Bookmarks for May 24th through May 27th

These are my links for May 24th through May 27th:

  • Formulas and game mechanics – WoWWiki – Your guide to the World of Warcraft – Formulas and game mechanics rules and guidelines for developing role playing games
  • Manchester United’s Park Has the Endurance to Persevere – NYTimes.com – Korean soccer player Park Ji-Sung – On Wednesday night in Rome, Park is expected to become the first Asian player to participate in the European Champions League final when Manchester United faces Barcelona.
  • mloss.org – Machine Learning Open Source Software – Big collection of open source packages for machine learning, data mining, statistical analysis
  • The Datacenter as Computer – Luiz André Barroso and Urs Hölzle 2009 (PDF) – 120 pages on large scale computing lessons from Google. "These new large datacenters are quite different from traditional hosting facilities of earlier times and cannot be viewed simply as a collection of co-located servers. Large portions of the hardware and software resources in these facilities must work in concert to efficiently deliver good levels of Internet service performance, something that can only be achieved by a holistic approach to their design and deployment. In other words, we must treat the datacenter itself as one massive warehouse-scale computer (WSC). We describe the architecture of WSCs, the main factors influencing their design, operation, and cost structure, and the characteristics of their software base."
  • Geeking with Greg: The datacenter is the new mainframe – Pointer to a paper by Googlers Luiz Andre Barroso and Urs Holzle on the evolution of warehouse scale computing and the management and use of computing resources in a contemporary datacenter.

Bookmarks for May 12th from 10:52 to 21:56

These are my links for May 12th from 10:52 to 21:56:

Bookmarks for May 6th through May 7th

These are my links for May 6th through May 7th:

Bookmarks for April 11th through April 12th

These are my links for April 11th through April 12th:

  • Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds – Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
  • The dark side of Dubai – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent – "Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging."
  • Topless Robot – Hot Girls Have Lightsaber Strip-Fight for Your Viewing Pleasure – Star Wars CGI meets fake body spray ad
  • Poll Result: Best VPN to leap China’s Great Firewall? – Thomas Crampton – - Witopia – Undisputed winner. Quality of service, speed of surfing, though it is said to be relatively expensive at US$50 to US$60 per year. Hotspot Shield – Bandwidth limits can be painful. Force you to wait until the next month if you use it too much. – Ultrasurf – StrongVPN
  • InfoQ: Facebook: Science and the Social Graph – In this presentation filmed during QCon SF 2008 (November 2008), Aditya Agarwal discusses Facebook’s architecture, more exactly the software stack used, presenting the advantages and disadvantages of its major components: LAMP (PHP, MySQL), Memcache, Thrift, Scribe.
  • The Running Man, Revisited § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM – a handful of scientists think that these ultra-marathoners are using their bodies just as our hominid forbears once did, a theory known as the endurance running hypothesis (ER). ER proponents believe that being able to run for extended lengths of time is an adapted trait, most likely for obtaining food, and was the catalyst that forced Homo erectus to evolve from its apelike ancestors.

Davis World Cup 2008

Flags at the 2008 Davis World Cup 

We spent the Memorial Day weekend at the Davis World Cup with the Palo Alto AYSO spring U12 girls team, the Blue Bandits. There were over 120 teams, and each team in the tournament gets the flag of a FIFA World Cup country. This is fun, but can make it difficult to figure out who you’re playing, as the schedules are all published under the names of the countries, not the actual names of the teams. We were “Bermuda”, although I spent the first day thinking we were “Bahamas.” 

The girls had a lot of fun. The highlight of the series was a rematch with the Concord Chaos (Tanzania),  who we tied 2-2 at last week’s Concord Cup. This weekend we placed 3rd in Bracket A, while the Concord Chaos placed 2nd in Bracket B, which put us in an elimination match to get to the next round.

Setting up for penalty shootout at the elimination round

The match was tied 1-1 at the end of the 2nd half, so the result was decided with a penalty shootout that ended the game in our favor 3-2.

We got knocked out of the tournament at the quarterfinals by Paso Robles (Uraguay) on Sunday afternoon, so no matches on Monday. Five games in two days was probably enough for most of the girls. They also went out to the movies together to see Narnia – Prince Caspian, visited the Davis Farmer’s Market, and probably had too much pizza and Jamba Juice.

U12G brackets A and B at Davis World Cup 2008 

 

Youth Soccer, From Above

The First Half - Youth Soccer - Rhymes With Orange 08-05-21  

A fine depiction of field positions in a typical youth soccer match, from Rhymes With Orange.

 

 

Another season begins

This weekend we had our first game for the fall 2007 AYSO soccer season. Once again, I’m coaching, this year in the U12 Girls division. It’s an interesting change, as in Palo Alto there is no U11 league, it goes from U10 to U12 as the kids start shifting into different sports and activities and the player pool shrinks a little.

The field is much bigger, it’s 9v9 rather than 7v7, and the size of the field places a greater emphasis on team play compared with the younger leagues. In AYSO, the philosophy is “everyone plays” and an attempt is made to create balanced teams. However, in the younger brackets, a single strong player can easily overrun most other teams that don’t play for field position, partly because the fields are small and there’s tendency for the game to turn into a roaming swarm around the ball. This year in U12, with the larger field and more players on the field, team play becomes much more important. In this weekend’s game, we nominally won the game 2-1. The first goal was a random bounce which I think actually got tipped in by the opposing team’s keeper, but the second one was a very nice play in which the defense returned the ball to our midfield, which ran the ball upfield and passed to one of the forwards who scored. Even better, everyone stayed spread out in good field positions.

It would be nice to claim that this was partly from the efforts of our fine coaching staff, but the girls ran the play off on their own. It was fun to watch, though.

Spring soccer is over, so we go to the movies


This is the first weekend in quite a while that Emily and I haven’t had soccer committments. Her spring soccer team played at the Davis World Cup last weekend to wrap up their season. The team got knocked out in the elimination round in a very close match that was settled in a penalty shootout to break the 0-0 tie. Even the shootout was close, it went to 1-1 on the 5 kicks for each side, which brought the game to sudden death. Eventually it went to 10 kicks for each side (and U10 plays 9 on a side) before the winning goal for the other side (which went forward to the end of the tournament).

So this weekend has felt a little different, with no practice and no game. This afternoon we went to see Gracie, a soccer-themed movie which Emily saw a trailer for this spring. It’s about a teenaged girl who wants to try out for the boy’s soccer team after her brother (also a soccer player) dies in a car accident.

We enjoyed the soccer-related parts of the movie, but kind of wished there was a little less personal drama. There are two different movies that could have been made with the material here, one mostly about being a girl trying to play soccer in 1978 (before the rise of women’s sports programs), and one mostly about being a girl trying to deal with her family and find her way through high school after losing a sibling. Both fine topics, but today Emily and I were looking for the movie about a girl playing soccer and we could have used less of the teen drama. (Emily says that some of the drama parts are not quite appropriate for her age group (10ish), and I generally agree.)

In another couple of years perhaps she’ll be more interested in the non-soccer parts of the movie. As her dad, though, today I’m thankful that she’s mostly worried about not getting another chance at the Davis Arsenal.

Season opener 2006


The local AYSO soccer season officially started this weekend. I’m coaching a girls Under-10 team again this year.

A major difference between AYSO and other youth leagues is that the emphasis here is on participation, teamwork, and developing each player’s skills, rather than on the win/loss record per se. This means that anyone who wants to can sign up, regardless of experience or talent, and all teams are assigned a roughly balanced mix of players.

It’s interesting to watch the progression over the season from mass flocking around the ball to a passing- and position-based game. I especially enjoy games later in the season in which girls who were initially considered to be weaker players are able to compete successfully through practice and teamwork. (It also helps that they’ve spent hours of moderate aerobic activity time by the end of the season and can often outlast other players.)

At higher levels of competition, you’d generally want to choose the best available players for your team rather than pot luck. But for learning life skills and developing productive habits, I think it’s great for the teams to develop organically. I really want to leave the girls with the confidence that they can succeed in trying new things and achieve more by working together than by having one “super” player to pull them through. They’ll have enough opportunities for someone to tell them they’re “not good enough” later, whether or not it’s actually true. At this stage of their development, the largest obstacles are often self-imposed, and I truly enjoy seeing them discover what they are able to do when they “have permission” from a coach, their teammates, and themselves to do more.

End of softball season 2006

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Another fun softball season ended this Saturday.

The softball season that hasn’t quite started

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I’m signed up to coach girls softball for my daughter’s team this spring. The season started three weeks ago, but we have been having record rainfall this month so nearly every practice has been rained out, along with all of the games.

Last Friday it mostly stopped raining for a while, but started up again and provided a spectacular double rainbow for most of our (damp) practice.