Sentence of the Day

From the back story of Panic, an independent, 2-person Mac software firm:

It seems you can either be free to do anything you want, to create anything you dream of without answering to anyone, or you can be rich. You’re not likely to be both.

As I consider where I want to go with Poker Copilot, this was a great story to read. Not that AOL or anyone in particular is knocking on my door at the moment. But, you know, if they were, and I had a weighty decision to make…

Why Windows is Better than Mac OS X for HUDs

Since switching from Windows to Mac OS X, I’ve become a rabid member of the “Mac OS X is soooo much better at everything” camp. Zealous, raving, irrational, and happy. So it causes me great pain to acknowledge that developing a poker Head Up Display (HUD) is easier under Windows.

Here’s why: On Windows, it’s straightforward to write software that hooks into another application’s window. I can write software to draw whatever I want within the application window. It’s startingly easy to do.

On Mac OS X, there is no documented way to do this. Any attempt leads to great pain. Poker Copilot deals with this by keeping track of the currently-focused poker window’s position and size and attempting to align a HUD window with the poker window. The HUD window belongs to Poker Copilot and is not really connected to the poker room. It only seems to be. This is the reason why Poker Copilot only shows the HUD for one poker table at a time. This is a fragile approach.

As a general principle, it’s good that Mac OS X makes it difficult to hook into another application. It prevents possible security and stability problems. (I did warn you that I’ve become a rabid Mac fanboy!) It’s not good when trying to make a good HUD though.

Enter Mac OS X 10.5 aka Leopard. It provides a new Apple library for developers that lingers somewhere between documented and undocumented. Let’s call it sub-documented. The documentation largely consists of a demo app. This new library allows Poker Copilot to closely monitor any changes to all poker tables, and finally allows a HUD as good as the ones used by our endarkened Windows brethren. Including a HUD on multiple tables at once.

And so I get to my point. Due to these HUD issues, there is a good chance that Poker Copilot 2 will only work with Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) upwards. That _was_ my plan. But the #1 feedback I’ve received from the first Poker Copilot 2 early access program is, “Hey, it doesn’t work with Tiger? What’s gives?” Oh boy… I’m going to have to give this some thought…

The NY Times Reporter Who Should’ve Known Better

There’s a great article in the New York Times, written by a man who should have known better. He’s an economics reporter who was aware of – and wrote warnings about – the craziness and dangers of the US mortgage industry over the last few years. And yet, being an irrational human, who acts on emotion as much as cold-blooded reasoning, he took out a sub-prime mortgage he couldn’t afford and eventually went delinquent on his loan.

It reminds of those times when I’m playing Hold’em, on the last table of a tournament. I’m holding an unsuited Ace and Jack with a not-so-great flop, I know – through cold-blooded reasoning – that the odds are against me, I’m playing against someone who is almost certainly holding a better hand, and yet my emotion tells me to call his all-in raise! And I do and I lose.

It seems to me the best poker players can turn off their emotion and act only on reasoning – not just on easy plays, but in game-winning (and game-losing), high-stakes, high-pressure situations when the emotion is so strong.

Poker Copilot 2 Early Access Program

Poker Copilot 2 is far from finished. But if you are like your software to be cutting-edge (read: unfinished and buggy!) then you are welcome to try the first early access version of Poker Copilot 2.

You’ll find it here:

What it includes:

  • mucked hands viewer
  • hand replayer (double click on a hand in the mucked hands viewer or the recent hands summary)
  • a database that allows any number of hands – although I’ve only tested it up to half a million or so
  • better statistics screens

Known problems:

  • It’s somewhat sluggish

You can run the EAP version without affecting Poker Copilot 1 at all.

Solution for the Full Tilt "Hand History in the Future" problem

Poker Copilot 1.72 is now available for download. This fixes a couple of bugs in determining the table size. It also includes a work-around for those of you affected by Full Tilt hand histories which sometimes erroneously include a game time 30 minutes or so into the future.

If you have this “Hand History in the Future” problem, then here are the steps you can take to fix it:

  1. Download Poker Copilot 1.72.
  2. Install Poker Copilot 1.72
  3. Run Poker Copilot, go to the Preferences, choose the “Obscure” panel, and select “Auto-correct invalid Full Tilt hand times”

You can tell if this bug affects you the next time the Poker Copilot HUD misbehaves by select Tools -> Console, and looking for this message:

WARNING: Full Tilt game #12191638279 has future game date:

Ghent: The Meatless City

One day a week at least. As a vegetarian I find this freakin’ awesome:

The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Okay, Cologne, I challenge you to follow suit. And Frankfurt. And Melbourne.

Google Visualisation API review in 4 words

Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Up!

When I’m not working on Poker Copilot, I still do a couple of days IT consulting per week. For my current gig we’re charting loads of historical statistical data. Exchange rates, GDP, inflation rates, unemployment, all that sort of stuff. The user chooses from any of tens of thousands of series and can compare them in various ways.

Yesterday I took a look at Google’s new Visualisation API. I experimentally added an interactive time-line a la Google Finance to our project. Within a couple of hours I had working interactive charts that worked with any of our data. I also had sortable-within-the-browsable data tables. Most of the time was spent shaping our data in a way that the Google Visualisation API could use it. It was almost embarrassingly simple to add this interactivity to our project within only a couple of dozen lines of JavaScript.

Sneak Preview at an upcoming Poker Copilot feature

Here’s a video of me playing a hand on Full Tilt Poker, and then – I’m so excited I can hardly say it! – watching it on the Poker Copilot Hand Replayer. It’s still under development, and it’s still uglier than sin, but it’s coming…

Poker Copilot HUD Problems with Full Tilt

It seems that in the last week or so Full Tilt’s hand history files have some occasional errors. Some hands are recorded as having been played a half-hour or so into the future.

This really confuses the Poker Copilot HUD. With these errors in the hand history file Poker Copilot can’t reliably tell who is currently sitting at your table.

How can you tell if this is affecting you? When the HUD misbehaves, take a look at Poker Copilot’s Recent Hands summary. In the final column, do some of your hands appear to have been played 30 minutes or so in the future? Then this problem affects you.

There is no work-around, unfortunately. But I’d be grateful if you report your issue to the Full Tilt support forum. Please post the erroneous hand history file, if you can find it, so that Full Tilt can see evidence of this problem.