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March madness bracket

March 20, 2013 8:32 am Published by Leave your thoughts


  • The quality of a basketball team, at the highest levels, depends more on the the ability of players to work together than their innate skill.
  • The ability of players to work together is roughly proportional to the amount of time they spend practicing together.
  • Competitive basketball is largely — and in fact was purposely invented to be — an indoor game.
  • Players are more likely to spend more time playing an indoor game when the weather outside is worse.
  • The perception of “bad” outdoor weather is roughly proportional to the temperature difference between summer and winter.

Therefore, if we took a list of all of the colleges in the NCAA college basketball bracket, established the August (start of the school year, usually warmest month of the year) and March (during March Madness and close to the coldest month of the year) average temperatures, we’d be able to fill in a bracket that would be as accurate (to a close approximation) as if we actually knew anything about college basketball. (As a tie-breaker, I’m using the school with the colder temperatures. If I need another tie-breaker, I’m picking arbitrarily.)

So that’s what I’ve done. Here is the raw data, and here is my bracket. (Yes, this is almost completely tongue-in-cheek.)

I cancelled my MLB.TV

January 11, 2013 9:41 am Published by Leave your thoughts

For the past two years, I’ve subscribed to MLB.TV. It allowed me to stream baseball games to my computer and my TV, and was a way better value proposition than getting the expensive cable package that would have provided me with NESN (the Red Sox’s local network). But I will not be subscribing for the 2013 season. It’s not because I’m no longer a Red Sox fan. It’s not because I’m not interested in watching their games. It’s because I’m sick of jumping through hoops to avoid their stupid blackout restrictions. If I was a Phillies fan, I could watch all of their games (except when they were playing the Red Sox). If I was a Red Sox fan from California, I’d be fine, too (unless the Sox were visiting the Giants or some such).

But because I live in the Red Sox’s “home television territory”, I’m unable to watch any of their games, both at home and away, without resorting to using proxies. Paying nearly a hundred dollars a year for the right to not get to watch any of the games I care about is very stupid. These are based on ancient cable contracts, I’m certain, but MLB has the upper hand in these negotiations. Are the networks really going to say “nevermind, we won’t show your games” if MLB insists on allowing paying customers to watch even local games online?

Until Major League Baseball joins us in the 21st century with their blackout restrictions, I’m not going to be paying for MLB.TV anymore. I’ll just have to enjoy the game at a bar, where Major League Baseball will get none of my dollars.

Where should I put my Internets?

December 19, 2012 12:03 pm Published by 3 Comments

For the past six months or so, I’ve been wrestling with where to put all of my Internet content. I create various things from time to time, and I like them being available and visible (and in many cases, open for modification and redistribution, a la MIT license or Creative Commons). But I’m at the point where many of the services I’ve used for a long time are no longer doing it for me.

  • Photos: For the past six years, I’ve posted pictures on Flickr. The platform has been left to decay ever since Yahoo bought it, and a lot of their user base has left. The recent iPhone app upgrade is probably too little and too late. (Especially since I’m not an iPhone person.) I’ve experimented with some other services, including Instagram, but none seem quite as open, simple, and powerful as Flickr was (and still is).
  • Programming projects: I’ve got a code page here that I assembled when I was looking for jobs. I’ve got a lot of Greasemonkey on, but I think it’s been abandoned (emails are bouncing and there have been no blog updates for 18 months), and it was never that great to begin with. What I’d like is something that’s useful for both technical friends (navigate my code easily, like GitHub) and non-technical ones to (download UserScripts and play with some of the interactive things I’ve made).
  • Minor thoughts: Last month, I found that I’d read very little on Facebook that I cared about. I’ve taken a bit of time away, and realized I don’t miss it that much. I’m still sorta active on Twitter, but as far as network effects, it’s not nearly as powerful. I’m not sure what I want from this sort of social network, but I do know that Facebook had it. It’s just too bad that the downside (uninteresting noise) of Facebook outweigh it. Perhaps the answer is just a friend list purge.

I’m no longer at the point in my life where I want to reinvent the wheel for any of these things. I want a simple solution that allows me to do what I’m interested in doing. (That’s apparently: taking pictures, writing small bits of code, complaining, and moving on.) Simplifying my blog back in the fall was one part of this struggle, but it was really just a tiny step.

A bunch of sort algorithms

August 31, 2012 8:10 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Whenever I’m trying to get back into the swing of building and optimizing and evaluating algorithms, my first step is always to write a whole bunch of sorting implementations. I’m also trying to improve my knowledge of the core syntax of python. So here are four sorts in python: insertion, merge, heap, and quick. (The insertion and heap sort implementations are both in-place. The other two are not.)

The second step is probably going to be to implement a data structure I’ve never done before. Last time, it was a min-max heap in PHP. I’m thinking maybe a B-tree?

Update 3 Sept: Here is my implementation of a splay tree. Far simpler than I remembered, so I challenged myself to do it without parent links in the node objects.

Expected no-hitters

June 15, 2012 9:52 am Published by Leave your thoughts

When Matt Cain threw a Perfect Game for the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, he became the fifth pitcher in the last four years to do so (no, Galarraga’s game doesn’t count). Perfect Games are also No-Hitters, and there have been a startling 22 no-hitters in the past six seasons (here I am including Halladay’s post-season no-hitter two years ago).

Since the end of the Steroid Era in baseball, pitching has been under a resurgence. Last year was called The Year Of The Strikeout by some, and this year is, so far, exceeding last year’s number. In addition, runs per game and hits per inning have been in decline for the past decade, too. But this isn’t just because batters aren’t hitting as hard or fielding has improved. Walks per inning, too, are at their lowest point in 20 years.

Improved pitching means a better chance of No-Hitters and Perfect Games. Does that explain it completely? Is the recent surge in pitching gems a coincidence — in which case we can expect the frequency to revert to the mean — or a result of improving pitching? I started collecting data to answer this question myself (which you can see after the break), but during the course of my research I found an article by Rebecca Sichel, Uri Carl and Bruce Bukiet titled Modeling Perfect Games and No-Hitters in Baseball.