Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 4

19 hours down – the infographic now measures 16″ wide by 85″ tall – meaning it is officially taller than Tony Gonzalez. I wrapped the section comparing Tony’s career to 9 other of the greatest tight ends ever to play in the NFL. Here is a sneak preview, see if you can guess who each of them is just from the caricature. At this point I feel there are two things left to do: Compare Tony’s early years to the best tight ends of 2012 – to show how long the likes of Gronkowski and Graham have to go before catching the records of #88. Dig through the rest of the stats I have on Tony’s career looking for random trivia. We could be looking at a completed project in 2-3 more weeks which puts us right around the Free Agency start date. I’m not sure anything significant will happen

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 3

Tonight I spent 4 hours trying to represent some of football’s famous tight ends as vector images. How did I do? Random Trvia: I went to High School with Kellen Winslow Jr. and had a chance to meet his dad one day while I was setting up hurdles for a track workout. They were on the field doing a photo shoot for Sports Illustrated and the photographer needed an extra hand with something. I got to hang out for a bit and they took a few photos of me with the HOFer. I’m now 15 hours into this project and experiencing a bit of scope creep – the project keeps getting bigger as I get more done. I have however decided that I’m going to wait to release the final project until Tony either a) has an official retirement ceremony b) announces he will play for one more year. The marketer

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 2

Another night of work completed (11 hours so far) on what will surely be the best infographic about an NFL player I have ever made. Tonight I spend a lot of time looking at stats about other NFL Tight Ends. I wanted to find the best way to show how much of a stand out career Tony has had compared to many of the legendary Tight Ends; Ditka, Winslow, Sharpe & Newsome among others. I also wanted to compare him to today’s best Tight Ends (Graham, Gronkowski, Finley, etc.) to show just how much work they would have ahead of them if they wanted to catch his records. Hint: They have a long way to go. The Tight End position is an interesting one because of the dual blocking & receiving responsibilities – I’m learning a lot about the history and evolution of the role as I dig through the

Yearly Focus

Surf Mavericks: Update 1

Last Sunday the Mavericks Invitational ran – which means tens of thousands of people pay attention to the break for a day. For most, the invitational and wave are so tightly bound that they don’t realize you can go there on other days. I decided not to go on Sunday because the idea of watching a surf contest from a parking lot seemed a bit crazy. After a rogue wave washed up the beach a few years ago, new policy it that the beach and bluffs must be closed during the invitational for safety reasons. Policy ruins everything good. About 16 hours later the wave was still breaking, and access to the beach was back open. I decided to go watch it for a bit. Like any good surfer, I got there just before sunrise. There was just enough swell that it was breaking, but it was right in front

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 1

My idea for this week’s session was to look at some stats about Tony Gonzalez. I originally thought I would be coming up with something like a ‘5 reasons why Tony Gonzalez shouldn’t retire’ post – but after thinking about it I realized that data wasn’t the issue here. Tony doesn’t need convincing that he still has it, or that the Falcons are so close – his decision, whatever it will be, is driven by personal reasons. I respect that and don’t want data to add needless pressure. So, already knee deep in data about the career of Tony Gonzalez, I decided to honor his career by creating an infographic. I am about 7 hours in and it is looking sweet – I will likely have to finish it this weekend though – so look for the final product next week. In the mean time, here is a sneak preview…

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: The Most Normal State – Part 1

The idea started as I was driving back from a caving trip in southern Utah. My friend Mark & I drove through Colorad City, Arizona, known for its community of polygamists. “Wow” we thought “this is not a normal town.” Like I mentioned, we had just spend a few days in Utah, a state known for its disproportionate percentage of followers of the Mormon faith. And as we drove back we crossed through Nevada, a state that you are always aware when you enter on account of the immediate presence of large casinos on the border. Not exactly normal. As we pondered what it was that we meant by ‘normal’ we realized that our beloved home of California certainly wouldn’t fit the mold. “So,” we asked ourselves “which state is the normal one?” If the states were family members in a bizarre sitcom – which one would be the main

Yearly Focus

2013: Goal, Theme & Challenge

Every year since 2008 I’ve done an exercise on December 31st where I jot down a few notes about the previous year and make predictions about the next year. I make guesses on 20 items regarding my life, the world, etc. The answers usually resemble a probability density function that I then evaluate the following year. This year I wanted to add something new to my repertoire of yearly focus that I think fits well in a public setting like this blog. Stating these items publicly and providing regular updates should provide a bit of extra accountability and pressure to achieving them. Goal – Something I want to accomplish that is measurable and relatively continual. eg. exercise more or watch less TV. Theme – A central topic for the year – something I can look back on and pinpoint that N was the year of X. eg. develop independence or work like

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Gathering Data on Myself

If you can measure it, you can improve it. With that in mind I plan on measuring more things about myself in 2013 as I continue optimizing areas of my life. I currently do a quarterly review of how I spend my time and an annual 50K ft look – but I think there can be benefit to a daily granularity. In general, I am a strong advocate of data based decision making.  Often this does not require complicated computation or advanced statistical techniques – it simply requires having the right question in mind and some relevant data to look at over time. Trends will show themselves. This is especially true when the area in question is not already highly optimized. As anyone that works with data will tell you, though, getting clean relevant data is often what most of the effort goes into on a project. There are a lot of

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Pothole-No-More

I live in San Francisco and bike everywhere. It is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city. There are a few things that make the life of bikers in the city difficult though; hills, rain, cars & road conditions. Tonight I’m going to invest some energy into a creative solution to one of those – potholes. Problem There seem to be two steps in the process of a pothole getting fixed. First, the pothole has to be identified by the necessary party, second, a crew needs to show up with materials to fix it. Part One: Identifying potholes San Francisco is actually pretty advanced in how it deals with potholes. The public works department lets you call into 311 where you can report a hole and they will add it to a queue to get fixed. Unfortunately like most things the government does, speed is not their strength. On the other side

Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Best NFL Team

I am an Atlanta Falcons fan. This is by no obvious reason, I have lived in California for most of my life. A few years ago, though, I had the pleasure of working with Tony Gonzalez, aka. #88 & Tight End of the Falcons. Since then I have been rooting pretty hard for them. I want him to win a Super Bowl ring – he is a good guy and one of the best players the sport has seen. No one deserves it more. The Falcons are having a good year, they are 11-1 and tied for first place. But, unfortunately they are getting less credit for it than they deserve. Despite their record, most commentators are less than optimistic about their playoff hopes. I hear a lot of that around the office as well. We can’t get no respect. Tonight I will attempt to use a few of my