## Thursday, November 14, 2013

### How to Win at Basketball, or 6 Habits of Winning Basketball Teams

How to Win at Basketball, or 6 Habits of Winning Basketball Teams
I looked at NBA stats for every team from 1979 to 2009 and looked at how each stat was most correlated with winning and with losing.  This gives us a measure of which stats were most important for winning and most important for losing.  Obviously, you want to do more of the things winning teams do and less of the things the losers do.

The data came from http://www.databasebasketball.com/stats_download.htm and the correlation was done using corrcoef in MATLAB.  Before doing the correlation I sorted the stats by total wins, though I don’t think this makes a difference.

First let’s go over the top 6 things losing teams do, in order from least to more correlated to losing.
The stat is followed by its correlation to losing.
6) Steals allowed;                           0.3498
5) Assists allowed;                            0.3671
4) Points allowed;                             0.3800
3) Total rebounds allowed;            0.3866;
2) Defensive rebounds allowed;   0.427
1) Blocks allowed;                              0.5011

These correlations are relatively strong.  The most interesting about this by itself is that three most important are not related to points directly and that turnovers did not make the top 6, though steals and blocks typically lead to turnovers.

The top 6 stats associated with winning somewhat reflect the ones related to losing, which makes sense since you would figure winning teams do the opposite of losing teams.  However there are a couple of differences

2)    Assists;                           0.388
1)     Defensive Rebounds;  0.4447

Since some of these are highly correlated with each other, here are some other interesting stats that were mixed in.
Blocking shots and steals both just missed the top 6 for winners, with a correlations just less than three throws made.
Three pointers made and 3 pointers allowed had correlations close to 0 for winning.
Turnovers allowed were significantly correlated with losing, with correlation at about 0.33 .
Points scored was not correlated with losing;  the correlation was close to 0.

So how do we interpret these results?
Well this sort of analysis is pretty boring unless it gives counter intuitive results.  So let’s review the counter-intuitive stuff.  Points scored was not related to losing!  This means that for the bad teams, the problem is more about allowing points (IE bad defense) than it is about bad offense.  The correlations with losing support this as points allowed and assist allowed are in the top 6.  Still, it seems like inefficient offense is a big culprit, since getting blocked was the most significant factor.  When you look at all the things correlated with losing, it seems like the big problem is ball control and defense.  Losing teams don’t get rebounds, get blocked, and get the ball stolen and allow points.

On the winning side, we also see that controlling the ball is very important for winning.  Winning teams get rebounds, make assists , block shots, and get steals.

Some miscellaneous observations
Field goals and free throws made were highly correlated but 3 pointers were not.  This points to the fact that winning teams score efficiently and don’t rely on shooting threes.

Conclusions
There is an age old question in basketball as to whether or not offense is more important than defense.  This analysis gives the edge to defense, though really it would be more correct to say that ball control is the most important, as well as offensive efficiency.

## Wednesday, November 6, 2013

### A Look back at past posts

I made a number of predictions and comments over the past couple of years regarding the future.

It's only fair to see how my posts stack up to reality.

I review the iPod Touch 4th edition

I did enjoy the iPod touch, but based on many of the issues I had with it, I ended up selling it and buying a Samsung tablet.

I suggested Microsoft build a small tablet computer with Office that they sell for 200 bucks.  2/3 ain't bad.

Google plus has been building steam, but not caught fire like Google hoped.

I don't like ebooks for education
Jury still out on this one.  The problem persists that just making something electronic doesn't automatically make it better.

Windows 8 is a multiuser tablet

I also predicted that Windows 8 would be the end of antivirus, and while Windows 8 does not technically need antivirus outside of what is built in, old habits apparently die hard.

Apple maps
I predicted Apple maps would take a long time to catch up to google.  Most people seem to think that Apple maps has improved but that Google's maps are better.  It has been a year and Apple maps still do not have native transit directions.

I predicted that Apple would lower the price of the iPad mini.  Absolutely wrong on this one.

Apple and Intel
I suggested that based on sales alone, Apple has already essentially dumped Intel.  This trend is only continuing.

## Thursday, October 31, 2013

### Some life lessons I've picked up

These are some things I have learned in my life, that I feel embracing has made me a better person.  I still struggle to do these but everyday I try to do better.

1)  You cannot take anything about yourself and assume it applies to everyone.  For everything you love, cherish, hold sacred, or just plain enjoy, there is some one out there who feels the opposite.   For everything you find distasteful, there is someone who feels the opposite of that too.  Taste is a matter of subjective opinion, and neither of you is right.

2)  Never take criticism personally, especially when it is from someone trying to help.

3)  Listen to everyone, you never know who is going to give you that piece of advice you need to hear.  Listening to advice is not the same as following advice.

4) Sometimes, "because I feel like it" is a perfectly valid reason to do something, but it is tricky to figure out when those times are.

5) It can seem like our choices make huge differences in our lives, but they probably only lead to equally interesting paths.  Paths that are different but not particularly better or worse.

6) Experience is just as important as talent, maybe more so.

## Thursday, October 24, 2013

### Some Windows 8 tips

I've been using windows 8 for a few months, and I have a few pieces of advice for the best way to use it.  So here it goes.

Edit:  I forgot the biggest tip of all, make sure you computer is uptodate but running windows update, then go to the store and upgrade to windows 8.1 (but backup your computer first please).

1)  The best way to use the new start screen is to turn it into a personal notification center.
I deleted every pinned item unless it runs a metro app that has notifications built into them.  Now when I hit the start menu I get a summary of facebook, email, calender, weather, and sports scores.
Some tips on customizing your start screen.

2)  Make your own USB recovery key!

Click here for  instructions . Doing this is really simple and important. It will let you reinstall windows in case of a hard drive failure.

3)  Use the windows 8 file history.  Windows will copy multiple versions of your documents and their file history so you can restore old versions of your documents easily.  This is somewhat similar to Time Machine on the Mac.  This works best if you have a networked hard drive, but if you don't have one, you can use an external backup drive to do it.  Windows will keep track of your file history on your hard drive and then transfer those files to the backup drive when you plug it in, so you don't to keep the drive plugged in all the time.  You will have to make sure that file history is setup to store the files you want though.  Only your skydrive and documents folders are setup to be backed up by default.  Instructions to do that are here.

4) Use keyboard shortcuts!
There are a ton, you can read about them here.  These are the most important ones for windows 8.
 Windows logo key‌ +C Open the charms In an app, open the commands for the app Windows logo key‌ +F Open the Search charm to search files Windows logo key‌ +I Open the Settings charm Windows logo key +S Open the Search charm to search Windows and the web Windows logo key‌ +Z Show the commands available in the app

5)  This one is for the more nerdy.  You can create your own windows refresh image.  This the state your computer will return to after you do a refresh.  There are instructions to do this here.  This is one that I would not do unless you really think you know what you are doing.

## Thursday, October 17, 2013

These instructions can be hard to find so here they are.
Import Google Calender into the windows 8 calender

## Monday, October 14, 2013

### Early iPhone 5c sales Vs the 4S

When Apple introduced the 5c, they discontinued the 5 and kept selling the 4S as their discount phone.

This was a little unexpected.  Apple was expected to introduce a new cheap phone that would replace their lowest tier, not a midpriced phone that would replace their middle tier.

This strategy led to an obvious question.  Will more people by the iPhone 5c as a mid tier phone than they would have bought iPhones 5?  It seemed obvious that the answer would be yes, since the 5c is a brand new phone based on the 5, rather than a 2 year old (but still very good) phone.

Well so far, the answer is, yes, but only by a little.  All things digital is reporting that as a percent, the iPhone 5c has been about 27% of new iPhone sales.  At the comparable time last year, the iPhone 4s accounted for about 23% of iPhone sales.  Remember, at this time last year, it was the 4S that was demoted to mid tier phone.  It seems reasonable to me that the mid tier phone sales should remain about constant if all other things are constant.  Therefore, at least right now, evidence seems to support that people are not treating the iPhone 5c as a "new" iPhone and are instead treating it as  slightly updated iPhone 5 (which it is).

Further evidence supporting this theory is that major retailers like Best Buy and Walmart are slashing the iPhone 5c price by half.

One to thing to mention is that the 5c is cheaper to make than the 5, so even if sales remain flat compared to expectations, Apple still comes out ahead.

Edit:  The 27% and 23% figures do come from comparable time frames, however we don't know the margin of error of the numbers.  With a high margin of error, these are easily considered a statistical tie.

references.
http://allthingsd.com/20131014/iphone-5s-outselling-iphone-5c-two-to-one/

## Sunday, September 29, 2013

### Turtle blood probably does not cure colds.

Stephen T. Asma has written a piece in the opinionator on the New York Times that defends Traditional Chinese Medicine.  This op-ed is so riddled with terrible logic that I had to write about it.  You may want to read the article first, and you can find it here.

The article starts with an anecdote about how a combination of turtle blood and alcohol might have eased some cold symptoms.  Let’s dissect this.  First of all, is sacrificing a live turtle to drain its blood (the procedure described), ethically justified for the sake of easing cold symptoms?  I’m not an animal rights activist but that seems pretty extreme.  But anyway, the real issue with this is that there is no way for him to know whether or not this actually worked.  To Asma’s credit, he admits that this is true.  But there is another issue, what reason is there to believe that this concoction works in the first place?  Why would turtle blood help cure a cold?  Are turtles immune to colds?  This isn’t just anecdotal, there is little reason to believe it works in the first place.  This is what we call a lack of prior plausibility.

And the lack of prior plausibility is the biggest issue concerning the rest of the article.  But because that is the more difficult concept, I will tackle one of the other bits of anecdotal evidence in the article.  Asma also describes getting relief from back pain using acupuncture.  Again, this is uncontrolled, that is, there is no way to show evidence that his back pain would not have improved without the acupuncture, but it is again even worse than that.  He describes that in addition to having needles placed in his lower back, the acupuncturist “hooked these to an electrical voltage generator and zapped me gently for 20 minutes, while warming my back with a heat lamp”.  But electrical stimulation and warming are not particularly exotic forms for treatment for pain.  Western doctors use these methods as well.  So there is no reason to attribute his improvement to the acupuncture when he also was treated using electrostimulation and localized heating.

Anecdotes aside, the bigger issue with this article is a fundamental misunderstanding of science itself.  Asma states that something is scientific if it meets the standard of being a falsifiable hypothesis.  This is a pretty good explanation of what makes something science, but it is not the whole picture.  Considering of prior plausibility, which includes the concept of building on previously discovered scientific principles.  The idea should, in simple terms, make sense.  That is, if you were explain to someone all the necessary background information to your idea and then describe how your idea extends, a person should be able to follow along.
Both of these are important, which is why Asma’s example of astrology being considered a science is wrong.  Astrology makes predictions, but it is our understanding of how astronomy works that makes astrology invalid.  We know that the proposed mechanisms of how astrology is supposed to work do not make sense, so we don’t consider astrology science.  Additionally, without this knowledge of astronomy, one could consider astrology to be a science that makes predictions, but the predictions would be wrong.  Just because you can formulate a scientifically valid hypothesis, does not make the subject Science.  And lastly, whether or not astrology is or isn’t science has no real bearing on whether or not turtle blood can cure a cold, one way or another.

So in conclusion, the reason Asma is wrong isn’t that traditional Chinese medicine is all a hoax or that any particular treatment (and there are many) works or doesn’t, it is that in science, we have to deal not only with hypothesis that can be tested (testing is the only way to know that they work, anecdotal evidence does not count) and also hypothesis that make sense in the first place.