First vote from Sochi is a solid Nyet


The early results are in from the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the vote is bad for the home team. No you have not missed any events, yet, but rather what you have missed is what looks like are some world class foul ups.

So far most of the complaints have come from journalists, with a few but increasing number of athletes also chiming in. Normally I do not pay much attention to the reporters since some seem to make a living on complaining. Peter King complaining about the good weather at the recent Super Bowl, which apparently ruined his chance to complain about the bad weather, is a good example.

First there is the growing fear of terrorism, something that has gained ground due to some recent bombings in the region. The huge security presence has not allayed that fear to any large degree. The Sherman Report talked to a number of veteran Olympic journalists and it seems to be one of their greatest concerns.

Then there are the more mundane issues mostly around the state of the facilities. I imagine that at most Olympics there are always a few details that get overlooked. However I do think having a hotel room with no door knob on your room door, running water or the ability to flush toilet paper in the toilet falls into that category. More than one person has reported that it appears that during the day when they are absent their rooms are used by the hotel staff for other purposes.

However there have been a huge number of pretty funny tweets on the subject, including people willing to trade light bulbs for a door knob and another saying that the hotel staff recommended not drinking the water because it was poisonous. Then there is the great pillow shortage as well.

I suspect once the events kick off no one will have time for complains as most reporters cover multiple events in a day and as long as the event remains safe this will be the last we hear about hotels with no lobbies, at least until after the closing ceremonies. Still do you think this is what Putin had in mind when he won the Olympics and proclaimed that Russia is ready for the Olympics?

Friday Grab Bag: Apple’s big iPad? And NCAA football changes thru history

Rumors are that Apple is now looking at a large format iPad, one that would be in the 13-inch screen size territory, at least according to a recent piece in Forbes that is relaying news from the Korean Times.

It would be interesting to see as the current trend in tablets has been strong growth in the 7- to 8-inch format, but as tablets start to increasingly replace notebooks and desktop PCs a larger tablet might meet this segment’s needs.

PC sales lag as tablets fill their place

Speaking of tablets as PC replacements eWeek reports that according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker shipments of PCs are expected to fall 10.1% this year in the consumer market and 5% in the business space.

PCs are still used more that smartphones and tablets, but mainly for computational and work exercises while the use of more mobile platforms has seen a dramatic increase as they fill many of the needs that a PC used to perform.

A history of NCAA football conferences

For casual fans, and even some of the more than casual college football fans the changing face of the different conferences, with teams coming and going, can be confusing. The New York Times has a very interesting interactive page that shows the changes since 1965.

It highlights the moves and you can trace teams and conferences over that span as the morph and in some cases dissolve. Also interesting is the huge decline of unaffiliated schools.

Amazon to develop drones for delivery?
One of the funnier news articles from last weekend was the proclamation of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that the company was developing drones that would deliver packages in 30 minutes. It was widely reported and commented on, and yet no one, at least initially put any thought into this.

Really? Drones? Aside from getting FAA approval, the logistics would be a nightmare and they would have to have thousands of warehouses and airports across the nation to support the effort. Who would be controlling them, Sidd Finch?

The perfect holiday gift from the NFL
Teams sell all sorts of swag for their fans and as it is the holiday season many are looking for the perfect gift for both the NFL fanatic as well as the more casual fan who follows the local team but thinks a quarterback that retired 5 years ago is still at the helm.

Mike Tanier of Sportsonearth kindly went to all of the trouble of tracking down the proper gift for all types of fans. Want a toaster that embeds your team’s logo? Got it! A Cleveland Browns thong-uh yeah about that.

Norman Sas, Inventor of Electric Football, Stops Vibrating

Norman Sas, one of the giants of football home games died late last month at age 87. No he did not invent EA Sports’ Madden NFL or even Tecmo Bowl, instead he was the man behind Electric Football. Unfamiliar with Electric Football? You are showing your age, or lack thereof. Prior to the modern video games there was Electric Football.

The game was around for a few decades before it gained a tie-in with the NFL, which allowed it to use team colors and logos in 1967 and then sales soared for more than a decade, until the advent of electronic versions slowed sales a great deal.

A quick recap of how the game is played. It had a marked football field and two teams of players. When lined up the game was turned on and the board vibrated, sending payers to and fro across the board, sometimes as you wanted them to go and often, at least when I played, into a jumbled mass in the center of the field. There is a quarterback that can actually throw the ball, another skill I never mastered.

However there are obviously some people much better at the game than I as there appear to be several leagues past and present that have competed for bragging rights. Of course the game is still available, and according to this article, it has sold 40 million copies since its invention in 1948. Now available from Miggle Toys the game can be had on Amazon for around $60.

New World Record for Skateboard Speed: Recon Instruments was there!

Have you ever wondered what the world record for speed on a skateboard is? Well wonder no more as a new one was just set this week in Mount Eboulements, QC where Mischo Erban broke the existing Guinness World Record.

Apparently there is no penalty for a technology assist as Erban was aided by wearing a custom built Heads Up Display from Recon Instruments that helped provide information about the route that he took to break the record.

One nice thing about the record is that if you are interested a camera was included in his gear so that there is some very nice video of the event which can be found here.

Erban hit a top speed of 80.74 mph from a standing start on a downhill run. The HUD device provided him with real time readings of his speed, distance, time, navigation among other data streams during his record breaking run.

The previous record had surprisingly stood for quite some time. It was established by Douglas da Silva on October 20, 2007. He managed to reach 70.21 mph on a run at Teutonia, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Hopefully Guinness and Recon will start teaming up for a range of records, simply because getting the data feed from the skater, or whatever sports, would be very interesting and I suspect will lead to a greater demand for both HUD type devices but also in breaking additional records. With the X Games on its way it seems like a nature time to try this.

Friday Grab Bag: What Grades Did your Team’s NFL Draft Receive?

A report from ABI Research shows that while tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are constantly in the news as the latest and greatest laptop use is still strong, but does find that tablets are taking sales away from netbooks.

The research found that approximately 1/3 of those surveyed planned to buy a laptop in the next year while 16% planned on purchasing a media tablet in the same time frame. It looks like netbooks are being relegated to emerging markets and out of the US market.

Mustaches making a comeback in baseball?
There was an amusing piece in The Wall Street Journal about a week ago talking about the return of the mustachioed man in baseball. In the modern era it probably reached its peak on the Oakland A’s of the Charles Finley ownership era and has since seemed to fade away.

However just last year John Axford, a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers won the very coveted ‘Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American’ from the American Mustache Institute, a notable win for a Canadian. No real insights here just kind of an interesting read- also I did not know that they were also known as Lip Sweaters.

Microsoft takes big hit in German court

A German court has ruled that Microsoft cannot sell its Xbox 360 game console and its Windows 7 operating system in the German market. The court, based in Mannheim, said that Microsoft breached an agreement that it had with Motorola Mobility in using certain video compression software in Microsoft products.

However Microsoft is not likely to remove its products from German shelves right away as Microsoft has won a ruling in U.S. District court in Seattle that

Do you have a social media will?
The joke that a friend will clear your browsing history if you die suddenly has some bearing in reality, or so I have heard. But do they know your passwords? The Government seems to understand the issues families of recently deceased trying to gain access to social media and has offered a bit of advice.

Posted here on the USA Gov blog it has a piece entitled “How and why you should write a social media will” that entails you giving passwords to a trusted person to close Facebook, email etc that are open in your name. And clear browsing history.

London Olympics to have world’s largest McDonalds?

I for one have always associated McDonalds with fitness and athletic excellence so this of course does not surprise me. The AP and Christian Science Monitor has reported that a two story McDonalds that can seat 1500 people will be built in Olympic Park.

According to the piece, it is just one of five that will be built for the Olympics, one just for the athletes. Guess who the official food sponsor is for the London Olympics.

Nokia planning tablets and hybrids
Departing Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila said that the company is looking to expand into tablets and hybrids, but did not give any type of timetable or details on the move. The company just lost its crown as the top handset maker after a 14 year run to rival Samsung.

It has invested heavily in developing for the emerging Microsoft Windows Phone standard and it seems likely that it might expand that partnership to include supporting Windows 8, Microsoft’s tablet OS when that is available.

iPad 4G claims false?
Apple is facing some heat from Australia and the United Kingdom on the claims that the recently released iPad works on 4G networks. The battle about connectivity has been going on for some time down under but now the U.K. has joined the fray, Red Orbit reports.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the ads are misleading since the iPad does not connect at the frequency that the fledgling 4G networks in that country operate, the same problem it has in Australia. In Australia Apple simply removed references to 4G and is expected to do the same in the UK.
You would think that something this basic would have already been found bulletproof prior to releasing the device but who knows?

Target boots Amazon’s Kindle
Target, one of Amazon’s largest brick and mortar partners has opted to cease carrying Amazon’s Kindle tablet. The issue is that customers visit the stores and look at the devices and then return home and buy them direct according to the New York Times.

Amazon even encouraged its customers to do so, offering a discount f they purchased a product direct from Amazon after scanning it n a store. So instead Target will increase Apple’s presence and other tablets including Barnes & Noble’s Nook its 1,800 stores

Kickstarter favorite Pebble gets first app
Pebble, the watch that connects to your smartphone now has its first app, one from RunKeeper. The details for what exactly the app will do are not available yet but RunKeeper develops programs that track workouts. The company said that when the Pebble is commercially available it will have the RunKeeper app available as well.

Grading the NFL draft graders
Now that the NFL Draft is over and the wait begins for the start of the regular season there is still one NFL stone that appears to be untouched-looking at how all of the major NFL pundits team grades compare.

Now you could arm yourself with a spreadsheet and spend time traveling to all of the various web sites to garner what they said and how it compares to their rivals prognostications, but the good folks at Football Outsiders have taken it upon themselves.

They took the posted grades from nine NFL writers and draft experts and show how they rating each team, how that compares to what the competitors said, and how teams ranked overall. It is well worth a read.

Startup seeks to turn iPhone into Sports Video Recording Device

I am slowly becoming addicted to Kickstarter, the funding platform that basically enables anybody to invest in small start up companies that need small infusions of cash to get going. We have already covered one such project here.

While looking for something else I found a project that incorporate iPhones for (mostly) sports purposes. The simple device is called the ProtoSports Holster for iPhone from a start up named ProtoSports. The idea is pretty simple; it has developed a case that holds an iPhone 4 or 4S for use in creating feedback videos

The case can be attached to a thin alignment sticks in either landscape or portrait mode and enables a user to have it operate as a hands free, standalone video camera that record their actions, such as a golf swing or time in a batting cage. The plastic holster and the alignment sticks could easily fit into a golf bag.

I have no idea how well this would work, or how hard it would be for your average DIY handyman to develop something similar in their shop but I like the fact that a garage inventor can throw an idea out there and get funding from people if they like the project.

Of course not all ideas that get presented at Kickstarter are well thought out. There is a funny, and kind of sad, piece on some of the failed efforts on that site presented by Buzz Feed. There is a whole lot of fail going on!