Monthly Archives: September 2011

Today’s NCAA FB roundup — reactions to Buckeyes andUSC; required NCAA FB reading

I watched bits of LSU/WVU (LSU is my #1), Toledo/Syracuse, ND/Pitt, UW/Cal. But key games I watched yesterday were OSU and USC.

* OSU is in for a tough year. Yes they tackled better yesterday, but it was Colorado. If we give up 17 to Colorado, we will give up 24+ to MSU/Nebraska/Wisconsin, and the OSU offense does not have the firepower to score enough against those teams. I’m glad Braxton and other young players are getting the reps, this is a team for next year.
* USC shot themselves in the foot over and over again, and Erickson was clearly the best coach out there. The ASU offensive game plan and adjustments were very effective and USC could never crack it.

On broader college football issues, if you haven’t already seen the below, read immediately. As money continues to pour into the sport, the issues discussed are going to become more prominent, not less.

* If you haven’t already read the “the Quad’s story on college football fan distribution”:http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nyt%2Frss%2FSports+%28NYT+%3E+Sports%29&seid=auto&smid=tw-nytimessports, do so. Excellent explanation of the market facts underpinning realignment chaos.
* “Study about poverty and student-athletes (PDF)”:http://assets.usw.org/ncpa/The-Price-of-Poverty-in-Big-Time-College-Sport.pdf. Excellent, record revenues and expenditures in college football, but many players struggle.
* Of course. the “Atlantic article”:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/8643/ on the inherently corrupt economics of college football.

And on a lighter note, “Matt Sarz’s TV listings”:http://mattsarzsports.com/football2011.aspx. Finding USC on the Root network last night was tricky.

Dan Lyons skewering of F8 and F8 coverage is brilliant — read it and read it again.

“All of life has been utterly, profoundly changed thanks to Facebook’s new feature”:http://realdanlyons.com/blog/2011/09/23/all-of-life-has-been-utterly-profoundly-changed-thanks-to-facebooks-new-changes-and-nothing-will-ever-be-the-same-and-all-i-can-do-is-sit-here-and-weep-at-the-beauty-and-magic-that-mark-zuckerber/ — well this is just awesome. Read it, and read it again.

I guess this resonates so much with me because I’ve been in the software industry now for 30 some years and man, the number of times I have seen something that “changes everything” — this happens at least several times a year. And more often than not, it doesn’t change everything. Some products are quite impactful — say the original Mac or the iPad, or Windows 95, or Visicalc, or many others — but they didn’t change everything, they aged and expired, and they all were heavily influenced by work ahead of them. Facebook is great and the new features look fine, but my life isn’t going to flip upside down. And I am deeply suspicious of handwavers telling me “This changes everything” — I usually find that they can’t really articulate what exact customer problem they are solving, and that the product probably doesn’t really change anything important.

Lyons’s skewering is more directly aimed at the trade press/bloggers. It is easy to write “Wow this changes everything” but I expect to see a little more depth and thought, I generally find sites like TechCrunch to be uninteresting — it is obvious they need to whack articles out fast. Lyons’ article had 100x the insight of any of the main press sites covering F8.

Using the WatchESPN iPad app, and it is not bad. Worth an install.

Following up on my last post about “my college football digital media setup”:http://theludwigs.com/2011/09/my-college-football-digital-media-setup/, I’ve been playing around with the WatchESPN app and it is not bad, if you are on a supported carrier you can watch reasonable quality video over a wifi connection. I use it at home to keep tabs on a second game while watching a primary game on the TV, but I can use it on any wifi connection anywhere, not just at home. Still waiting for the BTN2GO app that has been promised.

Some people have suggested sites like http://www.bahistv.tk/ for watching feeds. This is one of many sites that attempts to find you a live feed of various sports content. In desperation it might be useful, but the signals are generally standard def and laggy/lossy at that. So it is useful to me in the same way that Skype is useful — if you are making an overseas call, where costs are high and quality is iffy, then Skype is super useful. For domestic calls where the incremental cost of a call is $0 and quality is good, Skype is of little utility. So with these video sites — if I don’t have access the content on a domestic cable/satellite carrier, then it is useful. But will never be my preferred choice because the quality is so poor.

Recent Books — Ready Player One, Map of Time, Marooned in Realtime, Hex

A bunch of ferry line reading:

* “Ready Player One”:amazon by Ernest Cline. The first quarter was awful as the author has the characters painfully explain his world to us. After that a fun romp. But ultimately forgettable. Amazon says 4.5 stars, that is a little crazy, 2 stars in my book
* “The Map of Time”:amazon by Felix J. Palma. H. G. Wells muses on time travel, and his novel “The Time Traveller” creates a furor of public interest. Wells finds himself drawn into several fraudulent time travel scams, though one of the scams has a noble romantic goal. Actual time travelers arrive on the scene, some with good intent and some with criminal intent, to further complicate the story. The threads are all nicely tied together. Amazon says 3.4 stars, I’d go 4 stars.
* “Marooned in Realtime”:amazon by Vernor Vinge. Not sure how I missed this one, very nice tale of conspiracy and far future society. Amazon says 4.5 stars, I’d say 4.
* “Hex”:amazon by Allen Steele. Bad science fiction. Terrible characters, ridiculous plot devices. The only vaguely entertaining part is the discussion of a Dyson sphere, but go read “Rendezvous with Rama”:amazon or “Ringworld”:amazon if you like thinking about aliens and massive engineering feats. Amazon says 4 stars, this is a 1 star book.

Ifttt.com and platform reminiscing

I’m playing around with ifttt.com and it is intriguing. I remember an earlier effort, yubnub, that I always found compelling. A general script interface to all my Internet data and services so that I can do interesting things across sites seems good.

I remember the evolution of Lotus Notes. A super general collab platform that let you store anything, write nice scripts and forms on top of it. The generalness of the platform was appealing and a certain set of early adopters went for it. But there were many more customers who didn’t want to create their own collaboration apps, but needed some pre-built apps. And so then Lotus made the “nifty fifty” most popular apps available — email, calendaring, candidate tracking, simple CRM, etc etc etc. And that was good, and more customers bought it. But ultimately Notes got washed out of the market by Microsoft Exchange, for many many reasons. But one simple view is that, while Exchange was a collab platform too (although terrible to code against), Exchange really focused on the high volume apps of mail and scheduling and just made those apps work. And that is all most people really needed.

Competitively the ifttt.com guys need to be very cognizant of cherry picking. While it is great they have hundreds or thousands of canned scripts, I don’t need hundreds, I only need a couple. And that is probably true for most users. And if the couple that people need a common across large groups of users, then some competitor can sweep in and just do those couple scenarios really really well and ifttt.com will remain a niche tool. I’d bet that they will have to build a lot more code on top of their platform to make sure that the top scenarios are really slick and easy to use, to avoid losing users to alternatives.

For instance I can already pretty easily use a wordpress plugin to MIRV content over to twitter and then to facebook. Will I flip over to ifttt.com for this or will I keep using the solution that someone has polished and made fit into wordpress? I suspect I’ll use the one that fits really well in wordpress. Now if the ifttt.com guys wrote the code to provide an ifttt.com plugin for wordpress, that would be interesting…

Apple is the new Honda

Nice writeup of “Apple’s manufacturing/supply advantage vs the PC OEMs”:http://daringfireball.net/2011/09/new_apple_advantage. Reminds me very much of the way Honda and Toyota crushed the American car manufacturers in the 70′s and 80′s — GM in particular had overly complex product lines, cars with a gajillion options. Honda came in with a simple model, no options, and great great quality, and just crushed GM in core markets. Product line complexity comes at a huge cost, Apple is playing this hand well.

Today is why college football rules

OSU’s win in doubt until the last play. 3 game winning TDs in the last 90 seconds of the Michigan-ND game. Iowa-Iowa State overtime. USC preserves win on the last play of the game…and are credited with 6 more points hours later. And a half dozen other close games.

ND and Georgia’s seasons are on the rocks. Michigan is resurgent. Wisconsin looks like a title favorite. The highs and lows in the sport are so intense.

There are so many things wrong with the structure of the sport…but my gosh, Saturdays are awesome.

My college football digital media setup

Well thank goodness we are playng football again! The worst offseason ever is over and the Buckeyes are back to their old ways, throttling the lesser teams of the Midwest. Despite having a new coach, new QBs, and 7-8 players sitting on the sidelines due to various infractions, the team looked very good against an admittedly overmatched Akron squad. Bauserman was way more mobile than we thought, Braxton Miller played well, new receivers arose and made some stellar grabs, the running game was fine, and the defense looked like another very good Buckeye defense. And Fickell seems to have the program under control, no rampant chaos due to the coaching change. Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa also looked strong against overmatched foes, should be a great race for the title this year.

Of course when you think football, you immediately think about getting all your digital media football assets in order for the season! Because it is not enough to just watch the games, you need to monitor 3 more simultaneously on your tablet and phone, you need to be reading the tweet stream, you need to participate in pools or other contests, etc. Here’s my lineup:

* Newspapers. The “Dispatch”:www.dispatch.com has always been the paper of record for OSU football but…the “Plain Dealer”:www.Cleveland.com has really upped it’s game. With some staff transitions happening at the Dispatch, I’m finding the PD to be the best read of the old guard so far this season.
* Blogs and new media. There are a lot of OSU blogs and to be honest they are somewhat repetitive — AlongTheOlentangy.com, ElevenWarriors.com, MenOfTheScarletAndGray.com, OurHonorDefend.com, TheBuckeyeBattleCry.com, DuaneLongReport.com, and more. I have all these in my Google Reader setup and they are all useful but I rarely read them all. Then there are the other college football blogs which cover the entire sport — “Dr. Saturday”: http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/blog/doc_saturday/rss.xml and “Every Day Should Be Saturday”:http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/ are reliably the best but there are millions. And millions that cover other teams. The Michigan blogs used to be entertaining but with the collapse of Michigan football, they have lost their edge.
* BCS polls. My “Blogroll” (that name should be retired) has links to all the BCS computer polls so that I can watch those by the second. And “BCS Guru”:http://www.bcsguru.com/bcs_standings.htm for computed projections of BCS standings.
* “Yahoo Pickem”:http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/college for engaging with communities in a competitive way
* Twitter follows. The top sports writers, on air sports reporters, and bloggers are worth following — @edsbs, @smartfootball, @BCSfootball, @PlaybookMark, @HuskySportsNow, @Andy_Staples, @IntelligentCFB, @MrCFB, @Nastinchka, @CornNation, @Adam_Jacobi, @ChipBrownOB, @PreSnapRead, @CharlesRobinson, @JayBilas, @PeteThamelNYT, @DanWetzel, @rollerCD, @espn4d, @LoriSchmidt, @GerdOzone, @brdispatch, @greggdoyelcbs, @ramzyn, @dennisdoddcbs, @slmandel, @marcushartman, @PDBuckeyes, @Ivan_Maisel, … Oh gosh i probably forgot a ton.
* I’ve cleared 4 slots on my iPhone home screen for sports apps. ESPN Scorecenter for scores, tho they can get awfully behind on peak Saturdays. Yahoo Sportacular as a backup, and I like Yahoo’s in game visualization a little better. SB Nation for access to commentary and community during the week, tho I am not overwhelmed with the app yet. CFStats for detailed stats — this app is comprehensive but quite slow. I will look to change this lineup during the season as I try out more apps.
* On the iPad, the HD versions of Scorecenter and Sportacular.
* Video. Of course I have Comcast at home so I can get games in HD realtime. Also trying to get WatchESPN on the iPad to work tho having some difficulties proving to it that I have a subscription with one of the supported providers. And also BTN2Go which also doesn’t seem to like Comcast at this point. XfinityTV on the iPad unfortunately doesn’t seem to let you watch live sports.
* Google SMS. When I am in Ohio Stadium or another crowded venue, and data services have been crushed by the load, and voice is nearly crushed, I can sometimes squeak out SMS queries for scores, so I have this in my contact list. The score update app of last resort.

OK with all this in place, I am ready for the season!