Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Football 2010

I'm excited that it's football time, mostly because I've given up on the White Sox.   Sure they are only 4.5 games out, but they've been outmatched all year and here at the stretch run they are all starting to get hurt. 

On to football.  This is my take with a completely uneducated guess.  I haven't been watching pre-season closely.  I haven't watched the offseason trades.  Teams for the most part remain who they are.  Football is not like baseball in that a team can completely change with free agency, or basketball in that a team can have a single player make a huge impact.   Sure the draft helps, but only marginally, coaching and schemes have a lot to do with it, as do the players who are still there.

First and foremost I'm a Chicago Bears fan.  I will watch every game this year cheering for them, but I only expect them to win 5 games.  The defense in the pre-season has not looked good against opponents, but it has looked great against our own offense.  To me that says that our defense is weak and our offense is weaker.  5 wins may be a stretch.  The good thing that should come from that is that Lovie Smith and the crappy Tampa 2 will be gone.   He can say that there is nothing wrong with the scheme as many times as he wants, but the fact is that a Tampa 2 really has only ever had 3 a few good seasons on teams.  It does work if all of the right players are at their peak and working perfectly, however any weakness in the players and the system is crap.  We do not have premier players in all of the positions, so get over yourself and switch to a scheme that can work with the talent we do have.   You've been coaching too long to be this stupid, so stop being stubborn.

As a backup, I'm picking the Houston Texans to be the sleeper team to watch this year.   San Francisco is the team that everyone else is watching, and with Singletary as the coach and the team in a weak division I think they will win the division, but when everyone expects a team to be the sleeper, they really aren't the sleeper, they are expected to be good.   The San Francisco offense will be the only real throwback offense that tries to pound it out in a throwing league, but they have the defense to allow that to happen.

Houston on the other hand has a lot of talent on defense and Andre Johnson for a wide receiver.  They picked up Matt Leinart as a backup after Arizona unexpectedly cut him.  Leinart may stick around a few years as a servicable backup, but I think he's already proven that he'll never be a solid starter.  Houston's running back core led by Steve Slaton will be interesting.  I thought he was overrated at West Virginia and he's been somewhat of a bust already, but maybe this year he will show more.

Division Winners
NFC East - Dallas Cowboys
Romo is not a star quarterback and will never be Brett Farve or Peyton Manning, but he is on a very good team and he's a good quarterback.  

NFC North - Minnesota Vikings
I think the Vikings with this division even without Farve.  Green Bay is their only real competition, but Adrian Peterson is a far better back than Ryan Grant.   I love watching and cheering for Grant since he came out of Notre Dame and has performed better than anyone expected.

NFC South - New Orleans
I don't think the Saints will repeat as Super Bowl champs, but they kept almost the entire team together and Drew Brees is a star quarterback.  He will can carry the team late in the 4th quarter all by himself.  This is the strongest division.

NFC West - San Francisco
San Francisco will be the team with the worst quarterback in the playoffs.   Alex Smith is not the answer for them, but they also haven't had many other options.   I like that they are building a very solid team and they have the ability to plug in a better quarterback later.   Teams can win the big game without a quarterback.  Most recently the Ravens did it with Trent Dilfer, and Delhomme, Hasselbeck, and Rex Grossman even took teams to the superbowl.   Anything is possible.

NFC Wild Cards - Green Bay, Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay I think is the strongest team to not win a division.  The 2nd wild card was really a toss up.  I went with my gut and picked the Falcons.

AFC East - NY Jets
New England is finally knocked from their pedestal.  New England's defense cannot slow other teams down enough to allow their own offense to win.  Brady throws for 4,000 yards, but it's not enough.   The Jets win ugly, but a win is a win.

AFC North - Cincinnati Bengals
There will be drama, everywhere that TO has ever been there has been drama.  But winning keeps it at bay until the team falls apart in the playoffs.  If TO can finally take responsibility then they may go all the way, but if he continues to point fingers at others this team will not make it past the first round.  TO will leave pouting and nobody will pick him up next year, everyone is tired of his drama, even if he can still perform they are tired of dealing with it.

AFC South - Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis wins again, but they don't run away with the division.   Peyton Manning is probably the best quarterback to every play the game.  He'll need to be.  The new rules hurt the Colts offense more than any other team.   I predict the change will cost the Colts 2 wins this season.   

AFC West - San Diego Chargers
San Diego makes sense to repeat despite letting one of the better running backs in history go.  LT was definitely past his prime and didn't help a lot last year.  That's ok though, because the Chargers will have the fewest rushing yards for a playoff team.  Their offense will be completely based on the pass, even their "running" plays will be quick dump passes or pitch plays.   Ron Rivera's defense is what makes the difference.  The same defense that managed to take the Bears to the Super Bowl brings wins in SD.  I don't understand why he isn't given more credit for what happened in Chicago, the defense hasn't even been good since he left, and the new defense that he's running is good, not great, but good.

AFC Wild Cards - Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins.
There are about 6 teams that you could pull out of a hat and any of them would be a good choice.  Oakland without Jamarcus Russel will actually be a fun team to watch this year.  Denver with Orton being a solid quarterback and 2 intriguing backups behind him will probably cause some drama at some point.  I look forward to seeing a very hard hitting Baltimore Ravens defense.  Pittsburgh is a good team, but being without big Ben to start the season puts them out too far to overcome late in the season.   New England has enough that they could be here, I think that coach Belichick is finally not able to get enough from his players.  The talent has gotten too thin and the help at coaching has also thinned out.  This is a  rebuilding year, not for player talent, but for coaching talent, he needs to be able to relinquish some control again to focus on development more.  Miami with the wildcat, and two strong running backs will plow through teams and win with ball control.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kindle Sells Out: 5 Reasons Amazon Shouldn't Celebrate - PCWorld

Kindle Sells Out: 5 Reasons Amazon Shouldn't Celebrate - PCWorld

This article was somewhat confusing to me. His points don't make sense to me.

1. Watch out for falling profits.
It's true that the Kindle price has dropped from it's initial price of $359, but that does not mean that the company is making $170 less on each one. It means the revenue has dropped by that amount, but profit is based on the cost to produce the product. The $170 drop in price may not be any less profitable. It may will be less than it was the day before the price was dropped, but I would expect that there was a sliding scale. At first the product cost x to produce and they sold for $359. Over time the price to produce dropped and their profit margin rose, until they dropped their price. I think it's true that they dropped their price due to the competitive price from the Nook, but I don't think that they are eating cost on each one. That information is not known to me, but it doesn't mean that Amazon shouldn't celebrate. Jeff Bezos knows what's going on there, and he knows whether or not he can celebrate.

2. Is $189 Still Too Expensive?
If Amazon was fine selling their device for $359 why would they care if $189 is too expensive? Studies may show that the best seller price for e readers is in the range of $50 to $99, but that doesn't mean that's what Amazon is after. BMW isn't. They don't build cheap cars, it doesn't stop them from making money. Also if $189 is eating into their profits, wouldn't $99 eat into that even more? Amazon has reported that they've tripled sales since dropping to $189. It may not be low enough for everyone, but it has clearly crossed some kind of threshold that's let them extend their cusomer base by quite a bit.

3. Sales Stats Unknown.
While it's true that I don't know the sales stats or the profit of a single Kindle, that doesn't make it a reason for Amazon not to celebrate. Amazon knows that information. I don't know if I should celebrate, Amazon knows if it should celebrate.

4. About the iPad
I have never considered an e-Reader as a competitor to a tablet. The iPad has blown me away with what it's capable of doing and having seen it in action I want one. But I don't want it as a replacement for my eReader. They are separate for me. I love the e-ink solution of the Kindle, the battery will last for weeks with wireless turned off. I can take my notes and buy books directly from the Kindle when I want to, but I don't have to synchronize. There is no power saving package that I could turn on with the iPad that would let the batter last more than one day. The iPad is awesome, but just like reading on a computer screen my eyes hurt after a while. I'd rather read on the Kindle than the iPad. With both devices I would definitely choose to only take the iPad in some instances and use it to read my books. However, that doesn't hurt Amazon, because it's still a eBook that they sold to me. I'm not even sure that the Kindle DX is a competitor to the iPad, at least not yet. It may be made somewhat obsolete by the iPad, if newspapers can provide a new medium that take advantage of the interactivity of the iPad. If that were to happen the Kindle DX would be useless, but for now it's not. I'm really not sure what the future of the Kindle DX is.

5. Beware the Multifunction Devices.
I own a Kindle and a Droid. I have the Kindle app for the Droid. I don't consider it a replacement for the Kindle. If I'm somewhere without my Kindle (which is rare), I can pop open a book real quick and take advantage of a few minutes to read. I would never consider my phone a replacement though. The screen being on drains the battery way too fast, and I'd rather keep that life of my batter for things like phone calls and text messages. Besides, it's rare that I have time to read when I don't also have emails that I need to follow up on. I can use my phone to do those other things and wait until I am back near my Kindle to read on it. But in a pinch it does work. And I like that I can keep a copy of my favorite book with me on my phone for referencing.

My disappointment lies in every argument. None of them show that there is a problem with the Kindle. And they don't provide a single reason that Amazon shouldn't celebrate.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A real triple crown candidate?

Miguel Cabrera may be a real triple crown candidate.  I've not seen a triple crown in my lifetime, and there have been a few times in the past that I thought there was a chance, but this year Cabrera has a very high average and that seems to be the one category that the home run hitters lack. 

I think there is a very good shot at triple crown with him and if it's still a possibility at the end of August the mainstream media will start talking about it.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Chocolate may cause depression

Chocolate may cause depression | Psych Central News

The article is more detailed than the heading. The heading alone would make one think that Chocolate is the cause of depression, when it is more likely that chocolate is just a comfort food that depressed people turn to.

It could be that the body wants a certain amount of good feeling in it, and if it's not getting it then it may cause cravings for a food that does provide that. Chocolate just happens to be that food. The more depressed you are, the more you need to chocolate.

Studies like this are interesting, but when the results can be interpreted in different ways you have to take them with a grain of salt.   All we really know is that depressed people are eating chocolate.  Why is open for interpretation.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lebron James

The Lebron James race has begun.  NBA teams are falling over themselves to get Lebron James to come to their team.  Money is not going to be the selling point.  There are several teams that have enough salary cap room to offer him the max amount possible, so other than staying where he is in Cleveland the possibility of earning more money won't be enticing.

How do you sell your team to Lebron James?  First you have to have the pieces to compliment his game in order to win a championship.  Second I think you need a track record of being able to at least make the playoffs.  Third you need intangibles.  The city, the fans, the arena, the amenities.  I think these actually have something to do with where he will play.  I've given up on watching basketball since Jordan left the Bulls, but Lebron coming to Chicago would be enough to make me interested in catching a few games again.

I don't know the NBA well enough to know which team has the inside edge.  I don't think it's Cleveland because even though they can offer him more money individually I don't think he has as many of the intangible opportunities in Cleveland.  And the team may have been the best in the division last season with him, but without him they would not have been very good, he elevated that team a lot.  It also does not sound like Cleveland is planning to do much to bring one of the other big free agents in to help them get over the hump and win that elusive championship.

I think Lebron James is more like a game of roulette at the moment.  Each team has different intangibles to offer. Place your bets and wait for the ball to stop bouncing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Is Greece different than California?

The Greek debt crisis and now the Spanish debt problems have me thinking a lot about the debt problems that states have in the U.S.  I'm not sure how different the scenarios are.  To me, and average person, I just see that the states don't have the money to pay their bills.  The options, borrow against the future, or borrow from the federal government, which is borrowing against the future.   Either way, the amount of money we are spending continues to be more than the amount that we are generating.

At what point does the complete failure of world economies force us to re-evaluate our local governments role in society and how we can scale it back to a size that the taxes can afford?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Budget inaction leaves Illinois adrift -

Budget inaction leaves Illinois adrift - "As a result, for the moment, about $6 billion in state bills are simply going unpaid."

Illinois is not paying it's bills. The state legislature cannot find a way to fund all of the programs that it wants to run, and refuses to be the bad guy and cut things, so they passed the buck to the governor. I understand why. Nobody wants to be the bad guy that had to cut funding for education, although with the hole that the state is in, it is going to happen. This way the fault lies with a single person. The governor. The state legislatures are hoping that it saves them their own jobs at the next election. I hope people wake up and see that it's those people who cannot manage the money that the state has and they all need to be replaced.

The sad fact is that governments at every level are paying for public projects that are beyond what the government should be about. The government needs to remove itself from as many of those extra areas as it can and stick to providing only the basics that we need. A smaller government needs less money, which balances the budget. Yes that means that there are programs, lots of them, even things that are good, that should go away. Unfortunately many of these are essentially charities being run by the government. Instead charities should run these. They will do a better job than government will anyway.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quinn plan would save trooper jobs, but not posts � Evansville Courier & Press

Quinn plan would save trooper jobs, but not posts � Evansville Courier & Press

The plan is to take up to $10 from the money that goes into the county funds currently and put it into a special account for the state police.

I did not know the break down of the fees for tickets, but it's a little shocking that tickets were not already partially being used to fund police activities directly.

The bigger problem I see with this is that every level of government is out of money and not able to pay their bills, this will pull an additional $10 from every ticket away from counties making it even harder on local governments.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Happy National Doughnut Day

Happy National Doughnut Day.

I hope you enjoy a few and think of the Salvation Army and the men and women of the US Military in World War I, who not only won the war to protect our freedom, but also gave us a holiday as tasty as this.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Volunteers to simulate 18 months on Mars.

Volunteers to begin Mars500 isolation.  I love the psychological sides that this can bring.  I expect that there is down time.  The only communication with the outside is email, and an email has a 20 minute delay.  I wonder if they are allowed anything for entertainment.  I expect that cards would be useless with a more weightless environment.  Can they use a Kindle?   The e-ink lasts a lot longer and uses very little battery, it could provide a very small item that has limitless content to be read.   Many books could be stored on it to start with, but new ones could also be emailed I would think.

I expect that there is also a power limit on what they can use.  Has e-ink made it into any actual computing devices yet?  I read an article the other day that showed a demo of it on a flexible screen showing color images.  If it's not there yet, I expect that in the next 5 years that e-ink will be in use on some high end laptops with extreme battery life because the screen will use a lot less and the hard drive will be a solid state drive.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

AT&T to end unlimited wireless-data plans - MarketWatch

AT&T to end unlimited wireless-data plans - MarketWatch:

"Starting June 7, AT & T plans to drop its unlimited $30 Internet plan, which includes email. Instead, customers would pay $25 a month for 2 gigabytes of data under AT & T's "DataPro plan. That's the equivalent of 4,000 Internet page views, 10,000 emails without attachments or 200 minutes of streaming video.
The cheaper option, DataPlus, offers 200 megabytes of data for $15 a month. That's the equivalent of 1,000 emails without attachments, 400 Internet-page views or 20 minutes of streaming video.

DataPlus customers who exceed their limit would be charged an additional $15 for another 200MB. AT & T said 65% of its customers use less than 200MB a month."

I don't understand the pricing scheme. For $25 a month I can get 2 GB or for $30 a month I can buy the smaller plan and cover overages that gives me 400MB. That's more money for less than one quarter the data usage. I think this plan sucks. I think the limit on data for the iPhone will cause some people to jump ship to Droids on Verizon. Verizon has a limit of 5GB, but that's still more than twice what AT & T is offering. At the very least, AT & T should be able to offer the cheaper plan for $15, but since they have one that covers 2GB for $25, going over the 200 MB limit should automatically charge an additional $10 to up the coverage to 2GB for that month. After all if you sign up for the 2GB plan it's only $10 for each additional GB, not $15 for an additional 200MB.  I don't like the differences in the overage prices. 

I do understand that AT & T is looking to make some more money and try to curb the use of some of it's heavier users.  Someone who uses 5 GB will now pay $55 a month.  There's probably not a lot of those people out there, but the iPad may increase that number with it being a better platform to stream videos to than the iPod is. I expect that heavy data users of the iPad will end up spending a lot more than just iPhone users.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Google Fonts

Google Fonts was announced.  It lets you include fonts from Google's servers and use more than just the standard browser supported fonts.   This should make web pages more exciting if you are a fonts person.  I'm not a fonts person, but I do occasionally like to change things up.

I am a little shocked that they have not updated the editor here at Blogger to support the new fonts from their own site.  Google is usually pretty good at incorporating their own enhancements into their other products.  Maybe over time they get that in place and I can write my blog posts in a Tangerine font.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

School answering machine message

This school apparently got tired of the parents.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Puma's 'Clever Little Bag' Slashes Sneaker Packaging

This article talks about all of the environmental savings that happen because of Puma changing it's packaging from all cardboard to a reusable bag. I think what's more important is that by using so much less in materials, Puma will actually be saving a lot of money too. Hello bigger profit margins.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

France using people to generate energy

France is going to be testing a process where people walking generates electricity. The goal is to generate enough electricity to run the street lights.

I've read about this same technology before used in a disco to generate the electricity for the lights. I wonder when the next logical and probably higher energy gathering step of generating the energy from vehicles driving will take place. Already a form of it happens when a hose is run across the road and as cars drive over it air is used to move a counter or ring a bell. When will that turn into something that generates enough power for a capacitor or charges a battery that is then used to run traffic lights. Cars weigh a lot more and heavily congested areas have more potential for generating electricity.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 01, 2010

Waiting for food

Scarlet likes having a baby around.