Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advanced Star Wars Trivial Pursuit & Wii Boom Blox

Shawn visited from LA for Thanksgiving. We had a great time, and played some marathon sessions of Wii Boom Blox and Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. By the second or third day, we started adding additional rules to make the games more challenging.

In fact, we added the rules to the SW Trivial Pursuit game in the middle of the first turn, when it looked like I was going to run the board on Shawn (having won the roll to go first and then gotten about 15 answers right without a miss).

So, here are our new rules:

Advanced Star Wars Trivial Pursuit:
  • Gaining a 'pie wedge' ends your turn. Thus each player can only gain 1 wedge per turn--and no player can run the board on the other.
  • To win the game (in the center of the board after filling up) the player must answer every question on the card correctly. Not just the 1 category chosen by the opponent.
  • You do not need to leave and return to the center after a failed win attempt. The piece just stays there and a new card is drawn on subsequent turns.
Even with these rules in place, this was the fastest game of trivial pursuit we had ever played. (Yea, we're both major Star Wars geeks--at least for the classic trilogy.)

Advanced multi-player Wii Boom Blox:
  • On 'throw' levels and some 'pull' levels: You cannot aim at the top block of the tower.
  • On other 'pull' levels: You must dislodge (or substantially move) at least one other block in addition to the one you are pulling.
  • On other 'pull' levels: You must pull the lowest possible block that will not obviously topple the tower. (This makes for a very quick game.)
  • On the frame 'knock out' levels: You can not aim at the highest-value block. Or, alternately: You must aim for one of the lowest-value blocks.
Enjoy! Happy gaming.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Point/Counterpoint on Alice's Commute

The (my) Prius gets better gas mileage than the (her) Jetta does.
Alice commutes. I don't. There is a parking discount for hybrid drivers at Expedia, which will save us an additional $75 each month in addition to the gasoline savings. This makes it the better choice for her commute from from both an economical and environmental standpoint. It just makes the most sense. It is better for us and the world if she drives the Prius to work instead of the Jetta.

Hey, that's my car!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The HDMI Video Cable Scam (or: Do You Know What DIGITAL Means?)

The other day, I was in a big computer and electronics store and saw a rack of HDMI video cables right by the entrance with prices ranging from $50 to over $100!!

This is a SCAM! Identical cables can be purchased on Amazon for $1.50 or so. There were even some used ones that were listed at $0.01. (Plus a couple bucks shipping, I assume.)

Now, some of you audiophiles may be saying "You can see and hear the difference on a better cord!" and that may be true (or may not be) for your analog equipment, but this is DIGITAL. Digital means "NUMBERS." Do you understand the difference yet? Let's look at some numbers, shall we:


Hmmm, all of those numbers have the SAME VALUE, don't they. Whether they are big or small, bold or italic, or not.
Imagine that first BIG BOLD number as coming from a top-of-the-line $100 HDMI cord and the last tiny italic one coming from a $.01 used HDMI cord. THEY HAVE THE SAME VALUE: FOUR!*
As long as that value gets through, your TV will give you the exact same image and sound.

You're welcome.

*This joke was for the ultra-geeky. If you didn't get it, just assume I said "one-hundred" and be happy that you are cooler than that.

PS: The difference in quality between HDMI and Component Video IS NOTICEABLE! And completely worth your $1.50.

Monday, November 3, 2008

ContactClone Video

Watch my video!

This was done to show off our new iPhone software, ContactClone and ContactClone Pro.
I tried (several times) to get a decent video using both a webcam and an actual video camera and nothing worked. The lighting was always terrible, and the iPhone screen was usually blurry. So I animated the thing in Flash using screenshots. It worked great!

And it was the first time I'd really used Flash in 10 years!! And WHO KNEW THAT THIS WAS STILL ON THE WEB!
I didn't. It's kind of fun to watch some crazy stuff you did a long time ago and had nearly forgotten about.
NOTE: Clip Art Theater contains scenes of explicit cartoon violence and is not for the the weak of comedy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maui. October, 2008 - Part 2

These guys were blocking the stream with leaves to make the pool deeper. Then jumping in off rocks.

Not just a crazy car, but a crazy car parked in a handicapped space.

Notice the bananas.

I don't think this boat just sank, but it seemed pretty crazy.

Me at Lulu's!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maui. October, 2008

A batch of pictures--mostly underwater--from Maui.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poker: $13, 12-Player Tournament Win. With Commentary

93 hands.
Video of the entire tournament! (click here)
(I'd recommend opening the tourney video in a different window, so you can watch and read side-by-side. That's assuming anyone cares about this...)

NOTE ABOUT THE HAND REPLAYER VIDEO: This just plays back the hand's actions at a constant speed based on your speed setting. In the real play there were pauses, fast bets, A chat box, people thinking for a long time about some decisions, etc. That is not represented here. But it makes the game move along nice and fast so watching it is better.

If you don't play poker, this will be really boring. Or maybe it will be very interesting.
I don't claim to play perfectly or great. In fact, I make a lot of mistakes that I'll try to point out here. I'm writing this as much for myself (so I can get better) than for anyone else.

This was a $13, 2-table, 6-player per table tournament. The top 3 places are paid.

The format of this blog is like this

Hand number from the video
Commentary on that hand...

No problem folding JT and just seeing what happens to start getting a feel for the table.

JT again. Suited this time--and even in spades, which makes it look much prettier. But you want to see more cards cheaply with this hand. There are lots of places it can go, but 'nowhere' is one of them.
Flop: Nowhere it is.
River: Enzo calls the river with just a pair of fives! Note taken.

Fein makes two super-weak bets then folds when faced with a real bet. Note taken.

I messed up. I should have either let this go preflop, or raised the flop to see where I was at. If Fein didn't have a King he would be hard pressed to call. And I would have taken control. Bad play by me.
NOTE: The biggest mistake bad players make is calling too much (raising and folding too little). Now let's go through my play on this hand again:
Mistake #1: Calling preflop.
Mistake #2: Calling preflop again.
Mistake #3: Calling the flop.
I'm off to a pretty bad start.

Enzo calls again with 55 with a ace on board. Note expanded. That note being "don't try to bluff this guy."

A better player would have probably raised the flop. My straight draw is what made me just call. If I hit the Q, I want a chance to take his whole stack.

preflop: NICE! Having just taken down a pot without showing my cards, this raise preflop may seem like another steal attempt...
Flop: Standard.
Turn: Too many draws have appeared. I want this pot NOW. If he has a Jack or two clubs, I want him to pay for his draw.

Third good hand in a row. After taking down the last two hands uncontested, I didn't think Enzo was going to let me have this one without a fight. So I just checked it down. This also tells the table that I'm not messing with them all the time, and I got to show that I had a decent hand.
And Ace high was good. Nice. (And he called my raise with Q6s!! Ok, I need to raise this guy more!)

14, 15, 16
Seems like Enzo is not the bluffing type. But he will call down with pretty much anything.

See, I should raise Enzo's limps. You will see this move again.
Honestly, I didn't expect to win this preflop. I just wanted the blinds out to go against just Enzo.

Aggression wins.

Rigga has only played a couple hands so far, including the big one a couple hands ago. He's also in good 'steal' position. This raise may have been too big, but I just wanted to either take the pot or see all 5 cards. Turns out Late wants to call me with AJ. I see my 5 cards and take him out.
Hopefully, this hand also sent a "Don't mess with me" message to the table.

I've gotten JT a few times, and play it this time on the button. Flop an open-ender, but with so many people in, I want to make my straight before putting more chips in.
Results: Notice that Purp flopped 3 kings on a board with both straight and flush draws available and gave TWO FREE CARDS to any players who were drawing to beat him. This is terrible. True, he probably wouldn't have won much more if he had bet big on the flop, but you don't want me to make my straight or some guy holding 2 hearts to hit his flush. BAD BAD BAD!

Ouch for purp. He played this one right, and got unlucky.

I figured Purp was calling/going all in with anytyhing after that last beat. I wanted to roll against him. But ended up just taking down the blinds+Enzo's limp. No complaints.

And purp is gone.

Lucky for me no Jack hit the board.

Again Fein folds the river after betting the whole way.

Preflop: Sweet!
Flop: I hope he doesn't have an Ace, but he doesn't have enough chips to make me fold.
River: I go ahead and make the flush for good measure/insult to injury.

41, 43
Aggression wins.

I totally blow this!!!!
My thinking was that I'd been pushing these guys around a lot in the last few hands (40,41,43), and I just couldn't stand an all in re-raise from Riga. So I just totally wimp out. I absolutely, 100% should have raised here and then waited to see if the re-raise actually came before deciding what to do.
It would have kept the pressure on these guys, and ATs is a very good hand when 3-handed.
Terrible terrible terrible weak play on my part.
Flop: I would have had straight and flush draws. I am shown the error of my ways.
Turn: I make the straight!! The error of my ways is brought into clear focus!!! I could have potentially busted one or maybe even both of these guys!!!
I suck.

NOTE: I haven't played many of these 6-max tournaments. I really wasn't used to playing 3-handed when there wasn't just 3 people left in the tournament. Excuses, excuses.

A bad flop for the Ace and then a brutal turn for the king brings us to the final table.

We're down to 6 players, and the final table. I'm in 2nd place. Unfortunately, all the money is on my left, and the short stacks are on my right. I'd much rather have it the other way around.
Edo CALLS 200 with 328 behind. He doesn't have enough chips for this. If he's going to play (and he should) he should just go all in. And then he folds. Weak.

Not sure what he kept calling with. Along the way, I thought he had the other Ace, and I was happy to see the queen on the river giving us a chop. But I'll settle for the whole pot, thank you.

double-ouch on the river. First you see the Ace, then you see the flush.

Edo sucks! He's got 1/3 of his chips in, he'll be getting 3:1 on his money. He's just crippling himself more by waiting.

Edo folds AGAIN! with nearly 1/2 his stack in blind.

Aggression wins. Here, Edo is helping me. No one else wants to bust before he does.

Here I just call to get Edo out.
Pokerforyou messes it up by betting his pair of TWOS on the flop.
I should have called him, but normally in this situation he should have much more to bet there...
If we fold, he gains nothing and still risks losing the pot to Edo.
Whatever. We're down to 4. And on the bubble.

A better player may have raised all-in here to isolate. But I didn't. That could have bitten me... It ended up not mattering. I pop the bubble and we're in the money.

My goal now is to get rid of Riga and only fight hard against pokerforyou if I have a really big hand. Once Riga is gone, then I'll fight the other big stack.

65, 68
Aggression on the button picks up some extra chips.

66, 69
He lets me see free flops (bad idea for him). I miss 66, but hit 69 and win a nice pot. Almost have Riga busted. I might have gotten him to pay me off for all his chips here. Not sure. I guess I managed a little potential damage control in case he really did beat me (On the turn. I was very confident that I had a winner on the river.)

A re-raise all in probably would have won the pot. But I don't want to flip a coin for all my chips vs. the other big stack when there's a shorty left to be busted. Not sure if I could have done this better... Limp/call and see a cheaper flop? Call his re-raise? Don't know...

Preflop: Feeling good about my Jacks. Not so happy that they both called, though.
Flop: That is an ugly flop for JJ, and given the action, this is an easy fold. I'm hoping Riga busts here... Which he does.

And we're heads-up.

I may have played this hand terribly (or brilliantly, I'll never know). But at least I didn't lose very much.


A turning point. I didn't like calling his preflop re-raise, but he'd been pushing me around a bit re-raising like that and I wanted it to stop.
The flop is a great one to semi-bluff with. He puts out a small bet (which hopefully means he's weak), and I shove.
If he doesn't have an Ace, he MUST fold. Even if he does have an Ace, I have about a 36% chance to make my flush. And he still might fold, fearing that I have an ace with a better kicker, or some better hand. He folds, and I pick up a very nice pot.

He does his limp, re-raise again. I let this one go. Mistake? I don't know. I don't think so, as my A9 isn't really going to be a big favorite over anything other than Ax ('x' being lower than nine).

I didn't want to have to fold to the re-raise again. So I just let this one go.
The fold is, mathematically, a mistake. But hopefully it will tell him to respect my raises. Does psychology outweigh math? I hope so in this case. Want to bet on it?

I'm still playing a little passively here...

Show him that I still know how to check-raise.
Fear my bets, fear my raises; now fear my checks.

Dang. (Don't fear that much, dude!)

"The winning hand."
If he had raised more, I would have folded this garbage preflop. But his min-raise gave me 3:1 on my money, and I had to take a look and see what happened...
Flop: GIN!
I think I misplayed my check-raise and should have just called and then tried to get the money in on the turn. I figure I have him drawing nearly or completely dead, so I'm not worried about many/any cards to come.
But as it turned out, he had an Ace, and was willing to put all his money in. I'm more than happy to oblige him. I'm a 96% favorite.
The turn and river nearly put a straight on the board. But no worries.

92, 93
Mopping up.
If he had pushed 93 preflop (as he should have done), I might have considered folding. but he let me see a cheap flop and hit my queen before putting my money in. His flush draw is a little worrisome. The turn takes away his 3 ace outs, which he gets on the river, just as a little extra needle from the poker gods.

I win $72. (Minus $13 entry = $59 profit.)

Afterward: After going through this a couple times writing this blog (I don't usually go over games this thoroughly) I think I played pretty well, but also got pretty lucky. I never lost a really big pot. When I got my money in, I had the best hand, and it held up every time. A few of my small bluffs were picked off, but my big one wasn't. 26% of the time, hand 21 goes the other way and I'm crippled right there. Also on hand 21, if riga had any pocket pair and called, he'd have taken us both out. 10% of the time, hand 40 goes the other way. Or if the suits had been different on 40 he could have made the flush when I didn't. 74 could have gotten me (all of us) all-in preflop. I'm out in 3rd place if that happened. If he calls on hand 82, I could have been out there, too.
For all my luck and mistakes, I think I played better then the other guys played. And that will be good enough the statistically correct percentage of the time.


Special thanks to PokerXFactor for the replay viewer. And twoplustwo for letting me 'borrow' PokerXFactor's viewer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

FTP on the Go released

Our first iPhone software was just released. ("Our" meaning Mike and me--mostly Mike.)

Check it out: www.ftponthego.com

It's kind of specific to IT and web developers, but for the people who want it, it's exactly what they want. Having never done anything for Apple* or the iPhone or iTunes before, things are very new, and we don't know what to expect yet. But it sure is exciting!!

And let's face it: even a boring old FTP directory listing looks sexy in an iPhone (see below).

* Ok, technically Mike HAS published software for an Apple computer before. Our school district bought educational software Mike (age ~13) programmed for the Apple ][ in 1982 or 83.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pro Poker Rally

Some of the crowd at the rally.
Andy Block speeking at a poker rally in Kent.

Barry Greenstein.
Lee Russo speaking with Barry and Andy in the background.

Barry speaking again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New GreenStage Website

GreenStage's website just got a much-needed, much-overdue design overhaul.


This was really a joint effort of myself and Ken Holmes.

The site used Drupal content management system. It was the first time either of us had used Drupal, so it may do some things strangely, but it looks nice, and is easy to use and easier to update. Which is pretty cool. It took us a while to sort out how drupal thinks, but once we started to get a handle on it, it's very nice! It will be cool to see how the site evolves over the months/years...

In other web design news, I made this site look pretty:
Michael is responsible for the content and functionality. He developed a diet/exercise/gym management system with his trainer/partner Dan (as of this writing, I have not yet made their own website look pretty like the Alaska one...). Then a gym in Alaska started using their system, so I matched the content to the Alaska site. I will (hopefully) do a lot more of these in the future.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Doing Something Right

But I have no clue what that is!

I saw this little widget on someone else's blog and for a laugh, I decided to see how much it thought my blog was worth. I expected it to say something like $0. or $0.08 or something like that. Oh no! It claims my blog is worth over $500!!!
$564.54 to be exact (on 4/29/08), but that number may change between when I type this and when the massive hordes readers who I didn't know existed will read it.

Then I thought I was on to their game: clearly they're just padding results to make everyone feel good, right? So I entered Mike's blog into their system. (http://michael.burford.net/) and his blog is worth $0!!!


Maybe his blog may be worth more now that a super-popular $564 blog like mine is linking to it.

Apparently, the various goings on with the repairs on my house and obscure ramblings about web design and low-stakes poker are a lot more poular that I thought they were!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's Happening Around My House, Epilogue

With all the real insanity surrounding the attic, and the porch I have neglected to mention several of the other "Small Jobs" that actually were small jobs. (Remember, the porch began as a "Small Job" but ended up being even bigger than the attic, which was supposed to be the only big job.)

A security screen door was put on the back door. This will let us leave the back door open in the summer and be fairly safe from burglars and insects. Also notice the restored glass transom above the door! Some time in the past, a person decided that it would be 'better' to have a flimsy piece of plywood nailed up there.
We also had a "Whole House Fan" installed. In the summer, this will help pull cool air in through windows and our new screen door (pictured above) and blow the hot house air into the attic (pictured on several previous posts) and then blow the super-hot attic air back outside. Pretty cool. In fact, I have a suspicion that John may be installing more of these things once all of our mutual friends see this in action in the summer. Here is a picture of the installation in progress. NOTE: Apparently, cheaper versions of this fan are really loud--but we bought a good one, and it doesn't seem any louder than typical box fan on high. We bought the HV1000. Learn more: http://www.wholehousefan.com/.
And here is the finished result. The screen on the left is the fan, and the hatch on the right is the attic access. The fan is practically invisible after it's installed.
And I leave you with a porch before & after shots. Quite a difference.

What's Happening Under My Patio, Part 4

Here is (hopefully) the final chapter in the "What's Happening With My House" saga!
Here we see the porch steps starting to look like porch steps again.
Making the new steps fit with the old stuff
Almost there...
Wheww! New steps. Also notice the new shingle siding that is slightly different color than the old siding. The new stuff is just primed, but it's pretty close to what is there. The weather is currently too cold to paint, so we have to live with primer for a couple months and then I will paint things up myself. I got some good painting tips from John. (See below)
The new stairs in all their glory. Minus the hand rail--which is how this part of everything started. The railing will be put on in a few weeks, possibly by John and possibly by the company that will build the railing. The railing will look something like this: http://ballardiron.com/images/outdoor/rail21.jpg
And here is the doorway to our new storage unit/shed/garage underneath the porch. While it may not be pretty under there, it will be very functional. It's about 6' x 12' and I can stand up in it (I have to duck a bit under the new support beams).
The stairs bend around the corner of the front bay window. Here is a view from underneath showing the supports for the ends of the steps that extend around that bend.
Somehow, a lot of garbage was generated by all this. I'm going to digress a little now: You see, there is this this strange satisfaction with taking things to the dump. It's not politically correct, and it really isn't environmentally friendly at all! But there a great satisfaction when you get to chuck something over the ledge and into the pit at the dump and you know with complete certainty that it will never, EVER, come back. You don't need to worry or think about it any more because it's GONE! Completely, 100%, gone.
If you've done it, then you know what I mean--but you may not be proud to admit it...
King of the mountain!
It's finally done.
And now, as promised, painting tips for amateurs:
  • Go to a real paint store, not just a general hardware/home improvement store.
  • Use primer.
  • Use good (expensive) primer.
  • Use good (expensive) paint.
  • Ask the guy at the paint store for suggestions.
  • Don't paint in the cold or rain.