Archive for July, 2007
Well Diane and I head back to Edmonton tomorrow. It’s been a good trip!
Before I get in to today’s activities, let me first say that I missed a highlight from yesterday. When we hopped on a bus to take us to robson street to have dinner yesterday, we were on the bus and were standing by the back door ready to get off at our stop. But something different happened this time than normal — the doors opened presenting us with a problem in dismounting the bus: a row of three newspaper boxes were perfectly lined up to block our exit. One enterprising individual hopped over the mailboxes, but he was the only one to move fast enough. His buddy waited yelled to have the bus driver move up a bit, but evidently the bus driver didn’t hear. So we were carted up further. To make matters worse for us, no one pulled the wire to say they wanted to get off at the next stop, so we went 4 blocks past our stop before we were let off. Diane and I and 3 or 4 more people got off the bus giggling a little at what had just transpired. Okay, so I thought it was funny.
Anyways, to today! Diane and I got up, and had to furiously pack our things in order for them to be moved. Apparently the B&B we were staying at needed our room for some incoming guests so they were upgrading us to a new room (which is pretty nice, I have to say!). Anyways, after our packing we hurried over for breakfast with minutes to spare (they stop serving breakfast at 9:30am, so we needed to hurry). After yet another lovely breakfast, we waited around and got the keys for our new room but were told we needed to wait for the people to leave before going in. So instead we decided to leave after they offered to install our bags in our room. Our first stop today was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese garden. Not knowing what we were doing, we walked right in — but apparently the part we entered was the free portion. We wandered for awhile and enjoyed the calm quiet that the garden offered. We met a guy at the entrance that was using a lens to burn designs in some wood. I got a couple of pictures of this feat — it was really rather cool! I was quite impressed with his craft.
Anyways, after wandering around for awhile and taking a look at a nearby giftshop, we discovered the actual entrance to the garden. Hmmm … well Diane figured we’d had a chance to see some of the garden anyways, so we decided to wander off to another destination. *shrug*. We weren’t in a big hurry, but we got some value for no cost so we couldn’t really complain!
So after that, we headed back to Granville Island since the first time we were down there everything was closed. The market is a pretty lively place when it’s open. We walked along admiring the fruit and some of the various merchandise people had to offer. We got some bubble tea from one place, and sat down by the harbour to enjoy the scenery and people/bird watch for awhile. It was strangely calming, despite the frantic movement of people. It felt kind of cool to relax and just observe people moving fast around you.
After awhile, we got up and wandered some more. There’s a lot of neat shops around, but there really wasn’t anything interesting enough for me to actually buy. We did discover a couple of neat things. The first was a guy selling fold out 3d cards. He was making them by hand, and I asked him how long it took him to make each one. His answer was about an hour each, except for rare ones which take up to 3 hours, and he pointed to one of some wisteria. The cards were amazing, and I almost bought one of some staircases that roughly resembled some of Escher’s work. I refrained though because I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with it … It’d probably sit on my shelf for awhile and collect dust. It was really cool though!
The other cool person we saw was a violinist who was playing some cool classical music … the music attracted me over and her sign said that she had just graduated from Juilliard and had been offered a job as a concertmaster somewhere, but that she was raising money for a car for commuting. I don’t know if her story was true … but I was far more inclined to believe her than a guy we met in the Chinese park earlier that day with a story of how he got robbed and needed money to stay at a hostel. Huh. Yeah the girl’s story was far more believable since she obviously had some talent.
Anyways, we wandered around for awhile more before deciding to have an early dinner at Bridges which is a restaurant right beside the water on the island. The food was pretty good, though pricier than the meals we’d had earlier in the week. That being said, I’ve been kind of shocked at how cheap the meals have been here, so one more expensive meal certainly wasn’t going to break the bank.
After dinner Diane and I caught a bus back to our fancy B&B room. It’s got a private entrance to a bathroom (shared with one other room), and a fridge, and it is rather big and comfy. I’m quite happy with our upgraded room for the last night of our stay!
Anyways, that’s where we’re at. We’re gonna have to get up a little early to catch some transportation to the airport in the morning (and make sure that we’ve got enough time to eat some wonderful breakfast!), so I think I should head off now! This time tomorrow, I’ll be back in E-town wishing I could still eat fresh seafood. *sigh*.
I got to the end of Saturday’s activities, so I’ll start off where I left off. On Sunday, our plan was to wander over the UBC campus to take a look around and see what was to be seen over there. It’s interesting wandering about a campus and seeing what’s similar and what’s different from one’s “home campus”. One thing was for sure — the bus route that took us down to UBC was pretty awesomely fast. After we got there, we wandered around the campus and invaded their version of SUB which looked older and not quite as nice as ours. It isn’t really a fair comparison though — our SUB was renovated not all that long ago.
After some wandering, we decided to try and find the coast to go walk to. After all, one of the big UBC campus perks was that it was on the ocean. Well, on our way, we got sidetracked by some totem polls and the rather pretty looking museum of anthropology they have there. So we went in taking advantage of the super awesome $7 student entry fee. We even got a guided tour which was awesome. I learned a whole bunch of interesting things about the coastal native peoples that I wouldn’t have even thought of before. One of the super neat things was an example of how powerful technology can be at uncovering things. They had an example of a beam from a house that was painted using mineral based red, black and white paint but had unfortunately faded away to be not visible anymore. Thanks to the wonders of infrared imaging, however, they were able to recreate the beautiful painting that was on the beam. Sweet, and awesome. So yeah — that museum? Best $7 bucks (student price) I’ve spent on a museum!
After exploring the museum, Diane and I stopped by the gift shop where I found a rather nice collection of prints of fairly recent artistic work by native artists. I was so satisfied with the museum visit that I took a serious look at the prints and ended up choosing one. (with Diane’s help). You’ll have to come see it once we’ve got it framed and up on the wall (assuming it makes the trip home safely). It wasn’t extremely expensive, but it wasn’t a trivial amount of money either — it is a limited edition print after all.
After leaving the museum, it was time to find the coast to say that we’d done it. Not far down the path we found the long set of stairs down to the beach. There were 390 steps, I … didn’t count, there was a number on the top step. The beach was rather nice and I got a few really good photos of Diane, and she got a few of me. It was a little weird though since there were a few people who were out walking around in the nude. They didn’t seem to mind, though I made sure to keep my camera pointed away from them.
After a few minutes on the beach and some running around taking photos, Diane and I trundled back up the stairs which took a whole lot longer than descending them. We returned to the bus stop to catch a bus back towards our B&B, but first we had to stop off at a restaurant on Shayna’s friend’s recommendation list: the Memphis Blues BBQ house. Boy was this place awesome. If you’re in the mood for a plate full of meat, you should check this place out. Diane and I ordered the Memphis platter, which apparently is their special. They fill a huge platter full of various kinds of meat including pork, chicken, and beef. They add some token other things like some french fries, coleslaw, and potato salad, but that’s the minority item on the platter. So, not only is it a large plate of meat, but the meat is also cooked to perfection. The beef was so tender it could be cut with a fork and melted in your mouth. The meat on the ribs fell off the bone … you get the idea. Everything was tasty, good and I was very glad we went. By the way, the platter we had could easily have fed 3 people. We took a doggy bag home with the leftovers!
After dinner we decided that it was a good idea to walk off some of our food, so we walked down to granville island from the restaurant. When we got there, we discovered that everything was all closed up. Apparently the place closes down at 7:00. Whoops. Guess we’ll have to go back. We sat down to rest on a bench that overlooked the water. It was a beautiful day, with a few people walking around and the water fairly calm. I got a lot of photos, and spent awhile just relaxing and enjoying Diane’s company.
When we got bored, we hiked back up and caught a bus back to the B&B with the intention of going to bed early. Unfortunately that didn’t really happen after I got my photos uploaded to my laptop and the blog post written. Oh wells.
This morning we got up early enough to take advantage of breakfast. After all, when staying at a B&B, ya gotta have breakfast! It was really yummy — they make some really good food here. We’re staying in the manor guest house (http://www.manorguesthouse.com). It’s really nice, and the people are super friendly. Definitely check them out if you’re staying in Vancouver someday.
After breakfast, we got packed up and headed back to Stanley Park to take in the aquarium. This place is awesome. There’s so much cool stuff to see! The highlights for me were: The otters, the dolphins, the multitude of colourful tropical fish, the butterflies and the bright pinkish red birds, and the jellyfish. Oh man were the jellyfish incredibly beautiful to look at. I’ve got a large number of photos — hopefully some turned out well.
After awhile though, Diane and I got tired of the throng of people that were there (and we almost entered on a Saturday! Boy am I glad we decided against that!). So we left and went to check out the caricature artists that were all around the aquarium. Diane was interested in getting one done of us so we checked out the different artist’s work. We discovered a chinese guy that was doing an amazing job of 6 people — fitting them all on one sheet of paper. After admiring how well he was doing with these people, we waited patiently for him to finish them so we could be next. It took awhile, but finally we got done and I think both of us are incredibly happy with the result. It cost us $45, which considering how good the result was, I was more than happy to pay. After all, he just did a personal portrait of both of us and the likeness was pretty close. I was rather impressed. I think his name was Liam.
Anyways, after the caricatures were done, Diane and I hopped on a bus on our way to dinner. We took awhile to figure out what we wanted to eat, but ended up at a place called tsunami sushi — which is an awesome restaurant. The main attraction is a bar where little boats carry little plates of sushi around. If you see something you want, you grab the little plate, and the style of the plate tells you how much it costs. When you’re all done, they count up your plates and tell you how much you owe. It’s an awesome system, and it is incredibly fun just watching the plates of sushi float down on the little boats. We loved it, and I would totally go back there to try it again!
After dinner we took a ride on the skytrain to come back. One of the odd things about this train is that it appears to not have a driver. Does anyone know if they’re controlled in some way by a driver? Or are they remotely controlled? Or are they automatic? Whatever the case, it was pretty neat. Now I can say that I took the skytrain, the seabus, and the regular bus in Vancouver. Woohoo! Transit hat trick!
So now we’re settling in to go to bed and I’m not done my blog post. So I’m gonna go read a little harry potter and get some sleep before we head out again for our last full day in Vancouver. Wow, time flies when you fill the days up with fun things to do!
Thursday was the last day of the conference. I went to a couple talks, but other than that sat around and caught up on updating the man-machine web page. If you see anything that’s missing on the page, let me know because I really should fix it up. I’m on holidays right now, but will be able to get to it later this week after I return.
Anyways. On Thursday night, Diane’s plane arrived in Vancouver. She took the airporter to join Darse, Alexandra and I at the Hyatt where we walked her bags back to the condo. Then we wandered back to the Hyatt to play some games with Johnny, Jeff, Andrew, and Alborz. It was pretty fun. Of course, that meant that Diane and I didn’t return to the condo until 2:00am, where we promptly went to bed.
When we got up that morning, slightly groggy from the lack of sleep, we enjoyed some rather yummy coleslaw that Alexandra made — it had feta cheese in it! I need to remember to do that the next time I make coleslaw. This was the first day of our holiday and we had decided to spend it with Darse and Alexandra on their last day in Vancouver before they headed off to Victoria. So when we were all ready to go, we walked down to the seabus and took it across to north Vancouver towards the Capilano suspension bridge. The seabus is rather cool — I’m glad I got a chance to ride it. It’s pretty speedy, and certainly a distinctive way to travel (coming from a boy growing up in land-locked Alberta).
The suspension bridge is kind of cool, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price of admission. Diane and I got in as students though, so that reduced the hit of the admission. At the ticket booth, we found out that our credit card suddenly didn’t work anymore. Odd … so worried, I called the credit card company on my cell phone and found out that when the credit card charge Diane made on her card when she caught the shuttle bus in Edmonton, the credit card company thought it was suspicious. Never mind that we had two separate cards and one was used to take a shuttle to the airport … and it was used again in Vancouver for the airporter. Hmm… I think they need to work on their security check. I’m all happy for good security on my credit card, but please make sure that the activity on the card is actually suspicious!
Anyways, we wandered around the suspension bridge park for awhile. It was rather nice, though there were a few too many people around for my liking. Still, it was nice to see some rather tall trees, and the bridge itself was an experience. It’d probably be better to just take one of the many hikes throughout the rockies though.
Afterwards, we went back to the seabus terminal, but stopped off at the market to buy some yummy fresh fruit before we headed back to the condo. Diane and I picked up some nectarines, raspberries, cherries and grapefruit. Mmmm … fresh fruit. Alexandra added some blackberries and fresh figs to that (I’d never had fresh figs before — they were pretty interesting). After our shopping, we returned to the condo via seabus and a brisk walk. Then we walked to Bin 941 which I wanted to return to and try some of the other stuff on their menu … plus it was good to use the excuse that I needed to introduce Darse and Alexandra to it! We ordered several items, all of which tasted wonderful. I highly recommend checking out this restaurant if you’re in Vancouver — it’s pretty fantastic.
Anyways, we wandered back to the condo and this time I got a little more sleep. First night in several that I’d get some sleep. The next morning, the group of of us packed up and headed out. We said our goodbyes to Darse and Alexandra as they headed off to take the ferry to Victoria. For our part, Diane and I needed to get to our B&B. Our attempt to take a bus failed … we waited at a bus stop and the bus came — but passed our stop! The bus driver waved at us, but we misunderstood and started walking down the street to chase after us. A moment later, a second bus that was completely empty followed along after it! We missed that one since we weren’t at a stop, and it didn’t really occur to me to wave it down. So instead, Diane and I walked to the B&B. It was a pretty long walk, but I’m kind of glad we did. It’s nice to walk around in a foreign city … it helps get you oriented, and lets you see some of the stuff you might not ordinarily see. Still, I’m not too sure my feet agree with that assessment.
After plopping our stuff in our fancy B&B room, we set out for a trip to Stanley Park and the aquarium. Of course, I forgot it was Saturday and when we arrived, the aquarium lineup was probably 50 people deep. Whoops. We quickly reverted our decision to visit the aquarium, vowing instead to come back on Monday when there would presumably be a few less people there. Instead, we spent the afternoon wandering around Stanley Park taking photos and admiring the flowers and wildlife. In one amusing encounter, we stopped to look at some paintings in the painters circle where the lady there was clearly crazy. She was quite willing to explain all the names of her child-like paintings and after each name she would giggle in a high pitched voice. I was a little creeped out, but wasn’t really sure what to say. Diane and I got ourselves away halfway through the paintings she was naming. Whew!
Stanley Park is beautiful. Lots of wonderfully magnificent trees, and many photo opportunities. I filled up one 2GB flash card, and started on a second one (that I had picked up at best buy on the way to the B&B).
Around 5:00, hunger started to set in so we consulted a list of restaurant recommendations Shayna was kind enough to forward to us, and found a nearby restaurant called Musashi (Japanese sushi restaurant). The food there was fantastic. Diane and I ate some lovely salmon rolls along with some tempura and even tried some scallop rolls, octopus, and sweet shrimp sushi. All of it was extremely good and we left there with full stomachs and only down $25 for the two of us, including tax and tip. Wow, I’m still surprised at how cheap that was!
After dinner we wandered down the the beach where we staked out an area to sit and wait for the fireworks. It took three hours, but by then we really needed to sit down and relax. So sitting down to wait for the fireworks suited us just fine. When we got there, the beach was already crawling with people and it was tough to find a spot, but we did. 3 hours of watching people and taking photos of the various things was pretty fun, but I kind of wished I had brought my book. Oh wells.
The fireworks were awesome. They were all done to a variety of jazz tunes, which was pretty cool. I liked seeing the fireworks drumrolls, for instance. Fun times! Unfortunately, I had forgotten my tripod at the B&B, which meant that I was doing handheld shots. It didn’t work very well, but still surprisingly well. Being that close to the fireworks certainly helped since you didn’t need to hold the shutter open too long.
After the fireworks, Diane and I walked back to the bus stop we had waited at earlier that morning. This time we caught the bus and jumped on it to get close to the B&B. We walked the rest of the way and fell into bed rather satisfied with a rather full day.
I’ll have to cover today’s activities later. I’m pretty tired and need to collapse and get some sleep so I have some energy tomorrow! G’nite all!
I’m sorry for my lack of updates. I’ve got a ton of pictures so far during my trip to Vancouver. I need to sort through them all when I get home, so updates will continue to be sparse until I return on the 1st. But this one was a pretty good shot that didn’t require editing, so I figured I’d get one post up anyways. The building on the right is the Hotel Vancouver, and I think the road is West Georgia street.
The man-machine event went really well, though our program lost. We’re hoping to do it again soon. I’m not sure how long that’ll be before we do do it again.
So the match is over, and I had a mere four and a half hours of sleep. Ouch. Still, it was a lot of fun. I got up and got some coffee and breakfast at Tim Hortons before heading up to the poker round table. I think people’s tempers were short which meant that there was a bit of unhappiness amongst some of the team members. I hope things sorted themselves out, but it wasn’t too pretty for awhile. Anyways, it was cool to meet up with some people who’ve started to gather and research computers playing poker. It should be cool to see what these guys come up with as they come up to speed.
After the round table, I hung around to see the general games playing man-machine match. From what I’d heard, the generic game playing competition was poorly run this year, and it even ran with some controversy. The games that were selected for the playoffs were all very similar and were from a class of games that the best preliminary round player had trouble with. Ugh. Plus, the man-machine match they had was a little pathetic. The played a game that if the humans figured out how the rules work, it was trivial for them to win. So … that’s not a good thing to have in a “fair” match. Oh well. My friend Yngvi won the title, but that was partly due to an error by the other program. Yngvi himself knows the system for the games competition needs fixing, so hopefully changes are made soon.
After witnessing that, I worked on the man-machine web site for awhile as I spent my first session in a real AAAI talk. Heh – too much stuff for me to do. The man-machine web site needs a ton of work, but I’m gonna have to get to that slowly over the next few days. Lots of press articles to link to!
In the afternoon I got the video done that you see in the post before this. I felt that it needed to get done and uploaded since people needed to see what Ali and Phil said about the bots and the outcome of the match.
After that I hung around for awhile and ended up going to the poster session. That was really cool – there was a bunch of food, and I got to talk to a few people including Brett from the University of Minnesota who started working on poker. We talked for a long time about DIVAT and variance and vexbot, and … how to calculate celcius from fahrenheit. Fun times.
After the poster session, we had found out that there was going to be a huge fireworks display in town. Apparently they do a fireworks contest and so Spain’s turn was today and Canada’s turn is Saturday. So we bustled down to river front and I borrowed Neil’s tripod and I got a ton of photos. I hope some of them turned out! It was hard since people kept moving into my photo
So now I’m just waiting for my photos to finish copying and then I’m gonna crash for the night. G’nite all!
Alright, so I’ve got to get myself caught up here. The second match day was nuts, and a ton of stuff happened so let me see what I can remember. I got up fairly early excited about the match. We did so well on day one, that we kind of expected to win! Alas, that was not to be.
I got in early enough to start setting up. Are room was moved to another one so that the one we were in first could be used for the keynote talks (which I haven’t been able to attend). So we needed to make sure the new room suited our purposes. The hotel did an excellent job of setting it up though so there wasn’t a huge amount of stuff to do. The first match got under way and Phil played a pretty decent game, but I don’t think he played perfectly. Unfortunately for us, Ali did better than Polaris did and the humans took down the 3rd match. (for exact details check out the match blog I slaved over). After the loss we of course wanted to know what happened. It turns out that the bot we fielded had a bug in it that killed its learning abilities and so it got stuck playing a less effective bot. Ouch, that hurt.
The final match was looming, and we had to decide what bot to put in the seat. It took a long time to debate what to play, but we decided to try and play a safe bot — the equilibrium bot that broke even in match 1. Unfortunately for us, Ali was just too brilliant and new how to take the bot down in the last match. We were disappointed, but we’re looking for a rematch and are hungry for revenge. Both Ali and Phil heaped praise on the bot though saying that it was the most intense match of their lives and that they had to play the best poker they had ever played just to do what they did. Here’s a youtube video I posted (thanks to Nolan for thinking quick and grabbing the camcorder for this section):
Awesome. Phil and Ali were so great. I can’t wait to meet up with them again at the rematch! After the match, after the media finished their interviews and we packed up stuff in the room, and after we got autographs from the players (and signed programs for the players as well), the people who were too tired went to bed and everyone else went in seek of food, drink, and fun. All the people who decided to stay out ended up at an awesome restaurant called Bin 941. The food there was absolutely incredible. I spent a lot of time chatting with Ali and his girlfriend Ana. They’re both so smart and really easy to get along with. I hope I was able to interest them even a tiny portion of how much they interested me. I loved getting the inside perspective on what it’s like to be a professional high stakes poker player. I’m not seriously thinking about pursuing that, but it’s nice to have a chance to hear about it from an insider.
Anyways, I stumbled back to our apartment condo half drunk and extremely happy with how the day had gone even though we lost the match. It was an extremely enjoyable experience and I would love to do it again. Even though I was exhausted. I got back and stumbled into bed around 3:45am … only to have to get up in the morning to attend a round table poker meeting with other researchers who wrote poker bots for the AAAI bot competition. But that was another day.
I got up relatively early this morning. I had had trouble sleeping due to being excited about today’s match! After getting up and ready to go, we wandered over to the hotel to finish setting stuff up. Our match started at noon today with Ali Eslami taking the first match in the public room and Phil Laak in the private hotel room. After getting everything setup, the match began with a bunch of fanfare from Jonathan Schaeffer. For the blow by blow details, check out the official home page for the blog that I worked on throughout the two sessions in the public room. To make a long story short, we drew the first session and won the second session by a large margin. We won! Wow, that was an incredible feeling.
I’m frazzled right now, so I need to head for bed. Let me quickly give some other hilights from today before I run. I didn’t really get a chance to eat lunch before the match started so I was starving by the time the first session was done. When a group of four of us (Neil, Nolan, Josh and I) descended to the lobby to go find food we ran into Phil, Ali and Ali’s girlfriend Ana who were about to pursue food themselves. So they asked us if we wanted to join them and we said … YES of course! So we went to a restaurant called Cactus Luv Cafe and got to chat it up with these poker pros (all three are pros: Ana plays limits of $100/$200), and talk about technology, and research, and life. It was awesome. All three of them are incredibly nice people and I’m so glad I’ve gotten a chance to meet them and talk to them about stuff that interests me.
After the match I had to make some updates to the website and finish off the liveblogs for the day. I then ran DIVAT analysis on the matches, and those graphs will hit the webpages when I get the chance to do it. Ali seemed incredibly interested in the DIVAT analysis and where they went wrong. It’ll be interesting to see how they adjust tomorrow.
Anyways, I’m off to bed. This is incredibly exciting, but I’m totally beat and I’ve got another long day of blogging ahead of me. Woohoo! G’nite all!
IE: Vancouver, Day 2.
Today was preparation day. I woke up without aid of my alarm at about 8:00 local time, and went and checked my email. The poker event that we’re doing has been picked up by some major news sources including the Associated Press New York, and PokerNews.com. Weeeee!
Tomorrow’s the big day, so we needed to get stuff setup. Darse, Alexandra and I went and got breakfast at a place below us that served some decent omelets with some huge crossiants on the side. Sweeet. We wandered over to the hotel where we met with Phil Laak — he seems pretty distractable in person … pretty much like on TV. It’s pretty cool to meet someone you’ve seen on TV several times and never expected to meet. This is about as close as I want to get to fame — I’m not really looking to be famous
Apple lent us 6 laptops so we picked them up from the hotel and went to go get them setup. Unfortunately, setting them up was quite a pain, and we didn’t get away for lunch due to the room prep and the laptop setups. The press conference was at 1:00. We didn’t get a huge turnout, but BBC had a radio crew there and there was a set of people from other news sources. We expect more media to show up during the event. We’ll have to see how that turns out!
After the press conference we had a player’s meeting in which we met up with Phil and Ali to discuss the rules and things to make the players comfortable. We want them to be treated well since they’re doing us a pretty big favour here. Everything went smoothly. Both Phil and Ali are very agreeable and I’m looking forward to seeing them in action tomorrow. I’ll probably learn a few things!
After the player’s meeting we continued making room arrangements. A few of us split for a late lunch at an express noodle place. It wasn’t too bad — a bit too oily on a couple dishes for my liking, but the food was alright.
We returned to the room to continue setup. It went well, but there’s a lot of stuff to do. We also needed to get the system up and running in order to test everything out. Hopefully everything works as advertised! Fairly late we found a problem with the power supply to the room. Apparently we were all hooked up to one outlet! That’d be 5 or 6 laptops and two huge projectors along with a camcorder. Yup, that’s not good. It looks like we’ve got the power sorted out now. Tomorrow we’ll have to double check the setup and see how things go.
We went as a huge UofA group to dinner at Earls. I didn’t really like the choice — we’re in Vancouver for goodness sake! Josh from our group used to work at Earls though and he suggested a pretty good drink: A Keith’s Iceberg. It’s a Keith’s India pale ale with some lime margarita mix in the top. It pretty much makes the Keith’s taste like strongbow which was pretty cool.
After dinner I bought some plastic poker chips to play some poker with my colleagues. There was a lot of action hands … and it appeared that people played pretty well even with no money on the line. I played really well (and also got really lucky, hitting some good cards). Then I lost a key hand where I flopped a set of 2s, but the guy who pushed into me had an open ended straight draw and a flush draw. His straight hit on the turn, and his bigger straight/flush card came on the river. No love for me. That crippled me, though I doubled up on the next hand with 33. Unfortunately I lost my stack on the next hand when I flopped top pair of 7s only to lose to Neil’s better kicker. Oops.
So now I’m back at the hotel trying to get my photos from today uploaded to my laptop so I have a clean memory card when I go in tomorrow. I need a clean memory card since tomorrow I’ll likely fill my card with photos!
Anyways. That’s day 2. Tomorrow is the first 2 session of the man-machine poker match!!!!
I’m in Vancouver! Today is day 1 of several, and I’ll be trying to keep up with the blogging over the next few days. We’ll have to see how well that works …
My day started really early. I couldn’t sleep for some reason so I spent some time working on the man-machine website starting at 5:00 in the morning. My parents came to get me around 7:00 and they dropped me off at the airport with plenty of time to get through security and wait for my flight to board. En route, I picked up a copy of the new harry potter book at the airport bookstore. No lineup!
The flight was pretty painless — I was on a flight with Maria, Duane, and Neil which was cool. We ended up hanging out for most of the morning and afternoon. For lunch we stopped at a place called the “Bellagio Cafe” … which I thought was fitting since the Bellagio is only a huge casino in Vegas, and we were here to compete in a poker match!
After lunch we went to go visit the Planetarium, which was pretty neat. I was a little disappointed with most of the displays, but it was a good way to kill some time that’s for sure. There was one of the motion simulators though which was pretty fun. We also went to two shows in the planetarium dome itself. Both weren’t that great and I found myself drifting off to sleep which wasn’t very good. That might have had something to do with my being awake at 5:00! We also attended two live demos. They were pretty neat, but the second was particularly fun because the second potentially good omen was that the presenter gave particular emphasis to the north star … Polaris. Which just happens to be the name of our bot.
We ran into Nolan, Mike, Josh, and Andrew at the planetarium which was cool. We separated early though since we had been there for a few hours already and we needed to get back (I needed to meetup with Darse whom I am sharing a condo apartment with).
It took a little while to get organized, but finally we confirmed that we’d be going out to dinner with Ali. It was pretty cool — Ali seems like a pretty smart guy. Phil should have arrived by now, but I haven’t had a chance to meet him yet. Dinner was a pretty fancy restaurant called Cin Cin. It was pretty good, but certainly more expensive than I’d eat on a regular basis. I mean, $11.50 for dessert? COME ON! (Arrested Development anyone?)
Tomorrow there will be a press conference with both Ali and Phil. I’ll try and get some photos during that to post to the website. Afterwords there’ll be a players meeting where we confirm all the rules … and we get to test all our equipment (again) to make sure everything runs smoothly. The match runs on Monday!!!! That’s just 2 sleeps!
Hope everyone is doing well. I’m having fun!
Big news today. My supervisor, Dr Jonathan Schaeffer had a major announcement concerning his checkers research. As some of you no doubt know, he is the author of the world champion checkers program, Chinook. Since winning the title he continued to work on the game, but instead of trying to play the game well, he concentrated on playing the game perfectly. Today he announced that the game is indeed a draw. The solution was finished in April, but he couldn’t announce it right away since he submitted the solution to Science magazine. By submitting it there, he knew that it would get rejected immediately if Science wasn’t able to be the ones to break the news. So it finally got published, and Jonathan was able to release the new web page with the playable solution!
This comes at a crazy time for Jonathan, but the poker group should benefit from the press coverage since Jonathan has been careful to mention the upcoming man-machine poker match to every media person he talks to.
2 sleeps before I head to Vancouver!