Friday, January 09, 2009

FoxSports blog on Smoltz

The news that John Smoltz was leaving the Atlanta Braves for the Boston Red Sox yesterday was indeed a sucker-punch to many long time Atlanta Braves fans. From my own experience, having been at a Braves game when Smoltz was playing as a closer, I can say the Atlanta Stadium gets downright spooky when a closer coming onto the field gets an ovation louder than when the team took the field at the start of the game. I've had the pleasure of meeting several Braves players in person over the years, and I'm pretty sure at some point I've shook hands with John Smoltz, but I can't say that I've actually had the pleasure of knowing the guy... and now after the move to the Boston Red Sox, I'm not sure I want to. Something just seemed, off, about the reason for signing with the Red Sox over the Braves.

Dudski over at FoxSports manages to hit what felt off about the deal. Coming off an injury the Braves appearently told Smoltz that if he played for them, his come-back date would be some time in June, after the expected recovery date given of May. Granted, that's only a month, and for a sports related injury, time can be everything in the healing process. So from the accounts of when Smoltz would start playing, it seems like the Braves Management were playing it safe, giving a star player extra time to recover.

The Braves management also seemed to be taking the wiser approach on the pay scale. As Dudski rightly points out:
I think I can explain it. You don't spend money you don't have on pitchers with torn labrums. Especially not 41 year olds. Even if they are John Smoltz.
Given that the last season was a general disaster in terms of team performance, the Braves front office isn't in the position of being able to spend money any way they like and still have a competitive chance in the 2009 season. As a Braves fan, I viewed the 2008 season as a shake-down of the various rookies and younger players. As 2008 season closed out I saw pitching changes, batting changes, and fielding changes take place that indicated the Braves were already looking into prepping for 2009, using the final parts of the 2008 season as an extended spring training session. Either players made the cut to play next year, or they didn't.

Playing emotional favorites is simply bad business, and for a team that's used to not only going into the playoffs, but having a good shot at winning the playoffs, spending extra money on an aging pitcher with an injury that might not heal as expected, is simply throwing away competitive chances. The Braves, as a business, made the right decision to not chase after the higher cost of keeping an extremely wild card in their deck, puns intended.

The Red Sox on the other hand, seem to have more money than brains. Although Smoltz has been a stellar player in the past, and would likely already be in the hall of fame had he retired last year, he's an expensive pick-up for what could wind up being a poor year for his pitching arm.

Then there is the matter of Smoltz himself as Dudski portrays it. At 41 with several multi-million dollar contracts successfully completed, Smoltz has been paid from just the Braves alone, over 130 million dollars.
That paycheck doesn't include the various paid speeches, paid appearances, or advertising money. So unless Smoltz has a gambling problem I don't know about, chances are some of that money is socked away in a nice savings account for a rainy day.

Quite frankly, a $3.5 million upfront cost difference shouldn't make a lot of difference to Smoltz. To a new player just entering the league, or somebody with only 2 or 3 years playing, that kind of money is a deal breaker. To a veteran player like Smoltz? That's almost literal pocket change.

Like Dudski then, I'm pretty much forced to look at Smoltz's move to the Red Sox as an occurrence driven by sheer ego, and that actually makes me pretty mad. Looking at the way John Smoltz and Chipper Jones acted, then re-acted, I get the decided impression that they put themselves above the good of the club.

While I don't know if that sort of attitude was responsible for the 2008 debacle, I do know that sort of attitude could cause the Braves to lose out again in 2009. From my point of view, if Smoltz was really interested in being in Atlanta, and staying with the team that he wanted to be with, $3.5 million upfront would have been nothing. That didn't happen.

As for Chipper? For such a veteran player? Seems like he missed out basic management 101.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

WPA - Legal Kill

Among the many complaints computing support types have against Microsoft Windows is the product activation system. Windows Product Activation, or WPA, is intended as an anti-piracy measure by requiring Windows Xp, Vista, and eventually Windows 7 users to activate their copy of Microsoft Windows over an internet connection, locking their version of Windows against the hardware manifest. However, WPA has done little to stop actual pirates, as bit-torrent collectives suggest multiple cracks, patches, and full ISO's with no activation needed.

At the same time, WPA has largely passed by the notice of the average consumer. For many consumers the thought of re-installing Windows is a foreign concept. They'll pay a computer tech or a factory authorized service representative to go through the motions of re-installing Microsoft Windows if that step is deemed necessary for computer repair.

As a repair technician then, little torques me off more than somebody who responds to somebody asking how to turn WPA off by making statements that anybody who wants to turn WPA is a pirate. The reality is that there are an increasing number of cases where disabling Windows Product Activation is a requirement for proper troubleshooting and computer repair. As Microsoft finishes up Vista Service Pack 2, better known as Windows 7, there seems to a concerted attempt by Microsoft to force users to upgrade or relicense their existing Windows installation. Within the past 72 hours I've had 2 clients with factory installed versions of Microsoft Windows recieve messages that they needed to activate their Microsoft Windows machines. I've spoken with other computer repair techs as well who've also had the problem... and the reason why I went looking around for help is that I have a computer with a Microsoft Windows OS installed from a vendor recovery disc which was locked out due to Windows Product Activation.

In my own case, the system in question is a Microsoft Windows Xp Home edition system. However, the system cannot be activated because according to Microsoft, the system has already exceeded the allowed number of re-activations. The only way to legally turn a fully functional computer with a legally purchased Windows Operating System back-on... is to pay Microsoft for another license.

However, by cracking and removing Windows Product Activation, I could return a usable computer with it's legally installed Operating System back into a functioning unit. In such a case, however, according to Microsoft's EULA, such un-authorized re-activations are illegal... or are the EULA themselves illegal by restricting a consumers rights concerning property ownership?

The larger issue at hand is that various cracks for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems can assist consumers in carrying out and implementing their rights as consumers to use their property how they wish. For some repair technicians, cracking WPA is sometimes the only viable solution they can give to a client.