Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘pga

One For Down Under

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I joked on Facebook last evening that I was going to have to pay a visit to my cardiologist after watching the dramatic finish to this year’s Masters.

Sunday at the Masters has become a timeless classic when it comes to drama, and whether or not you’re an avid golf fan like me, if you sit down and pay just a wee bit of attention, there’s something in it for everyone.

This year, especially, there was plenty in it for all my friends down under in Australia, and so I want to first congratulate them, and their first green jacket winner, Adam Scott. After Scott’s majors breakdown in The Open last year, it was great to see Scott finally reach down within himself and come out the victor.

Not to mention what I can only imagine means a huge deal in sporting Australia, where Aussie golfers like Greg Norman who, though never grabbing their own green jacket, inspired a whole generation of young and brilliant golfers like Jason Day and Adam Scott.

As it turned out, there was plenty of drama throughout the weekend. Chinese 14 year-old phenom Guan Tianlang received a one-stroke penalty on Friday for slow play and still went on to win low amateur (we’ll be hearing plenty from Mr. Guan moving forward, I’m sure), and Tiger Woods incurred a two-stroke penalty after an illegal drop on 15 on Friday, after his brilliant approach shot hit the flagstick and bounced backwards into the water.

Give Tiger that birdie and back the two strokes he lost on the bad drop, and yesterday’s outcome might have been very, very different.

But in the end, it was a Masters that more than lived up to its name, and kicks of the year’s golf majors with the kind of compelling golf that simply leaves you wanting more.

Even if it is bad for one’s heart.

Written by turbotodd

April 15, 2013 at 9:12 am

Golf’s New Gamification

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Anybody watch that little ol’ college basketball game last night between Louisville and Michigan? 

Whoa.  Talk about saving the best for last.  “The end of the road,” indeed.

Hats off to Louisville to reaching and staying number one, especially after the first half of the final, when I thought Michigan might be running away with the show!

Now that the Final Four is over, I can give my undivided attention to my favorite sport, the game of golf.

For the longest time, golf has been a sport that has exalted in its traditions and basked in its conservatism, technological and otherwise. 

But in order to keep the sport vibrant, everyone from golfing bodies to entrepreneurs are finding new ways of introducing, bolstering, and sharing information about the sport.

Yesterday in Augusta, chairman Billy Payne inaugurated a new “Drive, Chip and Putt Championship” for youngsters ages 7-15, which will hold its first finals at Augusta National just prior to next year’s Masters.

And though we’ve seen remarkable technology evolution with regards to playing equipment on the golf course, I think we’re just getting going in terms of using data and analytics to help the amateur golfer.

I’ve been using a product called “GolfshotGPS” for some time now to help me conduct some basic analysis of my golf game, but let’s face it, having to do data entry on the golf course takes time away from playing and enjoying the scenery.

Enter “GAME GOLF,” an outfit that originated in Galway, Ireland and who are working to bring more sophisticated analytics more easily to the game of golf, and doing so in a way where we mere amateurs will be able to “compete with the likes of PGA veterans like Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood (two pros who have done early prototype development of GAME GOLF’s technology.)

The idea is simple: Using GAME GOLF’s small wireless hub and a set of golf club “tags,” one for each club in a golfer’s bag, GAME will analyze all the critical elements of one’s golf game.  Think of it as having RFID tags on every one of your golf clubs.

GAME records every club used, every swing made, every yard covered in each round, WITHOUT pausing play to enter info into your Android device.

Then, GAME calculates key statistics: Scoring, number of putts, greens in regulation, driving accuracy, and so forth.  

But GAME doesn’t just give YOU, the golfer, data.  Golf is at its essence a competitive sport you play against yourself and others, so GAME will also share your performance with friends on social networks, and also help connect you with other golfers on GAME’s network.

I can tell you from having analyzed my own game with the limited data I’ve had access to, I’ve been able to improve my game (although improving my “mechanics” was where I saw my biggest improvement). 

Golf is an iterative game when it comes to improving, but the smallest of tweeks can have relatively big payoffs (Steve Stricker’s recent putting advice for Tiger Woods, by way of example).

If you know you’re 3 putting 60% of the holes you play…well, I hate to tell you, but you probably ought to head out right now and spend some significant time on the putting green.

But it’s the “fantasy” aspect of GAME that serves up the most intrigue for me. What if Tiger and Brent and Bubba and others also started using GAME during their Tour events, and now suddenly I and my fantasy golf friends could start competing directly with the pros in “virtual” matches.

First, yes, me and my amateur friends, we’d lose, and big time.

But, with the proper handicap adjustments, suddenly we find ourselves on the first tee at Augusta the first Thursday of April with Tiger and Phil, shaking in our boots and hoping we don’t kill someone in the fairway with our first drive.

You can learn more about GAME GOLF in the video below.  There’s currently a crowdsourcing fundraiser that has been extended to April 15th.

It’s too early to tell if this will be a golf GAME changer or not, but I think with golf, more information is always better than less.

GAME GOLF seems to provide just enough new information (without hassle in acquiring it) that has the potential to make me a better golfer, and to make the game that much more fun. 

Who can argue with that?

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: A Day For Partners

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Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and "Rat Pack", history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and “Rat Pack”, history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Good morning, Las Vegas.

You know, I joke about Vegas as my second home, but I really do have to admit, it’s a city that continues to grow on me.

And I’m sure that couldn’t have *anything* to do with the delightful, if dreadfully slow, round of golf I played yesterday at Las Vegas National.

As I mentioned in a post on Friday, this is the very same course (one of three) where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event, the Las Vegas Invitational, back in 1996 (he beat Davis Love III on the first playoff hole to win).

It’s also where Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others of the infamous “Rat Pack” used to hang out. I was only fifty years late on that front, but nonetheless, I did experience the course in all it’s glory and managed to pull of an 84. Considering Tiger’s 70 in 1996, I figure I was only .77 strokes a hole behind Tiger.

But enough sports analytics, because now all the play is behind me as I get down to work and the matter at hand, IBM Pulse 2013.

Please see my last post for some tips and tricks for navigating this year’s event (oh, did I mention, bring or go buy some comfortable shoes)?

I made my first navigation from the MGM hotel to the Convention Center this morning, and on the way, saw the now annual Burma Shave-like signs reminding us “we’re almost there!”

My favorite: Multitasking is all about doing several things badly all at once (There will be more of those tidbits of wisdom to come in future posts.)

Amen, oh great IBM Tivoli Confucian hallway philosopher!

Of course, this ain’t no Blazing Saddles shindig, so you actually *do* need a stinkin’ badge.

So, I picked mine up and wandered on into the Pulse Business Partner Summit to break a little fast, and chat with some of our partners.

When the lights went down, IBM Tivoli general manager soon hit the stage to “introduce” himself to the gathered wall-to-wall audience.

And it was quite an introduction.  I’ve interviewed Deepak a few times now at IBM events, and even I had no idea of his depth of experience at IBM.

He explained he’s once been a UNIX programmer and helped bring TCP/IP to the mainframe, had worked on the SP2 supercomputer that once upon a time outwitted a Soviet chess superpower, and helped implement a number of key high availability and systems management capabilities into IBM’s mainframe line.

More recently, Deepak was the chief marketing officer for Lenovo before returning to the IBM fold to lead our Business Analytics efforts and oversee the acquisition of SPSS.

Deepak warmed the audience to him with a very funny story about having been representing IBM with its new supercomputer at a conference in frigid Rochester. Apparently, the IBM computer was very plain and vanilla looking, and so the competition started making fun of it.

Deepak and his team decided to run out to Wal-Mart and purchase some Christmas lights, which they promptly wrapped around their supercomputer (turned out IBM had the fastest supercomputer, Christmas lights and all).

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

After establishing his background and bona fides, Deepak got down to business, reaffirming the critical importance of IBM’s partners to the Tivoli and broader IBM business, but explaining none of us in the ecosystem could rest on our laurels.

“We must bring more industry and domain expertise” into our technologies, Deepak asserted, “and we must also bring our line of business and IT audiences more closely together.”

This, of course, observing a theme pervasive within IBM since CEO Ginni Rometty took the helm: We must focus more on our line of business executives.

From CMO to CFO, they are increasingly involved in the IT decision-making process, and the back office has moved to the front, requiring a more collaborative “sell” for both constituencies.

Deepak also acknowledged the pain IT organizations felt these last several years, and explained that’s why IBM has worked to try and free them from operational matters with technologies like PureSystems, so that they can spend more time working with their LOB partners on innovation.

Finally, Deepak walked the audience through a number of key core and growth priorities, ranking among them the continued focus on mainframe and storage evolution, the importance of standars, and looking forward to growth areas like endpoint management and cloud computing.

He talked specifically about the notion of the “portability of workloads,” explain how IBM has taken patterns from PureSystems and moving them to the cloud. (A line of questioning I aspire to take up in my interview tomorrow on the Livestream stage with PureSystems’ Nancy Pearson and Jason Gartner.)

He also tiptoed through the world of “dev-ops,” with specific regard to managing the life cycles of applications.

Finally, Deepak explained we can do more to improve the design and usability of our portfolio, and also use analytics (his old job!) to improve and make better operational decisions.

Pulse 2013 is underway…hold on to your console!

Me, Frank, Dean, Sammy and Tiger

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Turbo was caught unawares at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in downtown Austin yesterday. Among the devices identified there on the table: A Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, Turbo's Verizon LG feature phone, a 5th gen iPod Touch, a "Blu" phone (quadband, works on GSM networks around the world, and serves as the Turbo "bat" phone), an HTC Wildfire Android tablet, and Turbo's newfangled Samsung Chromebook, which is looking like a bargain at the price ($216) compared to the new Google Chromebook Pixel ($1,300!)

Turbo was caught unawares at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in downtown Austin yesterday as colleagues took a photo of him in “mobile warrior” mode. Among his electronic devices identified on the table: A Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, Turbo’s Verizon LG feature phone, a 5th gen Apple iPod Touch, a “Blu” phone (quadband, works on GSM networks around the world, serves as the Turbo “bat” phone and FM radio), a Plantronics Pro HD bluetooth headset, an HTC Wildfire Android tablet, and Turbo’s newfangled Samsung Chromebook, which is looking like a bargain at the price ($216) compared to the new Google Chromebook Pixel ($1,300!)

All these people in Barcelona attending Mobile World Congress, and seemingly so little news coming out of there.

For me, the key headline was the Nokia 105 which, while yawned at by most westerners, has the potential to be the downmarket phone king as Nokia moves more aggressively into emerging markets.

It’s a $20 phone that offers the basics, including phone calls, SMS, an FM-radio and a flashlight. And, 35 days of standby with 12.5 hours of talk time.

If it were a quad band GSM phone, I’d have it on my short list for second phones.

The other big news was IBM’s MobileFirst strategy, which, while not nearly as sexy as yet another yawnifying tablet device, does provide some grown-up guidance and direction for companies actually trying to pull together something resembling a unified mobile strategy.

Here’s what IBM’s Robert Leblanc, IBM vice president, middleware, had to say about the IBM MobileFirst initiative:

“To date, mobile computing has been dominated by discussions of new smartphones, operating systems, games and apps. But enterprises have yet to tap into the potential of mobile business. Just as the Internet transformed the way we bank, book vacations and manage our healthcare, mobile computing is also transforming industries. As these devices become ingrained in everything that we do, businesses are now in the palms of their customers’ hands. IBM MobileFirst is designed to make the transformation to becoming a mobile enterprise a reality.”

Visit here to learn more about IBM’s MobileFirst initiative, and go here to watch the IBM Mobile webcast that took place in Barcelona yesterday.

As for me, I’m packing up my mobile devices and taking them on the road.

In fact, I packed them up and took them to the TechTarget Online ROI Summit here in downtown Austin yesterday, and my colleagues thought it was worthy of a Facebook photo.

To which I explained, “I was traveling light!” (See the photo caption for an explanation of what’s what.)

Where am I off to, you ask? To Vegas, of course. My second home! IBM Pulse 2013 kicks off on Sunday, and I’m heading out early manana to take in a little golf history lesson.

That is to say, I have a 2:30 tee time at Las Vegas National, the very same course where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event back in 1996, and where Dean and Frank and Sammy and the rest of the Rat Pack used to hang out and swill martinis after a long hard-fought 18 holes.

I’d like to tell you I’m playing there because of all this history and Tiger lore, but the fact is the old Scotsman from GolfNow gave me a very aggressively priced tee time, which no other courses were offering!

After that, however, it’s all work, and I’m looking forward to interviewing a number of IBM Tivoli luminaries for the IBM Pulse Livestream channel, including some of our business partners, analysts, and the man himself, Deepak Advani, the general manager of IBM Tivoli.

I want to also remind you of Pulse on Vivastream, where you can go do some preliminary social networking. Also check out the killer feature there in the right hand column of the main page, the “DIY Videos” where you can get some early previews of Pulse session speakers. Kil-ler.

In fact, let me do this: Below is my list of “Everything You Ever Needed To Know About IBM Pulse 2013 But Were Afraid to Ask Turbo”:

  • Hashtag: #ibmpulse — all roads lead back to Twitter. Twitter is all-seeing and all-knowing at Pulse 2013.
  • Vivastream at Pulse — How you can maintain your crazy Pulse schedule, find your long, lost systems admin buddy…orrr, that really cute girl whose lip you accidentally bused in that crazy, countrified Carrie Underwood mosh pit.
  • IBM Pulse 2013 Conference Site — If you’re lost at IBM Pulse…or even if you’re not…this is always a good place to start. You can also use this page to find the video interviews I’ll start conducting on Monday.
  • IBM Pulse Smart Site (Registered attendees only) — The official keeper of your IBM Pulse calendar.
  • IBM Pulse On Facebook — Because we recognize there are people like me who spend way too much time on Facebook, and if you want to get their attention…

And now I want to pass you on to my good friend Rebecca’s Top Things You Shouldn’t Miss at Pulse 2013 — it does not include a round with Turbo at Las Vegas National, but other than that, it’s a great list.

Meanwhile, keep an eye for me on Saturday.  I’ll be the one driving down the Las Vegas Strip looking for errant drives.

Could You Be Loved

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Call me old school, but for me the best part of the Grammy’s last evening was the Bob Marley homage, led by an energetic Bruno Mars and joined by the likes of Sting, Rhianna, and several of Bob Marley’s offspring.

Though there seemed to be some decent enough performances otherwise, I guess my musical tastes are increasingly running old school as well, which I guess just makes me old.

That’s okay, I’ll wear the fabric of time and wisdom if it’s cloaked in a little Led Zeppelin and Eagles and Beatles and Lynyrd Skynyrd and a whole lotta current from AC/DC.

Contemporary music doesn’t seem have much of an edge to it.  For me, much of it seems too apologetic, too timid, certainly too soft.  I much prefer the Motown and doo wop of the 50s, the psychedelia of the 60s, the classic rock of the 70s, the metal edge of the 80s, the grunge of the 90s.

But that’s yesterday’s news. What about today’s?

Well, if you’re a Google Reader user, good luck. TechCrunch informs us this morning that the RSS feed-reading service “has gone completely mad,” heading into a second day of usability issues and the reappearance of thousands of old, unread items.

Maybe old news could be good news, in this case. Maybe we can use Google Reader to travel back to the good ol’ days, when we didn’t have worry about Facebook SPAM and blocked Twitter APIs.

Hey, Google, no big deal I bet my RSS farm on your dawdling feedreading horse.  Maybe throw the old nag a fresh bale of hay at least once in a while?

Not exactly encouraging news in terms of the service life and TLC that geriatric Google apps receive, now is it?

Of course, there’s always new horses coming into the race, and those just reaching their strides.

Golf journeyman Brandt Snedeker, who took the PGA Tour’s FedEx cup last year, is off to a fast start in 2013, making his walks around Pebble Beach this past few days look like a stroll in the park.

I first saw Snedeker play golf in person at Torrey Pines in 2007, and even then I remarked at how fast the guy plays. Considering the lethargic state of pace of play for most golf courses these days, Snedeker’s a breath of fresh air.

Not only does he make putting look simple with his laser-like lines and Ouiji-board green reads, he plays fast!  Like really fast! Like if you want to get a picture of that swing (from a distance, please), you’d better have multiple auto-shots and lightning fast shutter speeds!

In his post-round interview, Snedeker explained to CBS’ David Feherty his next big golf stop is a major. In 2008, when he was a Masters contender he melted down in the homestretch, but this time he may well have the confidence, maturity, and course management to leap ahead of the pack and get himself some new green threads.

And being a good Southern boy, here’s hoping he listens to some good old-fashioned Allman Brothers Band tunes as he prepares to psych himself up for Augusta.

Written by turbotodd

February 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Swing Thoughts

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I’m guilty.  I just have NOT talked enough about sports in this blog yet this year, most particularly, golf.

But golf season’s just really getting underway, and with the PGA set to visit Torrey Pines in San Diego starting tomorrow at The Farmers Insurance Open, I can assure you that will start to change.

Over the Christmas holidays, I mentioned, in fact, that Santa brought me a self-imposed present: Some Ben Hogan “Red Line” irons, circa 1988.  I found them from a nice gentleman in Illinois via eBay, and the day they arrived via UPS at my folks’ place, where I was visiting, there was a few inches of snow on the ground.

Finally, later that week, back in Austin, I got to give them a go.  I’ll remind you these are the same clubs that Tiger Woods won a U.S. Amateur with back in the day, and a range of pros (including Austin inhabitant Tom Kite) played with these clubs at one point or another.

I’ll also remind you that I’m no Tiger Woods or Tom Kite…I’m a mid-level handicapper working his tail off to drive that handicap down into the single digits.

Since that first round, I’ve played a few more, and I LOVE the clubs.  But last weekend, just for grins, I went out and swung my Mizuno MP-25s, my original Mizuno set which are cavity-backed (what Mizuno calls their “Hemi Cog”).

So how did I hit those clubs now that I’d been out flirting with some blades for a few weeks?

Well, suffice it to say, my first five-iron probably sailed close to 180 yards and had this amazing trajectory and ball flight that made my want to cry.

And that happened again. And again. And again.

Ever since golf school last summer, there’s been no doubt my game improved. But, I don’t play enough as an amateur to consistently hit a thin blade in that oh-so-small sweet spot.

So, this weekend, I’m going to take the forged clubs and see what happens at a challenging course out in Blanco (the Texas Hill Country). Assuming my short game doesn’t completely fall apart, I expect to see my score drop back down into the lowish 80s, but we’ll see.

Do I regret the trial experience with those blades?  And will I ever play with them again?

No, and abso-frickin’-lutely.

Playing with those blades drives focus on the swing like you’ll never have with a forged club, because they’re not nearly forgiving. For that reason alone, I’ll continue to bring them out, because they force you to find the center of the club.

But when it comes to playing to score, and to have the most fun I can have on the golf course, I realize now more than ever why they make those forged clubs — so we “hacks” can fairly consistently hit those beautiful iron shots that we so admire when Tiger or Ricky or any other pro step up to the ball and make it look so easy.

I can’t wait for my tee time on Saturday.

Written by turbotodd

January 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Posted in golf

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No News Is Bad News

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So how was your weekend?

Roger Federer’s was pretty doggone good, having taken out Scotland’s Andy Murray yesterday in the Wimbledon finals.

South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi also had a pretty good weekend.  She took victory in the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.

That was, by the way, the very same course where Se Ri Pak won the Open in 1998, a breakthrough that inspired a generation of South Korean women golfers (who, by the way, have won 4 out of the last 5 U.S. Opens).

Many congratulations to Na Yeon Choi on her victory.

My weekend wasn’t too bad, either.  I got to play a new golf course out in the Texas hill country, in Blanco, where I also attended a benefit concert headlined by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians.

You may remember Edie and New Bohemians from their breakout 1988 hit “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” but Edie and the “New Bo’s” were musical favorites in and around my hometown of Denton, Texas, long before they jetted off to musical stardom.

If you’ve not followed Edie’s own solo career, you’re missing out on some great tunes (try 2003’s “Volcano”).  Hard to believe it’d been nearly a quarter-century since Edie and the New Bo’s hit the big time — we Dentonites still remember their pre-fame performance at the 1988 Fry Street Fair, with Edie’s hair blowing freely in the breeze and their lyrical music sauntering freely up Oak Street without a care in the world.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

But, Turbo, you say, please tell me something relevant about the information technology industry!  It’s Monday, what’s going on?!

Okay, okay, I’m getting to that.  It is Monday, and it’s summer, and I’m off to a slow start, for Pete’s sake!

First and foremost, news from Gartner this A.M. suggesting that worldwide IT spending is on pace to reach $3.6 trillion in 2012, a 3 percent increase over last year’s $3.5 trillion.

Yes, despite the woes in Europe and minor slowdown in Asia, IT spending is going up, and in fact, Gartner revised its numbers to 3 percent growth from 2.5 percent last quarter.

Gartner describes this IT spending environment as “continued caution,” but highlights some strong spots: Public cloud services, for example, which is expected to hit $109 billion in spending this year, and $207 billion by 2016.

IT services spending grew a little more anemically year-over-year, coming in at 2.3 percent to reach $864 billion this year.

Meanwhile, no major outcries from the impacts of the DNSChanger servers being run by the FBI going offline.  PC World’s story this AM has the F-Secure blog estimating about 47K computers still affected in the U.S., and about 20K in India.

So, no news is good news (See more about this from last week’s blog post.)

Of course, no news may soon become a more common occurrence than we care to realize.  Read this piece from the NY Times’ David Carr on the dismal outlook for daily newspapers.

Just don’t have any sharp objects close by when you do, especially if you’re a news junkie like myself.

Written by turbotodd

July 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

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