Top 10 things I learned about football

Written on 21 October 2019, 03:02pm

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Inspired by this question, I put together a few things that I learned after 30 years of watching football.

  1. There will always be a next game. So, your team just lost in the last minute of the game. A mix of disappointment and anger fills your head; we all know the feeling. But think about this: there will always be a next time. Always.
  2. Support your club when it’s down. Especially when it’s down. This is when it needs you the most. “At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky…”
  3. Avoid the banter. When your team wins, celebrate and avoid laughing on the others. Remember that things in football tend to be cyclic. Even the best teams will have their bad seasons. Mock now, you will be mocked later.
  4. Don’t point fingers at players. Yes, at the top of the pyramid they are extremely well paid. But maybe the football players are just ordinary men in their 20s who are really good at footie? Or maybe they are more likely to develop mental disorder?
  5. You’ll never have the full picture. We tend to form our opinions based on the limited information that we receive from social media, TV, etc. But we’ll rarely know all the tactical/practical/human details. Remember this before complaining that the coach played the player X instead of Y.
  6. Use facts, not your own beliefs. I get it, football is a subjective matter. But subjective doesn’t exclude rational. See also #5.
  7. Stay away from the extremes. Remember those ‘fans’ always criticizing and complaining on social media no matter what? Don’t be like them. But also avoid the fanatics, living in their own deluded world; they are just as toxic as the fake fans.
  8. Be a supporter, not a fan. If you can afford it, support your club financially. Buy a yearly membership or try to find other ways to help your club, especially if it’s local. Volunteers will always be needed.
  9. Be aware of the negativity bias. Human beings are wired to give more importance to the negative things. This also applies in football. Which means you’ll be more likely to remember the bad games rather the good ones. Try not to.
  10. Your team can’t win everything. We live in a world where winning a semifinal doesn’t mean anything if it’s not followed by winning the final as well. A good run is no longer enough, people expect their favorite team to win every competition. Well, manage your expectations. Sometimes a historic win will be more memorable than a loss in a final. Enjoy that!

These would be the 10 most important things I would tell my children if they’ll ever be into football. No matter the team they will choose to support 🙂

Football is more complex than a bunch of people kicking a ball around…

2 notes on data visualization

Written on 9 October 2019, 09:37pm

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  1. Know the limitations of pie charts: not so good for comparing values between themselves, but really good to compare relative to the 50% line
  2. Match your type of data with the right color scheme. There are 3 types of data: sequential, divergent and qualitative. The sequential color schemes help with ordered data. The divergent schemes use a neutral color the mid-range data and highly contrasting colors for the extremes. The qualitative schemes focus on creating visual differences between the sets of data.
Bar charts are better if you need to compare the values
But pie charts have their strengths when comparing to the 50% line
A sequential scheme. Colors range from light to dark, and are usually colorblind safe
A diverging scheme. Mid-range neutral color, highly contrasting extremes.
A qualitative, colorblind-safe scheme. It gets trickier if you need more than 4 colors. Each color need to scream “I’m different!

Random links #17

Written on 7 October 2019, 02:49pm

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Electric planes

Air travel is bad for the planet—and travelers may finally be getting the message.
The change in mindset is due to increasing awareness of the issue thanks to attention-grabbing protests, like when activist group Extinction Rebellion shut down Heathrow Airport and climate warrior Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht to speak at the UN’s climate summit.

Does flight shaming work?

Solution? Hybrid or full electric planes. Also tested by NASA.

Heavyside, from Kitty Hawk is really silent and has a range of about 100 miles

Radiation in space is a big deal

If we want to prepare astronauts to fly to Mars, then we have a lot of problems to solve when it comes to health and well being. There are both psychological (isolation, confinement, sleep disturbance, etc) but also physiological (micro-gravity long time effects, radiation) factors to overcome. One of the most important is the radiation.

Radiation on Earth is about 4.6 mSv/year. On the Moon – 300/400x. On Mars – 1000x.

How can we reduce the radiation impact? Medical selection of the most resistant individuals, shielding (the ISS has 3 highly shielded areas) and medication. Hibernation is also an option, not explored yet.

Radiation sensitivity decreases with age. A teenager is 2 times more sensitive than a 30-years old adult, which is in turn 2 times more sensitive than a 50-years old.

Space travel affects the astronauts’ immune system. Various factors play a part in this process, i.e. weightlessness, cosmic radiation, isolation and the inevitable stress. At the request of European, American and Russian space agencies, SCK•CEN tests the blood of astronauts when they return from a long space mission. We perform analyses using advanced biochemical and molecular techniques.
Long-term exposure cannot be avoided during long distance missions, e.g. to Mars – for which the return flight takes 18 months. Sensitivity to cosmic radiation varies considerably between people, and consequently also between astronauts. 

The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre

Time matters

The Tesla dashcam writes its rolling clips in the /recent folder. The manually saved clips are stored in the /saved folder. Recently Tesla introduced the Sentry mode, which automatically saves events when the car is parked (ex. a person or a car is passing by).

The Tesla engineers thought that it’s appropriate to save these clips not in a dedicated folder (like /sentry), but in the same /saved folder where the manual clips are saved.

The outcome? When I want to look for a video that I manually saved, I have no easy way to find it. Sentry mode produces a huge number of videos, sometimes 10 videos for a half an hour spent in a busy parking. Finding the right folder among literally hundreds of other folders is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Compare this to the following bit:

One day Jobs complained to Larry Kenyon (the engineer of the Macintosh OS) that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon explained why reducing the boot-up time wasn’t possible, but Jobs cut him off: “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?”. He then showed on a whiteboard that if the Mac had five million users and it took 10 seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours a year — the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes a year. After a few weeks, Kenyon had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster.

Steve Jobs Insane Productivity Secrets