Sunday, August 29, 2010

New look

Yeah, it doesn't look like I put together 20% of my custom design and 80% of someone else's stuff, then gradually removed some of their stuff to add my own. It actually looks somewhat decent now ... although I'm sure I'll want to move things around again at some point.

Of course Google half-assed this part too; they don't let you assign your own background image, probably because that would be helpful. Instead, they want you to override their image with CSS containing yours, which is stupid because, of course, that's how they put their image in place. (With comments, even. o rly? Can't say I ever checked out a simple template to find out what the generic background was.) So I found this post from a fellow blogger that confirms that you can just change it where it's assigned.

Naturally, Google will do something else that will remove that customization eventually ... anyway, enjoy the new look.

Oh, sorry that the title bar changed. I'll see if I can set that myself, but it seems that I must have "broken" that. lol.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scheduling problems

Yeah, it's more Madden 10 stuff. My defending Super Bowl champs open the season with three straight road games, one home game, two road games, one home game, two road games. Seven of the first nine on the road.

Of course, we then get six straight home games before playing the final week on the road. The NFLPA would have a field day with this.

I do like that EA finally implemented real NFL scheduling a few years ago, but obviously they don't check everything about the schedules they generate ... no team plays more than three games in a row at home or away. I know it's tough to manage (I've done that stuff myself at times) but it needs to be done when you are creating a top-flight, realistic sports game.

Oh. Right. That explains it.

Hey, it's not just me. Check out the Amazon ratings for Madden 11. EA's got about one more year left of this, and after that, if they don't produce a clearly superior game, I think you'll see sales start to fall. (Of course, if they force motion-capture play into it, sales will disappear ... but that's another story.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The Big Ten adds Penn State to expand into Pennsylvania, PSU remains strong in football for the most part, other conferences add in panicky fashion (ask the Big East or the Big 12-2 or the WAC how expansion worked for them?), and people think Jim Delany is a genius.

The Big Ten creates its own network, goes toe-to-toe with some of the biggest jackasses in the corporate world, stares them down, and establishes itself as the conference to beat in terms of TV revenue. (No, really. When schools like Northwestern and IU get more money than schools like Notre Dame, USC, and Texas, all of which have deals tailored to benefit them, the Big Ten is doing something right.) Delany is a god.

The Big Ten talks about expanding again, sending pretty much every conference into a panic: they see how much the Big Ten gets now, they add some hypothetical numbers based on adding Notre Dame or Texas or Nebraska or all three, and suddenly every school is up for grabs. But the Big Ten just looks around carefully, allows Nebraska to enter, and waits as other conferences fail miserably. (Utah and Colorado to the Pac-10, w. No other major conference expansion. The Big 12-2 insists nothing is wrong here, move along, nothing to see. w.) Delany invented college football.

And then discussion of divisional play popped up, and suddenly we realized that all those other moves were just luck. Despite the fact that the ACC traveled down this exact road years ago, splitting up the Florida State-Miami rivalry because it would, of course, "dominate" the conference, only to discover that those teams have met exactly zero times in the championship game, the Big Ten is apparently insisting on the same foolishness.

Michigan and Ohio State should be in separate divisions. Stupid enough – there are clear geographic divisions right now, and even if that creates an imbalance, there are other setups that still maintain almost all major rivalries – but now there is talk that the teams will not play during the final regular-season week because HORRORS they might someday play in the conference championship HORRORS which might supposedly affect television revenue HORRORS.

So a bunch of know-nothings with their heads so far up their asses Escher would be unable to draw the resulting bodies have decided to shit all over tradition because, well, we wouldn't understand because we're just fans. Even though prominent people who actually understand what the hell they're talking about have clearly explained why this is so stupid, it's going to happen anyway. We all know this. TV always wins because TV always brings the money. (After all, that's why the Big Ten can decide not to invite Texas. The Big Ten has the money.)

This is why baseball games are over three hours long and Impotent Commissioner Selig can't figure out how to fix it. This is why you miss the kickoff of your 4:15 game, or worse yet, you miss the finish of your 1:00 game. This is why people don't watch the NBA any more. (Well, other than the complete lack of interest the sport generates on its own, its inability to enforce rules, etc. etc.) Television decides something and everyone else submits.

Commissioner Delany, you damn well better come up with something good after this. If your legacy is "The man who ruined the OSU-UM rivalry", you'd best retire somewhere out of the Big Ten footprint ... which may very well rule out Texas. Hope you like Florida.

Google Toolbar broken, can't update, breaks tooltips in Firefox 3

Google Toolbar doesn't work any more. No idea why. None of the buttons show up, can't search with it, can't change options. Uninstalling and reinstalling doesn't work ... and for an added bonus, Google no longer posts updates through Firefox's add-on manager. Why? Same reason Microsoft jacks around with stuff, to drive traffic to their site. "Don't be evil" my ass. All big companies operate the same way; they do so because they can. Market pressures are the only things that prevent smaller companies from screwing their customers as much as possible ... after all, that's the ideal business relationship for a company, everything for them and nothing for you.

For another added bonus, if the broken toolbar is installed, you get no tooltips anywhere. Why? Don't ask me, I'm just a user. (Of course, it could also be something on Mozilla's side, like the script that runs to infinity after I've updated the add-on and can't be killed because it starts up again right away. Nothing like going to Task Manager to kill Firefox so that you can finish installing an add-on.)

I find it interesting that this happened basically the same day that they added a new "feature" to Gmail, which of course means something else that none of us really wanted in the first place. This time it's the ability to make phone calls. woo! Way to undercut the market for your Android phones, Google.

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dear EA,


(no more ranting tonight. sorry for those of you expecting real content.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Madden 10 bugs

I know, dead horse and all that, and Madden 11 is out, but I have a Super Bowl to win in 10.

Anyway, this time the interception happened when the ball passed through my receiver. Through him. Not metaphorically speaking, like after a Brett Favre pass, but literally. The ball passes through his body.

I'm not holding my breath to see if it's fixed in 11.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A hopeless cause

Each NFL team plays 16 regular-season games. An average team wins 8 games per year (ties are very uncommon), but that team would be lucky to make the playoffs and probably would lose in the wild-card round. Add a couple of wins the following season, though, and now you have a 10-win team, one that might steal a division title and get a home playoff game. One more win the following season and suddenly you might be thinking playoff contender: 11 wins and you might be looking past the wild-card game to the divisional playoffs.

But that kind of improvement isn't common. Only 154 of 1605 teams have done it, less than 10%. So you'd think that if that is the expected outcome for your team, you should be happy, right?

Well, here's the problem. Football Outsiders' projection for the Lions this year is calling for that exact improvement ... leaving them with a 3-13 record. (Pick up a copy of FOA 2010 in the FO Store and see for yourself.) Sure, it's more wins than in the last two seasons combined, but 3-13 is hardly something to celebrate. Of those 154 teams, 4 of them won 0 games in Year 0: '42 Lions, '44 Steelers, '60 Cowboys, and '76 Buccaneers. Two WWII-era teams and two expansion teams. In two seasons, every one of those teams won 5 games or more, and that was before the 16-game schedule, mostly. (Ten to twelve games in the '40s, fourteen games through 1977, so the '78 Bucs did get two more shots at wins.)

So basically, if the Lions improve as projected, it will be less improvement than any other winless team has managed in two seasons. (Technically not – the wartime Cardinals were winless in '43 and '44, winning a single game in '45 – but they merged with the Steelers for the '44 season, so that doesn't exactly count. The only winless team not listed above, the '82-'84 Colts, are an exception as well because '82 was the nine-game strike season ... and the '83 Colts won seven games. They managed only four wins in '84.)

Yes, the team for which I've rooted since the early '70s was completely gutted by the worst GM in the history of professional sports, Matt Millen. He took a team that was literally a field goal away from making the playoffs and scrubbed so much talent from the roster that after two years of rebuilding, they still won't win 25% of their games. He was bad at his job on a level that defies description: very few positions offer as much public scrutiny as president/GM/what have you of a professional sports team, and fewer still draw the attention that an NFL team president garners. Millen was terrible in his first three seasons – 14-34-0 from 2000 through 2002 – and yet the Fords kept him around. 16-32-0 over the next three seasons ... and a miserable 10-38-0 in his last three (counting 2008, the year he was finally cut loose). That final three-year period is the second-worst in post-strike NFL history (starting with the '88 season), behind only the Patriots from 1990 to 1992 (9-39-0). What have they done since then? Exactly.

Here's the kicker. Excluding wartime teams, the worst three-year span in NFL history came from the 1959-1961 Washington Redskins, whose 5-30-0 mark gave them a winning percentage of .143. Sounds bad, right? But that FO projection would put the Lions at 5-43-0 ... that's .104, for those of you who made it this far. That's worse than everyone except the wartime Cardinals.

So it isn't getting better any time soon, and even if it does, well, ask the Bills how easy it is to win a Super Bowl. Even when you're (arguably) the best team in the league, one or two breaks can take that chance away, and who knows when you'll get another one?

So why do I root for the Lions? Because that's what you do. You carry the flag, season after season, knowing that there's a small possibility that someday, you'll be the one in front of the television, speechless with joy ...
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