For The Seventh Time, It's NFL Picks

posted on 2004-10-22 at 10:05:00 by Joel Ross

Yeah, I'm getting bored titling it the same way every time. And yea, the name's still dumb. But it's 12:50 when I'm starting to write this, so I have a right to be a little stupid with my titles. Ask my wife. Staying up this late is stupid!

Anyway, there's 10 home favoriites this week again. That's three weeks in a row that 10 or more home teams have been the favorite. The week before that, 10 road teams were the favorite. Once you know this type of information, everything else just falls in place. If you can figure out how that data affects games. Which I can't. So with that lovely explanation, here's my picks.

  • Buffalo vs. Baltimore (-5.5): Yes, Buffalo is coming off a win, but Miami isn't quite up to the level that Baltimore is. Baltimore should cover easily.
  • Detroit vs. New York Giants (-6.5): I waiver back and forth on Detroit. New York has looked good at times, and good enough (against Green Bay) at other times. I'll pick the Giants, but if Roy Williams is playing, Detroit has a good chance to win. He makes Harrington looks good.
  • Philadelphia (-7) vs. Cleveland: Philly is the power in the NFC right now. I don't see Cleveland beating them, let alone getting within 7. Of course, who knows. With the war of words between Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens, it may give Garcia some motivation to really take it to the Eagles. Still, I don't think it will be enough.
  • Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis (-9): Indy's offense is (still) unstoppable. Jacksonville's defense is good, but Peyton Manning has picked apart better defenses. Taylor should have a decent day against a weak Indy defense, but it won't be enough.
  • Tennessee vs. Minnesota (-6.5): Which Tennessee team will show up? The one who scorched the Packers, or the one who lost to Houston? And which Culpepper will show up? The one who throws three touchdowns or the one who throws five? See my point? Minnesota's offense is great! Culpepper looks comfortable, and isn't throwing interceptions this year. Minnesota should roll.
  • San Diego vs. Carolina (-3): Wow. Carolina must still be getting respect from last year's Super Bowl appearance. A team that's 1-4 is a favorite over a team who's 3-3? Maybe oddsmakers should take a look at the Financial industry: "Past performance is not indicative of future performance." I thnk San Diego will win this one outright.
  • St. Louis (-6) vs. Miami: Miami doesn't have a hurricane to help them, so this should be a cake walk for the Rams, who are quietly on a three game winning streak.
  • Chicago vs. Tampa Bay (-7): Tampa Bay isn't that good, and I don't think Chicago is that bad. I picked Chicago to upset the Bucs.
  • Atlanta vs Kansas City (-3.5): I picked Atlanta, but it is an odd week, so that may come back to bite me later. Mike Vick should be able to run all over the Kansas City defense, and when he isn't running, he can pass on them too. All Atlanta has to do on defense is stop Priest Holmes, and the rest will fall in place.
  • New York Jets vs. New England (-6): Barring a tie, this will be the last regular season undefeated match up. Probably the last one of the football season too - barring the winner of this team and Philadelphia going to the Super Bowl both without losing. I picked the Jets, but I think New England will win this one. It'll be close though.
  • Dallas vs. Green Bay (-4): I think Brett Favre has regained his composure, and is ready to start competing. Remember, Green Bay was 1-3 last season and still made the playoffs, so going 1-4 and then turning it around wouldn't be unheard of. I'm not going to go that far - their defense is not good enough for that - but they should be able to beat Dallas.
  • Seattle (-7) vs. Arizona: My lock of the week. Seattle has lost two in a row, and should be ready to get back in the win column. Arizona is a perfect team for doing that against.
  • New Orleans vs. Oakland (-3): I'm just not on board with the whole Oakland thing. I don't think they are that good. They traded Rice, so they got slightly younger, but they also gave up the best receiver of all time. They'll lose this one.
  • Denver (-6) vs. Cincinnati: Denver's running game is clicking (as if that's a surprise). Cincinnati isn't that good, and should struggle on Monday night. Denver to cover.

So there it is. Another week of picks. I'm finally starting to get into the season - other than hockey, I struggle to get into seasons until they start developing. For example, I'm just getting into baseball - after only 175 or so games! And basketball - well, usually I only watch the finals, but the Pistons being in it last year made me start watching in the Conference Finals. I still follow what's going on, but it's tough to get into watching the games early in the season. Anyway, I'm finally starting to look forward to watching a few of the match ups - probably more than I'll actually get to watch!

Categories: Football


Podcasting - Without The iPod

posted on 2004-10-21 at 22:59:11 by Joel Ross

A couple of days ago, I started to wonder about this whole Podcasting that Dave Winer has been talking about. Then I went to find the Fritz Onion DotNetRocks episode, and noticed they had a Podcast feed. So I started to wonder, how can I do podcasts? Not make my own - no one wants to listen to me blab on and on. I'm still surprised anyone wants to read what I write! No, I wanted to know how I could listen to them.

So I searched - podcasting on windows. And I found a set of great posts from Jake Ludington, which starts here. Basically, download iPodder, make an auto playlist in Windows Media Player, and there you go. I didn't go as far as having it automatically copied to a device - I only have a Pocket PC with limited memory. So I lsten to them while I code. So far I've listened to two episodes of Adam Curry's Daily Source Code (by the way Adam, my thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time - listen to the Wednesday October 20th episode if you don't know what this refers to), An episode of Trade Secrets with Dave Winer and Adam Curry, and a couple of the DNR episodes. And an episode of GeekNewsCentral's podcast. I still have one in the queue from Engadget.

It looks like today's Daily Source Code is coming down as I write this, so add one more.

Here's the problem with Podcasts, which others have touched on. I can read 300 feeds (I'm 7 feeds away from 300 right now) in a day (producing probably an average of 1000+ posts), but there's no way I could listen to more than 10 podcasts a day. I just don't have the time. With WMP, there's a way to help - you can turn up the speed of the playback. I'm not sure how much faster it is, but the guys don't sound like Mickey Mouse, so it's still understandable.

I'm not sure how many more podcasts I'll go after. If I were to find too many more, I'll need a way to listen to them in the car - I tried with my Pocket PC, but the volume isn't loud enough. I don't have a radio that can accept inputs, so that's not an option either. I can burn CDs, but that could get tedious after a while. Plus (no offense to Adam or Dave or other podcasters), what do I do with the old CDs? I'm not keeping them around. I'll have to try one more thing - can I use a rewritable CD in my car? Will the CD player read it? If so, then I may have some hope. Of course, it'll be difficult to give up Bob and Tom in the morning, but the afternoon commute could be used for podcasts.

Or - this would be way better. The next killer app? Who knows. What about using Microsoft's speech server for taking a podcast, and producing a transcript of the show? I know there are some issues with that, but the main complaint about podcasting is that I can read a blog entry much faster than I can listen to a podcast - this way, I get the best of both worlds. Listen to the ones I want to, and read the others.

Some day, maybe. Some day.

Categories: General


Toggle Borders

posted on 2004-10-21 at 00:56:03 by Joel Ross

ThunderMain has released a tool to toggle borders on tables, divs and span tags that's pretty cool. As a web developer, seeing where layout problems are is difficult, and the solution usually is to add a border=1 to a table. With ToggleBorders, that process is simple - right click on the page (IE only) and select Toggle Borders, and you can see how the page is laid out.

Categories: ASP.NET


The Purpose Driven Life

posted on 2004-10-21 at 00:31:34 by Joel Ross

I started reading The Purpose Driven Life a few days ago. The idea is that you read one chapter per day, and only one. Why? You have time to think about you've read for a day. Each chapter is roughly 4-6 pages, and it's 40 chapters. Even I should have the time to make this happen. My wife is doing it with me too - that way, we can share our thoughts about the book.

For those who don't know, it's a Christian book. I'm a Christian, and proud of it. But that's not the purpose of this post. The things in this book, while they definitely have a "Christian slant," relate to everyone.

For example, today's chapter was about what people are driven by, and how life can be better once you discover your purpose. Regardless of how you discover your purpose, Rick Warren's points are good. When you have a purpose, you have:

1. Meaning. This relates to more than just life in general. Think about your work life. If what you're supposed to be doing isn't clearly defined, it's hard to get things done. Having a narrow focus allows you to get stuff done, giving what you do meaning.

2. Simplicity. Again, I'll relate it to work. If you have a narrow focus, you know exactly what tasks need to be completed, and what tasks aren't worth the effort. This simplifies what you have to do in a day, and gives you reasons to say no. Isn't this one of the tenets of Extreme Programming?

3. Focus. I think the above explanation applies here too. It allows you to focus on a task.

4. Motivation. Knowing what has to be done and having a clear vision of how to do it is motivating. When I know I have a day in the office that I can sit down and crank without interuptions, I'm motivated. Seeing the results motivate me too.

His last point primarily applies to Christians - having a purpose prepares you for eternity.

Here's a question to ponder (from the book). What would someone close to you say your driving force is? What do you say it is? Those are tough questions to answer, and ideally, you would like others to see the same driving force you see. But is it?

I'll probably post about the book as I think about each chapter, and have enough to make a post about it. A friend of mine who recommended it said it changed his life and the way he approaches every day. If that's the case, then you'll probably see a lot more about it!

Categories: Personal


Does Anyone Use My Categories?

posted on 2004-10-20 at 23:59:37 by Joel Ross

If you do, let me know how. I am thinking about making the NewsGator thing permanent, and if I do, I want to blog from there, but categories aren't supported. If you like them, or (better yet) only subscribe to certain categories, I may reconsider.

Of course, if you only subscribe to particular categories, you'll probably never see this, huh?

Categories: Blogging


Technical Interviewing

posted on 2004-10-20 at 23:54:31 by Joel Ross

NOTE: If anyone out there is interested in an ASP.NET development position in the Grand Rapids, MI area, let me know. I know about a pretty good opening. In case you're wondering, it's not with Sagestone (this time). And if you are, you can continue reading, but I won't be doing the interview, so it won't help you any!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog entry.

I've been in seven interviews for technical positions, and haven't gotten a single programming question. On the other hand, I've heard stories about Microsoft interviews where the first interview is a purely technical test. I can't verify, but that's what friends told me who interviewed with Microsoft at Michigan State's campus.

So when I interviewed, why wasn't I asked those types of questions? Well, for one, it was obvious. I was recommended by a friend, and was pretty much hired on the spot. The boss and I got along well, and that was it. But that was back in college, for a tech support position. In another one (and I didn't realize this at the time), there were no technical questions because the person doing the interviewing wasn't technical.

But those were "fluff" interviews for temporary jobs. On campus, when interviewing for my "real" job, I went on two interviews (which turned into a total of 4 interviews). No technical questions at all. Maybe it was different because I only interviewed at consulting companies. Maybe not. Either way, the questions were more about how I would approach a problem, rather than what a solution would be. Can I work with others in a team? What past experiences can you draw from that prove this? How do you best learn? How do you go about handling difficult situations? Things like that. They wanted to know that I could handle myself in front of a client, that I could work on a team, and that I knew how to learn.

That last part is the key. They didn't care what I knew. Most people come out of college not knowing what to expect from the real world, so what you know isn't as important as how you learn. In reality, that's what college is for - to teach you how to learn. These companies (to borrow a bad cliche) were looking for Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now. Yeah, they could have found a stud who knew VB 6 and ASP (what most of my initial work was done in), but how do you know that someone can adjust to the ever changing landscape? Would someone who's a stud in VB 6 be appealing today? Probably not. But someone who can pick up concepts quickly and think on their feet would be.

So how do you interview someone, and find the right fit? To me, college recruiting is about finding someone who you (as a company) can shape and mold into what you need. Know you'll invest some time and effort to get them there. But most hires probably aren't right out of college, and for those, most times, you need a balance between finding someone who can fill in right now, and someone who can help you in the future.

So what questions can you ask to get both?

For the future question, you really need to dig into their past accomplishments. What have they shown in their background? If they aren't used to working on a team, then they probably aren't a good fit for a team oriented company. If they have past experiences that show they can adjust to the changing technological landscape, you can be pretty sure they are going to be able to adjust as things change. What other things do you need to look for?

The technical questions seem to be almost more difficult. For example, if you want an ASP.NET developer, what's one targeted question you can ask that you can be confident that if they answer it correctly, they are good, and if they fumble it, they aren't the right fit? I have no idea - because everyone's experiences are different. For example, if you ask someone to explain the difference between user controls and server controls, does answering that mean you're a stud? Does answering wrong mean you are a dud?

Some things to consider the next time you need to hire a new developer. Or, if you're a developer, things to think about before you go into an interview.

Categories: Consulting


Nant And SQL Compare

posted on 2004-10-20 at 23:29:17 by Joel Ross

This is old news, but I just found a post about using Nant with SQL Compare to automate the database upgrade process.

Right now, we use SQL Compare to do database upgrades, but it's a manual process - Run the compare, and move objects by hand, determining what needs to be moved based on what has been done. Not a very scientific process. By doing something like this, the process can be automatic and happen every time a build is done, or whenever a weekly build is fired off.

It's also a good primer for building your own Nant tasks.

Marc's blog, while not updated very often, has some good content about using Nant and continuous integration in general, as well as more information about building databases - something that seems to be a struggle for just about everyone I talk to about automated build processes. And lest you only read the blog postings, check out his articles - he has four pretty indepth articles about using Nant for your build process.

Categories: Development


Criticizing Other's Code

posted on 2004-10-19 at 23:32:21 by Joel Ross

Mark Jordan recently posted about being careful when condemning how others go about coding something. I agree. I don't think I've ever finished a project without there being some piece of it that I would do differently if I had it to do over again.

Personally, if it wasn't that way, then there's something wrong. To me, that's becoming stagnant. If I don't learn something new, or a better way to do something, then I might as well retire. Plus, how many projects have you ever been on where every requirement is laid out ahead of time? Yeah, some may think they are, but once you dig in, something always comes up. If that doesn't happen to you, well, then I want to be on your projects and learn how you gather requirements! Those new requirements may lead you to want to do something another way, but the timeline may not allow it.

Yes, there are cases where certain types of code can be considered inexcusable, such as coding conventions - but even that relies on a team defining that ahead of time, and each developer being aware of it.

I do have one question for Mark though - does this mean you won't critique my code too harshly when you get into it?

For those who don't know - basically anyone other than Mark reading this, Mark is a coworker who was recently pulled onto my current project. So now he gets to get into the details of the monstrosity that I helped build. Let's just hope he doesn't register for the sole purpose of posting my code!

Categories: Development


Corporate Fear Of Blogging

posted on 2004-10-19 at 16:54:23 by Joel Ross

Robert Scoble posted about corporate fear of blogging.

I had this fear at one time. I kept an anonymous blog that was very impersonal and only gave out very vague details when I posted about technical issues or consulting related issues. Then Sagestone started their own blogs. Since then, I still keep a separate blog for my personal stuff, but I also blog there as I have relevent technical content to post there. I keep my football predictions off of there, since I doubt many people reading it really care about that.

But will I lead someone from there back here? Potentially. I haven't had a reason to yet, but if something comes up that I have a reason, I will. A couple of clients know about my personal blog, and they visit every now and then.

Now, how do I know that Sagestone supports my blogging habit? (Yes, this is an addiction!) Keith Brophy, our CEO is blogging (Robert, if you're reading, here's another CEO who's blogging!). He's just starting out, but it was the pressure of the employees (who made the blog happen in the first place) that convinced him to start. Personally, I think it's great. We are a small organization, but most employees (let alone customers) don't get a chance to sit down and talk to Keith. He's been in the business for a while, started his own (successful) business, and has lots of experiences to share. Plus, he was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year this year!

I think Scoble makes some good points, so let's take a look at some of the ponits.

1. People don't trust corporations. He's right. And big customers don't trust consulting companies. As a consulting company, anything we can do to give a personal touch is a good thing. On top of that, while consulting companies sell "the company" to clients, in reality, it's the people who keep them coming back. And to be honest, it's up to the people originally involved in selling the deal to make the potential client comfortable with us. For example, on my current project, we got a full development cycle contract because two of us took a week to go onsite and convince them that not only did we know what we were doing, but that we were the right fit to help them shape and build their vision.

Now, imagine if they had a way to read about us, not from what our sales team tells them, but from what we write. Not our resume, but what we post to our blog. They could see what types of things we have worked on, and get a feel for how passionate we are about what we do. I think that would make clients much more comfortable with us from day one.

5. Blogs build customer evangelists. I agree. Providing good services will get people to talk about what you're doing. We're doing some cool stuff right now behiind the scenes with Tourney Logic. Eventually, I hope to share some of those things. I think some of our ideas are very cool, and have some potential. Of course, there's issues with that - what happens if someone else takes your ideas before you can build it? For existing products, I think getting feedback on a blog (see Scoble's #2) on what we are doing with the Tourney Pool Manager would be great! Once things calm down, and we have a solid direction (meaning we can talk a little more freely), I think Tourney Logic should start a blog of our own. I'll work on that one.

Anyway, I don't have a fear of blogging. My company supports me.

Categories: Blogging


Week Six NFL Pick Review

posted on 2004-10-19 at 00:55:11 by Joel Ross

So here's my week six review. It's late, and I have to be up early tomorrow morning. Brevity is key here!

  • Miami13, Buffalo 20 (-6.5): One stinkin' point. Actually, only half a point, but you can't get a half point in the NFL. If Buffalo misses an extra point, or Miami went for two and got it, I'm right. At least I picked the game right.
  • San Francisco 14, New York Jets 22 (-10): More proof of my 10 point spread theory. This one looked like the Jets might lose it altogether!
  • Seattle 20, New England 30 (-4): New England continues to roll. They could roll for a while. Seattle was supposed to be the real deal, and have now lost two in a row. Not a good omen.
  • Carolina 8, Philadelphia 30 (-9): Philly continues to roll, and Carolina continues to fall. I think an Eagles vs. Minnesota NFC Conference Final is the most likely outcome at this point.
  • Cincinnati 17, Cleveland 34 (-3): Watching this game was an option here, but I didn't take it. Nothing about this excited me, and I couldn't even bring myself to watch it. I picked Cincinnati, and that was obviously not the right choice.
  • Green Bay 38, Detroit 10 (-2): I watched most of this one, though. Detroit looked pathetic, and Green Bay looked much better than they did the last two weeks. I guess my homerism bit me, didn't it? That's why they say never to bet on teams you have an interest in I guess.
  • Washington 13 (-1.5), Chicago 10: These two teams are pretty much out of contention, which means they bore me! Seriously, I'm just glad I picked it right.
  • Houston 20, Tennessee 10 (-7): Houston is turning out a decent performance this year. Beating Tennessee and Kansas City should be big for them.
  • San Diego 20, Atlanta 21 (-6): Atlanta is so up and down that I think they don't really stand a chance to go anywhere this year unless they get some consistency.
  • Kansas City (-2) 16, Jacksonville 22: Kansas City is done this year. That has to be painful for them - playoff team to a team that everyone in the league exploits.
  • Pittsburgh 24, Dallas (-3) 20: Like I said, I'm on the Pittsburgh bandwagon. Plaxico Burress had a pretty good game - that matters to me, since I watched him play while we were both at Michigan State.
  • Denver (-2) 31, Oakland 3: Just plug anyone into the Denver running game, and get 100 yards. It sure looks that way right now. Detroit let Droughns go in 2001. Right now, he has (in two weeks) more rushing yards than Detroit does in 5 games. Ouch.
  • Minnesota 38 (-3.5), New Orleans 31: I still think their lack of defense will be their downfall, but if Culpepper continues putting up 5 TDs per game, that's going to be tough team to beat. They already are. I can't wait for the Indy vs. Vikings game in November - that could easily hit a triple digit total. This was my lock solid money pick, which means I have been right picking the lock every week so far.
  • Tampa Bay 21, St. Louis (-6.5) 28: I didn't watch much of this, other than the Tampa Bay fumble late in the game that basically ended it. I don't think I'd want to be at Gruden's practice tomorrow if I fumbled like that. Combine that with the season, and that could be very uncomfortable.

I had a good week, recovering nicely from a three week slump.

 This WeekSeason
Against The Spread9 - 5 (64.3%)45 - 40 (52.9%)
Head to Head10 - 4 (71.4%)52 - 36 (59.1%)

I'll be back next week, starting all over.

Man, I need to get the NFLPicks project working, and build an export of the results into HTML for me. That would simplify this process a lot.

Categories: Football


<< 1 ... 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 ... 124 >>