07-08 Week 15 NFL Picks

posted on 12/13/07 at 12:00:48 am by Joel Ross

It's late, and I'm tired, so this should be quick.

  • Denver vs. Houston (-1) (47.5 O/U)
  • Cincinnati (-8.5) vs. San Francisco (43 O/U)
  • New York Jets vs. New England (-24) (49.5 O/U): This could turn out to be the ugliest game in a long time. On the other hand, these things don't usually pan out the way you expect, do they?
  • Tennessee (-4) vs. Kansas City (34 O/U)
  • Atlanta* vs. Tampa Bay (-13) (39 O/U)
  • Arizona vs. New Orleans (-3.5) (48 O/U)
  • Buffalo vs. Cleveland (-5.5) (44.5 O/U)
  • Green Bay (-10) vs. St. Louis (44.5 O/U)
  • Baltimore (-3.5) vs. Miami (38 O/U): Miami gets another chance. It all depends on whether they play the Raven team from two weeks ago or the Raven team from last week.
  • Seattle (-7.5) vs. Carolina (38 O/U)
  • Jacksonville vs. Pittsburgh (-3.5) (38.5 O/U): This should be a good game - probably the best of the week, and definitely the best AFC game. Both have the same record, and Pittsburgh needs to stay ahead of (and I can't believe I'm typing this!) Cleveland.
  • Indianapolis (-10.5) vs. Oakland (44.5 O/U)
  • Philadelphia* vs. Dallas (-10) (48.5 O/U)
  • Detroit vs. San Diego (-10) (45.5 O/U)
  • Washington vs. New York Giants (-4.5) (39 O/U)
  • Chicago* vs. Minnesota (-10) (43 O/U)

My "Lock Solid" picks this week? Cincinnati (-385), New Orleans (-195), Pittsburgh (-200), and Indianapolis (-600).

I'll be just about completely disconnected next week - definitely no access to spreads - so no review of week 15 until I get back and no week 16 picks. This is the first week I'll miss making picks in five years, so it's bitter sweet. On the one hand, I'd like to keep it going. On the other hand, I'll be in Florida (70-80 degrees) instead of Michigan (30s).

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Categories: Football


07-08 Week 14 NFL Pick Results

posted on 12/11/07 at 09:00:03 pm by Joel Ross

Finally! A very solid week. It's tough to get much better than this. 15-1 picking games - only missed the Tampa Bay vs. Houston game, where I picked the favorite, and they were upset. So even Vegas was on my side! Even missing that game, I still took a major chunk out of my negative overall total, finishing ahead by almost $175. Not too bad!

I went 4-0 on "Lock Solid" picks too - it's been a while since I've done that as well. That brings me to 40-16 for the year. It also produced $13.34 in winnings. So now I'm down $30.36 overall.

I'm enjoying seeing how the stock market compares to betting. Up until recently, the stock market was killing betting, but recently, I've gotten better and the market has gotten worse. My market value would be at $6,201.17, which includes $140.00 in transaction fees. Betting would have returned $6,156.31. So the market is still better - but barely. Less than 1% difference between the two.

  • Chicago 16, Washington 24 (-3) (37 O/U) [P: $6.25, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $25.34]
  • St. Louis 10, Cincinnati 19 (-6.5) (47.5 O/U) [P: $3.64, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $22.73]
  • New York Giants 16, Philadelphia 13 (-3) (42.5 O/U) [P: $13.50, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $32.59]
  • Dallas 28 (-10.5), Detroit 27 (52 O/U) [P: $1.82, S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($18.18)]: How many people thought this game would be this close? Or that it would be Dallas that would have to come back? The best part about the comments from Terrence Newman this week? So far this season, he hasn't blitzed. When did he think he was going to get a shot at Kitna?
  • Oakland 7, Green Bay 38 (-10) (42 O/U) [P: $1.90, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $1.90]
  • Carolina* 6, Jacksonville 37 (-10.5) (37.5 O/U) [P: $1.82, S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: $0.91]
  • Miami 17, Buffalo 38 (-7.5) (36.5 O/U) [P: $3.03, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $22.12]: Miami's perfectly horrible season continues!
  • Pittsburgh* 13, New England 34 (-11.5) (51 O/U) [P: $1.60, S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: $0.69]: I'm a Pittsburgh fan in a way. Why would you want to give New England motivation?
  • Tampa Bay 14 (-3), Houston 28 (40.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]
  • San Diego 23, Tennessee 17 (0) (40 O/U) [P: $9.09, S: $10.00, O/U: $0.00, T: $19.09]
  • Arizona 21, Seattle 42 (-7) (44.5 O/U) [P: $3.13, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $3.13]
  • Minnesota 27 (-9), San Francisco 7 (38.5 O/U) [P: $2.35, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $2.35]
  • Kansas City 7, Denver 41 (-6.5) (37.5 O/U) [P: $3.45, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $22.54]
  • Cleveland 24 (-3.5), New York Jets 18 (47.5 O/U) [P: $5.13, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $24.22]
  • Indianapolis 44 (-9.5), Baltimore 20 (44 O/U) [P: $2.11, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $21.20]: This is the same Raven team that should have beat the Patriots, right? Are you sure?
  • New Orleans 34, Atlanta 14 (-4) (43 O/U) [P: $4.76, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $23.85]

Results Summary

  • Picks (this week): 15 - 1 (93.75%) - Winnings: $53.57
  • Picks (season): 133 - 75 (63.94%) - Winnings: ($120.05)
  • Spread (this week): 12 - 4 (75.00%) - Winnings: $80.00
  • Spread (season): 103 - 93 (52.55%) - Winnings: $100.00
  • Over/Under (this week): 10 - 5 (66.67%) - Winnings: $40.91
  • Over/Under (season): 103 - 100 (50.74%) - Winnings: ($63.64)
  • Total Weekly Winnings: $174.48
  • Total Overall Winnings: ($83.69)

I'll post next week's picks in a few days, but it's looking like I'm going to miss making week 16 picks. I'll be in Orlando for the week, and don't plan to take my laptop - or any computer for that matter!

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Categories: Football


3 Steps to Better Podcasting Support on the Zune

posted on 12/11/07 at 01:48:10 pm by Joel Ross

I've been using the new Zune software with my Zune 30 since the update was released, and for the most part, I'm happy with it. I don't manage my podcasts through it because I want to keep all of my RSS subscriptions in one service, but I do use the Zune for listening to podcasts, which is where most of my frustrations comes from. After using it for a while, I've come up with a few suggestions that would make the Zune ideal for me.

1. Fix Monitored Folders
I have the software set to monitor one folder for music, and another folder for podcasts, but it doesn't matter - if a podcast doesn't have a Genre set to Podcast, it will be put into the Music section - which is kind of a problem when you play music on shuffle. One minute, you're jamming and the next you hear Carl Franklin's voice.

2. Allow Podcasts to be Added to the Quicklist
I have no idea why you can't do this. If you're listening to music, you can build a quicklist of songs that you want to play - but don't you dare add a podcast to that list! That's not supported, so after every podcast ends, I have to go and find the next one I want to listen to - I have no ability to queue them up, unless they're all from the same feed - and then you can't control the order they'll play.

3. Bring Back Auto Playlists
It's pretty obvious that the new software was rewritten from the ground up - and that's a good thing. But the way I used to get podcasts onto the Zune was through auto playlists, and it worked great.

With those three things added, I would be thrilled with my Zune. For now, I'm just happy.

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Categories: Podcasting, Software


Software Architecture on HanselMinutes

posted on 12/10/07 at 10:13:27 pm by Joel Ross

First, if you're a developer and you're not listening to HanselMinutes, you should be.

Having said that, show #90 with Dan Appleman is applicable to anyone in the software industry - developer or not. It's about Software Architecture, but it's really about a lot more than that. It's about the whole software life cycle from proposals to delivery, and the conversation is very interesting and engaging. So much so that I forwarded this particular episode on to a "higher up" at NuSoft to get his take.

Anyway, one of my key takeaways from the conversation was about the list of non-features - things that you specifically state that you will not deliver in your proposal. Why's that a good thing? Here's an example. If I put in a proposal that we would be building a billing system, that can be taken a lot of different ways. But if I add to that requirement that I won't be building any integration with a back end system, things get clearer. While you have to define the requirement better than I did, the more exclusions you put in, the more precise the requirement becomes - excluding features sometimes gives clients a better understanding of what they will get.

Anyway, it's a good, quick listen. 35 minutes I think - 1/2 that if you listen at double speed like I do.


Categories: Development, Podcasting


XML Comment Documentation Guide

posted on 12/09/07 at 08:44:32 pm by Joel Ross

I've seen quite a few posts about XML documentation guidelines, but this is by far the best I've seen thus far. It goes a step further than any I've seen - it specifically highlights what is supported by Visual Studio, NDoc, and Sandcastle, so you can make good decisions about the type of comments you can - and probably add more documentation than you normally would because you know about it.

It's not a small document though - it's 67 pages! If you followed all of the guidelines here, your documentation could be great.

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Categories: Development, Software, C#


Being Mindful of Personal Growth

posted on 12/08/07 at 09:00:43 pm by Joel Ross

After posting about my lack of growing lately, I was checking my "To Blog" folder in FeedDemon, and I already had a post flagged to blog about from J.D. Meier. He's got a bulleted list of things to do to ensure you have a mind-set to grow, rather than being content with your current knowledge. His suggestions are all really good, but a few stuck out for me.

Remind yourself you're growing or dying.  You're either climbing or sliding, there's no in-between (and the slide down is faster than the climb up!)

Software development isn't like riding a bike. If you stop doing something, you'll lose your skills. And you lose those skills a lot faster than you gain them.

Learn to like what growth feels like.   I used to hate the pain of my workouts.  Now, I know that's what growth feels like.  The better I got at some things, the more I hated how awkward I was at some new things.  Now I like awkward and new things.  It's growth.

When I first started consulting, I remember going home and having conversations with The Girlfriend (now known as The Wife) about how I didn't know if I was cut out for this software thing. I was just coming out of college and didn't have a clue what real software development was like. What I was doing didn't seem to make sense, and I didn't understand a lot of what was expected of me. I was expected to write SQL and VB code, but I had no clue what that meant. And don't even get me started about understanding the business reasons for doing it! To be honest, I was scared that I would fail because of what I was feeling - growing pains.

Things eventually came around. I got much more comfortable with what I was doing, and by realizing that I could adapt to new situations, I gained confidence. I got to the point where I looked forward to new environments - things I didn't have any experience in. Fear was replaced by excitement. The thrill of the unknown and the adrenaline rush you could get from doing new things was awesome, and I learned to embrace them.

Find a mentor and coach.  It doesn't have to be official.  Find somebody who's great at what you want to learn.  Most people like sharing how they got good at what they do.  It's their pride and joy.  I used to wonder where the "mentors" are. Then I realized, they're all around me every day.

At my first job, we each had a dedicated, official coach. His job was to ensure that I had all of the tools I needed to get where the company needed me to go. He was also the one person to go to when I had questions that I didn't know who to go to. He was key to my development early on, and I appreciate everything he did for me.

As I moved on, I no longer had an official coach, but I still have someone who I can go to when I need advice, and it's very useful to have someone with that experience. I'd recommend that everyone have someone like that - and not just a technical mentor. A "real world" mentor is just as important as a "work world" mentor.

There's a lot you can take away from J.D.'s list, but there's one link that's especially interesting, from Scott Berkun. It's about why being bad at something is good:

[...] being bad is a requirement in doing new things. To start anything new I have to concede badness

He suggests finding joy in being bad at something, but at the same time, not so much joy that you never try to improve. He gives a three step program to better yourself by focusing on the badness.

  1. Pick up a new activity that I’m bad at.
  2. Spend time enjoying my badness at that thing while trying to learn it.
  3. If I somehow get good at that thing, go to #1

Maybe I'll start the same thing, starting with singing. Of course, I'd feel bad for the people sitting by me!

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Categories: Consulting, Personal, Development


How Much Is In Your Content Savings Account?

posted on 12/07/07 at 09:00:40 pm by Joel Ross

Photo by jsweiringa

I've been reading a new blog lately, and it's not a technical one. It seems to be mainly about how to blog, and there's a few good gems in there. One that intrigued me was about your writing budget. Not monetary budget, but how much is in your content "savings account."

After reading through it, I'm going to be experimenting with my blog posting habits - posting less, but being more consistent with my schedule. As I'm writing this, I have five completed posts ready to be published, and 12 in draft status. Rather than publishing all five in one night, my plan is to spread them out over the next few days - trying to limit myself to one post per day, while also writing other posts in that time. Obviously, if I have something important or a short post, there'll be two that day, but for the most part, I'm going to try to keep to that schedule.

Why? There's a few reasons, but the biggest reason is because of my habits. Take last month, for example. I had 44 posts, but they all came on 19 days. That's over two posts per day when I posted - five days had 4 or 5 posts. They all came late at night, meaning that most subscribers probably got them all at once the next morning. I know from my reading experience, if someone posts that many times and the posts are of any substance, they get skimmed, so I can get through them quickly - your blog gets the same attention from me whether you have one post or four posts.

I also had four periods where I had two or more days between posts, mostly weekends, but not all of them. If I want you to come back to the site, I have to give you a reason to do it. In the past month, I think I've gotten more comments than I have in the six months before that, and part of that is being consistent - keeping people engaged. By posting regularly, that keeps you engaged.

There's a selfish reason for this as well. Traffic keeps coming back whenever I post. By being consistent with new content, that growth will continue - it's an ego thing, yes, but it's also about building a reader base who I can then interact with, which is important to me.

So, having rambled on for a while, how do you manage your content? Is it "feast or famine", or do you build up a reservoir for use when you're not writing as much as you want to?

Categories: Blogging, Personal


I Hate Browsers And Their Inconsistencies

posted on 12/06/07 at 09:10:11 pm by Joel Ross

I've been messing around with adding images to more of my posts when it makes sense, including some Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr. When I do that, I want to be able to add a credit under the photo (per the license agreement), and have been looking for a good way to do that, and I found a page on the W3C site explaining how to do it. There's a section on that page that talks about putting the caption on top of an image using CSS. It's a different way of doing it than I've ever seen, and, well, it didn't work in the browser I was using. So I decided to test the other browsers I have installed on my development box. Here's the results for all of them.

Internet Explorer


IE shows the caption at the bottom. Not exactly the top. But at least the image is there!



Opera doesn't even show the image. But I guess you could say the caption is on top. Maybe.



Firefox doesn't show the image either. At least not initially. I resized the window and lo and behold, the image showed up - with the caption on top.


That's better. I guess. Of course, now everyone has to resize their window after every page load to get it to look right. No big deal, right?

Safari (on Windows)


Yup. Safari is the only browser that appears to be compliant with what the W3C says should be happening. But look closely. The caption doesn't wrap and goes right on past the image (and gets cut off). 

Is there even a compliant browser out there? And if there was one, would we recognize it? Or would we call it out because it doesn't work like "it should" - i.e., like the rest of them?

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Categories: Software


Upgrading My Home File Server

posted on 12/05/07 at 10:35:52 pm by Joel Ross

I move a lot of files around between machines on my home network, and lately, I've been wondering why it's been taking so long to move files - and why my throughput was so low. I use Foldershare to do a lot of the moving automatically, and when it's moving files, it tells you how fast data is moving.

Before making any changes, the max speed I was seeing was 900 kB/s, which seemed a bit slow. - note that Foldershare reports speeds in Bytes (capital B), while the max speeds of network cards and routers is bits (small b). My router is 100 Mb/s and the transfer was from a wireless machine running at 54 Mb/s.

Unfortunately, the file server is an older machine, so I hadn't realized it only had a 10Base-T card in it (10 Mb/s). That's had to be it, right? Given that 10/100 network cards (100 Mb/s) are cheap, I replaced that first.

After replacing the card, I fired it up, and synced a file via Foldershare. Things were better, but not great. I was topping out at about 1.4 MB/s. Huh. That doesn't seem right. It's better, but not that much better. Time for some more digging.

It turns out that, since the machine is older, the motherboard's onboard USB is 1.1, and not 2.0. That's a difference of 12 Mb/s and 480 Mb/s. That's a huge difference, and explains the (only) minor gain in speeds once the network card was replaced. I have two large USB drives attached to file server, and that's where all of my storage is at, so that's where Foldershare syncs to. So now what?

As it turns out, NewEgg.com had a deal that day where you could get a USB 2.0 card for the cost of shipping. I can afford that, so I got one of those. It came yesterday afternoon, so I installed it and moved my external USB drives over to it. I fired up Foldershare, and copied a synced a large file. My speed? 1.5 MB/s. That's barely faster than before I got the USB 2.0 card!

It turns out this issue wasn't with USB 1.1 vs. 2.0. This is a Foldershare issue. On my file server, the CPU was running at about 100%, and most of it was Foldershare.

To get the new performance, I copied files directly rather than using Foldershare. I don't have any stats for this though - I didn't realize I would need them. I did copy over a 1.63 GB ISO file through the filesystem to see what it was like, and I was getting much better speeds - over 2 MB/s, and it was maintained speed. That's still lower than I would like to see, but it is a lot faster than it was a week ago, so I guess that's not bad, considering it cost me $5.00 for the whole upgrade.

Categories: General


07-08 NFL Week 14 Picks

posted on 12/05/07 at 10:29:19 pm by Joel Ross

I bet Chicago vs. Washington looked good in the off season. But now, that's a quite a battle of 5-7 teams the NFL Network has for itself!

  • Chicago vs. Washington (-3) (37 O/U)
  • St. Louis vs. Cincinnati (-6.5) (47.5 O/U)
  • New York Giants vs. Philadelphia (-3) (42.5 O/U)
  • Dallas (-10.5) vs. Detroit (52 O/U)
  • Oakland vs. Green Bay (-10) (42 O/U)
  • Carolina* vs. Jacksonville (-10.5) (37.5 O/U)
  • Miami vs. Buffalo (-7.5) (36.5 O/U)
  • Pittsburgh* vs. New England (-11.5) (51 O/U): This should be a great game, and potentially, the last big challenge for New England. Note that New England only needs to go .500 to finish the season to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs - and they still have the Jets and the Dolfins to go. I know they have a chip on their shoulder, but at what point do you start to back off and rest guys a bit?
  • Tampa Bay (-3) vs. Houston (40.5 O/U)
  • San Diego vs. Tennessee (0) (40 O/U)
  • Arizona vs. Seattle (-7) (44.5 O/U)
  • Minnesota (-9) vs. San Francisco (38.5 O/U)
  • Kansas City vs. Denver (-6.5) (37.5 O/U)
  • Cleveland (-3.5) vs. New York Jets (47.5 O/U)
  • Indianapolis (-9.5) vs. Baltimore (44 O/U)
  • New Orleans vs. Atlanta (-4) (43 O/U)

My "Lock Solid" picks for the week? Cincinnati (-275), Dallas (-550), Seattle (-320), and New Orleans (-210).

Check back next week for the results.

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Categories: Football


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