This past weekend, I paid a visit to Buffalo Lab, a community workshop located in the Foundry on Northhampton street. They were hosting Arduino Day, which was a chance for newcomers to Arduino to get acquainted with the platform,
learn some basic soldering skills, and build a line-following robot. I went because I was curious about the Lab as a whole, and Lab member Grant Tepper was kind enough to give me a full tour.
To understand what one can do at the Lab, one must first understand what it is. Buffalo Lab is a place where anybody with an idea can go to make their vision reality, at any scale. It has a true co-op feel in that not only
are you sharing equipment, but ideas and expertise as well. The people there are working on projects of all sizes, from personal curiosities to business-scale technologies and startups. One can become a member for only $50/month, and have access to the multitude of tools there at the lab, or rent a larger space to start a business.
Buffalo Lab is particularly good if you need to use equipment that is too expensive for most people to own at home. They have multiple 3d printers, CNC machines, programming stations, even full wood shops and welding shops. Fortunately, there are also people that know how to use the equipment that you can connect with and learn from.
It’s easy for anyone to get started in Buffalo Lab. They have a variety of educational workshops and events open to the public for newcomers to learn and explore the Lab as a whole. They also are very generous with their really cool stickers.
Before the days of YouTube, Vine, and video games people went to the arcade to hear the nickelodeon (player piano) and watch the amusements and oddities. We went to San Francisco for the Association of Alternative Newspapers conference, but just down the road was the truly amazing Musée Mechanique.
The last machine “Laffing Sal” is the most widely known. From Wikipedia:
Laffing Sal was a fixture at the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach, California when it opened in 1936. Decades later, the park’s management learned that Funni-Frite Inc. of Pickerington, Ohio still had the original molds of Laffing Sal’s head and hands, and commissioned them to make an updated Sal to stand above the entrance of their Scary Dark Ride. An endless tape cartridge provided its audio. The figure was removed when the attraction was closed in 2005.
The Super Bowl is coming this weekend. Who’s going to win? Well, we could just pick whichever team our friends are cheering for (since Buffalo hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since I was in grade school), or we could nerd out to the max and employ some predictive statistical analysis to put our best guess on a whole new level of guessing.
I examined a huge amount of methodologies. Yes, it’s math, but I like it, and I’m not ashamed to say so.
Without getting into how these algorithms work, that could fill an entire book, I have listed below the predictive results of a number of algorithms. Is there something to be gained from all this number crunching? Can we use math to place winning bets and trick out our fantasy football teams? Maybe.
Note: The numbers listed reflect the amount one team or the other is predicted to win by. A positive number favors Seattle, and a negative number favors New England. Yes, I realize it is not possible to score a fraction of a point. That’s just how it goes with these things.
Ed Kambour Football Ratings
Enhanced Spread Predictions
Least Squares Regression
Least Squares w/ team specific HFA
Least Absolute Value Regression
Sagarin Golden Mean
Turnover adjusted Least Squares
Computer Adjusted Line
What If Sports
Lou St. John
Game Time Decision
Michael Roberts Ratings
Out of 53 predictive methods, 20 picked the Seahawks, 29 chose the Patriots, and 4 predicted either a tie, or their algorithm did not return a clear winner. The average of all these is -0.217, slightly in favor of New England.
I would also like to add one more datum to the list. My good friend Brian “Herky” Fenton is an avid football fan who enjoys making picks each week. He does not use math, he uses instinct and observation to make his choices. However, I have witnessed him picking over 60% correct (a figure any pro statistician would be proud of) on many a Sunday afternoon. Having chosen Seattle, I asked him why. “I think they have a better defense. They fly around the ball and tackle to cause turnovers. They are fast. They say defense wins championships. I believe that.”
Only time will tell. Let’s find out who’s right.
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