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 January 17, 2008 - 07:31 PM | chris

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended CodeMash last week in Sandusky, OH, just minutes from delightful Lake Erie. The conference was held at an indoor waterpark resort and featured a geekily hilarious keynote by Scott Hanselman which included an attempt at converting the syntax of the LOLCats into a programming language. The conference also unfortunately featured my vocal stylings (Rock Band was set up, there is a Pumpkins song in Rock Band, nobody else wanted to sing, I had no choice) and as it was a "cross-language" conference, a lot of good-natured needling between the disciples of different programming languages (although Java seemed to take the brunt of the needling).

But by far the featured presentation was a robotics presentation by Columbus' own Scott Preston, who builds his own robots and, from what I can tell, has a house full of electronics, motors, and parts. Sounds outstanding! His presentation reminded me a lot of some of the courses I took at WashU such as computer vision and obviously the two robotics courses, as he was trying to accomplish some of the same things that we were in our projects. He went through some of his past designs for robots, and some of them looked remarkably like Lewis, albeit without the ring of incredibly loud sonar sensors or the "The robot has gone sentient!" emergency stop buttons.

I spend most of my coding time head down in .NET land, so it's good to eventually look up and see what else is going on in the world.

SD at NE: No surprise here, I'm going with the Patriots. NE

NYG at GB: Not only am I picking the Packers, I am openly rooting for them. I may have previously mentioned my dislike of Eli Manning, and Pats-Packers would pit this blog directly in competition against Lucas' for two entire weeks of scintillating back-and-forth fanboyism. GB

 January 09, 2008 - 07:40 AM | chris
Scouting Report

I will be in beautiful(?) downtown(?) Sandusky, OH for the CodeMash conference for the next few days, so I'll respond to Lucas' post and do my NFL picks before I leave.

First off, Lucas asked for an unbiased opinion on Eric Gagne unfortunate tenure with the Sox last season. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of Gagne on TV, because they acquired him right at the trade deadline, and I began packing and moving to Columbus soon afterwards. Earlier in the season there were many Sox games on TV, but once the AL East got out of hand they were not on national television very often, especially in the Indians/Reds market. By the time they got to the playoffs and were on TV every game, Terry Francona had lost any confidence he had in Gagne and as a result he rarely pitched. One thing I noticed from his box scores was that his strikeout rate stayed consistent with how he did with Texas earlier in the season, but his walk rate went up and he gave up way more hits.

It's not a scientific opinion, but I'd guess that a significant part of the problem was that he was used in different situations than he was used to. Rather than pitching in high-pressure save situations, he was often used as a setup man or in a mop-up role, where the adrenaline isn't as prevalent. If the Brewers put him in pressure situations and he feels critical to the team's success, I could definitely see him bouncing back to at least as good as he was with Texas (especially since the NL is the weaker offensive league and he has familiarity in the NL). He also had a number of games where he would strike out the first two hitters and then things would get unraveled. Was this because of poor conditioning? Loss of focus? Injury? Either way I think he is still capable of being a quality major league pitcher barring injury (which given his history is a definite possibility).

Now for the picks:

SEA at GB: I'll make this my lock of the week. The Seahawks don't get to play against a journeyman quarterback at home this week, instead a poor road team will now be on the road against the rested Packers. No chance. GB

JAX at NE: I've seen a lot of talking heads going with the Jags and their running game, even though the Pats will be selling out to stop the run. The Jaguars will be forced to pass, and the best I see happening from that is that David Garrard plays like Kyle Boller did against the Pats and is forced to win the game himself. The Jags are not built to play from behind, nor are they built to defend a pass-first team. For all the talk of how they match up perfectly against the Pats in winter, the weather is supposed to be mild and the crowd will be hostile. NE

SD at IND: Another poor road team goes on the road. San Diego has had success against Indianapolis in the past by running the ball at them, but Indy's run defense is improved and the Chargers' success was always with Marty Schottenheimer in the regular season, not with Norv Turner in the playoffs. IND

NYG at DAL: I hate to go with all favorites, but the Giants are getting a little too much love considering that up until 2 weeks ago Eli Manning was considered one of the worst quarterbacks in the league and they are banged up. If Terrell Owens doesn't play the Giants have a chance since Tony Romo will be keying on Jason Witten too much and Wade Phillips will insist on running Julius Jones instead of Marion Barber. But they'll still have to play almost a perfect game, and Eli has been way over his head lately. DAL

 January 03, 2008 - 09:35 PM | chris
NFL Picks, Playoff Edition

Another year, another NFL Picks loss. This is starting to get old.

WAS at SEA: It blows my mind how the pundits have started slobbering all over the Redskins, despite Todd Collins being the quarterback, thanks to 4 straight wins over either mediocre teams or teams resting their starters. I believe that in a previous week I promised to pick against the Redskins if they made the playoffs, so here it is. SEA

JAX at PIT: The Jaguars are getting a little bit too much love for my taste, but I just can't see the Steelers winning unless their disgusting field makes a gigantic difference. The Steeler defense has gotten steadily worse as the season has progressed, and Ben Roethlisberger is definitely not someone who can win games on his own. JAX

NYG at TB: The Giants sure did look good against the Patriots thanks to the Pats having one of their "make a terrible QB look like John Elway" games. I believe I previously promised to pick both of these teams to lose in the playoffs, which obviously isn't possible here. On one hand, the Giants didn't rest their starters and as a result are more used to playing pressure games. On the other hand, because they didn't rest their starters, important players got hurt. Jeff Garcia, meanwhile, has been half-injured all year. Something just keeps telling me that Whinin' Eli will revert back to his normal self, especially on the road. TB

TEN at SD: Talk about teams that don't deserve to be in the playoffs. When you see the headline "Titans have better chance with [Kerry] Collins", you know you don't have much of a shot at all. The only x-factor is Norv Turner on the other sideline and the fact that the Chargers are a bunch of loudmouth showboats who will most likely look ahead to next week's game. SD