I was having: the ribbon cable to the second IDE channel became loose or slightly dislodged from its connection to the mother board. I simply checked all of the connections and made sure that they were properly seated, and I found that when I had the system apart earlier, I must have put a strain on this particular cable and caused it to loosen. Simple matter of putting it back securely in place - it was only partially seated in its slot.

Now I have to start putting software on the new disk. Having the hardware does not equate to instant installations! I have many things to do these days, and toying with computers (or blogs, for that matter) do not always hit the top of my priority list).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Got a new disk, now to populate it

I got a 80 GB Western Digital hard drive to complement, and eventually replace my existing 40 GB Western Digital hard drive.

When I installed the disk, I took out a Zip drive, which was set to "Cable Select". I left the new disk at that same setting. The disk was recognized when I rebooted the system, but one of the devices, the DVD/ROM, no longer shows power and does not respond. Not sure if I accidentally disconnected it when I installed the new disk or if I have settings that are not being handled well, but now I have a new disk but no easy way to install software on it!

Will have to open the case again... nuts! I am quite a software buff, very experienced, but I am physically clumsy when it comes to hardware. I can, and have, installed disks, memory, modems, and network cards several times in the past. Each time, the most difficult thing for me is getting the components out or in - beginning with sliding the case out correctly. Hope I can do it right next time.

Dell, the manufacturer of the Dimension 4100 that I am working on, does make everything in modular enclosures to optimize assembly and low cost of parts, assembly, and maintenance. Hopefully I did not disturb the environment, but from the results, apparently I did SOMETHING wrong!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New England Patriots Advance past the Jaguars

I got a chance to attend the Patriots - Jaguars game last Saturday in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium - what a treat!

I am optimistic about the Patriots continuing their good postseason play against the Denver Broncos tomorrow in Denver.