Sunday, August 30, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 1

Only the high schools are playing real games this early. There were also fake NFL games this past weekend. Colleges are next weekend.

There were no wins in the high school ranks for my teams. Bishop Kenny lost a non-district away game to the Bartram Trail Bears 31-16. Not much information was available for this game, no detailed stats. BK led 3-0 after the first quarter. They trailed 10-3 at the half. At one point the game was tied at 10 in the third quarter which ended with a 17-10 advantage for the Bears. Bartram Trail outscored Kenny 14-6 in the fourth to clinch the victory. BT had 25 first downs vs 12 for BK. Next up for the Crusaders is another away non-district game against the Atlantic Coast Stingrays.

The Bell Blue Raiders didn't fare any better although they did make a game of it. In the end Keller Central won 34-31 in overtime. Bell scored a 46 yard FG with their possession in OT but Keller scored a TD on a 34 yard pass play. The game was tied at seven after one period and the Raiders led 20-14 at intermission. After a scoreless third quarter, the Chargers outscored Bell 14-8 to tie the game at 28 in regulation. The game was also statistically close with Keller having more total yards at 421-390. Keller's attack was balanced with 209 ground yards and 212 passing yards while the Raiders stayed more on the ground with 322 rushing yards. Two Raiders had 100 yard rushing nights. Their air game was a little anemic going 9/22 for only 68 yards with two interceptions. While no loss is good news, the fact that Bell scored 31 points is a positive sign. They were severely challenged on offense last season. Bell travels to Rockwall to play the Heath Hawks next in a non-district contest.

Although not a team I closely follow and certainly don't usually root for, I watched some of the Trinity Trojans game on ESPN2 against #1 ranked De La Salle Spartans from Concord, California. Trinity is located in Euless, TX which is the next town east of Bedford, my town. Trinity is also in the same HEB school district and 6A-7 athletic district as L.D. Bell. Trinity is a perennial class 6A football powerhouse. They have won multiple state championships and are always in contention. For the past few years they have been opening their seasons with games against out of state high school powers. Sometimes traveling out of state and sometimes hosting the games. They have played some of these games at AT&T (Cowboys) stadium. This year the game was at Mansfield's Vernon Newsom Stadium. It was a good game and the local guys were victorious 26-21 in a game that ended after midnight local time. Trojans beat the Spartans, although I think in classical Greek mythology it was the other way around with that Trojan horse trick.

No meaningful college activity yet but it cranks up this week. TCU travels to Minnesota for a Thursday night nationally televised ESPN game. The Frogs are ranked #2 in the AP preseason poll and the Gophers are ranked in the middle of the Big Ten West. Still, a trip into Big Ten territory is never easy. My other teams have an easier start. The Florida Gators host the always dangerous New Mexico State Aggies. South Florida is at home against instate school Florida A&M Rattlers.

Some more fake games in the NFL. Jacksonville lost at home to Detroit 22-17. Good news bad news. Bortles looked good going 20/29/0 for 245 yards and one TD. The rushing game was anemic, Bortles was also the leading rusher with 38 yards, and the defense was less than stellar. 

Tampa Bay hosted Cleveland and were very gracious. They allowed the Browns to trounce them 31-7. After a good game last week, #1 draft choice Jameis Winston looked like a rookie. He was sacked four times and went 6/15/1 for 90 yards with no TDs. He finished with a 32.6 QB rating. Meanwhile, James McCown went 17/23/0 with two TDs and a 113.9 QB rating for the Browns. I mention that because McCown was with the Bucs last year but was released to make room for Winston. A little ironic but in preseason, who cares. Tampa Bay's ground game was MIA with only 73 yards.

To make it a perfect 0-3 week for my pro teams, Atlanta lost 13-9 at Miami. What an exciting game. There was one TD scored. Atlanta's starting QB  Matt Ryan was sacked three times and was a dismal 3/7 for 49 yards.. 

There is still one more week of fake NFL games, at real game prices, before the games count. I'm hoping Jax, TB and Atlanta improve before then.

Can't wait for the colleges to crank it up. Tune in ESPN on Thursday to see the TCU Horned Frogs in action.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 0

It's that time of year again when zebras flip coins, blow whistles and throw flags. Words and phrases such as scrimmage, blitz, pick six, audible, shotgun and others fill the airways. Yup, it is football season once again.

There are a few teams I care about and during the season I will be recapping their exploits on the field. Those teams are broken down into high school: Bishop Kenny Crusaders, my alma mater and L.D. Bell Blue Raiders, the local school and son's alma mater. College: University of South Florida Bulls, my alma mater, University of Florida Gators, the team I've rooted for since my youth, and TCU Horned Frogs, the local university. Pros: Jacksonville Jaguars, my hometown team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, my college town, and Atlanta Falcons, a city I lived in for several years. I am also interested in the SEC conference.  A few other teams or important games will sneak into the narrative from time to time.

The high schools started either last week or this week. The colleges mostly start next week and the pros kickoff the regular season in two weeks. I haven't gone into the last couple of seasons with too much optimism. Kenny and TCU have been the only two teams that have had decent records. This year I expect Florida, Bell, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay to improve, it would be hard not to. TCU should be a top 10 team. Kenny is in a new small five team 5A district so only four district games this year. Bell is once again in a very tough 6A district that includes two perennial state champ contenders. 

Bishop Kenny is the only one of my teams that has played a game. They won at Orange Park 17-13 in a non-district game. I can't tell from the reports if this was a game that counts or a scrimmage. The Crusaders play at Bartram Trail today (8/28). Bell opens their season today at home against Keller.

Florida is predicted to finish in the middle of the SEC East. With a new coach, there is hope that there is improvement after the fairly dismal Muschamp era. Likewise, USF is projected to finish in the lower half of their conference. They too have not been stellar the last couple of years.
TCU meanwhile has been ranked #2 in the AP preseason poll. Hopefully they make it to the college football playoffs.The Frogs may be my shining star team this season.

I never expect too much in the pro ranks. Atlanta probably has the best chance to reach the playoffs from a weak NFC South division. I'm not optimistic though since the Falcons have been a disappointment lately. Tampa Bay had the #1 draft choice and used it on former FSU QB Jameis Winston. That should be an upgrade for the Bucs but you never know about rookies, especially when they have had behavior problems in college. There are still other weak areas on the team, like defense, but they should improve by at least a few games over their 2-14 record last season. Jacksonville has to improve from a 3-13  record right? QB Blake Bortles should be better but the Jags made no major additions to the roster. Maybe we can get four or five wins this year. 

So, let the games begin. It won't be until February 2016 before we know all the results.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Blunt Talk

I watched the premier episode of the new TV show Blunt Talk. It is the Patrick Stewart vehicle on Starz. Stewart plays a pompous cable news network commentator (Walter Blunt) who has numerous personal problems including alcoholism, drugs, several ex-wives and poor TV ratings. The first show opens with Stewart being arrested for DUI and solicitation of a transgender hooker. The rest of the show is about damage control and of course introducing several of the recurring players. The characters are mostly the crew that works on his TV show such as producer, writers, etc. Blunt also has a manservant who takes care of his every need. Apparently Harry, the servant/aide, and Blunt served in the British military together. Harry addresses Blunt as Major.

This is a very broad and over the top comedy. The arrest scene is way over the top as is the preparation and execution of Blunt's first show after the arrest. Some of it was funny and some was just so ridiculous it made me cringe. Blunt is so flawed and his staff so incompetent that it is impossible to believe he ever got his own network show or managed to stay out of jail.

There were a few subtle bits in this first show. Brent Spiner (Data on Star Trek NG) was the piano player in the bar Blunt got drunk in. Richard Lewis plays the psychiatrist which is ironic because Lewis is an emotional wreck in both his real life and stage persona. Blunt works for the UBS Network, the same network Howard Beale (Peter Finch) worked for in the movie classic Network.

Patrick Stewart can certainly play a pompous British character. I thought some of his comedy lines were delivered with an extra side of ham. As for the other players, none of them had much air time in this first episode except for Harry (Adrian Scarborough). I didn't recognize any of the regular members of Blunt's TV staff. 

It is always difficult to asses a new TV series from one episode, especially the premier show since valuable time is usually spent trying to establish the premise and the characters. I think this show has some potential so I will probably tune in for another episode or two. I'll reserve judgement and final grade for Blunt Talk until then.

If you are expecting a version of Jean-Luc Picard or some Shakespearean character from Sir Patrick Stewart you will be disappointed. On the other hand if you like your comedy lead to be of the scenery chewing variety you may enjoy this. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think. It's only a 30 minute show.


Windows 10 Second Impressions

When I last left you, I was just a few days into playing around with Windows 10. Since then I have continued to play with it. I am still not enamored with it although it is not terrible. I have used Win 10 probably a little more than expected because I am having problems getting Linux loaded on my new HP Pavilion x360. To be honest I haven't spent much time researching those problems. I have a little lack of incentive since I still have a working Linux Mint system. I also have not done extensive or structured testing on the Win 10 system, just day to day stuff that I normally do. I have mostly been using Chrome with a few detours to Firefox and Edge. I'll first address those items I outlined in my "First Impressions" post. Since the first review about two weeks ago there a have been a couple of automatic updates released by Microsoft. 

  • Secondary (child) menus don't appear to still open behind primary (parent) menus so maybe this is either fixed or I haven't recreated the exact same scenario. Maybe fixed.
  • Touchpad edge scrolling does still not survive a boot. Not fixed.
  • I haven't noticed the mouse pointer disappearing in Chrome windows. Maybe fixed.
  • Chrome is still slow, but so is most everything else.
  • I haven's started Internet Explorer 11 again so I'm not sure about any past problems. I don't expect to ever use IE. I never did on Win 7 or 8 except to download Chrome.
  • Cortana is still not great but seems better. To be honest I haven't used it much since Chrome is usually running and I can ask Google. It does respond to "Hey Cortana" now without having to click the microphone. She is still a little location challenged. When I ask what's the weather, I get the local weather. If I ask when is sunrise, I get search results for sunrise/sunset calendars, even if I ask when is sunrise in Bedford, TX. OK Google knows the correct answer.
  • Touchscreen is hit or miss with Chrome windows. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Touchscreen does work in other apps, including other browsers. Not fixed.
  • The task bar still does not appear sometimes when the pointer is dragged to the bottom of the screen. It also doesn't disappear sometimes when it should. Has happened with Chrome and Firefox. Not fixed.

  • As far as I can tell there are still no extensions or add-ons for Edge browser. That makes it unusable for me. Not fixed.
  • Long press on the "back" arrow still does not display a list of recent pages. So you still are limited to going back one page at a time. Not fixed.
  • I haven't imported any bookmarks again so I don't know if they still get imported backwards. There is still no option to import an exported bookmarks file. Still no bookmarks manager either. Not fixed.
  • I haven't noticed anymore clickable links that were not clickable. Fixed
  • Google Play Music, My Music still shows blank tab in Edge ( Other pages are OK but not my music library. Not fixed.
  • Google Blogger now works. No unsupported browser warnings and in the edit mode I can switch between Compose (plain text) and HTML modes. The edit tool bar is also visible. Fixed.
  • I haven't seen anymore pages that didn't render correctly so I'll say - Fixed.
Some new stuff cropped up as I puttered around Windows 10. I downloaded Firefox browser. It does not appear to run much differently from Chrome, maybe a touch faster. I have had a few problems with Firefox. It wants me to update Flash in order to run a few sites and wouldn't run the sites. I haven't done that yet. Chrome and Edge did not show that message and ran the sites just fine. I also had a problem with Secure Connections Peer Certification for some HTTPS: sites. Turned out to be a setting in my avast! security software. I didn't have that problem with Chrome or Edge. I don't know if it is a Mozilla or avast! problem or just an incompatibility. The problem and fix are documented on the Firefox support forum.

I cranked up Edge to see about some of my previous issues. See above about those. What I can say is that at least on  one night, Edge was running much faster with a couple of exceptions. Most sites and pages loaded pretty fast. Some of those notable exceptions were Google sites. Now I'm not saying Microsoft would purposely slow down a major competitor's sites but it is fairly easy to do. I remember back in the dark ages when I was coding operating system stuff we sometimes had to put timing tricks into our programs. We didn't do it to punish our competitors but rather to sync up devices that ran at different speeds and/or had no or limited buffering. OK, sometimes we would slow down some smart ass application programmer's stuff just to make him rethink his code and work harder. Never once his application got into production, then we helped tune it. I digress.

I have one more gripe. As I mentioned, Windows 10 has had some updates since it was released. The first one was very big. My problem is that I either missed the notification of the updates or there were no notifications. I learned they were there when I restarted or powered up my PC. Now updates are great particularly when they close security holes or fix usability bugs. They are not great when you need to fire up the PC and quickly get something done. It can take forever to download, install, reboot (maybe a couple of times) and load all the changes. I have mentioned this before, but I am spoiled by Linux. Every update is optional, you actually have to enter a password to install them. There are no giant cumulative updates with multiple components bundled together. Here's the other big advantage, with the exception of kernel updates, there are hardly any changes that require a system restart. I think it is about time for Microsoft to figure out how to upgrade software without these giant download, restart, update cycles. I hate when I want to quickly startup my PC and do something and it takes 10 or 15 minutes to boot because of Microsoft maintenance. Oh, and to make matters worse you get that "do not turn off your PC"  message on the screen. I have changed the option in the update & security settings to notify me to schedule a restart when system updates are available. Don't know if this will rectify the problem when I power on the PC. Just to make matters a little more exciting and unstable I also signed up for "Insider Builds". That's early receipt of updates and feature changes. Since Windows 10 is not my primary OS I figured it might be fun. 

Performance on Windows 10 seems to vary greatly from one day to the next. I know many things can contribute to that, some outside Windows, but I never noticed these fluctuations on other PCs or operating systems. I do tend to have the same apps and browser tabs open every day, so the workloads should be fairly consistent. I haven't done any in-depth analysis on this problem. 

Nothing has really changed since my first impressions. Windows 10 is probably OK if you just crank up a browser to do Facebook, Twitter and email. If you don't use any browser extensions you may even be able to use Edge. The other candidate for users would be those who like new, cutting edge, often aggravating stuff. If you need your PC to boot up and work as expected, maybe wait a little while longer before plunging into Windows 10.

Meanwhile, I'll be trying to figure out how to get Linux onto my HP x360. I can't blame those problems on Windows.

I'm sure there will be a third impression when things get better or worse with Windows 10.

Happy computing.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Overreaction? Of Course

Now that Bill Cosby has been exposed as the sexual predator that he was for decades, what should we do about it? 

Most if not all of his recent and upcoming appearances have been cancelled and I think that is a correct response. I don't think he will ever be invited to appear on another talk show or perform on TV or in a movie. I guess it is possible for Barbara Walters to come out of retirement or for Oprah, Diane Sawyer or Charlie Rose to do an "exclusive" interview with Cosby sometime in the future. It would be a highly promoted prime time special. 

Can any comedian now do a Cosby impression? Sometimes a Fat Albert or Jello commercial takeoff is just perfect for the occasion.Can any of us ever wear an ugly sweater again. 

Cosby's current mess is really not the point of this post. I'm wondering what we should do about all the work he did in the past. Whether you liked Cosby and his humor, you have to admit that he was one of the major stars of the late twentieth century. He was also still extremely popular in recent years. The guy could be damn funny. Maybe not in his actions in private, but on the stage, TV or movies. Besides being funny, he was also the first Black costar of a prime time network TV series in I Spy. He created and produced educational children's programming. Of course he also was the driving force behind one of the most popular and influential TV series, The Cosby Show.

So what do we do with the Cosby catalog of work? It includes books, albums, movies, concert videos, TV shows and who knows what else. Do we wipe all of them from history and pretend Cosby and his work never existed?  Do we punish all the innocent people that worked with Cosby over the years? TV Land has pulled The Cosby Show from its lineup. I understand that reaction, but I also realize that the others involved in that project will no longer receive residual payments. The company that syndicates those episodes receives no rental income. And yes, Bill Cosby will not be getting any new income either but he doesn't need the money. Some supporting or guest actors, a writer, a lighting director or dozens of others might need the extra income.

We can not simply erase the past just because new facts with a newer perspective come to light that make the old viewl less than acceptable or politically incorrect. Hitler happened, slavery happened, Native Americans were screwed by the whites, Jim Crow laws disenfranchised Blacks for decades, homosexuals were persecuted, the infirm and mentally challenged were imprisoned or left on their own, we invaded Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and an ever bigger number of other actions that no longer meet the standards of current thinking.

I suggest we separate the work from the man in the Cosby case. His career work has been outstanding, his private behavior has been criminal. His award winning comedy albums and TV programs should be widely available to us and future generations because many of them are brilliant. Maybe you'd feel better if reruns of his performances and TV shows were proceeded with a disclaimer stating that the star/creator/writer/producer of the following presentation was a serial rapist. 

We have to realize that morals and behavior of 1776 are different from 1876 that are different for 1976 and now 2015. Many of our founding fathers owned slaves but we don't demand the removal of Washington's or Jefferson's pictures from the $1 and $2 bills. Hitler was pretty much evil incarnated but we can still buy his book, Mein Kampf, or see his speeches on History Channel. Many politicians, movie stars and other powerful people were philanderers. Some still are. 

Many great people did terrible things and many terrible people did great things. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. It is all part of who we are and what makes up our world.

I am no Bill Cosby apologist and to be honest I thought much of his comedy and many of his performances were far less than great. I never watched The Cosby Show. Still, his body of work is far better than 99% of his peers and was enjoyed by millions. Condemn the man, not his work and the other people were part of that work. 


Windows 10 First Impressions

This is a short list of my impressions, problems and new features that I have encountered in my first few days with Windows 10. The PC is a brand new HP Pavilion x360 Convertible with a Celeron CPU, 4GB memory and 500 GB HDD. It came with Windows 8.1 installed. On Monday morning I got notification that the Windows 10 update was ready so I kicked it off. I did an upgrade, not a clean install. I didn't time it, but the upgrade took quite awhile. Although it seemed slow, there were no errors. When the upgrade completed, the system booted up fine and all my stuff was still there. 

To set a baseline, I had installed very limited software or loaded very few files to the 8.1 system. I did install the Chrome browser and avast! security/anti-virus. I was also not very impressed with the performance. I was not too concerned since I primarily use Linux Mint. I had not installed Linux since I knew the Windows 10 upgrade was imminent and I still have another working Mint PC. No sense complicating things. Once I am sure Windows 10 is solid, I will carve up the disk and install Linux Mint beside it. 

I will break this review up between Windows 10 and Edge, the new Microsoft browser.

Windows 10

  • Windows 10 does not appear any faster than 8.1 although I have not done any formal timings or benchmarks.
  • Some secondary (child) menus do not open on top (in front) of their primary (parent) menu. An example would be the advanced mouse properties window opens behind the Mouse & Touchpad Devices window.
  • Speaking of the touchpad, edge scrolling is not a default. I selected that option in settings and clicked apply and OK. That turned the edge scrolling on but the change was gone after a boot.
  • The pointer has disappeared at least twice in a Chrome window. If you move it around, the clickable fields will highlight and are indeed clickable. A restart of Chrome did not fix it. A reboot did bring back the pointer.
  • Chrome in general is slow.
  • Internet Explorer 11 showed as an unsupported browser in Blogger although it mostly worked. The "Preview" banner did not show when a post is previewed.
  • "Hey Cortana" is no "OK Google". It fails to use location on some queries when it would be appropriate. 
  • Cortana woke up a couple of times when I didn't ask her to. After reboot it didn't recognize any voice requests. Actually the microphone quit. Don't know yet if it's hardware or Win 10. It started working again, kind of. I have Cortana set to always listen but she doesn't. I have to click the microphone.
  • Touch screen stopped working in a Chrome window. Couldn't scroll or click. I'm getting the impression that Windows 10 does not like Chrome or anything Google. Touchscreen still worked in other windows.
  • Occasionally the task bar will not become visible (pop up). Minimizing or reducing the window on screen usually fixes problem. Again happens when Chrome is onscreen.
  • This is just my prejudice, but the hotkey to change from one desktop to the next is ctrl+Windows+arrow, the ctrl+alt+arrow changes the orientation of the screen (landscape, portrait, right side up, upside down). The Windows and alt keys are right next to each other plus, ctrl+alt+arrow changes desktops in most Linux distros. Needless to say I have hit the wrong combination several times.


  • Edge does not seem any faster than Explorer 11
  • There are no extensions yet for Edge. That is a real problem. No password managers, Pocket or Evernote clippers, etc. Once you use a password manager you tend not to remember passwords especially if you have the extension generate them. I'm sure most of us have browser extensions we can't live without.
  • Long press on the "back" arrow does not display a list of recent pages. You have to click the arrow to go back one page at a time.
  • Bookmarks imported from Chrome were backwards. Bookmark toolbar, folders, and sites within folders were reversed. z-a not a-z. There is no bookmark manager and no option to import bookmarks from an exported file. You can manually move sites/folders on toolbar or in bookmark the list, but that is tedious. I saw some posts where people used the Chrome or Firefox bookmarks manager to resort their favorites into descending order prior to importing to Edge. Seems like a like a pretty poor workaround and a major gap in the Edge product.
  • Clickable links on some sites/pages turned out to not be clickable. 
  • Google Play Music, My Music shows blank tab (
  • Google Blogger does not work. Post edit pages show only HTML, not plain text input. No text edit tool bar displayed. There is no button to change between raw HTML and plain text. This is make Blogger unusable unless you are a real nerd. I know HTML and sometimes use the raw HTML view to fix something Blogger didn't interpret correctly but it is damn tedious to produce a whole post in HTML.
  • A couple of web pages did not render correctly, at least the first try. The NWS forecast page was one (
This is by no means a thorough or complete list of problems. I'll update any problems that I find a solution or alternative for. 

Overall Windows 10 looks better than Windows 8 and eventually will probably be OK. I like the return of the start button and the ability to open multiple desktops. It's about time for that feature. If you come from a Unix, Linux or Mac environment you are probably used to this feature. I first used it in the early 90's on Unix workstations so you see Microsoft was very slow to the table. 

If you need a stable system I would suggest sticking with what you are currently running for a little while longer. If you are like me and don't mind tinkering with glitches and/or have a another stable real or virtual environment go ahead and take the plunge. I plan to play with Windows 10 stand alone for a couple more days before installing Linux Mint beside it on the new HP.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Very Random Thoughts - July 2015

  • Do some of these presidential candidates just enter the race so they can beef up their resume? I bet they leave off the adjective "delusional" when they list presidential candidate in the previous jobs section. 
  • Three pillars of country music are drinking, smoking and trucks. Will smoking soon fade from the music? Trains, an earlier staple, already have.
  • Why are we conducting or paying attention to presidential polls in the summer of 2015? The first primary (caucus) is February 2016 and the election is November 2016.
  • Remember when you were little and someone asked how old you were? You always made sure to add the ½ as soon as you could. I don't have any desire to add that ½ year anymore.
  • Never underestimate our ability to find some group to discriminate against.
  • It seems assholes and idiots get the most air time. 
  • I remember when funeral homes operated ambulances. Was that a conflict of interest?
  • Opinions rule and facts are subject to convoluted interpretations to support those opinions. 
  • On Facebook what does a "Like" really mean? Do you have to actually like the content of the post or can it also be an acknowledgement that you saw it?
  • If something is curated &/or artisanal be prepared to pay way more than it is worth. 
  • Nowadays the veneer is more important than the underlying structure to most people.