Category Archives: Misc

Miscellaneous content that really has no other category

The Online Poker Experiment

I’ve been on sort of a gambling kick lately. I feel a strong urge to play the stock markets and open up an e-trade account. I feel like registering 20 “clever” domain names and then just parking them. I felt like and already put ads on my website and RSS feed. And finally, for some unexplainable reason, I decided to throw $50 into a legitimate poker site to see what I could turn that into.

Initially I didn’t even realize it was still legal to play poker online for real money. Sites like Full Tilt Poker and seemed to only allow play money and give you endless amounts of free chips. But after a little researching, it seemed like there are real money counterparts to the play sites – and they are just harder to find because it’s illegal to advertise.

Oddly enough, I felt very safe and legitimate when signing up and putting 50 dollars into my Pokerstars account. It seems that they have to go through so many more checks and balances of verification than almost any other vendor that deals with money and online transactions. I made a debit card account credit, and with my 50 dollars at the ready, I jumped in.

I began by playing very low stakes limit hold ’em. I grinded out an hour or so of very conservative play with 5 and 10 cent blinds. The average pot size was well under a dollar but this was a perfect means for me to adjust to the fast pace and learn the basics of how the online poker world differs from real life. The hands and betting take place so fast that you really have to be on the ball and know exactly what your hand is. After an hour or so, I was up 10 dollars.

This limit table fizzled out and I was proud of going up 10 bucks. Even so, 10 dollars for an hour of grinding out conservative play was kind of boring. I went for the 25 and 50 cent limit hold ’em next. In this table it was amazing to see the difference in play quality. The 5 and 10 cent games were obviously noobs cutting their teeth to online poker and it was easy for me to keep a positive bankroll moving. But even this small jump to the next level brought a significant difficulty jump. I was forced to play a bit more “loose” because I noticed a few consistent betters could take down every pot. My quick adaptation of playing somewhat loose kept me in the black, and I had turned my 50 dollars into 67 dollars by the next 30-45 minutes.

After feeling confident and getting the hang of it, I made a pretty big mistake that cost me alot of money. I ended up making a Ace-5 straight, and I had decided to bet that hand no matter how high the pot went. Well, it was a 4 player pot and everybody kept raising each other. As the hand concluded, I did oust two others, but there was a player that landed a 3-7 straight. For some reason, I had the feeling that having an Ace in my straight made it unbeatable (as it would have been in a flush, for example). But, when your Ace is the low card; a higher straight will beat yours. So, the pot went to the player with the 3-7 straight. A couple small pot losses after this big one, and I could tell I was going down hill fast. My 60 plus dollars was now 37 and I had to force myself to quit.

I take away a very large positive here even though I ended up down 13 bucks on the night. And that is the fact that I was in the black for nearly 2 hours of solid play. And, the only reason I went into the red was because of my own mistake and not fully grasping the value of my hand compared to potential hands on the table. This tells me that if I don’t make stupid mistakes, I can most likely keep it in the black.

With last night in the books, I’ll see what happens as we move forward. Hopefully and in all likelihood I can grind my 37 dollars back up to the 50 range pretty quickly. But, who knows – I may lose the rest of my bankroll tonight. 🙂 And if that happens, we’ll call the experiment over with.

GTFO Comcast

I’ve spent years dealing with Comcast. I’ve used them for TV and Internet for the better part of 10 years. Throughout this time, I’ve dealt with increasing prices, some fairly despicable customer service, and overall a lack of consumer competence on their part.

I haven’t had any experience with Comcast to rival the level of Vanlandw’s AT&T travesty, BUT their continuously ass-holish persona accompanied by ever-increasing pricing structure have finally become too much for me to bear. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called for support and ended up with them trying to sell me a triple play bundle with home phone service. Inherently frustrating, I must admit that I fully enjoyed explaining to the representative that I use Skype with a VoIP USB adapter as my home phone, and it is 32 dollars annually for unlimited calling.

Anyways… The event to kick off “operation Comcast BRB” was my wonderful wife purchasing me a new 50 inch plasma TV. Such a television commands a respectable television service to accompany it. As I began looking at Comcast upgrade options, I quickly realized that the digital starter package was way more than I even wanted to consider paying (79 a month to start, 120 after). The digital premier package with ~200 channels was even more over-priced; with a 119 dollar promo rate for 6 months followed by a $165 dollar fee after that. Seriously. 165 dollars a month. This is before adding additional HD tuners or DVR.

The Switch
I knew it was time to make a change, and this had been a long time coming. First and most importantly, I searched for a new television provider. I explored Dish Network, Direct TV, and U-verse. U-verse was most intriguing because I saw them as the likely successor as my internet provider. But, after pricing out package and options I decided on Dish Network. It was hard to pass up. Dish has offered a deal including free HD for life, 15 dollars off for a year, and a wonderful co-worker (chouse) giving me a 50 dollar gift card to dish. Called, ordered, scheduled. 120 channels with HD and a DVR for literally 32 dollars a month.

Dish obviously doesn’t offer internet, so that was my next item to tackle. Options here were fairly limited, and there was never really any other consideration aside from AT&T U-verse. My Comcast speeds had always been amazing. I would regularly test at between 20 and 30 megs download speed; so this did make the switch a bit more difficult for me, but Comcast’s medium level service for Internet starts at 59.99 monthly. They offered me an option to downgrade to DSL speed and still pay 44.99; but there was no chance of this rancid company staying in my future monthly budget. I called, ordered, scheduled install of AT&T U-verse 6MB connection for 40 dollars a month.

Let’s review. I was paying approximately $65 a month for fast internet and for the BASIC television from Comcast (like, 15 channels basic). Any upgrade strategy through them resulted in 100+ dollars easily.

By making a switch to Dish Network and AT&T U-verse, my bill at this point should be somewhere between 80 and 90 dollars. So, I spend 15-20 dollars more per month; and I receive a drastically improved television service and broadband internet combination.

The Install
My installation experiences for Dish and U-verse were not smooth by any means. My dish installer was over 3 hours late past our 4 hour block of appointment time. By the time he had gotten to my home, I had already contacted Dish to complain; and they had credited my account 25 dollars and rescheduled my installation. Even with that, I was relieved when the installer arrived. I was so anxious to get dish going. The install went quickly and painlessly once he got started, and soon I was watching 120+ channels, messing around with my DVR, and basking in High def victory over my red rival Comcast. As the dish installer left, 1-800-Comcast ensued with a cancellation. They tried to sell me home phone service and a triple play as I canceled. This is where I also found that canceling my 17.99 basic television service resulted in my internet price jumping from 44.99 to 59.99. Comcast, this is precisely why I hate you – you raise my price by 14.99 after I get rid of a 17.99 TV service? You are just horrible people; and at this point I couldn’t WAIT to get U-verse internet and rid my life of your wretched ways.

My AT&T U-verse installer got to my home at around 9.30 am (he had a 9-11 window). As he got started, he replaced my wiring from the pole to my home, and began wiring to bring the U-verse internet into my home via the Comcast installed coax (which is awesome on multiple accounts). But, he soon realized he was getting no signal at the pole as he should be. He continued, made phone calls, left my house, came back with various people. In all, 4 people were involved, 3 different AT&T vehicles – one of which was a Bucket truck, and seemingly a neighborhood re-engineering from AT&T’s perspective. Finally, at around 6pm that night, I had mother effing internet.

As soon as my installer left, I again dialed 1-800-Comcast to rid myself completely of this vile and disgusting excuse for a service company. I desperately tried to record the phone call with Google Voice, but for some reason pressing 4 repeatedly would not engage the call recording. I tried probably 20 times to initiate recording, and there was never a time in my life that I wanted something more than to record that phone call. It was monumental.

The representative tried desperately to sell me on a triple play bundle, to plead with me to not cancel in any way possible. I told her that I’ve been down this path countless times, and I don’t want to pay 120 dollars for two services. She persisted, talked over top of me, and finally I flat out said “listen, I appreciate what you’re trying to do here – but at this point I have Dish Network installed and I’m on ATT U-verse internet. Comcast cables arent even hooked up to my home anymore, and I’m not going to sign up for any services with this company ever again.”

This ended the call, and I look forward to my final bill. I will mail a check with it, with the memo “ef yoo”.

The Review
Dish’s TV services are awesome. I had the 120 channels for maybe 4 days before I upgraded myself to the 200+ package. This increased my bill by 10 dollars (42 dollars now instead of 32) – but it was a necessary thing to do. FX, NFL Network, G4, Discovery Health, and BBC America were some must have channels in the 200 package.

Dish’s DVR functionality is also awesome. I wired ethernet to the badboy, and it allows me to remotely access and manage my recordings online, or from my ipod touch (the dish network ipod app rocks). I enjoyed getting used to DVR functionality, and set up recordings for a variety of shows ranging from Jon Stewart’s daily show to Top Gear and The “Steve Wilkos” show… 🙂

One thing that did catch me off guard with Dish, was that the recording on the DVR had to use one of my two TV channels. So, one of the TV’s hooked to my primary receiver HAS TO display what is being recorded. This was by no means a deal breaker for me; but was something that I didn’t expect to happen. I did find out that you can watch other recordings while the DVR records shows, so that alleviates some of the frustration there.

I’m very happy with Dish, and I fully recommend them as a top notch TV service provider.

AT&T U-verse internet is thus far a solid and consistent connection. I pay for 6 megs, and my speed tests will regularly show up to 5.8/5.9 megs. So, I’m getting what I pay for. On the other hand, the 2Wire 3600 gateway device that they use leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not able to customize the DNS and DHCP settings to any degree (much less turn them off like I want to) – but I’m still looking at instituting a work-around for that. I’ll figure out something.

The 6 meg speed shows itself from my usual Comcast 20+ speeds. Downloading an iso or torrent at 500-600k is quite a bit different than my 1-2meg sustainable downloads with Comcast. Saving 40 bucks a month sure puts that in perspective though…. and there’s no way I’m ever going back to Comcast. I hope that company gets oil spilled on it. And nobody anywhere around them will even consider offering Lemon scented Dawn to them.

GTFO Comcast.

Dear Expendables – Save Us

When we head to the theater to catch a movie on the big screen, we already have to deal with continuously growing ticket prices, massively overpriced food, and talking teenagers with their bejeweled cell phones. But a much more disturbing trend has been taking place in the last decade or so, a very terrible trend that literally forces me to stay at home and avoid going to movie theaters whenever possible:

Teeny Bopper Takeover.

This despicable scenario of pre-puberty is not a single faced monster though. It has several facets. The first of which being the fact that many more movies center around highschool age characters for their plot lines. From Tranformers to Twilight, Superbad to Juno – there is no denying it. Way too many movies that have come out in the 2000’s surround lame teenage characters.

The second side of teeny bopper takeover is the actual movies being produced. Hollywood studios seem to strong arm directors into producing PG-13 rated movies to maximize their profits. I can understand this to a point; but when DIE HARD 4 comes out as an effing PG-13 movie, something is seriously wrong with the mother effing world.

Not only do the studios jack the movie up to maximize the teeny bopper profit at the theater, but they then release the “Director’s cut” to DVD/Bluray so that the 18-35 crowd will theoretically spend a few more dollars to see the movie how it should have been theatrically released in the first place.

The Twilight generation is ruining the movie industry for the rest of the world. I don’t care if Bella is sad. I don’t care if you want to be in a “wolf pack” at school. It’s effing stupid.

Well, teenie boppers, The Expendables are going to break you. The biggest collection of action movie stars ever. From the classic Stallone/Willis/Lundgren to relative newcomers Statham/Couture/Austin – The Expendables promises us all everything.

It is my prediction that The Expendables are going to turn the tides of the movie industry. This movie is made by awesome men, for awesome men. Even the Old spice guy would approve of its existence. There’s no bullshit rating cut here either. The MPAA rates “The Expendables” a solid R with the following description: “Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language”

This film has seen a fairly significant male call to arms via the internet. And it seems like MEN around the world are uniting in blood to see this movie on August 13th when it comes out (on my 30th birthday, oddly).

It’s going to be a success. It’s going to own the box office for the weekend and possibly for several weekends. Hollywood is going to notice, and they will realize how stupid they have been. How they’ve been missing out on making this kind of movie for a long, long time.

If you’re a man – then you really need to see The Expendables at least once on August 13th in the theater.

The Trailer ensues

Pandora it is

A couple months ago, I was blogging about my exploration into the world of internet radio and streaming music.  I was enthusiastically trying new services and overall just making a push to find a better way to experience music.  I was weighing pros and cons of a few different services over this time, and I’m happy to emphatically proclaim that Pandora radio is by far the best service for me. 

I purchased the annual subscription to the premium Pandora One service, and it is possibly the best 36 dollars that I’ve ever spent.  The premium service grants several enhancements; most important are the ad-free listening, a desktop application, and higher quality audio streams.  For a clean and simple to use service, it’s amazing what somebody can get from Pandora.  I supremely enjoy the fact that I can queue up an endless stream of music that is specifically tailored to my tastes; all while not having to worry about creating playlists or syncing up any media devices.

Not only has Pandora simplified the way I listen to music, but it’s drastically expanded my exposure.  Before Pandora, I had very specific musical tastes.  I grew up listening to only a handful of what the music had to offer, and that basically trained me to keep in a “sheltered” state of music.  I was overly picky and I never gave anything new a chance.  I didn’t know that Killswitch Engage’s song “Holy Diver” was a cover of  Dio.  I didn’t know Dio sang for Black Sabbath.  I didn’t know or appreciate what Jimi Hendrix could do on a guitar.  I didn’t enjoy the vintage appeal of bands like Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones.  I didn’t grasp the depth of genre that has come with the last decade or so in music.

In short: Pandora has been my higher education of music.

I’ve also noticed how the tech world is adopting Pandora on a much wider scale than I realized.  I was amazed to see that my new Panasonic television has Pandora streaming capabilites.  Heck, Ford is even in the works to get Pandora into their Sync platform! (which, I still give massive props to Ford)  Pandora is clearly the frontrunner and defining what streaming radio can be.

Pandora is an awesome service; plain and simple. You’re doing yourself a significant injustice if you dont give it a try. It’s free, easy, and immensely powerful. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys music.

If anyone is interested, feel free to check out my Pandora stations. I’m proud of them and they have become finely tuned to my liking.

And for reference, here is my Pandora profile:

LoRD Brb

Well, it was fun while it lasted everyone…

Setting up everyone’s favorite BBS game to give us all a blast from the past and a taste of the good ol’ days was certainly a worthy experience. But, with lowered attendance, lack of interests, and everyone just generally being too busy, I have made the decision to decommission LoRD.

Thanks to everyone who joined in and signed up – it really was a great time while we were all playing. Highlights for me include the utter espionage engagement with Vanlandw, various fights against rival Jjafuller, and being one of only 3 people to slay the beast and complete the game.

In summary, I offer a bullet point listing of things taken away from this experience:

  • Vanlandw is a noob.
  • Nobody cares about your singing, Seth Able
  • Violet is promiscuous
  • Death Knights pwn noobs
  • People should just “not gone into the forest” in the first place