« December 2005 | Main | February 2006 »

January 24, 2006

Quote of the Day

Every once in a while there's a great quotable comment on slashdot:

Hint: When ever you hear somebody say "Our employees are our greatest asset" they're lying, or they don't understand basic accounting, or they're slavers and illegal after-market organ transplanters.

Working with Poor Data

I just read a lengthy article on the Seattle Mariners-focused blog U.S.S. Mariner called Evaluating Defense. It's a nice discussion on the current state of defensive statistics and their evaluation in baseball. Beyond that, it's a nice discussion on interpreting and making decisions based on multiple sources of not-so-great data.

On contradictory results:

[T]he age of defensive statistical analysis is still in its infancy, and as such, there is not a consensus system that is correct, or established as the industry standard. There are several systems built on solid theories that evaluate different parts of defensive prowess, and sometimes, these systems give widely contradictory results. So, what do we do then, if two systems, both well designed, can’t agree?

At this point, my preference is to take a prism perspective. All of the systems have strengths, and all have flaws. So I’d rather not take any of them at face value, but instead develop a general idea of a player’s abilities based upon as much good input as I can get.

On sample size:

The generally accepted principle in defensive statistics is that you need at least two years of data to generate any kind of real conclusion about a player’s abilities, and you’d prefer to have more. With [Yuniesky] Betancourt, we basically have 1/3 of one season. There are just way too many non-fielding factors that could influence the number over that period of time. Ball in play distribution is a huge factor in small sample defensive numbers, for instance. If Betancourt happened to receive more easy to field grounders than others, his number would be through the roof. If teams were whacking uncatchable balls into the hole, his rating would suffer, and because of the small time frame, the impact of a few extra balls here and there would be magnified greatly.

When it comes to defensive evaluations, you simply cannot ignore the issue of sample size. Limited data samples can be more misleading than informational. If you don’t have a big enough sample, ignore the data.... [W]e need to use the best available information we have, and in cases like [Betancourt's], that’s scouting reports.

Technorati tags:

January 20, 2006

Mariners in HD

I sent the following to Comcast, trying to figure out if I should get their High Definition service:

Will 2006 Seattle Mariners baseball games be available in high definition on Comcast? If so, how many will be on in HD and on what channel?

And their surprisingly quick response:

I understand you are looking for information regarding Seattle Mariner games in HD. Comcast and Fox Sports NW were unable to reach an agreement to carry Seattle Mariners games in high definition for the 2005 season. We negotiated in good faith with Fox Sports NW and made every possible effort to reach an agreement that would both cover their costs and not result in cost increases for our customers. Comcast could not accept Fox Sports NW's terms because the network is asking Comcast to contribute three to four times the network's cost to produce these games in a high definition format. Unfortunately, no information has been released regarding the 2006 baseball season.

Why do they hate America?

I'm sure Fox Sports NW blames Comcast just as much as Comcast blames Fox Sports NW. They're all bastards as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully they can placate my indignation by providing me with high-definition Mariners games in 2006 (and more than just a small fraction of them, please). If they do that, I'll go back to staring blankly at my TV like a good little consumer.

Technorati tags:

January 07, 2006

Interesting Words Update

In a recent post, I described a quick project I did that parses out the "Interesting Words" from a blog's RSS feed. I've just tweaked it a bit to that it includes 2-word phrases as well when figuring out which terms to display in the cloud of words.

For example, previously the interesting words for Throwing Food included "oil" and "olive". Now, though, it more appropriately combines those into "olive oil".

I'd like to increase the size of phrases to at least 3 words, but I'll probably have to do a bit of rearchitecting to keep performance in line. And, honestly, 2-word phrases are probably good enough.

January 01, 2006

Goal for 2006

My wife recently read the article in Time naming Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates as Persons of the Year. She told me I need to make a billion dollars so we can also start saving the world. I'll add that to my To Do list.