Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup Schedule

Can be found HERE. Those times are eastern. Looks like 3 games a day.

7:30 AM
10:00 AM
2:30 PM

ESPN, ESPN 2 and ABC will be showing all of them with coverage starting 30 minutes before each start. All four calling most of the games will be from the UK (thank goodness) although Adrian Healey is more American then English. This will be good because I don't have to hear about the American team being called a "Product on the field" or hear that soandso "is covering a lot of real estate". Also, last I heard those folks will actually be in South Africa, unlike last time where they called it from television monitors.

My plan here to keep it interesting was to post up a pretty soccer lady fan on each World Cup post. I searched for an English one and it yielded very few results. Seriously. So I'll get ye old out of the way and move on.

World Cup 2010

At first glance the World Cup seems like a crap shoot unless you are Brazil. In fact Brazil has won 28% of the 18 played World Cups. Seven different teams have won the day in the WC. Brazil and Italy have won half of them. With only 18 tournaments played one could say that there is more variability to who will win. Seven different champs in 18 years lines up with two of the other tournaments and leagues I've looked at. A couple teams winning half the time. NBA: Lakers, Celtics... Big Ten: Ohio State, Michigan. It is not similar to MLB (four teams sneak into the top 50%) or the NFL (five).

But comparing the WC to any of the other leagues isn't a good way to look at it (even if it is similar). The qualifying is long (4 years) and the actual tournament is played differently (round robin group stage to start, played all over the world every 4 years). It is fascinating that so few countries have hoisted the trophy though. Even more interesting is that only 24 different countries have even made it to the final round of four. And that includes the various shapes and sizes of Czechoslovakia broken out.

Yes, the US is in there one time (1930) where we got 3rd place. Is third place just the 2nd looser? The mighty England has only ever placed in the top four twice, winning one (1966) on their home turf and placing fourth (1990).

Speaking of home turf. And this is where things get interesting... 1/3 of the WCs have been one by the host country. Combine Brazil's wins with the host countries that have won and that gets you 61% of the winners. So the odds are on Brazil or the host. To me this is, well, crazy. Brazil did host once (a shoe in right?) but lost in the final (1950).

One thing Brazil doesn't have going for them is playing in the East. The one exception being the Korea / Japan WC in 2002. One other interesting thing to note is that the defending champion been successful twice (last time in 1950). I find that very interesting as well because so few teams have won.

So here are the things I looked at when filling out my own bracket this year.

1. Host Nation
2. Number of WCs won... Brazil
3. Defending champs (Sorry Italy)
4. Goals For and Goals Against differential
5. Number of games played

Here are some Did You Knows:

- 75 different countries or various forms thereof (looking at you again Czech) have made at least one WC

- 17 have only made it in once.

- No new countries made it in this year (unless you count Slovenia, again, looking at you Czech)

- Our top defending country this year is England (only .85 goals allowed p/Game)

- Top scoring team is Brazil at 2.18. But, believe it or not, in WC history Hungary (did not qualify this year) is the highest scoring team in WC history, 2.7 per game. And that is with 32 games played. Impressive.

- Snubs this year. Hungary.

- Also Sweden (46 games played in WC history), Russia (37), Belgium (36), Poland (31), Austria (29).

- Brazil and Germany are tied for most played at 92. Italy is next at 77. Then Argentina at 65 and then England at 55.

This has been a long post, i'm done for now. I'll post again with my predicted winners this year. I'm really putting my stats 101 to work!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Morning

What a nice relaxing Memorial Day weekend so far. I'm in one of my most favorite places right now. Sunday morning + Coffee + Sunny Ohio Morning = Good. Attaching one point to each of those things gives me a 3 for 3. I've been bringing up some numbers here recently like that. I've looked at major sports championships and observed how leagues like familiar franchises and teams. I heard one guy the Sports Reporters (ESPN) this morning state that the NBA is so un-predictable at the start of any season. The next commercial break showed a promotional for the finals in which the mentioned that The Lakers and Celtics have won "Over half off all NBA Championships". Funny. I'm actually surprised the promo brought it up. By the way, same two teams in the Finals this year.

My observations are really just taking things one step farther then just saying "man, it seems like the same teams win it all every year". A remedial statistical look is what I'll call it. If you want more on more advanced deep dives then head on over to Beyond the Box Score. I found those guys after proclaiming in my head that "The Steroid Era in Major League Baseball is Over!" because of another perfect game last night. The second in less then a month. There have only been 20 in MLB history.

I'll take this from Wiki:

"Over the 135 years of Major League Baseball history, there have been only 20 official perfect games by the current definition. For comparison, more people have orbited the moon than have pitched a Major League Baseball perfect game. No pitcher has ever thrown more than one. The perfect game thrown by Don Larsen in game 5 of the 1956 World Series is the only postseason no-hitter in major league history. The first two major league perfect games, and the only two of the premodern era, were thrown in 1880, five days apart. The two most recent perfect games were thrown May 9 and May 29, 2010, just 20 days apart. By contrast, there have been spans of 23 and 33 consecutive seasons in which not a single perfect game was thrown."

Baseball is coming back to earth. The USA Today also reported this week that Earned Run Averages are historically low this year. I would expect this to continue for sometime, probably equaling the length of the steroid era. How long was that era? Statistics will tell use when low ERAs creep back up.

Next up on the Remedial Statistical Larry Level Analysis Series of Blog Posts That Take Obvious Observations Just One Step Farther...

The World Cup.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Late Auto Show Update

Too much time has past for me to write about the best car I saw at the anemic Columbus Auto Show.

Or has it?

Duh dun duhhhhhh!

Now, this is just personal opinion, but I considered the Acura ZDX to be the best car there. But as you can see from the pictures, one stands out. The one with the awkward teen trying to get out of the back seat.

Design over function. I love it and I'll continue to love it as long as most auto makers avoid it.

On a side note... I really do like where Acura was trying to go with the ZDX only I've found that another auto company has taken it a step farther.

Local Motors.

Check them out with their Rally Fighter. A Marine running the group. Good stuff.

Also, Honda... and your ZDX. More power to ya. Keep going for it. It doesn't make sense to most people. But neither has any of any of the legendary cars. But I'm not calling the ZDX a legendary car. Just the idea of you selling a car to middle aged men that looks cool. We need more of that, cause, in the end... what the heck does it matter?

Make dem bills Honda. Or go for design over function. You'll get me everytime.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Dead Redemption and still

Big Ten Champs

Ohio State and Michigan had a run from 1968 to 1982 where they won every Big Ten league title except two and both of those were co-champion years with OSU or M. So basically one of the two schools won every year for 14 years straight.

OSU and Michigan have won 60% of the league titles from 1960. Take it back to 1896 and the two have won 46% of them.

Believe it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

NUMMI and Tesla

NUMMI is set to reopen after closing last month. Can you believe it. Toyota just got a hold of Tesla and is planning to manufacture the Model S there in 2012.

Here is my intrepid report on what I think:

"Manufacturing cars in Silicon Valley by the UAW makes as much sense as opening a vineyard on Mount Everest."

I ripped that off.

NBA Champions: Pareto

Yes, a pareto chart may not be the right way to plot NBA champs over the years because it is generally used to solve problems. Example: if you have a car giving you problems then you can use the pareto to organize thoughts after identifying a main problem. To start you can use an Affinity Diagram. This is where you just list out all problems with the car and group similar issues together.

The Pareto Principle postulates that 80 percent of the trouble comes from 20 percent of the problems. It separates the "vital few" from the trivial many. This principle is remarkably effective.

So, is it fair to look at who is winning the NBA championship as a problem? Probably not. However, it could be symptomatic of other problems the NBA has like the number of teams in the playoffs or the way they organize the playoffs by seed. You could even look at the length of the series in the playoffs. The length is particularly interesting to me because it eliminates "luck". While this may be the fair way to do things, it is not the most exciting. Football, both college and pro is exciting because of "luck". The best team may not always win. If the NFL were to play playoff series then the Colts would probably have about four more titles.

The pareto at the top of this post shows NBA champions. Is it a problem that half off all championships go to just a select few? Debatable and it can be argued. Particularly when you consider that the size of the league has changed. I do believe that it shows that fairness on some level in the NBA is not clear. The remarkably few teams that win multiple titles could be due to a whole host of things. What I see is the 80-20 (20% of teams winning 80% of the time) rule being broken. It is muddled by teams moving and league expansion. However; that said: in the NBA it is more like the 94-6 rule. Two franchises winning 50% of the time. Were one to apply the 80-20 Bradford Distribution law to the 29 teams making the finals you should have 6 teams winning 20% of the time. Laws have been broken here!

Population density, team management, wealth, wealth generated by winning, the teams the NBA advertises most, and yes... even corruption should be considered. Especially when half the league makes the playoffs. It's also important to note that 29 different teams (not franchises) have made the finals with 19 different winners. If you were to stop there then it seems fair, but when you take it a step farther to the frequency of which team wins over the 60 year history it just plain looks like somethings amiss.

Those are things maybe the NBA should look at. In the meantime, it's good to be a Lakers or Celtics fan because the averages show that if you just wait 3 years - your chances of winning a championship are nearly guaranteed.

If you are a one time winner and not one of those teams? Savor it; because it will not happen again in your lifetime. If you are lucky enough to have a dynasty (San Antonio, Chicago)? Savor that as well.

If you are a fan of a team that has never won one? Hang in there chances are you'll get one within the next 60 years.

Here are the teams that have made the finals along with the number of times they have been there. Of all these teams only five won titles in two or more decades. The Celtics have won at least once in every decade. The Lakers took a nap in the 90s. Detroit has won at least one in the last three decades. No other team has won in three different decades.

24:Los Angeles Lakers
20:Boston Celtics
8:New York Knicks
6:Chicago Bulls
6:Philadelphia 76ers
5:Minneapolis Lakers
5:Detroit Pistons
4:San Antonio Spurs
4:St. Louis Hawks
4:Houston Rockets
3:Washington Bullets
3:Seattle SuperSonics
3:Syracuse Nationals
3:Portland Trail Blazers
3:Utah Jazz
2:Milwaukee Bucks
2:Orlando Magic
2:San Francisco Warriors
2:Ft. Wayne Pistons
2:Phoenix Suns
2:New Jersey Nets
1:Cleveland Cavaliers
1:Philadelphia Warriors
1:Miami Heat
1:Baltimore Bullets
1:Golden State Warriors
1:Indiana Pacers
1:Rochester Royals
1:Dallas Mavericks

As with any data, one can draw what ever conclusions they wish. Especially when dealing with statistics. After playing around with NBA finals data I still believe that if you are not a fan of either the Celtics, Lakers or maybe the Pistons you are out of luck. Fans of other teams will have to settle with just getting there once or, if you are lucky, twice a generation.

Suck it Vilfredo Pareto!!

For a brief comparison: the NFL has had 20 different Super Bowl winners in 44 years. The NBA has 16 year head start on the NFL and only has 19 different teams. This; while the NFL has had a smaller league size (in the past). It takes 5 teams in the NFL to make 50% of the winners... it takes the NBA 2 teams to get 50%.

The NFL's most winning Super Bowl team (Steelers) has won 14% of the time. NBA's Celtics have won 28% of the time in a league that has existed longer with more teams.

Now the MLB in its 105 history? Well... the Yankees have won a remarkable 26% of the World Series. They are one of the teams in the World Series 38% of the time. For another team just to win 27, as the Yanks have (using WS wins to years), it will take over 300 years. That team would be the Cardinals. I don't need to go any farther then that. Baseball's season length reduces variability, which makes it more probable that teams with the best players (i.e. most money), win. While season length is great for looking at statistics, it may be hurting it in terms of the variety of WS winners.

I know that just merely looking at championships doesn't mean everything. Just interesting to look at. Variability is at work here. The NFL has a short season, single elimination playoff and has not been around as long. The NBA is in the middle with a longer season and longer playoff format. The grandaddy, MLB, has been around longer and has an epic season length in terms of games and its playoff format only allows for a small % of teams as well. It has almost all but eliminated "luck".

You win the WS in baseball... you're the best team that year. Almost no doubt. Win in the NFL? Seems like it is more like playing the lottery.

Now, the NBA? The best playoff team wins. It's season length is long enough to tell you which teams are good but the number of teams entering the playoffs diminishes the importance of the regular season and in doing so makes determining the best team before the playoffs start difficult. It's one of the reasons games are played at three quarters speed. The NBA playoffs might as well be another season, heck, even a different sport.

Which brings me back to why I'm writing this long post today. The NBA is a head scratcher in a way. But I know that if one were to treat the fact that Boston and the Lakers winning most of the time as a problem (as the car example) then you put the pareto back into balance at 80-20 and any year going by with out the Yankees winning... well that's almost like betting the odds.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red Dead Aberlour

Made good on getting Red Dead Redemption. I decided to go with the PS3 version of the game, for what it is worth. Larry likey the PS3. I like the 360, don't get me wrong. We go way back, me and her. She even traveled down to Texas to get un-red ring-ed. So it might have seemed fitting to get RDR for her. But 'fitting' wasn't what I was going for. HDMI and digital sound was.

So what of RDR?

I'm hooked and I only had it in for a little over an hour. Gamers With Jobs touched on how the tables can turn on hoping to dislike a game today. Not that I stating the game is great based on just playing the first hour. But it can be a funny thing, that first hour. Especially for a game like this one. Lots of questions to be answered. How is the voice acting? Are the committed to the West? How are the controls?

Acceptable. On all three questions. That's enough for me, for now.

The American West is more then a mythical place. It is a representation of so many things uniquely American. For me it still seems so recent. My dad was born in 1938. My grandfather, born around the time this game takes place, 1911. My great grandfather lived in this world. To me, that is close even if most see it as so far away.

There is no question that the game is trying to be GTA IV set in the west. And why shouldn't it. If it can deliver on that then we've got something significant here.

As I was checking out the scenery I looked for clues on the commitment from the developers. I wasn't sure what at first, but once playing it becomes clear. Ragged clothing. A voice actor from the mid-west. Hoof prints in the sand and dirt. All there. Sunrises, sunsets. Starry nights. Makes this worn out manufacturing manager a very happy man after one of the roughest days I've had since 2005. That's where the Aberlour comes in.

And what's with the picture of my coffee table? That's the familiarity of opening a Rockstar game and getting a big old map, just waiting for you to explore. It's one of those experiences missed by folks just downloading a game or renting it. I know that sounds silly to some, and that's okay. But to me, it's fantastic. Flip it over and you have a poster. Nice artwork that will go far in my review, and something I wish or tapped more into. Alas, a quick search on the site yields nothing.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just a game. But, ya know, if it hits you right? Man, right place, right time. Looking forward to taking this one in.
The above picture is something I took. I could probably find something on the web that is clear or something, but I wanted a shot that was my own, and I just wanted to be there for a while. After today at work... that's all I can ask for.

Simple Challenges Made Complex

BP has a burst pipe deep in the ocean that is spewing out oil to the tune of thousands of gallons a day. This issue is simple. Most people probably experience something similar... of course not to the same degree. Maybe it is a burst pipe during cold weather. A water hose with a leak. Maybe even a sewage line. The commonality of the issue is what makes the problem interesting to think about.

I've even done some problem solving myself using tools learned in manufacturing. Maybe a little 6 Sigma will help solve the problem. Silly, I know, but fun because (again) the problem seems so simple. Leaky pipe.

With 6 Sigma you identify a problem and use various tools to solve it. It's a way of organizing your thoughts and helps get to your root cause. In the case of the burst oil pipe deep in the ocean you could not only eliminate wasteful activity ("top hat" type solutions) and target ones that will work. Maybe a simple cause and effect (fishbone) diagram could help. This is where you state the problem on the far right (the fish head) and affix all possible inputs that could cause the issue. Doing this forces you to take a step back from the issue and mark off every possible thing that didn't cause the problem. Your not trying to solve it at this point, just trying to identify what caused it. In some cases, merely doing this exercise will solve the problem. For example: you could list a valve farther up broken pipe as the problem, or of like if you have a toilet that is stuck running. What you would do there is turn the valve off and fix the problem. No valve? then keep listing inputs to the problem marking them off one by one.

One key thing in starting the process is Defining the problem. It's step one and the most important. The problem here with the oil leak is not just the leak, but the damage it is causing the rest of the region. Pretty large problem so it would have to be broken up. Maybe simply to fixing the leak and the oil removal after the leak. It depends on the resources available.

DMAIC alert.

Define the problem, the voice of the customer, and the project goals, specifically.

Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data.

Analyze the data to investigate and verify cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what the relationships are, and attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered. Seek out root cause of the defect under investigation.

Improve or optimize the current process based upon data analysis using techniques such as design of experiments, poka yoke or mistake proofing, and standard work to create a new, future state process. Set up pilot runs to establish process capability.

Control the future state process to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects. Control systems are implemented such as statistical process control, production boards, and visual workplaces and the process is continuously monitored.

You could do all of that... OR just be a couple old southern boys who have experience in cleaning up after themselves.

Hay. Yes, hay is for horses. But it is also useful when you are working on your tracker next to a river and you spill oil in it.

Follow the link below. There are lots of other questions to be asked before it can be tried. But, ya know... sometimes a simple problem is made complex when it shouldn't be. I know the root cause of the oil is not solved by spreading hay all over the oil in the ocean, but if the leak cannot be stopped then we may be using a lot of hay to sop it up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Helltown Beer Racing

Forza 3 is an addictive game.

Red Dead Redemption

Been a little bit since I got excited about a new game. I've been eying this one for some time. It's yet another game that has gone way past deadline after deadline. More often then not it seems to mean the game is struggling. This one is no exception. Well, on the struggling part. It doesn't come out till next week.

I just read a letter from the wives of some of the game developers. It is pleading with Rockstar San Diego to lighten up on their husbands. Part of this seemed strange to me in that it seems to presuppose that only males are game developers. Sort of like wives of soldiers in the middle east. I'm scratching my head on this one. I don't know the game industry enough I guess. Maybe part of the issue is that there are too many males working at R*SD? I'm looking into it a bit much. But the impression here is that this studio is filled with a bunch of young males with no work experience from the QA tester to management.

Whatever the case. No one seems to address that part of the WIVES letter. If you read it you'll quickly notice the poor grammar. "To whomever it may concern," it starts out. Unfortunately, to an outsider, it makes it seem as if wives of developers are un-educated housewives with too much time on their hands. It muddles the message they are trying to get across and I do wish the had an editor. Hey, my grammar stinks, I know. I just wish theirs was cleaned up, because I know it must be bad out there for a letter to have been written.

The message I'm getting is that R*SD is a much different place then Rockstar North, the makers of the GTA games. Not different in the way that they treat employees but in creative talent and professionalism. Maybe the working conditions there are terrible, but I haven't read anything like this wives letter. In the world of 'here today gone tomorrow' game studios, this sort of thing can be devastating. I am hoping for this game to have the feel of GTA but I'm nervous about it. Man, it's exciting to think about a GTA type feel set in the West but it's hard to get hopes up with some red flags popping up.

We shall see. Angry wives, overworked employees, piss poor management... not a good combination of things.

I'm pulling for it to be good. Hopefully a labor of love type thing. Something else to take from the letter being written is that they are working their little nads off to finish it.

"Again balance is denied, as working conditions worsened with no appreciation. Working harder, longer, faster, yet there was never a guarantee of a bonus nor if there was any earned, when they will be received!"

Wrap your head around that. ugh.

So, who is Rockstar SD? It was Angel Studios (I love doing this by the way). It appears that the produced a handful of interesting games that I'll have to check out. I see that Mr. Bones is on the list, an old Saturn game that I remember. Good, creative game but alas, it was Zono, Inc that developed the game.

Back to hope for the game: Angel Studios helped develop the RAGE Engine which was the advancement of the Angel Game Engine. It's the one that GTA IV used. I thought it was pretty amazing, but only part of the success of that game. However, go back to that game and you will see just how much the environment played in the the experience. We'll see if the boys from San Diego can make this work. I'm routing for them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Action 52

Just finished watching The Angry Video Game Nerd's video on Action 52. Nothing sucks me back into game collecting then his stuff. Anyway, this video is a bit different then the rest in the way that he sticks with it through all 52 different games... well, 51. He is saving the 52nd for another video I suppose. And rightly so.

There is much written on Active Enterprises. Click on the link for a good one. Searching around I found full text of the manual. It's pretty funny to read the descriptions of the games. Here is a taste. Each sentence is from a different game. I'm just mixing them up randomly, because it really doesn't matter.

It's the last of the dragon wars.

The pasta has gotten out of control, destroying all terrible occupants and establishments. They are destroying everything and the only way to save the wildlife is to break the dam and let the water free. You have right and left thrusters.

Old man winter is at the top and is your goal, but it keeps snowing and he's blowing. Harder than it sounds. There is a black hole and on the other side are all your space dreams. It seems like your in the land of the giants. They're not human. They are everywhere. Using your tanks you must avoid the mine fields set by the evil army of Satan Hosain.

Brainy has his own robots and it's not going to be easy.

Ready your weapons and fire!