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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Okay, I'm pissed now.

Can I rant for a bit on Microsoft? (Which will probably cause a flock of nerds to come here and follow suit on the basis of that phrase alone, but whatever.)

Occasionally Windows will download updates, and some of these will require a reboot. Most of the time, I'm told that I have updates, I can start the process of installing them, and when they're installed I'm told I have to reboot to complete the process. Often I'm nagged on this point every five to ten minutes or so. However, when the updates are more critical than critical, Windows downloads and installs it itself, then just up and spontaneously reboots at 3 AM with no warning. (No word if the phone rings at Hillary Clinton's house when that happens.)

Now, I routinely leave my computer running for days, weeks, even months on end, often with several files open. It's not a big deal that my computer will spontaneously reboot with Office programs, since they have AutoRecover (although Publisher 2003's is iffy at best), but Notepad files are not so lucky. And while many of you might say that it's unwise to leave my computer running for so long with files open and unsaved for so long, that doesn't justify Microsoft discriminating against people like me in such a... pissing-off manner. Especially when laptops encourage the practice by allowing you to simply close them instead of actually shutting down. I don't like finding myself comparing Microsoft to someone hacking into my system and controlling it from afar, and I doubt Microsoft does either.

Windows' "I'm sorry" message after rebooting reads as follows: "Windows recently downloaded and installed an automatic security update to help protect your computer. This update required an automatic restart of your computer." If this update is so important, shouldn't I get some sort of warning that my computer is going to reboot itself without an opportunity to save my files? I don't even have a clue about it unless I happen to catch the little "downloading updates" indicator appear in the systray, and then don't dismiss it since nothing else comes of it. Shouldn't I at least get a notification when the installation is complete telling me my computer is going to reboot at 3 AM? One that isn't tucked underneath the arrow to open the whole systray, but that actually pops up while I'm working? I understand that some people like me might decide to try to push back the reboot, but can't you just tell them that the computer is going to reboot and to start saving files? Better yet, be as obnoxious about it as for your less critical updates?

(I'm actually okay with Windows and Office otherwise. I'm morally opposed to monopolies on principle, but I've used Windows for years and I'm not likely to gleefully switch to Mac anytime soon, and I doubt many Office imitators have as many features as Office.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The 2008 Mid-Major Conference

Refer to this post if you don't know what this is about or to catch up on the rules.

This year, four conferences produced multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament: the MWC, WCC, A-10, and Sun Belt. These conferences are guaranteed one spot each in the Mid-Major Conference.

Four teams reached the Sweet 16, all from different conferences. Of these, Davidson and Memphis did not come from a multi-bid conference, while Western Kentucky and Xavier did. From the Mountain West Conference, one team won its first round game while the other did not; from the West Coast Conference, one team won its first round game while the other two did not.

This leaves two spots in the MMC to be determined by my discretion, with no conference restrictions.

Without further ado, the eight members of the 2008 Mid-Major Conference:

Xavier (Atlantic 10)
Western Kentucky (Sun Belt Conference)
Davidson (Southern Conference)
Memphis (Conference USA)
UNLV (Mountain West Conference)
San Diego (West Coast Conference)
Butler (Horizon League)
Drake (Missouri Valley Conference)
Honorable Mentions: Illinois State, Kent State, Akron

The NIT didn't really produce much in the way of MMC contenders - the only teams to make the second round from conferences without automatic qualifying procedures were Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Creighton, and Akron. All lost. That's barely further than any remaining team in the NCAA tournament, all but guaranteeing Butler a spot - but Drake bowed out in the first round of the NCAAs to Western Kentucky. Those NIT teams lost in a round one-fourth the size of the round Drake lost in. After such a strong performance all season, Drake very easily could have been passed over within its own conference. But the only other mid-major team to win in the first round was Siena, which falls under the Northwestern State rule (one lucky win doesn't get you an MMC ticket). George Mason or Virginia Commonwealth would have made the honorable mention list if VCU wasn't beaten by another mid-major (UAB) in the NIT first round or if Mason was as strong an at-large contender as Drake.

Kent State came the closest to knocking off Drake. Love it or hate it, teams that make long NIT runs can only compete for MMC bids with teams that were better in the conference tournament if they were robbed of an NCAA bid. Unlike Appalachian "upset-Michigan" State last year, Akron was nowhere near NCAA territory and Illinois was a bubble team when Drake was a lock. And since Drake and Kent State had the same level of tournament success, and Drake was a 5 seed to Kent State's 9 seed, Drake pretty much has to get the nod (even though you could penalize it for losing to a 12 seed to KSU's 8 seed, but even then Drake lost close while UNLV blew out Kent State).