Friday, 20 June 2008


I'm always interested in ways to make money online. A recent trend seems to be the Martingale. You might not have seen it published under this name, but that's what it's called - it is claimed to be a new invention, but really dates from several centuries ago.

The system goes something like this:-

You sign up for accounts on online casinos, and then play roulette using the following strategy:-
  • Bet £1 on red (or black - let's arbitrarily say red)
  • If you win, pocket the winnings
  • If you lose, double your bets (e.g. betting £2, £4, £8 etc) on red
The sites which propound this method state that if you can't fail to lose, because you will always make £1 back eventually. This is a system which has "casinos running scared", as I read on one site.

Or not. It doesn't actually work, because there are 3 facts which have been ignored.

The principal one is that the odds of red (or black) coming up are not 50% if there is a zero (or double zero) on the board - actually, it's 48.6% or 47.3% respectively. This means that you should expect to lose each spin of the wheel.

That's OK, you might think, because you can follow the strategy, and still win, because you're bound to win on a subsequent spin. No - two factors limit this: 1) the size of your bankroll; 2) the size of the table's maximum bet. If you don't have the money to bet, you can't continue in the martingale system. If the table won't accept your bet, you can't continue in the system.

Therefore, on average, you will lose, since you will tend to lose on each spin.

Do not believe the hype. If you actually simulate the process, you will find out how often you will win. It's almost as if people who run casinos aren't stupid...

(There is a very good article on this at The Wizard Of Odds)

Big Brother Buses

Since I started cycling to work, I don't go on buses very often, because I don't have a travelcard.

Last time I went on a bendy bus, I was amazed by what I heard: non-stop announcements, telling you to watch out for unattended baggage, and to report any suspicious looking people.

These announcements are common on the Tube; however it's the sheer quantity of these announcements that amazed me. It seemed like there was about 30 seconds between each one - making it very difficult to have a conversation.

Does this really help the war on terrr? [sic]

Bible Quotes on Buses

I am privileged enough to live next to a main road in London. One of the bus ads that I see makes me wonder.

It is one of those Print A Quote From The Bible And The Non-Believers Will Realise The Error Of Their Ways ads.

Don't you have better things to spend your money on? Do people really see those and think "Man, reading what the Bible says that J said has made me realise what an idiot I've been all these years!".

Sorry, no sale.

One thing that I have always loved is maps. I can look at maps, plans, charts, schematics for hours. I think that it's something that I inherited from my dad.

It is for this reason that I love things like:-

  • Google Maps (sorry non-UK users, that's a link to the UK version)
  • Multimap (I love them particularly because you can get Ordnance Survey maps)
  • Microsoft Maps, because you can get oblique aerial views, which are fascinating...
As a part-time (* when work gets too dull!) web programmer, I am frustrated by the differences between them. Doing the same thing in slightly different ways... yuk.

If you are in the same situation, have a look at Mapstraction. As the name suggests, it's an abstraction layer, enabling you to use a whole pile of different maps using the same javascript code. Pretty nifty.

They seem to be having a few problems with the demos in IE at the moment (why use IE anyway, it's a royal pain!); however, I love the idea.


I don't like Foxtons; based on my first-hand experience of them, I just don't like their attitude.

It seems like a very brave move for them to open a new branch in Camden.

Mind you, I am amused by the fact there is a "Toilet" sign in front of it (if you see the office from Delancey St) - confirming my suspicions that somebody is taking the p**s.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Horse P**

Horse Poo really incenses me. And I don't just mean the smell...

I cycle to work most days. Cycling through London is an interesting pastime, but at least my route takes me through 2 of its larger parks, namely Regent's and Hyde Parks. They are a wonderful respite from the hazard of London traffic.

However, another hazard lurks in Hyde Park: horse poo. Huge lumps of it, laid slap bang in the middle of the path.

Why is it that horse owners are allowed to leave their animals' dung lying around, when a dog owner gets a fine slapped on them?

Don't get me wrong; horses are marvellous animals - not that I've ever ridden one or ever really been around them. I just wish that their owners were forced to clean up after them!