Pygmy Reviews #53 – iOS Apps

Swype Keyboard ($0.99)

One Line Description: A custom iOS keyboard that supports swiping a finger around instead of traditional typing.

Swype is not a new concept. It was first released for Android nearly two years ago and came to iOS with the custom keyboard support in iOS 8. It allows the user to swipe their finger back and forth across the keyboard and then turns those swipes into letters/words based on when/where the finger changed direction. It works surprisingly well.

It comes with it’s own version of what Apple calls QuickType allowing the user to pick words as they go, or autocorrect as they see fit, and can be used like a regular keyboard, thus making it a reasonable option as a full-time replacement. It seems vastly superior to one handed typing (at least on the iPhone 6), but might not be better than two handed typing in most situations. That likely would just come down to preference. It seems that most people prefer SwiftyKey over Swype, but Swype doesn’t require full the keyboard access that SwiftKey does and therefore provides a more secure option.

In regular typing/non-swiping scenarios, it isn’t as good as the built-in Apple keyboard, but it works great in the swiping world. At $0.99 it seems worth a shot, despite the horrible app store reviews.

Emoji++ ($0.99)

One Line Description: A slightly better implementation than the current stock emoji keyboard.

The default emoji keyboard on iOS 8.3 is a vast improvement over it’s predescessor. Emoji++ has the long scrollable list first and still seems to make it easier to just scroll through every emoji there is. It also allows favorites to be stored so they can easily be re-used. It also has a section for recently used icons to pick from. It’s not a drastic improvement over the existing implementation, but at $0.99 it is worth it for anyone that uses emojis with any regularity, and would seem like also a requirement for anyone who is an emoji “power user”

Narwhal (Free)

One Line Description: A simple Reddit client

The previously mentioned Alien Blue comes loaded with eye candy and fancy interface ideas, but Narwhal overall is probably a better Reddit client. It looks nice, and uses swiping in lots of clever ways to keep buttons hidden. It has a few minor quirks though. For some reason it always shows the Reddit front page briefly when opened before showing the user’s front page. It seems like a bug, and one that should be easy to correct. It also has no way to view the sidebar for a subreddit, something that has been mentioned as a future feature but never delivered on. It also takes some trickery to get to the iOS share sheet, and so saving images and articles can be more complicated than they need to be. Still the interface is much less jarring than Alien Blue, and it provides a nice enough experience to warrant taking a peak. It is surely one of the better Reddit clients out there, which is needed since Reddit lacks any sort of mobile website version. It’s free, so it can’t hurt to try unless no sidebar access is a dealbreaker.

Tally 2 (Free)

One Line Description: An app to keeping counts of things.

I am really not sure why Agile Tortoise (which writes one of my favorite iOS apps Drafts) decided to re-write Tally, or why they decided to continue to make it free, but this is one of those apps that is nice to have tucked away in a folder in case you need it someday. Pretty much anything you can think of is built into this app. Tallies can be named, they can start or be manually set to any value, they can count up or down and by any set amount. Tapping on the screen changes the value by the default count and swiping down does the opposite. There is even a Today widget to quickly access current Tallies!

If you are someone who has to regularly count things this is a no brainer option. But again this is the kind of app that some people might occasionally need and it’s nice to have around just in case.

Throwback Jersey Sales by State

Mitchell and Ness makes throwback sports jerseys. And they [recently published the following map] with the top selling jerseys by state.

So many oddities here. The one that stands out the most to me is the Bo Jackson White Sox jersey leading the way in Arkansas. Because Arkansas has no pro teams it’s obvious that this is going to be a team from another state, but why Bo Jackson? He was born in Alabama and went to Auburn. And why the White Sox version? Kansas City is much closer and that would have even made more sense.

Walter Payton in South Dakota is another weird one. It’s not really surprising Payton is the top selling jersey in Illinois. Chicago is a Bears town, and way more people are buying Bears jerseys than Bulls these days. But why South Dakota? Payton was born and went to college in Mississippi.

Add on more strange Chicago ties with Ernie Banks being the top seller in New Mexico. This might be the hardest to explain. Like the previous two oddities, New Mexico has no major pro team, and it doesn’t seem like the place a lot of people retire to. So why Banks?

Kobe Bryant jerseys are remarkably popular. States like Oregon and Nevada are not huge shockers being so close to California and having just one pro team (the Trailblazers between them). But how in the heck is Kobe Bryant the top selling jersey in Wisconsin and Minnesota?!? The obvious guess in Wisconsin would be Brett Favre, but perhaps too many people have that jersey already. And there probably isn’t another former Packer popular enough to bring in lots of sales. The Bucks and Brewers perhaps don’t have a standout throwback either. But it seems crazy to think that it would be Kobe of all people. In Minnesota Kevin Garnett probably sold too many jerseys when he was there, and with Vikings Cris Carter is perhaps the only guy who would come close, and he might be too recent as well.

It doesn’t seem so crazy that some of these states have odd choices, it’s just surprising what the odd choices are. Wisconsin is thought of as such a football state, and Minnesota as a hockey one. So if Minnesota’s top jersey was Gretzky that wouldn’t be totally shocking. But for it to be someone like Kobe just goes to show how incredibly popular he is apparently. If I was someone from Wisconsin though I would be pretty embarrassed.

This data is no doubt skewed by the fact there is there is surely a “sweet spot”. Jerseys have become more and more popular over the last 20 years, and for the most part guys who played in the last 20 years probably sold a lot of jerseys when they played (Favre and Garnett are examples from above). And someone like Fran Tarkenton with the Vikings is probably too far back to be that popular, so something random like Kobe happens. Still very interesting data.

(via ESPN)

Full House Reboot Is Official

Daniel Fienberg of Hitfox says Full House Netflix revival is official. Here i the plot synopsis:

Regarding the current status quo in the world of “Fuller House,” Netflix says that the story picks up with D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Cameron-Bure) as a pregnant widow living in San Francisco. Because sitcom, sister Stephanie (Sweetin), an aspiring musician, and D.J.’s bestie Kimmy (Barber) move in. Did I mention that D.J. has two kids – 12-year-old son J.J. and 7-year-old Max – and Kimmy has a teenage daughter? Now THIS is a full house.

My sister and I grew up on Full House (along with Saved by the Bell, Hey Dude and Salute Your Shorts), but I can’t imagine outside of the first episode even we are remotely interested in this nonsense. I still haven’t seen an episode of Girl Meets World, but I just learned last week it was on TV already. It arrived with so little fanfare that I thought it was still in the works.

I was a much bigger fan of Full House than of Boy Meets World and I admit to catching a re-run of the former on occasion, but there is no way this is going to be any good. The three main characters are played by actresses who have literally vanished from acting over the last two decades. Add to the fact that a majority of the series they were children, and now are grownups and this just seems ripe with potential failure. It seems like Netflix could have copied the The Brady Bunch model and just made a movie for those fans craving nostalgia instead of committing to a full on series. I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t watch the original show will have any interest in this, let alone actually like it.

Because Netflix keeps viewership numbers so secret the only indication of if this is a success is if it get’s renewed for a second season. But assuming that it will be pretty cheap to produce, especially with the cast of not-in-demand people. I won’t lie, I will at least check out the first episode, and my guess is lots of other people around my age will as well. But my guess is that 3/4 of those people won’t get to episode 5.

MLB Problem is Pace, Not Length

Barry Petchesky of Deadspin on MLB’s attempts to speed up the game:

The 79 nine-inning games so far this year have averaged 2:54:39, down from 3:02:25 in 2014. That’s a huge difference! And before you discount the numbers after one week, ESPN notes that the final 2014 game length came in just four seconds off its first-week average.

8 minutes is a decent start, right? Thinking through this mathematically, there are 27 outs for each team per team (most of the time), and according to ESPN.com an average of about 8 hits per team per game, plus another 3 walks or so. That adds up to around 75 batters per game on average. Dividing out 8 minutes means that this saves about 6.4 seconds per batter. That isn’t a ton to get excited about when sometimes there are more than 30 seconds between pitches. But that isn’t even where time is being saved. Petchesky continues:

It’s this last change that seems to have had the biggest impact. Ballpark countdown timers, set to 2:25 for locally televised game, signal the time left before the return from commercial breaks, and batters and pitchers are encouraged to be ready to go when the countdown hits 20 seconds. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed a lot more broadcasts returning with an immediate first pitch, rather than with the batter still strolling to the plate.

So most of the time being saved is after commercial breaks. That is helpful while at the ballpark, but most people watching at home are either fast forwarding through commercials and the extra time after, or probably going and doing something else during this time (bathroom, food, iPad, etc.). This is particularly alarming because the problem being address was pace of play, not length of game. Shaving 8 minutes off doesn’t help if it’s imperceptible.

Most of the White Sox games I have watched don’t feel the slightest bit faster paced. In fact as I type this I just saw Jose Quintana take 17 seconds in between pitches. Six seconds per at-bat is nothing, even if that is how time was being saved. Until the time between pitches is cut down significantly, the game will continue to feel as slow as it has for a while.

This “bean counter” statistic is nice for MLB and the media to spin “improvements”, but don’t be fooled, the pace is the same, slow.

Pygmy Reviews #52 – TV Shows

Togetherness – Season 1 (HBO)

Created by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass and Steve Zissis, the latter two of who also star in the show, Togetherness is about a middle-aged married couple (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) with two children, the wife’s sister (Amanda Peet) and the husband’s friend (Zissis). The married couple, the Pierson’s, are probably pretty typical (or at least stereotypical) of a middle aged, upper(-middle?) class family, struggling to stay interested in each other, both romantically, and in other ways. Alex (Zissis) is a struggling actor who has moved in with the Pierson’s because he has to. Tina (Peet) seems to be after love and wealth, probably in that order.

Like many cable shows these days, the season was only eight episodes, and at 30 minutes a pop it took a while to kind of get a nice base formed. The show had it’s moments, but like a lot of shows these days it straddles a tough place between comedy and drama. For the most part it’s not consistently funny enough to be a great comedy. The drama pieces are nice, but something just feels off about the show. And as is my primary complaint with a lot of TV lately it seems like for the most part there always has to be some crazy hook, or gasp-moment to keep people interested. Then there is of course the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Peet and Zissis’ character love affair.

Overall the show is OK, and potentially laid a nice groundwork for the future, but how the show takes the end of the season plot going forward is going to dictate a lot of how good season 2 is. At the moment though, the jury is still out.

Episodes – Season 4 (Showtime)

Season four of this show about Matt LeBlanc, playing himself, and the ins and outs of a television network is pretty par for the course. This show has stayed in my rotation for four seasons mostly because it’s a very easy watch, and also because LeBlanc is just great. The plots for the most part are ridiculous, and most of the characters are not that compelling. That is likely because most of them, like the plots, are ridiculous and over the top. Although a lot of the interworkings of the TV network are at a minimum exaggerated, and at the most impossible, some of them have to be at least loosely based on the way things actually work in this industry.

The fourth season centers a lot around the fate of the show within the show (Pucks) that is the main plot driver of Episodes, the future of the writers (who are the main characters of this show), as well as some financial problems for LeBlanc. The season has it’s moments, but for anyone that has seen one episode/season of the show, they have effectively seen them all. That being said, anyone who has enjoyed the show to this point probably won’t be disappointed with the latest season.

Shameless – Season 5 (Showtime)

Shameless is probably the most underrated show on TV. Having just wrapped it’s 5th season, the show is still going strong, although this was far from it’s best season. It’s remarkable how this cast of not only unknowns, but mostly children, has morphed into such a quality ensemble. The poverty-ridden Gallagher clan definitely has members coming and going far more frequently in the 5th season than it did in the earlier ones. That might be why it felt a little off this season. Steve/Jimmy showed up at the end of last season as a big cliffhanger surprise, but for the most part that plot when nowhere. If that is the last we see of him it was a pretty big waste.

Meanwhile Fiona seems to be the female version of Don Draper if only he were dirt poor. She pinballs from guy to guy and makes one irrational decision after another. At least with Draper he is an older person who is at the point where they are who they are. The sad part about Fiona is that she still can’t see all the destructive things she is doing.

Some of the other plots this season were not quite as strong as past seasons as well. Continuing to hope that the Gallagher kids will put it all together and turn it around is a futile effort. Every season they seem to dig themselves deeper into holes. Truthfully that is probably much more realistic to how real life goes as opposed the way most movies and TV shows end up. For once a show is doing something more “real” and part of me just wants to see something happy go on. The plot with Frank and his new friend almost felt like just a way to keep Frank around (the same way all the Joan Cusack plots felt in past seasons), but away from the kids. It was nice to not him screwing things up for them all the time, but it turns out they did that just fine on their own.

Even with a less than spectacular season, this is still a top tier show with a tremendous cast. It will be interesting to see how many more seasons they try to put together. There were some interesting cliffhangers in the closing montage, but it sure feels like this show is starting to get close to as far as it can go.

Better Call Saul – Season 1 (AMC)

Historically spin-offs do not have great track records. For every exception like Fraiser, there are at multiple things like Joanie Loves Chachi and AfterMASH. Breaking Bad was heralded as one of the pantheon shows of the “Golden Age of Television Dramas” so trying to create a spinoff from that, especially one based on a character that was mostly there for comic relief, and well-timed one-liners, is no easy task. This is exactly how things like Joey get made. And yet after one season Better Call Saul is not only amazing, but on it’s way to being like Fraiser, where you quickly forget that it was even based on another show.

Bob Odenkirk is really great as the title character. He has been around for a long time and really did great things with the Saul Goodman character. By the end of Breaking Bad he had shown some not utilized talent. And so far on Better Call Saul he has taken that to the next level. Jonathan Banks has not had much to do yet as Mike Ehrmantraut, but that just goes to show how much potential this show still has in the tank. Michael McKean has been solid as Chuck, but the rest of the supporting cast still has to find it’s footing. That is probably the sole criticism to this point. For the time being though, Odenkirk is doing a great job carrying the load. The finale was amazing, and so perfect at setting this show up for the future. Things are just beginning but this show is going to be very, very good, and it’s hard not to see Odenkirk getting an Emmy nomination this year.

The Under Appreciated NewsRadio

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox wrote a nice piece on the ’90s TV show NewsRadio:

Joke for joke, NewsRadio is as funny as any show in TV history. (Watch some of its best moments here.) It’s also almost completely devoid of references to the world of the ’90s, something Furey assures me was intentional, to allow the show to hold up in future decades.

This really does help explain how this show is so re-watchable. All the times I have watched it I have never noticed this before, but it doesn’t feel extremely dated and this must be why.

NewsRadio is terribly under appreciated, and probably forgotten, by many at this point. Throwaway jokes have become the staple of a lot of shows these days, but NewsRadio really thrived on these before everyone was doing it. When Lisa (Maura Tierney) asks Matthew (Andy Dick), “why don’t you join a rotisserie baseball league?”, and he responds “because I am allergic to chicken”, it shows how this show was really ahead of it’s time. Current shows like New Girl do this exceptionally well now, but it’s much more common than it was then.

The cast was deep, and pretty much any of them could carry the main plot of an episode when need be, and they all got their shots along the way. In typical 1990s sitcom fashion, all of the characters played to very typical stereotypes, but they made it work. The cast is also very recognizable today, but was mostly unknown at the time. It’s interesting that outside of Maura Tierney and Khandi Alexander (who did 145 episodes of CSI: Miami and Treme) none of the cast really had success on TV after NewsRadio1. But this cast was just perfectly constructed; Dave Foley’s straight man to Phil Hartman playing the villain was especially great. After a decade on Saturday Night Live it was great to see him find the right place to succeed. Stephen Root would pop-up and play millionaire Jimmy James perfectly. Andy Dick nailed the slapstick humor. Vicki Lewis was the perfect ditzy secretary.

The on-again, off-again romance between Dave and Lisa was less of the primary focus, unlike a lot of other sitcoms, and that made it much more tolerable over the long run. Andy Dick showed how much physical comedy and absurdness was a home run in moderation, and some of the best scenes involve him, but thankfully it is not overdone. The right mix of guest stars and bottle episodes are solid as well.

Seinfeld and Friends owned the ’90s sitcom landscape, and Hartman’s untimely death prior to the 5th season surely hurt this show’s legacy. It replaced Hartman with Jon Lovitz, but was nowhere near the same. Many of the great ’90s sitcoms managed to push 8+ seasons and it’s possible that if NewsRadio had pulled this off it would rank much higher in people’s memories.

  1. Obviously Phil Hartman was tragically killed []

2015 White Sox Predictions

My “likely scenario” predictions from last season end up pretty close to reality. So it makes sense to try something similar to last year.

The White Sox had some bright spots in 2014 (Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Alexei Ramirez’s defense) and a lot of blackholes (every reliever but Zach Putnam, Dunn+Konerko, Conor Gillaspie’s glove, corner outfielders and second basemen). There was a lot of money spent this offseason to address most of the holes and the result is that there is a lot of optimism floating around the south side, probably the most in five years or so.

Best Case Scenario

I am the eternal pessimist, so this is always a tough paragraph to write. But the sky really is the limit here. Jose Quintana was quietly 10th in the majors in fWAR amongst qualified starters last season. Jeff Samardzija was 17th in the same category. They both had exactly the same ranks in FIP. In other words, based on last season the White Sox have 3 of the 17 best starters in baseball. The Dodgers and Nationals are the only other teams that can claim two. In other words the White Sox might have the best 1–3 in baseball. If Carlos Rodon comes up at some point and supplies 15 starts or so this could be the best rotation in baseball by a lot, and that is often the main way teams succeed in the postseason.

The bullpen is another big part of that and the White Sox did a lot to fix that this offseason. They added David Robertson and Zach Duke, both in the top 15 in fWAR last season. Zach Putnam was strong most of the season, but the rest of the bullpen is mostly mediocre talent to this point. It is always possible that someone emerges, and for this team to go all the way someone has to. Maybe it’s former blue-chip prospect Kyle Drabek. If Don Cooper works his magic like he did with Matt Thornton, and the three aforementioned relievers live up to recent performance this bullpen could be a very strong four deep.

Meanwhile Jose Abreu is already garnering respect as being one of the best hitters in baseball, and Adam Eaton looked really good when he stayed healthy for nearly the whole season. Assuming Abreu was no mirage and Eaton can stay healthy the whole season the Sox probably have elite players at those two positions. If Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche can at least keep up what they have done the lineup 1–4 will be one of the better groups in baseball. Avisail Garcia is the linchpin though. A breakout year at the plate for him would give the White Sox a strong and deep lineup. If Connor Gilaspie can show that the second half of last year was a mirage and not the first half he truly would make the Sox lineup unstoppable. Alexei Ramirez continues to give the White Sox solid defense and above average offense, Micah Johnson does some damage and Tyler Flowers improves by having his glasses all season.

The White Sox really could win the whole thing if everything goes their way.

Worst Case Scenario

The floor is definitely low. Chris Sale’s arm could finally fall off. Jeff Samardzija could struggle with a full year in the AL. Carlos Rodon might not make it to the majors this year. David Robertson and Zach Duke are perfect examples of the randomness of relievers. Pitchers figure out how to get Jose Abreu out. Adam Eaton runs into a wall on opening day and is never the same. Avisail Garcia can’t get the lightbulb to go off. And LaRoche and Melky start dropping off fast.

So much could go wrong. It all won’t, even in the worst case. And the Twins could really overachieve, but worst case scenario is probably 4th place. A fourth place finish might be enough for Ventura to lose his job, especially if some of the young guys don’t get better.

Likely Scenario

The White Sox are competitive, at least for a few months. Jose Abreu is a legit superstar and continues his dominance. Adam Eaton has a better season and is a bit healthier, but still gets banged up here and there. He turns into one of the best leadoff hitters in the league though. Either Melky Cabrera or Adam LaRoche live up to the hype, but not both. Melky is only 30, but it seems like he has been around forever. LaRoche has spent his entire career in the NL and that might hurt. He also hasn’t ever been a DH and he might spend most of the time there. So he seems more likely of a candidate to struggle. Micah Johnson looks OK but doesn’t win Rookie of the Year. Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers continue to be what they are. Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham hold things together at 3B but end up very below replacement level.

Chris Sale is one of the best starters in baseball yet again. Jose Quintana isn’t as good as least year, but makes the All-Star team anyway. Jeff Samardzija transitions nicely to the AL full-time but isn’t the 2nd ace people thought he could be. John Danks struggles but keeps his starter role. Hector Noesi is just OK but starts most of the season as well. Carlos Rodon is up by June 1st but is used in relief all season. He is the primary setup guy for David Robertson who does well. Zach Duke doesn’t meet expectations, but thanks to Rodon and strong stuff from Zach Putnam he is good enough by season’s end to be the lefty specialist. Kyle Drabek is the big surprise and puts together some quality innings in relief. The bullpen ends up being one of the five best in the AL.

Big picture-wise, the White Sox are in the race all season but the Indians are the hot team and take the division. And the White Sox just don’t have the horses to beat the Tigers out for the wild card spot. They still finish with 87ish wins and a lot of positives going into 2016.

Casting MTV’s Next Season of The Challenge

With no podcast for us to ramble on, Chris (a.k.a. Lion) and I decided to take to email to discuss how we would like to see the next iteration of MTV’s The Challenge setup and cast.

Hippo: So now that Battle of the Exes 2 is in the books, let’s start casting the next season of the Challenge. Before we start casting I think we need to determine the format.

I think we both want an “old school” large team setup. And we both want Mark Long back on a Challenge. I have been tossing around ideas in my head and wondering what would work. I was thinking something like old blood vs. new blood where the teams are either separated by some cutoff of when your first challenge was, or the number of times you have been one. Another idea was a team of champions vs a team of people who have never won. But a quick glance through this leaves the loser team with not much talent. Thoughts on format?

Lion:I have been clamoring for a season with large teams for awhile now. Every season lately has been teams of 2 (1 on Free Agents) except for Battle of the Seasons when we had teams of 4. I have been watching old seasons. A lot of those had two large teams competing. At the end of each challenge, there was always some sort of voting that was two fold. First, there was voting who, from your team, was up for elimination. This was followed by who, from the other team would ultimately have to go into elimination. Each challenge was worth some denomination of money that was put into a team’s bank account. Only the winners actually got to cash out. That was fun. I want these large team competitions back.

Here is my suggestion – hold a fantasy draft. They did this in Cutthroat, I think. It worked. Start with a large group of people. Create some sort of competition to determine team captains and then have an old school playground team picking. Then we would have the interplay within the teams and between the teams in terms of alliances and enemies, etc. We could even go a little deeper with the captains. Maybe there will be a rotating captain based on the previous challenge and that person has some sort of great power (similar to the power couple from BOTE2).

Rookies vs. Vets did not work so well in the past (Gauntlet 3). I think the same thing would happen if we did Champs vs. Challengers, or some form of that. There is a reason that the Champs are champions. Look at Jay- he clearly didn’t belong (and let’s be honest, even if he did drink that nonsense, Jenna wouldn’t have been able to finish the whole final). A team of Jays will not be able to compete with a team of Jordans and Banani. It has to be more even handed. It would just be tough to do that without a random selection of sorts.

Hippo: That all makes sense. So many teams? It has to be like 2–4 right? How many total players? There were 26 on BOTE2. Let’s start with that.

Lion: So, 2 or 3 teams makes sense to me. If there are 2 teams, then each elimination round would be Team A vs. Team B. If there are 3 teams, the winner of the challenge might get to sit it out. I am in favor of somewhere in the 25–30 range for number of contestants. It might also be great if there was a situation where two people from the same team had to fight it out to stay on the show. That could be interesting. For example, Jordan’s team loses. Now, Bananas’ team gets to vote in two of Jordan’s players to fight it out in the elimination round to stay in the game. Loser goes home. That might make it a little too lopsided though because then we would always have strong people in the eliminations and be left with the Jays of the world at the end.

It would have to be Team A vs. Team B in the eliminations. I think I am favoring a 3 team setup though so that there can always be a “power” team/captain. I really like all the power being with one entity.

Maybe the deal is that the two losing teams get to nominate two people who are now eligible for the elimination. The power team/captain gets to pick between the two for each team and then set up each elimination. This would give us good reason to try and win EVERY challenge because it would be a complete wildcard plus there is the motivation to play the political game and build alliances.

Hippo: I was thinking three teams was a good fit. I do agree that the “power” angle is necessary. But it can’t be too much power either. My proposal is that for each challenge first place gets to pick anyone from third place to throw in, and 2nd place has to decide from their own team someone to throw in? That way there is more strategy to the deciding. Then you have motivation to win every challenge and also not to just give up.

Lion: I like that idea. Let’s go with 30 players. Each week, one guy and one girl get eliminated. At the end of the show, that would leave 10 people. Leader team would probably have 5 people. Other teams would have 2–3 for the final. Then we would get the questions of “who do you want running the final with you.” That would add the strategy of the best team trying to get rid of bad players.

Sidenote: I always loved those angles. The old days when the team would throw the same person into an elimination over and over again trying to get rid of them. Beautiful.

So, how are teams picked? Random, school yard style, maybe based on where they live within the US?

HippoI want to modify my previous selection. I don’t like the 2nd place team voting in someone because it creates a possibility of someone pulling a Wes and sabotaging their team so they don’t get voted in by their team. I think the 2nd place team should face a wheel with all their names on it and it’s random! How about that twist??

Random teams creates too much possibility of lopsided teams even though it could setup some epic feud. Regions might make it tricky to balance teams AND include everyone you want. Love the schoolyard idea. Could go random captains. But let’s be serious, would any fan object to Bananas/Wes/CT as captains?

Lion: We need to fix the elimination voting then. I guess I would default to the two loser teams having to nominate two options (so four total – two guys and two girls). The power team/captain then gets to make the matchups.

I love the school yard picking. Makes the team selection another fun part of the show (hopefully they will have shirts in each color so we can avoid the Leroy/Theresa mismatch again). For captains, I don’t think you can have them preselected. I think there has to be some sort of competition right when they arrive at the house. In Cutthroat, they made them race with all of their luggage to the house. Then they had the winner and everyone thought they were going to get something. Turns out, they used the three people who came in last place to pick the teams. I hate that, but what if they decided captains like this: when everyone runs into the house to select their beds/rooms, etc., there are certain beds that have a card underneath or something. There will be three beds that are randomly designated as captains. Then, whoever happens to pick those three beds becomes captains and has to pick teams right away.

Hippo: I don’t understand why we have to change the elimination voting? I think the 1st place team selects a guy+girl from the third place team, and the second place team spins a wheel to see who gets put in. Why won’t that work?

I like the idea of random captains that way. Definitely a cool idea. Let’s go with that. Is it time to start talking about which 30 people are coming? Or are there more details we need?

Lion:One of the cool things about the big teams was voting from within. That is why I altered the rules slightly. Either way, we are down to 3 teams and the bottom two teams from each challenge have to send a guy and girl to the elimination round.

Contestants time. Starting with people we haven’t seen lately. I know it’s unlikely given their alleged actions on the show, but I want Evan and Kenny back. If they take Nia back, that would be pretty hypocritical (although the alleged actions by Evan and Kenny was far worse than Nia’s point/touch). I need Laurel and Emily back. They are the two best girls and definitely picked first in the run of girls. Camilla is always great for the house. I am also pretty nostalgic for Derrick and Landon. They were two scappers who were always tough to beat.

We also need Bananas, Wes, CT, Leroy, Jordan, Reilly, Sarah, Nany, Theresa, Zach, and maybe even Jenna back.

I will wait until hearing your returners before I suggest new additions. With regard to Mark Long – eh, we can leave him out. His time has way passed. At this point, he is trying a little too hard to be recast.

Hippo:So here is what I have from what you said:

Guys (11): Evan, Kenny, Derrick, Landon, Bananas, Wes, CT, Leroy, Jordan, Reilly, Zach

Girls (6–8): Laurel, Emily, Camilla, Sarah, Nany, Theresa, Jenna (?), Nia (?)

That only leaves 4 spots for guys. I am not sure if I see Derrick or Landon wanting to come back after all this time. I guess the question is whether or not this is our dream scenario or if we are trying to be more realistic. So that is important factor to decide on.

If we are assuming this is purely fantasy, I would definitely add Evelyn as well.

Regardless of fantasy/reality, I would add: Frank (can’t believe you forgot him!), Cara Maria, Cohutta, Mark Long (I want him back).

Lion: This is definitely a dream scenario for me. It would almost be too many good players. We’d need a few Jays in there. Let’s go with our 15 and 15 number. I will add in the rest, with a few extras. You can make some cuts. Based on the way they introduce new people, I think all 4 of my new AYTO people have to stay and probably at least two of the new RW people. Go for it.

Guys:

  1. Evan
  2. Kenny
  3. Derrick
  4. Landon
  5. Bananas
  6. Wes
  7. CT
  8. Leroy
  9. Jordan
  10. Reilly
  11. Zach
  12. Frank
  13. Cohutta
  14. Mark Long
  15. Layton (AYTO S.2)
  16. Anthony (AYTO S.2)
  17. Tony “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. what she look like?” (RW Skeletons)
  18. Jay
  19. Preston

Girls:

  1. Laurel
  2. Emily
  3. Camilla
  4. Sarah
  5. Nany
  6. Theresa
  7. Jenna
  8. Nia
  9. Evelyn (great call)
  10. Cara Maria (another great call)
  11. Mandy
  12. Casey
  13. Nicole (RW Skeletons)
  14. Ellie (AYTO S.2)
  15. Christina (AYTO S.2)
  16. Jenny (RW Explosion)

Hippo: So at one point you say “it’s all fantasy” and then you put in stipulations about AYTO and new RW people having to be included, so which one is it? The first four guys on your list are the most “realistic” cuts. But if we getting into true fantasy land then chop off any 4 of the bottom 5 guys.

Is Mandy the one who won with Landon that time? I don’t know Casey. Rumor has it, Jenny from RW Explosion is pregnant so it probably won’t be her. While we are on the topic of Ex-Plosion, I think Cory is still a good pick to show up at some point. I also think Violetta or Sylvia are good chances from the recent RW. Again, it goes back to be being purely realistic. Jenny, Mandy, Evelyn and maybe Casey seem like obvious cuts if we are being real. I’d fill the final three slots with Violetta, Brittany (AYTO S1) and Jasmine (who doesn’t love her antics?). If it’s pure fantasy I’d dump the ATYO S2 and replace them with Violetta/Sylvia.

Lion: Casey was the terrible girl who was paired with Wes for Fresh Meat.

Let’s try and make it more realistic than not. Go ahead and make your cuts to finish this off.

I like Jasmine and Corey. Go ahead and cut the dreamer guy picks too.

Hippo: I don’t want to totally crap on everything! But there is basically a 99% chance we never see Kenny and Evan again. Let’s keep Derrick and Landon because at least that is possible. And Mark Long since he so badly wants back in. (Side note: some sort of Derrick/Landon/Bananas/Long/Wes/CT/Cohutta(?) old timers team vs. Leroy/Jordan/Reilly/Zach/Layton/Anthony/Tony (or Adam) looks really interesting.) Let’s dump Jay because after the reunion there is at least a chance he isn’t back. And as much as it pains me let’s dump Preston. I am happy with what is left for the guys. Realistically Preston probably replaces Derrick though.

Guys:

  1. Derrick
  2. Landon
  3. Bananas
  4. Wes
  5. CT
  6. Leroy
  7. Jordan
  8. Reilly
  9. Zach
  10. Frank
  11. Cohutta
  12. Mark Long
  13. Layton (AYTO S.2)
  14. Anthony (AYTO S.2)
  15. Tony “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. what she look like?” (RW Skeletons)

I am thinking we dump Jenny because if she is pregnant now that isn’t happening. I still don’t remember Casey but I suspect you have some secret reason for wanting her back. I am replacing her with Sylvia from RW Skeletons because I see her a more likely candidate.

Girls:

  1. Laurel
  2. Emily
  3. Camilla
  4. Sarah
  5. Nany
  6. Theresa
  7. Jenna
  8. Nia
  9. Evelyn (great call)
  10. Cara Maria (another great call)
  11. Mandy
  12. Sylvia
  13. Nicole (RW Skeletons)
  14. Ellie (AYTO S.2)
  15. Christina (AYTO S.2)

Conveying the Cost of Software

Milen Dzhumerov wrote a post about sustainable indie software

Two undesirable side effects arise from the unsustainable pricing of apps. Firstly, it creates a low-value perception of software. Even worse, the negative perception is not confined to a particular app or developer but in the mind of consumers, it applies to all apps. After having many conversations with young professionals who possess the means to purchase apps, it’s always the same story: they flat out refuse to buy apps, period. They correctly reason that when there are so many free apps available, there is no reason to pay for software. Except the vast majority of those free apps are unsustainable for their developers and they end up hurting other devs – when your competitor has priced themselves out of existence, there’s not much you can do about it as most consumers are price-sensitive above everything else.

The part about “young professionals with means to purchase apps” rings 100% true in my experience. It seemed very odd to me initially, but now has fully become the norm. When I tell most people that I buy a lot of apps, most people seem perplexed. They are definitely in the “there are plenty of good free apps” camp.

But as someone who creates software for a living I am well aware that these things don’t come for free. Anything that is being given away for free is making money some other way, or isn’t sustainable. Sure there are some apps out there that are hobbies, but most of the good ones are not. Some apps that are free have ads, but in most cases that isn’t enough for a developer to live off of. This doesn’t bother most people though. If their favorite free app stopped working they would go get a different, free replacement. That “endless” supply is what has put in people’s heads that software is easy/cheap to create.

No one ever seems to mention the big guns that perpetuate this thinking though. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, SnapChat, all of these apps/sites/services are free (for 99% of the functionality). Is the average person really so dumb that they think these companies are doing this out of the goodness of their heart? Sure they set ads, but they are also mining incredible amounts of information, which is then analyzed (and sometimes probably sold) and put to use generating revenue somehow. But most people view these heavy hitters as “free”, and so they can’t understand why some small “app” that does one or two things can cost any amount of money.

The lack of a physical good has always perplexed people. They will watch pirated movies on their company and not think it’s wrong, but they wouldn’t walk into a store and stick a DVD under their shirt. The physical good is the difference there. Nevermind the fact that the physical materials probably cost under $1 to make. Software is the same way. The bit and bytes end up on people’s devices but most people don’t understand what it takes to get there.

Software isn’t free to make. And the fact that people are willing to pay $3 (or a lot more) for a cup of a coffee, but scoff when an app cost 99 cents speaks volumes for how meed up people’s heads are about the lack of physical goods. That is the mindset that somehow needs to change for people to understand the true value of software.

Changing the PAT

Both Deadspin and Peter King had pieces discussing possible changes to the nearly automatic PATs in the NFL. It seems like one possibility involves moving the PAT kick back to the 15 yard line, effectively making it a 32 yard field goal. According to the Deadspin article this drops the predicted success rate from 99.6% to around 90%. If an average teams scores about 40 touchdowns a year that would mean about 4 missed extra points. That might be enough to swing the outcome of a one game per team per year. Is that enough?

The more drastic changes would either be to do away with the extra point completely, or make more radical changes that could significantly increase the impact of the play. An example of a radical change would be some sort of variable point system based on the distance and the way the conversion is attempted. Kicking from the 10 yard line might be worth one point, while kicking from the 30 yard line might be worth 3. Running a regular play from the 5 might be worth 2 points while a regular play from 15 might be worth 5. This would all sorts of new strategy to the game, but probably would upset “purists” a bit too much.

Moving the spot for kicking back, which is what is actually being thrown around, might increase the number of two point attempts, but probably not by a significant margin.

It also might just make sense to eliminate the point after try all together. At a 99.6% success rate, and again assuming that the average team scores around 40 touchdowns a year, that only equates to around 5–6 missed extra points per season, or about one per about every 50 games. The odds of a missed extra point actually factoring in to the outcome of a game at this point is so minuscule. In the name of “player safety” it would certainly make sense to eliminate the extra 6 or so times a game players are awkwardly trying to block a kick. It seems unlikely that most fans would miss this at all.

It is very clear that something has to change. Either eliminate something that adds no value, or make it valuable by increasing the reward and difficulty.