Note to readers: the N.H.L. uses the singular ‘final’; the N.B.A. uses the plural ‘finals’ — which must mean that in basketball there’s more than one final series being played, an admirable manipulation of the time-space continuum.

(via TV Rating Faceoff: Stanley Cup Final vs. N.B.A. Finals – NYTimes.com)

I just keep reading this every few days and laughing each time. The New York Times is one of the seemingly few places that would catch and point out something like this.

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★ MLB Everywhere in 2013…still impossible but better than the rest:

While the MLB experience sucks in 2013, it’s still the best out there among the sports leagues and franchises. The MLB.TV package at $130 for the year for new users is still riddled with blackout and game restrictions (all Saturday games are blacked out) but, with a great Internet connection, you can watch games on your iOS and Android devices, PC and on your television. Samsung TVs even have the MLB app built in now. You need the Internet. Without MLB, well there’s your TV cable / satellite provider who will charge you about $250 for a season of games, also blackout restrictions apply. Finally, Satellite radio has you set for about $200 for the programing as a part of the deluxe package( Not an extra $20 a month but included in the $20 a month package)

The NFL, MLS and NHL leagues don’t have this sort of flexibility so, MLB is doing a good job but I don’t think it’s enough. We really need a one time fee that allows he end user to select what games they want, what features and where they want to watch or listen to those games. If I want only SF Giants games on my TV, iPad and in my car, that should be one price.

(Via Adam Jackson)

The MLB.tv & MLB At Bat apps are amazing. The league did a fantastic job creating the service, but to say the NHL doesn’t ofter the same amount of flexibility is just not true.

The MLS is expanding their reacher and their iOS apps are nice, but I do not think I have seen them on devices without app stores (TVs, set top boxes like Boxee & the Apple TV, etc). The NHL still requires a subscription via some satellite company and have some of the craziest black out rules in all of sports. Only MLB challengers their blackout rules.

With NHL GameCenter Live, I can watch old and live games from my computer, my iPhone, my AppleTV, an AppleTV, a Xbox 360, Boxee, Roku, Android, BlackBerry and Sony’s internet connected devices including the PlayStation 3. That is a lot of “flexibility.” All of this for only $50 for the entire season – granted, a shortened season of only 48 games which is much shorter than the baseball season.

The service also includes the radio streams, highlights and archives of games from the past. The NHL does blackout games, but the blackout regions are smaller than the regions covered by MLB teams. In Tulsa, I cannot watch the Dallas Stars hockey games. I also cannot watch the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. I just cheat the blackouts with unblock-us to get around the stupid blackouts (DNS, not VPN). A great $5/month. It will allow me to get around the NHL’s blackouts of the playoffs in the US & Canada. International GCL customers get that for free. We’re stuck with the radio broadcasts here which may be free, at least in the playoffs.

The NHL also has one plan. $50 for the season in one or two payments. That is it. The MLB has season long and monthly passes for radio stream only. I cannot tell which is a better deal, but it would seem to be the monthly option. Then there is the two different MLB.tv offerings. One costs $110; the other $130. The cheaper one does not include the mobile apps which the other leagues include for free. From what I can pull from MLB.tv’s site, the cheaper option forces the broadcast feed on the user. Just seems like the MLB wants to have an option with a lower price tag knowing users will surely go for the more expensive option.

With satellite radio and pay TV. The NHL has a station on Sirius-XS which carries game and NHL Center Ice cost cable & satellite users $50 this year as well. They just need to get the NHL Network back on Uverse. NHL Network, NBC Sports Network and NBC games are blacked out online. Verizon users can cheat it because Verizon has a deal with the NHL & NBC. I really dislike that. NBC does stream NBC games on the web, iPad, iPhone and Android (maybe more) for free, so that does help us out. The Blues have three Sunday games starting at 11:30a in a row to end the season.

The NHL did have trouble keeping the site only when the league returned from a lockout last January, but the service has been fantastic since then. We still are stuck in SD at home, so going to HD (despite a low bit-rate HD) is amazing. Just makes the game feel that much better. I have had no trouble keeping the 3000 Kbps stream since opening day. The web player can be strange, but all full-screen video on my computer is acting up. All other devices I have used use Apple’s default video player it is great.

MLB.tv might have been first, but do not judge NHL GameCenter Live. They really improved the quality of their apps before this season, the service works fantastically, it is cheap and it works almost everywhere.

EDIT:

The Apple devices all share one common theme, they don’t allow MLB to inject advertisements into their stream.

Strange though. Apple allows ads for the NHL. Sure the MLB just does not do ads online? Not all of the NHL’s games have ads, just most.

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Tulsa Softball vs UCF

07 Apr 2013

Link

 

Untitled

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Link

IMG_0405

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Some more pictures

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I took some photos at the Tulsa Basketball game.

Untitled

Check out the rest of the game on Flickr.

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Sequestor

07 Apr 2013

I wrote stuff, but it was bad, so it got rewritten. Not sure why I still got credit, but I’ll link it.

http://tucollegian.com/fine/issuetwenty/articles/newsarticles/Sequester_may_harm_Oklahoma_education.html

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Gun Control Control

07 Apr 2013

The crazy people at the Collegian, the student paper at The University of Tulsa, let me write stuff. This article below was featured in the Mar. 4th issue. (link)

A Missouri state representative proposed a new bill which would actually make it a Class D felony for any member to propose gun control legislation. A class D felony carries a maximum sentence of no more than four years.

The legislation, House Bill 633, comes from Rep. Mike Leara in response to the talk of stronger gun control legislation on the national and state level. One such bill is Missouri House Bill 545, which was proposed by Missouri House Democrats a few weeks earlier. HB 545 would ban high capacity magazines and “assault weapons,” which the bill defines as a “semi-automatic rifle” with the ability to “accept a detachable magazine” and at least one of four extra features.

All assault weapons must either be turned into the proper authorities, disabled or taken out of the state within 90 days of the legislation being turned into law.

Many on the right view this type of legislation, if passed and signed into law, as infringing on the rights under the Second Amendment. The conservative media, including blogs like Breitbart.com, radio shows like “The Dana Show” and several commentators on Fox News, had a field day with this legislation.

Yet when a Republican, Rep. Mike Leara, proposed legislation which would infringe on legislators’ First Amendment rights, very few on the right vocally stood up against this mess of legislation.

Most of those concerned with the bill were to the left, but some on the right came out against the bill too. Republican Rep. Kevin Engler of Farmington, Mo. said, “Everybody should have a right to introduce bills, even bad ones.” Those on the right against the HB 633 could not raise their collective voices to the same volume as many on the right had done after HB 545 was proposed.

Leara released this statement defending his bill: “I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” Because Leara knew this bill would never pass the Missouri Legislature, his defenders say that the legislation is nothing about which we should get upset.

The Democrats’ legislation attempts to ban certain guns while permitting others, in order to make our nation safer. Leara’s bill only makes our nation safer if one believes that the federal government, and President Obama in particular, is attempting to become tyrannical. That world is fictional.

The most obnoxious bit about this defense is that I am positive the Democrats knew their bill would not pass either. Both Houses of the Missouri legislature are controlled by Republicans with a veto-proof majority in both chambers over the Democratic governor, who tries to avoid conflict. I would claim that the Democrats simply wanted to state their position, just as Leara wanted to make sure his position was known.

The conservative media decided that it was better to exaggerate the extent of the Democrats’ bill with headlines and talk implying that all guns would be confiscated (some even suggesting the bill had passed) while letting Leara get off easily. It is not because they care about the Constitution, but because the attacks on the left help their political goals and positions. Many of the right like to hide their actions behind defending the Constitution and their love for America.

The Second Amendment is in the Constitution, and a change would be needed before stricter laws could be created. The Constitution and our rights as humans are always evolving. Our courts and legislators have shown time and again that rights can be changed, removed or added to better protect that nation as a whole.

I hope that at some point as many conservatives will be as outraged by similar actions from both parties. Until then, I will continue to be outraged by the spin, inaccuracy and inconsistency coming out of a large number of people on the right.

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Tulsa Curling

07 Apr 2013

The crazy people at the Collegian, the student paper at The University of Tulsa, let me write stuff. This article below was featured in the Mar. 4th issue. (link) Pictures from the evening are on Flickr.

A group of Tulsa residents led by Eric Vardeman began the Tulsa Curling Club in February of 2012. Vardeman, like many in the club, became interested in the sport after seeing it during the Winter Olympics. A few members are Canadians who have been curling for years.

Those unfamiliar with curling might begin by imagining shuffleboard on ice. Rather than using a stick to push a puck toward a triangle across the board, curlers set up on starting blocks similar to those in track. Curlers launch off the blocks, pushing a large, polished piece of granite, which looks similar to a wheel of cheese with a handle.

The curlers then release the granite “rock” toward the “house,” a target made of four rings painted under the ice. Two other players use “brooms,” which look more like mops, to sweep just ahead of the rock without touching the rock as it moves down the sheet. The friction from the sweeping causes a small layer of water to form, over which the rock can slide. The sweepers use their brooms to influence the speed and direction of the rock.

When the puck reaches the house, the fourth team member joins in with a broom direct the rock. If the rock reaches halfway through the circle, a member of the opposing team can begin sweeping in order to bring it away from the center.

Teams take turns sending rocks down the ice. After an inning, the team whose rock is closer to the center of the house receives a point. The team with the most points following 10 innings wins the game. If the game is still tied after ten, like baseball, rounds are added until one team can earn more points to win.

When the league started last year, Vardeman said he was looking to find seven other people, so the league could have two teams. Participation far exceeded his expectations, with enough players to comprise 14 teams in the first season, a number which, according to Vardeman, has been “fluctuating up and down” since then. In the current season, there are eight teams participating.

“People just kind of came out and tried. Decided they liked (it) and kept playing,” Vardeman said. “We’re just trying to make it to next year when the Olympics hit.”

He predicts a spike in interest following the 2014 Winter Olympics, and hopes to get newcomers hooked, as they have been in the past.

The current season is four weeks into the ten-week season, and meets on Saturday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. Vardeman says that there will be a shorter and cheaper mini-season soon, with more information coming later this month on TulsaCurlingClub.com.

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Stupid EU

07 Apr 2013

The crazy people at the Collegian, the student paper at The University of Tulsa, let me write stuff. This article below was featured in the Feb. 25th issue. (link)

I am often a fan of the European Union, but the EU clearly still does not understand the Internet and the world of computers. When Google consolidated its many privacy policies into a single policy early last year, it allowed data to be shared across all of Google’s services, which EU regulators say violates EU privacy laws.

Google was never charged with doing anything illegal, but the EU, lead by France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) continued to use harsh language when talking about the search giant’s privacy policy. CNIL and the EU went so far as to say that the new policy broke the EU’s laws, and encouraged Google to put a hold on the updated policy.

Google has since implemented the policy in spite of the EU, leaving the data regulators unhappy. In October, the EU gave Google until Feb. 18 to fix the problems—as the EU considers them—with the privacy policy. Once again, Google failed to satisfy the EU’s concerns and the EU regulators will be holding a meeting soon to decide the next step in this story.

Google, along with all Internet companies, should not have to deal with these absurd regulations. Google’s business model is almost identical to those of businesses including print media and sports teams, which rely heavily on support advertisements. Unlike a sports team or a print publication, though, the cost to run Google’s business is almost entirely covered by revenue from advertisers.

What distinguishes Google’s business model is that the company is able to collect a large amount of data about its users and more accurately advertise to those users. Sports teams and print media also collect data, but is not on the same scale.

Google is able to analyze all activity, including e-mails, and its users contribute quite a bit of data for Google to analyze every second of the day. The EU regulators are upset that Google has decided to merge dozens of separate data pools into a single user profile.

One way in which Google benefits is that working from a single platform is a lot simpler than working from dozens. It simply requires less work to support one system which spans the entire company than dozens which would have their own rules.

The policy does not just benefit Google, but it also makes advertisers and users happy. I have always been fascinated by big data, and the Internet is truly Big Data—a vast collection of small pools knowledge and information which can be analyzed to show us amazing new things.

Google uses this information to suggest YouTube videos, news stories, and most importantly for the business, to choose the ads we see each time we use the website. This personalized advertising can prove useful to the user, but might not have been possible had Google been unable to scan his or her e-mail.

The advertisers benefit because the money spent on advertising will be better targeted rather than wasted on uninterested eyeballs. Google benefits because it will make even more ad revenue and can create a better experience for the user, who Google hopes will stay on the website and view more advertisements.

Google should respect the users’ wishes and, for example, not steal a person’s cookies without permission, but nearly all data of Google’s data has been willingly provided by its users.

All users signed up and agreed to these terms which allowed Google to use their information to better advertise in exchange for dozens of free services. The EU has no reason to prevent the people from knowingly giving their data to Google.

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