Monday, June 23, 2008

Don't play during the day

I have a day job, so I don't play during working hours. Even if I didn't have a day job, I think I would refrain. Here's a small example of why:

This is the SharkScope dump of a $33+$3 tournament that started at about 12:30 PM PDT today. There are 4 players with positive ROIs and 1000+ tournaments of experience, and one of those has a 20% ROI. Two out of the three negative ROI players have too small a sample size to be significant, and one of the players at the table is a fish.

If I've learned anything as I've improved it's to recognize when it's best wait for a better opportunity.

Sharkscope and Safari

So for a while now, I've had to use SharkScope in Camino. It turns out, though, that if you use the "Develop" menu in Safari to change the user agent to Opera for mac, the page will work correctly. I managed to get the page sort-of working with the IE5 user agent as well, but the login widget wouldn't work. Opera for mac, however, seems to do the trick.

It's also possible, however, that the whole thing is just a heisenbug, and that it just happened to work best when I picked Opera. I rather doubt that the SharkScope developers test their site with Safari (though now that they can get Safari for Windows, they have less of an excuse).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

All rise for the royalty, redux

PokerStars Game #_: Tournament #_, $15+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2008/06/19 - 21:37:59 (ET)
Table '_ 1' 9-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: (1545 in chips)
Seat 2: hero (1460 in chips)
Seat 3: (1515 in chips)
Seat 4: (1390 in chips)
Seat 5: (2955 in chips)
Seat 6: (1250 in chips)
Seat 8: (1600 in chips)
Seat 9: (1785 in chips)
hero: posts small blind 15
Seat 3: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Ad 6d]
Seat 4: calls 30
Seat 5: folds
Seat 6: folds
Seat 8: folds
Seat 9: folds
Seat 1: calls 30

Ordinarily, this is supposed to be a fold so early on in the tournament, but for half price, let's see if we can see a cheap flop.

hero: calls 15
Seat 3: checks
*** FLOP *** [Jd 8h Kd]

The nut flush draw? Sure!

hero: bets 90
Seat 3: calls 90
Seat 4: folds
Seat 1: calls 90
*** TURN *** [Jd 8h Kd] [Td]

And there it is.

hero: checks
Seat 3: checks
Seat 1: bets 90

Let's not scare anyone away.

hero: calls 90
Seat 3: calls 90
*** RIVER *** [Jd 8h Kd Td] [Qd]


And, of course, we're out of position. What to do? Value-bet here or hope that one of these two bluffs at it? Let's try the slow-play.

hero: checks
Seat 3: checks
Seat 1: checks


*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero: shows [Ad 6d] (a Royal Flush)
Seat 3: mucks hand
Seat 1: shows [Ts Qs] (two pair, Queens and Tens)

Well, the board was four-flushed. Nobody was going to call a value-bet without a diamond.

hero collected 660 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 660 | Rake 0
Board [Jd 8h Kd Td Qd]
Seat 1: (button) showed [Ts Qs] and lost with two pair, Queens and Tens
Seat 2: hero (small blind) showed [Ad 6d] and won (660) with a Royal Flush
Seat 3: (big blind) mucked [Kh Ac]
Seat 4: folded on the Flop
Seat 5: folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Final TV setup

I've finally decided on how our TVs are going to be set up from now on. I thought I'd share how I did it.

In our house, we've got 4 TV receiver type devices. Two of them have DirecTV HR21 DVRs, one is a TV in the guest bedroom with an ATSC tuner, one is an HD HomeRun ATSC decoder on the network for the computers.

We actually have 8 RG6 cable runs in our house, which is a lot given its small size. To the extent possible, it would be nice to give all of these cable runs the same signal, so if we decide to move a receiver around it won't be a problem. It also turns out that splitting the signal that much causes problems for some of the channels. Plus, we only have two cable runs to the living room, which causes a problem for the HR21 (ordinarily) because it has 2 tuners plus the AM21 ATSC tuner (which would require a third cable run for its antenna feed).

Fortunately, all of this can be worked out.

We start at the TV antenna. There are actually going to be two of them - one is a ChannelMaster 4228 UHF antenna. This will capture most of the DTV signals. However, we are going to have a couple of VHF-hi channels post 2/09 - KGO and KNTV. For those, I have an AntennaCraft Y5-7-13 VHF-hi antenna. Both of those feed into a ChannelMaster 7777 mast-mounted amp. The 7777 can take a separate VHF and UHF input and amplify and combine them into one feed into the house. The amplifier is necessary because of all of the losses caused by all of the splitters used to feed all of the drops.

We also have DirecTV. The fix for the living room running out of cables is an SWM-8. The SWM-8 allows a single feed to be split with conventional splitters and drive up to 8 DirecTV tuners. Not only that, but the SWM also has an input to diplex in the terrestrial antenna feed too! The downside of that is that we need to power the pre-amp. So we need to inject power into the antenna line, but after the SWM, which is awkward. Fortunately, there is an RG6 run from the distribution point out back into the garage, where the pre-amp's power supply can live. The only thing left is to figure out how to inject that power into the line after the SWM.

Well, it turns out that you can use an ordinary satellite diplexer to do just that! Just connect the VHF/UHF line to the OTA-in port on the SWM with a short length of RG-6, connect the satellite port to the line coming from the power supply in the garage, and connect the combined port to the lead going to the CM7777. The satellite leg of the diplexer has a DC power-pass on it, and the VHF/UHF side has a DC block. A regular power injector would probably do this job with slightly less loss (since the diplexer has a needless low-pass filter on the VHF/UHF port), but it was handy and worked.

The SWM also has its own power injector. If you use a splitter on the SWM1 port, it needs to have a power-pass port, and that port must be connected to the port in the house to which the SWM's power supply is connected. In our case, however, I just connected one line from the bedroom directly to the SWM-1 port. Inboard of the SWM power supply, I am using a diplexer to break out the VHF/UHF and satellite signals for that receiver.

The SWM-2 port has a 1-4 splitter feeding two lines to the living room and one line each to the guest bedroom and the port for the HDHomeRun (which is actually in the dining room). If we want to upgrade the guest bedroom from standard TV to DirecTV, we simply need to diplex that port.

The only downside to this setup is that we now are only able to use SWM compatible receivers. Turns out that isn't likely to be a problem going forward, since we already have the two HR21s we're probably going to have for the foreseeable future, and if we wanted to add a receiver later, we would probably only be able to get compatible ones new.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More on the DirecTV HR21

So we've had a few days now with the HR21, and I have to say, it's nice. As I said in my last post, I don't particularly miss the TiVo menu system. The HR21 shows a picture-in-picture view of the current program while you're in the menus or in the guide, unlike the TiVos. I also hooked our receivers to the network, which enabled home media viewing and DirecTV on demand. It took a day or two for the on demand feature to work, but now that it does, it's quite compelling. I've already downloaded an episode of Californication that Scarlet had missed from last season (of course, you can't get shows on-demand for channels to which you do not subscribe). They also have some extra channels that have concerts, Olympic stuff, and even an Adult Swim VOD channel.

Among the new niceties with the HR21 is that PPV events now are not charged until you actually watch them. It is free to record a PPV event - or even download one with on-demand. You only get charged when you start watching it. The downside is that, like iTunes rentals, you have a 24 hour window in which to finish watching.

The AM21 seems to work pretty well. The only quirk is that although we've selected "channels I receive" as the default guide, the over-the-satellite local channels still show up, even though we don't actually get them. This means that when you're picking a show to record, you have to make sure to pick the one that is over-the-air. Fortunately, they're easy to spot - they have a sub-channel number (like 9-1 instead of just 9).

The HR21s have an eSATA port on the back, which allows you to replace the internal hard drive without any tools. I don't know if we'll take advantage of this or not. Unfortunately, it doesn't cascade the two drives, so when you plug in an external drive, you lose access to the recordings on the internal drive. But adding a 1TB drive (and they're not that expensive anymore) would triple the capacity. Time will tell if that is necessary or not.

Wiring the system up with the SWM module was just as easy as wiring up any older multi-switch. I decided to keep the terrestrial wiring separate, but the SWM-8 does have a terrestrial input so that you can diplex everything together. DirecTV apparently has a new LNB in the works that integrates an SWM-8. That will make DirecTV much more like cable TV than it is now - just one wire leaving the dish that can be split with ordinary splitters as many ways as desired (feeding up to 8 tuners). But with the SWM-8, you can achieve the same thing right now if you want (though the SWM modules are not cheap, unfortunately).

There's only one feature missing from our setup that I'd like to see added - the ability for two DVRs in the same household to share content over the network. Right now, I have to set up a series link (aka season pass) for The Soup on both DVRs to be able to watch it in either room. If DirecTV would allow sharing content over the network - even if they don't allow downloading directly to a PC - that would be just about perfect in my book.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DirecTV - good product, incompetent service

So we finally decided to move with the cheese. Every DVR we've ever owned has been a TiVo, and the last few have been so-called "DirecTiVos" - DirecTV DVRs powered by the TiVo software. But not so long ago DirecTV ended their relationship with TiVo and started making their own DVRs. They also launched new satellites to carry HD programming that were not going to be compatible with the TiVo DVRs. So we were going to face a stark choice some day - either switch to Comcast and buy real TiVos, or go with the "can't believe it's not TiVo" DirecTV DVRs.

I'd been watching the various forums for a while and finally decided that the software on their DVRs was ready enough and called them last week to get them to install the new 5 bird dish and a pair of HR20 DVRs. Well, when they came on Saturday, they said that they had HR21s, which do not have an ATSC receiver in them to receive local channels. Well, that ruined the plan, so I told the installer I didn't want them. I then called up DirecTV and spent an hour on the phone with them. Turns out that the HR21 does not have an ATSC tuner, but you can get one as an accessory add-on (the AM21). But you can't just add an AM21 to your order and have the installer bring it, you need to have an HR21 on your account first before their computers will let you buy one. Stupid. So, fine, I had them come out Monday.

The next problem is that we have two RG6 lines running to the living room. Since one of them is going to be dedicated to terrestrial signals, that means that if I want the two-tuner functionality, I will need to use the new SWM technology. When I explained that to the installer that came Monday, he said that they could not do an SWM installation except for new customers with more than 5 tuners. Grumble. So I told him to just install it with one tuner and I would do the SWM thing myself. So I've placed an order for the two AM21s and an SWM-8. The good news is that the cost of all the stuff I need to buy to make it right is about the same as the cost that I expected to pay for the new receivers and the installation (which it turns out was free).

The installer left before the software updates were complete. Of course, the receiver in the living room got stuck. My brother-in-law called DirecTV up and read them the riot act, and they said they'd send the installer back, but he never showed. I finally power-cycled the thing and that fixed it.

Now that it's all in (except for the AM21s), I have to say I'm reasonably happy with the functionality. I don't really miss TiVo's menu system. Time will tell, but I may miss the suggestions (the HR21s don't save anything you don't actually request), but it's nice to see Discovery channel programming in HD.

More later.