Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 02, 2021


I already knew how good a game the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL Winter Classic outdoor game was, because I watched it. The image of snowflakes falling on the rink couldn’t have been more fitting for this special spectacle.

But that doesn’t mean squat. I watch hockey practically every night. What matters is if anyone else watched the NBC nationally-televised game, after a moderate amount of hype over retrofitting Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson stadium from football to hockey, and with competing college football games on.

Happily enough, the gimmick worked: NBC got a 2.6 national rating, the best numbers for a nationally-televised NHL game in ten years.

That’s not to say that a 2.6 is great:

The numbers would have been better if it did not go up against a close Capital One Bowl between Florida and Michigan, the latter a hockey hotbed. That game did a 9.9 overnight nationally and a 4.5 in New York.

So in the larger scheme of things, the ratings were good when compared to the typically puny viewing audience hockey draws on network TV. Baby steps, basically.

Nothing talks like money, and this kind of exposure will prompt the league to push more bowl games — at least one annually, and perhaps two. I can see this easily get done to death: Columbus versus Pittsburgh at Ohio State’s football stadium, Devils versus Rangers in Giants Stadium (with the Devils as home team, since it’s back in their old Meadowlands stomping grounds), Chicago versus Detroit in Soldier Field, etc. All would be thrilling — but not in rapid-fire succession. Let’s hope there’s some restraint.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/02/2021 10:55:16 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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child, please
I got a heads-up just before Christmas that I’d be receiving my previously-ordered One Laptop Per Child XO Laptop (half the order I placed under the now-expired “Give One, Get One” promotion — the other XO is on its way to Mongolia, Cambodia, Haiti, Rwanda or Afghanistan) before mid-January.

Lo and behold, FedEx delivered the package today! I’ve got my tech toy.

What I don’t have is time to play with it. So I’ll have to let it sit until the weekend, when I can try ‘er out. In the meantime, first impressions of the hardware, after cracking open the box:

It’s small. I mean, small. I realize the XO was engineered for use by child-sized hands, but I was still a bit shocked. The dimensions are about 9 inches by 9 inches, including a built-in carrying handle; thickness is just a hair more than 1 inch when shut. I have to admit, the size and bright colors make it look and feel more like a toy than a “real” computer.

The keyboard is also similarly compact. It’s also made from a rubberized membrane with no spaces between the keys — I believe this is to avoid operation problems in dusty terrains where some of these machines will be shipped. I pressed a couple of keys, and they have the tactile feel they should have in a keyboard. It actually reminds me of the ancient Atari 400 Personal Computer from the early 1980s, which also sported a membrane keyboard, although less sharply-formed than the XO’s modern rendition.

That’s that for now. I’ll give it a spin in a couple of days. I can’t wait to see how the Linux interface and program set came out.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/02/2021 10:14:24 PM
Category: Society, Tech
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