Author Archives: Eric

Links 20170309

Google buys Kaggle.

Mark Cuban takes a stab at healthcare reform.

Each bitcoin transaction represented at least 26 kWh of electricity.

Between my optimistic lower-bound estimate, and the BECI, we’re still left with a staggering amount of electricity embodied in each bitcoin transaction—anywhere from 26 to 100+ kWh, or enough to power 0.9 to 3.6 US households for a day. To repeat, this is thousands of times more energy-intensive than an estimate for a credit card transaction.

Sports Links 20170308

Lots of interesting sports stuff (to me at least) in my feed reader this afternoon:

March Madness selection favors deserving teams (good win-loss record) over good teams (lots of talent).

Yes, Kentucky likes basketball. Twice as much ESPN viewing in Louisville as Raleigh/Chapel Hill/Durham.

You picked the wrong target, hacker. Don’t mess with Ohio football.

Dangerous takeoff for Michigan basketball team.

Some Explanations for the bad betting results this year

My NFL betting model had a bad year. Apparently, so did sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

NFL favorites went 135-126 against the spread this past season, not counting pushes. It is the third-best mark for favorites in the last 14 seasons. And 141 games went over the total, with 124 staying under, the third-best mark for overs in the last 14 years, according to sports betting analytics site Betlabsports.com on Sports Insights. The betting majority almost always gravitates to the favorite and over, which makes it a bad combination for the books.

To boot, the New England Patriots, the consensus Super Bowl favorites throughout the season and a public favorite, went 16-3 ATS, tying the 1989 San Francisco 49ers for the best single-season ATS record in the last 40 years. In contrast, the Cleveland Browns, widely considered the biggest long shots in the league and the only team to be underdogs in every game, went a league-worst 3-12-1 ATS.

My model tends to choose underdogs due to the regularization of offense and defense strengths. Basically, I assume regression to the mean, and there was no such regression for the Patriots, Browns, Rams, or 49ers this year.

My record in games involving the Patriots: 5-12-1 (the third number is pushes or ties against the spread)
My record in games involving the Browns: 5-9-1
My record in games involving the Patriots: 4-9-2
My record in games involving the Patriots: 5-9-1

Overall in games involving those four teams: 19-36-4 (they played each other in 4 games after week 1).

“You want to gamble against the public, but at some point you’d like to see a team cover. It’s hard to be that bad and not cover, because the spreads get so inflated.”

“I would say 100 percent [the sharps] struggled,” Bogdanovich said.

Also:

“The average margin of victory in 2016 was the lowest in history, relative to total points per game.”

Book Review – Small-Scale Cogeneration Handbook

Small-Scale Cogeneration Handbook, 2nd edition
by Bernard Kolanowski, 2003

My second energy paper is about cogeneration, also called combined heat and power (CHP). Cogen plants burn fuel for electricity and also put the waste heat to work. The waste heat can be used for space or water heating, for industrial processes, or for air conditioning (via a heat-exchange setup). This book covers the basics for someone interested in putting a cogen plant to work. Common uses of cogen are for manufacturing processes, hospitals, hotels, and universities. Basically, anyone who has a large and stable heating load (in addition to their electric load) could be a candidate for CHP. Electrical output of the systems range from dozens of kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts. About 8% of the U.S. electricity generation comes from CHP plants.

For me, interested in modeling cogen/CHP plants instead of buying one, the most useful parts of this book are where it discusses PURPA and subsequent U.S. regulation (Chapter 3) as well as where it discusses financing and contracting (Chapter 11). As this edition was written in 2003, some of the discussions of the deregulation of electrical systems and incentives for green energy are out of date, but I’m sure the newer version is more current.

Amazon Link to Current Edition: Small-Scale Cogeneration Handbook, Fourth Edition

Book Review – Short Stories by Anton Chekhov

Stephen Fry Presents a Selection of Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories
by Anton Chekhov, read by Stephen Fry

Russia must not have been a very happy place in Chekhov’s time (1860-1904). These stories might just leave you a little depressed. Stephen Fry reading them makes them a little better, but the audiobook was a little funky in its timing – no pauses between the end of one story and start of the next.

Unless you’re a Russian scholar or really appreciate dark humor, you can probably skip this one.

Amazon Link: Stephen Fry Presents a Selection of Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories

Speed read the news

While I have to slog my way through technical material, I can speed read most news and articles. I’ve tested my reading speed, and I can get through about 400-500 words per minute of non-technical medium-density news. However, if the article is on a busy website, it’s hard to maintain this speed. I’ve started to experiment with Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP), which flashes the words you are trying to read at you to keep your eyes focused on one spot.

Spritz is an RSVP that speed flashes your article to you, similar to the gif below:

You can install a browser plugin to get your material Spritz’ed to you. Go here to get the plugin, then make an account and set your desired words/minute. Then, when you’re at a website with news/articles to read, just click the Spritzlet link and it will start flashing words for you. I’ve set mine to 425 words/minute to read non-technical material. Play with the speed to find a setting that requires your concentration but does not lose you.

Other speed reading options:
Readsy appears to show like Spritz, but allows you to either paste the material in or attach a .pdf.
-If you like the Spritz format (one red letter that doesn’t move), check here for other options besides Spritzlet and Readsy, including phone apps.
-If you like words being flashed 2-4 words at a time, try copying your material into Spreeder.