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Not a hundred things, just a mere fifteen - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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December 16th, 2002


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10:39 pm - Not a hundred things, just a mere fifteen
Lots of little things to talk about, so the time might be right for a cygnusfap-style decuple-header. And a half.

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1. The first episode of Raven was more fantasy-Scavengers than Knightmare II - the games weren't very interesting and the show had signs of taking itself a little too seriously. Effectively: six contestants each start with seven lives and play a series of games over five days. Every game lost penalises a life. Subject to confirmation, the contestant with fewest lives remaining at the end of days two, three, four and five is eliminated. (I say "subject to confirmation" as there was alternatively some intimation that losing your final life leads to elimination - it could be that there is no schedule specifying exactly when contestants must be disqualified and they just do something a bit jiggy to make sure we end up with two contestants left at the end of day five.)

Today's show had four games: game one was a "follow the path" affair with no particularly well-defined path and consequently little play-along value. Some spurious brown-coated, black-faced "demons" were chasing the contestants. Game two is effectively a redux of Skull, long underdue for a return: contestants wander alongside ropes carrying long poles with somewhat gratuitous windchimes dangling on the end. First contestant to the end of the rope uses their pole to hook a treasure life and beat their opponent. Getting hit by a boffer-pole-wielding demon (see game one) also lost a life, but it didn't happen in practice. Game three was a riddle at the Old Troll's house: contestants simultaneously write down their answers, correctness earned a ring (i.e., "save a life"), incorrectness earned no ring and penalised a life. Game four saw only one contestant take part by volunteering (which strikes me as a dubious mechanism for fairness) - it's effectively an obstacle course where you are required not to fall off the path or to get hit by a swinging spiky-looking device, gambling +1/-1 life on the result.

Some reasonably nice graphical effects, a good batch of contestants neatly dresed up in noughth-level-fighter garb and the eponymous host - looking more than a little like 400m runner (and celebrity laugher in the Kriss Akabusi traditions) Jamie Baulch - did a competent job, though perhaps at his weakest in the Old Troll riddle game. Downside: the use of a vaguely pensieve-like device to get auto-feedback from the contestants between games, spoilers about tomorrow's challenges and not especially interesting games. Only day one so far, but unambitious and so faintly disappointing; not one to inspire a fandom with voluminous fiction. Should be at least worth the week, though.

2. On the other hand, the first episode of the new version of Treasure Hunt was very good. Other than a rather nasty remix of the theme tune (not by Zack Laurence - and yes, we could tell) the graphics package was improved, the camerawork was imperious, the gameplay and explanation of the clues was logical, the locations chosen were entertaining, the contestants were pretty good and new skyrunner Suzi Perry had fun while not being quite as annoying as Annabel Croft ever was. I have concerns that there might have been a little too much editing of the in-flight sequences going on, unless that part of the country (probably within thirty miles of athena_arena's non-university home) really does have lots of interesting things all within about two miles of each other. All told, a remarkably action-packed and interesting show - a very welcome return.

3. Prime95 was lying about being a third slower on this machine than on the PIII-500 - it errs as to the length of time its calculations take. I estimate the Duron 1200 as being about 40%-50% faster than the P-III 500 and that there is about half a Duron-1200-year of processing left to perform. Thus I can hope to see a conclusion by about the end of 2003, or about the end of 2004 if I can get a job and so only turn this computer on in the evenings.

In other massively parallel computing news, distributed.net are starting work on RC5-72, the next cipher-brute-forcing challenge along. It will require 256 times the computing power of the last one, as RC5-72 did to RC5-64; despite the popularisation of distributed computing and the increase in processor speeds, I'm not so convinced that it's going to happen. (Formally, I would bet GBP 10, or equivalent local currency, at even money that RC5-72 is not successfully completed by the end of 2008-12-31, UT. Bet available until end of 2002.) distributed.net may have burnt a few bridges by muffing the conclusion of RC5-64, they have left quite a gap between RC5-64 and RC5-72, they have already proved their political point and other distributed computing tasks are gaining in popularity. On the other hand, I believe that they remain the only distributed computing task to encourage competition between teams - though please do correct me when I'm wrong - so they'll always have some sort of niche.

At least d.net feature a number so large on their temporary stats page - 4,722,366,482,869,645,213,696, which I think ought to be 2^72 - that it requires some thought to remember what the higher powers are called. Actually, it's not that tricky - every 2^10 is the next term along, so 2^20 is a million, 2^30 is a billion, 2^x0 is an (x-1)illion and so on. For a while, at least.

4. I am trying to get hold of a copy of "Theme For A Mid-Afternoon Game Show", track number three on "White Town"'s "Your Woman". The only place I've found which might have it would be here, which claims only to make the link available occasionally and I fear I may not live long enough to see the next such occasion. Could any of you folks who are good at P2P music-stealing programs or the like assist me in finding what might be euphemistically referred to as "a preview"?

5. Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the acceptable face of being a Randy Old Devil, has become a father for the first time at the age of 57. Son Thomas was 6 pounds 8 ounces at birth, which is exactly the same weight I was.

There. Instead of giving you one post with a hundred useless facts about me in, I will give you one hundred posts each with one useless fact about me in.

6. Ah, Christmas. (Segue! Segue!) One of the nice things about Christmas is buying chocolates and other fancy food items so that when visitors call we can treat them hospitably.

Unfortunately, visitors don't tend to call and we end up with lots of chocolates and other fancy food items which we forget about. They then go past their "best before" date and we end up eating them next Christmas. Well, want not, waste not. Another of the nice things about Christmas.

7. Many thanks for taking part in the something for everyone game. No specifics, but broadly the ladies were rather better at identifying themselves than the gentlemen. Unfortunately nobody has taken a bite at #21 or at any of the "I'd love to meet you" ones, which is a bit disappointing. Never mind; worth a go.

8. Yesterday the BBC launched digital radio channel BBC7, which might be considered as being to Radio 4 what 6music is to Radio 1. (Easy, really.) Lots of comedy, lots of drama, kids' programming too. What it means in practice is I'm Sorry I haven't A Clue twice a weekday at noon and 7pm. (Both in British time, obviously.) Can't be bad. I suspect that the rest of the output is likely to be as good, though possibly less accessible. I mean, how can you get anything less accessible than Mornington Crescent?

9. Long-running mystery department: from time to time, I see crazy (United States of) Americans using the punctuation-dipthong ~! which makes no sense to me. There are two particularly usual suspects in this regard. If someone could ever explain what the value of ~ as a suffix to ! were to mean then I should be most grateful. I have half a feeling it should mean not-!, but surely one would use ¡ for that.

10. Yachtsman Chris Dickson got skunked 4-0, so faces a repechage in order to have the right to face the crew who skunked him again. Chessplayer Luke McShane fell from 4/4 to 6/8 - going WWWWDLDW, so I think we can establish a three-day blip. Neither good.

11. Google have introduced Google Viewer, which is intriguing but possibly slightly worrying. When you search for some topic, it will show you the front pages of each of the sites it finds on that topic (typically for five seconds per front page, but you can change the speed). Very useful if you trust the sort of things that Google is going to throw up as search results, less useful if you're searching for something where you feel you're going to want to decide which is the correct site to visit based on the context your search phrase is mentioned for each of Google's results.

12. Haven't bothered reinstaling either of the two RSS readers I tried on the old computer, AmphetaDesk and FeedReader. AmphetaDesk was slower than I liked and had a tendency to leave old news on-screen without letting me be able to get rid of it; FeedReader didn't seem to link to full versions of syndicated stories. Instead, I favour reading syndicated streams as Friends list journals, possibly a paid-account-only spiff. (Incidentally, I'm sure I only used to get five units' worth of syndicates and now I get ten. When did this change? Is it just a bonus for those who might use all their units?) I read dilbertdaily, boondocks and googleblog, which are all popular and so consume a small fraction of a unit each; I also am the sole reader of gameblog_rss (board games), gamegirladvance (the people who broke the Res & Trance Vibrator story) and the triumblogate of mssv_massive, mssv_middling and mssv_tiny, the three blogs of Adrian Hon, currently in Utah but pretending to be on Mars for two weeks. (There's live-action role-playing for you.) He writes about massively multiplayer online entertainment - yer Cloudmakers / AI campaign and that - but also about space and science. The three blogs vary in entry length, but also on focus; mssv_massive has longer entries on the games, mssv_tiny is mindless link propogation and mssv_middling is somewhere in between. All recommended.

13. The Independent report that the government are considering building a 15,000,000-passenger airport in Redhill, five miles up the road from Gatwick. Interesting thought - worth further consideration. It neatly sidesteps the commitment not to expand Gatwick which the government signed in 1977, which they've decided to keep and which the High Court recently slapped them upon the wrist for keeping. (No, I don't understand that one either.) However, I have a feeling that airports five miles apart in Redhill and Gatwick would be considerably less useful for the public than a bigger Gatwick. (That is, unless they build a five-mile super-high-speed rail link between the two airports, which would seem unlikely.) Worth considering, though, especially in terms of airspace complexities. An imaginitive try at the very least.

14. Most of the best posters from the alt.tv.game-shows newsgroup have decamped to a new web-based message board which introduces wild concepts like accountability and responsibility in return for the privilege of being able to post with the cream. I think it's a sad move, but I understand the reasons behind it and respect the judgement of the people responsible. The quality of discussion on alt.tv.game-shows has dropped considerably, but I can't help feeling that this is admitting defeat to the trolls. I also miss being able to interact using my newsreader software - any newsgroup that I hold less dear to my heart and I wouldn't bother with the extra effort and hassle involved - and I miss being able to use my killfile, for there are now at least four people who are posting there (none of my Friends, for reference) who were kill-filed long ago. Admittedly, now that they're in good company, they haven't said anything annoying yet, but their methods of expression do tend to rub me up the wrong way. I remain unconvinced that we won't all be back to alt.tv.game-shows in six or twelve months time, but once again, an imaginitive try at the very least.

15. I've come up with a way of making profit from online casinos. Now this is a phrase which sets fear into my own heart - I have an innate feeling that there must be some error in my methodology. If you can spot it, kindly let me know what it is before this cheap theoretical mistake becomes an expensive one; if there isn't a flaw then I would welcome a co-conspirator to make some money.

Many online casinos will match an initial deposit of some sum of money with extra funds. Some online casinos will let two people play online roulette, online baccarat, online craps or somesuch together, betting on the same set of results. I and a co-conspirator each deposit, say, $100 at the same online casino and each receive, say, $50 bonus from the casino, thus giving us $150 of funds. We then both go to the same roulette, craps or baccarat table and both bet our entire $150 on opposing propositions. Now, barring a zero coming up, one of us will win and the other will lose. We then take the winnings and never play at the casino again. We have turned $200 between us into $300 between us. We repeat this several times and share the overall winnings evenly. (I have half a feeling that doing this on craps will mean that we would only turn $200 into $285, not $300, but would at least have the advantage of eliminating the zero.)

There's got to be a flaw there, hasn't there? It can't be that easy, can it?
Current Mood: reasonable
Current Music: the old "Treasure Hunt" theme tune - the proper one, darnit

(34 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:rialtus
Date:December 16th, 2002 03:11 pm (UTC)
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Unfortunately nobody has taken a bite at #21

I had a sneaky suspicion on who that was written about, and that person didn't reply into your journal... Hmm... oh well.

BTW, could the ~! just be fat fingers? The keys are next to each other when Shifted...?
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 16th, 2002 04:07 pm (UTC)
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I like the "fat fingers" explanation, but we don't see so many inadvertent blobs which would come from fatness in the other direction. What a strange phrase.

It would never have occurred to me because on the UK keyboard ! is top-left and ~ is middle-right - the "bit taken out" of the return key. For that matter, " is shift-and-2 on a UK keyboard, so I was going to suggest !" as a fat-fingering to the right of !, but I recall that " is elsewhere on the US keyboard so we'd get something different again.

There's probably a Metro question in this. (Or, at least as likely, the principle has been used already.) Oops, did I say that out loud? ;-)
From:ericklendl
Date:December 16th, 2002 03:19 pm (UTC)
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You need a trustworthy co-conspirator. And (say) $100.
[User Picture]
From:zorac
Date:December 16th, 2002 03:44 pm (UTC)
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1. Broadly agree with your comments. Definitely took itself a bit too seriously. Is it just me, or was the best tactic on the second game just to leg it to the other end faster than the ...er... "demons" could catch you - and weren't they supposed to have to get back again - we never saw that part. My take was that they don't get eliminated until they've lost all their lives - presumably, with sufficient vs. games, they can ensure enough lives are lost.

3. I'm not tempted to take that bet - According to Moore's law, we should have a 16-fold increase in computing power by the end of 2008 - not really enough to counter the 256-fold increase in complexity. Add to this that there a lot more distributed computing projects out there competing for those spare CPU cycles and the advent of grid computing meaning that businesses will start running their own distributed computing on their own problems... OTOH, something completely new, such as a working quantum computer of sufficient complexity could do the job.

6. I know that feeling, although I dispatched the left-overs a few months back.

12. They upped the limit a few days ago (see [Unknown LJ tag]) from 5 to 10. IIRC, free users get 1 point to spend. Just added googleblog, I also read cert and am the sole watcher of perldotcom. I also read the highly popular (and indeed award-winning) wilwheaton. The problem with ones like slashdot, theregister and bbcnewsworld is that they just fill up your friends page (and some don't actually show enough info IMO - I'd rather just read Slashdot). I already have scripts to grab Dilbert and User Friendly for the company intranet, so don't need that either. Also some feeds only seem do update intermittently (although they often seem to be "second hand" - a third-party site is generating the RSS feed).

13. Maybe it's just a ploy to ensure that London continues to have more airports than anywhere else in the world (5 - NY has 4, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Toronto and Sao Paulo have 3, 13 more have 2)

15. Provided they do give you that much free money, you may be onto a winner - and go for multiple smaller bets to cover your losses if zero does come up. Something tells me, however, that if this scheme did work, someone would have worked it by now...
[User Picture]
From:zorac
Date:December 16th, 2002 03:47 pm (UTC)
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Ah... that should be paidusers. Doh!

Hmm. That comment was longer than most of my journal entries.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:December 16th, 2002 03:46 pm (UTC)
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(15) The only spanner in the works is, of course, the naught and the double-naught for Roulette, a one-in-nineteen odds. But your logic is sound... now all you need is the hundred bucks and a friend with the same.

I'm not familiar with craps (well, the dice kind) to understand where you get the $285 figure from.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 16th, 2002 04:56 pm (UTC)
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Casino craps offers ridiculous numbers of bets - so many that I always forget most of them and have to look. However, there are two opposing bets called "COME" and "DON'T COME". The chance of "COME" winning is 50-(delta)%, and is paid at even money; the chance of "DON'T COME" winning is 50+(delta)%, and is paid at even money less 5% commission. There are also "PASS" and "DON'T PASS" as well which work on roughly similar lines.

Can't remember the specifics, as you can tell.
[User Picture]
From:jumbach
Date:December 16th, 2002 04:01 pm (UTC)

Casinos

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The casino trick is sneaky, but I don't think it's illegal. I commend your originality!
[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:December 16th, 2002 04:34 pm (UTC)
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9. ~! for me, equals "major emphasis on !", "this kicks arse!", "rawk on!", et al.
[User Picture]
From:leiabelle
Date:December 16th, 2002 05:01 pm (UTC)
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6. Just to clear something up here... chocolate NEVER goes bad. But if you think it has, send it to me and I'll be sure to dispose of it properly for you. ;)

7. Hey, I guessed mine! We women are just perceptive like that. (Kidding, kidding... men are perceptive too.) And you didn't mention you wanted to meet me. :-p

Speaking of meeting, what's this fandom meetup thing next month I keep hearing vague rumors about? I can't help it if I'm not in the mystical Inner Circle. *wibble*
[User Picture]
From:zorac
Date:December 16th, 2002 05:21 pm (UTC)
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6. Admittedly, it can be a bit disconcerting when dark chocolate develops that pale bloom on it. Not that I ever let that stop me eating it ;-)

thegraybook is over in the UK next month meeting various people. The big meetup in Oxford that owlman and cygnusfap are organising is on the 18th - more details in their journals and on this Y! group.
[User Picture]
From:picklepuss
Date:December 17th, 2002 08:23 am (UTC)
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15) This idea is very similar in tone to what is known as the Bettor's Proxy (or something like that). The idea being that you bet X amount every time you bet, given you are betting on 50/50 chance. If you bet X on say Black and you win, the next bet you repeat. If you lose, then you bet 2X on the next turn. If you lose again, you bet 2*2X i.e. you keep doubling until you win. The idea being that once you win, you will be back at 0. The main idea is if you stick to is to only bet X after a win, never increase, you will always come out ahead. Gamblers have claimed to bring down the house doing this.

Statistically speaking this doesn't totally work unless you have an infinite amount of money; at some point you will lose so many times in a row, that you'll have no money left. The fact that it came up Red 50 straight times has no bearing on what it will come up on the 51st spin. Realistically how many times is Red/Green going to come up? The main problem is of course having the self-discipline to stick to the plan. Casinos also are very aware of this and will stop you, which they reserve the right to do.

Your idea expounds on this by adding another player and more so the free cash. By betting on both colors, you've almost negated the chance of losing. Damn that Green (thanks to the person who pointed out the 1/19 chance of hitting that, it's nice to know). The main question now is how to win back your cash if you hit that Green? I believe the concept still holds. If you come up Green, make sure to bet $200 apiece at the next casino. If I had the cash to spare I'd take you up. This is a great idea.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:December 17th, 2002 11:22 am (UTC)
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Bettor's Proxy... yes, the whole "double or nothing" mindset.

Casinos, on roulette, will always earn money. They will only pay out 18/19, or 94.737%, of their roulette revenues in winnings. That's the reason for the greens.

Even without the bettor's proxy (which, given infinite money, would rock on), all you need is a third person with $16.67 in his/her account who will bet on green. The problem would be the staging of this person, and the need for another $16.67, but in reducing your risk you're killing your profits. Another option is the breakeven bet, getting a person to bet $11.77, which would cover your expenses in the event of greens.

Option 1: $150 each on reds and blacks, $0 on green
Output: $100 in profit 94.737% of the time, $200 in losses 5.263% of the time. $84.211 average profit.

Option 2: $150 each on reds and blacks, $16.67 on green
Output: $83.33 in profit 94.737% of the time, $83.39 in profit 5.263% of the time. $83.333 average profit.

Option 3: $150 each on reds and blacks, $11.77 on green
Output: $88.23 in profit 94.737% of the time, $0.09 in profit 5.263% of the time. $83.591 average profit.

As you can see, by reducing the risk, you're reducing your average profit ever so slightly. But, as I have learned previously in this discussion, Craps would bring $85.000 average profit with no risk, and that's likely the way to go on this.
From:ericklendl
Date:December 20th, 2002 11:55 am (UTC)

Maybe *this* is why it isn't that easy...

(Link)
The Ladborkes Casino has a chippy promotion going on at the moment, but on inspection of the terms and conditions...

3. Play casino games to at least £100* in total stakes (check your casino play history using Playcheck). Please note that stakes on Craps, Roulette and Sic Bo will not contribute towards the £100 stake required to obtain the bonus. (my emphasis)

Extrapolating wildly, probably all the casinos have a similar condition which blows the plan out of the water. Pity.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 20th, 2002 02:55 pm (UTC)

alt.swedish.bookmaker.ladbork.ladbork.ladbork

(Link)
Well spotted. There's also the "For this promotion, the bonus amount must be staked at least four times prior to withdrawal." bit, too.

Your extrapolation does not seem all that wild to me, but it's worth checking to see if there ever are casinos which might be caught off their guard in this fashion.

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