If I Were a Coach: Fantasy Basketball

March Madness!

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ESPN Fantasy Basketball Sometimes it’s not enough just to bet on brackets in the spring. Fans can enhance their excitement and engagement with the game all season by playing fantasy basketball. In the fantasy game, players built imaginary teams selected from players across the league. Participants follow and bet on the performance of their “team,” which is based on the statistics of individual players, across the season.

It is a kind of math puzzle which would be difficult without the help of computers. Both major broadcasters and independent sites offer fantasy basketball websites that can organize and track these dream teams. ESPN has a robust online application that can be played for free, with “premium” features available for, well, a premium (http://games.espn.go.com/frontpage/basketball). The NBA partners with Yahoo! for its fantasy league (http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/nba/signup). Also, some networks host fantasy basketball sites: CBS Sports (http://fantasynews.cbssports.com/fantasybasketball) and FOX Hot Streak (

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Author Irene McDermott talks with Bill Leff in Chicago

Bill Leff

Up all night, Chicago? Tune into Bill Leff’s show on WGN radio 720 to catch author Irene McDermott  discussing web sites that can save you money on travel.

Missed it live? Listen to the podcast: http://wgnradio.com/2013/03/26/sites-to-make-you/

The Internet Book of Life

SnowtweetsRichard Kelly, professor of geography at the University of Waterloo in Canada, wants to track climate change and predict the spring runoff but he needs your help. He says, “We’re asking people to really look around them when they’re outside and perhaps make a measurement of how much snow there is in their backyard, or on their way as they drive along. They can perhaps make an estimate of snow depth.”

Use Twitter to send a message about the snow, marking your tweet with the hashtag #snowtweets. Send the hashtag and your guess of the snow depth in centimeters or inches followed by your GPS coordinates or zip code. Your tweet should look like this:

#snowtweets 15 in. at 14226

Android and iPhone users can visit http://snowtweets.org/m to download the app for their smartphones.

Do your part to help the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of…

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The Internet Book of Life

Repair ClinicThe agitator dogs on my 17-year-old Whirlpool washing machine are shot. I turn to Repair Clinic to order a replacement part and even get advice about how to install it myself. Or maybe to figure out that I shouldn’t repair it myself but call a professional instead!

Repair Clinic


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Irene McDermott speaks with Dr. Susan Lorain on WNJC Radio Philadelphia

Heart to HeartHear author Irene McDermott discuss websites and apps to help save money on travel on the Heart to Heart program on WNJC Radio Philadelphia. The program aired on June 12, 2012.


Click below to play.

Good for anyone with cognitive, vision or mobility issues.

The Internet Book of Life

PointerWareCanadian computer guys Raul Rupsingh and Stephen Beath volunteered in senior centers and tested their simple 5-button interface with genuine grandmas. Now, their web-based subscription software is used in many Canadian retirement and nursing-home chains. The home version costs $8 per month or $149 for a year of access, support, and upgrades. It is available in eight languages including Hindi and simplified or traditional Chinese. PointerWare works on Windows-based PCs and tablets. It is not compatible with Apple products.


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Hulu and Cutting the Cord

HuluAccording to David Lazarus, two million customers “cut the cord” in 2010, terminating their cable and satellite delivery services. In the economic downturn, many users “find it cheaper and easier to download their shows from Netflix and Hulu.” (Lazarus, David. “Cable Needs a La Carte Menu.” Los Angeles Times 26 Aug. 2011, sec. B: 1.)

As a result, in July 2011, Fox became the first broadcast network to restrict free access to its shows through Hulu, of which it is part owner.

In 2008, as a defense against internet piracy, NBC Universal and News Corp., owner of the Fox network, teamed up to launch Hulu. They were joined by Disney, the owner of ABC, in 2009. Hulu specialized in showing the newest of the participating network’s television shows along with classic broadcasts and some movies. In exchange, viewers watch commercials, just as they would have done on broadcast television. This free service can only be accessed by a computer connected to the internet.

Hulu+ subscription service was introduced in 2010 with expanded the offerings. For about $8 per month, users have unlimited to the season’s television programming, more movies, and the opportunity to stream content to a variety of devices including smart phones, tablet computers, and the new “smart TVs,” that is, television sets with integrated internet capabilities. There are still commercials on Hulu+, although there are fewer of them.

Although Fox benefited from advertising revenue from Hulu, the streaming service caused the network to miss out on lucrative cable and satellite subscription fees. This is why, starting in July 2011, most Hulu users must wait eight days to see new Fox content like Glee or The Simpsons. However, DISH network customers have been offered an “authentication” code” to unlock premium Hulu content, supposedly to reward them for maintaining their monthly satellite service even as they stream content via the internet. Hulu+ subscribers can also watch new Fox shows.