Friday, October 31, 2008

Bruin Basketball Update

Just a little update for UCLA fans. It's a bye week for football so we're allowed to look ahead a little bit to basketball. First of all, Pac-10 basketball media day was yesterday, and the press got to hear from coaches and staff of all ten teams about the state of the conference and of the outlook for the season.

The Pac-10 is facing a "rebuilding year" of sorts, if you will. That is, four out of the ten schools just hired new coaches. Of course, Oregon State suffered one of their worst seasons ever last year and Jay John was fired before the year was over. John has been replaced by some guy named Craig Robinson. Apparently Robinson's brother-in-law is none other than presidential candidate Barack Obama. Over at Cal, Bruce Boxleitner, errr, I mean Ben Braun, was let go last year after failing to live up to expectations. Mike Montgomery, legendary former coach of Stanford during the Dark Ages of Lavin, has returned to norcal to coach Stanford's rivals. As for Stanford, Montogmery could have returned there with the firing of Trent Johnson - though I don't know if he was offered - but ultimately it went to former NBA and Duke player Johnny Dawkins.

And of course, the fourth Pac-10 team to get a new coach was Arizona. If you haven't heard, that news broke just this past week, with the announcement that Lute Olson was retiring/stepping down after 25 seasons with the program. Not only is it bad for Arizona that they're losing their hall of fame coach that led them to the nation's longest steak of NCAA tournament appearances, but the timing is awful. The '08-'09 season is just a week away, if you count exhibition games, and Arizona has no better than an interim head coach, namely Russ Pennell. Worse, their top-flight commits for next year Abdul Gaddy, Mike Moser, and Solomon Hill, have all subsequently de-committed due to the uncertainty of the direction of the program. Gaddy has since committed to Washington.

Where's UCLA in all of this? Well, naturally we're above all this nonsense (this year). Coach Howland has really established something great with a national title appearance and subsequent back to back Final Fours. The coaching staff is intact and recruiting is very strong. Because of all this, the Bruins are ranked 1st in the conference media poll (which, admittedly, doesn't count for crap but it's good to see anyway). The rest of the poll is as follows:

The poll from the Pac-10 Media:

1- UCLA (37 first place votes- 379 points)
2- Arizona State (1 first place vote- 325 points)
3- USC (292 points)
4- Arizona (241 points)
5- Washington (217 points)
6- Washington State (188 points)
7- Oregon (147 points)
8- Cal (143 points)
9- Stanford (115 points)
10- Oregon State (40 points)

But how is the team REALLY looking? Well, first, here's the obvious: with the departure of Kevin Love to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lorenzo Mata to somewhere else, we once again lack size. Alfred Aboya will be expected to step up and play ~25 minutes per game, which will be split between the 4 and 5 spots. He will be required to cut down on playing out of control in order not to foul out in his first five minutes on the floor. James Keefe will likely take over at the 4 spot when Aboya's at the 5, and freshman J'Mison Morgan will back Aboya up. Speaking of Morgan, I'm hearing that while he's a solid player, he still has some ways to go before getting up to the level of toughness and strength expected from any Ben Howland player. Also on the topic of toughness, Nikola Dragovic is back again and he'll be expected to step up behind Keefe in the rotation and not be a weakling and make his damn shots like he's supposed to. And play defense. Drew "I'm 6-10" Gordon will be playing at the 5 when he goes in. When both Aboya and either Gordon or Morgan are in, Aboya will move to the 4.

Over in Guard land, Mike Roll has yet to completely heal after rupturing his plantar fascia for the 80 billionth time last year. While his contribution would be appreciated, I wouldn't really expect much from him this year. But I think that's okay, since this is a guard-heavy team. We've got Darren Collison and Josh Shipp returning as senior leaders. Collison will likely start at point guard (duh). One thing to note about Shipp, who has been kinda so-so these past couple of years, is that for the first time ever he's had the whole offseason to work out instead of rehabbing from one injury or another. This should work significantly to his - and the team's - advantage because for a Howland team, preparation (including off-season work) is key. Shipp will start at the 3 as he has been this whole time. I haven't heard much about Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee other than that Lee is suffering from a groin strain (ouch) and Anderson has just recovered from one. I don't really know what to say about that, really.

And of course, our #1 recruit, Jrue Holiday is meeting expectations and will likely start at the 2 spot.

The Bruins have been ranked 4th in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll behind #1 UNC Tar Trolls, #2 UConn Huskies, and the #3 Louisville Cardinal.

The first (exhibition) game is against California Baptist on 11/3/08 at 7:30 PM. It's not on TV but you can stream it live at (not for free). It requires Microsoft Silverlight.

Go Bruins!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Check this out, part 7

Ever try to get to a website and it's just not working? Well, I'm not sure what other people do in this situation, but the first thing I do is try to load it in a different browser. My main browser is Safari, so I try Firefox, then Camino, then Shiira. That basically eliminates the idea that it's Safari's fault.

By this time, I know that there's a problem with my router, modem, or ISP, or that the site is just down. So the next thing I do is go on AIM and ask a random friend if said site is down for him or her as well.

Well, what if all my friends are Away or just not online, as they so often are during this hour (9:30 Saturday morning)?

Enter "Down for everyone or just me?". Going to this website presents you with a simple, efficient box into which you type a website's address, press Return, and it will tell you whether the site is actually down (in which case you can stop wasting your time), or if it's "Just you," implying that there's some steps you can take to getting the site to work for you. Neat, huh?

Out of curiosity, and probably boredom as well, I typed in the site's own address into the box and pressed return. Nice touch. Heh heh.

Check it out!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Football and and Apple Store adventure

Well, it was an exciting finish to a tense, somewhat frustrating game. UCLA football improved to 3-4 on the season, making a comeback win against Stanford, 23-20. With just over 2 minutes left, down by 4, and inside their own 10-yard line, Kevin Craft and the struggling Bruin offense found a way to move the ball over 90 yards to get it in the end zone. It's great to see the team overcome this adversity to eke out another W.


I went to the Apple Store in Manhattan Beach yesterday, eager to see the new laptops announced at last week's event.

I immediately got distracted by the new nanos, which I still hadn't seen in person despite them being released a month ago. I have to say, they're amazingly small, and Apple didn't seem to waste any space on unnecessary casing. The device is tiny and I can fit a whole bunch of these in my pocket. The screen is sharp and vibrant. It still uses the Click Wheel that was first seen in the 4th Gen iPods, and it does a decent job navigating the device. The only problem I had was that the screen is too small, though for something that small at that price, what do you expect? Also, it was sometimes hard to make menu choices because I kept overshooting my target. I've gotten used to the superbly precise control of my iPod Touch, so going back to the click wheel would take some doing.

Now on to the new laptops. There is, of course, the Macbook (consumer/midrange) and the Macbook Pro (high end laptop). Both use the new "precision unibody aluminum" enclosure, and I have to say they're really a step up from anything else out there design-wise. When the lid is down, both of these look like oversized zen garden pebbles. And when I say oversized, I mean width and length. Thickness, not so much. They're a very impressive 0.95" thin.

Those who use laptops know that the standard mouse device is a trackpad with a button at the bottom (or two buttons on Windows PCs). Apple's thrown the paradigm out the window but eliminating the button. That is, there's no button at the bottom, but the entire trackpad is a button! See it for yourself! I was a little skeptical about this at first, but after trying it, it's really intuitive and not at all difficult to get used to, especially if you're used to using a mouse. You move your finger across the trackpad to point to what you want to, and then click your finger right where it is. No need to use a separate finger to find the button at the bottom to click.

Swipe two fingers to scroll up and down through windows, and click with two fingers for a right click. Pinch in and out to zoom and rotate your fingers in a circular motion to rotate what's on the screen, just like on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Swipe left or right with three fingers to change apps (like your cmd-tab or alt-tab on Windoze). Swipe upwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show the Desktop. Swipe downwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show all open windows. There are even more, but I don't know what they are at this point.

Not only are these controls very neat and easy to use, but they're also very very useful and they increase productivity. How? Well, they take the place of time-consuming keystrokes. I'm very amazed at the way Apple just keeps innovating.

One problem I had with the regular Macbook (but not so much the Macbook Pro) was the limited viewing angle. If I moved off to the side a couple of inches, the image got distorted pretty quickly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Check this out, part 6

I may or may not make a full post on the new Macbooks and Macbook Pros, but you can go to sites such as MacRumors, AppleInsider, TUAW, and of course to find out more. But there's a really awesome video that they made to show off the new laptop, and no matter what you think, it's a pretty amazing video.

Check it out at:
(Requires Quicktime, which, dammit, you need to have anyway)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A warning to all newspaper thieves

I walked outside to the driveway this morning and I was greeted by a rather amusing surprise. Usually they just use that strong, translucent, threadlike plastic-y band to keep the pages of the newspaper together. On rainy days, they add in a plastic slip cover to prevent water damage to the paper. But today was the first time I'd seen it: a third level of added security! I was amazed and even a little cautious, taking a couple looks around me before picking it up even though it was my paper. Ultimately I now feel much safer and more secure in knowing that my morning papers will no longer be stolen.

(click photo to see full size)

Beware, newspaper thieves! Beware!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Steve Jobs acting

For those five of you who don't know who Steve Jobs is, he's the CEO of Apple, Inc. You know, the company that makes iPods and iPhones and the best operating system in the world.

Well, here he is at the 2007 MacWorld Expo showing off the (then new) iPhone. I just happened to pause the video while he was making this kind of half-smirk, and I said "Hey, where'd Steve go? How did they get Robert DeNiro on stage??"