I've been looking at my posts on here, and they have been heavy on the academic stuff. Lots of paper reviews and discussions, a few notices of conferences/symposia in the field…they're all good as far as keeping my foot in the technical community is concerned. But I don't want this blog to be stuck in the ivory tower. There are some academic questions that are of interest to me, like goal distributions and perhaps match result probabilities, but I also want to be able to make some kind of contribution toward answering more practical questions such as who has performed better at certain positions, who is undervalued/overvalued in a particular league, or how many points a team in a league is likely to win, to name a few.
To this end, I bought a Linux laptop computer to do number crunching for some of my research projects, including soccermetrics tasks. (I like to have separate computers for different tasks, one for reading mail and surfing the web, and another for software development and number crunching.) It has a suite of numerical software, such as Scilab and Octave, software development tools (C/C++/Fortran/Python/etc.), and database management software. I finally got Scilab to work on my machine without crashing, so I hope to be able to get my hands dirty with the algorithms presented in the papers and create my own database of relevant data. (Or at least work toward creating a database that everyone can use for their own research.)
I should mention that I bought my laptop from Los Alamos Computing, which makes custom-built Linux laptops, desktops, and servers. They sell mostly Lenovo machines, and I was able to get a high-performance laptop with 3GB RAM for about $1500. Their customer support is also very good. The Linux distributions have made a huge leap in quality and usability over the past 10 years, so I almost feel comfortable about recommending it to someone who is a computer novice.
Now, I do have another paper review in the pipeline, but I hope to have more of my own work very soon.