Monthly Archives: May, 2008

Playing the “Blame Hockey” Game Again

Some general sports bloggers are still up in arms about The Detroit Situation. For those of you living under a rock: Detroit sports fans were forced to choose between the Red Wings and Pistons, because games 1-3 of the Stanley Cup Finals and games 3-5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals were scheduled at about the same times on the same nights.

Just for reference, here’s a quick list of the parties directly involved in the schedule making process for the Stanley Cup Finals and both NBA Conference Finals, in no particular order:

  1. The NHL
  2. The NBA
  3. The Palace at Auburn Hills
  4. TD Banknorth Garden
  5. Joe Louis Arena
  6. Mellon Arena
  7. Staples Center
  8. AT&T Center
  9. ESPN
  10. ABC
  11. Versus
  12. NBC
  13. CBC
  14. TNT

Why is the NHL the only one taking the blame for this?

Thanks to our man in the Globe and Mail trenches, James Mirtle, we have a transcript of Gary Bettman’s traditional “State of the NHL” press conference, which he holds before Game 1 of the Finals. He’s wondering the same thing I am:

Q. Are you chagrinned or bothered by the fact that the Pistons and Celtics are going head-to-head against you both nights here and could you have gotten together with David Stern and done anything about it?

COMMISSIONER GARY BETTMAN: What’s interesting about that question is, and as I’ve watched the commentary on the subject, everybody seems to be focused on us. And I think that’s a little unrealistic and a little unfair. […]

And we, and I assume the NBA, made commitments in terms of scheduling so the networks that we’re on – and we’re on multiples in more than one language – to structure how they’re going to be programmed. Networks just can’t gut their programming schedules overnight. […]

What I think is going on – and I’m not privy to the NBA’s contractual arrangements, but I’m going to make an educated guess. TNT and ESPN, or ABC, one in the same for this purpose, schedule themselves out and they have programming, alternate programming on some nights, and then they schedule the NBA on others.

I also think, and I think I read this somewhere, that those two networks alternate who has the East and who has the West. We’re up against the NBA conference finals no matter what we do. So you’d say the logical question is: Why didn’t they just switch nights between the East and the West? And my guess is, and they were quoted as saying, it was locked in concrete over a year ago. And that’s why they didn’t switch it. Guess what, they’re not the only one who has to lock things in concrete to do business.

And so we had no choice. I’m not happy about it in terms of our fans in Detroit. But there’s nothing any of us could do.

(Emphasis added)

This is par for the course. The first rule of sports writing, whether you’re a blogger or MSM writer, is this: When you need a crutch, make fun of hockey. The Sports Point reached for it last night.

ESPN reached for it last week. No burying the lede for Eric Adelson. His first paragraph puts the blame right at the NHL’s feet: “What is the NHL thinking?” Curious that a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine would be asking that question, considering that the NBA Eastern Conference finals were exclusive to, you guessed it, ESPN. He could have found the answer on his company phone list, but that would let the NHL off the hook. Wouldn’t be good for ratings.

I sent something off to Le Anne Schreiber on Adelson’s column. Let’s see if it comes up in her next update.

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Thank you, NHL Network USA!

Thank you for simulcasting the 2008 Memorial Cup in the United States. Because of your foresight, I got to witness this live:

I am forever in your debt.

Was It Really This Bad?

(H/T: Paulsen at Sports Media Watch)

The Wonders of Modern Technology

So, if a guy in his living room can rewind the Versus HD feed on his DVR, advance frame-by-frame a replay of a disputed goal call, find clear evidence of the puck crossing the line, aim his cameraphone at his HDTV, and send video to the guy next to me at Mellon Arena, what the hell is the War Room using?!

Dagor Penntaur: I Can’t Carry It, But I Can Carry You

[EVGENI MALKIN has SIDNEY CROSBY, felled by his wounded ankle and the weight of The Puck, in a fireman’s carry. They are almost to the bank of the Delaware River. Suddenly, MALKIN hears a noise behind him]

R.J. UMBERGER:

The precious is ours! We wants it!

[UMBERGER jumps out from behind a parked car, and tackles MALKIN from behind. MALKIN, CROSBY and UMBERGER all tumble into an alley.]

EVGENI MALKIN:

Hey, I thought those goblins in Montreal took care of you!

R.J. UMBERGER:

Nasty goblinses couldn’t catch us. Now gives it to us!

[UMBERGER jumps on top of CROSBY.]

SIDNEY CROSBY:

Junior swore to protect the precious!

R.J. UMBERGER:

Junior lied.

[UMBERGER grabs CROSBY by the throat. CROSBY reaches up, and tries to push UMBERGER away by the face.]

EVGENI MALKIN:

Oy, Stinker!

[UMBERGER looks up to see that MALKIN has a beer bottle at his feet, and has his stick wound up for a slap shot.]

R.J. UMBERGER:

Huh? AAAAAGGGHHHH!!!

[MALKIN’s slap shot hits UMBERGER right between the eyes, knocking him out cold. He rolls off CROSBY.]

SIDNEY CROSBY:

Come on. Let’s end this.

May 10, 2008: The day Slashdot died.

Once again, Twitter, Slashdot’s most maniacal anti-Microsoft troll, beats on the truthout.org dead horse. Of course, Twitter and Marc Ash are cut from the same cloth. They both believe that they are so noble, and their causes so righteous, that they can freely stoop to any depth, and engage in whatever underhanded behavior they please.

Marc Ash was caught spamming totally unrelated Yahoo! Groups by joining and blasting emails through group addresses.

Twitter threadjacks a story, then shills his comment with three of his army of sockpuppets, including two accounts that are impostors of his critics.

And Slashdot does nothing.

Instead, Rob Malda posts this gem to the front page, claiming that Microsoft “prefers” Flash to Silverlight because Microsoft doesn’t have some super-special-secret transmogrifier that could spontaneously transform each and every Flash animation on each and every web site Microsoft owns into Silverlight content, and didn’t use it the very minute Silverlight 1.0 was released to the public.

Slashdot has turned reason and common sense and honesty against its own readers.

Delete your bookmarks, people. Redirect slashdot.org to 127.0.0.1 in your hosts file, in case you get the urge to go back. There’s no point.

There are plenty of places where advocacy of Free and Open Source software is done without the community being exploited. Slashdot is no longer one of those places. Their hatred of Microsoft has become all-consuming, and they’re proud of it. Time to leave them shouting into empty space.

Who else would I sponsor?

Finally, an answer to the question, “Who the hell would sponsor this guy?

Dagor Penntaur Flashback: Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe

[SIDNEY CROSBY is watching TV in his room at MARIO LEMIEUX’S house. MARIO and the family are visiting their parents back in Montreal, so SIDNEY has the house to himself. SIDNEY hears somebody coming down the hall. Suddenly, GARY ROBERTS rushes into the room.]

GARY ROBERTS:

Is it secret? Is it safe?

SIDNEY CROSBY:

Huh? What?

GARY ROBERTS:

The puck! Where is the puck?

SIDNEY CROSBY:

Up here on this shelf. But I don’t know what you want with…

[ROBERTS produces a pair of barbecue tongs from his coat, and snatches the puck from SIDNEY’S hand.]

GARY ROBERTS:

Hmm… yes. It is as I’ve feared. Do you know where this puck came from?

SIDNEY CROSBY:

Mario told me he found it behind the shed at Bob Errey’s house. Mario, Bibs, and Rex were shagging pitching wedges in the back yard…

GARY ROBERTS:

Mark Recchi was there? Then it is true. This is the One Puck.

SIDNEY CROSBY:

The One Puck? You mean Tugnutt’s Bane?

GARY ROBERTS:

Yes. You see those marks there? Left by Keith Primeau’s stick. This was the puck that ended the Penguins’ five-overtime game against the Flyers in ’99. This is the first time we’ve faced the Flyers since that series. If this puck is still hanging around, it could jinx the whole thing.

SIDNEY CROSBY:

And it’s been on my shelf the whole time?! We gotta get rid of this thing!

GARY ROBERTS:

Whaddya mean, “We?” You know what I’m capable of now. Could you imagine what I could do with this puck?

SIDNEY CROSBY:

So what do I do?

[Before ROBERTS can respond, he hears something outside the window. Grabbing a hockey stick from the corner of the room, he opens the window, jabs the butt-end of the stick at the ground, and hits somebody. ROBERTS grabs the person and, in one motion, hoists him through the window and slams him down on the table.]

EVGENI MALKIN:

Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean any trouble. I was just doing some gardening…

GARY ROBERTS:

A bit late for trimming the verge, eh?

SIDNEY CROSBY:

[aside] Trimming the verge?

GARY ROBERTS:

What did you hear?

EVGENI MALKIN:

Nothing. Nothing. Just something about a puck, and the end of playoffs. That’s all. You aren’t going to hurt me, are you?

GARY ROBERTS:

[arches an eyebrow] No…

Should I Give Paul Thurrott This Much Attention?

I don’t know why I continue to read Paul Thurrott’s work. Maybe it’s because he’s pretty reliable when it comes to Microsoft news. Change the subject to Apple, though, and he gets a little weird. It’s like watching an arms race between him and Steve Jobs to see who can develop the next, most powerful Reality Distortion Field.

I don’t click through to his SuperSite Blog often, so I’m a bit late on this, but I couldn’t resist picking apart his reaction to a PC World column on “missing” features in Windows.

Witness the Paul Thurrott RDF in action:

1. Expose
Expose is just next-generation window switching. Yawn.
2. Virtual Workspaces
Actually, this has been built into Windows forever, it’s just that Microsoft never felt the need to build a UI to access it. With Windows XP, you can download a free PowerToy to expose this feature.

Here, we see one of Paul’s most well-worn tropes: “The feature exists. What more do you want?” Well, Paul, we want a feature that doesn’t just exist, but works well enough to rely on. Expose works because it presents the maximum amount of information with a minimum amount of user effort. Cliched metaphor time. Think of each window as a sheet of paper on your desk. Vista’s taskbar thumbnails are like 1″ square Post-It note reductions of your papers. Good luck reading them. Flip3D takes all your papers and stacks them up, expecting you to riffle through them to find what you’re looking for. (XP has neither of those.) Expose spreads your papers out, and shrinks them only enough to fit them on your desk. Everything’s more legible, and Apple did a pretty good job of maintaining spatial continuity, so a window in Expose view is close to where it is at full size.

The less said about Windows’ “virtual desktops”, the better. Over-engineered to a fault, Microsoft didn’t give them a UI because they actually interfere with your work. And the PowerToy isn’t supported on Vista anyway. If a feature is there, and the people who put it there don’t want you to use it, does it really exist? Spaces wins this in a walkover.

5. Time Machine
Actually, this was copied from a Windows feature called “Volume Shadow Copy” that debuted in 2003. Apple just put a pretty UI on it.

Paul, you need to learn the difference between version control (which is what VSC really is) and a backup. True backups are never stored on the same physical device.

Paul also reduces the value of a feature to its mere existence again. Real backups on Windows are a pain in the ass. With Time Machine, you plug in an external hard drive, respond “Yes” when Mac OS asks if you want to use that drive for backups, and you’re done. Time Machine works because it makes backups so preposterously easy, you have no excuse for not doing it.

6. ISO Burning
There are so many free ISO utilities out there, this one isn’t even worth discussing. That said, how many normal human beings ever run into ISOs? Really?

This falls into the category of “You don’t need it until you need it.” (Yogi Berra would approve.) With Mac OS and Linux, it’s there. With Windows, it’s time to google “iso burner windows”, and hope the one you download doesn’t suck. And while you’re waiting for it to download, you can grumble about how you have to download what other operating systems provide out of the box.

7. Stickies
8. Podcast Capture
Yes, he just said Windows needed “stickies” and “podcast capture.” You know, for those 17 guys that would use either feature.

OK, podcast recording is a fair cop. Apple is gilding the lily there. Paul, don’t you think its a little bit condescending, though, to say that just because you don’t need stickies, nobody else would ever use that feature? I could use a 2nd Dashboard just for stickies. (OK, really, I need to replace those stickies with Yojimbo, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Let me write a sticky…)

9. Software Repositories
I guess I’d argue that Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace pretty much covers this, especially the amazing (and under-reported) Digital Locker feature.

Linux: “Here’s a central management tool for all the packages that make up your system, from the OS to major apps to trivial utilities. It will find, download, install, and update everything automatically.”

Microsoft: “Buy this stuff.”

10. Desktop Cube
Dude. You did not just list a single graphical effect as a feature Windows lacks. Oh yes you did.

Poor example on Robert Strohmeyer’s part, but it does illustrate how animation, when used properly, can be informative to the user. Going back to Spaces, you can see the spatial relationship between each row and/or column in your workspace without zooming out to the overview map. When you use the Ctrl+Arrow key shortcuts to navigate spaces, you can see windows slide in and out of your view in the proper direction, as though you’re moving a camera that hovers over your desktop. Vista would probably have some weird fade-in/fade-out effect, like the current open/close animations, if it had virtual desktops.

11. Application Dock
The most horrible feature ever foisted on Mac OS X users. Look: It holds permanent shortcuts and links to currently running programs and some other stuff. It’s a UI disaster.

And it still manages to be better than Windows’ everything-in-one-hierarchical-pile Start Menu. Vista’s type-to-search feature is a little better, but it’s still a pale shadow of Quicksilver.

16. POSIX Compliance
In NT from day one. Dropped due to lack of interest and shipping separately.

When nobody wanted it, it was there, but half-baked. Now that it’s desirable, it’s sold separately. Perfect timing.

17. Standardized Menu Ribbon
No offense, but this is an age-old debate between Windows and Mac UIs. No one cares anymore. They’re just different.

Xerox PARC understood Fitts’ Law. Apple figured it out for the original Mac OS. The Amiga team got it. So did DR in GEM. GNOME still gets it.

Microsoft won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.

All in all, Paul, you missed Strohmeyer’s original point: We shouldn’t have to download or purchase any of these things separately. These are things that could have gone into Vista. They probably should go into Seven, though I doubt they will.

Dagor Penntaur: I Guess That Concludes Negotiations

[RYAN MALONE stands before an army of 17,132 yinzers at the Valley Forge exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. At the front of that army stand GARY ROBERTS, MAXIME TALBOT, MARC-ANDRE FLEURY, KRIS LETANG, and TYLER KENNEDY.]

RYAN MALONE:

Men of Squirrel Hill! Of Blawnox! My brothers!

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

A day may come when our contracts expire, when we become unrestricted free agents and sign long term contracts with the Islanders. But it is not this day.

An hour of woe, of trading deadlines, when we are sent to Atlanta for some prospects and a pick in next year’s draft. But it is not. This. Day.

This day, we fight!

By all that you hold dear on this good ice, [raises stick] I bid you STAND, PENS OF THE WEST!

MAXIME TALBOT:

Ne’er thought I’d die fightin’ side-by-side with a goalie.

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY:

What about side-by-side with a friend?

MAXIME TALBOT:

Aye. I could do that.

PAUL HOLMGREN (whispering voice only MALONE can hear):

Malooooone… weee haaaave rooommm unnnnderrr the saaalaryyyy caaaaaaap…

RYAN MALONE:

[looks back at teammates] For Sidney…