Confused For A Robot

I was checking the prices on some electronics gear using Google this afternoon. Maybe I might enjoy adding HDTV to my MythTV DVR?

When my first request wasn’t specific enough, I honed in with “hdtv mpeg4&#185 capture pci.” That’s when Google got suspicious.

We’re sorry… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application

Here’s the actual screen capture of Google’s page.

First, doesn’t Google already have a cookie on this machine by which they follow me around? You know what? There doesn’t have to be a second, because the first covers it all.

This is just weird, because a company that prides itself on artificial intelligence and expert machine interpretation of language, shouldn’t be confusing a 56 year old guy in Connecticut with an automated process!

Google has made more of a positive impact on the retrieval of information than any other company/application I can think of. That’s no minor feat. Our lives have been changed for the better by this student project, hatched at Stanford.

Am I still allowed to be a little disappointed?

&#185 – This is a mistake on my part. I really should have specified “MPEG-2,” normally accomplished in hardware, which greatly reduces the load on the DVR’s computer brain.

The Boss Button

I read a discussion board entry about a show called “The Class,” which airs on CBS. I went to the CBS site where episodes are available online. After a few minutes of watching I knew the show wasn’t for me, but I did find something very interesting.

That’s a screen capture of the bottom of the video player. Along with the the ‘normal’ buttons is one that says “BOSS Button.”

I clicked it.

This capture has been resized to fit in my blog, but the video player is replaced with what looks like an email program! I say looks like, because you’re really still in a web browser. If you click anywhere in the faux mail form, you’re back to the video player.

Very clever on CBS’ part. I give it a lifespan under one hour after the first real corporate complaint is lodged.

It does bring up some interesting implications I hadn’t thought of, especially since I work at a business where everyone has a TV at their desk, or nearby. Websites like CBS’ now bring TV to the workplace without asking permission… through the back door, if you will.

For corporate managers, scared already about EBay and IM cutting into productivity, this technology will produce sleepless nights.

Blogger’s note: I have been told the BOSS button also was on the video player for last year’s online coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The Factory Is Online

There was no ribbon to cut, no bell to ring. Our little business website,, is online.

We need to get the word out. First step is Google’s AdWords. I turned that on late this morning.

Holy cow – it’s confusing! There are so many choices to make, and who knows which is the right one?

My friend Bob, who’s in the ‘search engine optimization’ business took a look at some early ads and fired off an email telling me how wrong I am. He’s right, but I’ve just jumped in the deep end and need a little time to float back to the surface.

We’ve gotten one click so far. I’m now into Google for 34&#162. Oh – the click was from my friend Bob!

The days of a store opening and pasting their first dollar to the wall are over. Now you screen capture your first Google ad.

You’re Not Going to Believe This

I played poker tonight. This past week hadn’t been my best. A little up, a little down. Without Helaine, the week would have been a loss (both in poker and life in general).

I played a few small tournaments Saturday. In one that paid to 45th place, I was out at 47th! With another, I got tired around 2:30 AM and just played stupid (on purpose) to get it over with. It was a very small tournament – either $1 or $3 entry. I can’t remember.

Tonight, at 8:00 PM, I decided to play in another. It’s a tournament I try to catch every week, if I’m around. It’s only $3 to play, and though I seldom get my $3 back, it’s cheap entertainment. Since I hadn’t been doing well, the $3 seemed like the right investment.

I played fairly consistently – made a bad move in the first hour that hurt me dearly – and went to the bathroom break in the middle of the pack. By hour two, I was in the middle of those left. And then, I started to hit.

My cards tonight weren’t particularly good. I did have some nice hands, but wasn’t able to maximize them. I would characterize my night as grinding it out. Nothing fancy. No spectacular steals.

If you’ve never played in a tournament, here’s how it works. The house collects an entry fee and a fee for running the tournament. I guess these $3 tourneys are a way to entice new players, so with these the house takes nothing. All the $3’s are put in a pot. Tonight, that pot was $3,867.

With 1,289 players, the last 99 standing would win some cash. It wasn’t until 7th place that the $100 prize mark was reached. Then the numbers went up a little faster until $204.96, $251.36, $348.04, $541.39 and finally $966.76 for coming in first.

By 11:30 PM I was still rolling along. In fact, I had made it to 2nd place. There were still plenty of players. Going out there would have only won me $17.41. And, my grasp on 2nd was precarious to say the least. With $170k in my kitty, only $7,000 separated 2nd from 5th.

As the tournament progresses, the stakes increase. Those left playing end up with more money, but the price of playing goes up too. Players were dropping with regularity – tapped out. I played on.

At 12:16 AM, over 4 hours into the tournament I went into first place. Oh my God! I was coming to the realization I might bring home some real money (Actually, I was already home – but that’s another story).

There were 14 left. Tournaments become very volatile at this point. Pots are huge as players try to intimidate those with good, not great, hands out. I was guaranteed $35 on my $3 investment. I was a happy man.

Twenty minutes later, I had sunk to 4th, but then hit a big hand and was back to 1st. What had begun as 144 tables was now just 1 – and I was playing on it. I saved a screen capture of the game summary at this point.

I fell to 6th, then rebounded to 5th and 4th. Players had become more conservative. There was less bluster and bravado. Everyone was waiting for a quality hand.

By the time we were down to 3, I was back to 2nd. Then, I took down the third player and with his chips moved to first.

At 1:02 AM, five hours into the game, I was heads up, playing against Mo888 from Glenwood Springs, CO. I didn’t think about it at the time, but this series of hands was worth over $420 by itself – far more than I had ever played for before.

Even without that pressure, I was beginning to sweat. I wondered whether to wake Helaine, sleeping in the next room. I continued to play – and play conservatively.

I had over $1,200,000 in tournament chips out of the $1,933,500 on the table. Slowly I whittled away until I got dealt an Ace and small card. I called from the small blind position and he raised. It all went so quickly. He went all in, and I followed. When all the cards were dealt, I had a pair of Aces, he had less.

It only takes a few seconds to get the email from Pokerstars. I’ll let you read it, as I did. And, please remember, my entry fee was only $3!

PokerStars Tournament #1627931, No Limit Hold’em

Super Satellite

Buy-In: $3.00

1289 players

Total Prize Pool: $3867.00

Target Tournament #1626940

9 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started – 2004/05/23 – 20:00:00 (ET)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.

You qualified to play in Tournament #1626940 and are automatically registered for it.

See Tournament #1626940 Lobby for further details.

In addition a $966.76 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

You earned 542.81 tournament leader points in this tournament.

For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at


Thank you for participating.

At this moment, the $250 we deposited in August is $1,472,78.

I can’t believe it either.