Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Remember the Monty Python sketch about the joke that was so funny that everybody who heard it died of laughter? I was reminded of that when reading the press release, posted at Pokerati (here), about today's sale of Cereus (UltimateBlecch and Absolute Puker) to a company called Blanca Games, Inc.
If you're willing to risk death, let's look at a few of the howlers in the memo.
"Stuart Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of Blanca Games, said, 'The acquisition of Cereus is a significant opportunity for us. Cereus is a major platform of well-managed assets.'"
"Well-managed assets"! That's a good one, Stuart! It's so well-managed that it's bleeding money and needed to sell before it attained a value of exactly zero.
Mr. Gordon continues: "From our perspective, we have acquired a large, sophisticated online gaming operation with state-of-the art capabilities, ranging from compliance to business intelligence to online marketing to customer service."
Oh, he's piling them on now! "State-of-the-art capabilities," by which he presumably means an operation that doesn't encrypt the data stream, so that anybody on a wireless local network is vulnerable to having their hole cards read in real time, as well as having their account data read, and their funds subsequently transferred to a thief. Or maybe he meant software that awards to the pot to the company's most prominent sponsored pro, instead of to the player who actually had the best poker hand. "Compliance"? I guess that refers to "complying" with the absurdly low standards of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission--which basically only requires that they keep paying their licensing fees and pay a fine when somebody discovers wrongdoing (the "somebody" never being the KGC itself, which can't be bothered to actually, y'know, regulate anything or anybody, especially when it is tightly enmeshed in ownership of the entity supposedly being regulated). "Business intelligence"? This, one must guess, refers to the highly profitable business practice of owning a poker site and using one's privileged status to play against one's customers while looking at their down cards. "Customer service"? I reckon this is a sly reference to running the biggest and longest-lasting online poker cheating scheme in history, then lying about it to your customers for several years after being caught.
Gordon continues with yet another knee-slapper: "We intend to leverage the existing strengths of the Cereus Poker Network, particularly in the areas of security and customer service. Although we are impressed with many of the new security features on the Network today, security is and will remain our top priority." Stop, stop--you're killing me!
Whew! I somehow survived reading that thing for a second time. I fear, though, that I may have killed off a substantial fraction of my readers. Oh well. There's more where they came from (as UB and AP clearly feel about customers).
Yesterday Cardgrrl drove me out to Chantilly, Virginia, to tour the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. (I find the "Udvar-Hazy" name completely too obscure to remember, so in my mind it has become the "Uber-Nazi" center. I find this much more amusing than Cardgrrl does. However, it turned out to have at least a touch of accuracy, as some of the warplanes in the accompanying photos represent the first time that swastikas have appeared in this blog.)
It's a very cool and interesting place to visit--a fact which I can best support not by describing stuff, but by showing you a ton of photos that I took while there. See here.
Most surprising fact learned at the museum: The U.S. had flying aircraft carriers in the 1930s. Who knew?! Second most surprising fact: The SR-71 Blackbird housed here flew coast to coast on its last run (20 years ago) in 64 minutes. Third most surprising fact (tie): The urine collecting devices on Skylab were yellow, and they shot their urine out into space after collecting it. In space, no one can hear you pee.
Go see this museum next time you're in the D.C. area.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I'm back in Vegas after a delightful week with Cardgrrl.
While I was visiting in her apartment one evening, we tried playing a sit-and-go tournament on PokerStars. I had my laptop with me and tapped into the wireless network that she has set up so that she can use both her desktop and laptop from the same DSL line. But as soon as one of us was registered for a tournament (single-table or multi-table), the other couldn't register for it. Instead, the second one to register would get a message saying that security wouldn't allow it while the first person was in the tournament.
OK, I can understand that--a little extra protection against two people sitting next to each other and sharing information in order to collude.
However, I've heard stories before of many, many people who live in the same residence and share a common internet connection and who are yet able to play simultaneously in tournaments while using different computers--husbands and wives, roommates, brothers, etc.
How is it that some people can do it and others not? Cardgrrl thought it had to do with the router settings, specifically whether the local network assigns the computers the same IP address or different ones. Is that it? If not, what makes this work? Inquiring minds want to know.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In the morning, I'll be flying back to Vegas. It has been a lovely and delightful week with Cardgrrl, as always, but life must go on. All play and no work makes Grump a broke boy. Or something like that.
My first day here (Wednesday last week) I went for a walk while Cardgrrl was on an extended work-related conference call. Here's some of what I saw.
Some very pretty flowers (pansies? I'm not sure):
A big, old tree with wrinkled skin:
A sculpture that I kind of liked, for reasons I can't exactly articulate. It is identified as "Divine Nature" by Chris Tousimis, 2006:
This is part of the outside of a Jewish center. I just like the assemblage of interesting lines--two peaks, one of them under a gentle arch, some vertical lines, some horizontal lines, some criss-crossy lines:
A lovely, simple, red door at St. Albans parish:
Many years ago, my brother told me about having seen a bunch of ants paired up two by two, heads together, mostly not moving, but occasionally the dyads would break apart and they'd each find new partners. He was at the time somehow in contact with E.O. Wilson, the world's pre-eminent ant researcher, so asked him what that was about. Wilson apparently told him that it was a territorial battle between adjacent colonies, and the pairs were soldier ants that had their jaws locked on each other. I thought that sounded pretty cool, and for a long, long time I have hoped that someday I would get to see such a thing for myself. (You might think photos would be on the web. Maybe they are, but do a Google image search for "ant wars" and you get all sorts of things, but not that.)
I stopped to look at a bunch of ants on the sidewalk, wondering what bit of food had attracted them. I was surprised to find that there was none. They were also mostly stationary, not milling about. When I looked more closely, I noticed that they were in pairs, head to head. I had found it! My own little ant war! And now you can see it, too. Look at the big version, and it's easier to see what's going on.
(The macro setting on my camera seems to have some aberration in the lens toward the right side. Never noticed it before, and don't know what it's about. More exploration needed when I get home. Sorry for the partially blurred image.)
Here's a shot from the basement of Cardgrrl's apartment building. Kind of a Hitchcock "Vertigo" thing going on, though it feels a lot safer on the bottom looking up than the other way 'round:
Finally, while on a trip out to the burbs for some errands, we passed by this sign, which is one of the finest examples of oxymoronity I have come across:
(Yes, I know that it's referring to Bush 41, not 43, and not to his own personal intelligence but to the gathering of security information about other nations. Still funny.)