1. A Late Night Poker warning is now in operation. Repeat, a Late Night Poker warning is now in operation. Specifically, I was talking to a non-LJ-ing friend last night and asked the question "Do you know when the next series of Late Night Poker starts?". At 3:02am, he pointed me to the ukpoker.com LNP site. A browse of the TV listings revealed that the first episode of the new series had been that day, running from 1:15am to 2:15am. Whatta mistake-a to make-a. Accordingly the LNP warning goes into effect and I shall not miss any future Friday episodes. A big change from the last series is that the stakes have been raised. Now the 49 contestants each stake GBP 2,000 per head, up from the previous GBP 1,500, with a GBP 27,000 overlay added for a total prize pool of GBP 125,000. First place earns GBP 60,000 of that.
Tell us about that dealer button, Barney!
2. We had a close miss on "Winning Lines" today. If the six numbers generated in the show are the same as the last six digits of your telephone number, in any order, you can ring up and possibly be playing in next week's show. We have an ISDN connection here which gives us two telephone numbers for double the fun and also a separate ISDN line number, though if the ISDN line number ever did come up I would be in ever so much of a panic to try to make a phone call over the ISDN line. The downstairs phone number can be found elsewhere on the 'net, but the upstairs number remains rather more guarded. (An unexpected call to the downstairs phone from a Friend would be a pleasant surprise; please restrict such calls to between about 2pm and about 10pm British time.)
However, it was the upstairs phone number that nearly came up. Today's winning line was 223780, whereas the upstairs phone number's conclusion is a rearrangement of 223880. So close. (This information cuts the upstairs phone number down to, I think, 180 possibilities. An unexpected call to the upstairs phone would also be a pleasant surprise, but you'd have to fancy a little educated wardialling.) Admittedly, the 7 came up as the third digit, so it wasn't that close a miss - far more frustrating for the first five digits to be correct and the sixth to be wrong by one than for the third to be wrong by one. Still interesting, though.
Winning Lines is probably the most consistently entertaining show on TV at the moment; it has good fun numerical questions, an attractive sense of progression, chirpy Pip Schofield hosting, fantastic (but slightly less fantastic than last series) graphics and sound packages and the best endgame on television in the Wonderwall. That said, I expect this "most consistently entertaining show on TV" tag to be transferred to Late Night Poker once I remember to watch it again starting from next week.
3. The Brisbane Lions won the AFL Grand Final of Aussie Rules this year! OK, I admit, this is just an excuse to copy-and-paste in my great big ASCII chart o' results o' doom:
#1--Port-Ad-\ | /---=== QF 1 *---------------------Collingwood-\ / | | | #4-Col'wood-/ | | | | #6-Melbourne-\ | | | | | EF 1 *--Melbourne-\ | | | | PF 1 *----Collingwood-\ | #7-Kangaroos-/ | | | | | | | | SF 2 *---Adelaide-/ | | | | | | | \ | | \ /--> loser of QF2------Adelaide-/ | X GF *-Brisbane-Lions- / \--> loser of QF1-------Port-Ad-\ | / | | | | | | | | | SF 1 *----Port-Ad-\ | | | | | | #8--W.-Coast-\ | | | | | | PF 2 *-Brisbane-Lions-/ | EF 2 *---Essendon-/ | | | | | #5--Essendon-/ | | | | #3-Adelaide-\ | \ | | \---=== QF 2 *------------------Brisbane-Lions-/ | #2--B-Lions-/So what does this mean? Well, I support the Essendon Bombers, because they have a great name. Naturally, I was shouting against Port Adelaide, because Port Adelaide knocked Essendon out. By extension, I was shouting for Adelaide, because it seems to untutored Northern hemisphere eyes that Adelaide and Port Adelaide might be natural local rivals. (Are you still following?) Collingwood eliminated Adelaide, which makes them bad, and they also knocked Port Adelaide into the Semi-Final against Essendon, which makes them worse. So all this adds up to big favouritism for Brisbane Lions over Collingwood. Brisbane Lions won - 10 goals and 15 points to 9 goals and 12 points - so all is right with the Aussie Rules world. Hurrah!
4. 331,252 people's computers worked together for 1,757 days to decode the following secret message to win $10,000: "The unknown message is: some things are better left unread". Quite. Happily the winner was one of the "little guys" - a relatively characterless, anonymous PIII-450 in Tokyo. Amusingly, the message was actually solved on the 14th of July, but the client program didn't work quite the way it should have done and the discovery was ignored until the 12th of August. Verification by contest sponsors RSA Labs then took a little over a month, which makes you wonder what sort of a machine they must have.
What next? RC5-72, probably, which will be a challenge 256 times as large. The concept of distributed computing is now so familiar that perhaps the appeal of cracking encyphered text has gone. It'll be interesting to see what the take-up of any distributed.net RC5-72 project is.
5. A disturbing development in my search for previously undiscovered prime numbers, part of the GIMPS initiative, is that my computer has today reported six possible hardware errors while working away at some Hard Sums. Apparently the sum of inputs has different from the sum of outputs in the fifteenth or sixteenth significant figure (literally) and apparently this is worrying. Tomorrow I will try running the in-built stress tests to see whether my computer really is starting to show its age - but as that age is only about two and a half years, it's rather young for a computer to be displaying senior moments. I don't overclock at all and the air flow seems to be pretty good, so I don't expect that to be the problem. I have taken this to be the excuse I needed to leave Project Dolphin, as previously discussed, as there is a suspicion that it might be the interaction between multiple lurking programs - Prime95 and Pulse - which is causing the problems. My keystrokes shall pulse for Project Dolphin no more. (I might think about it again if they release a new version of the client.) At press time, the LJ team are up to 374th with a touch over seven million keystrokes; my total, officially recorded as perilously close to one million but unofficially self-estimated at "somewhere over 500K", puts me 5,466th. There I shall stay.
6. The All Nations Quest is continuing apace, with the New Zealand globetrotters having currently reached Ireland. Not sure whether this was quite what they had planned in advance - Ireland didn't seem to appear on the list of destinations at all, but I'm sure that they'll fly on the white wings of the wind and be exactly right on ty-eeeeeeem. Strangely they don't seem to get to the UK until the 28th of October. I'm sure it's possible to fly directly from Ireland to Sweden (can't remember whether Ryanair fly Dublin<=>Stockholm * 2 or Stansted<=>Stockholm * 2) but it just might not be optimal somehow. Naturally, their progress will be followed with great interest.
Oop! GIMPS has gone again.
Iteration: 7035212/33299459, ERROR: SUM(INPUTS) != SUM(OUTPUTS), 1.111029878552227e+088 != 1.111029878552227e+088 Possible hardware failure, consult the readme file. Continuing from last save file. Waiting five minutes before restarting.Oh dear. Another 8 minutes' work lost. Those numbers don't look too != to me, so it looks like "!=" != what I thought "!=" =.
7. I was looking through some of my entries and was very dissatisfied with the sloppiness of English language and apparent lack of proof-reading within. Admittedly, LiveJournal entries aren't necessarily intended to be great literature, but it still does reflect unneccessarily poorly on me. Now it is possible to play with the established conventions of English grammar in the name of style, but you've got to know what the rules are and how to play by them before you can think about breaking them. Therefore it stands to reason that my standard of written English might improve dramatically by some corrective punishment by one who is expert in such matters - and I always did respond better to female teachers than to male ones. If the lessons aren't hurting then they aren't working.
Not sure whether I actually will employ such a literature pro for personal services rendered, but it's a tempting thought. Any recommendations?
8. ericklendl is doing a roaring trade in cornering the market in the niche crossover between Harry Potter and wordplay. His interpretation of Parseltongue Scrabble has to be seen to be believed. This is by no means his first endeavour in the field. BeFriend him and enjoy his unique lexical stylings forthwith.
9. The Dickson household were an OnDigital (or, as Iain would endearingly have it, MonkeyVision) family. Happily, our boxes will spring back into 30-channel subscription-free life on October 30th under the guise of FreeView. One of the new channels we will receive is ftn, the Flextech Television Network, which will hopefully include some of the better shows from Challenge ?, the UK's game show channel which I did not previously receive. (Nor did I particularly want to receive it; the channel received four years' antipathy from me in retribution for Endurance UK, a sentence finally served by the reapparance of Interceptor to the schedules.) One of the Challenge ? shows I am particularly looking forward to seeing is their new version of TV Scrabble, just so I can see whether this screen grab from the show:
is legitimate or a remarkable hoax propagated by the aforementioned non-LJ-ing friend. I do hope it's legitimate. If it is, I feel an icon coming on.
Special challenge for ericklendl: who's playing and what (should have?) happened next?
10. The "ha ha, only serious" department would like to bring your attention to a new sport: Power Cricket. (If there were a HTML tag I could use to get you to pronounce that in your deepest voice with thunder and lightning in the background, I would use it.) Now the illustrious Mr. lambertman and I may have been discussing theoretical SlamCricket in the past, but this is the real thing. The Guardian has an entertaining but slightly bemused report of the first match of the new sport.
Specifically: take the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which is a stadium built around a (both rugby and association) football pitch that has a retractable roof. Do not retract the roof, so that the game takes place indoors. Place the wicket diagonally across the pitch, so that it's probably harder to make a legal shot which doesn't reach the boundary than one which does. Use a bouncy artificial wicket.
Here comes the clever bit. Make bonus runs available - and lots of 'em. Traditional cricket scoring awards four runs for a shot which crosses the boundary having previously hit the ground and six runs for a shot which cleanly crosses the boundary. Power Cricket adds an award of eight runs for a shot which cleanly crosses the boundary and goes into the second tier of seats - effectively, a shot which would have crossed a boundary another ten or fifteen yards away - and an award of ten for a massive shot which reaches the third tier of seats and would have flown out of the ground in a real pitch. Oh, and if you hit the roof you score twelve, but this is highly theoretical. Other changes: each team gets two innings of 15 overs, substitutions are permitted, the captains and umpires are given live microphones. (Sledgetastic!)
The organisers hope to start a national league within three years, but I think that sounds extremely hopeful. It's not yet clear at the moment whether the sport is designed to be played in generic indoor stadia or generic football stadia - the two would have radically different seating plans and so radically different consequences on scoring. I fear the scoring system as currently stated is only really suitable for play in the Millennium Stadium and no sport which is restricted to being played in one particular location has ever become any more popular than the Eton Wall Game. The concept of using otherwise empty football stadia during the summer is a promising one, but cricket players are far too busy to have the time to play then. (Could it be an alternative to the new 20-over competition that started recently? After all, if you're going to have a made-for-TV cricket spectacle, then don't feel you need to stick strictly to the rules. Comments from cricket purists about the relative merits of the 20-over game, Power Cricket, Cricket Max, Action Cricket and other made-for-TV cricket formats would be welcome.) Perhaps it could be a winter game, but that's when the football and indoor stadia tend to be most frequently in use...
In conclusion, then, it seems to me to be very much a cricketing version of a Home Run Derby and so probably deserves to be treated as an affectionate sideline. It could probably do with a more appropriate name because it has really quite little to do with traditional cricket. (I suggest "Slogaroo!" - not to be confused with Tim "Loogaroo" Connolly.) Oh, and as with every other modern, arbitrary ball sport, it wouldn't half be improved by the introduction of multiball!