Geocaching: A Souped Up Scavenger Hunt

Posted by Anthony Mowl in GENERAL, Uncategorized on 08-22-11    No Comments

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Imagine a scavenger hunt on steroids. I’m talking the full-blown, Barry Bonds, race horse stuff. Now imagine 1,300 people came together to form 600 teams and started looking for stuff.  Put the two together, and we get one of the biggest geocaching games around.

Geocaching is the ultimate event for geeks who want to imagine they’re pirates, or families who want some bonding time.

Geocachers use GPS technology to look for hidden caches. Clues are GPS coordinates that get you within 30 feet of the hidden cache. Once you find the hidden trove, players sign in, get the next coordinates, and follow their GPS to the next cache and clue. Some geocache games require miles of hiking to get to the cache, which can be cleverly hidden where even GPS coordinates wouldn’t be enough. Then there’s Extreme Geocache, where caches can be hidden under bridges, inside caves, and in the water accessible only with SCUBA gear.

Geocaching has only been around since 2000 when GPS technology was made available to the masses, and has since grown to become a popular and entertaining sport. Although prize money and sponsorships haven’t gotten to the point where players can consider themselves professionals, people are traveling far, even to other countries, to participate in geocaching events.

Ironically, while this sport is enabled by technology like GPS, a fuzzy and not-so-accurate GPS makes the game more challenging. If GPS improves and becomes capable of pinpointing locations to the square foot, then most of the fun would probably be sucked out of it. We’re currently in the GPS’ capabilities “sweet spot” of close, but not needle-in-a-haystack-accurate, which keeps geocaching fun and challenging — unless people start hiding caches in tall buildings, trees, in the water, or under several feet of sand.

Or how about we use geocaching to help the Carolina Panthers find the end zone? Now that would be a fun and impossible thing to watch. But as long as GPS technology is only accurate within 30 feet, that would still leave them 10 yards short of the end zone to fumble around.

Stop Getting Ripped Off By Scalpers

Posted by Silissa Kenney in GENERAL, INTERNET, STADIUM on 07-28-11    No Comments

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Have you ever bought a ticket to a live event from a scalper and just cringed at the escalated price? Or gotten to the ticket taker only to find out you’ve got a high-priced fake in your hand? It just sucks. Well fear no more, someone is looking out for you. A lot of someones.

Dozens of  recording artists, professional sports teams, industry leaders, and more than 60 venues across the United States have launched the Fans First Coalition, a nationwide, not-for-profit dedicated to protecting fans from fraudulent and unscrupulous ticket practices. Breathe a sigh of relief!

I know someone who used to work at Tower Records (you remember, those stores people used to have to go to — in person! — to buy CDs). Tower Records had a Ticketmaster counter. Whenever tickets were released to a major live event, the scalpers would come to buy. And they’d pay big “tips” to whoever was manning the counter in order to buy beyond the ticket limit Ticketmaster set for individual purchase.

Of course, this is an ancient way of doing business, but technology has opened up new ways for ticket buyers to get screwed.

In the Internet age, scalpers use software to buy large amounts of tickets online. Or, sometimes fans buy from a ticket reseller website, not knowing they are paying higher than face value. It all adds up to you paying higher prices, but the artist, or the team or the venue don’t make any more money. Seems like it’s bad for everyone.

Maybe we could all just be a little more careful about the sites we use to buy tickets. But, then again, there doesn’t seem to be any way to get around that Ticketmaster “convenience” charge. We all know the one. And there is nothing more annoying then trying to buy a ticket and finding out that the event is sold out within minutes. If that happens because scalpers are scooping up all the tickets, then maybe it will be good to have some superheroes (or singers) fighting the good fight for us little people.

Plus, the Fans First Coalition has brought together Megadeath and Kenny G on the same team. How cool is  that?

Replacing Those Broken Ankles

Posted by Anthony Mowl in ALL, GENERAL, Uncategorized on 06-23-11    1 Comment

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For as long as sports have been around, athletes have been breaking ankles. Who can forget Michael Jordan breaking Vince Carter’s ankles when he was 40, or how about the time Allen Iverson pulled a double and broke two ankles with one move? The And1 street basketball tour has an unwritten rule during games: Get your ankle broken and you’re thrown out of the game.

Fortunately for Vince Carter and anyone else who has ended up flat on their ass, there’s a new technology in medicine that’ll put these people back on the floor. Podiatry surgeon Dr. Gerald Mauriello Jr. at the Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute came up with the Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement system (STAR), a technology approved by the FDA just last year. The total ankle replacement has been in use around the world but only recently has the procedure been approved for use in the United States, likely in response to the increasing number of players thrown out of And1 basketball games.

The STAR procedure was developed to help those with severe arthritis and uses similar technology and materials used in knee and hip replacements. Patients who undergo the surgery usually walk normally and can hit the golf course or go hiking shortly after the ankle replacement. In a press release, Dr. Mauriello says that the STAR Ankle closely replicates the natural movement of the human ankle and has been proven to be a superior alternative to joint fusion procedures. Although the procedure probably hasn’t been used in younger professional athletes yet, it would be interesting to explore whether this is a viable alternative for saving someone’s career.  Who knows, we might see Brett Favre come back again and again if he decides to replace his ankles.

The only downside to the procedure is that it would not be able to fix your ego, a totally different matter. Here’s one more clip for good measure. My regards to the Denver Broncos defense.

Penguins Step Up On Concussion Testing

Posted by Seth in GENERAL on 05-04-11    No Comments

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You’ll have to forgive Pittsburghers like me if we’re all a little overly sensitive about concussions these days. After all, we’ve spent the last few months waiting and wondering while Sidney Crosby lost half a season — and who knows how much longer — after suffering a concussion.

The recovery from a concussive injury is uncertain and unpredictable, and the prospect of long-term complications from a blow to the head that occurs in the blink of an eye is truly frightening. All you have to do is read about how Crosby says physical exertion brought on concussive symptoms four months after he suffered the injury, and you quickly get an idea how devastating concussions can be.

So with everyone in Penguin land perhaps hyper-sensitive to this particular injury, the team’s charitable arm, the Penguin Foundation, established partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to provide free baseline concussion testing for thousands of youth hockey players in Western Pennsylvania.

Now, this isn’t a cure-all. These are the same kinds of tests that NFL players are tanking on purpose so that they don’t come off looking so bad when they get a concussion. But you’d have to figure that a kid isn’t going to be savvy enough to pull something like that.

This is a nice move by the Penguins. Now all we need is for the NHL to get serious about cutting head shots out of the game.

NFL Players Gaming The System On Concussions: It’s Time For Brain Scans

Posted by Seth in GENERAL on 04-27-11    No Comments

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It’s the offseason and there’s a lockout in progress — or maybe there isn’t, depending on which legal ruling is in force when you read this — but the NFL can’t seem to stay out of the headlines.

Everyone is concerned about concussions, but it seems players have been gaming the system by intentionally underperforming on their baseline cognition tests. That way, when a guy gets knocked into next Thursday, things don’t look so bad when the doctor compares the baseline tests to the ones taken after the injury. And it’s not just the crumb-bums who are scratching and clawing to hold onto their roster spots who are using this strategy. Even Peyton Manning is doing it.

Fortunately there’s a technological solution to this problem.

Researchers at Purdue University got a lot of publicity last year for a brain study they did with a couple of high school football teams. They gave players baseline cognition tests, but they also had them undergo baseline brain-imaging scans as well. You can’t fake what shows up on an MRI.

Obviously, there’s a cost involved here, but maybe if the NFL is serious about player safety it can use some of its $9 billion to do some baseline brain scans. The mounting knowledge base about the long-term impact of concussions — and even non-concussive head contact — demands decisive action.

Lamborghini And Callaway Have Drivers On Their Minds

Posted by Dan in GENERAL on 04-26-11    1 Comment

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ParisAutoShow_wideThe Italian supercar manufacturer Lamborghini and the golf club stalwart Callaway have decided to share their R&D and make a brand new golf club.  Lamborghini has long used light carbon fiber materials in its car designs and has given this knowledge to Callaway for its new line of Diablo and Diablo Tour drivers.

The clubs will not feature the standard titanium crown found in most high-end drives but will have a “forged composite” crown instead. The proprietary process features more than 500,000 turbostratic carbon  fibers per square inch to make a substance both lighter and stronger than titanium. Each driver contains more than 10 million carbon fibers that reinforce about 33 percent of the club. Callaway says the new materials will give you 8 more yards per drive compared to an all-titanium driver.

Rugby Goes High Tech with GPS Performance Study

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in GENERAL on 04-25-11    No Comments

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If you’ve watched even five minutes of a rugby match you know it’s not a sport for the faint of heart, but a new study commissioned by the game’s governing body in England promises to measure just how much a player puts in on the pitch.

Researchers from the University of Chester’s Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences used GPS technology and accelerometers to measure the movement, speed and other physical impacts on players in England’s Aviva Premiership league.

The study was commissioned by the Rugby Football Union and researchers unveiled their preliminary findings at a professional rugby conference earlier this month. Researchers collected data from players wearing GPS-outfitted players over the course of 54 matches which measured how far and how fast the players moved in a typical game. Accelerometers in the 5Hz GPS units also measured data such as impacts on the body which, as you can imagine, happens a lot in rugby.

The RFU says its hoping to wring some valuable position-specific knowledge for advanced training and conditioning. Although, I’d think with the advent of smart jerseys professional teams really don’t have to wait around for a fancy-pants university study to get access to this kind of data.

Anyway, the blood-and-guts stuff related to G-force and the physical toll of the game hasn’t been released yet, but here are a couple tidbits some of the early distance/speed data:

• Average distance covered ranges from 3.2 miles for forwards to about 4 miles for backs.

• Top speeds for forwards reached about 15.8 miles per hour, backs maxed out at 18.7 miles per hour. Average speeds were about 2.3 miles per hour for forwards and 2.7 miles per hour for backs.

You can find a presentation based on the data here.

Episode 70: “Are You Ready to Rumble?”

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in GENERAL, PODCAST on 04-06-11    No Comments

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MLB TV’s online service is legitimately cool. The Masters will be a non-event online. Tiger Woods plays with crappy equipment and Blum compares betting on Wrestlemania to trading corn futures.

Nice Job Lions

Posted by Dan in GENERAL on 04-05-11    No Comments

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Detroit-LionsThe Lions have embraced a totally new philosophy this year leading up to the draft, tell the world exactly who you want on the internet. This strategy works well for bloggers with fantasy leagues, but not so sure how it will play out in real life.  Good luck trying to trade down come draft day when everybody knows exactly who you want.

Your Brackets Are Busted Forever

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in GENERAL on 03-31-11    No Comments

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The Final Four is finally upon us. How does your bracket look?


You’re in good company. Only two entrants who submitted brackets out of 5.9 million brackets filled out for ESPN.Com’s Tournament Challenge managed to pick this Final Four. One of them has VCU going all the way (wonder who he roots for) and the other has the right Final Four, but the bracket ranks low because it’s weighed down with so many other bad picks.

Anyway, if nothing else, the annual burning of the brackets tell me that, now more than ever, winning brackets are as much about luck than anything else. Let’s face it, a monkey with a bracket has as good a chance at picking the Final Four as your or I do. The talent pool is too diluted and there is too much parity in the sport for chalk to be anything close to a sure bet. RPI means nothing. Stats are dead. It’s madness (March Madness!) and that’s what makes the tournament great television.

Of course if we, and every expert at ESPN, can’t fill out a good bracket to save our lives, what does that say for the NCAA Selection Committee? Of course they don’t know what they’re doing either. They never will. Only one of their top seeds even made it to the Elite Eight this year. The best seed in, three seed Connecticut, might not even have been seeded that high given how much the Big East SUCKED this year. And, of course, VCU, whose selection was widely panned, has won more games than any Final Four team in history because they had to dump USC in one of the play-in games, pardon me, the “First Round” of the NCAA Tournament. So how do you seed a tournament like this? It’s impossible.

Last tourney musing: access to every game worked wonders this year for the hardcore fan but, if you didn’t all-the-way do your homework (and, let’s face it, how many people were checking out Butler games in January) the opening weekend can still be a bit daunting if you’re trying to be coordinate between four games at once. It’d be nice to have one separate feed that can whip you around between the tournament games like how the TV coverage used to work. That way, you have the option to let the tourney’s opening weekend kind of wash over you, or, if you get stuck on a game, or have a favorite team, you can zone in on a different channel. Just a thought.