Personal, Reflections

Weekly Reflection 6/4/2017

I feel a bit silly writing like this. I’ve never really written a reflection before but I’m working on becoming a better writer so here goes nothing.

Reflecting on Last Week

Last week I decided to focus on techy things again. I hit 1K views in a day on quora the week before and I was pretty excited so I’m back off trying to create quality websites, data, and experiences to keep building views like that in the future. Maybe next week I’ll switch back to focusing 0n blogging again.

On the tech side, I was able to pull data on the NBA for teams, game scores, and historical spreads for the 2012-2017 seasons including preseason and playoffs. I started creating an API that would eventually be used by paid users and wrote a writeup — a new habit I’m trying to start when I work on projects.

A person I used to work with, Matthew Conlen, released a new markup language called idyll that looks really promising for data journalism. Check it out if you have a minute — makes it easier to embed charts in writeups by keeping things in markdown.


I started the ambitious task of learning about NFL scouting. A little background first though.. Last year I tried watching game film to help me with Draft Kings lineups but found it to be pretty difficult. So this year I wanted to take a more serious approach and stumbled upon a pretty good book by Bill Belichick’s father Steve called Scouting Methods — when asked in an interview what his favorite book is Bill said Scouting Methods was his all time favorite (citation in link). I also bought a few books on offensive and defensive strategy. Already I’m learning a lot but we’ll see if that pays off during the season. A big takeaway from Steve I have already is to have a clear goal in mind when going into scouting or film analysis. A common set of criteria for information a coach (or in my case a bettor) can use when comparing teams. Unlike a football coach, a bettor needs to be able to recognize things that another coach might teach his team. My gut tells me Bill Belichick is a great teacher of tip-offs and if a team/player has one I can notice (maybe the stagger of his stance) then I’m sure Bill has told his players about it. Whereas a bad coach/player might not put enough time in the film room and be able to apply that knowledge. And to take it up another level, maybe the player with the tipoff has a strategy of bluffing “tips” like in poker. All interesting but I’ll have to see if it works in practice.

I also bought Jonathan Bales’ book Fantasy Football for Smart People — a famous Draft Kings player. I’ve been reading through his blog too and am pretty impressed. I’ve read a lot of the books he’s cited like Nassim Taleb (decision making under uncertainty), Nietzsche (general philosophy), and Thinking Fast and Slow (cognitive biases) and I always thought they could be very relevant to betting but this guy has actually done it. Pretty cool so I hope I can refine my approach from last season with some ideas from his and do some idea sex as he calls it. I’m preparing a longer writeup on my thoughts of him and his book once I’m farther along.

Besides all that random stuff I updated my lol-cat scanner with some basic image ocr (character) recognition — repo. And resurrected a youtube view count visualization called whats-good. It’s real bad right now but contains a way to connect disconnected time intervals in D3.js and shows you how to do a graph search for view counts by day on youtube videos. Live version link and snapshot

Whats Good comparison snapshot

This Week

This week I’m going to make it my goal to have my old nfl framework running for the MLB and draft kings. Bales’ says MLB is much more statistical — which is great since I hate watching baseball without it being more of a social outing. I’m going to use the baseball season to test my models and daily fantasy sports framework so I’m ready for basketball and the football season. I think creating models for players will be simpler for baseball than predicting spreads like I already do for basketball because the sport exists much more in a vacuum. E.g. A pitcher has a much higher impact than the rest of the defense. It will be the first time I download player stats and store them in my tables.

Quora went well last week but now I need to start getting traffic to this site. I’ve written down my goals in a notebook but am starting to be a bit worried 10 affiliate book sales on Amazon this week might be tough.
Website Goals

I’ll check back in next week for another reflection. Maybe I’ll come up with a better name because “reflection” sounds so bleh.

Thanks for reading

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