Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pandora and Firefox

A note to all the Pandora users; Pandora does work in FireFox 1.5 [Edit: this fix also worked on my 1.0.7 install], but it may not work perfectly if you have the Adblock extension installed.

Symptom - Pandora loads, and you hear music, but you don't see anything.

Possible fix - Go to Tools->AdBlock->Preferences, click on the AdBlock Options button and make sure that "Obj-Tabs" is un-checked.

Another one I ran into was this;

Symptom - The Pandora page loads, but the player never appears and no music plays.

Possible Fix - Reinstall Flash. You'll need to get the proper uninstaller from Macromedia (I used these). Close and relaunch FireFox, and reinstall the flash plug-in.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Solid Advice....

One of the things I've found myself misplaying in a Poker tournament is a large stack. I used to take way too many risks and waste away my lead. I started taking less risks, but then I ended up missing some opportunities. Daniel Negranu just put up an article at The Poker Gazette -- "Use your big stack to control the table".

Here's a quick summary of his six points:
  • Attack the short stacks
  • Avoid the big stacks
  • Don't play big pots
  • Be creative
  • Strike fear in your opponents
  • Be a consistent presence
A good read. Many of his statements I had learned the hard way. I've been short stacked at many a table where the larger stacks wouldn't (wisely) let me limp into a pot - it was all or nothing. Some of the other points I hadn't considered.

The "Don't play big pots" was what had bit me early on. I'd allow myself to call with a marginal hand, that was likely beat, and lose too many of my chips. Then I went too tight and didn't cause any fear at the table. Funny how that works.

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Grumble, Grumble....

For my December Poker game I decided to have some fun prizes to award in addition to our regular stuff. I shot out and bought some typical swag online from one of the "big names". Due to the holidays the company would only ship 2nd day. No problem, I needed it here quickly anyway. No items were listed as backordered.

That was two weeks ago. The company charged my credit card the day after I placed the order. Now the fun part; I've been trying to contact them for over a week now by email and phone. I can not get a single response. The best part has to be hearing this voicemail message each time you call;
"Thank you for calling [name politely removed]. Our hours of operation are 8am to 5pm central standard time. If you are calling during normal business hours, all of our operators are currently assisting other customers."
The first few times, I thought that was funny. Now I wonder if they have any operators. Emails have gone unanswered, not even a polite automated "We got your mail" response. Nothing.

I had it. So I went over to my bank to stop payment, figuring that would get the company's attention. My order total was $50. To stop the payment would cost me $25! Half of my order cost just to stop a payment. Argh.

Guess the prizes will go toward the January game.

Grumble.... Grumble....

[Edit: I finally got a hold of someone on Dec 1st, and was informed my order was shipped on Nov 28 - but that the website was never updated. Everything should be on time. Took over a week of constant calling to get a human... but they are there.]

Monday, November 28, 2005

No more Raster!

I swore I wouldn't go back to it. I did! I cancelled, walked away. Got hooked on GuildWars, finished it (it is a CCORPG after all and not an MMO, so there is an "end"). Played FEAR, picked up Civ IV.... and finally was convinced to give WoW a try.

*sigh* Level 11 Druid reporting for duty.

I'm not sure what order all this happened in, so forgive me. WoW combines the best elements of EQ and GW. Allowing you to drop in, play for a little while, feel like you did something and move on. There is very little downtime, and what downtime there is you can shorten -- yes, if you haven't played you read that right, you can shrink the low downtime even lower.

The graphics are fun, the world is fun, the quests are fun (got my Bear form, w00t! Thanks Kel). Ugh. I'll stop rambling now.

Come to the darkside!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Thanks...

It's been an amazing year for me. I've managed to lose 30lbs, tone up, and run two miles consistently. For someone who's job it is to sit and write code and was only a 90-foot sprinter through school, that's huge!

I attribute the change to four people; First, Rick, who led me to the Seal Camp work out videos. Peter, who shared with me his "5 days on, 2 days off" diet. Scott Helvenston, the instructor and creator of the videos. Finally, my wife, who helped keep me going and was always there when I needed someone.

It was all of these things that helped me achieve what I did. For the most part, I've been able to thank everyone for their gifts. All except for Mr. Helvenston, he was killed in Falujah, Iraq in 2004. For those who would like to donate to the memorial fund to help his family, you can find information here. Without his subtle drive and boot camp push in the videos, I don't think my attitude would have changed enough to hit my goals this year.

Mr. Helvenston did help me with one other thing, aside from my workout goals, the answer to a paradox that I've been hitting with my wife's family. Invariably, at each family gathering, people have noticed how much weight we've lost and how toned we've become, and they keep asking the following question;
"How did you lose so much weight?! And don't tell me diet and exercise!"
Since the answer I would give has been denied me, I will borrow from the DVD;
"All you need is your mind, your body,
and a positive mental attitude."
- Scott Helvenston
Thanks to you all for your help this year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Are you Gen X? Baby Boom? Gamer?

No Seriously! I was just reading about the "Gamer Generation". The article calls out something I've been puzzling about for years; why the people that tend to play games are the ones that tend to be the "leads" on projects, development, etc. at the companies I've worked for. Here, see if this rings any bells;

"The skills that are required to become a guild master [a team leader] in an MMO game - attracting a diverse group of people, assigning them different roles, training people, constantly bringing in new members - are the same skills you need for quality middle and top managers in a company," says Brown. "Skills that you don't teach people directly are an inherent part of these games."

"The gamers in my office are clearly more comfortable, and perhaps more optimistic, about the uses of certain forms of technology, especially multimedia-type technologies," says Neil Pearse, 44, a leadership development consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was part of Beck and Wade's study. He says that gamers are more comfortable with communication, education and training online and need less face-to-face interaction. Pearse adds that gamers are more willing to jump in and try things rather than gathering lots of information, doing lots of analysis and then making the decision.

That last part is what caught my eye. I've been working from home, 100%, for three years now. When people hear that I work from home the most common statement I get from people is "I could never do that." Not to say gaming is the key to it, but I certainly have a different view of my work and personal time. I can spend all day coding then spend the night relaxing in front of a good game and not feel like I went back to work.

"Careers will become more about the experience and challenges gained," he says. "Once you've mastered a video game, you look for a new challenge, whether it is a sequel or a new game, and I think this will translate into careers. I know that very few if any member of my team has a career goal of spending 30 years at my company. I see it as my challenge to provide them with interesting and engaging work."

Wow, less grind, um, ladder climbing and putting people where they belong based upon their experience and skill?

You'd think they were trying to set up a raid.... *grins*


After finishing with my shower I was talking to my wife about the snow (barely a dusting) we got last night. I was looking out our back door with my youngest daughter (she's two months shy of her 2nd birthday). The deck looks bare now that we've brought in the tables and chairs that normally populate it.

"Table?" My daughter's question surprised me. I had been lost in my own thoughts.

"We put them in the garage." I answered.

"Why?" She asked.

I stared at my daughter for a little while and the only thing that came to mind to answer was 'ut-oh'. Luckily my wife started talking before I had to come up with something more coherent.

"I have to write that down. She's not even two yet!" My wife said as she went off to note the official date that our youngest started into the "Why" phase.

And so it begins....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SANS Top 20 Vulnerabilities...

This is one of those websites that you either know, or don't. SANS is one of the premier Security sites out there offering information and classes on computer security. I'm on a few different lists, although I mostly monitor the Internet Storm Center for possible threats. Due to their diligence, I've been able to stay one step ahead of many threats that have choked the 'net.

Anyway, they just released their Top 20 Vulnerabilities list:
Top Vulnerabilities in Windows Systems
  • W1. Windows Services
  • W2. Internet Explorer
  • W3. Windows Libraries
  • W4. Microsoft Office and Outlook Express
  • W5. Windows Configuration Weaknesses
Top Vulnerabilities in Cross-Platform Applications
  • C1. Backup Software
  • C2. Anti-virus Software
  • C3. PHP-based Applications
  • C4. Database Software
  • C5. File Sharing Applications
  • C6. DNS Software
  • C7. Media Players
  • C8. Instant Messaging Applications
  • C9. Mozilla and Firefox Browsers
  • C10. Other Cross-platform Applications
Top Vulnerabilities in UNIX Systems
  • U1. UNIX Configuration Weaknesses
  • U2. Mac OS X
Top Vulnerabilities in Networking Products
  • N1. Cisco IOS and non-IOS Products
  • N2. Juniper, CheckPoint and Symantec Products
  • N3. Cisco Devices Configuration Weaknesses

Link over to their site for more information on each area. I found it amuzing that W2 was Internet Explorer. Go Go ActiveX! And before you think they are biased toward OSS, C9 is Firefox.

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TSO meets Geekdom...

I got hooked on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra from the original Napster and since then have gone to numerous concerts and bought all of their CDs (but remember kids the RIAA says that Napster took money away from the artists) . Who-ever the author of this video is did an amazing job choreographing his Christmas tree light show to one of TSOs songs (I wont ruin it for you).

Go take a look!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Found it!

Go figure, on Amazon. I've been looking for a small extension cord (try 1 foot or less) so that I could fit two devices with huge transformers onto my power strip (my powered USB hub and the light I use on my monitor). Nothing locally, but Amazon had a hit from the CyberGuys! for their Liberator Combo Pack. They also have the individual cables, but the pack is a nice buy, imo;
Everyone needs Liberators. If you don't believe it look under your desk at your power strip. Liberators free up those outlets that would normally be blocked by bulky AC adapters. This value priced 6-pack includes 2 each of our three most popular styles; the original Classic, the Plus with its convenient pass-through outlet and the Flat which liberates outlets that are hidden behind furniture.
Has two of the ones I was chasing, plus the ones I've always wanted for behind my desk at home. The Flats fit nicely, even in pairs, in tight areas. I was able to make things much cleaner behind my desk and finally set up the power strip the way I want it. Of the bag, I haven't tried the pass through, no need atm. Perhaps upstairs for the Christmas tree.

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Impressions on Civ IV

Yes, I went and bought it. I'd say I got it for a good price too, $3.72. No, no joke. I've been making use of EBGames "cash for games" program. My gaming addiction has given me some good discounts. Lately though, there haven't been many games that catch my eye, so the value of my account had piled up - enough so that I got to risk buying Civ for less than $4.

I know some Civ fans cringed when I said 'risk' and 'Civ' in the same sentence. I've played all of the Civ titles, and Civ III killed my enjoyment of the game. The AI's lack of bargaining, the "my settler can walk deep into your borders and build a city, then use influence to take over your capital" etc. just drove me nutz. So when I was looking at the shelf picking out a new game, I was nervous - even after having read the reviews.

I must say, though, I am impressed with the game. Sid fixed the annoyances that killed my enjoyment. Once I get used to it I'm going to have to set it on fast-forward and see how the compressed game plays out. For now, my "Mighty American Empire" is about to declare war on the "Evil Spanish" as they're crunching into my borders and causing problems with expansion. Hopefully I can bring my allies, the French, into the battle and beat Isabella senseless. Yes, I'm having fun. :)

If your a fan of the series, you'll love this one. If you were like me, and Civ III made things un-fun, give it another go - you'll be surprised.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Full circle...

Londo: I was .. never a child. I had responsibilities. I've had responsibilities for as long as I can remember. Duty. Honor. Family.
G'Kar:Ah. That explains a great deal.
Londo: Really? And what exactly does it explain, G'Kar?
G'Kar: I spent my years in one shelter after another. But sooner or later, I was able to leave the shelter and walk out into the daylight. You do not have that luxury. You carry your shelter with you . . . every day. You didn't grow up. You grew old.

Funny how certain events stick with you. I've been watching as some of my friends and family have their first child. I have 3 now ranged from 1 to 5 years old. When I had my first I didn't give it much thought, I was buried in 3am feedings, diapers, etc. but I did get a lot of looks from my wife's family and comments about "ah, the good ol'days". I used to wonder what drugs they were on.

Then I had another one, and a third. Somewhere in there taking two of the kids out to dinner, to the mall, etc. became "well its only two". One, doesn't even come up on the radar, no problem dear, we'll be back for bed time...

And then my friend had his first and I found myself looking at the little guy and going "Ah, the good ol'days" and giving my friend that odd look. Makes me wonder if I "Grew up" or "Grew old".

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More ripples from Sony...

From the EFF comes this gem;
US-CERT recommends the following ways to help prevent the installation of this type of rootkit:
  • Do not run your system with administrative privileges. Without administrative privileges, the XCP DRM software will not install.
  • Use caution when installing software. Do not install software from sources that you do not expect to contain software, such as an audio CD. [emphasis added]
  • Read the EULA (End User License Agreement) if you do decide to install software. This document can contain information about what the software may do.
Gotta love it. CERT recommends you don't install anti-piracy software. An understandable paradox. The bigger problem is how do I know if my Audio CD has this type of stuff. Read the EULA, right. Anyone got a degree in obfuscation? That's just too much for most folks - we're now trained to click right past those.

How about a simple up-front list of what gets installed and what it will be doing on my system?

Princes of Florence - w00t

Finally got to play The Princes of Florence last night. Princes reminded me of Alhambra colliding with Puerto Rico. You have 7 turns to produce the most prestigious works in the lands. Each turn you have to out bid, out build, out luck your opponents to accomplish this. We had three players, and I think that it was a good number for learning the game. I can't wait to try it with more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WAAF Time Again!

Each year one of our local radio stations, WAAF, does the "Walk and Rock for Change" - a charity drive to benefit the Boston and Worcester food bank. I've been listening to it since the beginning, back when Hillman actually walked Route 9 with a wheelbarrow. Now, they have two routes... if you've never tuned in - do it! Even if you don't donate, the music that gets played is very entertaining.
Over the last 13 years, WAAF listeners have helped raise close to ONE MILLION dollars for the hungry. The Annual WAAF Walk and Rock for Change benefits the Greater Boston and Worcester Food Banks, both in dire need with the approaching holiday season. For three days, the martyrs of the Hillman Morning Show will give themselves to the cause. Greg Hill is on-air as your personal juke box; slide in the right amount of cash and he'll play whatever you want. L.B and Spaz take to the streets, walking from Worcester and Hudson, NH into Boston collecting change along the way.

Call in starting at 6:00 AM Wednesday, November 16th at 1-866-517-WAAF (9223)

The first year I donated, I had to send them the song via email! That's how much effort they'll put into getting your song on. In my case, it was Ma-nah-ma-nah by the Muppets. Yes, on the radio. Kids loved it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It's a local printer?

Still working through rebuild #8675309 on my Alienware laptop. Okay, it hasn't been that bad, but I haven't had to rebuild an OS and applications this much.... ever. So far, so good. Got the printer installed last night.

On my home network I have an HP LJ3200 attached to a HP JetDirect print server. Works well sharing the printer between the systems that use it. So, I sat down to install the printer - again. I don't do faxing or scanning from the laptop, so all I need to do is print.

Now, as I've said, this is a device on my network. So, logically, upon entering XP's Printer Configuration (Start->Control Panel->Printer, Add Printer) I said "Network Printer". Nice try, much too logical. This is a Local Printer (what did you expect from the people who brought you "Click on Start to Shutdown" *evil grin*) - seriously!

After some minor trial and error I remember that the port settings for the printer are buried in the Local Printer path of the wizard. Once in there, I could create a new TCP/IP port, point it to the static IP of my HP JetDirect and I was off and printing.

A little bizarre, but at least I didn't have to run through HP's LJ3200 CD that crashes when I only install the printer software and not the other components. What can I say, it's been a bad luck year for my laptop...

"Dude. You should have bought a Dell"

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Go Microsoft!

In the ongoing discussion on the Sony DRM RootKit, comes a fun one from, of all places, Microsoft!
We use a set of objective criteria for both Windows Defender and the Malicious Software Removal Tool to determine what software will be classified for detection and removal by our anti-malware technology. We have analyzed this software, and have determined that in order to help protect our customers we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP software to the Windows AntiSpyware beta, which is currently used by millions of users.
Translations? Microsoft has now classified the XCP software as malware. I bet that will cause a few ruffled feathers at Sony. I know Symantec has information (and possibly software, not something I run) on what do with XCP. Mcafee has additional details.

So far, so good. I still think Sony needs a strong slap on the wrist, not sure what punishment would fit the crime though.

You did what?!

THE KID: A book?
GRANDFATHER: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books.

Sounds like what I've been hearing since my walk on Sunday. Take a moment, what's the longest walk you've done recently - say in the last year? Hiking perhaps? To the mall? Maybe just back and forth to the water cooler. I bet that didn't garner you the looks I've been getting.

On Sunday I decided that I'd skip the car and walk. I walked from my house to one of the local malls - 8 miles away. Took me two hours and I had a good time. Sunday in New England was a warm, clear day. I was even surprised to find some sidewalks I didn't know existed along the route. It was fun.

So far though, the universal answer my friends are giving me is "You did what!?" - too funny. And all I could hear was my great-grandparents saying something like the Grandfather from The Pricess Bride - "When I was your age, cars were called boots!"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In honor of WWdN....

Or at least all of Wil's chatter about dropping the hammer.

I jumped into a 9 player SnG on PokerStars over the weekend. Played ok, I had been a small hiatus, and got into the final 3, then heads-up. Once again I found myself the chip underdog. The leader had 10x what I had...

... but not for long. After 15 minutes of trading chips I was able to pull the nutz and suck him in. Some days it pays to be heads up against a loose-aggressive player. I turned the tables, and he was battling back from the brink.

We get into the final hand. I am dealt, you guessed it, 7-2 offsuit. I call his pre-flop raise and we see the flop. 2-2-9. lol. I put him all in and he calls. Poor guy.

Some days, the hammer does fall! Too funny, we were both laughing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

My thanks to the Veterans.

To those with us, but not here.
And to those here, but no longer with us.
Our love and our thanks.
-qor72, 2005

The Final Inspection...

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

~Author Unknown~

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Go Go Gadget Lawsuits!

Like anything, there is a time and a place; Sony's root kit debacle is a time where action is required. It's good to see I'm not the only one thinking this way. As reported on the BBC;
Sony BMG is facing three lawsuits over its controversial anti-piracy software.

Revealed in late October by Windows expert Mark Russinovich, the software copy protection system hides using virus-like techniques.

One class-action lawsuit has already been filed in California and another is expected in New York.

Digital rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is also gathering information from users to see if a case can be brought.

I'm still shocked that a company could believe that installing software like this was "Ok". I'm hopeful that the results of these law suits will clearly state that Corporations, as much as individuals, can cross the line and become hackers.

You'd think after Enron, etc. that companys would be more vigilant in policing their ethical obligations. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Come again?

I was off reading the news when I saw an add for a "free IPOD Shuffle" from Citibank. Right, free lunch, not. Curious on the terms I went to read the Ad;
"Special Offer: FREE IPod Shuffle when you make at least $500 in purchases within the first 3 months on the Citi Professional Card with Thank You Network"
Actually, I stopped at the $500 and shot over to pricewatch. First one I hit was for $100, that didn't seem right since I know the regular IPods are more like $300. Quick swing over to Amazon $95-$125. Okay, so the $100 isn't that bad.

So, lets see what we've learned here. If I get a new credit card, and I spend enough to buy 4 or 5 of these, I'll get one free.

Um, no thanks. I'll save the $400 and buy the $100 product myself. Thank you very much!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Finished F.E.A.R.

Okay, that ending took me a while to figure out. I wont ruin it for you, but all the tricks I tried wouldn't let me get past the final "boss". Took a good 15 minutes before I hit a winning strategy.

I really enjoyed this game. The mix of smart AIs and interesting tactics made it much more enjoyable than chasing Quake3 AIs around the grid. The fact that they would work together, try to work around you, and eventually come in behind made it much more challenging than your average FPS.

The horror ambiance came in waves, which was good and bad. By the end I was mostly anesthetized to it, treating it like any other game element. Not to say it wasn't well done and didn't freak me out more than once, just that by the end it has become (ab?)normal.

I look forward to seeing the sequel. If you have a PC that can handle it, and you enjoy the FPS genre - I'd pick it up. Been a very long time that one this hyped paid off.

Now for the bad news... I need a new game! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

It's Childs Play!

Seriously. It's that time of the year again and Penny Arcade has put up its annual Child's Play fundraising drive;

For the past three years, gamers and geeks around the world have raised nearly a million dollars in toys, games and cash for sick kids in Children's Hospitals across the globe through a grassroots charity called Child's Play.

Created by Penny Arcade, no "Administrative Fees" or other nonsense is collected; all gifts and donations go directly to the hospitals for distribution to sick kids.

A worthy cause. Swing over! This year Childrens hospitals are available world wide.

Monday, November 07, 2005

WWdN meets my HS reunion...

Was just browsing WWdN and ran into a neat question;
I've grown a lot since those days, and I'm happier and more secure than I've ever been (not counting a time when I was too immature to know better.) Why is it, do you think, that it feels like a luxury to get to this place, rather than a natural and inevitable part of this life?
Having just attended my 15 year HS reunion, my answer would be - because not everyone arrives there. I'm not sure I have, as I'm still going through a phase of taking on my fears and getting them behind me.

In watching the people around me, you could see all the same patterns and cliques that were around 15 years ago. The "cool" kids now organize the events, those of us that attend slip into familiar groups, and then proceed to wonder who will step away from the wall to ask one of the girls to dance.

Oh wait! I'm married now, I have a date.

Another one bites the dust...

Seems like I was just writing about hitting the 1.5 mile mark on my runs, did 2 miles today. Funny, no parade, no fan faire, but man am I happy. Especially after a 4 hour code review/brainstorming session on how to finish up a two product merge.

These are the days that I wish I didn't live in a split level - stairs suck!! *laughs*

Friday, November 04, 2005

Folding good hands...

Found a nice article by Tom McEvoy entitled Releasing Quality Hands in Tournaments. This article brought home to me something I learned quickly playing in the PokerStars Blogger Tournament - Strong hands early on, probably aren't.

My wife gave me a few odd looks the times she swung through as I would fold hands that, in our home games, would be very strong. Things like Q-10 or K-J I tossed. What I quickly learned was that while a great starting hand, I was usually in the wrong position and at the first table of a 1500 player tournament it wasn't the time to waste my chips bluffing or chasing ghosts. So I folded them, and learned a valuable lesson.

From the article...
Another tough hand to fold is pocket kings, especially with a garbage flop. In a recent World Series of Poker event, my writing partner T.J. Cloutier had K-K. With the blinds at $25-$50, he made it $300 to go and was called by Jay Heimowitz, a top player who has six World Series of Poker bracelets to his credit. The 9-7-2 mixed-suit flop elicited a pot-sized bet from T.J. Jay immediately made a strong raise. T.J. thought about it briefly, showed his kings, and folded! T.J. was positive that Jay had a pocket pair and had flopped a set, probably nines. Always the gentleman, Jay turned over his nines as he raked in the pot.
Been said many times, many places, a key skill is reading your situation, your opponent(s) and realizing your goal is to win the tournament, not necissarily this hand. Many times its better to let it go.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sony, what were you thinking?

Unless you've not been looking, Sony has made a major blunder. At least one of their CDs, when played on a PC, installs a Root Kit onto your system that hides files and registry entries with a "$sys$" prefix.

For those not in the know a Root Kit is the most insidious type of virus out there (Geeks: Yes I'm simplifying, I know). It plugs into your operating system at such a low level it can literally make things disappear. You wont know they're there. It's the ultimate playground for a Hacker.

That aside, Sony and its partner have released a patch to "show the files", but I agree with a lot of the sentiment out there: This should never have happened.

I don't care how territorial you are about your software, oh wait, music being pirated, you have no right to modify my OS at a fundamental level without my permission. In doing this, Sony is no different from any other Hacker who would drop software on my system without me knowing it.

I hope to see more done about this than a token wrist slapping and a retraction of the software. Hopefully before someone smart enough to fire off a real attack that uses this "feature of DRM" to do some real damage.

That's an IM Conversation I didn't expect...

I live on the computer. I work as a Software Engineer and I play PC games. Some of my friends still don't understand how I can have a bad day at work and turn to the PC at home to relax (hey, venting frustrations on pixels is very therapeutic!). However, I can unplug. I'll go hiking, camping, or just out, and the computer stays at home.

So it was really funny to me to talk to one of my friends who's addicted to his Treo. Saw him up on IM this morning;

Me: What's got you online so early?
Him: I am driving now. Talk later.

Oh man. Time to cut the cord. :) Scares me enough when the other driver forgets cars exist because their phone conversation is more important than driving safely. Imagine having to let go to answer an IM!

Edit: Interesting. To save time the Treo offers users the ability, at least through VeriChat, to slam out a quick message in a few keystrokes. Similar to an away messge he tells me. Be simpler, imo, if it offered an away mode when your driving.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

That was an odd way to end the SnG...

Have to file this one in the "are you kidding me?!" style of hands. I jumped into my normal 2k free-roll on PokerStars last night, 18 players (two tables). Did well, made it onto the final table and into the final three. I was short stacked a few times but a few well chosen (and lucky!) double ups put me into contention.

So here we are, final three, I'm on the button and I get dealt pocket 10s. The two other players are tight semi-aggressive players. I raise it to 2x the big blind, and am re-raised by the chip leader. A little odd, but nothing earth shattering. I've seen these guys do 4x the BB on pocket 3s pre-flop, so no red flags. The other player calls.

I decide its a good time to take a shot and go all-in. The chip leader also goes all in! And is followed by the other player! We're all all-in and the cards are flipped up...

Me: Pocket 10s
ChipLeader: Pocket 9s!


Other: Pocket Js!

Doh! Someone wanna tell me those odds? Gets better, but not for me. Flop comes down 9-something-something.

Ut-oh... Turn is a J! Ack! Well, that cements my end. 3rd place for me.

What a fun way to go out though!