How to Improve ESPN’s Fantasy Draft

ESPN’s Fantasy draft tool is really solid, but there’s one thing I noticed as I was drafting my hockey team this season that could definitely be improved. Since most people are drafting on their lunch break at work they’re short on time — and sensitive about it. So when someone signs up for the draft and then goes completely idle, it’s a nuisance. When more than a handful do this, it becomes a huge pain as each Owner requires 90 long seconds before the tool automatically picks for them (most Owners actively drafting only need 20-45 seconds per round, so 90 feels like forever).

Here’s how you fix this and cater to the people who are actually participating (and, you know, looking at those banner ads):

  1. If an Owner goes more than 2 rounds with no active selection, i.e. AutoPick selects for them after draining the full 90 seconds, they’ll get a message that says something like, “Looks like you’re not there. To respect the other Owner’s time, we’ll be moving through your rounds a little faster. Click I’m Here at anytime and we’ll give you your full 90 seconds again.”
  2. Then with each additional round that they remain idle, give them 10 fewer seconds before AutoPick kicks in (not to exceed an Owner getting less than 30 seconds per round).

Assuming an Owner is idle for the entire draft, this would save 9.5 minutes each. Pretty significant, and it’d make the people actually trying to draft much happier.

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When you run out of time or money, ship

I often think about what Seth Godin says here.

“The guys at 37Signals write in almost everything they talk that there are two secrets — actually one — to shipping something on time and on budget. And the secret is: When you run out of money or you run out of time, you ship. Then you’re on time and on budget. If your mindset is that I ship, that’s not just a convenient shortcut, it’s in fact an obligation. And you build your work around that obligation. Then instead of someone who’s a wandering generality, someone who has lots of great and ideas and if only, if only, if only, you were someone who always ends up shipping. … And if you’re proud of what you ship, and you do it on time and on budget, you get to do it again.”

Is it better to ship a product on time and on budget, but only 85% of what you’d initially planned for – or ship a week late, and/or x% over budget, but 95 or 100% of what you’d initially planned for?

Obviously, it depends on the product, but it’s interesting that it feels so much more likely that a project gets delayed to take a final stab at getting to 100% of the initial intent, rather than finishing on time and on budget, but not quite getting everything in.

I forget where I read this (probably *Joel on Software), but *someone said when he lays out a new product, he makes three lists. The features he absolutely must have included, the products that’d be nice to have in but aren’t absolutely required, and the features that’d be cool to explore, but only if time allows. Then you build out List 1, then List 2, and lastly List 3, as time permits. That makes total sense. Then, if you only get to 85%, you at least haven’t wasted time on features from the “nice to have” or “cool to explore” lists.

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In other news:

May 28, 2013

Listening

There’s a really cool app on Spotify called Lazify I discovered last week. Basically, it’s Pandora with some extra perks. After you install it in Spotify, you drag a song into it and it’ll spit out a playlist of 25 songs that you’d probably like (using Last.fm). So instead of having to listen to / wait to get through Pandora recommendations, you can see a bunch instantly.

Also:

  • “Smoother” – Daughter
  • “Lost in the Light” – Bahamas
  • “Better Than Love” – Griffin House
  • “Winter Song” – The Head and the Heart

Looking

Some new favorites:

040_Milú curioso

384

This is Paris (Gare Haussmann St Lazare)

Iya Traoré

Reading

The Wikipedia entry on dopamine.

Noodling

As I’ve been looking through random people’s Flickr pages, I’ve been wondering how much you can glean from a person’s personality, backgrounds, hopes, dreams, etc from the photos they favorite. Something else that’s interesting is when I check out the Favorites of some of the people whose photos I like a lot, they’re really different. I thought the photos they liked would be pretty similar in style to what they take and post, but more often than not they’re significantly different. I thought that was interesting. Sort of grass is greener-ish.

It’s time to trade Ovechkin

Just as a quick aside — wow, what a Game 7 for Boston and Toronto! That’s a perfect example of why there’s no other sport as exciting as hockey during the playoffs.

So, I correctly predicted both Boston and Washington would win their respective Game 7’s and advance to Round 2 last night.

And in looking at my post from yesterday with predictions on the Rangers v. Capitals game in particular, I was pretty accurate.

  • Rangers score first. True, 13 minutes in.
  • Ovie earns no points. True. Only 1 shot on goal.
  • Capitals commit more PIM than Rangers. True, NYR with 4 and WAS with 14 minutes.
  • Rangers break the home team’s winning streak and advance to Round 2 either 2-1, or 3-1 with an empty netter in the last minute. True. I underestimated how quickly Caps would give up. At the end of the 1st period they were only down 1-0. Then 5 minutes into the 2nd they were down 3-0. And 6 minutes into the 3rd they were down 5-0. From the middle of the 2nd period on it was evident from their play they’d lost hope.

It’s not a huge shock. The Capitals have a regular pattern going now of ending the season hot, and often clinching the Division title (5 out of the last 6 seasons), only to fall in the first or second round of the playoffs. I know the full responsibility of a team can’t fall on one player, but with that said, I think it’s time to trade Ovechkin. Here’s why:

  1. Gone are the white hot seasons that he displayed in 2005-2010. Yes, watching him score 50 or more goals in 3 straight seasons was sensational (an average of .731 goals per game). But those days are over. In the last 3 seasons, he’s averaged only .519 goals per game. Why? He’s one-dimensional. Everyone knows he scores from the left faceoff circle, with 42% of his career goals coming on the power-play. He’s just not creative. He doesn’t create when it seemed there was nothing there like great players can. Teams have figured him out, and know that while he does require some extra defensive attention, it’s easy to shut him down (in his 7 playoff games this year, he earned just 1 assist and scored one goal — a power-play goal).
  2. Because he’s one-dimensional, he isn’t able to lead. He can’t adjust midway through a game and provide the leadership to push his team to victory. He has one style of play.
  3. Because he can’t lead, he shouldn’t be Captain. He says ridiculous things in the media, he doesn’t take blame and criticism when he should, and he lacks professionalism.
  4. Because he shouldn’t be Captain, and his numbers aren’t indicative of a superstar that’s able to push his team deep into the playoffs, he shouldn’t be earning what he does. Right now, Ovechkin earns $9 million a year. In 2014, that figure bumps up to $10 million a year. He’s good, for sure, but the simple fact is he doesn’t contribute enough to warrant that amount. $6-7 million a year would be fair, but right now the Caps are way overpaying.
  5. Also, just as a personal pet peeve, he’s not a two-way player. His defense is embarrassing. He often looks lazy going into puck battles on the boards. His backcheck is laughable. This was more acceptable when he was a 100+ point player every season, but now he’s not producing offensively, he’s not playing good defense, he doesn’t seem to be especially elevating the other players around him… so what is he doing?

I think they dump him off on another team while his perceived value is high and build the franchise around someone else.

For a few more predictions, I see Boston advancing in 6 games and Pittsburgh in 5. I haven’t been following the west coast games much… not too sure about those.

Caps v. Rangers game 7 predictions

Just for fun…

  • Rangers score first.
  • Ovie earns no points.
  • Capitals commit more PIM than Rangers.
  • Rangers break the home team’s winning streak and advance to Round 2 either 2-1, or 3-1 with an empty netter in the last minute.

Networking

The last few days I’ve been really interested in networking. But not in a sleazy, networking event kind of way. Rather in a sincere, reconnecting with others and helping them kind of way. As such, I’ve been re-reading and re-watching a lot of Ramit’s stuff on natural networking, and also remembering how I liked Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone. I tried finding some good YouTube videos on expanding your network or best practices for a follow-up system, etc., but discovered 99% of the results are completely stupid. But, I do like this one thing Ferrazzi says here:

A business relationship is a personal relationship in a business environment. The best and most effective professional relationships are personal.

If I could go back and tell my 2008-self (fresh out of college) 5 tips from super-wise future me, 1 of them would be to better nourish relationships. It’s crazy how many people I knew, was friends with, and have just totally lost touch with now. I think your personal network is the most valuable asset you have, and as is commonly known in the sales/business world, it’s way easier to maintain a relationship than to develop a new one.

Lately I’ve been reaching out to lots of people I haven’t talked to — many in years. It’s been so fun. I love it. I love learning what they’re up to, all the interesting things they’ve done, and sometimes being able to help them with advice, pointing them in the direction of a job, or introducing them to someone they could benefit from knowing. For example, I introduced an old friend from UMBC to a colleague from my first job, and I just learned the UMBC friend referenced the colleague’s organization in one of his master’s classes. I also just found out someone I’d lost touch with for years is finishing up a Master’s in International Relations, who I’m going to introduce to another friend who’s on the fence about jumping into that exact program. I love that kinda stuff. I don’t think I’m really there yet, but I strive toward being a Connector (ala The Tipping Point). 

Dreams and old friends

Whose dreams are you appearing in?

I wonder about this whenever someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in a decade or more shows up in one of my dreams. “Am I appearing in the dreams of someone I haven’t even thought of in years?” is the question that typically  follows next. If so, I wonder what archetype I play in their memory. Would it be interesting to share these occurances currently never known by anyone else, and if so, how would you do it without making it creepy?

DreamAppearances.com — or something. From the dreamer‘s standpoint, maybe you can search people publicly listed on Facebook, then anonylously select who appeared. Or… if they aren’t on Facebook or are private, maybe you can enter some information like their name and where you knew them (city/state). And from the dreamee‘s standpoint, you could find yourself via the Facebook search tool, or put your name/s (maiden) and any locations you’ve lived to see how many times you’ve been anonymously “mentioned” (to borrow the Twitter concept).

Maybe there’s even a way the dreamee could get contact info for the dreamer and reconnect.

Team Sports

When I was in high school I took a gym class called Team Sports, where 30 or so students spent a semester competing in a variety of sports, including basketball, indoor soccer, badminton, floor hockey, water polo, archery, tennis, and softball. Everyone basically earned an A in the class, but there was a separate list that ranked everyone depending on their performance in the different individual and team sports. Every week, the numbers would be updated and a kind of MVP list would be posted by the locker room. (Needless to say, coming out on top of the standings for the semester was highly coveted!)

I’ve been noodling about ways math could be implemented into a class like this. Maybe instead of playing the whole class, you play half and then watch (collect data) for the other half. Then you have to present something (ie: a graph comparing 5 players’ shooting %, or how equally distributed scoring was on one team compared to another, or score difference with respect to one team (y-axis) through the length of the game/time (x-axis).

Or maybe it’s the students responsibility to weigh all the variables and create the model that calculates the MVP list.

Or maybe (and this would never, ever be allowed in a public school due to the gambling and the fact that you could really hurt some people’s feelings) you ask students to put on their bookie hats, create their own money lines (backing it up with statistical evidence), then try to turn a profit by taking and placing bets with other students/bookies in a kind of mock Vegas. Again, this would never ever fly, but it’d be fun. And engaging. And it’d get students thinking about probability, and descriptive models, and risk/reward, and analyzing data — all things we want people to do in the real world — a lot more than I know I ever did taking Prob & Stat in high school.

 

When should we meet?

No one likes meetings. They’re often plagued with inefficiencies. But when you have to have one, what part of the day would you most prefer to sacrifice?

I’ve been thinking about this over the last few days as I send out meeting requests. When I ask myself this question the answer is almost always “the very end of the day.”

This got me thinking about how I’d ideally lay out my day, which got me thinking about the structure of an ideal week, which lead me to this:

Monday – Thursday

Friday

 Hour

Email

Meetings

Email

Meetings

9:00

Off

No

On No
10:00

Off

No

No
11:00

On

No

Yes; short or long
12:00

No

Yes; short or long
1:00

No

Yes; short or long
2:00

No

Yes; short or long
3:00

Yes; short only

Yes; short or long
4:00

Yes; short only

Yes; short or long


Monday thru Thursday
:

  • No meetings before 3p
  • No meetings longer than 30 minutes
  • No reading or sending new email between 9 and 11a

Friday:

  • No meetings before 11a, but after that they can be any length of time

Why prohibit email before 11a?
This block of time would be dedicated for Most Important Tasks (MITs) and other tasks that may require greater concentration or a longer stretch of uninterrupted time. How many times have you arrived at work with the best of intentions to tackle that thing that’s been nagging at you, only to open your email and get sidetracked until lunch? “If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them. Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!”

Why forbid meetings before 3p Mondays thru Thursdays?
Longer stretchces of meeting-free time means you can get into the more complex tasks, or get into a longer rhythm on less complex tasks. How many times have you wanted to jump into a complex project, but put if off entirely because you had a meeting in 15 minutes? The first part of the day is when you’re most focused, so why waste this opportunity sitting in meetings?

Why forbid meetings longer than 30 minutes Monday thru Thursday?
You’re busy, but also I don’t think most meetings should take longer than this. If they’re running longer it may be because some of these aren’t happening (via 43 Folders):

via 43 Folders

via 43 Folders

Why allow meetings of any length on Fridays?
Not all meetings can be wrapped up in 30 minutes. Some status meetings require lots of people and a good chunk of time. Friday is the natural day for these as people are tired and less productive compared to the rest of the week. In the same way we batch work to be more efficient, why not batch long meetings for one specific day, instead of sprinkled throughout the week?