Takeoff, 13 hours.

Counting down! Everything’s packed and we are ready to rock.

Excitement? More like a quiet sense of anticipation at this point. Time to get some shuteye early, and to wake up for an early start tomorrow.

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Back to ’98, revisiting Game 6.

In 1998, I was a wide-eyed teenager gawking at the Chicago Bulls as they dramatically fought their way to a sixth championship in a win over the Utah Jazz. Actually, it was more of awe at His Airness to the exclusion (and ignorance) of everyone else on the court. Yep, I was an uneducated bandwagon Jordan fan. I devoured basketball blindly, watching ten men run on the hardwood without knowing the intricacies involved, or the background history.

After so many years, rewatching this pivotal game makes so much more sense.

The recent years of learning the game that much more, along with a better understanding of history allowed me to enjoy this game better. Knowing the storylines behind it (the Finals game format, Pippen’s back issues, how good the Jazz were under Jerry Sloan, the missed call on Eisley’s buzzer three) gives a better appreciation of that final run, the Last Dance as they called it back then.


Understanding ball movement gave a better appreciation of how good the Stockton/Malone Jazz were.

The simple yet indomitable pick-and-roll set, the way Malone was so good on either a roll to the basket or a pop for the jumper. Stockton’s vision and sense of timing, the way he found defensive flaws to deliver the perfect bounce pass or drive for the finish. The way Jazz teammates would capitalise on help defense and make them pay with cuts and open shots.

The way he never ever shirked from physical plays, I love this quote that summed his old-school style up best:

Not only a notorious flopper and iron man, Stockton is often also included on the infamous list of Dirtiest Players by his colleagues. Not a big man by NBA standards, by any means, Stockton was still a mean mofo, feared despite his modest size. Heading into every game, John would target the biggest, baddest dude on the opposition, and first opportunity that presented itself, often on a screen, would drive his knee as hard as he could into that man’s thigh at a full-on clip, giving him a dead leg that was never forgotten.

Jolly John Stockton Day, Hardwood Paroxysm

The way Malone simply dominated – how do you describe one of the best power forwards ever? The man was sculpted power and moved like a freight train. He could finish with ease, inside or outside. Even without the screen and roll, it was a risk between throwing double-teams at the Mailman and scramble to recover, or risk watching your defender get backed down on the low post and scored on.


Watching the triangle (triple-post) offense being executed is an enjoyment in itself too. The way the ball was not being forced into isolation, but instead flowed from post to post as the Bulls sought to find the best look. The way every player was involved as a decision-maker, the way every pass equalled a good decision and an adherence to the system. The triangle is a huge contrast to the offense of many modern NBA teams, who emphasize high screen-and-rolls, drive-and-kick passes or perimeter swinging to find the three point shot more than anything else, the post well on its way to an eventual demise.

Game 6 was tough. It was a fight to the death, there was no guarantee the Bulls would have won right there. Had Pippen been in better shape, the odds might have been with the Bulls. He was in such bad shape from back spasms however, it was obvious he was a shadow of his normal self, and could not even rebound with ease. Malone was in terrific shape, Chicago’s big men were in foul trouble, and there was no answer to big Karl’s offense in the post.

The Jordan-era Bulls never had a dominant center or point guard, what made things work was a team effort. It was the unselfish ball-sharing the triangle system created, and the stifling defense from the perimeter. It was the advantage of having swingmen like Harper, Pippen and Kukoc – big and quick players that caused frequent mismatches. It was Rodman’s relentless energy on rebounding and defense. It was having role players who did their job; outstanding people like Kerr, Longley, Wennington, Caffey and more. It was Phil’s ability to get the team focused on the moment. It was Tex’s teachings on the triangle and fundamental basketball.

And above all, MJ’s competitive and infectious desire to win that made things possible. The 45-point night, the fatigue from carrying the team in a critical playoffs game. The killer instinct that so many others have talked about, the way an opportune swipe and steal turned this game around and set the stage up for that one moment in NBA history forever, a frozen instant in the halls of legend.

Swish.

Tiny quirks on the Nexus 4.

Small bugs noticed on the Nexus 4 so far:

  • When playing music using the stock Google app with the screen off, turning the screen back on by hitting the power button causes flashing between the music app and the lock screen, as if the phone can’t decide which to display. Unlocking the phone fixes this. Not pretty while it’s happening though.
  • Playing music on the stock Google app with an incoming call caused the current song to hang and playback stuck. Choosing the next track on the playlist fixed this.
  • Exiting the camera app takes a bit of effort, because the back/home buttons disappear. You have to swipe from the right edge of the screen, leftwards to get to the Gallery screen before you can exit.
  • Sometimes, nothing happens when I hit the power button that’s supposed to wake the phone up from a blank screen into the lock screen.
  • This is more of an Android design quirk than anything else: having ringtones and notification tones separated into different folders results in file duplication if I want the same tone for both.
  • Another design gripe: the Phone function doesn’t intuitively predict names. For example, if I’d wanted Andy I would hit 263 and available names that begin with “AND” should appear as calling options.

Small problems though, nothing to get fussed about. For the price and overall performance, the Nexus 4 is still a winning choice. There are also little things I like, one of them being the filters and basic editing options (crop, rotate etc) in the Gallery app. The integrated Dropbox menu is a big plus too.

Back into the job hunt.

Man, it feels way strange to submit a job application after being out of it for years. I think I did a good job though, so here we go on the wait for good news.

In other news, the search continues. If you know of an opening, let me know please. I would really like to skip the whole shebang and get something straight up.

Naming conversations on Facebook

Just noticed this feature while using the Android Facebook app – you can apparently name conversations, what the hell.

To name a conversation:

Tap on the information icon (the top right icon that looks like an “i”) when viewing messages on the app. A new screen appears. This screen allows you to name the conversation, add an image, add participants or leave the conversation.

I had a closer look at the web application, and while I’m not 100% sure, I’m reasonably sure this function is either masterfully hidden or entirely non-existent.

Interesting.

What do I want in a job now?

This question yields different answers at different times, and it’s the same for me.

Right now, I’m looking to move into a job that’s preferably less involved in operations. Being on standby duty is no longer as fun as it was, and I’ve more or less had enough of being on 24/7 duty, after having carried the mountain for the past years in my old job. I don’t mind being involved in presales, postsales or even planned migrations, but please count me out of the outage firefighting team. I’m not as keen to keep plugging away in the network field as well, much as it’s been my rice bowl for the past years.

Another question at this point is whether I really am interested to move into writing as a part-time, or even full-time career. After having had a taste of writing on a freelance basis these past months, I’m not so sure I want to be an automaton that cranks out content at scheduled times. I still love writing, but being constantly required to produce fresh content independently on a regular basis is nothing but draining. Parenthood saps my life energy enough as it is right now, thank you very much. That being said, I’d love to write if constant direction is given on topics though.

So, where to next? I want to find opportunities to move into project management, and another interesting thought surfaces here: do the certificates make the man, or is it the other way round?

I had a comment today about how my expected salary could easily hire a PMP qualified project manager. While the angry comeback would certainly be a “screw off and hire someone else then!”, the rational eye would admit to that market rate. Window dressing aside, does the lack of industry certification make me any less qualified in managing projects though? The comment could easily be seen as a leverage tool to talk the price down as well.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Food for thought in the days ahead.