36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

September 30, 2011


Filed under: Database Administration — Kevin Feasel @ 4:01 pm

I loved SQL Server MVP Deep Dives.  Collecting dozens of short essays from the best SQL Server people was a brilliant idea, and the result was so good that I keep the book on my nightstand.  Manning is now coming out with Volume 2 (apparently in murkier waters), with some new faces, including Jen McCown, from whose DBAs at Midnight I learned of the new volume.

In the meantime, the rest of us non-MVPs (LVPs?) wrote our own book, to which I contributed several chapter titles.  I know which of these two books I’d rather buy…

September 29, 2011

A Horrible/Horribly Funny Joke

Filed under: Embracing the Horror — Kevin Feasel @ 11:47 am

The joke of the day.  It was the joke of the day last week, too.

One thing I miss about the academic world is that there are fewer people to whom I can tell these awful jokes and get the appropriate response.  Our resident Penguatroll threatened to kill me after I let loose a string of worse and worse puns.

September 28, 2011

Shana Tova

Filed under: Yiddishkeit — Kevin Feasel @ 8:51 pm

As another new year begins at 36 Chambers, I look back, realize that we’ve been doing this for 5 years now, and I still suck at this game…  So here’s to five more years of sucking and last-minute posts to make sure that I have something most every day of the week.  And that our resident Penguatroll fills in the gaps.  Go Team!

McCarthy On Ponzi Schemes

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 6:59 pm

Andy McCarthy makes some excellent points regarding Ponzi schemes.  Ponzi schemes are fraud, regardless of whether a particular governmental body agrees.  And if you believe that Social Security is, in fact, a Ponzi scheme, you should also believe that it should be demolished.  We are too late to prosecute its principal architects, but at least we can acknowledge its fraudulent background (as McCarthy does so well) and, eventually, tear it down.

Of course, given the way that welfare states are primed to collapse under their own weight, Social Security will eventually tear itself down, but that end will be more painful than a thoughtful unwinding.

The authorized Penguatroll guide to drafting in Madden 12

Filed under: Sports, Video Games — Tony Demchak @ 4:24 pm

We’ve already seen the Bayesian theories of Kevin in a previous post. This more of a “here are some useful tips I found!” kind of thing. I’ve drafted 10 times (in season 11 currently), and I’ve had my share of successes and busts.

– Kevin mentioned the in-season scouting’s usefulness for offensive linemen. I would also add linebackers and safeties. For those positions, I personally prize Hit Power, which is revealed there. Remember, tackling is the likelihood of making a successful tackle; hit power is how much bejeezus you can smack out of them (usually causing fumbles or injuries). You can get the play action rating of QBs and carry for all offensive positions but HBs — of marginal utility, to be sure, but not totally useless.

– Draft slots don’t matter a lot. The AI will “overdraft” or pick second round players in the first round if they’re good enough. It is far better to draft an awesome player in the first round, regardless of designation, than to hope he’ll still be there later on.

– Physical scouting is useful for every position. Probably most useful for halfbacks, wide receivers, cornerbacks, tight ends, and defensive linemen. It’s nice for QBs, but not necessary. If you’ve narrowed down your O-line pool, it can help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

– The “skills scouting” isn’t as helpful. It will give you general, short, and medium throw accuracy for QBs, as well as the other stats like throwing on the run, so it’s useful for them. You’ll get carry (and catch, I believe) stats for HBs. You’ll get catch for DBs as well, but not for WRs. It’s next to useless for linemen of any flavor; you can get tackling for linebackers, which is always helpful.

– The individual workouts are the most important tool you have. Consider this; the default settings give you 7 draft picks. If you choose wisely, you can know five people you’re going to draft right off the bat! Unless you have a top five pick, I wouldn’t waste more than two of your workouts on first round players; you have an almost zero chance of getting the best QB, LT or HB outside the top 5. Don’t be afraid to “waste” one on a fourth round player if you have the other stats you need; he might surprise you.

– I’m quickly realizing that potential is a little overrated. An 80 B player is always more valuable than a 70 A. Players jumping 20 points are really rare, and would take a lot of luck. The 70 As are usually late round picks, so it’s not the end of the world if you draft one anyway, but Bs are still potential Pro Bowlers and usually everyday starters. A B receiver with the right physical gifts can still be worth a first round pick. Remember: Awareness is a big component of potential, and for some positions (like QB) awareness is useless if you’re playing the games.

– The chances of your finding an elite QB outside the top 5 is pretty much zero. Trade up, if you can. Beg, borrow, or steal. It is much tougher to pass than run in Madden 12, and the QB is so big a part of that that it will be the single biggest limitation to your offense. A 99 QB, with a bad supporting cast, is FAR better than an 80 QB with a great supporting cast.

– Pay VERY close attention to the most important rating in the entire game: INJ. Is he an 85 overall with A potential? Great. Don’t draft him if he has 50 injury unless you’ve got an awesome backup at the position. INJ rarely gets better (can you confirm or deny Kevin?).

Those are my notes. I hope you find them useful.

September 27, 2011

Interesting, But Probably Too Difficult

Filed under: (In)Security — Kevin Feasel @ 6:49 pm

Bruce Schneier has a post citing a software liability proposal.

I can see two major problems, and these happen to be pointed out by commenters as well.  The first one is the definition of “normal” in the terminology.  If somebody gets all of a website’s data because of a SQL injection attack, is that considered “normal” use?  Certainly the website was not designed to be used that way, so would the website provider (or content management system, third-party plugin, or whatever) be liable in that case?

Secondly, it takes some really good development skills to have things so loosely coupled that you can simply “chop off any and all bits of your software they do not trust or do not want to run,” even if you limit that to the class or module level.  If you’re talking about being able to go into individual function calls and start commenting things out, you’ve increased the complexity of testing code so much that there’s no hope.

A proposal like this would probably increase code quality on net, but I’m not sure it would be practical.  Most of the problems we have aren’t as a result of “normal” use, so that would undermine the plan.  But at the same time, it would turn software into an extremely lawyer-bound field.  And the last thing we need is yet another place where lawyers run the roost.

September 26, 2011

Three Political Notes

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 6:51 pm

1) Herman Cain won a Florida straw poll, his first win in this election cycle.  This is certainly an interesting cycle on the Republican side.  I have my beefs with every one of the primary candidates, and wish I could mold a super-candidate from the main contenders.

2) Paco rants regarding class warfare.  As a wise man once put it, “the State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

3) There’s a reason we’re in trouble.  The reason is government spending.  People are free to complain that George W. Bush was a big spender, too, and I’ll agree.  So this makes Barack Obama at least as bad as George W. Bush on domestic issues.  This sounds right.  But more importantly, we are looking at more than $10,000 per household too much being spent.  The Republicans’ silly “we’ll cut $7 million from a $3 trillion budget” joke is entirely meaningless in this regard.  You have to look at trimming a third of federal governmental spending before you get to the break-even point.  And given the trend of welfare state programs, in reality, you’ll need to go much further.  The math simply does not work out unless you abandon the welfare state altogether.

Are the Browns for real? Maybe, but I doubt it

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 2:49 am

For the first time this year, I’m actually glad I don’t have access to the Browns.

A 1 point victory? A QB that actually performed well during the two minute drill? These remind me of the Browns of another era. (Well, not directly, since I’m not old enough to remember the Kardiac Kids.)

15 yard celebration penalty? A player being out with strep throat? These remind me of the Browns of this era. (Seriously, Cleveland is always rife with injuries every year, but for some reason the training staff is never replaced. What’s up with that?)

With Peyton Hillis out, we won. This is good. We are 2-1, our best start since 2002. This is also good. However, I’m skeptical on whether or not it will last. First, we still aren’t running enough. Montario Hardesty did well in place of Peyton Hillis (yep, he had the strep throat), going 67 yards on 14 carries for a decent 4.8 YPC, with a nice 19 yard run. But Colt McCoy passed 39 times. And, according to all reports, did badly. 19 of 39? 48.7% completion? That’s sickening, especially for somebody in a west coast offense. He came through when it counted, so gold star for him, but that won’t get it done most nights.

What I like about this team is the defense and the running game (with a healthy Hillis and/or a Hardesty with more carries). We had five sacks and a pick, very nice. The passing game still frightens me. I have some measure of faith in Colt McCoy; after all, his skill set is very similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s done well for himself (at least this year). I’m ambivalent on our receivers, but like Ben Watson and Evan Moore. It’s too much of an X-factor for me.

I still hold to my prediction of 8-8. Maybe even better; the Steelers are oddly vulnerable this year. I love Rashard Mendenhall, as he played for one of my alma maters (a bright spot on a bad team) and I saw him play quite a bit. But he couldn’t run tonight, and while Big Ben did well, they just barely beat the Colts. An impressive feat any other year, but not this year, as the Colts may be secretly trying to Suck for Luck.

Could the Browns have a winning record in the division? Maybe, but I doubt it. The Ravens look tough this year, and unless Colt matures fast or we run the ball like gangbusters, I don’t see a way of generating much offense against them. We’ve already lost to the Bengals once; I think we’ll beat them the second time, but even if we went 2-0 against the Steelers (which is still unlikely), that would only make us 3-3.

Playoffs? Not without a lot of luck.

Then again, a 1 point victory in which Colt McCoy goes from Derek Anderson to Bernie Kosar at the end of the game would qualify as lucky.


September 25, 2011

Buffalo Is For Real(?)

Filed under: Sports — Kevin Feasel @ 8:49 pm

After Buffalo won their first game, I said it was National Jump to Conclusions Week.  After Buffalo won their second game, I figured it was just a fluke.  Last week, I was chatting with a co-worker and said that the first real test will be if the Bills come within 6 points of the Patriots.  Considering that they won today, beating the Patriots for the first time since 2003 (Year 1 of The Penguatroll Experience), this should bump up my belief that Buffalo is a legitimate team.

And yet I still can’t shake the belief that the team will collapse.  Before the year began, I was hoping for the Bills to do poorly enough to score Andrew Luck.  But the combination of Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick is a potent one, leading to lots of scoring (at least in non-winter weather; we’ll see what happens once the snow starts falling in upstate New York), and the defense has been just good enough to push the Bills to 3-0.

What the Bills have done right is take a team without that much talent and have them out-perform expectations (thus far).  The offensive line has allowed one sack in three games, which is nothing short of amazing.  Buffalo’s wide receivers have been very good so far.  Stevie Johnson is continuing his breakout, and David Nelson and Donald Jones have fleshed out the corps.  Scott Chandler has been surprisingly impressive so far as well (particularly in the red zone).  About the only guy on offense who hasn’t done that well is CJ Spiller, who hasn’t had much of an opportunity to do anything.

On the defensive side of the ball, however, the Bills are down to 3 healthy cornerbacks, with Terrence McGee and Aaron Williams out.  Justin Rogers may be back, and that would be a good thing.

Now, do I think this will last?  Well, give me a couple more weeks…  I’m back to rooting for Buffalo to have its first winning season this century, never mind the draft consequences.  Their next two games are against Philadelphia and the New York Giants.  If the Bills go into their bye week 4-1, I’ll consider that a good sign.

The Week In Hacks

Filed under: (In)Security, Computinating — Kevin Feasel @ 10:41 am

This was an interesting week in hacks.  We had:

Also awesome:  the Aldi Bot.  You can rent a botnet for 10 Euros.  No word on whether you need to put a quarter (or, for Germans, a Euro coin) into a slot to rent a shopping cart.  But think about this:  there are so many infected machines that you can rent out a botnet for so little.  Considering that there’s probably a pretty decent demand for these services, that tells you something about just how large the supply is.
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