Saturday, April 19, 2008

Amateur PSK31 and Mac

I've been a dormant ham for a while now, but with some encouragement from my wife, I've recently got back on the air. Back in the day, I managed to work all the states on 20 meter AMTOR. Since then, the new AMTOR is a mode called PSK31. It's a digital mode optimized for keyboard-to-keyboard QSOs.

You have to use computer software to work PSK31. It converts your typing into audio, then converts the tones it hears from your transceiver back into text. It does the latter by listening for signals throughout the audio passband of your rig, showing them all in a waterfall display that you click on to choose either a blank spot to call CQ or on a signal to decode it and set up your transmitter to reply to.

So to make it work, you need to do three things:

1. Get the receiver's audio into the computer
2. Get the program's transmit audio into your transceiver
3. Allow the program to control your radio's PTT button

The grand plan was to buy a TigerTronics SignalLink USB. It looks to me to be the best possible solution. It connects to your computer only via a USB cable. It has an internal USB audio device and the signal isolation transformers necessary to keep the two apart. It uses VOX to key the radio (that is, when audio comes out of the audio device, it keys the radio automatically). All in all, it seems ideal. Unfortunately, however, they're 4-6 weeks backordered, since it appears that I'm not the only one who thinks it's an ideal solution.

The next best thing is a RigBlaster Plug-n-Play. It makes 3 connections to your computer - audio in, audio out and a USB connection. The USB connection is for a USB-to-serial adapter that is used for PTT and for an (optional) radio control serial port interface. The port's RTS line is connected directly to the radio's PTT actuator. There is a software download on West Mountain Radio's site that contains an unsupported MacOS X driver. From what I can tell, it works just fine.

On the software end, there is a program called MultiMode, but the interface seems awfully primitive to me. Plus it costs almost $90. Instead, I went with cocoaModem. It has an auxiliary helper program called cocoaPTT that will do the serial port RTS for PTT thing on behalf of cocoaModem. You just have to make sure that the rigBlaster is plugged in, then start cocoaPTT, then start cocoaModem.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What REALLY sucks about poker

I guess the worst thing of all about poker is that literally nobody I know really well cares about it. So I have nobody to talk to about it. I am on a cold streak that, as all cold streaks do, seems to stretch back as far as I can remember. I can tell them about the fact that your heads-up opponent has 20:1 odds of holding a pocket pair, and that losing because you've held the under-pair 6 times in one day is spooky bad luck, not bad play, but they don't get it. I am playing as correctly as I know how, and getting screwed. And there's no one I can have a conversation about it with. I think that, more than anything, is why I keep going to boot camps and trying to find a tutor. At least there I can have a conversation with someone. You can't do that at Bay 101 or Garden City - you go there to take people's money.


This just sucks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The problem with poker

Alright. It's finally become clear that people who play online are just too stupid to fold. You can tell them a consistent story all the way to the river and you can see through the screen as they shrug their shoulders and toss in their last chips, knowing that they're beat.

Full Tilt Poker Game #6005794296: $20 + $2 Sit & Go (45724711), Table 1 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 14:13:39 ET - 2008/04/12
Seat 1: (1,470)
Seat 2: hero (1,470)
Seat 3: (1,500)
Seat 4: villain (1,545)
Seat 5: goat (1,545)
Seat 6: (1,470)
hero posts the small blind of 15
Seat 3 posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***

I'm going to keep my cards secret for now.

Dealt to hero [?? ??]
villain calls 30
goat calls 30
Seat 6 folds
Seat 1 folds
hero raises to 150

Standard raise - 2 limpers = 5xBB

Seat 3 folds
villain calls 120
goat calls 120
*** FLOP *** [9d 6s 4d]
hero checks
villain bets 270
goat calls 270
hero raises to 600

3x check-raise

villain calls 330
goat calls 330
*** TURN *** [9d 6s 4d] [2h]
hero bets 720, and is all in

Now let's just pause here. If you were in their spot, what is the WORST possible hand I could reasonably have (if I'm not bluffing with nothing at all).

Remember: I raised pre-flop, I check-raised the flop and went all-in on the turn.


I could have an overpair, I could have flopped a set.

villain calls 720
goat folds
hero shows [Kh 7h]
villain shows [Ac 4c]


*** RIVER *** [9d 6s 4d 2h] [Qd]
hero shows King Queen high
villain shows a pair of Fours
villain wins the pot (3,720) with a pair of Fours
hero stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3,720 | Rake 0
Board: [9d 6s 4d 2h Qd]
Seat 1: (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: hero (small blind) showed [Kh 7h] and lost with King Queen high
Seat 3: (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: villain showed [Ac 4c] and won (3,720) with a pair of Fours
Seat 5: goat folded on the Turn
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)

Crispin is right. Bluffing online just doesn't work.