Monday, February 26, 2007

The hottest hot sauces

You like hot sauce? This is a comprehensive list of hot sauces and their "scoville" ratings. I personally own a Dave's ultimate insanity (90,000 scoville) and Mad Dog 357 special edition (600,000 scoville), both too hot to take straight on. I couldn't imagine 16 million scoville. Use at your own risk.

Sauces and their scoville ratings

Friday, February 23, 2007

Poker Odds Calculator

This is a project I worked on last year. It is pretty useful for a lot of odds calculations such as poker, keno, etc. It has a very raw interface, but at the same time very flexible. You can also do simple Binomial Coefficient calculations, which is what the poker calculator is based on.

Monte's Poker Odds Calculator

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Joost: The future of TV?

I just got myself a beta invite to Its an IPTV startup, created by the makers of Skype. So far, I'm very impressed with it. Think streaming TV, full screen. Think TV shows, without the need to torrent.

Currently it seems to be on-demand content only. Fifth Gear, Worlds strongest man competition, cooking shows, etc. I'm sure this will only get better as they make more deals with large broadcasting companies. This should quickly become a good alternative to cable or satellite TV!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The truth about KENO

Over the years, I hear people talk about playing KENO now and then. Many claim to make money at the game, know someone who is a professional KENO player, or have some sort of number choosing system to help them win. There aren't too many sites that lay out the plain truth about this gambling game. Hopefully I will be able to change that, and make this crystal clear :)

So, lets start out by getting right to the point. KENO is a lottery game. That is, it is a game of chance. A game of luck. Much like BINGO, there isn't any specific strategy or number picking "system" that is going to enable you to beat the odds. KENO may give the illusion of your control by picking numbers, but the odds are always going to be against you no matter how you place your bets. The ONLY way you are going to win at this game is with luck. On any one given night, you may be lucky and win. That's why it is played. But over the course of time, the odds will almost inevitably catch up to you. I say almost because you could strike a big payout, like in the tens of thousands. But not likely. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning!

On average, playing KENO will pay back about .69 cents for every $1 you gamble. That means, if you gamble $1000.00, say, over the course of a year, your expected return will be somewhere around $690.00, or you lose $310.00 total. Those are some grim numbers. The house has a 31% advantage! You are much better off playing slots, where the house may have a 1% or 2% advantage. Blackjack and Craps, the house has around a 1% advantage assuming you play "by the book", no mistakes. Even Roulette is somewhat better, with the house having a 5% advantage. So if you have a choice, play something else!

So why do we play this game with such a terrible odds against us? Probably because of the allure of making one dollar into thousands with one ticket. These chances are extreme, but they are there. Unlike a game such as Blackjack, where the wins and losses are pretty linear with your bets.

Now for a couple of analogies to clear up exactly why number picking systems do not work.

Lets say we have a bowl of marbles, 7 black and 3 white. If we pull a random marble out, we have a 70% of getting a black one, and a 30% of getting a white one. Let say we bet a dollar, and we win a dollar when we draw a white marble, and lose it when we draw a black one. After 1000 games, you are very likely going to lose about 70% of them, therefore losing a lot of money. I suppose it is possible to come out ahead, but the odds are pretty astronomical.

Now we can compare that analogy to KENO. At any one night of playing we can win, just as we can draw a white marble from the bowl now and then. But if you keep playing, keep putting your money in, you will see in the long run that the odds of coming out ahead are pretty slim.

But KENO lets me pick which numbers to play! OK, lets play out this analogy. Lets say instead of 7 black balls and 3 white, we have 10 balls, numbered 1 through 10. Each time you play, you get to pick 3 numbers out of 10. If you draw one of your numbers, you win a dollar. If not, you lose. It should be fairly clear that whether you pick 3 numbers, or just color them black and white, the odds of drawing 1 of the 3 balls out of 10 are always the same, about 30%. So although it may seem to help by picking numbers, the odds don't change at all.

Well, I can play the same numbers until they don't come in four times in a row, then choose different ones. Or, I can keep track of the numbers that are hot or cold, and base my choices on this information! Alright, lets try another analogy. Lets say we flip a coin. 50/50 shot of getting heads or tails. One day, we flip head 10 times in a row. Amazing! Now tell me, what are the chances of flipping heads again on the 11th toss? If you said 50/50, you are exactly right. The last 10 flips have no influence on what is coming next. Taking this knowledge to the KENO game, whether you stay with the same numbers all night, pick different numbers every ticket, or some other sort of number picking system, it really isn't going to matter one bit. The odds are the same, you are just as likely to win with anything you pick.

Now, I'm not going to say you can't make any influence on your chances to win. You can, but not much. The pick-3 is the best game to play for the player, whereas the pick-10 is about the worst. But, the difference between these two are negligible, less than 1% to be honest. So, it really doesn't matter what you play, just keep in mind that you are only playing to have fun and expect to lose your money.