Category: Link

Communication at GitHub and the Sparano Scale™

Two links; ribbed, for your pleasure.

The first one is a list of 15 rules for communicating at GitHub. Like everything else involved in communication, they’re not hard and fast rules, but they’re well-written and I consciously try to follow some of them at my own workplace. That link is here: http://ben.balter.com/2014/11/06/rules-of-communicating-at-github/

The second link is a bit sillier: it’s a way to categorize everything ever into four easy-to-remember categories: Not Good™, which implies that a thing is so bad as to not even be considered good (this is the second-largest category); Not Great™, which implies that a thing has good qualities but has not jumped the fence (this is the largest category); Good™, which implies a thing is overall pleasing and positive but may have minor flaws or mistakes (the second-smallest category); and Great™, which implies a fantastic idea, masterful execution, and being near what you might consider perfection (which is not a Category™ but you might push it yourself). That link is here: http://oxidedesign.com/the-sparano-scale/

Enjoy.

“Baseball is boring.”

So I found this article in the Atlantic that takes a bunch of baseball stats, does some analysis on them, and basically sets out to explain why baseball is becoming less and less interesting, and why less and less people are tuning in to watch it. You can find that link here.

It’s a fine article. It makes some good points. I don’t fully disagree with it. I showed it to my dad, and he had some strong opinions on it, and I wanted to post them because I think they’re really interesting to read through. My dad’s been watching and listening to baseball since he was a kid, so he has a wider perspective on this. I’ll let him do the talking (barely edited for clarity).

I read this and wanted to reach through the screen to punch the writer.  Yes, power numbers are down and it can be attributed to fewer juiced batters.  Also, more interleague play takes a few DHs out of at-bats.  Yes, umpires are calling the “low” strike more consistently, but there are players (like Matt Adams in St. Louis) that are not only accustomed to the low strike, they thrive on it.  The strike zone means nothing in this equation.  The near-extinction of gorilla ball is a difference maker.  Someone in the comments [of the Atlantic article] made mention of aluminum bats, but with the BBCOR standards, alloy bats play like wood.  There’s an outcry about the lack of home runs in college ball, particularly the CWS.  People don’t want to see refined pitching, speedy defenses, and calculated risks.  They want cavemen with clubs.

As to the popularity, baseball is not a violent game.  Football is.  Americans like violence.  With the rules changes that nearly eliminate home plate collisions, you make the play at the plate less exciting, less chest-thumping.  There is more of an emphasis on speed and defense.  You’ve heard, perhaps, of Whitey Herzog, onetime manager of Kansas City and St. Louis.  Hey built his teams around a philosophy that has come to be known as “Whiteyball.”  You’ve heard of Moneyball, this is similar.  Pitchers pitch to contact, defense is fast and agile.  You had players like Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr, Terry Pendleton, and Vince Coleman—players whose first step was so quick that they could chase down a ball and make a play no matter where it was.  On the offense, guys drew walks, infield singles, then stole bases.  Station-to-station baseball.  Even catchers bunted.  There was the occasional Jack Clark, the power threat at first base, but mostly small-ball.  I once watched a game where Vince Coleman walked to start the game, stole second on the next pitch, and scored on an infield single (yes, infield, yes, from second) by Willie McGee.  Seven pitches into the game, one run and no outs with no balls leaving the infield.  It’s hard to defend raw speed.

One of the less-talked-about things that hurts baseball is radio.  You can’t miss a day without a baseball game on cable.  But if you don’t have cable, that dynamic is different.  If you go back in time when baseball had fewer teams and more dedicated fans, the difference was radio.  Yep, yep, yep—radio.  If you couldn’t be at the game, you listened to it on the radio.  Nowadays there are few games on the radio.  More emphasis is put on TV and streaming media.  You don’t reach the impoverished areas of southwest Detroit, south Chicago, or south-central Los Angeles with streaming media.  You reach it with radio.  Satellite radio has games on all the time—for a price.  I don’t know too many ten-year-olds that have satellite radio.  Even fewer who listen to ballgames with their dad.

MLB already has gone to a flat-seamed ball.  It reduces the break on a curve.  Makes it easier to hit.  In the 70s, they made the mound shorter, made it easier for batters to see and catch up with the fastball.  I think dropping the mound too much makes this look like slow-pitch softball.

No national stars?  Sure there are, one for every team.  The problem is that there was an era of expansion in which there were barely enough players to staff and now there is a dilution of talent between Low-A, High-A, AA, AAA, Fall League, Winter Ball, and The Show.  There are sooooo many players out there that need reps and exposure and to play.  It’s hard to have a star when you have four guys able to take his position if he gets the sniffles.  Last year, Matt Adams was hitting .485 after about 100 at-bats and was not playing every day.  The Cards also had the highest scoring offense in the NL.  Everybody was producing.  Adams had an 0-fer and sat out three days.  Meanwhile, Allen Craig had an historic season.  Two guys nobody had heard of last year ended up being just what the team needed—after letting Carlos Beltran go in the offseason and trading David Freese (yes, World Series hero) a season after letting MVP Albert Pujols go.  Stars are expensive and mobile.  If you develop, you don’t need stars, you’ve got a guy at AAA on speed dial.

This turned into more of a rant than I had expected.  I, for one, enjoy the calculated chess match that is current major-league ball.  20-16 games devastate pitching staffs and can ruin a road trip.  4-3 games over after 2 ½ hours are thrilling.  I like football and hockey, but baseball will always be my true love.

The second-to-last paragraph is probably my favorite, and I think contributes heavily to the problems facing the MLB. Name recognition is hard enough with huge rotating staffs, let alone guys that switch teams. There are relatively few interesting plays (as in Whiteyball) because everyone is just that consistent and good. They have to be, or they won’t be in the majors long.

I have a lot of trouble watching baseball on TV. Even if it’s one of my teams! This is the saddest thing to me. Three years ago, I was watching a World Series game — a World Series game! — in which my Cardinals were playing, and it was a close game… and I was drifting off every ten minutes as the game dragged on for more than four hours.

Maybe I’m just not patient. Maybe I’m not a “true fan.” But heck if I am going to try extraordinarily hard to watch a sport on TV if I’ve gotta hit the caffeine just to make it through.

Buying a new desktop

My old laptop is hitting it hard, and with the eventual move to an apartment with a bigger desk, I decided to build a new computer for myself, as a good-job-saving-your-paychecks reward. Just wanted to briefly talk about it here, since I think I got a pretty good deal on it and it was fun to put together. A friend of mine knew what to look for and was generally very helpful and good company; good job Tom.

I already had a monitor / keyboard / mouse so those weren’t an issue, which helped, but I put together a pretty quick rig for about $700, which was perfectly reasonable (and is relatively easy to expand in the future).

The case was honestly just a regular bargain case that the motherboard would fit in. It was a tight fit but it works fine. I didn’t need no damn flashy case, nor would I want to order anything but black, given the chance.

The motherboard I understand less about. According to some sources on the internet, it has a good cost/power ratio, and is relatively modern. I also may have gotten some deal on it; it’s currently out of stock which makes me think there was some special going on.

The graphics card is (if I remember right) the same card Tom has in his case (or perhaps a model newer). Again, good cost/power ratio. New cards are always overpriced and old cards, well, are old. Thus far it plays every game I’ve tried on maximum settings (Crysis 2 being the most significant, but it ran on all Ultra settings!).

The power supply is a power supply. It specifically is about 1.5x the power consumption of everything in the box, and that’s really it.

The CPU computes things and doesn’t afraid of anything. I don’t know a lot about these numbers either. This and the motherboard were the difficult ones.

The SSD stores things. SSDs are the way of the future, and it’s seriously noticeable how quick it is. Windows boots in seconds here where it can take twenty minutes to uncork itself on my big laptop. It’s not huge but I don’t need the space yet and storage is always getting cheaper (and can be increased without any real problems).

The RAM is big. I don’t think there is much finesse to purchasing RAM. You just want more of it. The motherboard has room for twice as much as is in it now, so this is again easily upgradeable.

My first, big Asus laptop I named “George,” sarcastically, because my dad made fun of me when I first got it in the vein of Lenny from Of Mice and Men, or really the abominable snowman from Looney Tunes (specifically the quote “and I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George!”). When I got my netbook, George Jr. (or most accurately george-jr, no spaces or periods allowed) was the most obvious next name. So what’s the name of this new desktop, the fastest thing I’ve owned?

King George.

If all stories were written like science fiction stories

[I was linked to this at the following address: http://lpix.org/sslptest/index.php?id=224 which is apparently a snapshot of an older site, linked on the page. The text is short enough that I’m going to post it here, as well. The story is credited to Mark Rosenfelder.]

Roger and Ann needed to meet Sergey in San Francisco. 

“Should we take a train, or a steamship, or a plane?” asked Ann. 

“Trains are too slow, and the trip by steamship around South America would take months,” replied Roger. “We’ll take a plane.” 

He logged onto the central network using his personal computer, and waited while the system verified his identity. With a few keystrokes he entered an electronic ticketing system, and entered the codes for his point of departure and his destination. In moments the computer displayed a list of possible flights, and he picked the earliest one. Dollars were automatically deducted from his personal account to pay for the transaction. 

The planes left from the city airport, which they reached using the city bi-rail. Ann had changed into her travelling outfit, which consisted of a light shirt in polycarbon-derived artifical fabric, which showed off her pert figure, without genetic enhancements, and dark blue pants made of textiles. Her attractive brown hair was uncovered. 

At the airport Roger presented their identification cards to a representative of the airline company, who used her own computer system to check his identity and retrieve his itinerary. She entered a confirmation number, and gave him two passes which gave them access to the boarding area. They now underwent a security inspection, which was required for all airline flights. They handed their luggage to another representative; it would be transported in a separate, unpressurized chamber on the aircraft. 

“Do you think we’ll be flying on a propeller plane? Or one of the newer jets?” asked Ann. 

“I’m sure it will be a jet,” said Roger. “Propeller planes are almost entirely out of date, after all. On the other hand, rocket engines are still experimental. It’s said that when they’re in general use, trips like this will take an hour at most. This one will take up to four hours.” 

After a short wait, they were ushered onto the plane with the other passengers. The plane was an enormous steel cylinder at least a hundred meters long, with sleek backswept wings on which four jet engines were mounted. They glanced into the front cabin and saw the two pilots, consulting a bank of equipment needed the fly the plane. Roger was glad that he did not need to fly the plane himself; it was a difficult profession which required years of training. 

The surprisingly large passenger area was equipped with soft benches, and windows through which they could look down at the countryside as they flew 11 km high at more than 800 km/h. There were nozzles for the pressurized air which kept the atmosphere in the cabin warm and comfortable despite the coldness of the stratosphere. 

“I’m a little nervous,” Ann said, before the plane took off. 

“There’s nothing to worry about,” he assured her. “These flights are entirely routine. You’re safer than you are in our ground transport cars!” 

Despite his calm words, Roger had to admit to some nervousness as the pilot took off, and the land dropped away below them. He and the other passengers watched out the windows for a long time. With difficulty, he could make out houses and farms and moving vehicles far below. 

“There are more people going to San Francisco today than I would have expected,” he remarked. 

“Some of them may in fact be going elsewhere,” she answered. “As you know, it’s expensive to provide airplane links between all possible locations. We employ a hub system, and people from smaller cities travel first to the hub, and then to their final destination. Fortunately, you found us a flight that takes us straight to San Francisco.” 

When they arrived at the San Francisco airport, agents of the airline company helped them out of their seats and retrieved their luggage, checking the numeric tags to ensure that they were given to the right people. 

“I can hardly believe we’re already in another city,” said Ann. “Just four hours ago we were in Chicago.” 

“We’re not quite there!” corrected Roger. “We’re in the airport, which is some distance from the city, since it requires a good deal of space on the ground, and because of occasional accidents. From here we’ll take a smaller vehicle into the city.” 

They selected one of the hydrocarbon-powered ground transports from the queue which waited outside the airport. The fee was small enough that it was not paid electronically, but using portable dollar tokens. The driver conducted his car unit into the city; though he drove only at 100 km/hr, it felt much faster since they were only a meter from the concrete road surface. He looked over at Ann, concerned that the speed might alarm her; but she seemed to be enjoying the ride. A game girl, and intelligent as well! 

At last the driver stopped his car, and they had arrived. Electronic self-opening doors welcomed them to Sergey’s building. The entire trip had taken less than seven hours.

Tunnel Walk of Shame does Nebrasketball

The Tunnel Walk of shame is a website run by a big Husker fan who likes to take the players and coaches through a image/text journey every time there’s a game coming up. It’s generally funny stuff, particularly for those who understand Husker football culture reasonably well.

Well, in the spirit of the basketball team’s trip to the tournament, he decided to make fun of all them too, and it’s incredible.

http://www.tunnelwalkofshame.com/post/80063394815/game-week-nebrasketball-2014