Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rock destroy Knighthawks

Holy cow, what a game. This is what Rock lacrosse was back in the early 2000's - Lots of offense, strong defense, outstanding goaltending, smart play and just an all-round exciting game. I'm ready to give new Rock owner Jamie Dawick the NLL 2010 Executive of the Year award right now. Can we please just forget that the whole Kloepfer era happened? I don't know who those guys wearing the Knighthawks jerseys were, but they certainly didn't play like the Knighthawks I predicted would win the east this year. John Grant had a terrible game – he was dropping the ball left and right. He should have been given assists on two of the first three Rock goals, because they resulted directly from balls he dropped. Grant took a stupid and unnecessary penalty in the first quarter (as he always does when frustrated), though he managed to keep his head for the rest of the game. Gary Gait was held pointless, as were the Knighthawks, since Craig Point was invisible (see what I did there?). Pat O'Toole made some good stops here and there, but... well let's just say that he didn't have his best game ever.

Garrett Billings, on the other hand, was everywhere, scoring 5 and adding 3 assists. Other than Billings, the Rock goals were quite spread out, as nine other players scored at least once. Bob Watson was unbelievable in goal, and now has a microscopic GAA of 5.47 after 3 games. The Rock defense was also awesome. I remember reading off the names of the Knighthawks on the floor during their first offense shift – I believe my exact words were "Grant, Williams, Gait, Point, and Bomberry. Ouch." But those five players were held to a combined total of three points. As I said Watson was outstanding at stopping the shots that got to him, but there were an awful lot of shots that were never made because the Rock defense knocked the ball away, grabbed it out of the air, or just prevented the Knighthawks from getting open enough to even take a shot.

It wasn't that rough of a game, until near the end when it was pretty much over anyway, and even then it was only two players that caused all the roughness, both of whom are named Evans. Rochester had nine penalties all night, and only one wasn't by a guy named Evans – that being Grant's roughing call in the first. Shawn got three minors and a fighting major, and Scott got four minors. In addition, both should have been given at least unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, since they wouldn't stop chirping at the refs, even after sitting in the penalty box. I get the two of them confused – since there's two players on the team named "Evans", their first initial should be on their uniforms as well, like the Rock did with the Sandersons – oh, wait. Anyway, one of them asked the penalty box door guy to open the door a couple of times so he could go back out and yell at the ref some more. Lucky for him the door guy didn't do it – leaving the penalty box before your penalty is over gets you a misconduct penalty and an automatic game suspension. I almost expected one of them to pull a Pat Coyle and deck the ref.

There are players in pro sports who are just pests. They're irritating and get on your nerves, but are undoubtedly great players. Scott Stevens was one, as is Sean Avery. Tie Domi as well, though his skill level was lower. In lacrosse you've got your Evans brothers, Mark Steenhuis, and Brian Langtry – Kim Squire was another one early in his career. Quite honestly, I find John Tavares is like that too. In many of these cases, you hate playing against them, but would give anything to get them on your team – Tavares, Stevens and Langtry are great examples of this. For me, the Evans brothers, like Avery, do not fall into this last category. They're great players, no question, and they're passionate and they play hard – attributes that I like in athletes. But playing hard doesn't mean punching people in the head when trying to get the ball from them. It doesn't mean crosschecking the goalie. It doesn't mean hitting a player into the boards from behind and then throwing up your hands as if to say "What did I do?" when you get a penalty for it. And it certainly doesn't mean whining to the refs about every single call that goes against your team. Playing hard and being passionate is great and all that, but it has to be combined with sportsmanship, and I didn't see a lot of that from the Evans boys tonight. Having said that, full props to both of them for taking part in the customary handshakes after the game – I have seen other players lose it completely near the end of a blowout and are either escorted off the floor or simply walk off without shaking hands. I guess there's some sportsmanship in there.

At the end of the game, the Rock announcer said that the Rock would be playing "this same Knighthawks team" in Rochester next week, and I said to my friend "He's wrong. That game will not feature the same Knighthawks team. And if it does, Paul Gait should be fired." The Rock ran roughshod over the Blazers in week 1, only to see a very different Boston team the next week. It will largely be the same players playing, but I suspect the Knighthawks of next week's game will be quite different from the guys who played tonight. That will be an entertaining game, just as this one was.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jim Veltman – Mammoth Head Coach?

The Mammoth fired their head coach the other day after a 0-2 start, and GM Steve Govett, who's never coached a lacrosse game in his life, has announced that he will be taking over as coach. We'll see how long that lasts. But if he's looking for a new head coach that does have some lacrosse coaching experience, former Rock captain Jim Veltman is available. The Mammoth had some interest in Veltman a couple of years ago, asking him to retire to join their coaching staff. He declined, played one more year, and then retired to join the Rock's coaching staff. The entire staff other than Veltman was then unceremoniously fired a couple of months into the next year, and it was announced that Veltman would join the front office in an unspecified position. As far as I can remember, the Rock have never mentioned his name again.

Veltman has never been a head coach at the NLL level, but he was one of Glenn Clark's assistant coaches for a short while. He has been coach (for a while, a player-coach) of the OLA's Ajax-Pickering Rock for a while, so he certainly has coaching experience.

If Veltman is hired by the Mammoth, just remember folks – you heard it here first.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Memories of the Future Vol. 1

Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of my all-time favourite TV shows. I watched it religiously when it was on in the late 80's and early 90's and I bought each season on DVD as soon as it was released. I also enjoy former TNG cast member Wil Wheaton's writing, so imagine my excitement when he started writing reviews of TNG episodes a couple of years ago. He wrote an article about every ten years or so – OK, it was more often than that, but that's how it seemed when you were patiently (or not) waiting for the next one to come out. He posted links to them on his blog, and then gathered them all up, did a few more, and put them in a book called Memories of the Future. There will be at least two volumes; each covering one half of the first season of TNG; only Volume One has been released. I don't know how much further he'll go - I asked him on twitter if he was planning on continuing the books or podcasts right up to season 7, but he never responded. Geez, you get 1.6 million followers and suddenly you don't respond to questions? Bastard. I'd respond to you, @wilw.

Anyway, this book is a must for TNG fans. Wil rips each episode apart, telling you what was good and what was bad, which is fun to read because there were a number of really bad episodes in the first season. There is a lot of humour in the episode recaps and technobabble, and I found the behind-the-scenes memories really interesting.

Wil also gives some insight into the whole TV industry and how it works – like when person X is writes a script for an episode, but then their original script is hacked and changed without their knowledge by someone else who doesn't get credit. By the end of the process, the writing of this really bad episode is still credited to person X, who really had nothing to do with how bad it is. It seems unfair, but that's how it works. Wil pulls no punches, naming names on who were the worst writers, directors, and guest actors that he worked with.

Wil is very complimentary to the other cast members of TNG, particularly Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, who are indeed excellent actors. One person he's not very complimentary to, however, is himself. He seems convinced that he was the worst actor on the set, and that a large contributing factor to that is his youth. A number of times he mentions that if he wasn't such a self-absorbed teenager at the time, he might have done a better job. Of course "self-absorbed teenager" is a redundancy, and Wil himself does acknowledge this at one point, when he tells the story of apologizing to (I think) Patrick Stewart for being the way he was when he was a teenager and not appreciating things as he should have. Stewart tells him that everyone at the time understood that he was a teenager, and that that attitude came with the territory. Of course, some of this self-deprecation could just be modesty – he only makes a point of mentioning when he did a lousy job. Perhaps there were a number of episodes where he thought he did a great job, but he decided to keep the "Wow, my performance was really great in this episode" thoughts to himself.

Wil was also doing weekly podcasts called "Memories of the Futurecast", where he would read part of his review of one episode a week. In many cases, he'd expand on the stuff in the book, or mention memories that had come up since the book was written or that he didn't include in the book for whatever reason. Those were pretty cool too – Wil is a good storyteller and is also pretty funny, though I find sometimes that the funny loses steam fairly quickly. In one or two of the podcasts he mimicked a conversation between himself and some pretend person - the first two or three lines were pretty funny, but then he kept going and the next seven or eight lines were just not. More is not always better. It's kind of like my seven-year-old: "if I say or do something and daddy laughs, then obviously if I do it every ten seconds for the next hour, it remains funny." Wil doesn't go that far, but there have been a few times where he starts one of these jokes or "conversations" and after the second or third line I think to myself "OK, that was funny, but stop there. Please just stop there." and he doesn't. These long drawn-out jokes don't appear in the book though, just the podcast.

The one thing I don't like about the book is the language – there's a fair bit of cursing and some sexual language and stuff like that. This is true of all of his podcasts actually, he's quite the little potty mouth. It doesn't bother me directly - I'm no language prude, and some parts of this book are quite hilarious because of the language. Example: when talking about Q giving them the whole Farpoint thing as a test, Wil explains why this will not be a problem: "in Starfleet, we save the universe and fuck the green alien chick before breakfast. We got this one." My problem is that my 10- and 7-year-old sons are both TNG fans (ironically, Wesley Crusher is their favourite character along with Data) and I think they would get a big kick out of some of these stories, but it's just not appropriate for kids that age to read about anyone fucking green alien chicks, or any other colour of alien chick for that matter. Perhaps I can find some stories that the boys would like and read parts to them.

As I said, if you're a TNG fan, you owe it to yourself to check this book out, or at the very least, find the reviews through his blog. I am anxiously awaiting volume 2 and any subsequent volumes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weirdest. Lacrosse game. Ever.

The 2010 Rock home opener was last night at the ACC, and it was a great game – it was very physical, the score was close throughout, and it went to overtime. There was a lot of fighting and tons of penalties. It was also rather weird, in that there were a number of things that happened that I don't think I've ever seen before, but more on that later. The Rock won it 8-7, with rookie Garrett Billings scoring the winner in OT after a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Colin Doyle. It was very nice to Doyle back in a Rock uniform after being traded away three years ago in one of the worst trades in Rock history.

Doyle is known for being a scorer and team leader, and you will never find a better clutch player anywhere, but he's a pretty tough dude as well. He doesn't fight much – I'm sure his coaches won't generally let him since he can't score from the penalty box – but it happens, and five minutes into his Rock return, he got involved (and held his own, I thought) with Boston's Paul Dawson, who's known to be a good fighter. Of course, Boston losing Paul Dawson for nine minutes (roughing + facemasking + fighting major) is a little easier for the Blazers to take than Toronto losing Doyle for nine. But after Doyle and Dawson were in the box, and before the next whistle was even blown, four other fights broke out around the benches. The refs let them all go until the players decided that they had had enough and just walked away, and then all eight players were given game misconducts. Luckily for the Rock, Boston lost league MVP Dan Dawson and a couple of other offensive guys, while two of the players the Rock lost weren't likely to see much floor time anyway. The unmistakeable message from the Rock was "You will not touch our captain." I am not a fan of fighting in lacrosse or hockey, and I think starting four fights was a bit extreme, but I did stand and applaud as the Rock players headed to the dressing room after standing up for their teammate and captain.

As rare as a Colin Doyle fight is, there were a number of things in that game I don't think I've ever seen in a lacrosse game before – and I've seen every Rock home game but one in the last nine years:

  • Four separate fights on the floor at the same time
  • Eight players ejected at once
  • Coincident facemasking penalties (I'm not sure I've ever seen facemasking penalties at all, actually)
  • Goaltender leaving the crease penalty
  • Unsportsmanlike diving penalty
  • Dan Dawson fighting – Dawson pounded the snot out of Pat McCready, who's a decent fighter himself. I suppose being 6-foot-5 and consistently punching downwards helps

The first quarter alone must have taken 45 minutes to play. Things settled down after that, mainly because neither team could afford to lose more players. Losing Dan Dawson really hurt the Blazers offense, while the Rock defense was decimated – all four Rock players tossed were defenders. There were times when both Doyle and Manning were playing D - I figured that they just got caught on the floor during a quick transition, but then realized that they had to play defense because almost half of their defenders were in the dressing room.

Bob Watson now has a GAA of less than 7.00 after two games, which is pretty unbelievable. He made some pretty key saves in OT, but throughout the game, Cosmo was even better. If not for some of Cosmo's acrobatics, this game would have been over long before it was.

So the game was pretty weird, but in actual fact, the whole Rock experience was a little different too. Two for the Show were not there (sorry, have to dry my tears before continuing... (snif) OK, I'm better now), and for the first time ever, none of the players (save Whipper) had nicknames. The attendance was only about 11,000 – I was surprised at how low that was. I was expecting 14-15,000 or so. They did have the same "hostess" as last year – the pretty girl who gives stuff away, and she had a helper this year. I question the wisdom of asking fans trivia questions for prizes during play, which caused me to miss a goal, but then I suppose that's my own fault for not watching the game. The fact that I let that draw my attention away from the game it itself a little weird, considering it was a really good, albeit weird, game.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Roberto Alomar and Richard Nixon

On my way home from work today, I was listening to a Prime Time Sports podcast from the other day, the day after the Baseball Hall of Fame announcement. During the show, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star made perhaps the dumbest comparison in the history of, well, anything. They were discussing the fact that some players are not voted in to the Hall for years and then are voted in, when nothing changed in the meantime to suddenly make them HoF-worthy. Griffin said:

Richard Nixon in 1960 was no different than the guy in '68. He was not elected in '60, he got to be President of the United States in 1968.

He's comparison the election of a President with the selection of a player into the Hall of Fame. This is not just an apples-to-oranges comparison, this is apples to Volkswagens. And I don't mean Beetles, because they're sort of round like an apple, I'm talking about a Touareg or one of those big old bus things. And one that's not red. Or green. Or yellow.


  • I don't know what the population of the US was in 1960 or 1968, but it was well over a hundred million, most of whom were eligible to vote. A large percentage of them are less than fully informed on the issues and where the candidates stand on things. There are about 500 professional baseball writers who can vote for the HoF, and they all follow baseball in great detail because it's their job. You and I may not agree with them all of the time, but they are better informed on baseball than the majority of voters are on politics.
  • When you vote for the President, you choose exactly zero or one of the candidates. There are only a handful of candidates, and usually only two that have any real hope of winning a Presidential election. Not only will people vote for you if they want you to be President, but they may vote for you if they don't want the other guy to be President. Perhaps people thought Kennedy was a better choice for President in 1960, but that Nixon was a better choice than Hubert Humphrey in 1968. The HoF voters can vote for any number of eligible candidates, so voting for one doesn't automatically mean that you can't vote for someone else. If you think Andre Dawson and Tim Raines are both worthy, you can vote for both of them. If you don't think Dawson is worthy, you don't vote for Raines to try to keep Dawson out.
  • You elect a President for what you think he is going to do. You elect a baseball player to the HoF for what he's already done.
  • Does he really think that Richard Nixon was no different in 1968 than in 1960? He may not have served as a Senator or Congressman during that time, but things happened during his life that changed who he was. Plus the country changed, so even if he wasn't right for the country in 1960, he may have been in 1968. None of that means anything when electing someone to the HoF. What Alomar did during his career will not change between now and a year from now.

I'm not sure what surprises me more – that a professional journalist would make such a meaningless comparison, or the fact that none of the three other professional journalists / broadcasters on the show called him on it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Rock 2010 season opener

Just watched the Toronto Rock – Boston Blazers game on TSN2. Dave Randorf and Brian Shanahan did the announcing, and did a fine job. Randorf isn't that familiar with lacrosse or the NLL, but is doing a far better play-by-play job than many other lacrosse neophytes I've heard in the past. The video is very clear (apparently in HD, though I don't have HD), and the whole thing is just very professional – much better than the Score did a few years ago. After a couple of years without it, it's great to see Rock games on TV again. All the games are streamed live on the internet, but this is just orders of magnitude better.

One thing I hate about watching lacrosse on TV is that the announcers always feel like they have to explain all the rules – over and back, shot clock, crease violations, stuff like that, during every game. I understand that lacrosse is a niche sport and they're trying to build interest among those watching who may be unfamiliar with it, but it's still annoying to those of us who already know it. Another thing I hate is that lacrosse doesn't get the high-paying advertisers, so we get lots of the short-infomercial type commercials – MicroForce, Slap Chop (we actually have one of these, with a different name, and it works really well), Palm Wallet... (Having said that, the second half of the game had less of these than the first half.) Of course, lacrosse is on TV rarely enough that I'm not going to complain about it. Uh, except now.

First Rock goal of the season: rookie Creighton Reid? Unassisted? After a bad play by Dan Dawson? What planet are we on again?

Rock rookie Garrett Billings scored four in the first half of his first ever NLL game and one more in the 4th. Hominuck, LeBlanc, Reid and Billings each scored in their first Rock game. Beautiful.

Remember when I said that the return of Colin Doyle might help Blaine Manning rebound from last year? Manning has a hat-trick in the first half and another goal in the 4th, while Doyle had a goal and seven assists.

Troy Cordingley said at half-time that they're doing all the "little things" well, and one of the things he specifically mentioned is getting on and off the floor quickly. How did he manage to coach Josh Sanderson in Calgary last year? Sanderson is an outstanding player, but during his time in Toronto, he was always brutal for taking his time getting off the floor.

Other notes:

  • The edges of the carpet looks like they don't fit near the edges. The time-delay video of the conversion from ice to lacrosse floor was very cool.
  • There were an awful lot of empty seats right behind the benches.
  • Boston should have won their challenge in the second quarter – the ball didn't cross the line before the player stepped on the crease line, so the goal shouldn't have counted.
  • Is Troy "potty mouth" Cordingley really a first-grade teacher? Wow.
  • A couple of times Boston players looked like they wanted to fight – kudos to the Toronto players for not responding.
  • Both Boston goalies are former (very capable) backups for Watson in Toronto. Watson outplayed them both, though Cosmo really pulled it together in the second half.
  • The NLL has a new stats provider this year, but they had problems in the second half of the game. Last year, Pointstreak was usually a couple of minutes behind the game, but right now, ten minutes after the game ended, the web site still says it's 12-5 in the third, and has for half an hour or so.

Anyway, it was a great game, and it was surprising how different the Rock team looks compared to last year. I'm sure it's not entirely because of Doyle's return, but they seemed to be brimming with confidence, and playing smart. Looking forward to the home opener next Friday!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oooooooh, Roberto!

The baseball writers of America put their heads together recently and came up with this year's list of inductees into baseball's Hall of Fame. The HOF is a place that honours what should be "the best baseball players of all time", but the players in the Hall are more accurately described as "the most popular baseball players among baseball writers". For the most part, the lists are the same, but there are some players not in the Hall who should be, and some who are in but shouldn't be. I wrote about the mystifying voting procedure last summer.

Anyway, the only player to get inducted this year is Andre Dawson, who I think is deserving. It took eight years for Dawson to get in, and when asked about that, he came up with this bit of brilliance: "If you're a Hall of Famer you're eventually going to get in"....mmmmmmkay. It's actually the other way around, Andre – if you get in, then you're a Hall of Famer. On the other hand, if you're not a Hall of Famer and you get in, then you are a Hall of Famer. Reductio ad absurdum. QED.

Of course, it's more interesting to talk about those who didn't get in than those who did. Bert Blyleven missed again, this time only by five votes. I'm not sure about whether or not Blyleven deserves to be there. He was a very good pitcher, no question, but he only won 20 games once, and only made the All-Star team twice in a twenty-two year career. He also lost fifteen or more games seven times. Blyleven's numbers remind me of Don Sutton – when Sutton was inducted into the HOF in 1998, many said that he didn't deserve to be there. The argument was that Sutton was a very good pitcher for a very long time, but I don't think that's what the Hall of Fame is for. Sutton also won 20 games only once, and Blyleven looks the same – long career, good numbers with some great years, but never outstanding.

Roberto Alomar, on the other hand, was outstanding. He played in twelve consecutive All-Star games and won 10 Gold Glove awards. He only played in Toronto for five years (was it really only five?), but was one of the most talented players (arguably the most talented position player) ever to wear the uniform. He could hit, he took walks, didn't strike out a lot, he could run, he could steal bases, and boy, could he play defense. Watching Roberto play second was just a joy – I remember going to games at Skydome with a bunch of friends and mimicking the Alberto shampoo commercials when he did something spectacular: "Oooooooh, Roberto!". He only missed by eight votes – you might say he was within spitting distance of getting in (I'm afraid I can't take credit for that one). I'd love to hear the voters who didn't vote for him explain why not, but he's pretty much a lock for next year.

As for the spitting incident itself, there are writers (Marty Noble is one such moron writer) who have admitted that they have not forgiven Alomar for that, although the umpire who was involved has. Look at the numbers people, look at the All-Star appearances, the Gold Gloves, how important he was to the teams he played for (if not for Roberto Alomar, the Jays would still be waiting for their first World Series), how he was the best second baseman in baseball for a decade or more, and how he lowered the ERAs of all kids of pitchers thanks to his defensive prowess. And after a sixteen year career of that calibre, you're going to deny him Cooperstown because of a one-second loss of control? A loss of judgement? A brief, sort of periodic total breakdown of judgement? Some kind of judgement failure? Some kind of failure to, you know, have judgement? (Sorry, faded into a Tragically Hip thing there)

Other players who missed out: Barry Larkin, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, and Tim Raines. Larkin and Raines should definitely be there – I might even have put them in before Dawson. Smith isn't a lock but I would support him, and Morris is in the same boat as Blyleven and Sutton – very good for a long time, but probably not HOF material. Having said that, I'd put Morris in before Blyleven or Sutton – and Sutton is already there. Oh, and Mark McGwire didn't make it either, but he never will. Even without the whole steroid issue (which should be a non-issue since he took them before steroids were illegal in baseball), he just wasn't a good enough all-around player to make the HOF. In case you're curious, I think Bonds and Clemens should be in (they were both locks before they ever touched steroids), and McGwire, Sosa, and Rose should not.

In other baseball news, one of the best pitchers of the last twenty years retired on Wednesday. When Randy Johnson was on his game, he was right up there with Clemens and Maddux as the best in baseball. Nobody had a nastier stare, and the fact that he's taller than half the NBA made him even more intimidating. Any season where a pitcher has 20 or more wins and 6 or fewer losses and had an ERA under 2.50 is accurately described as incredible – and Johnson had three such seasons. Ten All-Star games, five Cy Youngs, World Series co-MVP, even a no-hitter and a perfect game. And given the era in which he pitched and the fact that he was a power pitcher, it's amazing that he was not even mentioned in the Mitchell Report, and I have never heard any suspicions of him using steroids. A guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer. Of course, I thought Roberto Alomar was too.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Meaningful statistic FAIL

I looked up my 2009 running stats on the Nike+ website this morning and saw this:


The comparison under the total is technically true, but is off by two orders of magnitude. Even if the Leaning Tower of Pisa was 6 kilometers high, this would still be true. It's like saying "With $1 million, you could buy at least forty iPods!"

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Privacy on Facebook

Attention Facebook readers: You might want to click the "View Original Post" link at the bottom of this note. Facebook sometimes messes up the formatting. Irony: Writing about Facebook in an article available on Facebook and telling people to go somewhere else to read it.

Facebook is one of the world's most popular websites, with over 350 million users. An awful lot of those people share all kinds of information on Facebook that they wouldn't normally share with people, and a lot of them seem to have forgotten who they've added as friends when they update their status. I've seen people who post status messages like "Woohoo! Got laid tonight!", forgetting that mom, Aunt Mary, and the boss are all reading this. Privacy, or the lack thereof, has always been a big issue with Facebook. Thanks to some recent changes to their privacy policy and settings, an awful lot of people are sharing an awful lot of information with the world that they probably don't really want to share, and may not even realize that they are sharing.

Gail and I attended a "Facebook 101" seminar at a local school a couple of months ago. A local (Oakville) parent started looking into Facebook privacy, and was appalled at (a) the amount of information available by default to the world, (b) the number of people who don't know this, and (c) the number of kids joining Facebook and not considering the ramifications of what they post. He started doing this seminar so that parents unfamiliar with Facebook (and even those who are) were informed about the privacy aspects. There were a number of parents there who had older kids than ours, and whose kids were on Facebook. Some of them didn't really have a good idea what Facebook was or what their kids used it for. After the meeting, I checked on my privacy settings. I was aware of most of the information given in the seminar, and I had already changed my privacy settings, so I didn't have to make many changes. I then started poking around my friends' settings and their friends and so on just to see how much information I could glean about these unknown people, to see if what this guy had told us was really true, or if he was more of an alarmist, pointing out the extreme cases. Fairly quickly, I came across a fair amount of information about people I don't know, the best example of which was the page of my manager's teenage daughter, who I have never met. Her privacy settings were set wide open. Despite the fact that I was not her friend, I could see who her friends are, pictures of her, where she went to school, and even her her email address, home address, and home and cell phone numbers. I immediately emailed my boss to tell him, and a day or two later her page had been locked down. Even my very limited research told me that this was not an isolated case, and that the guy running the seminar was not an alarmist at all.

Facebook has recently changed its privacy policy as well as the privacy settings. The settings are much more straightforward than before, and it seems easier to lock down your personal information, but there are three huge issues with Facebook's privacy policy:

  1. As I said, it's easier to lock down your personal information - or at least it's easier to lock down the information that Facebook allows you to lock down. There are now some pieces of information (for example, your networks, sex, what city you live in, and your list of friends) that Facebook now considers public information, which means that you cannot prevent people from seeing that information. It is more than a little disturbing to me that Facebook has decided that they have the right to decide that for you and won't allow you to change it.
  2. The old default security settings weren't bad, for the most part – your friends and people in your network could generally see most of your information. There were some pieces of information that were available to everyone, but not everything was. But the second big change was to the default security settings – the new settings mean that by default, everything is globally visible. If you had modified your security settings before the change those settings were kept, so security-conscious people didn't notice any difference. But the vast majority of Facebook users had never touched their security settings, and are now sharing all of their information with the world.
  3. When you install a Facebook application, the application developers get access to all of your information, even if you've marked it as private. Even worse, the application developers get access to all of your friends' information as well. (This has always been true, but you used to be able to turn it off. Now you can't.) This means that every time you install an application on Facebook, my information (assuming I'm on your friends list) is sent to the developer, and not only do I not have any control over that, I am not even informed of it. The application developers are then free to do whatever they like with the information. Technically they are subject to Facebook's terms of service, which says that they are not allowed to use the data in any manner inconsistent with the user's privacy information, but there's no way for Facebook to police that.

If you don't like these rules, you can just delete your account, right? Well, sort of, but that still doesn't solve the problem. First off, Facebook doesn't give you any easy way to delete your account. There is a way to "deactivate" your account, but there's no "delete" button there. Apparently if you search hard enough you can find a way to delete it, but does Facebook actually delete your information from their servers, or just make it harder to find? Secondly, even if they do delete it, they still have backups of everything, so the information is all still available to them. Thirdly, (and this isn't specific to Facebook) if someone on the internet can see your data, then they can save it to their hard disk, and nothing Facebook does can delete that. At the seminar I mentioned, the guy showed pictures that were taken at a frat party back in the 90's, where two obviously drunk guys were standing at a party next to a stand-up cardboard cut-out of Hilary Clinton, and one of them had his hand on her breast. That guy, years later, became a speechwriter for Barack Obama, and when that photo re-appeared, he got into some serious trouble, jeopardizing not only his job but his entire career. Think about that when you post those pictures from last weekend's kegger.

I read a comment online somewhere that said something like "Facebook shouldn't be sharing information about their customers". Another commenter responded succinctly and summed up everything: "You are not Facebook's customer. Advertisers are Facebook's customers. You are the product." The more public information Facebook has on you, the more they can offer advertisers.

The easiest rule of thumb for internet security is: if you ever put anything on the internet, whether through Facebook, YouTube, a blog, a message board, or even email, whether it's information, pictures, or videos, whether it's intended to be publicly visible or not, you must always assume that it will be accessible by everyone - forever. Facebook is proving this – if you post information or pictures on Facebook and expect that only the people you allow to see it will be able to see it, you're wrong, and it's not because of some glitch that may or may not come up in the future, and it's not because someone might squirrel the information away and publish it themselves later. It's because Facebook is less concerned with your privacy than with how much they can make by selling it.

Here are a couple of related articles: one from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and one from Jason Calacanis.

Friday, January 01, 2010

NLL 2010 season preview

Lacrosse season is almost upon us once again! Here are my predictions for each NLL team – I will revisit this posting at the end of the season to see how I did.

Attention Facebook readers: You might want to click the "View Original Post" link at the bottom of this note. Facebook sometimes messes up the formatting.



Boston Blazers

In: Matt Abbott, Dave Cutten, Ryan Hotaling, Mike Kirk, John Ortolani, Matt Smalley, Mike Stone

Out: D Carter Livingstone, F Jay Thorimbert, D Dilan Graham, D Curtis Ptolemy, F Bryan Bendig, T Jason Bloom

Burning question: Will the Blazers suffer the sophomore jinx after an impressive inaugural season?

Comments: With Cosmo in net and no significant changes, I don't see any reason why the Blazers shouldn't at least contend for a playoff spot in the East again this year. However, I think the Knighthawks and Rock improved more during the off-season.

Prediction: Fifth


Buffalo Bandits

In: D Chris Driscoll, F Frank Resetarits, F AJ Shannon, F Jon Harasym, D Darryl Gibson, G Angus Goodleaf

Out: D Pat McCready, D Clay Hill, G Mike Thompson, D Phil Sanderson, D Rich Kilgour, F Cory Bomberry, F Brian Croswell, GM Darris Kilgour (though he's still the coach)

Burning question: Will Tavares ever age?

Comments: For a team that went to the division final last year, there are a lot of changes on the Bandits roster. Mike Thompson was a better-than-average backup goalie, but he's gone and they have a rookie backing up Ken Montour – if Montour falters at all, the Bandits might have a problem. Losing Sanderson, Kilgour, and McCready will hurt, but Chris Driscoll was one of my favourite Rock players over the last few years, and Darryl Gibson is a solid defender as well. The Bandits have been so good for so long now that it's hard to count them out as long as Tavares and Steenhuis are around.

Prediction: Third


Orlando Titans

In: D Mike Ammann, D Steve Ammann, D Michael Evans, F Dan Hardy, F Ryan Learn, F Kenny Nims

Out: F Jamie Rooney, T Keevin Galbraith, both Titans fans

Burning question: The Titans went to the finals last year, and are likely to be in contention this year as well, but will anyone in Orlando care?

Short term prediction: Second

Long term prediction: The Titans will last a year, maybe two, in Orlando before either moving again or folding for good.


Philadelphia Wings

In: F Dan Teat, F Bill McGlone, F Kevin Huntley, F John Christmas, D Bob Snider, F Jason Crosbie, F Josh Sims

Out: F Athan Iannucci, F Merrick Thomson (for a while), F A.J. Shannon, D Rob Van Beek, F Jon Harasym, F David Mitchell, D George Castle, D Benson Erwin, T Matt Bocklet

Burning question: Does gaining Dan Teat and Jason Crosbie make up for losing Athan Iannucci and Merrick Thomson? (Answer: no.) Bonus question: Iannucci will miss the entire 2010 season, but will he ever again live up to the expectations he set in 2008?

Comments: If the Wings were counting on Athan Iannucci to help them rebound from a lacklustre 2009, they had to change their tune during the offseason when he announced that he would miss all of 2010. They picked up a couple of scoring threats, notably Dan Teat, but did nothing to help their defense. Maybe they're hoping to win a lot of 21-18 games. Then just before the new year arrived, the Wings put Merrick Thomson on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and haven't said how long he's out for. That's bad news for Wings fans.

Prediction: Sixth


Rochester Knighthawks

In: F John Grant, F Scott Evans, F Andrew Potter, G Aaron Bold, F Peter Jacobs, D Regy Thorpe, GM Curt Styres

Out: D Sandy Chapman, G Ben Every, D Troy Bonterre, D Pat Cougevan, F Ken Millin, F Dean Hill, D Bill Greer, GM Regy Thorpe

Burning questions: Is Grant fully recovered? Is the Gary Gait experiment over?

Comments: After a disastrous start, the 2009 Knighthawks (minus John Grant and Scott Evans) made the playoffs, losing to the Titans in overtime. Adding Grant and Evans should bring the Knighthawks back into contention. Then again, the 2008 Knighthawks, with Grant and Evans, didn't make the playoffs.

Prediction: First


Toronto Rock

In: F Colin Doyle, D Phil Sanderson, D Pat McCready, D Sandy Chapman, F Mike Hominuck, D Creighton Reid, D Brendon Doran, D Anthony Lackey, F Garrett Billings, F Stephan LeBlanc, D Drew Petcoff, F Kim Squire, GM Terry Sanderson, coach Troy Cordingley

Out: F Lewis Ratcliff, F Luke Wiles, D Chris Driscoll, F Craig Conn, F Matt Carroll, D Peter Lough, F Michael Fleming, D Chad Thompson, F Mark Scherman, F Bill McGlone, F Jason Clark, F Jason Crosbie, GM Mike Kloepfer, coach Jamie Batley

Burning question: I had this entry already written when the Rock had to go and trade for Colin Doyle, so now I have to write it all again. The original burning question was "Who are all these new people and why are they no better than last year?" Now it's: "Can the Rock find the old Blaine Manning now that Colin Doyle is leading the search party?", although having just gone through the In and Out lists, the "who are all these new people" part still definitely applies.

Comments: Can't tell the players, or the captain, coach, GM, or owner, without a program. Stepping up the defense (which they have definitely done) was absolutely necessary, but someone other than Colin Doyle has to score goals. Blaine Manning has dropped in productivity (both in numbers and visibility on the floor) since Doyle left, so he needs to find his way again. If Watson gets hurt, the Rock are in deep trouble in net – I just don't think Steve Dietrich is up to the task of being a starting NLL goalie any more.

As much as I love seeing Doyle back, I wouldn't call the Rock a lock for the playoffs quite yet. Four of last year's top six scorers (Ratcliff, Wiles, Crosbie, and Conn) are gone. If Doyle's offense replaces Ratcliff's, and Hominuck replaces Crosbie, we're still down over 100 points from Wiles and Conn. Then again, Blaine Manning may rebound from a few off seasons with the return of Doyle, and Garrett Billings is a highly rated scoring prospect. Kim Squire's career was cut short due to personal problems off the floor, but if he's managed to exorcise those demons, he can be a very exciting player to watch. The defense is a lot better, but the goalie tandem of Watson and Dietrich is probably the oldest in the history of the NLL.

Prediction: Fourth



Calgary Roughnecks

In: T Rob Van Beek, F Carlton Schuss, D Rob Kirkby, D Craig Gelsvik, F Craig Conn, G Chris Levis, coach Dave Pym

Out: F Curt Malawsky, F Kyle Goundrey, D Greg Hinman, D Kyle Couling, G Pat Campbell, coach Troy Cordingley, assistant coach Terry Sanderson

Burning question: Where Terry goes, Josh has been sure to follow, and so GM Brad Banister probably has Terry Sanderson's phone number blocked. Is Josh even allowed to talk to his dad?

Comments: Malawsky is now an assistant coach, but they've got Craig Conn to replace him, and they've also brought defenders Rob Kirkby and Craig Gelsvik back from retirement. But it's rare that a team lose the head coach (and an assistant coach) in the offseason following a championship win. We'll see how much of Calgary's success from last year came from the coach. I suspect a fair bit of it did, but this is still a very talented team.

Prediction: First


Colorado Mammoth

In: F Ilija Gajic, F Alex Gajic, F Chad Culp, F Cory Conway, F Cliff Smith, D Ryan McFayden, D Kevin Unterstein, D Matt Wilson, F Shaun Dhaliwal, F Peter Veltman, T Brad Richardson

Out: G Gee Nash, F Dan Carey, D Jim Moss, F Gavin Prout, F Andrew Potter, D Ray Guze, D Matt Leveque, F Tyler Crompton, F Matt Danowski, F Chris Gill, F Gary Rosyski, T Tim Booth, T Bryan Safarik, T Mike Ward

Burning question: How will the Mammoth deal with the loss of the only captain in team history? Bonus question: Are there any more Gajic brothers?

Comments: Lots of changes for the Mammoth. Alex Gajic and Cliff Smith were Colorado's first round draft picks. But the Mammoth weren't happy with having two of the top five picks, they parted with the only captain in team history to get the #2 overall pick Ilija Gajic.

This might be the first step in a rebuilding process for Colorado, who had six years of dominance before finishing with their first-ever sub-.500 season last year. It's not like the team will suck this year, but I don't see them finishing any higher than third.

Prediction: Fourth


Edmonton Rush

In: T Brodie Merrill, F Gavin Prout, F Derek Malawsky, F Ryan Powell, D Scott Stewart, D Ryan Ward, G Matt Disher, GM/coach Derek Keenan

Out: F Ryan Benesch, D Callum Crawford, D Scott Self, F Dan Teat, GM/coach Bob Hamley

Burning question: Is this the year the Rush finally don't suck?

Comments: Adding Merrill, Prout, Powell, and Malawsky certainly adds to the possibility of a non-last-place finish – this would only be the second time in five seasons.

Prediction: Third


Minnesota Swarm

In: F Ryan Benesch, D Scott Self, D Callum Crawford, D Alex Turner, F Sean Thomson, F Brock Boyle

Out: D Ryan Ward, F Chad Culp, D Ian Rubel

Burning question: The Swarm have been a pretty decent team over the last few years - even winning the East two years ago – but have never won a playoff game. Is this the year?

Prediction: Fifth


Washington Stealth

In: F Luke Wiles, F Lewis Ratcliff, T Tyler Codron, F Joel Degarno

Out: F Colin Doyle, G Aaron Bold

Burning question: Where the fuck is Everett, Washington?

Comments: Colin Doyle tied Josh Sanderson's league assists record (though he was later eclipsed by Sanderson and Dan Dawson) and won the league scoring title, and Rhys Duch set a new rookie scoring record, but overall, 2009 was a disappointing season for the Stealth. The Stealth now have Lewis Ratcliff and Luke Wiles but lost Doyle – numbers-wise, this is a net positive for Washington, but losing a player like Doyle is more than just numbers. Still, I think the Stealth are in pretty good shape for 2010.

Prediction: Second

Long Term Prediction: The Stealth had a decent team last year but couldn't draw flies in San Jose, which has a population of almost a million people. So they moved to Everett, a town of about 100,000 people 30 miles north of Seattle. This is like the Rock moving to Barrie, except that Barrie is 25% bigger than Everett. They have a class-A baseball team called (I'm not making this up) the Everett AquaSox. The Stealth will continue to have the lowest attendance in the league (though it might still be higher than in San Jose), and will be gone before you can say "Columbus Landsharks". Though maybe I'm wrong and they'll get lots of people driving down from southern B.C. to keep the numbers up.


Overall Standings


  1. Rochester
  2. Orlando
  3. Buffalo
  4. Toronto
  5. Boston
  6. Philadelphia


  1. Calgary
  2. Washington
  3. Edmonton
  4. Colorado
  5. Minnesota