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Journal: Hacking the NHL All-Star Game

Journal by TopShelf

With Montreal hosting the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, Canadiens fans are obviously excited to vote online to get their players into the starting lineup for the Eastern Conference. The league found, however, that after barely a day of voting, the "Flying Frenchmen" were in position for all six starting spots, with vote totals that were often 200% higher than rival stars like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, who are widely regarded as the biggest names in the sport. A script posted on a Habs fan forum enabled users to automatically hammer away at the NHL's balloting site, in violation of the rules.

The league has belatedly added a captcha to the voting page to confound the Greasemonkey crowd, but this episode begs a question: since the NHL boasts that its avid fans are exceedingly techno-savvy, isn't this exactly the sort of competition they'd like to see? For example, alliances could be formed between cities in opposite conferences to get each other's players into the honored slots.

Last year, a similar (albeit more grassroots) drive nearly led to journeyman Rory Fitzpatrick getting named to the Western Conference squad.

Upgrades

Journal: Help me build a new PC 6

Journal by TopShelf

OK, here's the scoop; I may, through my own stupidity, have fried the motherboard in my desktop PC at home, and am facing the prospect of getting a new one, and I'd like to get some input on which direction I should take, since it's been almost 5 years since I last did this.

The PC that may be dead has a P4 3Ghz processor on an ASUS P4C800 Deluxe motherboard, 1GB RAM (DDR400) and some peripherals worth salvaging (hard drives, DVD drive, etc.). I was trying to plug in some additional memory, decided to take it back out and check a few things online before proceeding, and closed up the box. When I fired it up, a rather nasty smell starting coming out of the case, and when I powered back down, I realized I hadn't taken the memory card out after all, and worse yet, it was sitting halfway into the slot. Now when I try to boot I get one long beep followed by two short ones, and endlessly repeating cycle that I haven't been able to get definitive info on as to what it means (some say main memory failure, others the video adapter).

I'm trying to figure out if perhaps the existing memory got fried and putting different DIMMs in might resolve the issue, but I'd rather not pay for that only to find out that's not the problem, and the mobo is indeed toast. So I've started browsing online for a new rig...

What I Do: A little gaming (NHL08), but mostly intensive database and spreadsheet work. I have a blog where I dig into statistical analysis of the NHL, and I'm in the process of designing a database that would be updated after each night's games.

Since it's been so long since I've had a box built, I don't even know where to start. AMD? Intel? 2 or 4 CPU? 2GB RAM? 4GB? 32-bit or 64? I assume, based on everything I've read, that XP is the way to go over Vista (Windows only, please). I'm not looking to blow huge sums of money here, so I like to find sweet spots where the diminishing returns for that extra $ start to tail off.

User Journal

Journal: Mimeprisal... I'm in 4

Journal by TopShelf

Post a comment to this thread, and I will:

1. Tell you why I befriended you.
2. Associate you with something - fandom, a song, a color, a photo, etc..
3. Tell you something I like about you.
4. Tell you a memory I have of you.
5. Ask something I've always wanted to know about you.
6. Tell you my favorite user pic of yours.
7. In return, you must post this in your Journal/Blag/whatever.

Databases

Journal: Which free (as in beer) database would you recommend? 6

Journal by TopShelf

At the risk of starting a classic flame war, I have a pressing request for assistance.

As a hobby, I blog about NHL hockey, in particular the extension of statistical analysis which until recent years has been about as sophisticated as ancient cave drawings. For the last year or so, I've pursued this by compiling data in spreadsheets for a series of ad-hoc analytical pursuits, but the time has come to formalize my data structures into a database with tables fed by scripts that parse game data as posted at NHL.com. But which free database should I use?

Some operational parameters to consider: I'm envisioning some basic data import tables (I'm developing scripts in Excel to pull the web data down and parse into columns), followed by a series of tables fed by programs which pull data together from a variety of sources (stored in table form for ease of reporting). Most of these tables would only run in the 1,000 - 100,000 range, while one in particular could run as high as 5,000,000 or so. There aren't many instances where multiple indexes over a given table would be required, but the reporting built off these tables could be computationally intense (i.e. exponential moving averages built off of subtotals).

So which DB should I choose? MySQL, PostgreSQL, Open Office's Base? I'm at a bit of a loss as to which direction to go in, and I'd rather not head down a particular path only to find it's not going to pan out.

Programming

Journal: How to bring mainframers into the 21st century? 8

Journal by TopShelf

I've recently been tasked with leading the integration effort for a large systems implementation here at work, and am facing a challenge more daunting than any mere technical obstacle; how does one best get hardcore old-school programmers to embrace a new way of integrating our applications?

We're replacing a large, homegrown COBOL application on a mainframe with a more modular, Java-based ERP on a midrange platform. The kicker is that we need to replace over 100 interface points between other internal systems and the legacy app, and the direction we're headed in is to leverage a GUI-based middleware product to accomplish that task, and take initial steps towards establishing a more loosely coupled, flexible systems architecture. I'm convinced this is technically feasible and will reap many benefits going forward (particularly as other major projects come along), but our developers have a hard time letting go of their point-to-point, custom programs with lots of embedded information directing processing for specific customers or situations.

This group is throwing every conceivable objection to the middleware approach, and most of them are failing to make much headway as we develop some pilot projects to build expertise, despite having had ample training and the services of a consultant to provide mentorship as they work their way up the learning curve.

The bottom line is that they are resisting this new method by any means available: submitting lots of trouble tickets for minor issues, not digging through the documentation and throwing up their hands in futility, etc. Has anybody else here in the /. community dealt with such a generational change in development technique with existing IT staff? We're all sympathetic for experienced workers getting pushed aside for younger talent, but if the old dog can't learn new tricks, perhaps it's time to head to the pet store...

Security

Journal: NHLPA rocked by email spying scandal 3

Journal by TopShelf

Just when you thought managerial spying was the exclusive field for tech-savvy firms like HP, the details are now coming out about an electronic spying scandal that brought down the head of the National Hockey League Players Association, Ted Saskin. Over the course of fifteen months, Saskin and an associate regularly accessed the email accounts of NHL player reps who wanted to have Saskin's hiring investigated. In addition, the results of a secret ballot ratifying the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement were provided to Saskin by members of the NHLPA's IT group - so watch out for any resumes listing NHLPA Network Security as a working experience!

Software

Journal: Anyone going to Summit 2007? 2

Journal by TopShelf

I'm heading off to Summit 2007 this weekend, running Monday through Wednesday in Vegas. It's the user conference for Information Builders, and I'm attending to check out sessions regarding iWay, their software integration tool. I just thought I'd see if any other /.ers would be attending...

User Journal

Journal: Tux racing in the Indy 500? 3

Journal by TopShelf

This morning's Indianapolis Star profiles a local programmer who is raising funds to put Tux on a race car for the Indianapolis 500, which runs in later this month. His website has already raised over $11,000 for the cause, which hopes to promote Linux during one of the world's most-watched sporting events. If he can raise $350,000, a primary sponsorship would be available, which would mean a larger logo featured on the side of the car.

User Journal

Journal: Checking out Multiply... 2

Journal by TopShelf

In order to follow the rest of the herd and see what the new pasture looks like, I've set up a profile over at Multiply. Instead of "TopShelf", I'm going by Forechecker over there, as that's the nic I'm using for my blog and assorted other online venues now (TopShelf comes from a column I wrote over 10 years ago)... so if you see a Forechecker knocking on your Multiply door, you know who's coming.

User Journal

Journal: The Mother of All Hockey Brawls - 10 Year Anniversary 1

Journal by TopShelf

The uber-brawl between Colorado and Detroit occured 10 years ago today, and back in those days I wrote for a hockey website called In the Crease (where "Top Shelf" was the title of my column, and became my /. nick). It was a purely "by the fan, for the fan" endeavor, but we had garnered enough credibility that I was issued a press pass to cover this, the most anticipated regular season game in ages. I've posted the original piece I wrote that evening over at my blog (complete with a link to some video of the game), since ITC is no more, only to be found over at the Internet Archive.

Enjoy...

Google

Journal: Google's YouTube strikes deal with NBA 1

Journal by TopShelf

Google announced today a partnership with the National Basketball Association to provide a new "NBA Channel" on YouTube, featuring game highlights and videos featuring NBA players. The new arrangement isn't as extensive as that between Google and the National Hockey League, which provides full games for online viewing, but marks a significant new addition to YouTube's partnership-driven content.

The NHL repeatedly gets blasted for perceived marketing failures, so it's interesting to see the media-darling NBA following in their footsteps in this case.

User Journal

Journal: It's Friday, and I'm pissed 3

Journal by TopShelf

I thought this was supposed to happen on Monday mornings, but I'm just in pissy mood today:

1. Weight loss has steadied off around 188, down about 20 pounds from where I started (and not going back up), but it's been hard to get back into the 3-workout-per-week routine, particularly after coming down with Strep last week. My original goal was to get down to 175 by early March, and it looks like I'll miss that by a fair margin.
2. Our hockey team, which is much improved this season, lost last night 5-3, and I had a couple bone-headed blunders that, while they didn't lead to a goal against, didn't help things.
3. We're not making as much headway on paying off our debts as I would like. We decided to go with minimum payments during the holiday season, but now we're having to catch up with some things (car repair, vet bills, etc.) that are getting in the way.
4. I found out yesterday (indirectly) that I'm not going to the user conference for the ERP system I'm implementing - although the CIO and a VP who's in charge of an entirely different system are going. I had specifically asked to attend this conference a couple months ago.
5. For our implementation project, we need to get IT training rolling to support our internal development plans, but HR is requiring every aspect of this plan (who's getting trained in what, and when) to be nailed down to the gnat's ass, with objective justifications as to why various people are getting trained and why some aren't, etc. Protecting the company from doing something that will get us sued is one thing, but they keep taking this way too far. We need to get the damn training going...
6. Our ERP vendor blows chunks. We're two months into a massive development effort (think many many man-years) with is due in Q3, and they still don't have a complete plan of how they're going to make it happen, and are still lining up resources. Oh yeah, and the bulk of the work is being done in an offshore startup (not outsourced, as it's their firm, but halfway around the world).
7. I'm realizing more and more that I hate project management. Nagging people to make sure they get $hit done is excruciating to me. Some people are great at that kind of thing, but I'm not one of them. Give me the analytical/architectural problems, and I'll do a great job.
8. WTF, Red Foreman? Where'd ya go?

Not everything is woe and misery. My writings are getting quite a bit of run over at Fox Sports these days, including my recent finding that there may well be a lefty/righty matchup advantage that coaches should utilize during shootouts.

Gotta go, time to flesh out this f*cking training plan for back-to-back meetings coming up...

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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