Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Beyond the Boundary: The final four

And then there were four. Mumbai Indians, imperious and conquering, made it to the semi finals first. Royal Challengers Bangalore got through the day they beat Rajasthan Royals. And on Sunday, April 18, two teams - Chennai Super Kings and the Deccan Chargers - made the finals in contrasting styles.

In a match played at high altitude, where the thin air helps the ball travel further, MS Dhoni produced a clutch of big shots, scoring 28 of the last 29 runs and powering Chennai Super Kings to an incredible victory over Kings XI Punjab. Needing 195 to win, Raina, Badrinath and then Dhoni combined to put together a match-winning performance.

The Deccan Chargers, on the other hand, combined well on the field as a team to defend a par total of 145 against the Delhi Daredevils. Andrew Symonds stroked a powerful 50 but none of the other batsmen did much. On the field though, the Chargers defended with enthusiasm to take the remaining spot.

Now to the sudden death stage. An inch here, a misfield there, could settle things. Performances in the league stage won’t matter anymore. All teams are now equal.

Posted by Sajith Sivanandan (When not attempting to get selected for IPL in the year 2020, Sajith works at Google Singapore)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Beyond the Boundary: The business end of the tournament

For me, one of the best features of the IPL is it’s format. This is a tournament that rewards consistency; only the teams with the most consistent record make it to the finals. Most cricket tournaments split teams into groups with a couple of matches in the league stage, then feature knock out stages or in some cases the (rather grandly-named) Super League stage. Almost all these tournaments fail to reward the most consistent teams with more opportunities. In contrast, the format of the IPL ensures that the four most consistent teams get the opportunity to fight for the big prize. With each team playing the other teams at home and away (for a total of 14 matches for each team), only the teams that play well throughout can hope to make it to the finals.

Just 11 matches remain in league play. Incredibly, seven of the eight teams have a chance of making it to the semi finals. Every match causes a change in the table. Last Friday, when the Kings XI Punjab beat the Mumbai Indians, it meant that the top four were still undecided.

Royal Challengers Bangalore won against the Kolkata Knight Riders this past Saturday and gave themselves - along with the Mumbai Indians - a great chance of qualifying for the semi finals.

It’s possible every match now will see a new team enter or exit the top four. Net run rates could well enter the equation. It’s all set up for a final week of the league stage in IPL 3.

Posted by Sajith Sivanandan (When not attempting to get selected for IPL in the year 2020, Sajith works at Google Singapore)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Beyond the Boundary: In the blink of an eye

6, 4, 1, 4, 6, 4, 4. In seven balls Harbhajan Singh scored 29 runs against Deccan Chargers and changed the course of the match for the Mumbai Indians. In the next over, he plundered four 4s in consecutive balls and helped his team turn out a match winning total.

Fast forward to the match between Kings XI Punjab and the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 2. Bangalore needed two runs a ball to win the match or 48 runs in 24 balls to be precise. 6, 4, 1, 1, 6, 5, 2 - 25 runs got taken off that Bret Lee over and the match was effectively over.

In 20-20 cricket the old cliche of “you can’t blink an eye” really does ring true. Six balls can bring about three wickets or 25 runs and just like that the game changes. One minute the asking rate looks like a mountain and three minutes later, it could be down to just a run a ball or less.

In the week just past, IPL fans enjoyed watching the YouTube highlights of the matches between Royal Challengers Bangalore versus the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians versus the Kolkata Knight Riders the most. Hope you did too.

Posted by Sajith Sivanandan (When not attempting to get selected for IPL in the year 2020, Sajith works at Google Singapore)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

TEXTp saves YouTube bandwidth, money

It’s great news that there are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we support 1080p and HD uploads are rising quickly, but that’s also meant increasing bandwidth costs cutting into our bottom line. And so, in our drive to keep expenses under control, we’ve decided that April 1 is the perfect day to take the important step of offering a new way to experience YouTube: text-only mode, or TEXTp.

TEXTp is the result of months of intense transcoding efforts by our engineers, who toiled for weeks to ensure that a large chunk of videos on the platform could be reduced to their most basic elements. By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system -- and have the added benefit of promoting literacy!

To give it a whirl, make sure you have the latest Flash player (10.0) and click here. Or you can select “TEXTp” from the pulldown menu on most videos, as so:

You can also append &textp=fool to most video URLs to test it out.

For every person who selects TEXTp and keeps it on while you watch a video, you save YouTube $1 a second, resulting in potentially billions of dollars of savings for us. So if you care about YouTube, you’ll use TEXTp today.

Patrick Pichette, SVP and Chief Financial Officer, Google

New video page launches for all users

As you may know, we're in the midst of one of the largest redesigns in YouTube's history: we're simplifying the look and functionality of the video page. That's the page you see whenever a video plays, and this redesign is about going "back to basics," focusing attention on the reason why you came to YouTube in the first place -- the video -- and all the ways you engage with content and creators.

We first unveiled the new video page two months ago and checked in four weeks later to tell you about the latest set of changes. Truth is, we've been thinking about this for a long time: what you see is the result of eight months' worth of user research, feedback and data analysis. Now, after a few more additions based on your latest feedback, we are rolling it out to 100% of YouTube users.

Here's what's new about the page:

Overall look and functionality
- It's cleaner, simpler and easier to use.
- Information about a video is now grouped together in one place and there's a consistent way to get more detail when you need it. This way, unless something's truly useful to you, it doesn't clutter up your page.
- We've cleaned up the actions bar; you'll see a streamlined presentation for sharing, flagging and embedding controls.

- The right-hand side of the page is devoted to the next video to watch. We're smarter about suggesting the next videos to watch based on how you found the video you're watching in the first place.
- The channel name and subscribe button are now both on top of the video. We found that you prefer having a quick peek at more videos uploaders have created before deciding whether to subscribe to their channels.

- There's a new playlist interface, with the next video in the list appearing consistently in the top right. You can easily expand that list or skip ahead using a new next button in the player controls.
- Saving to playlists is easier, and we've made Favourites the default option.

- We've replaced the five-star ratings system with a simpler "likes / dislikes" model and introduced a new "Videos I Liked" list.

- Comments have a new highlights view which summarizes the best discussions and celebrates when creators communicate with their audiences.

We know this is a big change, but we hope you'll find the new page to be an improvement to your YouTube experience and to be a reflection of what you've told us thus far through your usage of the site and your comments to us. We'll be gathering in a conference room at our San Bruno, CA, headquarters at 6 p.m. PT today and tomorrow, and in London at 9 a.m. GMT tomorrow, to respond in near-real-time to your comments in the forums, on this blog and on Twitter. Of course, we'll be listening at other times, too, but we wanted to make sure we were available when you might have the most questions about these changes.

Igor Kofman, Software Engineer, recently watched "Pantyraid - Beba," and Shiva Rajaraman, Product Manager, recently watched "Chat Roulette Funny Piano Improv #2."