30 September 2009

Balsillie Loses Coyotes Bid

Oh well. As time went on it looked increasingly unlikely Balsillie would succeed in purchasing the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes; today, bankruptcy court judge Baum rejected both the NHL and Balsillie's bid, the latter with prejudice. The NHL is welcome to make an improved bid.

Perhaps it's just me, but it feels like all Baum did was ice the puck, avoiding making a decision for fear of ramifications far beyond the purview of a bankruptcy court. Which begs the question why the heck it took Baum so long to simply decide to not make a decision.

At the beginning of this court process I thought the purpose of bankruptcy court was to get the most money possible for the most creditors. It's not that simple, as it turned out, or as I'd wished. I suppose it was naive of me to hope that a bankruptcy court would not let fear of setting a new precedence, and its potential ramifications, as a consequence of getting the most money for creditors affect getting the most money for creditors.

So... Bettman and the NHL are the winners, Balsillie, southern Ontario and Canada the losers. Oh yeah, I suspect Glendale will be losers, too, one or two years down the road when the NHL finds a new owner-that's-not-Balsillie who relocates the money pit Coyotes elsewhere.

The city of Glendale threw the dice on this one -- lose out on Balsillie's guaranteed $25 million, ($50 million if Balsillie had ended up moving the Coyotes) in the faint hope that someone somewhere will keep the Coyotes in Glendale long term. Especially as Bettman would only guarantee to keep the Coyotes in Glendale for the 2009-2010 season. It's all in hindsight, but just think... what if Glendale had supported Balsillie's bid? Right now Glendale would be $25 million richer and Balsillie would still have lost his bid.

Finally, let's not forget The Great One. Was Gretzky a good coach of a bad team? Vice versa? All of the above? I don't know. I do think the NHL could have treated him better, though, after all Gretzky's done for the NHL. I suppose it's a case of what have you done for me lately.

27 September 2009

Second Cup

I have to thank Second Cup; I've been drinking less coffee because of them. There's a Second Cup coffee shop at my workplace which I patronized once or twice a week in the recent past. Nothing wrong with their coffee... but the till at this location never accepts my credit cards or debit cards. The past few instances the cashier was as visibly irritated as I felt. No idea why that one location has problems; as I dislike carrying coins -- and I don't like being blamed for holding up the line when trying to use an accepted payment method -- I decided to stop going there completely.

26 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10, Part III

Another bug has made its appearance in NHL 10 for the PS3. Twice, perhaps thrice, now, in the middle of a game the graphics have gone all Cubist. Sound effects, announcers, the game goes on except that it's impossible to see anything. Fortunately, it's an easy fix. Hit the pause/start button to open the game menu and go to instant replay to refresh the screen. Resume game and you're good to go.

A Matter of Trust

On my commute to work I walk by a medium-sized grocery store.
Fairly convenient if I don't buy anything heavy; at least, it would be
convenient if I ever shopped there. I've never even entered.

What stops me? A prominent sign outlining store policy that all
customer bags be left with the cashier upon entering. Reasonable,
right? A measured deterrent against shoplifters and

My initial response upon seeing the sign for the first time? If they
don't trust me why should I trust them? Not that the cashier is going
to have a burning desire to rifle through customers' bags; the issue
is whether I trust them not to give my bag to a thief by mistake.

I don't, as it happens, which is why I never shop there.

25 September 2009

Descaling an Electric Kettle

I wanted to descale my electric kettle and decided to use white vinegar for the first time. Impressive. I was both surprised and pleased at how well it does the job. I let a mixture of 1:1 (v/v) white vinegar and water sit in the kettle. A couple hours at room temperature and descaling was complete! After rinsing with water 4-5 times my kettle is once more back in active service.

24 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10, Part II

Well, looks like there's a fairly significant bug in NHL 10 for the PS3. I'm not referring to the AI, which as always can still use some improvement, but to something I consider relatively easier to solve and as such even more disappointing.

One of the changes with NHL 10 over NHL 09, and one of NHL 10's advertised selling points, was the inclusion of unlockable player equipment upgrades (pads, sticks, helmets, etc.) that boost your player's stats in various categories. I was initially resistant to equipping these items once they were unlocked but I soon overcame my disgust with the often ugly designs and always ill-matched colours.

What's the problem, then? As soon as my Be A Pro goalie won 25 games all the previously unlocked equipment returned to their initial locked and unusable status. What's up with that? That this issue is something I would think easily caught in any reasonable quality control regime just makes it all the more disappointing.

Oh well. At least my goalie no longer has to pretend to be colour blind.

20 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10

I wasn't sure if I should buy NHL '10 for the PS3 as all I read stated that NHL '10 wasn't a drastic improvement over NHL '09. The inclusion of a "Be a GM" mode doesn't immediately appeal to me, and including 'board play' doesn't do too much for me as I tend to play goal in "Be a Pro" mode -- thankfully retained for NHL '10.

Anywhoo, I purchased NHL '10 mentally prepared to admit it was a waste of my money; not because it's a bad game, far from it, but NHL '09 is already a great game so why bother with a minor upgrade?

To my delight my fears were misplaced. The fact that NHL '10 fixes several minor annoyances with NHL '09 makes buying NHL '10 worthwhile in itself. I say minor annoyances, but really as a person who likes to play goal they more often than not were quite irritating and detracted from NHL '09.

The most notable fixes are with the announcers. One, announcers in NHL '10 no longer describe a defenseman's own goal as the result of an amazing shot by the opposing team or as the poor play of the goalie. In NHL '09 the incongruity between the announcers' words and my emotions resulted in even more aggravation. No longer in NHL '10. Second, in NHL '09 injuries in-game were virtually ignored. I might see a player on the ice during play, but all too frequently a very brief close-up of the injured player was too brief to identify before play resumed. It's not like I know the jersey number of every single player on every single team. Of course, that's when the game even bothered to show the injury clip. I'd have no idea which player was injured or whether he was out for the duration. Thankfully, in NHL '10 this is remedied. The injury clip is enough to identify the player, and afterward the announcers even say whether the player will be returning. Nice.

Descriptions of breakaways in NHL '09 were a tad too inclusive. The announcers would describe a rebound as a breakaway. Stationary, open players and one-timers were too often called breakaways, as well. To date, none of that has cropped up in NHL '10.

In NHL '09, I'd always been disappointed that the game didn't provide some pre-game information on the opposing team, beyond the current win-loss record. No more in NHL '10. NHL '10 summarizes information like starting line ups, goalies, and stat summaries like PP, GF and GA.

Goalie animations have been added to in NHL '10, and there's much more manual control available. Overall an improvement, and it will even be more of an improvement when my use of the new controls becomes more automatic.

"Be a Pro" mode has been updated. My Be a Pro goalie had the option to play a prospect game prior to draft day to help determine draft position. Neat. Unfortunately, this leads to a minor annoyance with NHL '10. My goalie played well enough in the prospect game to be 1st pick on draft day. Huzzah! Too bad in the player stats page for my goalie under "Draft position" it still says "N/A". Eh?

Random points:

  • GM and coach updates could be more timely. I went from the prospect game, the draft, contract, then directly to my 1st NHL game. What happened to the AHL? It was only after I finished the 1st game that the GM thoughtfully informed me that they were having me play in the bigs first prior to deciding whether I neeeded seasoning in the AHL. The coach didn't talk to me until after my 1st NHL game, too.
  • In NHL '09 I thought goalie post-game evaluation was too tough. The game appeared to penalize goalie "grades" for circumstances not under the goalie's control. Poor grades adversely affect his number of starts. NHL '10 looks to have remedied this. A goalie can play well but still lose the game, and NHL '10 recognizes this. I might get fewer XP, but at least my grade average stays up and won't negatively impact my number of starts.
  • I was leary of loading the game multiple times until being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks. I still have no idea if Luongo's 12-year deal made it into NHL '10. Oh well, if Luongo's still with the Canucks after my 3-yr, $0.85M entry contract expires perhaps I'll consider other teams.
  • I wish in Be a Pro mode the game allowed you to see what the players' current contracts are.
  • NHL '10 does a nice job with playable injury graphics. Demitra played with a fractured jaw for a couple games and you could see the additional plastic guard he wore for added protection.