Monday, June 29, 2009

Efficient Corporate Communication 101, Part 1

[begin email chain #1]
Email #1 (from MK to TK): We can connect to the STP server using the FTPA user.
Email #2 (reply from TK to MK): Can you please ask LP if that is really the right user?
Email #3 (forward of Email #2 to LP, cc TK): TK wants to know if the FTPA user is the right user to connect to server STP.
Email #4 (reply from LP to MK, cc TK): That's fine.
[end email chain #1]

[begin email chain #2]
Email #5 (from TK to MK): The FTPA has been given the ability to write to the directory on the STP server.
Email #6 (reply from MK to TK): Didn't work using the password I have for that user. Not sure if the FTPA user is setup with access to that server. Or we have the wrong password. You'll have to get in touch with the server folks and figure out what needs to be setup to get access to the server.
Email #7 (reply from TK to MK): I'm not sure how this works. Can you check with LP and TT to see how they've handled it in the past?
Email #8 (forward of email #2 to LP and TT, cc TK): TK wants to know if you guys know how to get this setup?
Email #9 (reply from TT to MK and LP, cc TK): MH should be able to help.
[end email chain #2]

[begin conversion #1]
TK: Why can't TT just go talk to MH, since they're in the same office location. It takes 5 seconds to walk to his office.
MK: Why can't you just call MH yourself?
TK: This just really inefficient. Why can't TT talk to MH and figure it out instead of telling me what to ask MH?
MK: Why couldn't you just send emails to LP and TT yourself instead of sending an email to me asking me to send them an email and cc you.
[end conversion #1]

This is the model of efficiency. Email me to ask someone else a question that you want to ask and cc you so you get their response. This can't even be blamed on bureaucracy, its just an unwillingness to do something for yourself.

My favorite part was the complaining about how inefficient it is that someone wouldn't do his job for him, but instead was telling him what he needed to do. Sometimes I just don't get people.

Monday, April 6, 2009

If I didn't love you so much, I'd leave you in a dumpster

No, I'm not talking about my son or my wife. I'm talking about my Playstation 3. The device that has brought me endless hours of pleasure. The device that provides an escape from work, family, dishes, and exercise. The device that I one day hope to use as a way of bonding with my son (it already is used this way to some degree). In short, I love my PS3 and I don't know what I'd do without it.

But apparently, I'm finding out. It decided that its done working now. The system will no longer load any PS3 games or Blu-ray movies. Currently, it still loads DVDs and Ps2 games, but not always. I noticed that games would freeze every once in a while the last couple of weeks, but usually I just waited a minute and the game would unfreeze and I could continue playing. Then one night, I decided to sit down and watch Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray, which I had gotten for my birthday. About 30 minutes into the movie, it froze. I waited for about 15 minutes and nothing happened, so I reset the system. I started watching the movie again, only to have it freeze again about 5 minutes later. At first, I thought it was just the movie (in hindsight, I wish it was), but then I tried some other discs and they didn't work either. Then, it stopped loading games and movies altogether.

I did some research and some people recommended buying a special touchless Blu-ray cleaning disc to cleanse the laser. Of course, after running around for an hour, I found that these discs cannot be found in any stores. So, I had to order it from Amazon and wait. This, of course, sucked, because I had to wait for the cleaning disc to be delivered, which meant multiple days without the use of the system. The wait was pretty short and I got the disc about 3 days later. I immediately stuck it in the PS3 and was encouraged when the disc loaded immediately. After the disc finished its cleaning cycle, I tried loading a PS3 game. Nothing. I tried a Blu-ray movie. Nothing. The only positive thing to come out of the cleaning was that DVDs now seemed to load without any trouble. Obviously, I wasn't too happy. I spent $20 to get the disc and it didn't work. But I'm not really that upset. I didn't expect it to fix the problem, but I'd rather spend $20 to fix the problem instead of sending it to Sony for service and find out that I only needed to clean it.

So, when cleaning the Blu-ray laser failed, I had only one option left. Send it to Sony for service. This is where I get more upset. My PS3 is just barely over a year old (a year and 3 months, I believe). There is a one year warranty on the machine. So, its just out of warranty. Which means that in order to have Sony repair it, I have to pay them $150. Regardless of what's wrong, I have to pay them that rate. This, of course, is completely ridiculous, considering the fact that I paid $500 for the device in the first place, only to have it break just after the warranty ended.

Before sending it in, though, I tried going through the support articles on the Sony website to try to fix the issue. Most of the suggestions, though, are things like restore the factory settings, etc, which have no bearing on whether or not the system will load discs. Oh, and then there's my favorite suggestion, which is "try another disc", coupled with "try the disc on another PS3", like I didn't think to try more than one game/movie. What kind of idiot do they think I am??

Well, after getting no help from the website, I decided it probably needs to be sent in for service. But first, I decided to try to call and talk to a Sony rep to see if they had any other ideas I could try before paying them to fix it. So, I called in and I get D'Qwon or something like that helping me out. I described the problem and he didn't even make a single troubleshooting suggestion (not even "restore the factory settings", which seems like all support reps would be required to do). Instead, he said that I need to send it in and asked me for my name and email address. Then, he must have come to the "Problem Description" box and had me describe the issues again. Except he wasn't really listening. I told him that Blu-rays (games and movies) never load and that DVDs (PS2 games and movies) load sometimes. To which he said "so nothing is working". I said no, DVDs sometimes work. To which he again replied "so nothing is working". At thing point, I just threw my hands up and said "sure".

Now, my favorite part of this whole experience. After calling their support, do you know what they do??? They send me an email with a link to fill out an online form to get it serviced. I already knew about this form and decided against filling it out, just in case their service people had any other ideas for what I could try. The link in the email just redirects me to this page, where I just fill out the information needed to get it serviced. So, what's the point of even having a call center? It was a complete waste of my time.

In any case, Sony is currently sending me a special box to ship my PS3 in and supposedly, I'll have it back in less than 2 weeks. That's if they decide they want to fix it. The terms I agreed to for service basically say (in my words) that if they determine that it is not to their liking to fix my PS3, they'll send it back to me. Even if they do fix it, they may or may not send me back my PS3. They can replace it with a crappy refurbished one. They better not. I want my PS3 back, not some grubby piece of crap that somebody else ran into the ground.

Of course, before I can send it to them, I need to back up all of the vital information on the system, like game save data. This is not as simple as it sounds. I won't get into that whole mess, but I basically have to wipe out part of my computer's external HDD for a couple of weeks to back up my data, so I can put it back (supposedly) on my PS3 when I get it back. Terrible.

In any case, I do love my PS3. Its the device that brings me endless joy, etc. But its also the device that cost me $500 originally. Another $150 a year later. Raised the price on the games and movies that I use it for. And makes me want to take a baseball bat to it, Office Space style. I'm sure that after a couple of days of having it working again, all will be forgiven.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mooshka's Musings 3/23/2009

This is the inaugural edition of "Mooshka's Musings". These entries will contain little musings and random thoughts. Let me know what you think.

  • Why is an NFL ("expert") writer producing uneducated, ridiculous drivel like this about college basketball? All I can say is suck it, Clark Judge. Suck it hard.
  • Oh, and if the original article wasn't bad enough, then Mr. Judge puts out this wonderfully written piece. So, let me get this straight, Purdue won because of two plays. Otherwise, Washington was dominant? Huh, seems like it would be pretty hard to be dominant when you're behind every second of the game. That sound you hear is Clark Judge climbing even higher on my shit list.
  • Last offseason it was the Brett Favre drama-fest. This offseason, its Jay Cutler's drama in Denver. What's the common thread? The idiot on the left. That's Bus Cook, the agent for both of the aforementioned QBs. I think someone likes attention.
  • Am I the only one who's job is a clinical study in the 80/20 rule? Although I would slightly reword the rule to be "20% of the people do 80% of the work".
  • At my job, knowing what we're doing isn't a prerequisite to doing it. I've worked hard to change that for almost 4 years. I think its getting worse.
  • I can't wait for baseball season to start. The World Baseball Classic doesn't count.
  • Tomorrow, I'm going to be 27 years old. How's that different from being 26?
  • I'm at the point where birthdays are just another day. I still have to go to work, be a dad, etc. Its always nice to have people get you nice stuff though.
  • What is it that drives some people to need to always get people "unique" or "special" gifts, instead of something that the person actually wants (and I'm talking about people other than your mom and spouse)? In some ways it seems like a selfish trait. I don't know though.
  • I highly recommend this book. Its an exploration of the doctor/patient relationship and how we can help them diagnose us and avoid errors when doing so. However, a word of warning. While the book makes you think about what you can do to work together with your doctor to diagnose illnesses, it also makes you think about all the illnesses you could be diagnosed with.
  • My first post on this blog was, at least partially, about constantly fighting with Adam. Once again, after a stretch with very limited issues, we've gone back to a constant battle the last few days. Its incredibly draining.
That's enough for now. Feel free to comment, discuss, etc. I'd love your feedback (honey).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Twins' New Guys, Part 5: Delmon Young

Delmon Young

Delmon Young was acquired by the Twins on November 28, 2007, as the centerpiece of the deal with Tampa Bay that sent Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to the Rays. Delmon was drafted by Tampa Bay with the #1 overall pick in 2003. He was considered a top prospect at the time, even drawing comparisons to Frank Robinson. Scouts were extremely impressed by Delmon's canon arm and power potential at the plate. In his first two years in the Tampa Bay minor league system, Delmon showed the power numbers, hitting 25 HRs at A-ball in his first season, and 26 HRs between AA and AAA the next season. His slash line for the first two minor seasons were a very good .322/.385/.538 and .315/.354/.527, respectively. In 2006, Delmon began the year at the AAA level and eventually was called up to the major league club. However, he hit just 11 HRs in over 450 ABs between the two levels. The drop in power was also accompanied by a decrease in OBP, as he walked just 16 times in over 450 ABs, including just one walk at the major league level. Despite mediocre numbers with the major league club in 2006, Delmon was the starting left fielder for the Rays in 2007. Delmon proceeded to play in all 162 games for the Rays, posting a .288/.316/.408 line, which corresponds to a 91 OPS+. These numbers were good enough to earn Delmon runner-up in the rookie of the year voting (Dustin Pedroia won the award). The Twins traded for Delmon, clearly hoping that he would leave up to his power potential that he showed in his first two years in the minors with Tampa.

Season in Review: In his first year as a Twin, Delmon Young certainly was not the player the Twins were hoping for. He was the epitome of an average player. He was a fixture in left field, playing in 152 of 163 games. While its nice to have a durable player who can play every day, he was not especially impressive defensively. Delmon committed 8 errors in left field and consistently struggled to track down catchable balls. On the plus side, Delmon did display his strong arm, gunning down 11 base-runners and probably preventing others from trying to advance. Offensively, Delmon went through stretches where he showed promise, but overall, his numbers were very similar to last season. He was third on the team with 10 HRs (such a depressing stat for the team) and fourth in RBI with 69. Overall, he posted a line of .290/.336/.405, almost exactly what he posted last season with the Rays. However, there was some improvement this season. Delmon improved his OBP by 20 points over last season, which he did by talking a base on balls 5.7% of the time, compared to just 3.9% last season. He also struck out 18.3% of the time, compared to 19.7% of the time last season. Although Delmon can still be classified as a "free swinger", he had a slightly more discerning eye at the plate as a Twin.

Outlook for Next Season: I think that Twins' fans should be at least a little bit encouraged from what we saw from Delmon Young this season. The fact that he improved his BB% and lowered his K% is a very encouraging thing. We saw this season that when Delmon gets a good pitch to hit, he can hit it hard and a long way. The problem is that he often doesn't wait for his pitch. It would seem that Joe Vavre instilled in Delmon the importance of being patient and waiting for a good pitch to hit. Now, of course, I don't believe that Delmon will ever have the eye of Joe Mauer, but if he can continue his improvement in this regard, I think he will be a decent player. And as I mentioned before, it would seem that you can pretty much pencil Delmon in to play left field in every game, which is positive, despite his average defensive ability. I think that Twins fans will be happy with what they see from Delmon Young next season. I think he'll hit for a bit more power out of the gates and have a solid season.

Synopsis: After a full season of watching Delmon Young, its hard to know what to say. I guess my overall impression of Delmon is that he is an extremely frustrating player to watch. Watching Delmon take poor routes and look generally lost in left field at times was pretty tough to watch. And early in the season, when all he did was hit weak grounders to second, I think most Twins fans were ready to call him a bust. But, he definitely improved, at least in terms of his hitting, as the season progressed. The most frustrating thing for me personally, though, was that every time I thought he was finally improving and gaining a more discerning eye at the plate, he would proceed to have a horrible at-bat, where he would swing and miss at every pitch, no matter where the pitch was located. That has to stop. He needs to learn to be more patient, especially in key spots, with people on base. 

Despite my frustrations, I think (as I said in the outlook for next season) that there's hope for the future. I believe that we saw some of his power potential this season. Although he didn't hit many HRs this season, when he did hit one, it went a loooooong way. I mean, he hit some mammoth blasts this season. As I keep saying (and will probably continue to say), if he can just wait for his pitch, the one he can handle and blast, he can hit for a lot more power. But his approach needs to change. The other thing that I believe is really encouraging with Delmon is his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field. He does this really well, almost to a fault. A guy like Carlos Gomez and even Justin Morneau, who get into stretches where they try to pull everything, can get into prolonged slumps and need to correct their approach. Delmon Young is more like Joe Mauer, going the other way all the time and we've seen what Joe has done with that approach. I'm not saying that Delmon Young will ever be as good as Joe Mauer, but there's reason to be encouraged. Overall, I don't believe that Delmon Young is a bust, like some Twins fans do. He had an average year this year, but did show improvement. I look for Delmon to improve even more next year and have a bigger year. And if he doesn't, well, the negativity of Twins fans might just drive him out of town.

Blog revival, what's on deck, etc...

Wow, its been quite a while since my last post. Of course, I have a good excuse (I always do). I got married a month ago. Since returning to work after the honeymoon, things have been kind of crazy, so I haven't had time to write much. I guess I'll actually have to do some writing from home. Weird. 

So, as you probably recall, I was in the middle of a series of posts about the Twins newly acquired players. Now the Twins season is over, football season is in full swing, and the hockey and basketball seasons are right around the corner. How did that happen? Baseball season went really quickly this year.

Anyway, thought I'd lay out what's to come. Its more for me than anything else. Helps me remember the things I want to post about and hopefully gives me motivation to do so. So, here's what's to come:
  • I do plan to finish the "Twins' New Guys" series, even though the season is over. Not sure if I'll get to the guys called up from the minors (Span, Casilla, etc). Definitely won't do the September call-ups.
  • I mentioned in the past that I want to do a post about the state of sports broadcasting, journalism, etc. I was going to use Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven as the center of my comments, but with baseball season nearly over, I'm not sure. I'll probably still do this, there's plenty of great examples of what I'll talk about out there (e.g. Paul McGuire).
  •  Various football-related posts. Mostly, they will be Vikings-centric. Maybe something about the benching of T-Jax and my thoughts on Brad Childress.
  • I hope to have at least one post about the presidential election. It probably won't happen, since I have only a month before its over. Maybe this will be my priority.
  • I might (I said I might) something regarding the wedding and honeymoon.
  • I have a lot of ideas for posts that relate to Adam. He's getting to be such a big boy and is just so much fun right now. I need to post more about that stuff.
  • Something about the last year of Purdue football under Joe Tiller, with a look to the future under the next coach.
  • Something about the coming Purdue basketball season. Expectations, etc.
  • Probably a work-related post. There haven't been too many Big Tuna incidents lately, but we'll see what happens.
I guess that's enough for now. I couldn't even finish writing 7 posts about Twins players during the 162 game season, so what are the chances I write about much of the list above in the near future. I'm going to try. We'll see how things go.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

There Is a God: Brett Favre "Drama" Finally Ends

After a month of watching the media collectively stroke Brett Favre 24 hours a day, I was just happy to see Favre end up somewhere... anywhere. It has been a month of non-stop Favre coverage on the "World Wide Leader in Favre Coverage" (aka ESPN), including his own ticker category, monopolization of entire episodes of NFL Live and Sportcenter and commentary from people that don't play football, don't know Favre and simply should not be commenting in the first place.

Normally, in the month leading into the NFL regular season opener, I would watch anything and everything football related, like NFL Live, to get ready for the season. Normally, I would read a favorite site of mine every day to read about training camp battles, key injuries, and who got arrested for what. Not this year. Everything has been about Favre and all the "he said, she said" bullshit between him and the Packers. Even if there are other storylines going on in the NFL (which I know there are), you have to filter through all the Favre-related content to find them, because Favre always comes first. Suffice it to say, my excitement for this season has been tempered.

I was especially excited about the Vikings this season, who look like a very good football team, that could make some serious noise this season. Then, we started to hear about all these rumors that Favre wants play for Minnesota and that the Packers are considering trading him to the Vikings. That was just too much to take. If he would have come to Minnesota, I would not have been in any way interested in the Vikings' season. People were talking about the Vikings winning the SuperBowl with Favre at the helm. I would rather go 0-16 without Favre than win the SuperBowl with him. Now, that sounds crazy, right? Because the ultimate goal is to win the SuperBowl. But if the Vikings won the SuperBowl with Favre leading them, it would be tainted. The media (not to mention all Packer fans) would say that Favre won the SuperBowl for the Vikings. He would be credited with the victory. He would be the sole reason the Vikings won the SuperBowl. I couldn't handle that. I wouldn't be worth it.

Finally, we know that Favre will not be wearing a purple jersey this year and I couldn't be happier. After all his crying and bitching and manipulating, trying to get his way, he ended up being traded to a team that he doesn't really want to play for. He's going to play for a team that is a 8-8 team at best, that will probably not make the playoffs. He will be playing for a bad team, which will remind him how good he had it in Green Bay and hopefully it will make him feel like it wasn't worth coming back and that he should have stayed retired. And then, next season, after he voices all of this in the media, he will play his bullshit game again about whether he'll retire or not. And we'll all be right back here, sick of all the coverage that he continues to receive for being a little baby.

I think I speak for a lot of football fans when I say "Brett, just go away". I don't want to see any more of his fake celebrations when he throws a TD, where he pretends to run around like a little kid because he's so excited. What a bunch of crap. Its so fake. I don't want to hear any more Madden orgasms over how much he loves how Favre plays the game, how he plays the right way, how he's the greatest ever. And most of all, I don't want to see or hear or read any more coverage of "Favre considers retirement" and "Favre retires" and "Favre considers return", and "Favre says he's not wanted" and "Favre breaks a nail" and "Favre has a slumber party with John Madden and all of ESPN". Seriously, I'm done. But of course, we're going to have to spend this entire season following his every move with a new team. And I think that I'm going to wear out the mute button on my remote.

Brett, seriously, I hope you tear your ACL. That's the only way we can finally be rid of you forever.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Twins' New Guys, Part 5: Brendan Harris

The first four parts of "The Twins' New Guys" series focused on the free agents signed by the Twins last off season. Now, I will turn my attention towards the players acquired via trades, who are currently contributing to the major league club. There will be three posts about such players.

Brendan Harris

Brendan Harris was acquired by the Twins on November 28, 2007, in a trade with Tampa Bay. The Twins sent Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to the Rays for Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris. Although primarily playing at 3B throughout his minor league career, Harris has spent the majority of his major league time at SS and 2B. After bouncing around in several trades, Harris got his first prolonged chance at the major league level during the 2007 season with Tampa Bay, playing mostly at SS. In 500+ at-bats, he compiled a .286/.343/.434 line, which totals to an OPS+ of 106, making him a slightly above average offensive shortstop. When the Twins agreed to trade Jason Bartlett to Tampa Bay, it made sense to replace him with a SS whose overall numbers appear (on the surface) to be very similar to Bartlett's (.265/.339/.361 and an OPS+ of 88 for Bartlett in 2007).

So far this season: Due largely to injuries on the infield (Everett and Punto) and the ineffectiveness of Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris has seen fairly regular playing time. In fact, Harris has the 5th-most at-bats on the team, with 320, which is just 8 fewer than Joe Mauer. Unfortunately, Harris' 320 at-bats have not been as productive as Mauer's. Through 91 games, Harris has splits of .259/.315/.369, giving him an OPS+ of 87 (below average). However, his is in the midst of a pretty good stretch, hitting .313, including 13 extra-base hits (7 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR) since mid-June.

Harris began the year as the Twins' starting second baseman, with Adam Everett playing SS. However, he struggled defensively at 2B, committing 5 errors in 39 games and posting a well below average RFg of 4.03 (league average at 2B is 4.58). Alexi Casilla was called up from AAA to take over at 2B and Brendan Harris was moved to SS, the position where he played the majority of last season. Despite the fact that his defense still isn't stellar, Harris has looked more comfortable at shortstop, posting a well above average RFg of 4.65 (league average is 3.93) and committing just 3 errors in 43 games. Ultimately, defense isn't the strongest part of Harris' game, as he still has pretty hard hands and too often is unable to turn a double-play, even though he has appeared more comfortable at SS.

Outlook for the rest of the season: I think that for the rest of the season, Harris will be in a platoon at SS with Nick Punto, as long as Punto can stay healthy enough to play. Although Adam Everett is due back from the disabled list soon, I don't believe he will be a factor at SS (he is more likely a candidate for release or trade). If Harris can continue to produce the offensive numbers that he has in the last month, it will be difficult for Ron Gardenhire to keep him out of the lineup, especially against left-handed pitchers, as the Twins desperately need a right-handed batter to step up against lefties. I believe that Harris can produce somewhere near his career splits of .268/.326/.402, which would be acceptable. Based on his track-record, I don't believe Nick Punto will continue putting up the numbers that he has (in limited playing time) this season, which will make Harris all the more important down the stretch.

Synopsis: In my mind, the Twins could do a lot worse than Brendan Harris as their SS. The Twins are a better team with him on the field than they would have been marching Adam Everett out there every day. That being said, I'm pretty indifferent when it comes to Harris. He is absolutely brutal to watch defensively. I have to cover my eyes every time he is involved in a potential double play. On the other hand, offensively, Harris has shown some positive things. He began the year on fire and is now in the middle of another good stretch. He just needs to learn to be a little bit more patient and selective at the plate, as evidenced by his striking out in 23% of at-bats, while only walking 7% of the time. Unfortunately, as a 28 year old SS, in just his second full year in the majors, Harris has more than likely reached his full potential. Ultimately, I see Harris as a stop-gap shortstop, until the Twins sign a quality player in free agency or have a player from the minor league system take over.

In my post about Adam Everett, I talked about how I felt that trading Bartlett was a mistake. If you look at the trade with Tampa Bay as 3 player-for-player trades (which isn't a great view of the trade, but for comparison purposes here, it works), then Brendan Harris and Jason Bartlett were traded for each other. With that view, I still think that trading Jason Bartlett was a mistake. Despite having more power than Bartlett, Harris strikes out a lot, walks fairly rarely, and is below average defensively. I think that Bartlett's defensive ability, coupled with his superior on-base skills made him the more valuable player. Admittedly, Bartlett is having a pretty poor year in Tampa Bay this year, but that doesn't mean that he would have been as bad if he had remained with the Twins. As I said above, I have no real problem with Harris, but I would still prefer Bartlett at SS.