Playoff Predictions

And now the second season begins, and it should be a classic. Two months of — what we wish the rest of the season was like (although, to be honest, the last couple of weeks were pretty good, too).

Here in the west, there are no underdogs, there can be no cinderella, no upsets. the teams are too closely matched. Of course, having said that, we’re going to lose at least two teams in the first round that will consider that a season failure. that’s how strong the west is.

My cut on the matchups:

Detroit(1) vs Calgary: For a team that “snuck” into the playoffs and eliminated Colorado at the last minute, the Flames are a dangerous team. This series comes down to whether Kiprusoff can outplay Hasek, and whether Hasek can stay healthy through the grind of the series. Detroit has more offense, but Calgary has younger legs. It can go either way, honestly, but I’ll pick Calgary in 7. Why? Mostly a hunch, honestly. I just think the young legs will win ot.

Anaheim(2) vs. Minnesota(7): this one could be interesting, in the way a good pitcher’s duel is in baseball — it could go 7 games, each one 1-0 in overtime. But I think the goaltending in Anaheim, plus the Selanne-Penner-Pronger-Neidermeyer talents, will win out. I’ll take Anaheim in 5, but toughly fought. Anaheim was the ONE team I didn’t want to see San Jose play in the first round, mainly because while they handled Selanne pretty well, it seemed Penner gave them fits and he was a key factor in the season series.

Vancouver(3) vs. Dallas (6): Is Turco up to the task of taking Dallas deep into the playoffs? Maybe. But playing against Luongo, does it matter? I’m not so sure. I really like the canucks, and I really like how they match up against Dallas. I’ll take Vancouver in 5.

Nashville (4) vs San Jose (5): flip a coin. It’s hard to quantify advantages here. I could give a slight edge to San Jose goaltending, but it’s very slight. I think San jose is a little faster, a little bigger, a little more physical, but Vokoun and Kariya and Peter Forsberg have even more to prove than Joe Thornton does. I just hope there’s enough left of the winner to go deep, but these two teams could take each other apart such that the winner can’t survive round two. I’ll take six games, and flip a coin (San Jose, heads. please). And, of course, whoever wins out probably sees Anaheim in round too. Joy.

My choice out of the west: San jose, followed by Anaheim, followed by Vancouver, followed by Nashville. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the eight get on a roll and come out of the west.

Eastern Conference: Not so tight, and without the strength in goal across the board. But still some interesting match ups.

Buffalo (1) vs. Islanders(8): the Islanders made the playoffs — good for them. Now, will they win a game? I hope so. But Buffalo in 5.

New Jersey (2) vs. Tampa (7): As long as Brodeur stays healthy, it’s no real contest. New Jersey in 5.

Atlanta(3) vs. New York Rangers (6): Congrats to the thrashers for making the playoffs. Good luck to them, because I think they can take the Rangers, but this will be the closest matchup in the east. Rangers could well win this, but I’ll go Atlanta in 6.

Ottawa(4) vs. Pittsburgh(5): and let’s not forget how amazing it is that the Penguins are playing in the playoffs at all. In theory, Ottawa should win this fairly easily, but the Penguins are playing with someone else’s money (so to speak), and have nothing to lose, and that’s scary for the opposition. If they get on a roll, watch out. But I’ll go for Ottawa in 6, if only because I’m planning on betting with my senators-fan friend if they go deep, so I hope they do.

My choice out of the east: it’s buffalo’s to hand back. I don’t think they will. If they do, I’d bet on Ottawa, with Atlanta an interesting dark horse.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Go for the Win

Kuklas Korner:

Gary Thorne: Third periods should be all-out attempts to win close games, not attempts not to lose. The pressure is there for teams that need points to shut down the offense in tied third periods, especially if they have the personnel to win the shootout.

I keep thinking that the answer is to downplay the shootout, but not do away with it. How’s this sound?

Extend overtime to 10 minutes. There’s a very good chance of a goal within ten minutes. Winner gets two points, loser gets zero.

Then go to a shootout. Only — winner gets ONE point, loser gets zero. Not three points for the game, one. Strong encouragment for finishing before a shootout.

Then, add two tie-breakers to playoff seeding:

fewest overtime games: the team with the fewest overtime games wins the FIRST tie-breaker.

fewest shootout losses: the team with the fewest shootout losses wins the SECOND tie-breaker.

the third tie-breaker would then be total wins.

Instead of awarding an extra point for surviving into overtime, we remove a point for failing to win prior to the shutout. But we also make the shootout and overtime potential deal-breakers over playoff seeding. That should encourage teams to go for it (because the best way to win those first two tie-breakers is to have no overtime, much less no shootouts). And by adding five minutes to overtime and going for ten, we make the shootout fairly rare, but don’t eliminate it and go back to having ties.

Right now, we reward ties. I’m suggesting we shift to penalizing “not winning”.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Validating Email Addresses

Validating Email Addresses – The Daily WTF:

The format for e-mail addresses is specified in a number of RFCs; it’s a pet peeve of mine when people “validate” away perfectly valid addresses, for instance: websites that think all domains end in .com, .net, .edu, or .org; and agents that refuse to transfer mail with a + in the local-part. To that end, I wrote my own regular expression that (I believe) follows the specification, which I’ll share below.

here’s what I use (in perl). there are a few things in the RFC it doesn’t handle, but they’re things nobody seems to really use these days. From my testing, almost no failures of good addresses, and very low rates of bad ones going in (I’d err on the side of letting a bad one through, FWIW, to be caught by a later test like MX resolution).

if (! ($addr =~ /^[a-z0-9+_.-]+@[_a-z0-9.-]+.[a-z0-9]{2,5}$/i)

|| ($addr =~ /@./)

|| ($addr =~ /@.*../) )

&this_is_bad();

} else {

&this_is_good();

}

Posted in The Internet

The 2007 goals

I realize it’s mid-february, but given in the past years I never got around to this until well after Macworld, anyway…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to accomplish moving forward. 2006 was about trying to make the lifestyle changes I felt I needed to make within the context of Apple, and when I couldn’t, make the decision to move on. 2007 is about taking advantage of the opportunities the move have given me, and moving forward.

I wanted to really refine my goals for this next year or so, not overdo it and screw up the “life balance” bit by simply loading up life with self-generated stress (hence he reason why Outsider’s Guide’s launch is “soon” instead of “late”).

So for me, fewer goals, more long-term views than “this year, I’ll” — 2007 really is turning into the start of the next phase of life for me.

1) lose weight, get back in shape. I’m down 10 pounds since I left Apple. I was doing fine to start, then Laurie got sick, and with holidays, new job, etc, etc, I’ve been right around -10 +-3 since. Now that it’s all settling down again and I feel like I’m in a rhythm at work, it’s time to get the weight loss down, and get myself back in some decent shape. My soft goal for 2007 is another 50 pounds.

2) excel at work. Yes, work is my second priority, and I’ve committed to myself that if it comes down to my health or my work, I’ll take my health. I also fully believe that my new job is compatible with this, so I won’t have to make that decision. It’s too bad I couldn’t do that at Apple, but that’s okay. This new chapter is just as interesting…

3) launch Outsider’s Guide. I’m really jazzed about the potential of this blog. Hopefully, when it launches, you will be, too. And it ties in nicely with the first item, and the whole life-balance thing, as well as being a jumping-off point for item 4:

4) reboot my writing. time to dust off the novels and restart them, as well as look for other opportunities to write. It’s be nice to ahve the first draft of my novel done by end of the year, but it’s really more of a “start this next phase”, without any hard goals this year. A good start is enough, get the writing habit started again. (and yes, blogging is sometimes writing. And sometimes, it’s typing… mostly, it’s improv…)

One reason I haven’t blogged here more recently is that I’ve been doing more offline stuff — like (gasp) reading books, or sitting and watching TV with Laurie without multitasking. The lack of multitasking alone is a big win for me… (and yes, book, movie and TV reviews will start arriving RSN.. I now have a nice little stack built up); of course, I’ve also been blogging hockey a fair amount. (If you haven’t noticed that, you need to keep an eye over here at Two for Elbowing).

As part of the first priority, I’ve been talking to my doctor, and we’ve been running the normal tests. I’m happy to note that I still have no sign of diabetes (or any trend towards it), and my total cholesterol is a solid 165, down and in happy land (especially noteworthy because my father is a factory, and struggles to keep it under 300 on drugs — I got my mother’s cholesterol gene).

On the “not so” side, the arthritis in the shoulder’s continued to increase enough so that I’m going to go in for a formal evaluation, and for some advice on range of motion exercises. And we’ve been chasing something that’s popped up since I left Apple — I’ve been having some intermitted periods where I simply don’t have any energy. It’s not tired or fatigue, it’s just sudden drop-outs of my energy levels. Because of this, I’m going to be doing an apnea sleep study next week, although I don’t believe that’s “it”, with my weight, it’s a logical next step to check and (hopefully) eliminate (or deal with). It’s very possible it’s simply related to my being so heavy and out of shape, and given the test results are so clean, I’m moving forward on that thought while evaluating other things as they come up.

overall, it’s minor. I found that dropping Melatonin, which I was taking to stabilize my sleep schedule, solved 90% of it; now that I’m not at Apple and sort of working a crazy/random schedule, I’ve found I really don’t need the melatonin, either. As long as I’m careful to get to bed at a rational hour when I know the alarms’ going to go off, I’m fine (and since work isn’t encouraging me to work late to catch up on stuff I didn’t get done during work hours, it’s easier…). if I crash around 11, getting up around 6 is no problem.

the one semi-serious negative is that the old blood pressure continues to creep, so I’ve started taking something to moderate it. It finally moved into the high 140’s and stayed, and I can’t blame work, stress, or anything else. oh

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been evaluating and to some degree revamping my diet — I was in the 2500 calorie range, more or less steady state for me. I know if I go down under 2000, I lose weight. I seem to lose weight around 2200 calories right now, actually. Now, the plan is to move to 1600-1800 calories a day, and get the exercise going again. My doctor’s encouraged me to not only do cardio, but get going on the weight work again, so I’m looking into that. Unfortunately, my work’s fitness center is on the wrong side of my commute (and/or I’m not really interested in waking up at 5AM), yahoo isn’t open to spouses, and in general, I hate going to a gym to work out these days. That kind of limits options… Or you can choose to see them as opportunities…

When I was getting checked out, the nurse looked at my chart, and suddenly smiled and said “you turn 50 next year! you know what happens then, right?”

Yeah, right. Colonoscopy goes on the schedule. I do want to believe that her smile was a friendly one, not a “and then you’ll get yours” leer…

Posted in About Chuq

three months!

It’s weird — it seems almost like yesterday that I started my new job. I keep meaning to talk about it a little, and now I’m sitting here three months (and a bit more) in — and way overdue at posting here about things.

It’s a nice, quiet, bachelor weekend. Laurie’s up in Yosemite on a photo and hiking trip, taking a few days off. I’ll probably go up in late march, maybe early april, after her last surgery and when she’s recovered. This gave her a chance to get some R&R in before the next round (and honestly, with the hassles of kennelling the cats and birds, it seems hard to justify long weekends away together — although in this case, I’m in the middle of a few things where being home is useful.

For those who are complaining that it’s been too long since the last volume of this series, I can only answer guilty, and like George R.R. Martin, start this volume with a recap. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost six months since I left Apple. At this time last year, I was still convinced I was a lifer.

I left Apple in Mid-september, and Laurie and I took off on a couple of weeks of real, uncompromised vacation up to the pacific northwest and back down the coast. Got back the start of October and started interviewing. I ended up deciding on going to StrongMail. Since Laurie and I both realized that once I started it’d be a while before we could do much travelling again, we agreed that she’d take off on a trip to Lassen before the weather closed it down, and then I’d take the week before starting at Yosemite. Laurie had a nice trip doing photo work in Lassen, came home, and then her appendix filed for divorce the next Saturday afternoon — and divorce was finally granted about 5AM on sunday. This obviously changed plans and complicated things. Fortunately, I was not working during her time in hospital and for her first week or so at home, which helped a lot for both of us.

And that was the situation when I started StrongMail. In retrospect, I should have listened to myself and delayed starting another couple of weeks. There was enough going on that I feel like I didn’t have my A game right away, and it frustrated me. A couple of weeks in, things started to click better, and now, I’m really happy with how things are going (and so are they, they tell me).

Who is StrongMail? It’s a startup, about 70-80 people, funded by Sequoia, which is building email appliances. I work in professional services as their architect, helping companies figure out how to integrate the beast into their IT infrastructure and business practices — or how to create them and become an effective email sender. One of the things I’m working on these days is a soup to nuts best practices on how to create various email systems from scratch. To a good degree, I’ve traded in my compiler and copy of vi for word, visio and powerpoint, and if I’m not doing much coding these days, I’m spending a lot of time helping people understand how to code things well.

One thing they’ve asked me to do, but we’re still figuring out how best to do it, is to get involved with MAAWG. I’ve agreed, and I’m looking forward to it, because one of the things I came to realize was a negative at Apple was that my old organizations preferred keeping a low profile, so there weren’t many opportunities for me to get involved in the groups that help set policy in the field. MAAWG’s doing good work at helping mail senders and receivers understand each other and work out common standards to fix the tower of babel that is email these days.

A side effect of the MAAWG stuff is that I now have, much to my amusement, something I never had or could have had at Apple: a formal corporate bio, which we spent a few days working on and discussing just how many times we could put StrongMail in (we settled on 2). Since this is simply too much fun to keep to myself, here it is:

Chuq Von Rospach serves as a professional services architect at

StrongMail, where he helps customers integrate its appliance into

their existing environment and design new state of the art digital

messaging solutions based on the StrongMail platform. Previously, Chuq

spent 18 years at Apple computer, where he designed, implemented and

operated their marketing newsletter system, along with several other

core projects. At the end of his tenure, Chuq served as senior

architect for Apple’s in-house direct marketing email systems. His

career prior to Apple includes stops at both Sun Microsystems and

National Semiconductor. He has more than 20 of years experience in

operating and managing online communities based on email, web and NNTP

protocols.

When I decided to leave Apple and start looking for a job, I more or less did so because I felt I needed to cut the stress and simplify my work life to let me better balance work with the rest of my life (and, he says as a deep subtext, give himself a decent chance of losing weight, which I simply wasn’t able to do at Apple because of the demands of my old job. Now, let’s keep it real: I loved Apple, I loved my job, I loved the people I worked with — but it’s also real that when I handed in my badge and headed for Canada, I was pretty heavily worn out; nobody can claim I didn’t give my all for the cause — and that’s something I’m proud of. But I figured I was going to find a nice job coding somewhere, take a step back, go to a larger, stable company (hint: I fully expected to go to work for Yahoo somewhere, somehow — and came close a couple of times) and go do something other than email.

Which is how I ended up at a small startup doing email systems in a role that’s really a step up for me and making me grow and stretch in new and interesting ways…. And, believe it or not, the stress IS down, my enjoyment of the job and the people I work with is equal to Apple, and I’m having a ball.

And in that, there’s a learning experience to share with others: I made the assumption (and it’s probably not a bad one, but it clearly isn’t the ONLY option) that to simplify my work I’d need to go to a less challenging job, or at best, a sideways lateral into doing something similar. Because of that, early on I was focussing less on positions like engineering manager or architect, and more on IC type positions — and that was in retrospect a mistake, probably what kept me out of Yahoo at the time. On the other hand, I made no assumptions that it was ONLY yahoo I’d go to, and I interviewed pretty widely and considered every option I could dig up — and I came around to what I really found interesting instead of what I thought I’d find interesting, and I ran with it. the key here was a brutal self-analysis of every interview I did; being really honest with myself on how I did, how I felt, how I reacted and whether it was something I felt like pursuing.

I found myself, much to my surprise, a lot more motivated and interviewing well when talking to VP and CxO level people than programmers; when talking policy and strategy instead of arrays and hashes. I was probably THE most surprised person to find that out of the bunch — although there were a number of serious geek jobs that tickled my fancy, too (hi, Ryan; hey, Igor) — and I still really would love to work for Tim some day, but the logistics of living down here simply made that not work this time…

It turns out that (at least for me) getting the life balance back was more about not being the point man for everything — and working with fewer timezones — than it was simplifying the work itself. And for me, now, it’s not so much about what’s next, but taking what I taught myself and learned from my cohorts at Apple — and having a chance to maybe influence and improve many companies through improvements in our product and services, and through my consulting as a PS person, and whatever happens with my involvement with MAAWG and others.

And that, I gotta say, sends me to work every morning with a smile on my face…

Posted in About Chuq