Thursday Aug 14, 2008

Track at the Olympics is starting!

Now that we've endured the opening ceremonies, swimming, gymnastics, and the U.S. basketball teams rolling over their competition, it is now time for the real events at the Olympics to start!

Ok, just kidding, the aforementioned events have been great, but track and field does start tonight with the Heptathlon, heats of the mens 100m, and heats in the womens 800m. It will be good to see what Bolt, Gay, and Powell have to offer and also see what Pamela Jelimo chooses to throw down in the first round.

Thankfully, I have CBC to watch and see things live while the rest of the west coast has to wait 3 hours for NBC's coverage.

More to come later.

Tuesday Aug 12, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-12

Saturday Aug 09, 2008

China now censoring polution statistics

I know I've included numerous entries as part of my track and Olympic links blog entries on the pollution in Beijing, but this latest story I saw deserves its own entry.

According to Telegraph.co.uk, a British smog monitoring unit was forced to be shutdown. It had already been limited to registered users but when it was reporting that pollution levels in the area many Olympic events are at were above an Air Pollution Index of 100 (which is agreed upon as unsafe) while the governments measurement was 95, that was apparently too much.

I'm not sure if I'm more disappointed that the Chinese asked for the site to be shutdown or if the British group gave in. Perhaps they didn't have an option ...

Track links for 2008-8-9

  • U.S. Olympian Lopez Lomong's great escape - A sobering story that makes one appreciate everything we have and take for granted.
  • Tape Delay by NBC Faces End Run by Online Fans - As expected, NBC is trying to thwart attempts by viewers to get to watch events less than 12-24 hours after they happen. With today's technology, how could they think this wouldn't happen? And how about NBC just show us events live as the way around it? Some good quotes: 'As the four-hour ceremony progressed, a game of digital whack-a-mole took place.' “The idea of watching a 14-hour delay is repulsive”. “We have a billion dollars worth of revenue at stake here, so that means we’re not public television, for better or worse.” Television networks “no longer have the same viewer monopoly they had 30 years ago — why don’t they see that?”
  • A dissenting view on the air quality - "But for the vast majority of sports, I don't think air quality is going to be a big deal at all. It ain't pretty, no. But it's not making lungs burn."
  • Teg’s Olympic Journal #3: Hello From Beijing! - He also says the air looks bad but seems ok at least on easy days.

Olympic Results

After one day of events, I think I've found the best place to find results online.

First, I tried NBC Olympics and was disappointed to not be able to easily find the results from the mens gymnastics qualifying. In fact, the only thing I was able to find was the summary of the team scoring and no details on qualifying for the all around or the event finals.

I went searching and found what appears to be the official results site which is great. It allows you to drill in by sport and see all the details. I even found that it has play by play for beach volleyball!

Now, if you are stuck watching the Olympics on the NBC family of networks, the NBC site is pretty good, although other than the main network the schedule for the other channels is pretty general so it is hard to tell when specifically an event will be.

Enjoy the games!

Friday Aug 08, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-8

Sunday Aug 03, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-3

  • US runners not concerned about Beijing pollution - Shalane Flanagan says "Unless I can't walk and my lungs are falling out, or I'm coughing up a lung, I'll be running".
  • Q&A with Leonel Manzano - On the Trials 1500m final, "It was probably one of the most aggressive races that I have ever been in. I would say it was even more aggressive than my race in Osaka last year in the World Championships. There was anything from elbows to people kicking your heel."
  • Ex-Cougars, friends on track for success in Beijing - Good story on how Lagat's coach, James Li, came to WSU.
  • Spearmon predicts memorable Olympic sprints - On the 100m, Spearmon says "I think 9.8 will be like sixth place" and on Bolt in the 200m "He's out there jogging 19.7s".
  • Olympic protesters required to apply 5 days in advance - Demonstrations can be approved if they are deemed to not harm other's rights or freedoms or endanger national security.
  • IOC would be big loser in a Beijing fiasco - "When journalists couldn't reach certain Web sites from the Beijing press center last week, the Olympic organizers made a huge mistake. They admitted to censorship." Later, "Beijing must have assumed that it had implicit permission to block the Web sites of Amnesty International, Falun Gong practitioners, activists for Tibetan independence and an array of news organizations. Why do it otherwise? The blackouts weren't about to go unnoticed."
  • No protests in athletes' village and stadiums - "Rogge said as many countries in the village were in conflict with each other, such demonstrations would go against the very nature of the Olympics."

Saturday Aug 02, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-2

Friday Aug 01, 2008

Track and Olympics links for 2008-8-1

A couple old ones I forgot to post:

Sunday Jul 06, 2008

NBC to put Olympics on the web ... part 2

I wrote previously about NBC putting content on the web, and now more stories confirming that NBC "doesn't get it" when it comes to delivering content via the internet in this Web 2.0 world.

In Online Olympics coverage: too good to be true Erik writes that "No events that are scheduled for TV broadcast - on any of NBC’s 6 Olympic channels - will be available online until after they’ve been aired". With 6 channels, you can be sure there isn't a lot that is interesting that won't be aired, which means the video will simply be an archive to go back to. But an archive that is only available perhaps 24 hours after the event.

So, given the time difference (15 hours ahead of PDT), we are stuck trying to avoid results for 12-24 hours instead of getting a sneak peak that would only entice us to watch the coverage NBC provides over their television networks.

Other stories are here and the AP story here has this quote:
The computer coverage will also play a clear secondary role to TV. No events that are scheduled to be televised will be available online until after they are seen on TV, said Perkins Miller, senior vice president for digital media at NBC Sports.
Now, perhaps other countries will have live video?

Olympic Thoughts part 3

I've written about the Olympics a couple of times before now but as we get closer there are additional stories so I'll continue the series.

Pollution has been been a concern ever since the games were awarded to Beijing and it continues to be now, just a month before the games after spending $20B to combat it.

Beijing has been shrouded in thick smog, with buildings just a few hundred feet away being barely visible.
A willingness to close factories is encouraging, but lets hope that is enough.

And in other Olympic news, Kenya has announced its Olympic team. It should be a formidable team especially with Pamela Jelimo in the womens 800. The mens 1500 surprisingly is missing a few big names.

Saturday Jun 28, 2008

Track links for 2008-6-28

Thursday Jun 26, 2008

Track links for 2008-6-26

The United States Olympic Trials for track and field start tomorrow at Hayward Field in Eugene tomorrow, so for the next week or so my "links" entries are probably going to focus on news from there. So to start things off:

Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

NBC to put Olympics on the web ...

... but only for Vista.

And if you read this closely it is actually just for Vista Media Center. Limiting the audience like this is interesting given this quote from the above press release by an NBC Senior VP: “As we prepare to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games, we are committed to reaching as many viewers as possible”. If reaching as many viewers as possible was a real priority, wouldn't a technology that ran on more than just one variant of the Vista (how many Vista users are on Media Center and how many Windows users aren't even on Vista yet?) let alone trying to be multi-OS (Mac? Linux?) or multi-platform (iPod?) be high on the list?

And after reading this and this it appears the content should be available "roughly 12 hours after an event ends" but not after the Olympics are over. And it isn't just this service that is that is limited but "all video at the NBC Olympics site requires Silverlight, Microsoft's rich web application and video streaming technology that competes with Adobe's market-dominant Flash".

To be fair, a quick visit to NBCOlympics.com shows that watching at least some video on the site does only require installing Silverlight and there is in fact an install for Mac OS X, but not Linux, and it doesn't appear for any mobile video devices. Perhaps this will be the case for a variety of video clips and it is only the full content from the original story above that is limited to Vista.

Regardless, this still reeks of a vendor using a relationship with the content rights owner extend a platform monopoly which may not be in the best interest of the consumer. I'm sure Silverlight provides some whiz-bang capabilities that may make the experience of watching better, but forcing consumers to move to Vista or even install yet another plug-in when there are perfectly adequate ways to provide video content (even some from the vendors existing bag of technology) seems wrong. If Silverlight really is better, provide the content in both forms and let the consumer decide if installing the plug-in or moving to Vista is in their interest.

Thursday Jun 19, 2008

Olympic Thoughts Part 2

I wrote about some Olympic thoughts awhile ago and pointed out concerns about censorship or otherwise limiting television coverage of the Olympics and activities around the games.

Well, it appears the concerns have not gone away yet although the IOC President is confident things will be resolved.
With 7½ weeks to go before the Aug. 8 opening of the games, TV broadcasters are battling Chinese organizers for permission to move reporters, equipment and satellite trucks freely around the sprawling capital city.
It appears the IOC has been told permission to broadcast will be given but must be asked for:
Moreau said broadcasting from Tiananmen Square would require special authorization because the area has been designated a special cultural and historical location.
So I'm still optimistic there won't be issues and wouldn't be surprised if there are.
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