Thursday, June 22, 2006

Linux, Soccer - the Metric System?


Ghana gana a EEUU

Well - so much for the U.S.A. in this 2006 World Cup. We had some exciting moments - in particular in the Italy match. There is lots of discussion about firing Coach Bruce Arena. There's complaints about the referee's calls. (Mark Cuban might take some solace in knowing he's not the only one complaining!)

But today's all about the Black Stars from Ghana - in their very first World Cup appearance. This win means so much more to them as players, their country & Africa - as the sole remaining African team than it does to disappoint us. And they played beautifully throughout the group round. Congratulations, Ghana. Well done and good luck against Brazil.

There's really no alternative as a U.S. Soccer fan - might as well be philosophical about our early exit. It was a great feat to make it to the World Cup to begin with. We tied a European perennial contender on European soil. And we finally scored a goal on our own today. And it was an MLS star who did it - Clint Dempsey. It's not all bad news.

Linux & Ubuntu

I'm posting this entry on my old computer. It's 6 years old - ancient in computer-years. I've installed Ubuntu LInux on it - a distribution of Linux that's based on Debian - which was concocted by an American - Ian Murdock - back in 1993 - but has been worked on collaboratively ever since with help from programmers all over the world. Ubuntu was begun as an effort to make an Open Source desktop OS available that's relatively simple to install & use for non-techies around the world. And it was started by a very successful South African businessman by the name of Mark Shuttleworth. "Ubuntu" is the South African philosophy of humanity to others.

I mention all of this techie stuff because I draw certain very loose connections between the popularity of Soccer as a sport here stateside with Open Source Software. (Humor me, here, patient readers.) Folks here have tasted the greatness of the sport through our national team's qualifying matches, the 1994 World Cup, the MLS, & the 2002 World Cup Quarterfinals. In a country where football, baseball, basketball, even golf & hockey are so dominant - it's a real accomplishment to get a small percentage of interested spectators. And what that percentage represents is a very vocal & passionate group of outsiders who are thirsty for soccer - its uninterrupted play, agility, athleticism. As fans, they are the types that make up the feverish ranks of Sam's Army, & locally, the Inferno.

I see the same kind of enthusiasm from users of Open Source software. They're interested in something besides the dominant operating systems. They first tasted Open Source goodness within their commercial OS desktops with the Firefox browser. And this is where I started. Having used Firefox in place of Internet Explorer since 2002, I became very interested in trying out Linux. It was the first time I saw how advantageous not having the limits of proprietary software was to being stuck with the same ole, same ole.

Joga Companion

Along came Ubuntu in 2004 & my old Sony VAIO PC (from 2000) was so sluggish running Windows XP that - not having anything to lose - I installed Ubuntu Linux over Windows on it. It has been challenging but fun - much like following soccer in the World Cup. The passionate fans of both Linux & Soccer are a big part of why I have enthusiasm for both groups of outsiders.

South Africa 2010

The next World Cup happens to take place in South Africa - the land of Ubuntu, the Truth & Reconciliation Committee, Endless Summer surf adventures & Nelson Mandela. This will be the first time a World Cup has been held anywhere on the continent of Africa - a milestone without parallel. (I give FIFA credit for awarding it to South Africa. The Olympics have some catching up to do!)
I'm hoping WAY ahead of schedule that our U.S. squad qualifies for this 2010 World Cup. I think it'll take the continued success of Major League Soccer & its expansion into Canada & the inclusion of Mexican League teams, Youth Soccer, Americans playing in Europe, and who knows what else - Freddy Adu will be of drinking age!

I've never followed the different international soccer leagues - Spain's Primera Division, the Bundesliga, Serie A Italia, the English Premiership. But it would be nice to, at the very least, follow our American players playing abroad. Who knows - maybe the MLS could start a European team like Chivas Mexico did with the MLS. And I know the Redbulls will be trying to pull another NY Cosmos in the coming seasons.

My pal Chris has fallen head over heels with Arsenal & following the English League. He loves how teams must fight to stay in their division season-to-season. That makes every game count. It's a real embrace of free market values in Europe that perhaps MLB & the NFL could learn from - a funny lesson to learn from Europeans admittedly.

I'm also hoping that Ubuntu or some other Open Source platform finds great popularity among desktops here stateside & throughout the world. No - not quite ready to embrace the Metric System - but I'll put it up for consideration.