Random links #20

Written on 25 August 2020, 09:32pm

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A harsh, but objective view on the new industry buzzword – the blockchain:

Nobody’s in charge, and you can’t change or delete anything, only view and input data.
The first, best-known – and practically only – use of blockchain technology is bitcoin, the digital currency that allows you to transfer money without the involvement of a bank.
There are now three mining pools which are responsible for more than half of all the new bitcoin (and also for checking payment requests). 
Blockchain generalises the bitcoin pitch: let’s not just get rid of banks, but also the land registry, voting machines, insurance companies, …
The only thing is that there’s a huge gap between promise and reality. It seems that blockchain sounds best in a PowerPoint slide. Most blockchain projects don’t make it past a press release


Just like Sheldon Cooper, I love lists. If I would make a list of things that I love, lists would be one of the first items. So here’s an awesome list of Laws, Principles, Mental Models, Cognitive Biases. One example:

“The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.”


Ronnie won his sixth World Snooker Championship. A week after, he sat together with Simon Hattenstone, the ghostwriter who helped him write his biography.

He was always regarded as the sport’s most naturally gifted player; now the consensus is that he’s the greatest.
Ronnie is called the Rocket for his speed and power. But there is also a sublime grace to his playing – the way he makes the cue ball dance, the delicacy with which he picks off balls and opens up the pack, his balance, the ability to swap from right to left hand depending on his shot or mood. In a sport not overly blessed with charismatic players, he has been the personality of snooker for a quarter of a century.
 In his 30s he became obsessed with middle-distance running. “A lot of the time I would think: ‘I don’t actually want to win this match because I’ve got a five-mile cross-country race I want to win back in Essex.’ Running became more important than snooker. 
Now, he is in a good place. He came off medication when he realised it was making him moody and he was taking it out on his son. He is sticking with natural serotonin – running. In lockdown he got himself a coach and has not looked back. “I can run for an hour, 7.45- to 8-minute miling. Running is my drug.” 
I ask him about the future, expecting him to talk about books, endorsements, punditry and a bit of snooker. “The one thing I thought I’d excel in was being in the care industry,” he says. Is he serious? He nods. “I can empathise with people in addiction”. 


Ronnie in 2014

Written on 8 December 2014, 12:14pm

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Ronnie is finishing 2014 winning the UK Championship in an impressive way. After injuring his ankle right before the start of the tournament, after complaints about the quality of the snooker tables, he managed to do three amazing things that will remain in the snooker history for a while:
1. he compiled his 13th maximum break in the last frame of the quarter final against Matthew Selt after a near miss in the previous frame (he missed a ball after potting 12/15 reds)
The maxi made Stephen Hendry to remark in commentary that snooker “does not get much better than this”:

2. he had an amazing comeback against Stuart Bingham in the semifinals, after trailing 1-4 he leveled at 5-5 and won the match in the deciding frame by risking everything on this ball. The deciding frame video:

3. he won the final against Judd Trump at a moment when no one thought he can really do it any more. After leading 5-1 and then 9-4 he needed one more frame to win. But Trump managed to win 5 frames in a row, moving the match in the decider.
There Ronnie had the first chance by potting this ball, but then he left Judd among the balls after this shot. Things were not over for Ronnie as he came back to the table and soon after he got the upper hand following a great safety shot. “That’s big trouble for Trump” said the commentary, and indeed, Trump response left Ronnie among the reds. Judd knew it was over, even though Ronnie was one millimeter away from an awkward position. But he made it, and the next 2 reds were enough to see him relieved.

“That is the hardest match I have ever played,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport. “I was going through the motions and accepted I was going to get beaten.”



The deciding frame video (grab it while it’s hot, probably it will be taken down at some point):

To put that in a context, here is the Ronnie breakdown of 2014 – counting the 4 major tournaments in chronological order:
Masters – won – beating Mark Selby 10-4 in the final. He won 5/10 finals
Welsh Open – won – beating Ding Junghui 9-3 in the final with a maximum break (12th of his career). He won 3/4 finals
World Championship – lost the final against Mark Selby 14-18 after a 10-5 lead. It was his first ever defeat in a WC final (5/6 finals won).
UK Championship – won the final against Judd Trump 10-9. 5/5 finals won.

Update, 25 February 2016: There is an excellent article written by Sam Knight in The New Yorker: Follow the White Ball: The torments of Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s greatest player. It describes the life and career of Ronnie focusing on this tournament.

The players came out for the final frame. They shook hands. A spectator near the front wore a T-shirt that said, “Keep Calm and Play Snooker.” Trump broke. O’Sullivan potted an early red. Suddenly, it seemed dangerous to go first. With sixteen points on the board, O’Sullivan missed and gave up the table. But Trump couldn’t take advantage. The men exchanged safety shots: long flicks of the white ball, down the table, to catch the edge of a red, hit a cushion, and then retreat up behind a barrier of colored balls. They did this until Trump snagged a red and brought it back up the table as well. “All the fancy fucking footwork, the control that he has had for maybe twenty, thirty shots,” O’Sullivan told me once about the art of safety. “Bang, I’m going to pounce on him.” He blocked the white ball behind the green. Trump missed his shot, and O’Sullivan had the freedom of the table. He opened his mouth slightly and padded faster in his sneakers. The match clock showed four hours, fifty-three minutes, and six seconds.

There was a moment, only a moment, after that when O’Sullivan was in trouble. He got too close to the blue and had to sneak around it. But for the rest of the match the balls were where he wanted them to be. Red followed by pink, red followed by yellow. The white stayed with him. He got to the end. Later, after the confetti and the prize, I found him backstage. Workmen were dismantling snooker tables, to transport them to the next tournament. “It came back,” O’Sullivan said. He looked relieved and haunted at the same time. “Sometimes you know it will.”


Written on 19 February 2014, 11:07pm

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Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of my favorite sportsmen. But it’s only recently – after he won the World Masters – that I found 2 interesting things about him:
1. that he wrote an autobiography book
2. that running is a very important part of his life
ronnie running 300
Here are some interesting quotes from the first two chapters of his autobiography book: