Saturday, January 31, 2015

Final Thoughts Before Super Bowl 49.

As Cousin Sal put it, "the public is a loser". The public, seeing what the Patriots did against the Colts compared to how the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl, have decided to bet their money on the Patriots winning, with lots of offense.

But more often than not, the top-rated scoring offense lost in the Super Bowl, than the top-rated scoring defense. Last year is the perfect illustration of how a top scoring defense could shut down a top scoring offense.

Do you know why the Colts lost so badly? Aside from the fact that the Colts had a slightly worse scoring offense, they had a really lousy defense compared to New England.

Seattle's not like the Colts. Seattle's had the best scoring defense in the NFL, three straight years.

Case in point with the GB game: Seattle's defense stopped the NFL's top-scoring offense from taking full advantage of all those turnovers, including that last one with 5 minutes to go in the game.

In the year Pete Carroll took over, Seattle was 25th best in scoring defense; the following year they were 7th best; since then they've been tops.

In Pete Carroll's 9 years at USC, he had two years where they did not finish top-10 in scoring defense. His best scoring defense squad -- the 2008 team -- was one of the best in the modern history of the NCAA. His defense included NFL players like Eversen Griffen, Nick Perry, Shareece Wright, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Mike Morgan, Christian Tupou, Fili Moala, Jurrell Casey, Taylor Mays, and some guy named Clay Matthews III.

The points here are that scoring defenses win games, and Pete Carroll knows talent and can coach them.

Notably, scoring defense was the one stat I decided to ignore when I wrongly predicted that Oregon would blow up Ohio State. Where the stats showed Oregon with a very slight edge in scoring offense, Ohio State had a bigger lead in scoring defense.

Some fun stuff:
  • 53% of Americans and 53% of the world who've voted in ESPN's poll, are rooting for the Seahawks.
  • States with an NFL team, by a margin of 26 - 6, are rooting for the Seahawks, in ESPN's poll.
  • Even Portland's IKEA is rooting for the Seahawks.
  • It's all probably due to the Patriots being the most reviled team in the US and the world.
  • Before last year's Super Bowl, it was revealed that Pete Carroll was the coach that NFL players most wanted to play for, by a huge margin.
  • When New England lost during the regular season, they lost by an average of 13.25 points; when Seattle lost, they lost by an average of 5.5 points.
I suppose Deflategate served to push some more Americans on the side of the Seahawks.

I can see two sorts of outcomes here: The one where Seattle plays even for a half, but then comes out and dominates on both sides, pulling away with a big margin win; or alternatively, a tight game throughout, with Seattle pulling a late Wilson comeback special, taking the lead with a minute or so to go, and the LOB winning the game. If they lose, it'll likely be because they failed on the alternate scenario of a late 4Q winning drive (which is how they lost all four games this year).


31 - 17 Seahawks
(Alternatively: 21 - 16 Seahawks)

Monday, January 26, 2015

10 Thoughts for January 26, 2015

  1. Football: I must be excited about Super Bowl 49 -- I actually had a dream last night about getting ready for the SB and openly predicting that the Seahawks were going to win big.
  2. Football: Speaking of predictions, if I'm right, then Seattle's top scoring defense is the deciding factor that gives the Seahawks their second-straight Super Bowl win over a more powerful scoring offense. Seattle 31 - New England 17.
  3. Football: The reason why people remain skeptical of New England's explanations and comments over Deflategate, can be boiled down to Spygate. I have a longish write up on the experiments by Belichick and SmartHead Labs, here.
  4. Football: The NFL has warned Seattle that a Marshawn Lynch crotch grab at the end of a touchdown will result in a 15 yard penalty. I wonder, did they warn Michael Jackson against the crotch grab, too? They certainly didn't censor it out, the hundred or so crotch grabs during the 1993 SB halftime show.
  5. Football: This is the way-too-early draft conversion. Paul Richardson, drafted by the Seahawks in the second round last year, is considered a speedster. This year, the Seahawks could possibly get a bargain in the late rounds in George Farmer, a former teammate of Richardson who was even faster than DeAnthony Thomas. Give him a chance.
  6. Geopolitics: Greece effectively voted to stop austerity by voting in the Syriza party into a controlling share of Greek Parliament. It shouldn't be a surprise given that unemployment remains at around 25%, and extrapolated out, would take another 4 years to settle back down to pre-2008 recession levels -- assuming of course, that there wasn't another recession. A Greek exit remains a potential leverage to renegotiate ECB loan terms, in order to allow Greece to increase spending.
  7. Internet:The usage of social media to issue bomb threats yesterday, made me wonder if this was a form of swatting. Were there people on board those planes with a connection of sorts to someone who felt wronged? The dumb people who do these types of things, imperil our civil rights; there should be harsher penalties for those whose actions might encourage the curtailing of civil rights.
  8. Internet: It looks like the Portland Metro area won't be getting in on the Google Fiber bandwagon in this go-around. In Oregon, the reason might be a weird property tax rule, and it's been known for some time, now. If you read the very bottom of the WSJ article, it specifically cites this as to why Portland has not been included, yet: "In the Portland area, Oregon tax-assessment rules are delaying a decision by Google to expand its Fiber service there, according to a person familiar with the situation." I've already written an email to my state senator.
  9. Space: If you have not seen this, you must definitely check it out and play with it. It is the highest resolution image, ever, of the Andromeda Galaxy. It contains 1.6B pixels, and the full size image takes up 4.3GB! Fortunately, they have an interactive, zoomable tool to view the high res image, without having to download the 4.3GB file. Man oh man, this would make for an awesome image to show on an 8K TV.
  10. TV: Netflix is starting to fall back on my shit list. Two weekends in a row, they've said that they're sending out my discs on Friday, but the discs do not arrive until Monday or Tuesday. Usually they'd arrive one day later, and during the weekday that's still the case. So, not only is Netflix no longer open on Saturdays, but they're delaying disc shipments on Friday. Netflix has become too powerful, methinks.

Email to my state senator re: Google Fiber

Hello!

It seems that the state's peculiar property tax rule -- stemming from central assessment -- has indeed stalled Google Fiber in the Portland Metro area. According to the WSJ's article on Google Fiber's upcoming expansion announcement:

"In the Portland area, Oregon tax-assessment rules are delaying a decision by Google to expand its Fiber service there, according to a person familiar with the situation. ... It isn't clear if this approach would apply to Google, and the state legislature is planning to tackle the issue in coming months. However, it has created uncertainty for the company, the person said."

As a resident long hoping for competition, I am extremely disappointed, not just because the uncertainty has created a delay in competition locally, but that the state legislature has known since October's Oregon Supreme Court ruling that this would create a stumbling block for Google Fiber, and has not yet rectified this.

We don't have the luxury of months to figure this out. If Google Fiber construction is to move forward, we (meaning the state legislature) must be moving in weeks not months, don't you agree? That is to say, when Google has passed over potential fiberhoods that have failed to meet minimum signups, those neighborhoods have been placed on the backburner as construction has moved forward with others. Think about all those people who will miss out on Google Fiber's free connection offer, and the others who would have otherwise signed up for their free, 5Mbps connections. If we get passed over, who will voters blame?

Sincerely,

A very concerned voter and resident.


Feel free to copy and paste it in your own email / letter to your state senator, to register your frustration that their sloth-like speed has placed a Google Fiber rollout in the Portland Metro area in jeopardy.

About those Deflategate temperature / pressure tests.

While it is completely true that temperature can change gas pressure, you should remain skeptical of the explanations by Bill Belichick and the HeadSmart Lab folks.

Online, you'll see complicated formulas to determine pressure loss due to temperature change. Since gas volume remains the same, you can actually simplify to this formula (if you go the link, you can see nearly the same application of what we're trying to do here):

T1 / T2 = P1 / P2

where:

T1 = Initial temperature, absolute (T1 + 459)
T2 = Final temperature, absolute (T2 + 459)
P1 = Initial pressure, psia (P1 + 14.7)
P2 = Final pressure, psia (P2 + 14.7)

You're going to solve for T2, by assuming P1 = 12.5 (as Brady said that he likes his balls at exactly 12.5), and by assuming P2 = 10.5 (as reported by news outlets using their NFL sources) and T1 = 75F. Personally I find 75F implausible because at home I keep my thermostat at 69~70F (heating) in the winter, but whatever.

T1 / T2 = P1 / P2
(75+459) / (X+459) = (12.5+14.7) / (10.5+14.7);
534 / (X+459) = 27.2 / 25.2;
534 / (27.2 / 25.2) = (X+459);
494.74 = (X+459);
494.74-459 = X;
X = 35.74F

So what happens if you solve for P2, under the assumption of game time temperature of 51F?

(75+459) / (51+459) = (12.5+14.7) / (X+14.7);
534 / 510 = 27.5 / (X+14.7);
1.047 (X+14.7) = 27.5;
(X+14.7) = 27.5 / 1.047;
X = 26.27 - 14.7;
X = 11.57 PSIg

Now, I'm not a scientist, either. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn tackle complex formulas for calculating deflagration venting in buildings, so science and math isn't overly complicated to me.

But there's more to this.

Let's take the atmospheric pressure into account. Prior to the game, it was not raining; the atmospheric pressure was likely higher when these balls were inflated than during game time. As the ambient air pressure lowered from a storm front approach, the air pressure inside of the balls should have increased -- that is to say, the ball wanted to get larger.

Furthermore, Brady explained to us that he liked his balls exactly at 12.5 PSIg, which makes it impossible to believe that one out of the twelve balls remained at regulation. It's difficult to account for the disparity between the 2.0 PSIg pressure anomaly between the balls, except for one scenario: The ball boy could not access one ball, whether it was in play or otherwise being held onto by someone else.

Because the balls were checked prior to game, and because the average loss of pressure was 1.8 to 1.5 PSIg depending on who did the experiment, we know that the one ball that had remained within regulation, was not originally inflated above regulation.

So no matter how Belichick Science works or how the HeadSmart Labs tests were done, they did not approach real simulations of January 18. Since neither Belichick nor HeadSmart Labs showed video of the actual tests (notably the HeadSmart labs never showed their white board filled with the measured results), I suggest that we take their results with several grains of salt.

Like I said before, this one act does not necessarily tilt the outcome of the game, particularly in the Colts - Patriots championship when the difference between the two teams was extremely wide. But if one is apt to cheat, who's to say that they did not employ a variety of cheating schemes? Add them all up and they could tilt the game. That is why there needs to be an extra set of eyes on the Super Bowl, to ensure that the outcome was fair.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The data MetroMile collects via OBD.

I logged in, and saw that there was now an option to download data that MetroMile collected on your driving, through their OBD dongle. Naturally, I had to check it out! What I found was a bit breathtaking. Now, mind you that they do not bill you based on driving habits, but when you see what sort of data is collected, you can imagine the nefarious things one could use this data for.

Here's a partial list of the data MetroMile collects:

  • Latitude and longitude;
  • GPS speed;
  • Heading;
  • Altitude;
  • Odometer;
  • Number of GPS satellites pinged;
  • Acceleration in X, Y and Z coordinates;
  • Direction of gyroscope in X, Y and Z;
  • Engine RPMs;
  • Vehicle speed;
  • Control module voltage;
  • Manifold air intake flow;
  • Air intake temperature;
  • Malfunction indicator light on.
So what makes this so interesting? Because last week, it was reported that Progressive's dongle, Snapshot, was completely unsecured. Anyone with the right tools and expertise could access your data or control parts of your vehicle, either by intercepting the transmissions from Snapshot or by hacking their way into Progressive's servers. And because these devices transmit in real time, someone could also track you in real time.

Before, in order to control a car via the OBD port, you needed to physically access it, and plug something in there that you could then communicate with. With the Snapshot using unsecured transmissions, you no longer need physical access to the OBD.

So if you work for MetroMile and are reading this, please do confirm that your wireless transmissions are 100% secured. If they aren't, please secure them immediately!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DeflateGate is real. Now what?

It turns out, the NFL has found that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC championship game were inflated below regulation. The official report won't be released for a few more days, but this could be big.

This comes less than a decade after Spygate broke, and has probably permanently sullied the Patriots' reputation.

Did underinflated balls help them win against the Colts? Not on its own, no. But make no mistake about it, if it didn't confer some benefits, no one would have taken some air out of the balls. And with the history of Spygate and the lying the Patriots staff did over Spygate before the evidence came out proving their guilt, there is a legitimate question of whether other cheating tactics were deployed by the Patriots, to gain a significant advantage over the Colts.

And then you have to wonder just how long this scandal has been going on, too. Was this a one-time thing, or was it an ongoing effort? Did they just barely beat the Ravens by means of cheating, too?

So now we wait and wonder on the consequences of their actions -- does the NFL keep a close eye on the Patriots during all Super Bowl activities, do they add punitive measures such as taking draft picks away and fining the Patriots staff, or do they go so far as to keep Bill Belichick -- a repeat offender, now -- off the field in the Super Bowl?

As a Seattle fan, I was indifferent to the Patriots beating the Colts because on paper they seemed to be equally good, and the narrative of the matchups were equally compelling with either Indianapolis or New England. But with this scandal, surely all Seahawks should demand that the NFL keep a close eye on the Patriots staff the entire game and at all practice sessions!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10 Thoughts for January 20, 2015

  1. Internet: I must have pissed off someone, because I'm starting to get a trickle of phishing emails with my name in it. Spam, unlike phishing, doesn't know your name, you see. :D
  2. Internet: It feels like Wired.com has become a home for libertarian-leaning conspiracists. Rules don't matter to these people, just support for their beliefs. And I've seen this happen many times: BoingBoing and Vox. People get so worked up in their righteousness, a group-think follows. Each time I've had to drop them from my reading list because the rah-rah bullshit became too much.
  3. Football: The talk in sports is all about the improbable miracle in Seattle, the comeback of epic proportions that people can't stop shaking their heads, and Green Bay players can't let go of. Easily the most amazing comeback, even if it wasn't the deepest hole to come out of.
  4. Football: Another popular narrative coming out of Sunday's championship games has been dubbed "Deflategate". Apparently Indy linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, upon his interception, felt that the ball was underinflated and gave it to an equipment manager who also felt that it was not up to regulation. From there it escalated and made its way to the refs who then pulled the ball aside for further investigation. The thing is, it really doesn't grant a big benefit to a team, because those Nike gloves are extremely sticky. The longer the NFL keeps quiet on the issue, the more likely there is substance to the allegation, leading the NFL to dig deeper to see how pervasive this violation was. If the report comes back before the Super Bowl, I suspect the Seahawks will gain millions of new fans. Updated: 11 of 12 balls were found to have been underinflated. Ruh roh!
  5. Football: USC's recruiting class is so strong, they're going to have to let some guys go in order to sign the 5 highly-touted recruits (Porter Gustin, Osa Masina, Rasheem Green, John Houston and Iman Marshall) at the top of their radar. And today Taeon Mason dropped USC in favor of Washington State -- not a big surprise at all. The interesting thing is, USC offered two other recruits (Kevin Scott and Jay Jay Wilson) in the past week, so it seems like there might be more decommitments coming soon.
  6. Football: I took a look at Oregon Ducks' depth chart, and there wasn't a single guy over 300#; the entire defensive line roster had just one guy over 300#. Neither do any of their current DL commits. By contrast, USC had 5 DL players over 300# this past season, and will have 5 next season. No wonder Oregon had trouble in the trenches against Ohio State!
  7. TV: Grimm appears to be filming at multiple locations in the Pearl concurrently, that they've blocked off street parking on a half-dozen blocks and parked a bunch of trailers on an empty lot next to the train tracks north of Union Station. With so many guards keeping an eye on equipment, it's a solid bet that there won't be any vehicle break-ins this week.
  8. Politics: You know, Democrats never did ask the voters to punish Republicans for their shutdown of government, in 2013. Either that, or the American voters rewarded Ted Cruz and gave Democrats the green light to use the same scorched Earth tactics, don't you think?
  9. Politics: The hour-long State of the Union speech can be read, here. One great line: "I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate." -- I've never understood why people claim to not be a scientist, and yet fill in the answers with their non-scientific opinions.
  10. Politics: Joni Ernst's response kind of freaked me out. She wore a smile whether she was offering criticism or positive comments. You know what was worse, however, was her trite GOP response that the US needed to readjust its policies to grow the economy, despite the fact that the US economy is growing faster than at any point during the GOP-led years of 2001 - 2006. Are we free to interpret this to mean that the GOP want to implement misguided dogma for policy, slowing down the economy?