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Poker Update

2009-08-23 | 01:08

Things are going rather well with the poker. I’ve moved up to 10$ games now on Full Tilt and I am slowly but surely increasing my bankroll. I’ve recently reached a few “milestones”:

  1. +100% since starting 9 months ago.
  2. First win in a decently sized multi-table tournament (176 players).
  3. First full day grinding single-table tournaments where I made more money than I would have at my real job.

I have relaxed my bankroll rules a little bit because I am now positive I am part of the few (less than 5%, according to some book I read) profitable online players, so there’s no risk of loosing my entire bankroll and having to deposit a second time (which is something I decided right from the start that I would never do). I’m still ready to move back down to 5$ games if I suffer a serious downswing (worst I’ve had is -200$ right after I reached milestone #1 above; I’m almost done making it back now) but I’m hoping to be moving up again before the end of the year.

I’m especially looking forward to the 24$ single-table satellites to the 750000$ guarantee because I expect them to be loaded with really bad players trying to get into a tournament that’s way above their skill level for relatively little money, and it’s only a 2$ rake (8.33% instead of the usual 10%). Obviously I would unregister from the big tournament every time I won a satellite because *I* know it is above my level (and not allowed by even the laxest bankroll rules anyway).

As for live games, I’m still mainly playing with the LTPQ. I got slaughtered at the first stage tournament I’ve attended and failed to qualify for the one after that, but I will be at the next two and it looks like I will be district champion for my district (unless I stop playing and some guy scores over 6000 points in a single month, which hasn’t happened since… I set the record for the highest number of points in a month back in June :)).

I also found an extremely juicy live game yesterday with some really awful/reckless players. I “only” made 75$ in three hours because I got cracked twice for big pots and had a single buy-in so I decided to stay away from a couple very high-variance hands (both of which I would’ve won for maybe 100$ more total; I know that because almost everything went to showdown). I’m not sure I’ll go back though because pot winners are expected to tip the dealer (which I have no problem doing, even though he was rather annoying) in addition to paying 10% rake at buy-in (plus it’s a bit of a drive to get there).

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BBC News Science Editor Reaches New Low

2009-01-23 | 10:01

"For comparison, one petagram is equivalent to about one million, million kilograms."

About? Seriously...

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Online Poker Is Not Always a Gentle(wo)man's Game

2008-12-26 | 15:12

People sometimes get a tad frustrated when the cards don't go their way, and that natural tendency is magnified tenfold when there's a few dollars riding on the game. Add the relative anonymity provided by the internet for another tenfold increase (as per John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory) and you get the picture on the right. Not pretty, but good for a laugh at least.

(for the record: I did in fact get lucky a couple times during head-to-head play in that game, but I don't recall having any homosexual thoughts)

So yeah, I'm putting some real money into the game. I mean "real" in the literal sense, not as a figure of speech: it really is small amounts. I started with a 600$ bankroll and follow a variation of Chris Ferguson's Bankroll Management Rules (it's mostly the same, but more conservative; I'm making progress in the game but I ain't no Chris Ferguson).

I mostly play 2$ or 5$ single-table tournaments, with the occasional multi-table, heads-up or 0.05$/0.10$ cash game. At this point, the single-table tournaments have been quite profitable, the multi-table a bit frustrating, and the heads-up and cash games downright hostile (but a valuable lesson in humility). Overall, I show a loss of 0.5% after playing through my bankroll once (i.e. after risking 600$ total, I have 597$ in the bank). Not a big success obviously (Mr. Ferguson would be at about +60% by now), but it's not that easy to beat Full Tilt Poker's rather outrageous 10% rake. However I feel that I'm learning a lot and still improving so I expect to be turning regular profits in the long term (I realize this sounds like "famous last words" for those 600$ but at worst it would take several months so I can afford it).

As for live games, I'm sticking with the LTPQ for now. There's enough strong players there that I can keep learning, and the really bad players are fun to experiment with (I've been trying some psychology-based stuff lately). Even tough I'm showing a profit in the few real-money live games I've played, I'm pretty sure I don't want to meet a living-and-breathing fuckwad so I avoid non-league games in general. Besides, once progressed far enough up the ladder of league tournaments, there's some serious competition to be had (and prizes to be won); I won my entry to the next stage tournament, where I expect to be thoroughly trounced (or win a trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, one or the other).

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The Flobots in Montréal

2008-08-31 | 13:08

The date is Tuesday, August 12th 2008. I was a guest at a wedding two nights earlier and didn't get enough sleep. Work is a little crazy so I should be putting in a bit of overtime. I'm not a big fan of hip-hop music, and I only know the one song by The Flobots. I have nobody to go with. I don't even know if they have tickets left. The sensible thing to do would be to work some more and then go straight home to sleep.

I went to the show anyway. I'm so glad I'm not sensible!

The first opening act was Montréal's own Boogat. I'm not going to comment on it because it wouldn't be very fair. I got there with very low expectations and the crowd was rather cold. Still, I think they did a decent job warming it up.

Then came People Under the Stairs. Those guys really know how to get an evening like that started. They took control of the place right away and didn't let go for their whole set. That dude Double K can really work those turntables.

Unfortunately, the pause while The Flobots were setting up was rather long (considering most of their gear was on stage all along and it really shouldn't take much time to clear a couple turntables and drum machines). Worse, the curtains weren't closed completely so we could see members of the band duck in and out to adjust the height of a mike or tune a guitar or stuff like that. Having only seen the band on TV once months ago, I didn't even recognize them (except for Mackenzie Roberts, more on her later) and just assumed they were stagehands. That made for a somewhat anti-climatic entrance when the time finally came.

Also, trumpet player Joe Ferrone wasn't there. As far as I can tell from the Wikipedia page, he's a full member of the group and not just an extra for a few tracks on the album. Either he isn't taking part in the tour or he wasn't feeling well that day, it wasn't explained.

But that was forgotten quickly as the show itself was just excellent from beginning to end. That was the first time I heard most of their songs and hip-hop is often too fast for me to understand the lyrics, but I still got the gist thanks to Jonny 5's and Brer Rabbit's precise vocals and entertaining song introductions. The themes aren't the usual hip-hop fare (at least, they don't fit my pre-conceived idea of usual hip-hop themes), but instead a strong denunciation of injustice combined with repeated calls to action. While it's usually easy to dismiss that kind of stop-the-war-end-poverty message with a bit of cynicism, in this case it is delivered with so much passion as to make it credible all over again, even to an old geezer like me (it doesn't hurt that the band is still in the up-and-coming phase of their career: a bunch of 20-somethings playing their first gig outside the U.S. are certainly more believable than tax-avoiding multi-millionaire Bono). My favorites were "Anne Braden", "Rise", and of course "Handlebars".

No hands!Speaking of "Handlebars"... The first time I heard it, I thought "what is this hip-hop crap doing on my alternative rock radio station?!"... But half a verse into it I was intrigued, after the trumpet solo I decided it was pretty cool, and by the end I was in love. The progression from mundane childish tricks ("I can ride my bike with no handlebars") to crazy psychopathic dictator ("I can end the planet in a holocaust") is quite a journey, with unpredictable (bordering on insane) lyrics and appropriately soaring guitars and drums. And then the beginning of the song is repeated, with the same gentle melody plucked on the viola and the discreet bass line. Did Augusto Pinochet or Adolf Hitler ever ride a bike like that? Did people think it was neat? Would it have helped if someone had thrown a stick in the spokes early on?

(considering my interpretation of the song above and the picture here on the right, some might get the impression that I'm hinting at a comparison between George W. Bush and some of the worst dictators in history... let's just say the similarities are scary enough that I'm thankful for the 22nd amendment: it means we won't hear him sing a third verse...)

On a lighter note, a word about Mackenzie Roberts. I mentioned she's the only member of the group I recognized from that time I saw them on TV. The reason isn't that seeing a classically trained violist in a hip-hop/rock band is unusual, but simply that she is so very hot! I can't tell the amp for an electric viola from that of a bass guitar (or a set of luggage, for that matter), so it was just by chance that I happened to park myself on her side of the stage before they came out, but I can't say that having her eight feet in front of me for an hour didn't add to my overall enjoyment of the show. Seriously, that girl can't walk down the street, there would be a pileup :). Of course, that doesn't take away from her considerable musical talent: she has some impressive solos in a lot of the songs and also sings very sweet back vocals, particularly for "Anne Braden". She also sang the final encore, a Pat Benatar cover called "Heartbreaker".

Best 15$ I spent all summer!

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Joss Whedon Is a Genius

2008-07-19 | 13:07

Writer-director Joss Whedon kept busy during the Writers Guild of America strike last year, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. See Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. See it now. See it before it gets taken offline at midnight tonight.

Update: It's not offline yet, I was wrong. Although I am right now, because today is tomorrow. Either way you should still see it.

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Targeted Ads Gone Wrong

2008-07-08 | 22:07

My good friend Dilu recently noticed with some bafflement the ads that Facebook chose to show her (here and here). As I commented below the first post, I sympathize: my Swedish ads went away for a little while but now they're back with a vengeance! Except I now think they are Norwegian.

Here's the latest one, screenshotted this very minute:

Not only do "they" assume I can read Norwegian, but "they" seem to think I'm a little freaky too. What else am I supposed to do with a "gratis undertøy" and the pictured woman?

Somebody please rescue me from my smutty mind and provide a translation!

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New Place, New Job, New Addiction

2008-06-29 | 14:06

Lots of stuff happening.

I finally got a job back in Montréal so I also had to move (a 90 minutes commute is something I'm pretty sure I can't deal with). I admit I didn't put as much efforts in apartment hunting as I should have so I'm not going to complain too much about the place I found. Still, I'm allowing myself to make a statement of fact: it's pretty crappy. It doesn't matter too much because I really don't spend a lot of time there. Between the new job and new addiction, you can most easily contact me by cell phone (or by email, if you say something eye-catching enough in the first 140 characters; I get those as a text message). See Facebook for new numbers and stuff.

As for the job, it's not quite as expected because some guy broke his hand and work assignments were shifted all around the office. Since that happened a week before I started, I was sort of left standing when the music stopped and got saddled with the Flex project. It's a bit ironic: I had turned down a job offer that involved Flex a few weeks earlier because I wanted something in C++ or C#, but it's just for a couple months so I'm fine with it.

And the new addiction is: tournament poker. I play in the relatively new Quebec Poker Tournament League just for the fun of it (no real money involved, just a 2$ entry fee per tournament and some neat prizes for people who are way better than me to get). It's very different from playing online and much much more difficult. To give an extreme example, I misplayed the very first hand one evening and was out right away. Once back home I didn't have my fill so I entered a 90 players online tournament and finished second... Still, I often manage to place within the first 25% of players so I'm learning a lot and having fun.

In fact I'm going there right now!

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Go NASA, Go!

2008-05-25 | 21:05

The Phoenix Mars Lander successfully reached the surface of Mars earlier tonight. This brings humanity's batting average for such an endeavor above 500 for the first time ever (although the U.S only failed once out of 7 attempts; in other words, the former Soviet Union really crashed a lot of junk over there). Space.com has continuing coverage of post-landing operations.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

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More Whining About TV

2008-05-04 | 17:05

This week's CSI:NY surprised me. It had a slightly overweight female extra in one scene. I think I'm done with that show... Not because it had an overweight extra but because it was the first time ever.

Of course I realize that people on TV are prettier than average. I don't have a problem with that, in fact I can appreciate a little eye candy. I'm willing to do my part in that "suspension of disbelief" deal in the name of entertainment. But I'm not happy to find out that I let myself be brainwashed to the point where a single "ordinary" person in a 2 seconds panning shot gives me pause.

CSI:Miami is clearly guilty of this as well and adds the most inane plot lines imaginable...

Enough with that crap.

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Some Rambling About Some Ranting

2008-04-15 | 20:04

Peter Colijn is ranting about locales. As a French Canadian who has been using computers for over 20 years, I am more than sympathetic. However, I will need more time and a different frame of mind to write my own rant on the subject. It will be long, vitriolic and unconstructive. There's a lot of pent up anger there!

In the meantime, I can offer a theory. Maybe the filename on the CD is incorrect to begin with. It wouldn't be the first time that some bug upstream in a toolchain (say, in the CD mastering software) turns valid data into garbage. In that case, the rest of the software stack might be doing a perfect job of carrying that garbage all the way to the user interface in all its smelly glory. If that is what is happening, no amount of fiddling with settings can possibly help.

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