Sunday, November 30, 2003

Might just be ranked now...

Keady's squad upsets #2 Duke; Coach K graciously attributes win to Kenneth Lowe, calling him a "powerful leader" and crediting him with play that "gives that whole team confidence." I say his 22 points and 7-for-8 from the line (87% career avg.) didn't hurt, either. This win doesn't guarantee anything other than a few happy headlines in northern Indiana on a Sunday morning, but I'm pleased that a team that's shown so much promise in pre-season practices and by its coach's confidence in its depth has delivered an early-season statement of readiness. Keady said "We don't have any kids that are playing that are not as good as they think they are...they're better than they think they are. That's an unusual scenario. They're a little easier to coach." Jeez, Gene, I should hope so!

What's next? Sure bullseye treatment from everyone on the December schedule and a punishing run through a stacked Big Ten lineup. If you've supported the Boilers for one season or twenty, you know better than to take away too much from one win. But a team with this depth, commitment, and confidence seems to converge in west lafayette just once a decade, so you'd better enjoy this run while it lasts!

Sidenote: Gene's combover should soon sport a nativity scene, followed in January by the opening of a brand-new 7 Eleven near the part. My God, that thing's substantial.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

the campaign trail is getting odder by the soundbite

I've gotta give Clark's people some credit for assembling the pitch referenced here: (QuickTime required to view the clip)

It's not quite Bill Clinton playing tenor sax, but it sure ain't old line NATO brass thinking, either. I'm down with it.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Coming Soon: The Public Transportation UI Bake-Off Everyone's Been Waiting For.

Narcisisstically inspired by my own moblog posting, I plan to write up a full comparison of NY Metro's subway kiosk vs. Chicago CTA's equivalent unit. 'Public utility' user interfaces are among the most important, yet overlooked, in modern design because their impact is felt daily, by tens or even hundreds of thousands, and even the most minor flaw in the user experience can inspire untold rage because its victims have no competitive alternative except for non-use.

This also reminds me of a related design topic: the value of physical wear as an affordance. I've often wondered if wear should be modeled on public utility interfaces (touchscreen or CRT) to help indicate where countless thousands have gone before you. The flipside of this is that if something looks, well, worn or threadbare, you may simply perceive it as broken rather than broken-in. I'd love for some HCI grad student in need of a grant project to explore this one.


Sunday, November 16, 2003

sunday morning quarterback

i'll leave the therapeutic deconstruction of yesterday's punishing loss to the professionals.

On Ohio State's uncanny knack for the close game:

Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star: "It's always something with Ohio State, a team that gets a perverse charge out of walking this weekly tightrope. The first few times it happens, it feels a little bit like dumb luck. But then you look at the numbers, and realize the Buckeyes have won 11 of their past 12 games in contests decided by seven points or fewer."

Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal+Courier: "Ohio State is, well, Ohio State. They thrive on the sensitive nerve endings that accompany an athletic contest such as the one played deep into the chilly night on Saturday."

ESPN's Maisel: "They call it Tresselball here. If you want pyrotechnics, go to Oklahoma. Tresselball depends on defense, regards field position as paramount and slowly, inevitably pressures the other team until it cracks."

Matthew Zemek at Fox Sports: "Ohio State doesn't impress you with flash and dash; the Buckeyes simply don't flinch. And while they don't blow you out of the water, they almost unfailingly do just enough to win each and every ballgame they play...Just enough, just a little bit better, just a little bit more airtight, just a little more mental toughness - that's the Ohio State Buckeyes for you, and if you haven't gotten used to it by now, you never will."

It's fairly clear to me now that OSU does get its share of breaks, but they're just as capable of manufacturing them as they are in letting the football gods parachute them in at critical moments. During the game yesterday I marveled at how many times an OSU cornerback batted away a sure 7-yard slant pass (OLB Hawk, especially); how many Buckeye punts were downed inside the 10; how the secondary never let anyone get behind them for a big play, no matter how many eons Orton had in the pocket. After a shocker loss to open the season against a quality Bowling Green squad, I stated that Purdue's "seat at the kid's table is now open, and you'll have to beat michigan and osu on the road to get up from it again." I stand by that belief, but it doesn't blunt at all the pain of coming so damn close.

Note from public affairs office to Joe Tiller: It's expected that ranked team coaches use sentences with verbs and a noun or three in postgame conferences. Acting like the pissed off kid on the empty playlot doesn't help the team, the fans, or the institution. Carr, Tressel, and hell, even Bowden would've done better in your shoes today. We still love what you've done over the past seven years, but the real sea change in the program's perception still begins at the top.


Saturday, November 15, 2003

truly sickening losses a tradition when it's for a large number of marbles.

Well, the Boilers went wide left twice today, letting OSU eek out a win without an offensive touchdown. Quite hurtful to lose in OT by missing a tying kick, especially because Ben Jones has been so very solid in converting those three-point tries all season long. This continues Purdue's rich tradition of losing the biggest games on the road, and especially anywhere east of Fort Wayne.

I am grateful for the fact that we made the Buckeyes sweat it out and didn't get rolled like we did at Ann Arbor a month ago, but that's no great surprise to this year's avid Big Ten fan. Michigan remains a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball while OSU trundles on with mojo obviously stolen from Notre Dame two seasons ago. How else can you explain ND's slide and the Buckeye's glide?

Urrrgh. Surely Tom Kubat and Jeff Washburn must be reaching for their thesauruses and Pepto simultaneously, wondering what the hell else there is to say about the rest of this season. I bet Joe Tiller doesn't have much left behind the moustache either. We headed for the Food Products Bowl, so let's at least hope it's still gonna be a good New Year's Day game.


Sunday, November 9, 2003

huge game ahead for the boilers.

This weekend's solid performance against the Hawkeyes leaves my Boilers with a showdown that both Purdue fans and the M-Go-Blue set can relish: at Columbus, against the most fearsome run defense in the nation. We haven't won there since Jimi Hendrix played Montreaux. Nonetheless, if Purdue can beat OSU in its own barn, we can do no worse than a share of the Big Ten title as long as we take care of IU the following week. (That season-ending game better not be within ten miles of interesting.) I'm sure most Meeechigan fans would prefer us to lose at OSU so they can have an exclusive high noon duel with the Buckeyes for the outright title, but I'd like to suggest a non-aggression treaty between West Lafayette and Ann Arbor for the remainder of 2003. Pull for us to win out and get a bigtime bowl -- I couldn't attend any Purdue Rose Bowl this year anyway -- while you guys go ahead and win out for whatever all-the-marbles, top-four BCS bowl you can get. If we can both shove OSU aside, you'll probably get the Roses while we get us a Bloomin' Onion or something, thanks to that 31-3 drubbing in our head-to-head matchup. All told, a pretty fair deal.

How Purdue's local press sizes things up


Wednesday, November 5, 2003

trying my hand at freelance work: P800 review

Steve commissioned a review of the Sony Ericsson P800 for his blog, which contains a growing library of comprehensive reviews covering the latest mobile handsets. (If you didn't already know, Steve has collected more devices than your average Times Square electronics hole-in-the-wall has in total inventory.) Since I haven't written a product review in over two years, I figured this would be a good chance to knock some rust out of the wheel wells and see if I can still get all the way around the composition track without hyperextending a tiresome racing metaphor. Crap.

Nevertheless, please do check out the review and feel free to leave comments there, should you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with my take on this innovative, convergence-minded handset. I'm planning to focus this blog on mobile imaging and its business implications in future postings. At last, some long-promised thematic consistency emerges? Don't hold your breath.


Monday, November 3, 2003

the seamy side of WNP

Being able to switch carriers is a boon to consumers; it finally allows unfettered freedom of choice in the US wireless marketplace. But one added cost to switching no one's made many bones about yet is an environmental one: disposal of your old handset. Carriers with the same network technology (e.g., CDMA) use differing encryption schemes, dispensing upon a hardcoded handset little more than tchotchky status once you've, say, switched from Sprint to Verizon. This means tons more phones into landfills or refurbished into overseas markets, where disposal policies are even worse than the US'. For someone who's got the extraction capabilities, I sense several growth moneymaking opportunities here, from contact synching to materials recycling to, of course, yet more listing fees for ebay.

One question this article didn't answer for me but I presume to be true: if I've got an "unlocked" multi-band GSM handset (the kind that will work with T-Mobile/AT&T/Cingular networks in the US and damn near everywhere else abroad), I can conceivably keep that phone and switch GSM carriers for years to come, right? If so, it's yet another example of how the GSM "your account on a SIM card, not the phone" concept remains elegantly superior to its rivals.


Saturday, November 1, 2003

little-known tragedy in Purdue history

I was cruising the Lafayette Journal & Courier's usual gameday coverage in anticipation of today's matchup with Northwestern when I came upon this fascinating and sad piece about a 1903 rail disaster that devastated the Purdue team as it was traveling to its rivalry game with Indiana. Few, if any, of my contemporaries are probably aware such a thing had happened or that it is actually commemorated in the school colors and in the 13 steps leading up to the doors of what is now the Computer Science building. I certainly had no idea about this tragedy.

Just when you think your school's traditions and legend seem a little soft or insubstantial, you find out about some real-life events that have informed its history in a way you never expected.