Archive: September 23, 2008

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the ten yard line

Tuesday,  09/23/08  07:38 PM

Okay, I'm going way far from my usual subject matter here, but I want to discuss something of importance.  Everyone thinks the most important line in football is the goal line.  They are wrong.  The most important line in football is the ten-yard line.  Stay with me, like I said, this is important.

Last night I watched Sunday's Green Bay vs Dallas game.  Did you watch it?  Good game, matching two good teams.  So Dallas won, and there was a key play in the middle of third quarter which pretty much decided the game.  At the time nobody paid any attention, but shortly thereafter John Madden was talking about how you make cottage cheese, because the game was over.  (I am not making this up.)  Here's a recap of the game, see if you can spot the crucial play.  I'll wait.

Did you spot it?  So here's the description from the recap:

With Green Bay trailing 13-6, Rodgers connected with Donald Driver on a 50-yard pass early in the third quarter -- but the Packers settled for a field goal.

That's it!  What really happened is that Driver got free, made a nice catch on a good throw, and ran down to about the thirteen yard line.  At that point he encountered a Dallas safety, leaped into the air, and made an acrobatic move to gain five more yards.  Leaving Green Bay first and goal at the eight.  The announcers praised Driver for his extra effort, and later when Green Bay had to settle for a field goal, they didn't refer back to this play at all.  (That's Driver celebrating at right; little did he know, he screwed up...)

Now consider, what if Driver knew the truth, that the ten yard line is the most important line in football?  Suppose he had just run out of bounds at the thirteen?  Now Green Bay has first and ten on the thirteen.  A whole different situation from first and goal at the eight.  Now they can make a first down inside the five.  If they don't, okay, they kick a field goal.  But their chances of advancing the ball from the thirteen to the three are a heck of a lot better than their chances of scoring from the eight.  And once they're inside the three, they're chances of scoring are pretty high.  In fact, they can take a shot at the endzone from the thirteen, too, it is easier to score with twenty-three yards of field to work with than eighteen.  See, this is the thing; when a team gets the ball between the fifteen and the ten, they score more often than when they get the ball between the ten and the five.  You can look it up.  I'll wait.

Consider what would have happened if Driver runs out of bounds on the thirteen, and Green Bay subsequently scores, either with or without getting a first down inside the three.  Now the game is tied, and Green Bay has momentum.  It isn't clear they would have won, but they would have had a much better chance of winning.

This is why the ten yard line is so important.  When a receiver or running back has the ball, and they are approaching the ten, they have to make a decision.  If they can score, great, do it.  But if they can't score, they should just run out of bounds on the thirteen, lie down on the field, whatever.  Seriously.  It goes against testosterone, but it is the right thing to do, statistically.

Thanks for reading.  I told you it was important!



Megan shoots, and scores!

Tuesday,  09/23/08  09:22 PM

Some parental chest beating...  my daughter Megan is amazing.  First, here's what happened:

Now, how did this happen?  Steve Latshaw was Megan's fifth grade teacher last [school] year, and among his many skills, he is a great science teacher.  And Megan loves science, so this was a wonderful match.  Mr. Latshaw thought it would be cool to enter a Discovery Channel competition, on "how to teach Newton's Laws in two minutes".  He designed a lesson, got all the kids in the class involved, and arranged for various parents to videotape it.  On her own bat, Megan decided to bring in her Flip video camera, and taped the lesson also... 

{ By the way, these little Flip video cameras are really cool.  Nothing is safe from being recorded around our house anymore :)  The idea of putting the software on the camera, accessible via the USB interface, was genius.  Nothing to install! }

... so it turns out none of the parents who videotaped the lesson came through with a finished video.  But Megan edited her video (on her iMac, using iMovie, of course :) and showed it to Mr. Latshaw, who was impressed, and they recorded a voice over, and she edited that in, and then we submitted it, and the upshot is that Mr. Latshaw was chosen as one of the Discovery Challenge finalists!

How cool is that!  BTW Megan is 11...



still sick as a dog

Tuesday,  09/23/08  09:41 PM

Well I am still as sick as a dog, temp still 101o, still coughing up a storm.  I am trying to pretend that I'm not sick, but it is so inconvenient.  For one thing, I was supposed to be in my office the past couple of days for a bunch of meetings, and had to take them over the 'phone instead.  Well, so be it, IIWII.  However tomorrow I am determined to feel better!

A beautiful day: I received this link from my friend Randy, and shared it with everyone at Aperio.  It has nothing to do with our work, and yet, everything. If you can make five minutes to watch, I believe you’ll be glad you did. 

The Danger of being Too Nice at Work.  Not one of the things I ordinarily worry about :) 

Today's big news was the announcement of T-Mobile's G1 smartphone, the first based on Google's Android operating system.  Of course everyone is comparing it to the iPhone.  There is a general sense that this is the first second device in the iPhone's class, in terms of usability and functionality.  I haven't seen or used one, but since my primary objection to the iPhone was a lack of hardware keyboard, I might really love it.  Now, if it could just be available on Sprint :) 

Walt Mossberg's take: "In sum, the G1 is a powerful, versatile device which will offer users a real alternative in the new handheld computing category the iPhone has occupied alone."

TechCrunch says it is no iPhone, but close.  "In the end this is not really about Android versus the iPhone. It’s about Web phones versus the brick in your pocket."

Boing Boing gushes: "I've played with a lot of phones, but this is the first true 'smart phone' that is as easy to use as an iPhone, Sidekick, or Helio Ocean. Unlike the iPhone, it has a real keyboard that slips out from the bottom (and a bit more effortlessly than the one on my Ocean). Real keys, too, that feel good and click."

Sadly, I missed Oct 19th, the annual talk like a pirate day.  Arrr...  Anyway Google did not miss it, and added "pirate" as one of the languages they support.  "It recently came to our attention that Google was not accessible to a large, influential, and notoriously quick-tempered community: Pirates."  Reminds me of the famous pirate keyboard, with a single key: R :) 

John Gruber digs deep into the new Microsoft commercials.  "And so what makes Microsoft’s new 'I’m a PC' commercials so jaw-droppingly bad is that they’re not countering Apple’s message, but instead they’re reinforcing it."  It is a well reasoned argument, but the conclusion "feels" wrong.  I've seen these commercials, and while they don't make me run out to get a PC, they aren't ridiculous, either.  (I must say, the Jerry Seinfeld commercials I did not get.  At all.) 



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