Yearly Focus

Surf Mavericks: Update 3

This weekend I took my Mavericks gun out for a paddle in the small waves on Bolinas, CA. To give some back-story, about a year ago I decided I wanted to surf Mavericks and took the first step I normally take when facing new challenges; I bought a surfboard. I named her ‘Hail Mary Mother of Grace’ because some day when I take her down off the wall racks to surf, it will be accompanied by much prayer from my loved ones. This weekend wasn’t that occasion, but it was the first time in a year she left her perch in my living room. I wanted to get familiar with how she paddled, how hard it was to duck dive and how the rails held the face of a wave. Paddling a gun is different than anything else I’ve ever been on. It sits high in the water like a longboard, but

Boardgames & Math

Boardgames & Math – Pass the Pigs – Part 2

This week I’m going to pick off where I left off  last week – analyzing the game Pass the Pigs. If you haven’t read last week’s post yet, you should do that first here. At this point, we’re going to switch from solving algebraically to doing a bit of programming. All of the code I’m using can be found here – feel free to fork it and play along. Threshold Simulation Right off the bat – I’m going to check if last week’s conclusion is correct by running a simulation of the different risk thresholds. What we concluded was that once you were above 18 points your rolls would be risking more than their potential reward. In the chart below the x axis represents the risk threshold of the player, how many points they are comfortable accruing each round before passing, and the boxplot represents the results they have after 1,000 simulations. You

Boardgames & Math

Boardgames & Math – Pass the Pigs – Part 1

The Kroleski home is one that enjoys boardgames. We’re a fun loving kind of people. My wife & I are both very competitive though – so things can get a bit intense when we start playing. In order to get the upper hand for our game nights – I’m starting a new series where I use math to look for ways I can increase my chances of winning various board games. Tonight I’m going to look at a game called Pass the Pigs. We heard about this game from our friends Chris & Gretchen & ended up buying it before our New Zealand trip because it was light weight and we could play it anywhere. For those who haven’t played before – here are the rules. This game is perfect for my first ‘Boardgames & Math’ because it is incredibly simple. There is really only one decision to make; should

Innovation Session

Tony Gonzalez Infographic

Today is a great day for Atlanta Falcons fans. All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez announced he is coming back to play for one more year! To celebrate, lets take a look at some stats from Tony’s career and see why he is often praised as the greatest tight end of all time. Here is a preview image so you can look at something while the full thing loads… its kind of big. For the full infographic keep scrolling…   And here is the full infographic, which hopefully has loaded by now. To see it glorious full size, click the image below and then magnify it on the next screen. Enjoy!   I originally started this project as a way to dig into Tony’s stats to show that he should return for at least one more year. When I realized that his decision was largely based on personal matters – not

Yearly Focus

Surf Mavericks: Update 2

At this point of the season, Mavericks seems a long way off. It isn’t breaking and likely won’t be for a while. Nonetheless, if I want to be prepared for next season, I have to stay focused now. I had an MRI on my left shoulder and thankfully nothing is torn. I’m glad there are people that study this sort of thing, because when I look at the picture below I can’t tell what is going on. Heck, it took me a few seconds to even tell what perspective I was looking from. I’m on a regular PT routine now to get the shoulder back to 100% so that I can train without re-injuring it. On the breath holding side of things, I am making some progress. I set a new personal record of 2:39. I wasn’t planning on graphing out my progress here, but at the bequest of a

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 7

Tonight I finished the infographic I’ve been working on for the past seven weeks. Two versions of it actually, one for if Tony G. retires and one for if he comes back to play another year. They are fairly similar, but with subtle differences in the presentation in order to change the emphasis of the message. I suppose at some point I can put them up side by side to see if those subtleties are achieved. I’m actually a bit torn right now because I like the version for the retirement scenario better, but I’d rather get to see Tony play for another year. Like any project, once I finished the first 90%, I could start on the second 90%. There was a good bit of polishing to do but I’ve actually tried to do some of it as I went, mainly when I was stumped on something else. The

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 6

Done! Pretty much anyways. All of the major data for the infographic is now in place – I’m sure I’ll make a few final tweaks, but for the most part I’m pretty happy with it. Tonight I spent most of my time wrestling with a few ideas of how to present comparisons between Tony G. and the current crop of Tight Ends in the league. I started with the idea of normalizing per season, but realized that most athletes, Tony included, experience their top performance in the early half of their career.Also, many athletes, Tony excludes, get injured as they get older and start missing games or have to stop playing all together. I had a thought that I would project out the averages of each player into the future to predict when would be the soonest they could catch any of Tony’s current records. As I started working on

My Thinking On Various Topics

Thoughts On: Valentine’s Day

I’m going to start this by agreeing with a sympathy that I think most men hold: Valentine’s day is a bit of a silly holiday that is a big deal mostly because of backing from card & flower companies. That said, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to change it, so here is how I think about it. Valentine’s day is a sport. Like all sports the rules are basically arbitrary. They were decided before you started playing the game. In a way, you are confined by them, but that is part of what makes it fun. Within the confines of the rules of the game, you get to use your creativity, skill and dedication to help you achieve optimal results. Winning! Valentines Day is a sport. It is a sport that all men in relationships are automatically signed up to play on one night of every year.

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 5

Night 5 of the Tony Gonzalez infographic. Tonight I mainly spent time making  tweaks to sections of the image I had already worked on. Some of it was nitpicking pixels, but a good bit was adding new information to charts that I already thought were packed. I’m really happy with the additional information I was able to get into a few of them tonight. I’d like to take a moment to talk about my thoughts on design iteration. As I design a data visualization I constantly ask myself five questions: What story am I trying to tell right here? Can I add any additional insight? What can I remove without sacrificing the story? Is the image easy to understand on its own? How can I make this awesome? Repeating this process tends to refine the image with each iteration. As elements are added the visualization becomes easier to understand but