f(x) goes into a bar and asks for a drink. "I'm sorry," the barman says. "We don't cater for functions."
Tracking the development of Poker Copilot, Mac OS X software for poker analysis and statistics.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Poker Copilot version 2 is well underway. I'm experimenting with an embedded SQL database, to get rid of the 150,000 hand limit. I haven't yet made it fast enough for my likings, so I'm going through the standard list of database optimisations. Including using a database warehouse-like star schema.
Now that I've made the eyes of 95% of my readers glaze over, here's how I'm changing my development approach. I developed version 1 via many small iterations. This worked because I started with zero users and I had no firm idea of what features people wanted in a mac poker tracker.
The first cut of Poker Copilot only worked with Full Tilt Poker ring games. Even before I released version 1.0 I had people asking me for Poker Stars support. So I added that, and re-released. Then came the demand for tournament support. Add, re-release. People were clamouring for a heads up display. Add, re-release. Bankroll chart. Add, re-release. And so it went.
As the number of Poker Copilot users grew, this approach hit problems. The quick turn-around time meant I wasn't doing adequate testing. Adding new features sometimes broke things for existing users. Every time this happened, I felt deeply embarrassed, and braced myself for a backlash. To the credit of my users, the backlash never came. Instead I encountered patience, support, and a never-ending stream of feature requests!
For version 2 I'm using a more rigorous and traditional approach. I've made a list of intended improvements and prioritised them. Now I'm doing the development. Next comes testing and debugging. Eventually I'll have a month-long beta release, available for the eager and brave. While this is underway I'll get the documentation written and the website updated.
It will take longer and will be somewhat less transparent. But it will spare users from being an unofficial test team.
There will be an early access program with which you can try out the new features before they are fully tested. This still allows me to get some feedback, but without disrupting the great number of users who just want Poker Copilot to work. And keep working.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
The local coffee handler sells many types of coffee, one of which is labelled "Fair and Organic". Does that imply that the other types are unfair and inorganic? If it is possible to make and sell one "fair" coffee, why can't they all be fair?
But that's of little concern compared to the other coffees being presumably inorganic. From the dictionary:
in·or·gan·ic adj. Involving neither organic life nor the products of organic life.Until now the only inorganic thing I've been eating is salt. I think.
...when I go for brunch*, eat delicious fried eggs with manchego cheese melted on top, casually read up on what's going on in the world in this week's The Economist, then return home to find that while out I sold three copies of Poker Copilot.
* "What's brunch? You'd love it, It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don't get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!" **
** being a hard core Simpsons fan, I had to do it.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Since sending my new iMac back to Apple last Monday, I've been using my old MacBook Pro. The replacement iMac is due on Monday. According to UPS's tracking site, it is already here in Cologne, scanned for delivery, probably sitting in a delivery truck, but still two days away from arriving at my apartment.
I made a back-up of the now-gone iMac. To simplify setting up the replacement iMac, I've done no Poker Copilot coding since last Monday. It's been hard holding back. My brain, my body, my geekier-than-thou soul want to be coding. Fixing bugs. Optimising. Adding features.
Just two more days...
Monday, 23 March 2009
User reviews is an area where the Internet shines.
I was considering upgrading from Office for Mac 2004 to Office for Mac 2008. These reviews turned me off the idea. Some even suggested that it is best to stay with 2004 than to upgrade. It seems like I'll be going with iWork 2009 instead.
My post announcing the start of development on Poker Copilot 2 got some questions from some of my most loyal, persistent users. I feel obliged to answer:
Il Vargoso stated:
PokerCopilot 2 MUST HAVE the HUD working for multitable players.Hearing you loud and clear! I'm looking at significantly improving the HUD. Il Vargoso comes from Colombia, my favourite country in the all the world. Which means I'm listening doubly hard. If you haven't visited Colombia, I recommend heading there post-haste. It's extremely beautiful and varied (Andes, Amazon, Caribbean, Pacific), has nice architecture, wonderful museums, friendly people, and (at least in 2006) was severely under-touristed. But I digress.
Lord Bodak emphatically wrote:
It had better not cost too much more than v1... PokerTracker is $89.99 and while I love Poker Copilot I think most would agree that it has a long way to go to be feature comparable.The price is almost certainly going to be $59.95. While Poker Copilot is not Poker Tracker in it's feature set, I'm also making sure that Poker Copilot is several steps above Poker Tracker in its usability. Unlike Poker Tracker, there's no need to install and administer a database, and no need to occasionally "vacuum", "cluster", and "analyse" the database. For most people getting started with Poker Tracker is a cinch. Once started, the useful information in Poker Copilot jumps out at you, rather than being hidden behind numerous tabs and buttons and buttons and tabs.
Kerri Miller wrote:
I wouldn't mind paying a small fee, considering that I just bought it 4 or 5 days agoIf you, like Kerri, missed out on the "free upgrade period" by only a few days, fret not. Simply let me know via e-mail once version 2 is released that you purchased mere days before the free upgrade period started and all will be taken care of. I am most reasonable in these matters! :-)
Arthur reminded me that:
...early adopters [should] get the free upgrade, since many of us have been active participants in providing feedback and bug reporting through GetSatisfaction. In theory, that has laid the groundwork for v2 being possible.This was so clear in my mind that I assumed it would go without saying. A few people have been consistently helpful with feedback, bug reports, suggestions, and patience in the development of version 1. Arthur is one of them. If you are too, wait until Poker Copilot 2 is released, then remind me via e-mail that you really deserve a free upgrade. You know who you are. I do too. You are the ones who have made Poker Copilot a joy to develop so far.
- I bought a cable to connect an additional monitor to the iMac. While the iMac was running, I plugged in the monitor and turned it on. Immediately the new monitor was added to the desktop. No config, no installation. Just too easy.
- I noticed a friend was online in iChat with the video icon next to his name. I double-clicked, and a video chat started. First time I've done it on this computer, again no config and no installation needed. He's in Australia, I'm in Germany, and we chatted, made bad jokes, and showed off the view out of our respective offices. Again - just too easy.
- The new iMac has a problem. The fan is always on and too loud. Or maybe it's the hard drive. I don't know. I called Apple and told them. They said they'd arrange for it to be collected and for a replacement to be delivered. As simple as that. No need to be switched from department to department. No need to be treated like an imbecile by tech support. No ndeed to plead my case. Maybe it's something Apple does in the weeks immediately after delivery. I don't know. What I do know, is, a phone call I was dreading turned out to be - a third time - just too easy.
We all hate it when a company promises to add feature X in version Y to be released on date Z, and then fails to deliver on said promises. So I'm going to do things the Apple way: we're working hard on Poker Copilot 2 (and have been for a month), we're looking for ways to innovate, but we're offer no specific promises...except...
- a mucked hand viewer will be included because it is already done and under testing!
- I do listen to users. The more votes a feature request gets, the more likely it is to get included.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Poker Copilot version 1 is now a completed product. It's reach a level of maturity, stability, and ease-of-use that I'm happy with. The number of support e-mails have dropped dramatically while downloads and sales have stayed consistent. The only changes I'll be making will be bug fixes as necessary.
So what's next? Poker Copilot version 2 of course! More news coming soon...
Here's what I can say now:
- Poker Copilot 2 will cost more that Poker Copilot 1.
- Anyone who buys Poker Copilot from today (Sunday, 22nd March 2009) onwards gets a free upgrade to Poker Copilot 2 when it is released.
- People who bought Poker Copilot 1 before today may have a small upgrade price. Or they may not. We're still sorting this out.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
A couple of years ago I spent a month in India. One balmy afternoon, from the roof-top bar of my hotel in New Delhi, I watched a group of cops pull up in the street. They picked a bystander seemingly at random, then started beating the crap out of him with long sticks. They threw him in the back of a police wagon, then a minute later released him, grabbed somebody else, beat him to a pulp and took him away. I was stunned, as were the other guests - all whiteys - in the hotel. I felt anger, powerlessness, and contempt. Never have I been so glad to leave a country.
I watched Slumdog Millionaire today, loved it, recommend it, and appreciated that it showed India as it is. Indian movies for western consumption usually omit the daily dirt, degradation, and suffering that hundreds of millions experience daily. Slumdog showed it all.
Friday, 20 March 2009
So gmail has added "Undo send".
The trick is, the sending of the e-mail is delayed a few seconds after you click "Send", allowing you the chance to change your mind before the e-mail is really sent.
It's a great idea, although I think the delay could be even greater. I could tolerate that an e-mail is only sent some 30 seconds or so after I think it has been sent. This gives me a good window of time to undo.
I love those inventions which in hindsight seem so obvious. The cat-door, for example, seems the most obvious thing: A little mini-door within the house door so that the cat can come in and out as he pleases. Yet alledgedly it took the genius Isaac Newton to invent it. (I suspect that's a myth debunked on the Internet).
Now there's an oh-so-obvious solution to the electric car problem. It takes hours to recharge an electric car, making the concept inconvenient. It would seem we need clever scientists to invent faster ways to charge batteries. But what about simply fitting service stations with the infrastructure to remove a spent battery and replace it with a full one? Like a Formula 1 pit lane, with the right tools and training this can done in seconds.
Here's a video about Better Place, the people behind this obvious-in-hindsight idea.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
There's a new Poker Copilot update, version 1.67.
- PokerStars satellite tournament wins are handled correctly
- The HUD now works with Full Tilt 6 max speed tables
- Adding a PokerStars tournament summary e-mail is now slightly easier for first-time users to understand.
Monday, 16 March 2009
My blog is my #1 marketing tool for Poker Copilot. It's also fun - for me. I like writing. I have an opinion on just about everything, especially things I know little about. I like sharing my opinion. My close friends reading this will be nodding their heads in firm agreement right now!
As a marketing tool for a tiny software company, a blog gives almost unbeatable value-for-money. It costs me nothing in cash. It costs a little bit of time for each article - time which is nicely amortised. The returns seem to compound as the blog content increases linearly over time. That is, a blog with 100 articles is more than ten times as valuable as a blog with 10 articles.
Which raises the question: if a blog is so effective, will so many people start using this approach successfully that it will lose its value? If every tiny software company offers a regular, helpful blog, will it become a basic requirement for business? Will it lose its competitive advantage?
I think not. The reason is this: blogging is hard. Writing only a few blog articles is easy. Writing frequently, regularly and consistently for more than a couple of weeks becomes a distasteful chore for most people. Motivation flags. Most people don't share my love of writing. Unlike me, most people are not filled with opinions they are eager to share with anyone within earshot (or is that eyeshot?). So if you can find the motivation and discipline to blog, you have a great advantage.
It becomes easier once you've made it a habit too.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
I'm surprised to see that the Hammer is beaten only by Coldplay. Is he still on the scene in the states? From my Australian upbringing, I know him only as a 1.5 hit wonder from the early 90s with a unique dress style and some much-mimicked dance moves. So how do he get > 200K followers? Am I missing yet another Internet meme?
Thursday, 12 March 2009
- I just completed Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys, a somewhat alternative novel I can highly recommend. A secret organisation tries to improve the world by killing evil people.
- Philip Roth's American Pastoral. A perfect American life turns into a trainwreck. Recommended.
- Filthy Rich Clients, an exotically-named advanced guide to Java Swing programming. Very helpful for really understanding Swing.
- The disappointing Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. I'm sure there was a point in that book somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. An eye-witness account of an Everest expedition gone very wrong. Compelling. I could barely put it down.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
I sell Poker Copilot for US$49.95. People pay in US dollars. Because I live in Germany, my landlord, my supermarket, and my local Apple store all want to be paid in Euros. Therefore I must decide when to bring money from my US-dollar-denominated account into Germany.
Now I could speculate on where the USD/EUR exchange rate is headed. I could try to guess the ideal time to convert the money. But that's a mug's game. Even those who make their living from exchange rate speculation don't do very well from it, on average. Yes, yes, I know about your cousin/friend/hot-shot analyst who made a fortune from exchange rate speculation. According to probability some people will get it right sometimes. A few people will get it right many times. These people are luckier than they realise.
Consider this contrived story: 1296 men go to a casino, each with $100. They all play on the same roulette table at the same time. 36 of the men put their entire $100 on number 1. Another 36 put their money on number 2. And so on, so that each number has $3600 staked on it. The wheel spins. Lucky number 7 comes up, of course. 1260 men leave sullenly, and never talk about their gamble and subsequent loss.
But 36 men have now 36 times the amount of money they started with: $3600 each. Feeling like they've got this roulette game figured out, they bet on another spin of the wheel. The first man bets his $3600 on number 1, the second man on number 2, and so on. The wheel spins. The result is 11, as a wise person would expect. Another 35 men leave disheartened and go back to their normal jobs as accountants, hairdressers, and delivery drivers.
But one man, one lone man now has $129,600. He is celebrated as a champion gambler, almost divine in his ability to guess right. He writes a popular book, "I Won...and So Can You!". It outlines his theory on picking subsequent prime numbers for guaranteed success. People use him as an example to prove that you can make a good living playing roulette. But he is not divine; he is fooled by randomness. So too are his many followers. He actually made terrible decisions, but got very, very lucky.
It's easy to get fooled by similar successes in currency speculation, because we ignore (or don't here from) the losers. There's ample research showing that a random number generator is as good a predictor of exchange rate movements as the typical analyst.
So back to my problem: What's my solution to the "I don't want to be a speculator" problem? When do I move my money from USD dollars to Euros? As often as possible while not incurring too many fees. Once per month. Sometimes I'll get a good rate, sometimes I'll get a lousy rate. But over the course of time, the good and the bad will average out and I'll end up with a reasonable rate over all.
There's an update to a great Poker Copilot guide here:
Monday, 9 March 2009
So as of an hour ago e-mails have been flooding in, all saying the same thing: The HUD is broken!
I found the problem and made the fix. Download the updated version here.
And a note to myself: don't rely on external services when possible. When they change how their system works, my system breaks. That's what caused this problem.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Since last week's Poker Copilot update, I've had far less support e-mails. Downloads and purchases, on the other hand, are higher than ever.
How did I get the number of support e-mails down? Through a low-tech means. No, I didn't turn off the support inbox! I added simple text and hyperlinks at critical places in Poker Copilot.
Common support question #1: Why are my tournament total winnings zero? New Answer:
Common support question #2: Can I customise the HUD? New answer:
Common support question #3: How can I add more hand history locations? New answer:
Though simple, the tips took some effort to write. Too much text, and people won't read the tips. Too little text, and people won't understand the tips. I need them to be short, no words wasted, yet still able to communicate. What you see in these screenshots is the result of much deliberation.
Friday, 6 March 2009
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Hot on the tails of yesterday's Poker Copilot 1.64 release comes 1.65. This allows users with non-English setups to get the HUD going again. It also fixes an error in one of the dashboard stats.
You can download from http://pokercopilot.com/
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
I've spent several days testing this release and I feel it is now ready. For "testing" read "playing long-running tournaments with hundreds and thousands of players but never quite making the cut".
So what's new in Poker Copilot 1.64?
- Performance improvements. (For the fellow career geeks, I've made more use of background tasks to make the GUI more responsive.)
- Small cosmetic changes, including a better level of transparency in the HUD.
- Changes to the way "Went to showdown" and "won at showdown" are calculated. These now are based on hands where you saw the flop, rather than all hands.
- Some small usability improvements which most people won't notice but should reduce the number of new users having troubles
- "Blind steal attempts" now includes attempts made from the small blind
- The "Position" summary now categories position in relation to the button.
- A number of small bug fixes
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
My best sales hours are my sleeping hours. That's because while I sleep in Germany, Americans are in their prime poker playing hours. So I was surprised to turn on the computer this morning to find that I had no sales overnight.
Then I spotted this colorful e-mail from mon.itor.us:
The Poker Copilot website went down at 11:35 pm last night (German time) and was down all night. Bad for sales. Very bad for sales.
I'm glad, however, that with mon.itor.us's help I spotted the problem as early as possible (without disturbing my sleep!) If you rely on your website for your income, and you are not monitoring it, you could do much worse than using mon.itor.us's free service.
Monday, 2 March 2009
...is a good cult!
In November I went to the 2-day European Software Conference, aka the "We Love Joel Spolsky" conference. Of the various presentations I attended, two started with a Joel quote projected onto the screen in an attactive serif font in nice big letters. A third contained an "as Joel Spolsky said..." quote midway through. In casual conversations, I would discretely time how minutes passed before Joel was mentioned. It was often single digits.
Today I officially join the cult of Joel by including my own Mr Spolsky quote. As Joel said,
"we, personally, like money, here at Fog Creek, and will accept payment in just about any reasonable form customers would like to pay. Credit card, debit card, check, purchase order, cheques drawn on a foreign bank, small coins taped to an index card and mailed to us, Kruggerands, big stones from Yap, as long as it's not friggin' CATTLE we'll accept it in payment. It's money. Money is why you do this."As Poker Copilot sales increased, I became relucant to accept payment through any means other that my "Order Now" page. Joel's sentiment above, however, reminds me to check my attitude. Sometimes people e-mail me to say, "I'm not comfortable with your ordering process. I don't want to use a credit card. I don't want to have a PayPal account. I don't want to use a third-party payment processor." In recent weeks I've tried to be more accommodating. I've also tried to streamline my "unusual orders" process.
PayPal makes this easy. With PayPal I can bill people without a PayPal account. With PayPal I can even process paper orders.
After all, money is highly motivating.
I downloaded Safari 4 beta on the weekend. I was impressed by Apple's "Download Safari" web page. A near-perfect balance between the important components:
- Shiny big download button? Check
- System requirements shown? Check
- One-click download? Check
- E-mail address optional? Check
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Hubris: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance
In Poker Copilot's custom charts, if you try to add "Hands Played" to the chart, performance becomes abysmal. The whole app freezes up while rendering the graph. The more hands you have, the worse this problem.
I presumed that my code wasn't the source of the problem. For weeks I displayed overbearing pride and never sought the problem in my own code. Finally I started dissecting the third-party charting component's source code, where my arrogance told myself the problem must lie.
I was wrong and am somewhat humbled. A stray "i++" in my Java source code was at fault. Expect a fix in the next Poker Copilot update.
Poker Copilot Translation Project
- ► 2012 (147)
- ► 2011 (154)
- ► 2010 (247)
- A Joke for Maths Nerds
- A Different Development Approach for Version 2
- Unfair? Inorganic?
- Disturbing Quote of the Day
- A Good Sunday is...
- Must... Write... Code...
- Office for Mac 2008: No go
- Time for some Poker Copilot 2 Answers
- Three Pleasant Apple Surprises
- Poker Copilot 2: What to Expect?
- Poker Copilot Version 1: Complete
- Indian Police and Slumdog Millionaire
- Delayed E-mail Sending: Another Obvious-in-Hindsig...
- Obvious in Hindsight
- Poker Copilot Update 1.67
- A Blog as a Marketing Tool
- MC Hammer #2 music twitterer?
- What I've Been Reading Lately
- When to Convert my Dollarses into Euroses
- Guide to Reading Poker Copilot Stats
- HUD Broken Today? Here's the Fix
- Reducing Support via Simple Means
- New Poker Copilot Review
- HUD for non-English OS X Fixed
- Broken HUD for non-English OS X
- Poker Copilot 1.64 Released
- Another Plug for http://mon.itor.us
- The Cult of Joel Spolsky...
- Apple shows us how to do a "Download now" panel
- Word of the Day: Hubris
- ▼ March (30)