Upcoming Events And Current Happenings

I haven’t posted lately to this blog.  I am remiss in not doing so, but I have been looking at a jam-packed schedule lately.  Here’s a quick summary of big events.

Speaking and Conferences

Right now, I’m in Louisville, Kentucky for Derbycon.  This is year #5 of the event, and my 4th appearance.  Right after that, I’m going to be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 3rd for SQL Saturday Pittsburgh.  At that event, I’ll give my talk on the APPLY operator bright and early.  The week after that, I’m going to host SQL Saturday Raleigh.  I won’t present there, but I’ll be running around all day, as I’m the volunteer coordinator and the event coordinator.  Then, the following week, I’m going to SQL Saturday Charlotte.  This time, I’m giving my Hadoop talk, starting at 11:30 AM.

That will be my last SQL Saturday until at least December, but October has a couple of big events left in store for me.  On Monday, October 26th, I’m going to be in Seattle, Washington for FreeCon, put on by Brent Ozar and Kendra Little.  I’m seriously excited about this, as it’s a small group of really passionate data people getting together and talking about ways to do what we do even better.  After that, I’m spending the rest of the week at PASS Summit, which is spring break for database people.

That’s my last event for a while, but it’ll probably take me a few weeks to recover.

SQL Saturday Raleigh

As I mentioned, I’m heading up SQL Saturday Raleigh.  I’m fortunate to have a great team of people working with me, but this is a huge time sink.  I knew it was a lot of time last year, but this year, I have so many other things going on that it’s hard to juggle everything.  Nevertheless, I think we’re going to put on a great event and I don’t plan to lose any hair because of it…


The next bit of big news is that I’m now the chapter leader for TriPASS, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of PASS.  I’m going to be filling some big, big shoes and I know it’s a long-term commitment.  When I started speaking to groups, I decided that I wanted to do as much as I could for the community, and I think that this is a good way of doing that.

If you happen to be in the Raleigh-Durham area on the third Tuesday of the month, we’d love to have you out.  We’re also looking for speakers.


I’ve picked up my first consulting client.  When I started Catallaxy Services, I wanted to grow the company into a full-time consulting company focusing on small businesses.  At this point, I’m not positive that this is the path I really want to take, but I will admit that it’s fun to look at a new code base and tackle some new problems every once in a while.

If you’re interested in talking about some light consulting work, my details are on the company site.

The triumphant return (?) to UD, or Ten Years Later

While Kevin is in Louisville, I have been in Dayton. I was invited to give a lecture on Russia’s fleet performance in World War I, and I enjoyed the experience. I also got to stick around for the Phi Alpha Theta induction; it was gratifying to see they had a ceremony and food and everything (but mostly food). Campus has changed a lot — it’s much greener, with some ugly buildings being removed. Dayton has assimilated the NCR Building into the university as well (which is for National Cash Register, not the New California Republic). I got to stay at a hotel for free and even had a patio that I never used.

Tomorrow (that is, Friday), I’m driving up to Columbus via rental to visit with a friend of mine from high school, then it’s off to visit other family and friends in the Cleveland area before I return on Monday.

History rarely pays well, but sometimes the perks ain’t bad.

At Derbycon

Today marks the end of my Derbycon training.  This year, I ended up taking the basic Android hacking training.  I learned a good bit about the Android permissions model and we started to look into reverse engineering code from APK files.

Tomorrow will be the first day of talks.  Derbycon is a great conference, and one of the reasons it’s so great is that they pack in 10-12 hours of training each day.  Tomorrow starts at 8:30 AM and Irongeek will even be live streaming the opening sessions.  After that, sessions go on until 8 PM, and Saturday’s basically the same.

Clarification on stats in Madden NFL 16 and one possible bug

One thing that has not, sadly, changed from 15 is that it’s practically impossible to get stats from your defensive players commensurate with the top players in the NFL. While the offensive stats are realistic, the defensive ones are not — specifically things like number of tackles. The reason? The stats are generated based on 15 minute quarters with no accelerated clock. Thus, the #1 tackling linebacker in the NFL has twice as many downs played as Karlos Dansby. The fact my offense is pretty good at sucking up the clock probably doesn’t help either. Dansby should lead the NFL in tackles for loss with 15, over double those of J.J. Watt, but sadly the game does not recognize Dansby. It won’t hurt your team in a significant way, of course. They’ll still develop, but they probably won’t win many awards. I don’t know if EA will ever introduce proper stat scaling; it strikes me as fairly easy to fix, but what do I know? I’m no programmer.

There is one somewhat irritating bug I have discovered: 99% of players categorically refuse to re-sign during the season, no matter how much you offer them. I offered a backup guard three times what he was asking (which was 1.5 million a year for three years, but hey, he wanted the minimum…) and he refused. Some research on the interwebz suggests that in the offseason, players are more reasonable and will sign as they are supposed to. One thing I do find troubling is that Tashaun Gipson won’t even talk to me at this point in the season, although his contract is up and as a 91 free safety, I would dearly like to keep him in Cleveland. He doesn’t appear in my re-sign list at all.

I will keep you, loyal readers, apprised as I play through the season. I am off to a 5-0 start, but I face the Broncos next, the first truly elite offense I’ve run into.

Scouting in Madden 16

As we all know, EA has a compulsion to tweak scouting every season. This year, it’s finally solid, I think. It’s simple: you get 175 points every week, starting in Week 2 (maybe Week 3). For a total of 30 points (5/10/15) you unlock their top three skills. Once you get those, the game tells you the round his talent suggests he should be drafted in. It does not include physical skills — you get reports on that in the combine at the end of the season. So, for example, I’m looking at tight ends in the draft. I found a fourth rounder who fits my scheme and has B or B+ in catching, catch in traffic, spectacular catch. The game regraded him (but only for me) saying that he is a third round talent.

I’ll have more when I finish my first season.

One other thought: I think this is the year All-Pro is finally too hard for me (or, perhaps, too hard for the Browns). I won my first game on All-Pro, but it was ugly (lots of turnovers). I dropped down to pro and, while they’ve all been competitive, the turnovers are much lower and it’s far less frustrating. I don’t even want to think about All-Madden.

One other other thought: The stats are much more realistic, on the whole, in Madden than they have been in years past. I think they are finally scaling the season to your chosen time scale (i.e. 10 minute quarters for me). No longer do they expect you to get 150 tackles with every defensive player and the head coach’s golden retriever. The goals are better as a result. Sometimes the dynamic drive system is a little annoying: “You need to get three consecutive passes to your #4 receiver or you’ll cause a singularity!” (slight exaggeration) However, I think it’s a great system, and does force me to consider my offense carefully.

Thoughts on Game 1 of the NFL Season, Browns vs. Jets

We don’t have cable this year, so I’m keeping an eye on football mostly via recaps and articles. Keep that in mind as you read my analyses.

Cleveland seems to be in an era of transition, and our team strengths last year (running for most of the season, defense for all of it) seem to be gone. Cleveland only got 104 total yards rushing on 28 carries, but the running backs for the Browns contributed very little of that: 58 yards came from Manziel and McCown.

Manziel’s performance was a rookie performance. He did fairly well, 13/24 with a TD and an INT, good for 182 yards. He also got sacked three times and fumbled twice, leading to a Jets field goal. None of this is disconcerting. He’s learning the NFL game, and he made some nice plays.

There were two very serious problems: a huge amount of penalties (12 for 109 yards) and the complete breakdown of Cleveland’s defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was only slightly better than Manziel, and one of his TDs looked like an easy fade to Brandon Marshall for one yard. However, Fitzpatrick was never sacked and only intercepted once: Tayshaun Gipson, who made the pick, fumbled the ball, so even that single turnover amounted to little for Cleveland.

The real area of concern for Cleveland was rushing defense; unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be much better. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell ran all over Cleveland to the tune of a combined 153 yards on 32 carries, including two TDs for Ivory. Great defense begins at the defensive line, and the stats don’t look kind. There were only three tackles for loss the entire game, two by linebacker Karlos Dansby and one by linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Worse, of Cleveland’s top five tacklers, three were defensive backs. Granted, Donte Whitner likes to sit in the box, but still, that’s not encouraging.

The front seven has to be more active if Cleveland is to win this season. The penalties can’t happen. And the Browns have to work on turnovers. If McCown misses significant time — and I expect he will — Manziel has to be ready to be the man. Let’s hope he at least continues his Game 1 performance, if not improves throughout the rest of the season.