Creating Your First Bracket On

posted on 12/05/07 at 01:00:55 am by Joel Ross has been live for a little while now, and the feedback has been good, so I figured this would be a good time to highlight what you can do with it and explain some of the concepts behind the features. Maybe it'll even give you a little view into what's planned down the line.

Registering with myPlayoffs

myPlayoffsSigninTo start, we need to register. We opted to use Live ID for membership, so you sign in with your Windows Live ID. Then you're prompted to finish your user profile.


From there, you're on the "My Brackets" page, where you can create a bracket. You also have the option of clicking over to the "My Tournaments" tab, and create a tournament.

So what's the difference between a bracket and a tournament, you ask? Well, a bracket is just one individual, stand alone bracket. A Tournament is a collection of brackets, and is good for collecting a set of brackets. Think 3-on-3 basketball tournaments where you have different brackets for different age groups, but they're all part of the same weekend tournament.

Creating and Viewing a Bracket

To start, let's create an 8 team bracket - we'll create the 2007 MLB Playoffs. First, we set up some basic information about the bracket.


Once done, we go to the bracket management page. Here, we can change each competitor to match the MLB bracket. The editing is done right in the bracket, making the data entry pretty easy.


Now the bracket's ready, so we can view the public page, which everyone can see.


Managing Results

Once some results start to come in, we can enter them in the bracket - quickly and easily.


Now that the bracket is finished, the public page shows the overall results.


You can see the final results for yourself here, but that's the basics for publishing brackets. It's pretty simple and straight forward. There's another feature that I didn't show here, but we do have a feature where anyone can report a result to the bracket publisher. In the screen shot above, there's a button called "Report Matchup Result" and if you click that, you can select a winner and a round, click Submit, and an email is sent to the bracket publisher so they know a result has come in.

We have many features planned for the future, but this is a very basic step in the right direction!

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Categories: Develomatic, Software


07-08 NFL Week 13 Pick Results

posted on 12/04/07 at 06:37:39 pm by Joel Ross

It had to be tough for teams to take the field after a week where one of their own was shot and killed. The tributes to Sean Taylor were touching and emotional. It's too bad the media treated his shooting and death the way they did. Anyway, that's a little too heavy for this site...

"Lock Solid" review time. This seems to be the norm, but I went 3-1 and lost money - but only $1.83 this time. That makes me 36-16, but down $43.70. That's over a whole week behind.

As for my little experiment of betting versus the stock market, this week my portfolio would be worth $5,553.57. From betting, it would be $5,501.83 - meaning the market is better by $51.74. Of course, the original "investment" amount is $5,760, so both are losing overall.

  • Green Bay 27, Dallas 37 (-7) (51.5 O/U) [P: $3.45, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $3.45]: The best game no one saw. Or is it the best game that didn't actually happen? With Favre going out early, it seemed to be pretty much settled that Dallas would win - which they did. Good news for Packers fans though - Favre will be back next week, and Aaron Rodgers looks like a solid replacement once Favre hangs it up. As for the coverage, I watched some of it online, and if it was any indication of the network coverage, I'm not going to be pushing to get it anytime soon, and at least one person who did see it agrees.
  • Detroit 10, Minnesota 42 (-3) (45 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]
  • San Francisco 14, Carolina 31 (-3) (35 O/U) [P: $6.90, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $25.99]
  • Buffalo 17, Washington 16 (-5.5) (37 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]: That was a nice gesture from Washington to come out with only 10 players. Too bad Buffalo didn't know, and ran for 25 yards.
  • Houston 20, Tennessee 28 (-4) (42.5 O/U) [P: $5.13, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $24.22]
  • Jacksonville* 25, Indianapolis 28 (-8) (45 O/U) [P: $3.23, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $3.23]: Another great game for the weekend. Indy could be a dangerous and hard to predict team if they get Harrison back in time for the playoffs (and he's in game shape). Their biggest problem is that Freeney is out for the year.
  • Seattle 28, Philadelphia 24 (-3) (42 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: ($10.91)]
  • San Diego 24 (-4), Kansas City 10 (37.5 O/U) [P: $4.44, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $4.44]
  • Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 23 (-2.5) (41.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]
  • New York Jets 40, Miami 13 (0) (38 O/U) [P: $9.09, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $9.09]: It's not looking good for Miami to find a win this year. This was their best shot, and they lost by 27!
  • Atlanta 16, St. Louis 28 (-3.5) (42 O/U) [P: $5.00, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $5.00]
  • Cleveland 21, Arizona 27 (-1) (51.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: ($10.91)]
  • Denver 20 (-3), Oakland 34 (42 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: ($10.91)]
  • New York Giants 21 (-1), Chicago 16 (43 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: ($10.91)]
  • Cincinnati 10, Pittsburgh 24 (-8) (46 O/U) [P: $3.13, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $22.22]
  • New England 27 (-20.5), Baltimore* 24 (51.5 O/U) [P: $0.50, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $19.59]: How lucky can New England get? A timeout called by Baltimore cost them the game. But there was also a holding call in the end zone that kept a Patriot drive alive - giving them a first down which eventually allowed them to score and win the game.

Results Summary

  • Picks (this week): 9 - 7 (56.25%) - Winnings: ($29.14)
  • Picks (season): 118 - 74 (61.46%) - Winnings: ($173.62)
  • Spread (this week): 9 - 7 (56.25%) - Winnings: $20.00
  • Spread (season): 91 - 89 (50.56%) - Winnings: $20.00
  • Over/Under (this week): 8 - 8 (50.00%) - Winnings: ($7.27)
  • Over/Under (season): 93 - 95 (49.47%) - Winnings: ($104.55)
  • Total Weekly Winnings: ($16.41)
  • Total Overall Winnings: ($258.17)

Week 14 picks are on the way...

Tags: | |

Categories: Football


Announcing myPlayoffs

posted on 12/03/07 at 09:32:41 pm by Joel Ross

myPlayoffsDotCom_LogoAfter spending years on our planning board, Brian put a bunch of effort in over the past few weeks to get an initial version of myPlayoffs off the ground, and launched it tonight. So what exactly is myPlayoffs?

myPlayoffs will provide the world's best web application for hosting, managing and publishing organizational and individually sponsored tournaments.

Our vision for myPlayoffs is much bigger than this initial release, but we felt it was important to get something out there that was functional and useful and then we can slowly add to it over time based on our initial plans, as well as feedback from our users.

So what did we get done from the start? Bracket publishing! If you're having a tournament, you can use myPlayoffs to publish the bracket. Then you can manage the results throughout the competition. For example, Brian is running the Ping Pong Battle Royale right now - a little friendly competition around our office. You can also add a bunch of brackets to one tournament and see all of the brackets in one place - good for 3-on-3 tournaments where you have different age groups in different brackets, but they're all part of one overall tournament.

Later, I'll do a walk through of how to set up a bracket / tournament, but for now, I'm just happy to see it live after having the idea in our heads for so long!

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Categories: Develomatic, Software


My Blog Is Award Winning!

posted on 12/03/07 at 09:31:57 pm by Joel Ross

I actually laughed out loud when I saw this Tweet from Jeff Atwood this afternoon.


codinghorror Competition was fierce, but I think we now have a winner for worst blog tagline ever:
Mon, Dec 03 13:15:46 from web

I'm guessing he didn't realize I was following him on Twitter, so of course, I responded.


RossCode @codinghorror. I'm honored!
Mon, Dec 03 13:20:15 from web

Now, the only thing left to find out is where I pick up my trophy!

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Categories: Blogging, Personal


Do You Have a Vanity Folder?

posted on 12/02/07 at 08:40:08 pm by Joel Ross

I don't need another reason to be vain. Just ask the people that sit around me at the office! But Darren Rowse says I need to be more vain - and to do that, I need a vanity folder in my feed reader. Why?

The reason I call it my Vanity folder is that it’s a folder that is absolutely and completely dedicated to…. well me. The purpose of the folder is to track any mention of me or my blogs around the blogosphere (and in mainstream media).

He's joking about being more vain (as am I), and then goes on to give a few bullet points highlighting why you should be tracking yourself throughout the blogosphere.

I've had a vanity folder to track my blog posts so I can see who's linking to me or mentions me. I also use it to track links to Tourney Logic, NuSoft Solutions, and a few clients that we've built public facing web sites for. I've found press coverage on a few different things before most others saw it - including a press release that we were told internally was being held for another week or so!

Do you have a vanity folder? What do you track? If you do, what's the most interesting thing you've found so far?

Categories: Blogging, Personal


How Do You Grow As A Developer?

posted on 12/01/07 at 12:21:21 pm by Joel Ross

In the past few months, the idea of how a developer continues their education has been on my mind a lot. There's been a variety of reasons for that, but the underlying theme seems to be how you keep your skill set sharp.

The first place this came up was interviewing. Not me interviewing any place else, but I have been participating in interviews at NuSoft recently. While I feel it's important to know what experience someone has and what they can do now, it's more important to me to know that they can adapt to the ever changing technological landscape. If I was interviewing in 1999, I'd be asking people how well they knew ASP and VB 6. If that person didn't have the skills (or desire) to evolve, they wouldn't have a job right now.

Interviewing is interesting because you typically don't have any kind of background on the interviewee other than what they've provided you. It's easy to say what you think the interviewer wants to hear, and it's up to the interviewer to discern what is actually the truth. But it's difficult to fake how you learn.

With my role in NuSoft, I've had the opportunity to ask people how they learn best. In my discussions, we came up with a few ways that you (at least theoretically) can learn:

  • Books (or blogs, magazines, white papers, etc.)
  • Hands on
  • Training classes

I didn't have a huge sampling, but it was universally accepted that books and hands on learning were the best, and books were good for situations where you only had a small amount of time (an hour here, an hour there). I was a bit surprised that training classes were basically seen as useless except for those that teach obscure technologies - because most of what a training class teaches is available online now. Most of the feedback I got in interviews was also around those three techniques, with hands on being the most common response.

For me, I learn best when I am doing something. For example, I've read a lot about AJAX and it's many applications and sat through a few sessions at Mix 07, but it never "clicked" until I started using it and working through the intricacies. Same thing with building server controls. I learned more about server controls than I ever wanted to know when I built the Tourney Bracket Control.

Which brings me to the next step in growing. I know how I learn. But am I doing enough of it? Right now, the answer is a resounding no. I haven't had a chance to do something new in a while. My projects at work are the same types of things I have been doing for a couple of years, and my non-work time is spent with The Family, writing for, or working on Tourney Logic's suite of sites. Tourney Logic was originally founded as a learning experience, with financial benefits as a hope, and early on it was definitely a learning experience, both from a technical and business standpoint, but now, it's actually running smoothly and the most popular asset (Tourneytopia) is a big web application that just needs a few new features each year to keep it running - and while the features are cool from a consumer standpoint, they aren't really pushing the envelope technologically! So where does that leave me? I spend all of my time doing what I'm already proficient at and not necessarily what I think I should be doing to adapt to the next technology wave.

That's not to say I haven't been developing at all - I have been doing presentations a little bit, and I mainly do that for selfish reasons - I'm not comfortable up there, and by putting myself in those situations, I am now much more comfortable than I ever was before. I have three kids, and I'm constantly learning new ways to help them develop. I'm training myself to get even less sleep than I had been getting (I'm down to an average of 5-5 1/2 hours now). Not sure if that last one is good or bad!

So how do you get back into the groove of pushing yourself? I usually do it with a "pet" project - but I don't have the time for that right now. So I'm left with less invasive methods. I'm considering doing what Scott Hanselman has been doing - reading other people's source code. But again, that takes time. I think my only choice at this point is going to be to wait until I have a little more time. Right now, The Boy is up until 10 or 11, and since The Wife is too tired at night (usually sleeping on the couch), I end up spending time with him until he's ready to relax. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but not much learning going on there. That doesn't leave me with much of my own time. That'll soon change, as he starts to sleep more and more.

Anyway, after a long rant, how do you learn new technologies and keep your skills sharp?

Categories: Consulting, Personal


1,000 Lines Of Code

posted on 11/29/07 at 10:56:55 pm by Joel Ross

ScottW has an interesting new theory for prototyping:

if you cannot build an interesting working version of an application in less than 1000 lines of code, you are likely over complicating things.

I think he's actually talking about more than prototyping, but the idea is that if you can't get your idea off the ground quickly, then you've got a problem. And it's not that he's saying you can do anything in very little code. What he's actually advocating is leveraging third party libraries to get a lot of the functionality you need.

If you know me at all, you'll know I agree with this completely. Leveraging other people's work is key to quick software development. The less code you have to write, the less you have to maintain. Yes, there's the risk that the software you are using will have an issue and you won't get it fixed, or that it won't do exactly what you want, but getting 80% of the way there is better than nothing, right?

It's the classic argument of "Buy vs. Build" and "Not Invented Here". If you believe that no one can solve your exact problem, then you're going to have trouble following Scott's guidelines, and in the long run, your development costs will be a lot higher than they should be. By relying on the expertise of others, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time, and you're left with less code to maintain down the line.

I've got a few pet projects that I've wanted to get going. I think I'll give this guideline a try to get them off the ground.

Categories: Development, C#


Red Rings Of Death!

posted on 11/28/07 at 08:10:31 pm by Joel Ross

Last Wednesday, I was working from home and while The Family was gone for day, I decided to sneak out of The Dungeon and get in a little GRAW 2 time during lunch. In the middle of the game, my XBox 360 locked up. Turning it off and back on resulted in the infamous Red Ring of Death.

I shut it down, waited a few seconds, and started it back up. It worked - briefly. I did the same thing, and it worked again - briefly. At this point, I went back to work.

Later that night, I tried again and, oddly, by going through the level in a different way, no lockup, and thus, no ring of death. I figured something was amiss, but given that it was a holiday weekend, decided to see how things were after the weekend.

Fast forward to last night. No disc, no game playing. Nothing. Just turned it on. Over and over and over. Same outcome. The 360 is dead! Luckily, Microsoft expanded their warranty for this issue to three years, so I'm still covered, and I have a box on my way so I can send it in for repair. Unfortunately, it'll take three to four weeks to get it back!

Looks like December should be a productive month!

Photo courtesy of Spoon Monkey

Categories: XBox


07-08 NFL Week 13 Picks

posted on 11/28/07 at 08:10:05 pm by Joel Ross

If you go by the odds, there should be a lot of close games this weekend. 13 of the 16 games are 7 points or less, and 15 are less than 10 points. Only New England is out there - with over a 20 point spread! Good choice for Monday night!

  • Green Bay vs. Dallas (-7) (51.5 O/U): The best game no one will see. Although, I got an email saying it's available online, and going to the site, I don't see anything saying it costs money to watch it online. Can that possibly be true? They want to charge cable companies twice as much as it costs to carry CNN, but you can watch the games online for free?
  • Detroit vs. Minnesota (-3) (45 O/U): It's about time for Lions to collapse right?
  • San Francisco vs. Carolina (-3) (35 O/U)
  • Buffalo vs. Washington (-5.5) (37 O/U)
  • Houston vs. Tennessee (-4) (42.5 O/U)
  • Jacksonville* vs. Indianapolis (-8) (45 O/U): This should be a good game. Potentially the best of the week.
  • Seattle vs. Philadelphia (-3) (42 O/U)
  • San Diego (-4) vs. Kansas City (37.5 O/U)
  • Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans (-2.5) (41.5 O/U)
  • New York Jets vs. Miami (0) (38 O/U): I'm pretty sure we can call this the first truly meaningless game of the season.
  • Atlanta vs. St. Louis (-3.5) (42 O/U)
  • Cleveland vs. Arizona (-1) (51.5 O/U)
  • Denver (-3) vs. Oakland (42 O/U)
  • New York Giants (-1) vs. Chicago (43 O/U)
  • Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh (-8) (46 O/U): I'm scared of this pick. Cincy and Pittsburgh have a history of always winning at each other's stadiums. This year though, I think Pittsburgh is too strong. They'd be getting a lot of press if it wasn't for the Patriots.
  • New England (-20.5) vs. Baltimore* (51.5 O/U): So, if New England is running up the score in the 4th (again), will Ray Lewis rip Brady's head off, or just severely dent it?

This is a tough week to make "Lock Solid" picks. There are lots of close games, and picking the most likely ones for me was tough. But I did it! So I'm picking Indianapolis (-310), San Diego (-225), Denver (-185) and (unfortunately) New England (-2000).

Check back for results next week.

Tags: | |

Categories: Football


07-08 NFL Week 12 Pick Results

posted on 11/27/07 at 11:19:29 pm by Joel Ross

Finally, a decent week! 12-4 is by far my best week so far this season. Interestingly, the first time I got 12 of 16 right last season was also week 12 (but this dismisses the fact that I went 12 of 14 earlier last year). Maybe this season is going to turn around!

Then again maybe not. My "Lock Solid" picks again went 3-1, but lost $3.32. That makes me 33-15, but down $41.87.

With the recent down turn in the market and a decent week betting, this is the week that I'd be better off betting than investing in the S&P 500. In betting, I'd be at $5,038.24. If I'd taken that same amount and put in the index fund, I'd be at $4,914.57 - a difference of $123.67. Even taking into account that I've subtracted $10 per transaction in the index fund, I'd still be down $3.67.

Anyway, onto the results.

  • Green Bay 37 (-3), Detroit 26 (47 O/U) [P: $5.26, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $5.26]: These games are the hardest. Brett Favre is my starting quarterback in my fantasy league, but I wanted the Lions to win. I was torn watching Favre's three TDs.
  • New York Jets* 3, Dallas 34 (-14) (47.5 O/U) [P: $1.11, S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($18.89)]
  • Indianapolis 31, Atlanta 13 (-12) (41 O/U) [P: $1.60, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $20.69]:  If a football game happens and no one sees it, does it still count in the standings?
  • Denver 34, Chicago 37 (-2) (41 O/U) [P: $7.69, S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: $7.69]: This was a thriller. I thought it was pretty much over, but Berian made a great catch to tie the game up. Once again, you have to ask why on earth you would kick to Hester.
  • Buffalo 14, Jacksonville 36 (-7.5) (35.5 O/U) [P: $2.86, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $21.95]
  • New Orleans 31 (-3), Carolina 6 (41 O/U) [P: $7.14, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $26.23]
  • Oakland 20, Kansas City 17 (-5.5) (34.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: $9.09, T: ($10.91)]
  • Minnesota 41, New York Giants 17 (-7) (40.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]
  • Houston 17, Cleveland 27 (-3) (51 O/U) [P: $5.56, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $24.65]
  • Seattle 24 (-3), St. Louis 19 (44.5 O/U) [P: $6.25, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $25.34]
  • Tennessee 6 (-2), Cincinnati 35 (47 O/U) [P: $11.00, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $30.09]
  • Washington 13, Tampa Bay 19 (-3) (38 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: ($10.00), O/U: ($10.00), T: ($30.00)]
  • San Francisco* 37, Arizona 31 (-10.5) (37.5 O/U) [P: ($10.00), S: $10.00, O/U: ($10.00), T: ($10.00)]
  • Baltimore 14, San Diego 32 (-9) (38.5 O/U) [P: $2.22, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $21.31]
  • Philadelphia* 28, New England 31 (-22) (50.5 O/U) [P: $0.45, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $19.55]: Who thought Philly would actually give the Patriots a run for their money? Too bad they came up short. I think New England needs a loss to get them ready for the playoffs.
  • Miami* 0, Pittsburgh 3 (-16) (41 O/U) [P: $0.80, S: $10.00, O/U: $9.09, T: $19.89]: Did you see the punt that hit and stuck in the mud? That pretty much sums up the game, doesn't it?

Results Summary

  • Picks (this week): 12 - 4 (75.00%) - Winnings: $11.95
  • Picks (season): 109 - 67 (61.93%) - Winnings: ($144.48)
  • Spread (this week): 12 - 4 (75.00%) - Winnings: $80.00
  • Spread (season): 82 - 82 (50.00%) - Winnings: $0.00
  • Over/Under (this week): 10 - 6 (62.50%) - Winnings: $30.91
  • Over/Under (season): 85 - 87 (49.42%) - Winnings: ($97.27)
  • Total Weekly Winnings: $122.86
  • Total Overall Winnings: ($241.76)

I'm still waiting on the odds for next week to be fully published. There's a Thursday night game that no one will see, so I've got to have them done by then.

Tags: | |

Categories: Football


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