Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

A Better Tiger Roars

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Holy moly macaroni, Batman!

You look away for the weekend and the next thing you know the last season of "Game of Thrones" has begin and Tiger Woods has won his fifth green jacket.

And this despite the fact that for a couple of hours yesterday morning millions around the globe couldn’t share their thrill and Tiger’s renaissance at Augusta National via Facebook because, well, for the third time in recent memory Facebook was busy making a triple bogey of its own.

If you’re not a golf fan, there’s no way to really explain how extraordinary the last few days were. If you play the game or love the game as I do, even more so.

I saw an article over the weekend that suggested the average handicapper of 15 (I’ve recently been playing to around a 10) would probably score around 95-100 at Augusta National, and that’s from the member’s tees.

The greens there are the stuff of nightmares, rolling almost as fast as an icy black diamond at Alta. It’s hard to hold an iron shot in the right place, much less a long downhill putt for birdie.

But, of course, most of these guys make it look easy (and none so more than Tiger). Certainly all the rain Augusta had made the greens more receptive he past few days, which is why we saw more and lower scores than usual, particularly on "moving day" (Saturday).

But that also made this year’s tournament so special, because the field was wide open. We saw early leads from the like of relative newcomers like Bryson DeChambeau and Corey Connors, and veterans like Francesco Molinari whose steely and consistent Italian nerves suggested he might be well on his way to his first green jacket.

And he was. He came into Sunday’s early round at 13 under, and Tiger at 11 under. They scrapped all the way until 12, the infamous par 3 where so many have faded under its magnolia klieg lights. Both Molinari and Tony Finau belted their tee shots into the water, probably one part mis-clubbing, one part misreading of the wind, and one part greed (they both wanted some of the far right pin action).

Tiger, ever the Augusta National expert and student of the game, knew better. He flopped what seemed to be a 1,000 foot shot into the air and dropped it into the middle of the green, knowing he could safely play for par while Molinari and Finau scrambled for bogey at best.

It turned out they both scored double bogey, giving Tiger the momentum he needed to move on to 13, tied for the lead, and prepared to become the Tiger of old, the one with the killer instinct, the one who, on 16, hit a gorgeous iron shot that rolled just below and right of the hole to take the lead at 14 under and never look back.

It had been 22 years since his breathtaking first victory at the ripe old age of 21. That was a Masters where he changed not only the game, but the actual golf course (Augusta National felt compelled to "Tiger proof" the course after that rout, making it longer and tougher than ever).

And yes, a lot has happened between now and then, to the world, to Tiger Woods. But that which doesn’t kill us…not only makes us stronger, but typically makes us better people.

I think that’s been the case with Tiger Woods. In 2005, I doubt there were many other golfers standing around waiting to congratulate Tiger as he came back into the clubhouse to sign his scorecard.

This year, I couldn’t count all his fellow players who were there to congratulate him on winning his fifth green jacket.To watch that moment, where he was recognized by his fellow players, many of whom would go on to play the game because of the inspiration he provided — that, to me, demonstrated the metamorphosis Woods had undergone.

He was once again a great golfer, yes, but through all his trials and tribulations had also become a better human being. And that was probably his biggest victory, on and off the course.

Written by turbotodd

April 15, 2019 at 9:52 am

Making the Cut

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The first round of the 2019 Masters is in the bag, and the second round is now well underway.

Tiger went 2 under in round 1 (70), which is what he shot in the first round in 3 of his 4 Masters victory’s first rounds.

But it was Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka who turned on the afterburners on the back nine at Augusta National, both rolling in at 6 under.

DeChambeau’s back nine was a sight to behold, inches away from making an ace on the par-3 16th, hitting a chip-in on 17, and hitting the pin on his approach at 18, and making six birdies on the back 9, and four of those in a row on the last four holes. 

Studying all those black holes in physics paid off, as DeChambeau’s ball was finding plenty of them on Augusta National.

Today, Francesco Molinari (one of my picks to win) has snuck up the leaderboard to 5 under, just two back from DeChambeau, who’s now 7 under through 8.

There’s still a lot of golf to be played.

If you’re looking to catch up an individual golfer’s round, you can now go to Masters.com, click on the leaderboard, hone in on any given hole for any given player, and watch video of every shot on the hole.  It’s another game changer for golf fans, because if you want to watch the progression of a player to come from out of nowhere, there’s really no other way!

Okay, of the players I put in my top box of likely winners, it’s Brooks Koepka, Molinari and Dustin Johnson who are hovering towards the top of the leaderboard. 

But like I said, lots of golf to be played, and possible weather yet to move in over the weekend.

My nerves are a wreck.

Written by turbotodd

April 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Posted in 2019, golf, masters

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Assange Charged With Conspiracy

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Julian Assange was arrested earlier today at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he had been sheltered for going on seven years (since 2012).

According to reporting from The New York Times, the U.S. charged Assange of conspiring to hack a computer as part of the 2010 release of reams of secret American documents. 

The charge was filed in March 2018 and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The Times noted that it was not an espionage charge, which could have carried much more significant penalties.

Mr. Assange has been in the sights of the United States government since his organization’s 2010 disclosures. Most recently, Mr. Assange has been under attack for his organization’s release during the 2016 presidential campaign of thousands of emails stolen from the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, leading to a series of revelations that embarrassed the party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. United States investigators have said that the systems were hacked by Russian agents; the conspiracy charge against Mr. Assange unsealed Thursday is not related to the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election influence.

Mr. Assange will have the right to contest the United States extradition request in British courts. Most people who fight extradition requests argue that the case is politically motivated rather than driven by legitimate legal concerns.

But the Times also note that his:

initial arrest on Thursday arose from something much more innocuous: He faces a charge in a British court of jumping bail, and the Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Mr. Assange had been arrested by officers at the embassy on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in 2012, for failing to surrender to the court. A British judge found him guilty of skipping out on bail.

So why did Ecuador give Assange up?

“Finally two days ago, WikiLeaks, the organization of Mr. Assange, threatened the government of Ecuador,” Mr. Moreno said, an apparent reference to allegations from the organization that Mr. Assange had been subject to a spying operation. “My government has nothing to fear and doesn’t act under threat.”

In his video, Mr. Moreno singled out the recent release by WikiLeaks of information about the Vatican as evidence that Mr. Assange had continued to work with WikiLeaks to violate “the rule of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states.”

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2019 at 11:32 am

The Masters 2019

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It’s my favorite time of the year.  

It’s the week of The Masters, golf’s first and arguably most prestigious championship of the year.

I have a feeling this weather front moving across the midwest could wreak havoc on this year’s tournament, but putting that aside, let’s talk about two key things: Players I favor in this year’s tournament and IBM’s continuing technology partnership with The Masters.

First, the players I’ll be keeping an eye on at the top of my list: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, and Jon Rahm.  In no particular order and just based on what I know of their games and their recent play (from tee to green, but especially with approach shots and putting).

If the weather gets really bad (i.e. windy, rainy), look for bad weather players like Tiger Woods, Ricky Fowler, Sergio Garcia, and a host of other world players (especially from Europe) comfortable playing in adverse conditions.

For funsies, I would also throw in the mix world class players like Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Shauffele, Branden Grace and Marc Leishman.

Now, to IBM’s continuing partnership with Augusta National. At this year’s tournament, you will once again be able to watch the best highlights of a competitor’s round in three minutes. These highlight reels will be generated using IBM Watson Media technology to analyze video from every player, and it will score every stroke based on characteristics that may indicate a significant or exciting moment: Cheers or groans from the crowd, an overexcited TV announcer, etc. 

Using all those data points, AI from Watson will score, combined and rank those clips and pull them all together for the highlight clip.

You can read more about this and other IBM technologies used behind the scenes at The Masters.

Okay, well it’s less than 24 hours until the day that golfers around the world wait for and look forward to every year.  You can try calling me this weekend, but you likely won’t get an answer.

And if you find the waiting to be excruciating like I do, check out today’s gallery pics.  They’ll whet your appetite for Augusta National’s great gift to we golfers.

Written by turbotodd

April 10, 2019 at 10:43 am

Would You Like a Human With Your Popcorn?

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I did something I haven’t done in a long time recently. 

I went to an actual movie theatre where they show movies. 

Not Netflix, not Amazon Prime…a real, live movie theatre.

Two things stood out from my experience.

The first was the ticket price. I won’t say what it was, because those prices vary across the country. 

Let’s just say it was higher than that to which I had become accustomed.

The second was, when I got to the area where one purchases tickets…well, I’m not quite sure how to put this, but there weren’t any humans selling tickets.

Not…a….single…one.

Now, this wasn’t some off time mid week. This was a prime weekend matinee showing, and the only way to buy tickets was a kiosk.

So for those of you out there urging us to stand in the grocery line where humans still check other people out (as opposed to self-service checkout), that all sounds great until there are no more humans in that job.

If the movie theatre’s strategy is the direction of our future, just remember this: Robots don’t ever have to worry about standing in an unemployment line. 

That is, unless they’re holding open a place for we humans.

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in 2019, robots

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Follow Wisely

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Happy Tuesday.

I haven’t watched a college basketball game all year, but that NCAA men’s championship game last night between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the University of Virginia Cavaliers was certainly a good one to watch. 

Being a Texas boy, I was rooting for the Red Raiders, but being a bigger Thomas Jefferson fan, I couldn’t help but be happy for the winners.  And in OT, no less.

So what’s up off the court?

TechCrunch is reporting that Twitter continues to fight the bots, this time by minimizing the number of followers a user can follow per day, from 1,000 to 400. “The idea with the new limit is that it helps prevent spammers from rapidly growing their networks by following then unfollowing Twitter accounts in a ‘bulk, aggressive or indiscriminate manner.’”

 

In response to Twitter’s tweet about the new limits, several have responded to ask why the number “400” was chosen, as that is still far more than a regular Twitter user would need to follow in a single day. Some users said it took years to get to the point of following hundreds of people. Meanwhile, the business use case for following 400 people is somewhat debatable, as DMs can be left open and companies can tweet a special URL to send customers to their inbox to continue a conversation — no following or unfollowing needed on either side.

Follow wisely — and slowly — Grasshopper.

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2019 at 9:26 am

Posted in 2019, twitter

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Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

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