Posts tagged update

Updates from Vegas


Polaris Wins!

Our computer poker program took on some of the best poker pros and came out on top!

Sorry for the lack of updates here. If you haven’t figured out, my travel blog has moved over to minoragenda, so if you want to read about our adventures in detail, please head on over there. I forgot to post a message like this earlier, so sorry about not letting you know.

I have a big todo list of stuff and not much time to do it. I want to get around to posting photos and post poker reports for the couple of live sessions I’ve managed to squeeze in. But that will have to wait for a little while.

Hope all is well with you!




I’m starting to go a tad crazy I think. This week has been insanely busy. It seems like I keep getting things piled on me. Work has been exceptionally busy as we madly prepare for the upcoming man-machine poker match. I’ve had a pile of fairly little tasks to do along with a couple of larger tasks. There’s a huge list of directions we want to go before the competition happens, and we’re going to be madly trying many of them right up until the competitions.

This week my Mac Pro arrived, so I’ve been pretty distracted by setting it up. It’s taking me a surprisingly long time to set it up. There’s a lot of things that go into my computer environment that I need to get just so. That, and copying large numbers of files to and from my drobo takes a little longer than I’d like it to.

The wedding planning continues at a relatively slow pace. We’ve got a lot of the things that we need checked off the list, but there’s still lots of things to do. It’s hard to believe that it’s only (less than) a month away!

Last night I finally caught up uploading photos to Flickr. That took entirely too long, but now I’ve got over a thousand photos up on my flirckr account. Pretty sweet to break that milestone.

Today I stayed home working and waiting for a package that contains some additional RAM sticks to put in my Mac Pro. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet arrived and I need to go join Diane for dinner at one of her coworker’s place. I don’t understand how UPS scheduling works — I saw one of their trucks stop at the building across the street, and my package had arrived in Edmonton yesterday morning. Why wasn’t my package on the truck that came that close to my place?

It seems every so often UPS just doesn’t work well for me. I was so happy to see that my RAM was scheduled to arrive today, but now it looks like it’ll be Monday or Tuesday before I get it. *sigh*.

Anyways, sorry for the haphazard-ish update. I’ve got to get going pretty soon here.




It’s been quite awhile since my last general update, so I figured I’d give a quick update.

The interview process is still underway. I’m not entirely sure what the status is, but it looks like I might be scheduling a visit for Diane and I over there to check out the office and have a chance to meet people and show off what I can do. It’s a little nerve wracking not knowing whether I’ve got a job or not, but it should be cool to meet some of the people face to face.

Outside of that, the poker group is gearing up its significant resources prepping for the upcoming AAAI poker bot competition. We’ve got a couple new tricks up our sleeves which hopefully will be enough to secure some more first place finishes. We’re also hoping to put together another man-machine challenge. There’s some tentative support here, so it might actually happen, but I don’t really know the details. As soon as I can share details about that, I will. I’m really hoping it happens. In my ideal world, I’d get a nice job offer from FT so I could breathe easy about that. Then the man-machine match would go ahead and we’d play some high profile players in Vegas during the WSOP. Then I’d get a bit of holiday time to honeymoon with Diane before moving to Ireland to start work at FT. It seems plausible to me!

Speaking of honeymooning and wedding stuff, the wedding is getting close to two months away. That’s a bit scary … the time has never gone slow that’s for sure. There’s probably a bazillion little things we should be organizing for the wedding, but it feels like we’ve got most of the important details done. Probably the biggest remaining thing is to arrange a list of volunteers for various tasks at the wedding. We’ll probably be compiling a list of things that need doing and call for volunteers over at

I’ve been pretty busy working, so I haven’t had much time to put into poker. My 200NL experiment went pretty well, although I’m pretty sure I was running hot. I’d like to get a chance to play some more soon, but my evenings seem to be full of too many things. In other poker related news, I’ve been playing in the World Rec.Gambling Poker Tournament (WRGPT). This is a large play-by-email poker tournament that predates online poker. This is the first year I’ve competed in the tournament since I only learned of it last year but I missed the registration that time. I’m doing not too shabby in this tournament, although I’ve gone pretty card dead over the past couple rotations. Then this hand happened. Woohoo flush! I now sit in ~60th or so place of ~180-ish remaining players. I still have a shot!

So that’s a pretty decent update of what I’ve been up to. Lots of stuff going on, not a lot of time to update the blog. Hopefully I can get more regular updates in the next little while.


Transition complete


Just a couple of notes to update what I’m doing with the site. I have now removed the old layout and blog content for That address is still valid, but it points to this blog. WordPress does a pretty good job of acting as the main page for a website, so I see no reason to keep wordpress sequestered in a /blog directory. Very little for this webpage has changed.

I hope to spend some time on the template to make it look prettier. Instead of doing it myself this time, I think I’ll probably steal/use one of the free ones from the wordpress templates site and modify it using my own images. Hopefully I get around to that sooner rather than later.


Killer Session


Things have been pretty busy in my camp these days. I keep meaning to post a more meaningful post concerning some things I’ve been thinking about lately, but I haven’t had much time to sit down and update things here.

Yesterday I had one of the best sessions of poker I’ve had in a long time. I rode a wave of spiking cards and stacking players for a glorious run of about 2 and a bit hours of play. I ended up with more than 5.5 stacks of profit, playing $100NL.

I know that a lot of that is just variance, but I can’t keep myself from feeling good after a session like that. I’m still kind of amazed at just how well that session went.

More posts to come soon I hope.



Okay, it seems these catchup posts are getting to be the norm. I hope they aren’t though – so I’m gonna try and get caught up here and start getting myself back in the habit of posting here.

First up, the big thing lately has been my return to poker. I started playing a few weeks ago to catchup on some PSO promos that they’ve been adding with remarkable regularity. I started with Carbon Poker where I jumped right in at 100nl and did quite well and banked a $500 profit plus my $120 PSO bonus. Next was Action poker, which I didn’t do quite as well at. Even with the $100 deposit bonus, I was only able to claw my way back up to even a little after finishing off the $120 PSO bonus. I didn’t really like Action poker – there wasn’t enough tables, and I never really felt comfortable. So I was quick to move on. My next promo though was Cake Poker, and it feels much better. Being up $500 plus the $90 PSO bonus doesn’t hurt in that respect … but I’m also rather enjoying the fast bonus clearing rate. So I think I’m going to stick around at Cake for awhile before I move on to my next PSO bonus.

Work is going well. I just moved offices, and have started to get familiar with the code that produced the bots that played in the man-machine match this past summer. I’m super excited to work on the next iteration of these bots … and even more excited to pit them against the world’s best players. At the moment we’re trying to lock down some money to challenge some players with. Any ideas where we could get that money? We’d ideally like something on the order of $50K or more to use as prize money. I don’t have many ins with people, but if you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

Diane and I are doing well. We’re currently in the midst of wedding plans which are going pretty smoothly I think. We’ve got several months to go, but we’ve got a lot of the important things locked up and several others in progress. Hopefully we can have invitations out in a month or so. We’ve been pretty busy with social stuff too – attending quite a few fun events over the past month. Too many to really recount in a short space here, but the latest was a Chili cook-off. We made some pretty awesome bison chili (if I do say so myself) along with some skillet cornbread, apple crisp, and cookies. Mmm – it was quite a cooking day! We had a lot of fun in the kitchen, and it’s making me want to force myself to spend more time cooking on a regular basis. I’d certainly eat better (and healthier) if I did.

The Oilers are maddening to watch at times. The most recent game against the flames was sweet to watch though – now if only we could put together an effort like that on a more consistent basis. I see a lot of potential on our club. If we get a few key members back and contributing, we could have a contender on our hands. I realize it’s a lot of ifs, but what else do we have? In particular, I’m really impressed with Robert Nillsson’s play. He’s been fast, creative, and strong with the puck – I’m starting to get excited every time I see him get the puck. One last thing: what the hell is with the hit on Hemsky? That should’ve got a suspension for sure! He could’ve been badly hurt on a play like that!!!!

Not bad for an update post huh? If you’ve got questions, let me know – I’m feeling a bit lonely in blog land!


A Lively Weekend


It’s been busy, so I haven’t had a chance to work on anymore since I launched it. Don’t worry, it’ll be updated!

This weekend I got to be part of a real special weekend for my friend and colleague, Darse Billings. He got married this weekend, and I was proud to be one of the select people he chose to include in part of his special day. He decided to essentially elope, and the only reason I was included was I was the photographer for the event. So at the ceremony, there was just 6 people. The happy couple: Darse and Alexandra, the marriage commissioner: June, the witnesses: Dr and Dr Buro, and the photographer: yours truly. The ceremony was quick, although that was partially due to the weather which didn’t entirely cooperate. Darse was pretty happy though — he loves the rain. The ceremony went off with no problems and the happy couple shared their kiss and then we all dashed off to June’s car to finish the paperwork.

By the time the paperwork was over the rain had already quieted down, so we drove down to the museum grounds hoping that the rain would subside for us to get some photos in. It turned out we were in luck, and we joined the FIVE other weddings in a competition to find good scenic spots to get photos. I think we did alright, and you’ll probably be seeing quite a few of my photos get posted to Flickr (that is, if Darse and Alexandra are okay with that). There were quite a few rather good photos, in my humble opinion.

After the photo shoot, I picked up Diane and we met up with the rest of the wedding crowd at the Blue Pear. The six of us enjoyed an incredible 5 course meal. Each course was amazing. I felt kinda funny taking pictures of my food, but it was good enough that I’m gonna want those photos to remember. I just justify it by saying that Darse and Alexandra will also want to remember their food… right? I took several more photos of the couple and the rest of the guests throughout dinner. All the while, really really enjoying my 50mm f/1.4 canon lens that can take some pretty fantastic low light photos. Just about any other lens would’ve had issues, but this one had no problems with the ISO set to just 800 for most of the photos. Hooray!

After dinner, our next stop was a games party at my supervisor, Jonathan Schaeffer’s house. By the time Diane and I got there, Darse had already broken the news that he had decided to go to Ireland … and that he happened to have gotten married earlier in the day. He brought four magnums of champagne to celebrate – and when Diane and I came in the door we were passed glasses and quickly had them filled. As usual, the games party was lots of fun, but because we got there late I didn’t get a chance to play many games. I did play a new game called Ingenious, which Darse had found. It was pretty fun. I might have to pick up a copy of that (even though I already have too many games that I don’t play).

So it was a pretty fun, and eventful day. Congratulations to Darse and Alexandra again! It was an honour to be part of your special day.




It seems that after any big event, my work habits need a couple weeks to return to form. This has been the case after coming back from Vancouver — for some reason I just have trouble ramping up to get things done again. Thankfully, today has seen some sign that these problems are starting to pass. I’ve started cleaning up the DIVAT code base, and have plans to make it a) more efficient, b) more correct, and c) implement a service for people to run the DIVAT analysis on their own matches.

Another thing I’ve been trying to do is get some of the raw video files from the matches, and make a few highlight reels of quotes and good hands. The quote highlight reels I should be able to do now … it’s just going to take some time. I didn’t realize just how long it takes to watch video to find good clips. I’m not really sure how people do this in real video editing, but my methods are extremely slow and time consuming. Ugh. So expect a highlight reel, but don’t expect it soon.

What else? Things are going well in general. I’ve been playing super mario strikers on the Wii lately. It’s a pretty fun game, but it’s also frustrating. I can’t seem to pass the “Crystal Cup” difficulty level. The game (which is soccer, mario style btw) format involves playing a 6 team double round robin tournament to seed a single elimination tournament amongst the top four places. When you win the two matches in the single elimination tournament, you get to play against a new team which you unlock if you win. The problem I’m having is that before each kickoff (at the start of the game and after a team scores), the level knocks out some number of players from each team for the entire time between kick offs. This seems to be entirely random … but it seems to screw my team over every time. You see, each player on a team has his own unique traits. Some are slower, but have a better shot, some have a poor shot, but are fast and can pass really well. If you get stuck with just your slow scoring players, then the opposing team has the freedom to run circles around you … and you give up a goal or two that way which so far has cost me the game more often than not. I’ve only managed to eke out one victory in this format in 7 games. So frustrating.

My roommate, Mike, has an interesting carrot-on-a-stick approach to writing his thesis. He’s already bought an xbox 360, which sits under his desk until he finishes his first draft of his thesis. Incredibly, he’s less than two weeks in and he’s already got one chapter left to write. I can’t really imagine how hard it is not to crack that box open and play some of the coolest next-gen games. Speaking of consoles, I’m pretty impressed with the xbox actually. I haven’t played much of it, but it looks like it has certainly helped kill of the PS3. Of course, the jury is still out, but between the Wii and the 360, I really don’t see the PS3 finding room to compete.

Diane and I have finally begun planning out our wedding. There’s a pretty long list of things we’ve got to arrange. I don’t suppose anyone has any suggestions on who we should go with for a photographer? It’s really hard for me to tell how one person’s photography style will suit Diane and I. I suppose the correct way to go about this is to meet with several photographers and see what they have to say for themselves and talk them through a typical wedding shoot. So that’s the next thing we need to do. It’s a little surreal, thinking about getting married. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago when I was a socially awkward little kid running around. Now I’m a socially awkward person that’s somehow getting married in a few months. Huh. Who would’ve thunk it?

It’s been awhile since I last updated. Part of the reason for that is my shiny new Macbook pro which has had me spending time tweaking it and playing with my photo collection in Aperture. It’s amazing how much time you can fill up just installing different programs and fiddling with settings. That might also be part of the reason I haven’t been all that productive over the last couple of weeks. Fortunately, my productivity should increase now that I have my laptop all setup!

Anyways, I’m off to a games party tonight. Hope everyone is having a good summer and is planning on checking out the fringe this year. Should be fun!


Look Up


Look Up, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

For some reason, I love these kinds of shots. This is at the Capilano Suspension Bridge park in Vancouver. It’s hard to choose the photos to post here – I have too many I want to post! Be prepared for daily updates to continue for a few weeks!

Phil Laak


Phil Laak, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

f you’ve been paying attention to the media attention the man-machine match received over the past couple of weeks, you may have seen this photo. This was one of the few photos from the event itself that I took myself. During the event, I was in charge up posting live updates to the webpage. As such, I didn’t really have time to take photos too. So it was only in breaks of the action that I could take photos.

This shot was setup for an interview Phil was doing in front of a camera lens. I just happened to run along with my camera and grab a couple shots of Phil. This is the best one, and you may have seen it on a couple of news articles. Don’t worry, they had our permission to use the photo.

More photos to come in the next few days! Stay tuned!

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