201011 200711 201325Bye 20031T1Possible home adv. 20012T4Bye 201111 Tom Brady, Super Bowl MVP; Tom Brady, NFL icon; Tom Brady, scofflaw. The Deflategate punishments have been handed down by the league office, and the official report on the incident refused to speculate about whether the New England Patriots got any advantage from their deflated balls, saying: “It is impossible to determine whether this activity had an effect on the outcome of games or what that effect was.” But suspending Brady (and taking away draft picks) is almost sure to have an effect.The Patriots owe the league $1 million, one first-round draft pick in 2016, and one fourth-round draft pick in 2017. All of that for “violation of the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation.” Meanwhile, for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL,” Tom Brady — the Patriots’ reasonably well-known quarterback — received a 4-game suspension, which he is planning to appeal.The best spin on this news for Patriots fans is that Brady’s value is relatively unknown. While he has a history of great accomplishments and stats, QB success is much more of a team accomplishment than an individual one. Unlike certain other quarterbacks who have played for multiple teams and multiple coaches, Brady has only played for Bill Belichick’s Patriots. We don’t know if the Patriots would collapse without him — the one season where he missed significant time (in 2008), the Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel under center.1I certainly look forward to some empirically significant games next year if Brady’s appeal fails. The Patriots’ backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, actually had a higher passer rating than Brady last year, though he only had 27 attempts and was sacked five times.But while I don’t know what Brady is really worth, I can lay out a couple of estimates and see what the effects of his suspension might be. Let’s use history as our guide and look at the past 14 years to see what might have happened had Brady been forced to sit the first four games of each season.While I’m not always in love with how Vegas values QBs, it’s a decent place to start: According to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, the betting line in the Patriots opener against the Steelers has shifted by about 5 points, though Bell claims gamblers usually consider Brady’s value to be closer to 7 points. So for this first test, I took each game that Brady played for the Patriots in the first four team games of each season and took away 6.5 points. In other words, if the Patriots won by 7 or more, I assumed that they would have won even without Brady, while if they won by 6 or less I counted it as a loss (if he didn’t play, I left the result as is). I then re-jiggered the playoff standings to see how the Patriots’ new record would have affected their playoff position each season. This recalculation cost the Pats eight wins since 2001, knocked them out of the playoffs in 2005 and 2009, and cost them a first-round bye in 2013.2Assuming everything else had played out the same — which is unlikely, but counterfactuals are pretty much always just mind candy. However, it also leaves all of their Super Bowl-winning seasons unscathed: 200311 2008outout This one looks a lot worse. If you took one win away from every Pats team since 2001, not only could they have missed the playoffs two more times (depending on whom they lost to), but they would also lose a playoff bye at least twice and possibly four times, again depending on which game they lost and by how much. It’s also probably worth noting that the 2008 Patriots, who had Brady for less than one quarter of one game, would have been a No. 3 seed if they could have squeezed out one more win, or even been a bye team if they managed two more wins. Instead, they missed the playoffs.More importantly, losing one more game would have had negative effects on New England’s playoff position in three of its four Super Bowl-winning years. And that’s why four games of Brady might be even more valuable than the draft pick — to the Patriots. For most teams, a first-round draft pick is probably worth more than a single win. But if that one win is crucial to your Super Bowl chances, you take it. 20093outPlayoffs 20054outPlayoffs 201222 YEARSEEDSEED W/ ONE FEWER WIN IN FIRST FOUR GAMESCOST 20093T4Possible playoffs 200122 200422 2002outout 2002outout 200711 200644 20111T1Possible home adv. 201011 200644 20141T2Possible bye 201223Bye But that version of this examination is probably too granular. In the Patriots’ four games without Brady, there are only so many outcomes — they can only win zero, one, two, three or four games with or without Brady. While technically every swing has some probability (they might have won zero games with Brady but now win four games without him), the most likely effect is that the Patriots drop zero or one games — that’s the outcome the 7-point estimate produced in 10 of the 12 years in which Brady played in all of the season’s first four games. That is, if they would have gone 3-1 with Brady, without him they’d probably stay at 3-1 or drop to 2-2. Now let’s focus on the most likely negative scenario. What would happen if we just took one teensy-tiny win away each season? 20054T4Possible playoffs 201411 200422 20132T2Possible bye 2008outout YEARSEEDSEED W/ BRADY OUT FIRST FOUR GAMESCOST
After an extraordinary run, Djokovic has been merely ordinary, by his high standards. Over a seven-year stretch from Wimbledon in 2009 through the French Open last year, he played all 28 majors and reached 28 quarterfinals, 24 semis and 18 finals, winning 11. In a sport increasingly dominated by veterans, Djokovic was getting better as he aged, netting seven finals and six titles from his last eight majors of the stretch. Since then, though, he has a second-round loss, a final loss and a third-round loss. That kind of run used to be respectable even for the world’s best players: Sampras had a worse three-major stretch when he was No. 1 in 1997-98. But more recently Djokovic, Federer and Nadal set a much higher standard of consistency. Now that all three are struggling, Andy Murray has capitalized, winning 29 of his last 30 matches to take a commanding lead in the rankings over No. 2 Djokovic.Djokovic is far from finished. Some of his struggles could be chalked up to bad luck: All three of his recent Grand Slam losses were close, and came after a stretch in which he’d won all his close calls. He’s healthy and sounded motivated in Melbourne after having discussed his quest to find emotional fulfillment on the court last fall. Even during his slump, he has won six of nine matches against fellow top 10 players, including a defeat of Murray two weeks ago. He was favored by experts and Elo ratings to win the Australian Open, and barring injury he’ll be one of the favorites at each of the year’s remaining three majors.But time is not on his side. With each upset loss, Djokovic becomes a little less likely to catch up to his rivals for the sport’s most distinguished record. Share on Facebook Seven months ago, it was hard to imagine Novak Djokovic losing a Grand Slam match: He’d won his last 28, and 53 of his last 55. And 24 hours ago, it was hard to imagine him losing an Australian Open match: He’d won his last 15, and 40 of his last 41. But on Thursday in Melbourne, Djokovic crashed out in the second round to Denis Istomin, 7-6(8) 5-7 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4. Djokovic will be 30 by the time the next major starts (the French Open begins May 28), and he’ll still be stuck on 12 career major titles. His pursuit of Roger Federer’s record 17 titles has stalled out around the same age that slowed Federer and the other two guys Djokovic is chasing: Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Jamaica, November 13, 2017 – Montego Bay – Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will commence a street-signage programme in three parishes in January 2018, which will herald the start of a nationwide beautification and community development initiative.“We will be rolling out the project in Manchester, Westmoreland and St. Thomas, and then get the necessary funds to take the street signs right across the country,” the Minister said, as he addressed a property tax town hall meeting on November 8 in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.He said this programme will address concerns that many communities across the island are hard to identify, as there are no signs.“Some of the work of the municipal corporations, when it comes to beautification, includes identifying communities. There are many communities in Westmoreland (that) when you drive in them, you don’t even know the name of the roads because the street signs don’t exist,” the Minister noted.The Minister said the signage programme was conceptualised based on data gathered by the 2,700 youngsters across the island who were employed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development last summer to undertake audits of street lights and street signs.Mr. McKenzie appealed to citizens to pay their property taxes, as this is the only way the local authorities will be able to provide them with the basic services, amenities and infrastructure for modern-day living. He reminded the audience that taxes are collected in all countries of the world, and Jamaica is no different.He said that while the Government has a responsibility to serve the nation, the citizens themselves “have to become partners with us in this mission”, adding that in excess of $16 billion is owed in arrears for property taxes island-wide.He congratulated landowners in Westmoreland, who have demonstrated an “encouraging level of compliance” over the last three years by making concerted efforts to pay the requisite taxes. He said of the $607 million that was set as the Westmoreland target for the 2017/2018 financial year, more than $291 million has already been paid.“I find it difficult when people say they are not getting any benefit out of the taxes. While there may be weaknesses in some of what we do, there has been significant improvement in service delivery in this country. We are working hard to make a difference, but we can only do that if you buy into the reality that taxes are necessary in order for you to live in a decent and a clean country,” he said.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) may hand out more interest on provident fund (PF) deposits for the current fiscal, compared to the 8.75% offered in the past two years.The retirement body is expected to give 9% for it’s over-5-crore subscribers for the 2015-16 fiscal.”The income projection of Rs 34,844.42 crore for the current fiscal is expected to be revised upward. Thus, the body can provide 9% rate of interest on PF deposits for 2015-16,” EPFO trustee and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh Secretary P J Banasure told Press Trust of India.Earlier this week, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) Finance Audit and Investment committee (FAIC) had recommended 8.95% interest on PF deposits for the current fiscal year.”If the EPFO provides 8.95% interest rate on PF deposits for 2015-16, it will leave a surplus of Rs 91 crore as per income projections worked out in September last year. But the FAIC will meet again later this month to vet the latest income estimate which is likely to be revised upward,” said Banasure, who is also a member of the FAIC.Offering 9% interest on deposits will lead to a deficit of Rs 100 crore for the EPFO, according to its income projections made in September last year.”We are expecting that there will be a surplus of Rs 100 crore on providing 9% rate of interest on PF deposits when EPFO will work out the latest estimates. The FAIC can change its recommendation in the next meeting and suggest 9% interest rate for 2015-16,” he said.However, the proposal to pay 9% interest needs to be approved by the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) before the Finance Ministry notifies it.Recently, the Finance Ministry indicated it would cut interest rates on small savings like public provident fund, taking into account the rate cuts announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. 5 min read If your meetings are long, awkward and unproductive, you’re not alone in your misery. One study of 2,000 managers reported in Industry Week revealed that at least 30 percent of the time people spend in meetings is a waste of time.Related: 7 Secrets of the Most Productive MeetingsYou know how it goes: You receive an invitation with a vague title like “project update.” You decide to attend even though you don’t know the purpose of the meeting. When you arrive in the conference room, you greet a few equally confused co-workers, along with a few poor souls who have joined the meeting via telephone.The meeting begins. The organizer gives a long-winded “status update,” then asks for “feedback.” The attendees who love the sound of their own voice chime in. Everyone else stares at their hands. The organizer realizes that she’s forgotten the folks on the phone, but they couldn’t hear the conversation anyway. You sigh loudly and realize you’re late for your next pointless meeting.The problem is, despite advances in technology, the way many companies foster collaboration hasn’t changed in decades. We’re still defaulting to gathering around conference tables when quite often, virtual meetings using WebEx, Join.Me, Adobe Connect, etc offers another option with a host of benefits.Virtual meeting expert Dana Sednek says that “in some cases, virtual meetings can have better outcomes than face-to-face meetings.” For example, a situation might call for lots of input in a short amount of time, or it’s not possible to get together often enough, or you have stakeholders whose agendas or personalities get in the way of effective face-to-face meetings.Not all meetings are better virtual. In a survey of 2,000 businesspeople worldwide, Crowne Plaza found that face-to-face meetings are still best for relationship-building, closing deals and negotiating. Savvy managers know that they need to begin their initiatives with face-to-face meetings and can sustain performance over time by conducting virtual meetings during their time apart.So if your day-to-day meetings are making people miserable, perhaps it’s time to throw out the conference table and move the meeting online. Here are five tips for amazing virtual meetings.1. Set clear expectations for participation. Virtual meetings rarely succeed when participants call in from their car, the airport or their kids’ soccer game. Sednek observes, “Colleagues may think that just because they can call in that they are still ‘there’ but this prevents full engagement.” When you’re using web conference technology, remind everyone that they’ll need to log in, not just call in.2. Ensure two-way communication. Make sure you structure your meeting to include two-way communication. Sednek suggests what she calls the “3-12-20” rule. For a 30 minute meeting, allot only three minutes to preliminary remarks. For a 60 minute meeting where you need input from participants, make it 12 minutes. Even if the main purpose of the meeting is to explain a concept or procedure to the participants, get it done in the first 20 minutes. Leave the rest of the time for questions, discussion and clarification.Related: The Value Of Virtual Meetings3. Crowdsource your feedback. You can get more feedback in less time when you move your meeting online. Sednek notes, “In face-to-face meetings, if you want feedback from everyone, you have to go around the room and ask everyone their thoughts. In a virtual space, you can pull that question out in the form of a chat.” Crowdsourcing takes less time and ensures engagement and feedback from everyone in the group.4. Learn to tolerate silence. In any virtual meeting, you’ll inevitably encounter quiet, uncomfortable moments that Sednek calls “crickets.” Don’t immediately assume agreement or fill the silence with extra chatter. “Silence,” she says, “means either the people need a moment to get past a hesitation to speak or that the question needs to be rephrased to something that will elicit a useful response.”5. Build community. In our ever-connected world, project teams often live thousands of miles apart. What’s usually lacking is a sense of a community, which hurts. Sednek explains, “A casual online gathering is a great way to give teams bonding time and encourage them to feel part of a culture,” Sednek says. She suggests a “virtual water cooler” where team members can chat throughout the day.If you’re ever at a loss for how to run your meetings, remember two things. First, make it a meeting you’d want to attend. Second, remember that the real progress begins once everyone gets on the same page, logs off and gets to work!Related: Setting Up Real Virtual Meetings Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. August 25, 2014 Register Now »
Unity has announced a video game challenge, the Obstacle tower challenge which will test the vision, control, planning, and generalization capabilities of AI software. The Obstacle Tower Challenge will use a game-like environment of platform-style gameplay with puzzles and planning problems inside a tower setting maneuvering almost 100 floors. The challenge will examine how an AI software performs in computer vision, locomotion skills, and high-level planning. The challenge will begin on Monday, February 11 and will run through Friday, May 24. As the challenge opens, participants can review all the rules and regulations, download the Starter Kit and begin training their agents. Round 1, which will run from February 11 to March 31, will have participants playing up to Floor 25 of the Obstacle Tower. The winners will proceed to round 2 which will have 100 floors, post which the winners will be announced June 14. The participants will have the opportunity to win prizes in the form of cash, travel vouchers, and Google Cloud Platform credits, valued at over $100,000. “Each of the Tower floors are procedurally-generated, which means an AI agent must not only be able to solve a single version of the Tower but any arbitrary version as well. In this way, we’re testing the generalization ability of agents, a key capability that has not often been analyzed by benchmarks in the past.” said Danny Lange, Vice President of AI and Machine Learning, Unity Technologies. The end goal of this challenge is to bring up new AI research and solve new problems in reinforcement learning.” AI has been making great progress in conquering high-profile games. Recently, Google DeepMind’s AI AlphaStar defeated StarCraft II pros TLO and MaNa and won 10-1 against the gamers. Read Next Unity updates its TOS, developers can now use any third party service that integrate into Unity. Improbable says Unity blocked SpatialOS; Unity responds saying it has shut down Improbable and not SpatialOS. Unity and Baidu collaborate for simulating the development of autonomous vehicles