56 Articles


6 months Ago

Strategic Acting in Football

Published by marco on

 I caught the last 30 minutes of Chelsea vs. MCI in the Champions League final last week. It showed both sides of football. Both sides played absolutely brilliantly and it was a nail-biter right up until the last seconds.

It also showed what’s wrong with football — the team in the lead started strategically chewing the scenery on several questionable “contacts”. As a long-time hockey fan, I think it’s just shameful and unnecessary to flop around to defend a lead.

The team was... [More]

1 year Ago

The TacX App in 2020

Published by marco on

I wrote the following about a year ago when I first got my TacX. I have struck out the items that no longer apply.

The TacX App is a joke. It barely does what it needs to do.

  • It doesn’t remember your login for more than a few days Now it remembers the login, but randomly shows the log in page with a loading circle on it between some screens, looking very much like it’s going to log out and then catching itself just before it does and proceeding to the next screen. It’s like watching a... [More]

Strava is a movement now?

Published by marco on

Strava recently published new Community Standards. It’s mostly fine, filled with the standard entreaties to avoid “hate speech” (even though that’s a legal term that has a different meaning every country they have users in) and singing paeans about being nice to each other.

Strava also declares its right to terminate the account of anyone they consider to have transgressed against what seem like deliberately vaguely defined rules.

They probably think they’re being precise when they write,

“Hate... [More]”

2 years Ago

You still can’t trust Strava

Published by marco on

People put so much stock in the records and trophies and numbers available on Strava, but it just seems so unreliable.

For example, I’d done a long ride a couple of weeks ago: about 140km with 2350m of climbing in just under six hours. Strava “estimated” my average wattage at about 144w.[1] A buddy of mine saw this and went out for one of his own a couple of days later, putting up about 150km with 2350m in about 6:15. My buddy went faster and farther, weighs at least 6-8 kilos more than me and... [More]

Strava Data-caching

Published by marco on

Strava makes for strange conversations: I’ve had discussions with nearly non-technical cycling colleagues about “eventual consistency” and caching and shared servers and data regions. It’s a funny old world.

In the two shots below, Strava is telling me that I got my second-best time[1] but the time for each activity is clearly lower than the time that it’s indicating as a PR. Even after recalculation, Strava is adamant. I’m not sure what could cause this as it’s pretty basic math. Maybe the... [More]

3 years Ago

How to maintain/adjust Shimano Ultegra DI2 (2018)

Published by marco on

This information is available in many videos and forums, but I’ve collected it here so that I don’t have to look it up next time.

Chain is rubbing on other gears

The DI2 does not adjust itself. It does, however, know how far apart your gears are. Once you’ve got one gear—a central one—adjusted, the others are automatically correct, as well.

The DI2 also almost never needs adjustment (at least in my experience).[1]

If you hear the chain rubbing on any of the gears, then you can use the... [More]

Some links about cycling and watts

Published by marco on

Do you need big legs to push watts? A friend asked whether good hill climbers would need giant legs to push big watts—450-500W for a light rider, or 6–6.5W/kg. Apparently not. Phil Gaimon is a very strong hill climber. He looks like this.

Scrawny A.F. Not so huge legs, though. In the next video, you’ll see that he can push 450-500W for minutes at a time.

The first video is of Fabian Cancellara vs. Phil Gaimon. Both can push big watts, but Gaimon is retired and weighs about 20kg less. It... [More]

7 years Ago

The last offensive play by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX

Published by marco on

The article The Corruption of Football by Joshua Sperber (CounterPunch) offers a far better analysis of the final offensive play by the Seahawks—the one that led to an interception—than I could ever have hoped to make.

Sperber starts off by dissecting Emmitt Smith and Dave Zirin’s supposition that foul play must have somehow been involved. That is, “[t]he theory of foul play of course presupposes that Carroll made not only the wrong call but a completely nonsensical one that could only be attributable to corruption […]”.... [More]

World Cup 2014 Finals finally over

Published by marco on

Ah, now I can have my life back.[1]

Why are you[2] watching?

I honestly don’t know what comes over me when the Soccer World Cup or the European Championship is on. I never watch club football. I know some of the teams and know where some of the players play, but that’s it. I know many names, but don’t follow assiduously enough to even halfway qualify as a fan.

I am strongly critical of FIFA and their politics, corruption and influence. It’s probably a giant waste of money. At least some of the... [More]

8 years Ago

World Cup 2014 group phase

Published by marco on

Brazil vs. Croatia (3–1)
Brazil took a little while to get going but showed flashes of brilliance. They got lucky that the momentum didn’t go the other way before getting some fortuitous calls. Brazil almost always gets the benefit of calls. I’m on fence as to whether it’s an in-built, explicit prejudice, an unconscious tendency on the part of referees in awe of their reputation or just a natural outgrowth of their playing so well.
Mexico vs. Cameroon (1–0)
Can’t remember. I think Mexico... [More]

Final Sochi 2014 notes

Published by marco on

U.S. Olympic Hockey

 Patrick Kane has a sadOh my God, what an ass-kicking. Canada put on a clinic for America and then Finland did the same, with even more success.

Patrick Kane never showed up—he missed again and again and took horrible penalties. His face after his second penalty sums things up nicely for the U.S. (see left).

And the US didn’t even both covering the greatest Olympic goal-scorer ever, warming the hearts of 40+ year-old guys everywhere by letting Teemu score not once, but twice.

Continental... [More]

Olympic hockey; why choose?

Published by marco on

I shelled out CHF8.– for Zattoo for this month so that I can watch the Olympics on my own schedule. It’s pretty sweet, especially for hockey games.

 USA/Czech Republic & Canada/Latvia

Zattoo keeps a 7-day buffer for over 100 channels. You can actually watch for free, but you don’t get HD and you have to watch extra, Zattoo-specific commercials. The Olympics coverage is remarkably commercial-free, at least on the Swiss (Swiss-German, German, French and Italian) and Austrian channels. The German channels have more... [More]

Olympics 2014 opening ceremony

Published by marco on

 Belgium Bermuda Lithuania Germany Russia Slovenia Tonga France Ireland Italy Lithuania United States Ukraine


Let’s get the initial unpleasantness with the fashion choices of various countries out of the way at the top. In no particular order—which alphabet would I use?—and leaving out countries with no particular reason, here are my bitchy notes. Some of the nations are pictured on the left but not all.

  • Bermuda: Shorts. Still baggy, red and ill-fitting.
  • Cayman islands: Shorts. How original.
  • Ireland: Army camo-like dark-green. Meh.
  • China: Red, how original
  • Belgium: Look for the all... [More]

Super Bowl XLVIII (Euro edition)

Published by marco on

 The Super Bowl takes place way too late on a school night for all but the most ardent fans on this side of the pond. This is not to say that there are no such fans over here. The Germans and British both had full coverage, with the British channel Film4 having gotten Terrel Davis and Mike Carlson to assist the Scottish announcer Colin Murray, who started off slowly but got steadily more hilarious as the game unfolded into a slaughter of Denver by Seattle. There were plenty of people willing to... [More]

10 years Ago

EM 2012 First Round

Published by marco on

The first round of the EM—which stands for Europameisterschaft[1], which means European championship in German—is over. The qualifying teams are mostly predictable, with all of the usual suspects making it through to the quarterfinals—France, England, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal—as well as the Czech Republic and Greece thrown in. Greece won the whole thing with an excruciating defensive style in 2004 and the Czech Rpeublic is often quite solid, so not really a surprise.

Some of the... [More]

11 years Ago

Hope Springs Eternal

Published by marco on

Another NFL season is upon us. The Jets—weary, beleaguered, eternally unrewarded warriors—once again trudge to the line of scrimmage. The New York Jets: Week One by Morgan Meis (The Owls) has sports writing that borders on poetry:

“His name is Darrelle Revis and … [i]t is his fate to be the greatest cornerback, the greatest. He is so good that he erases himself. Did you see him during that first game, on Monday Night Football even as the fog lifted? No, you didn’t see him. That’s because his defensive genius... [More]”

12 years Ago

Contador, Schleck and a Dropped Chain

Published by marco on

Just a quick note on Contador’s behavior in the Tour de France when he took advantage of Schleck’s mechanical failure on a mountain stage. Schleck caught Contador napping and managed to break free of the group with only Alexander Vinoukorov managing to keep pace. He was free and clear of the group and riding like a man possessed; it’s hard to say how it would have ended, but it certainly looked like Schleck was about to build on his lead over Contador.

Instead, his chain dropped and clamped... [More]

World Cup 2010: US 2 – Slovenia 2

Published by marco on

 I missed the second half of this game because I was watching the Tour de Suisse racing through my home town. In catching up on the news, I discovered the the U.S. had been robbed of a game-winning goal! Or so Facebook and Reddit told me. A search for videos on YouTube turned up several links to videos showing the goal in question: the play was not offsides and no U.S. player committed a foul (to the contrary, it was the Slovenians who were all over the U.S. players).

It seemed quite clear-cut:... [More]

World Cup 2010 in Switzerland

Published by marco on

In Switzerland, you can now watch the world cup live online in three different languages (German, French and Italian). It’s very good quality and easily good enough to watch the match. Compared to 4 years ago, it’s absolutely incredible. With a 5MBit connection at the office, we can easily spare some bandwidth to pull down the live stream and stay up-to-date as we work.

Apparently, we’re not alone in doing so.

This afternoon, during the Netherlands – Denmark match, we couldn’t log on to... [More]

Winning the World Cup of Football in 2010

Published by marco on

Fans would give up food, jobs for World Cup glory? (Reuters) is a tremendously fluffy and stupid article. Did they actually interview people or did they just make this shit up based on gross cultural stereotypes?

“It found that a majority of English respondents – 93 percent – would give up food for a week to see England win, while some 70 percent of Italians would give up their job for an Italian victory.

“Americans were most willing to sacrifice their homes, while South Koreans were most ready to... [More]”

Vancouver 2010 Wrapup

Published by marco on

Short Track (or How Sports Works for the uninitiated)

Short track speed skating got the short shrift right up until the end from Eurosport. Apparently, there was a bit of a controversy with one of Apolo Anton Ohno’s races. More details are available in the article, Apolo Ohno Disqualified in 500 Meters, Wins Relay Bronze (Fanhouse)

I didn’t see the video because of the blanket NBC hatred for non-US residents and the NBC stranglehold on video content from the Olympics.

That does not prevent me from... [More]

Olympics 2010 impressions

Published by marco on

TV Coverage

 The only reason anyone can niggle about anything about TV coverage is because it does so many things right.[1] And, if you don’t like what Eurosport is showing, switch to another channel that’s showing something else. Other channels, like ORF (Austrian), the triad of Swiss channels (SF, TSR, TSI), and ARD (German) are also showing nearly nonstop coverage. You may not get it in a language you understand – and you may have to adjust your sleep schedule – but if it’s happening, at... [More]

13 years Ago

American Football Rules

Published by marco on

American football is not static and undergoes rule changes from season to season. One such change is documented in the article Best Intimidating Answer to a Legitimate Question, in which stiff-arming has been considerably curtailed for the 2009-2010 NFL season. Marion Barber can proudly and rightly claim to be almost the sole reason for the change, though he doesn’t seem too put out by the upcoming limitation on his technique.

“Barber made a habit last year of violently stiff-arming potential... [More]”

Surf’s Up

Published by marco on

This picture from The Year 2008 in Photographs (Big Picture Blog) is absolutely mind-blowing:

“Kerby Brown rides a huge wave in an undisclosed location southwest of Western Australia July 6, 2008, in this picture released November 7, 2008 by the Oakley-Surfing Life Big Wave Awards in Sydney.”

14 years Ago

EM: Italy, France, Holland and Romania

Published by marco on

Italy 2 – France 0

The vaunted Italy–France matchup went awry early for France as Franck Ribéry injured himself on a bad tackle and had to leave the game in the tenth minute.[1] Then, with their offensive duo of Henry-Ribéry cut in half, Eric Abidal pulled Luca Toni down in the box, giving Italy a penalty kick and earning himself a red card. Pirlo converted the penalty to put Italy in the lead 1–0. Italy looked quite strong and confident on the attack, using a good passing game through the... [More]

EM: Germany, Austria, Poland and Croatia

Published by marco on

Germany 1 – Austria 0

This match was horribly boring; watching the first half was like watching a cat play with a mouse, as the Germans gave the Austrians a long leash to see what they could do. Austria was clearly outmatched, but they collapsed to an ever-exciting nine-men-in-the-box formation at the slightest hint of offense from the Germans, which made it hard for Germany to capilatize or even create chances. So, it wasn’t surprising that the lone goal came from a scorching free hick by... [More]

EM: Switzerland, Portugal, Turkey and Czech Republic

Published by marco on

Switzerland 2 – Portugal 0

Switzerland was already out and Portugal had benched many of their star players[1], but the Swiss came out still hunting for their first win in EM history. The Portugese had the game well in hand throughout the first half and both teams had a couple of decent chances. The replacement goalie for Switzerland was the old hand Patrick Zuberbühler—”Zubi” to everyone here—who made heavy use of his good friends the goalposts, as usual.

In the second half, the impossible... [More]

EM: Spain, Sweden, Greece and Russia

Published by marco on

Spain 2 – Sweden 1

Spain and Sweden were relatively evenly-matched, with Spain going into the lead early on a corner kick. Ibrahimovich evened it up for Sweden in the 35th minute and, from then on, all was pretty much quiet with no real chances for either side. The only events of note were a pretty obvious bodycheck by Sweden in the penalty box that didn’t impress the referee at all[1] and a relatively obvious handball—again by Sweden and again in the penalty box—that also didn’t get called.... [More]

EM: Italy, Romania, France and the Netherlands

Published by marco on

Italy 1 – Romania 1

It just wouldn’t be Italy if they didn’t require certain teams to win and other teams to lose and goal differences to be just right in order for them not to be mathematically eliminated. The game was exciting enough, with Romania having a few chances, but Italy having quite a few more—they just didn’t capitalize as often as they should have. As usual, they had one goal taken back—a nice header by Luca Toni—on a poor offsides call, but that’s become so standard that... [More]

EM: Germany, Croatia, Poland and Austria

Published by marco on

Germany 1 – Croatia 2

Instead of the Germans, it was the Croatians that were extraordinarily well-organized and put together play after play on the net. By the end of the first half, the Germans were showing their frustration after nearly every offsides call and after every defensive error, both of which occurred often. The referee was a bit yellow card-happy against the Croatians, handing out eight of them in the first half—sometimes for tackles that got a lot of ball and almost none of... [More]