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Monday, September 28, 2009

Runners in Cricket

I am so glad that this event happened - a captain turning down a runner for the opposition for reasons unrelated to injury. I am really very glad. Here is my take on it - a runner is not a general purpose substitute pair of legs. It has to be a specific replacement only in case of injury - injury that was collected on the line of duty in that particular match.

The problem is that all teams in cricket have been abusing the system of runners. I recall the days when weak players with less stamina would just call upon a runner as they ran tired of scoring their centuries (If you don't know who they are, think of a laughing Sardarjee and a enigmatic prince from an east Indian state.)

The system gets even more unreasonable when cricketers carry small injuries into a match and use a runner to replace their running. This happened in the ICC 2007 world T20 final, where thankfully, the umpire refused one to Imran Nazir for a injury he carried from a previous match.

Well, frankly speaking, there shouldn't be a concept of runners in a T20 match. Just let the injured guy get back to the pavilion and move things on. If your injured player has to come back as the eleventh man, then probably a runner can be allowed. If your entire batting line up can't survive 20 overs just because of one guy's injury, then sorry, you shouldn't be winning anyway.

Now, as happened in yesterday's match, a player shouldn't be asking for a runner because of cramps. Cramps is not an injury, its a problem of under preparation, and the sport shouldn't bother subsidizing their training. In fact, it gives an unfair advantage to the relatively-unfit cricketers. And that only decreases the value of the sport.

It also belittles accomplishment. When Saeed Anwar scored his world record 194 against India, I was left in a bad taste - I knew that Viv Richards didn't need a runner for his 189, so why should a runner-supported innings of Anwar's be considered better than Viv's genius performance?

The bigger problem is that ICC and the Cricket leadership is often found wanting in taking action to rid the sport of its ills. For instance, they haven't yet worked on the over-rate problem effectively. They are yet to effectively tackle the issue of toss-winners getting too much advantage in lopsided pitches. And this one - of not-so-fit cricketers using the game's rules to achieve what they couldn't have without the support system. In the end, I dearly wish the leaders of the game get together to tackle these, and other problems, to make the sport better.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Next JUG SIngapore meeting and introducing a new hack

Well, this blog is way overdue but life has been a little busy in the last few days and hence I have been lagging behind a lot of things including blogging. My sincere apologies for the same. Now, coming to the point.

Last Monday (14th September) was JUG Singapore's September meetup. The attendance was much better than previous one and pretty much everybody from the last one ended up here too. The attendees was a good mix of hackers, managers, managers-of-hackers and so on.

We actually had Sun Microsystem's office and hence we could do a couple of presentations and discuss in peace. The first presentation was by David, who spoke about a Java VXML based voice browser he developed back in 2001. He explained the purpose, architecture, gotchas and ran us through the essential libraries required for something like this.

I spoke about Marvin, a new hack I have been working on. Its essentially a twitter trend analyzing engine, finding out trends which people are positively or negatively describing or they are being neutral. Once the trends are found, I just link them to the news and photos of that trend. These are being brought in through YQL. The whole system is built on Java and hosted on Google App Engine. There are a few interesting challenges I tackled, which I shall blog later. If you are impatient, you can grab the presentation deck or email me or comment here. The hack is open as an alpha and feedback is most welcome.

The discussions were very interactive with lots of questions and loads of feedback. I hope we can keep the momentum going on this group. You can try to attend the next meetup on October 26th.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

[Video]: The world is amazing and nobody is happy

If you haven't seen this video, then you must do so now. It's a brilliant take on how thew world is amazing and yet nobody is happy. I have often found myself reflecting on similar thoughts. That said, I have to admit that I myself have been caught in feelings of how the world seems crappy.

Anyhow, the notable piece is his anecdotes on flying. I have to say that I am one of the people who finds it extremely fortunate to be flying - just flying. I hate it when people judge negatively the aspect of flying in a budget airline. And nobody has put it better than Louis in this video. For me, flying is always a great experience, with or without the bells and the whistles. Its maybe because I still have a dream of flying myself one day, or that I used to do gliding when I was in IIT-K. Ah, the dreams of piloting an aircraft!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

[Hack]: Chess runner

As I wrote a while back, I spend quite some time playing chess on the iPhone using Glaurung app. The interesting feature is that it sends out email of your game describing the game in the Algebraic Notation. I mentioned at the end of the blog that I wanted to have a simulator/runner, that basically runs the entire game when this email is fed to it. I couldn't find one online - so I built one.

The easy part is to take the data, store it, parse it and the simple UI I built for making the moves work. What is infinitely more complex is to understand the moves in the algebraic notation and changing the status of the board. The problem is that the notation only tells you where something is to end up at, not where it originates from - and that has to be computed by you based on your previous board state and a complex set of rules.

The one that I built looks ugly in code presently (and hence not sharing right away), but it works, including moves like castles and en passants. The UI itself is just two pages - one to feed your game and another to run it. If you want to embed the "run" page, you can do that too by adding "&nfh=1" to the end of the page URL.

So check it out at http://www.shreeni.info/chess/index.jsp.

Administrative note

All tech posts have now moved to http://tech.shreeni.info or you may subscribe to its RSS feed. In due course, I shall be moving it out completely, so if you follow my tech posts, please shift to following that blog.