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Sound: "no sndstat device", yet there it is

According to the howto I'm following (sortta - it appears to be out of
date, maybe?), I'm supposed to be able to give the command "cat
/dev/sndstat" and get a list of info on my sound card. Yet when I try, I
get "cat: /dev/sndstat: No such device". Yet when I do an "ls -l
\dev\snd*" I get:
   crw-rw----   1 root     audio     14,   6 Oct  1 16:46 /dev/sndstat
which is pretty much what the howto suggests I should get.

If I run "saytime" or play some other sound utility, etc,  I hear a dit,
like something's being played VERY fast, so I suspect it may be related
to an IRQ conflict or something, but this is a PCI card (ES137x) which I
thought was more or less PnP. Of course I'm still very green in
LinuxLand, so it could be something very simple that I'm
stupidly/ignorantly overlooking.

Apparently the dmesg "queue" has been replaced with other system events
since the last reboot; is there anyway I can get to that information
without rebooting (after all, reboots are for that other OS...)?

Thanks for any help!

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