Mary Jo Randle and other actors and stray television show ideas and thoughts

Of late I have been going through some of the older episodes of The Bill which I was too young to really see or appreciate when they first aired and which I haven’t already watched. I’m currently working my way, slowly, through the mid-90s. I am also working my way through Inspector Morse. I’d like to say that I’m rewatching Inspector Morse as I was of the belief that I had seen just about every episode, but the more I watch, the more I realise I haven’t seen most of them (either that, or they’re secretly filming new episodes and adding them to my DVD collection when I’m not looking), so in many ways I am actually watching most episodes of Inspector Morse for the first time.

The episode I watched most recently on the weekend was the 1990 episode “Driven To Distraction” and I was quite delighted when the familiar name of Mary Jo Randle came up in the opening titles. As I tend to do when a familiar name pops up in the opening titles of a detective show, I try to work out what role they will play before they appear on screen in person. In Mary Jo Randle’s case, I was expecting her to either be the mother or sister of the murder victim. But to my surprise and even greater delight, her first appearance in the episode was in a CID briefing listening to Chief Inspector Morse outlining the case, before effectively taking over the briefing. She was playing a Detective Sergeant on secondment from CID Training School.

This was particularly delightful because in the episodes of The Bill I’m currently working through, Mary Jo Randle plays Detective Sergeant Jo Morgan, and quite frankly her appearance in Inspector Morse could almost have been exactly the same character with the same mannerisms, personality traits, and detecting style. DS Morgan on secondment from Sun Hill to Thames Valley!

Mary Jo Randle as DS Jo Morgan in The Bill (image credit: ITV / Fremantle Media)
Mary Jo Randle as DS Jo Morgan in The Bill (image credit: ITV / Fremantle Media)

Of course the timeline doesn’t quite work. This episode of Morse was in 1990 and Jo Morgan was a character in The Bill from 1993 to 1995 until she (do we need a spoiler alert for something which happened 29 years ago?) took a bullet meant for then-WPC June Ackland. So I suppose she really would have preferred to stay in Thames Valley with Morse and Lewis.

I had a dream once that I was working for Chief Superintendent Foyle from Foyle’s War but was under investigation by my high school librarian and so got banished to Detective Inspector Frost’s office in A Touch Of Frost, and Frost told me not to worry about it because the worst they could do to me was transfer me to Sun Hill who were about due for another station explosion, before he demanded another cup of tea!

On the subject of actors playing almost the same character in various shows (and Richard Belzer actually playing the same character in far too many shows to count, doesn’t count), I recently finished re-watching Stargate Universe where Louis Ferreira played Colonel Young, and I have just started watching Motive, a Canadian murder-mystery show where he played Detective Oscar Vega. I have only watched the first episode so far, but it was almost Colonel Young Helps Solve A Murder. I’m sure Detective Vega will develop as a character, but at least for a moment it’s nice to imagine what else Colonel Young might be doing seeing as Stargate Universe was very unfortunately cut short after two seasons, when it deserved at least one more.

I actually have some thoughts on how a Stargate Universe movie could warp up the series, even after all this time, with a tie-in to Stargate Atlantis (which was also cut a season too short and it’s a pity the proposed direct-to-DVD movie to wrap up the loose ends never came to fruition), but I think I’ve prattled on enough for one post here, and that idea can wait for another day. Just like my idea on how to revive The Bill for a short series (hint: Lord Mayor Bob Cryer!).

Samuel

Add comment February 22nd, 2024 at 04:24pm

Motorbikes and kangaroos do mix!

When they’re standing still anyway. Although I was having a conversation with someone the other day about how I’ve noticed that kangaroos don’t tend to be as erratic around motorbikes as they are around cars. They can still be spooked by them, but when that happens they tend to dart off in one direction, unlike with cars where they seem to dart around trying to block the path of the car or just ram it. Quite often I find kangaroos will just stand still and watch a bike go past, seemingly unsure what to make of it. Not always, but often enough.

Anyway, the point to all of this…

Last year a work colleague, Mr. James Gibson from the UK was in town and, outside office hours, we visited the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and the Mt Stromlo Observatory. Up on Mt Stromlo, he took this photo of me with my bike, which happens to be the photo I used as my new photo on the top banner of this blog.

Samuel and motorbike on Mt Stromlo

It also happened to be one of those very frequent days where the Bureau of Weather Guessing was very certain that it would rain and be stormy in the afternoon, so it wasn’t, much to Mr. Gibson’s delight as he got to enjoy a sunset on Mt Stromlo and take some very nice photos across the valleys to the west.

Samuel

1 comment February 22nd, 2024 at 06:12am

If any of my Sydney readers can help…

Those of you who have been around this blog for a long time would remember Frankster, who was forever working to preserve various bits and pieces of Australian TV and radio history. Frankster is a long-time friend of this blog and of me personally, and contributed some bits of video and audio over the years, even appearing in episode 13 of Samuel’s Persiflage.

Unfortunately, hard times have fallen upon Frank. His Frankster Archives website is no more, and he suffered a series of personal tragedies last year which have culminated in his housing situation being extremely dicey and dangerous. Probably the most important aspect in this is, for health reasons, Frank really needs to be able to monopolise a bathroom, not all the time but on a regular basis, so some forms of group housing aren’t suitable for him.

If any of my Sydney readers have, or know someone who has, a room they can spare or a granny flat or a unit or any form of safe accommodation that they can offer for a little while, please get in touch with me and I’ll put you in contact with Frank.

Frank has, of course, been in contact with all of the relevant agencies, charities, etc, and reached out to pretty much everyone he knows and beyond without much success. The situation is becoming quite urgent, so if you think you or someone you know might be able to help, please get in touch. It would be more appreciated than you could know. My contact details are available on the contact page link at the top of every page of this blog.

Thank you.

Samuel

1 comment February 22nd, 2024 at 02:56am

Adventures In Betting: Always wait for the bad days to weed out the weak points of a system

It might sound strange to say that I have been waiting eagerly for a losing period on the LayPro88 greyhound system, but it has come and I’m actually very delighted about it. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, my previous post outlining and explaining the system is here.

With any betting system, I always want to see a bad day in action. It’s great to have good days with nice profits, but it is inevitable that betting systems will have bad days, so with any betting system I always want to see it have a bad period so that I can see where the real weaknesses are. It’s impossible to completely prevent days with losses from occurring and one should always be prepared for that, but data gathered on a bad run is invaluable in showing where the weaknesses are and what can be adjusted to reduce the frequency with which bad days will occur. Ultimately the aim is to reduce the bad days so that, although they will result in a loss, that loss is inconsequential when considered alongside all of the good days.

When I set up a system, I always wait for the first bad period to come along and then I analyse the data from those days and determine whether
a) there is a weakness which can be removed, or
b) the system as a whole is the issue and needs serious revision

The greyhound system has been going so well that it has taken a few weeks to get there but now that the bad period has visited, I’m delighted to say it fits category A.

You may recall I have been running with two similar systems running concurrently.
1. Lay the fourth favourite if it is paying odds of $5.00 to $15.00 and is paying at least $2.00 more than the favourite.
2. Lay the third favourite if it is paying odds of $5.00 to $9.00 and is paying at least $1.50 more than the favourite.

The fourth favourites have been steaming along making nice profits, so I’m not too concerned about them but took the opportunity to analyse them a bit anyway. The third favourites on the other hand have been troublesome. It stands to reason that the third favourites would win more often than fourth favourites and would pose more trouble with this system which is betting that they will lose, so this wasn’t unexpected, but was a good opportunity for analysis and revision when the trouble finally provided enough data.

The third favourites have been struggling for a few days. Some periods of profit but mostly small losses slowly accumulating. You may recall I originally set the upper odds limit at $9 because the recovery cycles can fully recover any losses at this amount without needing extra wins. Unfortunately this odds range was not producing a high enough strike rate to always get through the recovery cycles, so the stake sizes increased slowly over a few days until the reached the stop loss limits I had set (the stakes had grown from the $0.50 starting point to over $6). At this point the LayGreyBot accepted the loss, gave up on trying to recover it, and started afresh with a new cycle at the original stake size (it can also be set to stop completely).

Over the course of four days, 17/2 to 20/2, the 3rd favourites system placed 652 bets and had 547 wins, a strike rate of 83.90%. Well short of the 88% generally required to make consistent profits in a LayPro88 system, and short even of the 84.5% the third favourites have previously needed to return a break even result.

I decided the best option was to perform a breakdown of this period by odds range and see if some odds ranges were pulling the whole system down. It did not disappoint. Note that even though the systems is set to $5.00-$9.00, occasionally it will pick up a runner just outside of this range due to variability in the market in the seconds leading up to the race.

Odds range – third favourites Bets Wins S/R
4-4.99 5 4 80.00%
5-5.99 196 157 80.10%
6-6.99 229 197 86.03%
7-7.99 121 104 85.95%
8-8.99 82 67 81.71%
9+ 18 17 94.44%
Total 652 547 83.90%
6+ odds only 451 386 85.59%

Clearly anything under $6 is a problem. The $8 range was strangely problematic too but with a relatively low volume of bets, so not worth removing from the system given the 9+ range which was performing well would also need to be removed in order to do so.

Out of interest I decided to see how third favourites at higher odds ranges were performing. $9-$15 seemed like a good range given the fourth favourites are betting up to $15 odds. As the bot has not been looking at these ranges, I didn’t have data to hand which I could simply analyse in a spreadsheet, so instead I had to go through Betfair’s results pages and check manually race-by-race. I only went back as far as the 18th but got more than enough data to reach a conclusion.

Date Total eligible Total wins S/R
18-Feb 17 17 100.00%
19-Feb 20 20 100.00%
20-Feb 35 29 82.86%
Total 72 66 91.67%
If added to existing odds range 724 613 84.67%
If added to 6+ odds range 523 452 86.42%

The higher odds, while low in volume, add a bit to the strike rate, and even half a percentage point on the strike rate really can make a big difference with this system. The solution based on the data is obvious. I have adjusted the odds range for the third favourites from the previous $5-$9 range to a new $6-$15.

And on the fourth favourites I ran a similar analysis and received some interesting results which also led to a change.

Odds range 4th favourites Bets Wins S/R
4-4.99 0 0 N/A
5-5.99 13 8 61.54%
6-6.99 118 97 82.20%
7-7.99 158 136 86.08%
8-8.99 159 142 89.31%
9-9.99 77 71 92.21%
10-10.99 58 51 87.93%
11-11.99 86 82 95.35%
12-12.99 65 62 95.38%
13-13.99 41 41 100.00%
14-14.99 45 39 86.67%
15-15.99 19 19 100.00%
16 0 0 N/A
Total bets 839 748 89.15%
7+ 708 643 90.82%

Anything under $7 seemed to be performing quite poorly here, and although the system was running profitably, an extra percentage point or so on the strike rate doesn’t hurt at all (quite the opposite actually!!) so I have revised the odds range for the fourth favourites from the previous $5-$15 to a new range of $7-$15.

And now the new ranges are underway and the monitoring continues.

(Update: Further revisions on 29 February)

Samuel

Add comment February 21st, 2024 at 12:30pm

Nine gets the Melbourne Cup

Yesterday it became official, Nine is the new free to air rights holder for the Melbourne Cup. They take over from Ten who have been the main free to air broadcaster for the last few years after they defeated Seven for the rights a few years prior.

Unlike previous deals though, this one is a bit different. To the casual viewer it probably won’t be noticeably different as the coverage will probably be very similar to what viewers have seen on Ten and Seven. The difference is more behind the scenes where Sky Racing is actually the main rights holder, not Nine, and Sky gets to dictate terms for some of Nine’s content. Sky actually won the rights for this year’s cup onwards last year on the condition that they on-sell free to air rights, due to the fact the Melbourne Cup is on the anti-siphoning list and free to air television must legally be given the opportunity to air the event, and the Victoria Racing Club wanted to ensure the event remained prominent on free to air television.

Sky Racing is owned by Tabcorp, which in turn owns and operates the TAB brand in all states and territories except Western Australia. Tabcorp’s main incentive in buying the broadcasting rights to the event is in limiting the advertising of their rival betting outlets during Melbourne Cup broadcasts which, year-in-year-out, remain the horse racing broadcast with the largest audience of people who don’t regularly follow horse racing and probably take recommendations from the advertising as to where to place a bet. In the betting industry, obviously it is in Tabcorp’s interest to maintain and grow their market share, as it is for any operator, however they do make some money out of their rivals as many of their rivals offer products based on TAB totaliser pricing and TAB offers those rivals certain discounts to put money into the totaliser pool, which helps TAB maintain liquidity in the betting markets. That’s a whole other topic but the point is that Tabcorp won’t want to completely lock out their rivals from advertising, just limit them a bit.

This was one of the sticking points in Tabcorp’s negotiations with the free to air networks. Tabcorp insisted on some limits on non-Tabcorp betting advertising as well as less focus on “the colour” of the event such as fashions on the field and more focus on the racing itself and the betting markets. This is a problem for the free to air networks because casual Melbourne Cup viewers tend to like to see “the colour” of the event and watch for longer when it is shown, while the TV networks see horse racing as an advertising cash cow due to the fact it is one of the few events where almost all of the gambling advertising restrictions which apply to television cease to apply. Limiting the amount of gambling advertising during the event limits its appeal to the bean-counters who run TV networks these days.

This led to Ten and Seven withdrawing their bids for the event. Ten barely made any money on the last few years (probably due to producing very little else these days, thus increasing the production costs overhead on producing these four days of coverage) and Seven have horse racing from around the country every Saturday with existing betting partners and broadcast style, so changing that for a few days is simply not worth the hassle. Nine became the free to air broadcaster almost by default.

How much Nine are paying is unclear, but undoubtedly with all of the other sports they have at the moment, they see it as an opportunity to promote all of their other sports and other programs to viewers. The wording out of the Nine and VRC press releases is vague, but it seems that the compromise reached on gambling advertising is that TAB will be the only betting outlet mentioned during coverage and the only one whose odds will be displayed on screen, but other betting outlets will be allowed some advertising during commercial breaks…I would hazard a guess that TAB will get at least 50% of the commercial break gambling spots though.

We’ve come a long way since the days when Seven (and before them Ten) had absolute exclusivity over TV broadcasts of the Melbourne Cup. There was even a time there when Sky Racing could only show the race as a replay and nobody was allowed to stream the race live. If you weren’t near a TV, radio was the only option. Choice of where to watch has grown and that continues to be the case with the new deal, while radio continues to be pretty much a free-for-all with most stations running coverage of some sort.

Nine has the rights on free to air TV and will be able to stream on 9Now. They will broadcast all four days of the Melbourne Cup carnival live and free in HD. It seems they may be required to geoblock the 9Now streams to block viewers from outside Australia.

Sky Racing has the rights on subscription television (Foxtel and Kayo) and through pubs and clubs, as well as exclusive rights to international distribution and exclusive rights to distribute the race (via the Sky coverage) to the streams provided on the websites and apps of the various betting outlets. In previous years, Sky’s coverage has been quite limited, showing the race itself but otherwise mainly showing full-screen graphics of odds in the minutes leading up to the race while a handful of studio hosts pontificate on the outcome (my Melbourne Cup tips don’t give me bragging rights by any means, but I’m sure my strike rate on Cup Day is higher than Sky’s “expert” David Gately!). Presumably Sky will have an expanded presence this year, and possibly even utilise their Sky Thoroughbred Central channel which tends to focus on one or two meetings in more detail, compared to Sky 1 and Sky 2 which rapidly jump from the end of one race to the start of the next race all day and night.

Racing.com’s position in all of this is a mystery. This channel (available free to air and via streaming, and recently upgraded to HD on Foxtel) is a joint venture between Seven and Racing Victoria (not the Victoria Racing Club which owns the four days of the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington). Since inception, Racing.com has had broadcast rights to every race in Victoria (having since added South Australia and Hong Kong, plus occasional other events) so when Seven had Melbourne Cup rights there was no issue with Racing.com continuing its more analytical coverage (compared to Seven’s coverage of “the colour” of the event) in parallel to Seven. When Ten got the rights, they allowed Racing.com to continue coverage on the proviso that none of Seven’s regular horse racing hosts were involved. Nine might not be so charitable considering Seven and Nine being closer rivals than Seven and Ten were, plus Racing.com is effectively a competitor to Sky Racing and has strong ties with a few Tabcorp rivals.

I have generally found Racing.com’s Melbourne Cup coverage to be superior to that of Seven and Ten for someone who actually follows the sport, so it will be a shame if they are unable to continue to cover the Melbourne Cup. That said, Seven have some high grade Sydney racing to compete with the Melbourne Cup carnival and there’s plenty of Victorian and South Australian racing on the same days as the Melbourne Cup carnival so I’m sure Racing.com will find something to cover.

Radio is interesting. There seems to be no real change here with who will cover the race. The racing stations continuing coverage as normal; Nine Radio remain the official distribution partner for the official VRC race call by Matt Hill (the same one you hear on TV); SEN has Gerard Whateley call the race across their national network; ABC Radio has its own call broadcast nationally; and various other stations around the country either buy access from Nine Radio or have their own commentary. The bit that is interesting is that Nine Radio (2GB, 3AW, 4BC and 6PR) now have TV coverage of their own to promote so it will be interesting to see how much extra coverage these stations provide this year compared to previous years where the coverage was limited to a few minutes before and after and a couple crosses throughout the day. Nine Radio tends to heavily promote whatever their TV arm is doing so I’m sure this will be no exception.

In terms of coverage of the race itself, behind the scenes it’s actually the Victoria Racing Club which runs the production, funded by their broadcast partners, so race coverage itself probably won’t look any different to most viewers regardless of where they are watching. Different advertisers and a few more Nine personalities as talking heads, but otherwise the same as every year. And undoubtedly the fact that Seven has racing every other week of the year and shows Sydney races on Melbourne Cup day will lead to a few people watching the wrong channel and complaining that the big race wasn’t shown, as happens every year.

For me, I’ll probably end up watching the Sky Racing coverage and hope they’re actually hosting from the track and not their chromakey studio in Sydney, unless by some miracle Racing.com is allowed to broadcast.

Samuel

Add comment February 21st, 2024 at 08:25am

Adventures In Betting: $137.66 profit in four and a half days betting greyhounds on autopilot

Or $206.65 in seven daysbut I’ve only compiled full stats for the four and a half days

I’ve been working on automated betting strategies for greyhound racing for a little while now, and when I’m working on it I tend to fiddle with the settings in response to how things do or don’t work, and also towards what I think might or should work. The more I fiddle with the settings, the harder it can be to determine how well (or not) it’s working as these things need to be given time to work through multiple days and see how they go with different tracks, qualities of fields, weather conditions, etc. Ideally an automated system should, once set up, be able to handle most variations in conditions with minimal drawdown and fairly consistent returns. It’s simply not possible to always win, so it’s also essential that an automated system has returns on good days which outweigh losses on bad days and ability to pull up the handbrake if things get too bad without blowing the bank, especially given an automated system will go unmonitored for periods of time and a lot can happen in a short space of time.

I’ve been pretty happy with the results of the greyhound systems I’ve been using for a bit of time now and decided it was a good time to put a moratorium on adjustments and just let them run and prove themselves. So late on Monday afternoon I did just that and let the systems run through until Saturday morning. The results impressed me more than I expected.

I had three strategies running on auto-pilot.

1. Lay the 4th favourite (that is, bet that it will not win) if it is paying odds of between $5 and $15, and is at least $2 more than the favourite, on Australia and UK races.
It made $67.22 profit

2. Lay the 3rd favourite (that is, bet that it will not win) if it is paying odds of between $5 and $9, and is at least $1.50 more than the favourite, on Australia and UK races.
It made $63.51 profit
LayPro88 Greyhounds results graph

3. Back the favourite if it is paying odds of between $3 and $5, on Australia and New Zealand races.
It made $6.93 profit
SAW Greyhounds results graph

For the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with the concept of lay betting, this is a feature available on the Betfair exchange and is effectively the opposite of backing a horse/dog/whatever to win an event. Sounds simple, certainly easier than picking the winner, and it is, but at significantly reduced odds so it requires some careful staking strategies to make it worthwhile. If you’re familiar with the concept of betting on something to win, it’s easy to wrap your head around betting on something to not win.

Suppose you bet on a horse to win a race. You bet $1 and it is paying odds of $7.50. If the horse loses, you lose the $1 that you bet, but if the horse wins you receive your dollar back plus $6.50, meaning you’ve turned your $1 into $7.50. For the person on the other end of the bet, it is the opposite. If you’re betting with the TAB or a bookmaker, then the TAB or bookmaker is the party with the lay bet, but in the case of Betfair you are betting against other users of the exchange. So in the example we just went through, for the person with the lay bet, if the horse loses they win the $1 that was bet on it, however if the horse wins, they lose $6.50 which goes to the person with the successful back bet.

In my case for the lay bets I am using a staking method called LayPro88. The 88 here refers to the magical percentage of 88% strike rate which is where this method starts to turn a profit. So yes, in order for this method to work, the dog I am laying has to lose 88% of the time or more in order for me to turn a profit. I’ve seen it turn a profit at a lower strike rate, but 88% is a good guide number, and anything above that really starts to turn some fantastic profits.

The system is quite simple to follow. To start off, I lay the dog with a stake (the bet from the person backing the dog) of 50 cents (it doesn’t matter what the starting stake is, this is just the amount I have been using to go with the amount of bankroll which I attributed to each strategy, which was $100). If the dog wins, great, I got 50 cents profit, go again. But if the dog wins, then I have a loss and I add my original stake to the most recent stake, so my next stake will be $1. If that wins, then the next stake is reduced by 20% of the original stake. This process continues on an ongoing basis, but the stake can never go below the original stake.

So for example, a sequence of bets could look something like this:
1. 50c, win
2. 50c, win
3. 50c, loss
4. $1.00, win
5. $0.90, loss
6. $1.40, win
7. $1.30, win
8. $1.20, win
etc

For the back bets I am using a different system which requires a bit more calculation. It’s called “Stop At A Winner”. It works on the basis of trying to get a specific profit out of a race. In this example I was aiming for 12 cents per win. It is probably a bit on the conservative side and I could increase it a bit, but I am wary of the drawdown which can occur with this method (as could be seen multiple times in the graphs above) if there’s a bunch of races in a row where my selection does not win.
Effectively the way it works is this: In the first race the aim is for 12c of profit and so a bet is calculated based on the odds available to make that profit. Eg, if the dog is paying $3, the bet would be $0.06 (a 6c bet, if won, would get 18c back, 6c being the original bet and 12c being profit). If the bet wins, great, put that aside and start again. But if the bet loses, the 6c loss is added to the profit target so effectively in the next race we’re trying to make 12c profit plus recoup the previous loss. And this goes on with the stake size increasing until a winner is found. This tends to have a good steady growth, but the drawdown requires careful risk management and so reduces the bet size and profit a fair bit.

You could use these methods manually if you wanted, but in order for them to work particularly well it is important that the betting market is well-formed by plenty of bets having been placed so that the odds are a good reflection of what punters believe the chances of each runner are, so I have these bets being placed about 30 seconds before the scheduled start time of the race. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to place the bets manually, and while the LayPro88 method wouldn’t be too hard to do as you know exactly what stake size you need based on the result of the previous race, the Stop At A Winner method requires calculating and being able to get your bet on before the odds change (and the odds do move very quickly on a lot of races in the seconds before the race starts).

There is also the question of time. How much time do you want to spend on this? A tradeoff in my view is that an automated strategy should always have smaller bets than you would place manually to avoid something going wrong with the method and a terribly calamitous loss occurring without you seeing it, but at the same time an automated strategy can bet at all hours of the day and night so small bets can add up to quite sizable profit quite easily.

When you consider that Australian and New Zealand greyhound racing often starts around 11am eastern Australian time (earlier if NZ has a morning meeting and on Saturdays when Australian greyhounds start early to avoid racing in the afternoon during the premier thoroughbred horse racing) and run through until midnight or later, and UK dogs start mid-evening Australian time and run through until around 6-8am depending on the time of year, this is where an automated system can excel by betting 20+ hours of the day for you while you get on with life. In the examples in this post, the bots were doing the work while I was at work, or asleep, or doing grocery shopping, or playing with Pebbles and Shyley, or taking the motorbike out for a ride, or one of the million and one other tasks which crop up in life.

I’m using two automated tools for this. One for the LayPro88 method and one for the Stop At A Winner method.

For the LayPro88 method I am using the quite self-explanatorily named LayGreyBot by Steve and Michael from winningmore.com and profitsportsbetting.com
LayGreyBot main screen
(click image to enlarge)

This is the main screen where you can see an awful lot of settings down the side which allows you to setup whatever strategy you want, and make it as selective or as open as you want. For example down the bottom you can go as far as selecting what types and grades of races you’re willing to bet on, you can choose which boxes you’ll accept the dog to start from, further up you can set things such as the minimum and maximum race distances you’ll accept, even how much other people have to have already bet on the race before you’ll consider it. For my method I have the settings pretty wide open so as long as there is some money in the market and the 4th (or 3rd) favourite meet my odds criteria, I’m pretty much happy to place the bet. I have a couple safeguard in place to ensure bet sizes can’t get too big and the market has some real liquidity to it, but that’s something I might dive into another time. It’s probably a bit too in-depth for this post. On the other side you can select or deselect individual races or entire meetings if you want, but I usually leave them all enabled.

The bot allows you to run up to three strategies simultaneously, so I have my fourth favourite strategy in “Lay 1” and my third favourite strategy in “Lay 2” (why not the other way around? Because I started with the fourth favourites first and added the third favourites later on after monitoring them for a while).

In addition, and this is where the bot really improves things over betting manually, it can run multiple races at once in the various tabs at the top of the screen. This is fantastic when you have multiple races occurring at about the same time, or a result from one race takes longer than usual because of a photo finish and the next race is due to start before the result of the previous race is known, or even just for delays in getting races started where you have placed a bet shortly before the advertised start time of a race, but it doesn’t get underway on time and you have other races to get to, something which happens quite often, especially with some of the UK meetings which can end up running an hour or more late sometimes.

Earlier on I mentioned that the stake size for this method depends on the result of the previous race, so each tab operates independently of the other tabs. Eg. a win or loss in tab 1 only affects the stake size of the next race in tab 1, likewise a win or loss in tab 2 only affects the stake size of the next race in tab 2, etc. The general recommendation from many people and even from Steve and Michael in their documentation for this and other similar bots is to only use a single tab for the LayPro88 method. This is good advice to avoid having multiple tabs hit a losing streak and all go down a fair way and need to recover through the process of getting more wins. But at the same time, knowing how many greyhound races there are and how a delay in one race can cause you to miss a whole heap more races, I actually run with all five tabs active.

Usually through the Australian races I only ever see activity in the first two tabs, but the British greyhounds tend to stretch out a bit more across the tabs due to the fact that British race results are slower to come through than Australian results, there’s a higher volume of races per hour in the UK most of the time, and often at least one race meeting is running behind schedule.

I wouldn’t recommend running multiple tabs until you’re comfortable with your strike rate percentage being around that 88% mark or better, but if you are using multiple tabs, my method for managing the recovery which some tab will inevitably need is that if one tab is comfortably in profit while another tab needs a greater volume of races through it to speed up recovery, I will temporarily disable the profitable tab to funnel more races to the tab which had been struggling. If the method is able to maintain the 88%+ strike rate over the long run, a bad day with a poor strike rate should be offset pretty soon by a day with a better strike rate, so it makes sense to feed a better day into the tab(s) which need it most.

For example, you saw the ups and downs of the overall results in the graph earlier, here are my results over the course of the days broken down by day and strategy. Note for this the first Australian day started about half way through the day’s racing, and I have treated the UK days as being entirely on the date on which they started in Australia, so for example the 12/Feb UK day ran from about 10pm 12/2 AEDT to 9am 13/2 AEDT but I have considered it all to be 12/2 for the sake of consistency in data reporting.

LayPro88 Greyhounds daily results graph

12-Feb 13-Feb 14-Feb 15-Feb 16-Feb Total
3rd fav AU profit -$2.00 -$24.41 $22.30 -$46.42 $52.77 $2.24
3rd fav AU S/R 80.000% 79.688% 86.842% 80.952% 92.424% 84.735%
3rd fav UK profit $32.42 $41.38 -$35.79 $14.89 $8.37 $61.27
3rd fav UK S/R 90.476% 89.583% 81.928% 84.884% 84.821% 86.515%
4th fav AU profit $13.55 $21.81 $34.20 -$4.46 $8.47 $73.57
4th fav AU S/R 97.297% 89.610% 96.471% 89.216% 90.217% 91.858%
4th fav UK profit $33.06 -$48.42 $18.75 $21.73 -$31.47 -$6.35
4th fav UK S/R 93.162% 85.950% 89.764% 89.565% 85.294% 88.636%
Day total profit $77.03 -$9.64 $39.46 -$14.26 $38.14 $130.73
Day total S/R 93.426% 86.872% 89.218% 86.563% 87.685% 88.018%

Monitoring this intermittently as it was going, I really thought the third favourites were struggling more than the stats demonstrate. They did have a lower strike rate than the fourth favourites, which is to be expected as a third favourite is by definition more likely to win than a fourth favourite, but managed to get some decent profits despite generally being below the magical 88% mark. I put this down to the fact that the upper odds limit I set on the third favourite strategy of $9 is the maximum amount for a loss to be fully recovered by the recovery cycle, and thus with most of the bets in this category having lower odds, any loss was well-and-truly recovered and then some by subsequent wins.

The fourth favourites did better in Australian than in the UK, probably due to smaller field sizes in the UK (they’re a maximum of six dogs per race whereas Australia runs up to eight per race) and the UK appears to have come in with a slight loss despite hitting 88%, but this is at least partially because the last couple of hours of the UK races had some losses which weren’t fully recovered at the point where I took the statistics.

It’s worth noting that the odds range on the fourth favourites extending out to $15 even though a loss on anything over $9 can’t be fully recovered in a recovery cycle (it would require more winners after returning to the original stake size) is done for a reason. Firstly, many fourth favourites have odds greater than $9 so you miss a lot of races if you limit the odds range, but more importantly it helps to keep the strike rate up. I did try reigning in the odds range to $5-$10 but it shaved about two percentage points off the strike rate and made the strategy only just break even overall. It stands to reason that the higher odds runners win less often and so the risk of bigger losses along the way is worthwhile when it also brings a better strike rate and better winning runs. At some stage I will analyse the strike rate of the fourth favourites in bands of the odds range and see if the odds range can be optimised a touch, but for now it’s working quite well.

The LayPro88 method has a lot of ups and downs and requires patience, but as long as the 88% or thereabouts can be maintained in the long run, it comes out quite nicely ahead. You can see that the overall figure was indeed just slightly over 88% strike rate.

There was a point in this where tab 1 was quite happily running ahead in profit while tab 2 had suffered a few losses, so I did disable tab 1 for a couple days so as to funnel the bulk of the races into tab 2. Apart from that, the system ran by itself with no intervention or input from me. In fact, four days and a half of racing, 1,811 bets placed in total, and I probably watched about 30 races in total.

One good thing about running the third and fourth favourite strategies simultaneously is that in many races, bot strategies will place a bet, and at least one of them has to win, usually both do. This helps to slightly reduce any losses accumulated in any given race.

An example from a UK race this morning at The Valley.

The system placed bets on two runners, one was third favourite and the other fourth favourite. The third favourites had been through a slightly rough patch so the stake size was up at $2.40 and the potential loss $13.44, while the fourth favourites were doing well so it was at the base stake size of 50c with a potential loss of $4.10.
Betfair matched bets on Valley Race 7

Due to the fact that at least one of these runners had to lose the race and be a successful lay bet, the potential losses on the race were not as high as the individual bets showed. If they both lost the race, it would be a profit of $2.90. If the third favourite won, it would be a loss of $12.94, not $13.44. If the fourth favourite won, it would be a loss of $1.70, not $4.10.
Betfair race odds display of Valley Race 7

As it happened, the favourite won the race.
Betfair race results display of Valley Race 7

So both lay bets were winners.
Betfair bet results screen after Valley Race 7

I’ll probably go into some more detail of the interface of the LayGreyBot at a later stage, but it’s very nice to have an overall results tab showing you all of the results from your bets as they happen.
Lay Grey Bot results tab
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to being able to go into each tab and see not only its results but exactly what it is doing at this moment and how its profit/loss stats look. In this picture, tab 1 has a bet in progress in Traralgon and some recovery to do on the third favourites while the fourth favourites are steaming ahead.
Lay Grey Bot tab 1 in action
(click image to enlarge)

I’ve spent a lot of time here focusing on the LayPro88 strategy and the Lay Grey Bot but of course I also have the Stop At A Winner strategy working on the Australian and New Zealand greyhounds. This, as I mentioned, is backing the favourite in the race if it is at odds of between $3.00 and $5.00.

For this I am using another one of Steve and Michael’s creations, the Stop At A Winner Deluxe Greyhound bot.

Functionally it looks and works very similarly to the LayPro bot, but with different settings options as it is designed to work with the Stop At A Winner staking method.
Stop At A Winner Greyhound Bot main screen

The results graph shows a bit of drawdown along the way, but the daily summary shows the consistency of the method.
SAW Greyhounds results graph

Day Bets Bets won S/R P/L Running total
12-Feb 23 3 13.043% $0.17 $0.17
13-Feb 29 8 27.586% $0.93 $1.10
14-Feb 48 13 27.083% $2.04 $3.14
15-Feb 44 10 22.727% $0.96 $4.10
16-Feb 43 16 37.209% $2.83 $6.93
Total 187 50 26.738%

When you consider that this bot had about a tenth of the number of bets as the LayPro system and a much lower strike rate around 26% compared to 88%, the fact it managed to make $6.93 or about a 20th of the LayPro system’s profit is actually quite a remarkable and respectable result.

I expect I will take a closer look at this bot in a future post, but for now suffice to say I am quite happy with the bot running the settings I have described and the quite consistent profit it manages to generate. Sure, it’s a smaller profit than the other method, but this is largely down to my risk-averse settings and I could turn it up a bit if I wanted to.

A question which probably arises from all of this is why am I working with Australia and the UK on the LayPro, and Australia and New Zealand on the Stop At A Winner. Why not all of the countries in both systems?

The statistics from a bit earlier on where the 4th favourite runners won races more frequently in the UK than in Australia helps to tell the story. I did originally try a few variations of the Stop At A Winner method on UK greyhound races but found it to be unreliable with lengthy runs of losses which increased staking beyond what I was comfortable with and hit my stop loss limits regularly. It was interesting in a way as it would have a run of really good days where the profit shot up, but then lose it all and more a couple times in a row in subsequent days.

This is one of the challenges with testing automated methods is getting a feel for when a system is producing results which are too good, and are probably a sign that a very poor period is ahead. In the case of the UK greyhounds, the narrower tracks tend to result in more bumping which makes it a tad harder for favourites to win, certainly enough of a difference to make the method not work well at all. From my testing, I believe it could be made to work if I was very selective about the tracks and distances which the system bets on, but I’m not convinced the small increase in profit it worth the time to work out which venues and distances would be a good fit. Perhaps that’s something you might be interested in pursuing.

As for the LayPro system not betting on New Zealand, well I would like to bet this method on New Zealand greyhound races and my perusal of race results indicates it should work very well, which is also backed up by the fact that the Stop At A Winner system does particularly well on favourites in New Zealand, but it seems that something in the way Betfair is describing the New Zealand races has changed and so the bot is having trouble working out if the races qualify or not. I have reported the issue and hope a fix will be delivered soon.

I started this post telling you how I made $137.66 on the greyhounds on autopilot in four and a half days, and that over seven days the total has reached $206.65, but I haven’t explained that yet. I have, however, shown you these figures throughout the post. You see, when I took the statistics on Saturday morning around 8am, I reset the bots, so they started from scratch with an entirely new set of statistics and staking. The screenshots above tell the story in the big boxes in the middle top of the main bot screens. The screenshots were taken this afternoon around 4pm, pretty much exactly seven days since I set the bots and left them largely to their own devices.

LayPro88 (third and fourth favourites combined) first period $130.73
Stop At A Winner first period $6.93
LayPro88 second period fourth favourites $120.57
LayPro88 second period third favourites $55.23 loss
Stop At A Winner second period $3.65
Total: $206.65

Later this week I intend to put together a live demonstration of how these methods and bots work, not as a live stream but in video form showing the bots in action as some races go by, which I think will help to explain the system a bit better and provide a better feel for how the bots work and how I work with them. It should certainly be better than me posting another dozen or so screenshots and writing another slab of text like this one.

Of course if you’re interested in following my footsteps or exploring the methods and bots for yourself, here are the links again to the homepages of the bots where you will find a lot more information about how they work and even a few videos.
Lay Grey Bot
Stop At A Winner Greyhounds Deluxe

I also have some strategies on the go for horse racing and soccer, but they will keep for another day. At the moment my main focus is on the greyhounds where I have been seeing some significant positive results after a decent amount of time and effort testing strategies, and I’m looking forward to showing you the strategies in action soon.

Samuel

Update 21/2/2024: Data analysis has led to a revision to the odds ranges to improve the strike rate. Details of this change can be found here.

Add comment February 19th, 2024 at 09:05pm

The Sunday Share: Badly translated songs: The Sounds Of Silence

Back in the early days of this blog, I started a feature called Samuel’s Musician(s) Of The Week where I would feature a musician and one of their songs each week. Over time I went through a lot of the music I like and featured many wonderful songs, and I have decided to continue this but with a bit of a change to the format.

The category is now called “The Sunday Share” and will expand a little bit beyond music. At first I think a lot of what I will post here will continue to be music that I wish to share with you, but I will also share other videos with you which have interested me and possibly even articles or documents.

This week I am sharing with you a video by musician Malinda Kathleen Reese who has, in addition to her own music, produced many videos of various well-known songs with their lyrics translated many times by Google Translate. Automated translation tools are a bit hit and miss at the best of times, and once you take a translation and re-translate it and keep going with that process, you end up with some rather unusual and amusing results.

This one is not my favourite of her work, but it’s the first one I came across and it is very good. The amount of effort put into the production alone is impressive. Also, the song in question, The Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel is one I am quite fond of. It was even the first item on Radio 2CC’s emergency tape at one stage which kicks in after 30 seconds of silence…clearly whoever set that up had a sense of humour.

I will share a few more of Malinda’s very good and amusing translation videos in future.

Samuel

4 comments February 18th, 2024 at 06:56pm

Adventures In Betting: The story so far

I have long had an interest in betting and gambling, even since childhood as Dad was a keen follower of horse racing and got the whole family involved, and it has been an ongoing theme of this blog with various tips of horses (especially around Melbourne Cup time) and football teams.

The history of my tips on this blog does not show them to be particularly successful, but it’s a fallacy to believe that in order to return any profit from gambling you need to have the correct tip the majority of the time. For many methods, being right a quarter of the time or more is good enough. Over the years, despite the seemingly low strike rate, I would calculate that I have roughly broke even on my betting endeavours. There have been ups and downs along the way, of course, but overall I have come out about even.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have known that my results, while acceptable, could be better, and like many people I have sought out ways to try to improve my betting success. This, in itself, has been an adventure of some interesting ups and downs, and I think there is some insight I can offer which may be of value to people. The adventures have, after a long journey, led me to a place with my betting which shows good potential and is definitely improving my success rate. It’s all still a work in progress and a learning journey, but I it is worth documenting and may even prove to be of interest and perhaps help to some people.

Professional gamblers, who I define as people whose primary income is generated from gambling, are a rare breed. For most people involved in gambling, it is a form of entertainment which they hope will return enough money that it doesn’t really cost them much or anything in the long run. For others it’s a pure money drain, hence the reason gambling carries so many government warnings these days.

Personally I think Australia’s government warnings about gambling have gone too far, and while the systems which have been implemented to help people stop themselves gambling if it is a problem for them are a good thing on the whole, the messaging around gambling is, I think, part of the problem. The whole “chances are you’re about to lose” giant messages at the end of most gambling commercials are absurd and just entrench the notion that gambling is a loss-making exercise for entertainment, whereas I think it would be better to teach people about ways to gamble better, and at a regulatory level to do something about the practices of the major corporate bookmakers who are in the habit of banning and severely limiting the accounts of anyone who is vaguely profitable or bets in ways which show they are systematic and could turn a profit. Of course bookmakers need to turn a profit like any business, but they should be required to do so in a fairer way where they accept the challenge of trying to outsmart the punters, not just accepting bets from people who aren’t very good at it. Ironically, this is a bookmaker culture imported from the UK, and yet is is a British bookmaker, William Hill, whose British TV advertisements in my view set the right tone about educating gamblers about how to control your spending and recognise if gambling might not be a good fit for you and how to get help if you need it. These commercials should be the model followed here in Australia, not the current crop of absurd and over-the-top government warnings.

That to one side though, because it is drifting off topic a bit.

I consider myself to be a semi-professional gambler. I define that as someone with more than a casual interest and approaches betting in a systematic manner, not leaving it all to chance, but is not deriving their primary income from gambling. Hopefully some of the things I’ve learned and am learning can help all manner of gamblers, whether they be casual, professional, or somewhere in between, to have better outcomes.

This is a subject which I expect will become a more frequent component of this blog. But before I start on that, there are a million and one different people on the internet who can all give you their advice on gambling, so why would you listen to my advice over theirs? I should give you a bit of background into how I got here so you can judge for yourself.

As I mentioned, my experiences with gambling when I was a kid. Not in the illegal sense of placing bets myself, but as part of the general household activities. Dad was keen on following horse racing and so this formed part of our Saturday activities. We would get the form guide in the newspaper on a Friday, and Mum, Dad and I would all select some horses in some of the races. On Saturday morning, after checking the day’s scratchings and replacing any non-runners, we would fill out the betting slips at the dining room table, and Mum and I would visit the TAB during our Saturday shopping, placing on this week’s bets and getting our return from the previous week’s races. These were all small bets, usually 50c bets, so it didn’t cost much and didn’t return much, and I’d estimate that we probably came out slightly behind overall. During the day we would have the radio on and listen to our races as they came up. Back then, racing on TV was quite limited so radio was the dominant way of following the action if you weren’t near a TAB or race course.

We also played some of the lotteries. I remember one Saturday morning when we were doing the shopping, Mum thought she could save some time by sending me to the lotto shop with the lotto tickets to place on while she went to the chemist, but of course the lotto shop turned me away. The staff there knew me and knew I came in with Mum every week, but legally couldn’t serve me.

I wonder what some of my teachers thought when I had a copy of The Tatts Times (a very short-lived promotional and results newspaper from lottery business Tattersalls) and decided to make my own version? Or what they thought of me mentioning sometimes that one of the good things about school holidays was that, at home, if I turned the radio on and listened to the 9am or 10am news, Jim Angel would read out in his magnificent deep voice, the top prize winning ticket numbers of New South Wales Lotteries’ $2 or $5 jackpot lottery. Of course my primary school also received old TAB form guide printouts to use as scrap paper so I don’t think they gave quite as much thought to kids being exposed to gambling back then.

As I got older, I retained an interest in horse racing and my selections got slightly better. Not great by any means, but when you go from picking horses based on names and numbers to actually paying some attention to the form, you’re bound to get at least slightly better.

Ultimately though my selections were only passable. Good enough to break even long term but not good enough to do any better than that. I decided to look into tipping services where you subscribe to someone else’s tips…and my goodness what a minefield that is!

Subscription tipping services largely fall into three categories in my experience
1. Boderline scams where people charge for “expert” tips which were probably the result of them plucking numbers out of the air and constantly spinning a sales pitch. I remember one such service which claimed to have tipsters specialising in certain sports and always auditioning new potential tipsters. When “our greyhound man” had multiple losing days in a row and was “fired”, he was replaced a few weeks later by “a new greyhound man” whose method seemed identical to the first. I think it was really just a bloke sitting at home making up tips and personas to present them, and it was just the natural win/loss cycle which determined whether the tips were any good or not.
2. Bookmaker commission scams. Services which insist on signing you up with a new bookmaker account as part of your membership to the tipping service. You have to make a deposit with the bookmaker, and the tipping service gets a cut of whatever profit the bookmaker makes from you. These services often have a cycle where once every few weeks they, like clockwork, have shockingly bad tips so that you lose more to the bookies and they get a bigger commission. Usually this type of service will encourage you to increase your bet size after winning streaks so that those deliberately bad tips ensure you lose more money.
3. Tipsters who legitimately are good at what they do. This is a small category compared to the above two. Some indications of this are transparency over previous results before you sign up. Being open about the methodology they use. Being upfront about how confident they are in the tips that day so that you’re betting less on bad days and more on good days. These tipsters all have their own methods and usually spell out their staking plans very carefully and will gladly answer questions about it. But they tend to charge quite a bit as well, and realistically unless you’re planning on having a bankroll of thousands of dollars to bet with, the costs of these services will outweigh your winnings.

I had experiences with each of these categories and I learned a bit from each one. Whether that was about some of the factors which the better tipsters look for in their selections, or about the ways some of the bookmakers work, or about how to tell if a winning or losing run is part of a pattern or an outlier. Each one of those services provided some form of useful knowledge, regardless of the quality of the tips.

There was an interesting service which watched the prices of the odds on the races and sent you an alert if a runner dropped by a certain amount shortly before the race. The exact method for this was unclear, but the idea was sound as it was an indication that the majority of bets in the race were for a particular runner. The downside of this system was that by the time you found out about this runner which other punters seemed to like and logged into your betting account, the price had dropped by quite a bit so if you did bet on it, it was going to be difficult to turn a profit. Their strike rate was good as you would expect from following the wisdom of the market, but I ran the numbers many different ways and couldn’t see how this system could be profitable. At least, not when you had to manually bet on the runners after receiving the alerts, and be available virtually 24/7 to drop everything and place a bet at a moment’s notice.

Of the better tipsters, there was one who would send out some very long lists of tips each day for a bunch of tracks, but his advice and his method was to just follow one or two of the tracks and bet with a certain profit target or time limit in mind for the day. Once you hit one or the other, stop. He did better on weekdays than on weekends which I think was largely down to the fact that weekdays tend to have a lower class of racing and most races have clearer standout runners than can be seen on weekends where the quality of the horses is more even across the board. I didn’t immediately learn a lot from that, but the experience helped me to put patterns of results later on into context, so it contributed to future learning.

Another tipster who I found to actually provide a good service was Tom Waterhouse. I’m not entirely convinced that Tom is hands-on in making all of the selections each day, and he is very upfront about his method being largely algorithm-based and automated, but the algorithm he uses which, I believe, is based on his own selection criteria honed over years of industry experience, is pretty good. It has some very steep ups and downs but overall seems to come out reasonably well ahead. But is it worth the cost? For me, probably not. It really is a system where if you don’t have $10,000+ and the spare time to work the tips to the full extent of the staking method, it’s going to be very difficult to come about ahead. What I found valuable about Tom’s service though is that Tom is very forthcoming with his knowledge. His time running his own bookmaker and then being CEO of William Hill’s Australian operation gives him an insight into the operations and tactics of the bookmakers which allows him to help people navigate the betting landscape and find better ways and places to bet. His stories about how, out of the many thousands of William Hill customers there were, he could count on one hand how many were profitable, and the tactics used by some bookmakers to limit the winnings of the customers were enlightening. Encouraging people to move away from the corporate bookmakers to the on-course bookies and Betfair is probably the best advice I ever heard from him.

Betfair is a betting exchange rather than a bookmaker. With a betting exchange you are betting against other users of the exchange. When you place a bet with a bookmaker, if you win, the bookmaker loses, and vice versa. So naturally the bookmaker has an incentive to ensure you don’t win, at least not in the long run. A betting exchange on the other hand allows people to bet either that something will win, just like you would if you were betting with a bookmaker, or conversely that something will not win. These bets are matched and form a market. So for example, if you think Horse A will win the race and I think it won’t, you can bet on it to win, I can bet on it to lose, and our bets are matched so we’re effectively betting against each other. Regardless of who wins, Betfair takes a commission out of the winnings. This means unlike bookmakers, Betfair has an incentive to keep the odds as high as possible (although ultimately the odds available are set by the sheer volume of bets people are making) so that their commission from the winnings is higher. Betfair only makes money if you as the gambler make money, so their incentive is for you to bet and to win, which leads to a much fairer system of betting.

Once I started using Betfair and learned a bit more about how it operates, I found that my profit was higher than it had been previously. Betfair’s odds are usually higher than most TABs and bookmakers…not always but usually, which certainly helps. Of course, it still takes time and skill to bet in this way in a profitable manner. Betfair is interesting though in that they have an API available to customers so that they can bet using third-party tools (not just Betfair’s website and apps) and can even automate their betting if they want.

This has led me onto a path of automated betting which has some enourmous time advantages in that it can bet on events right around the world 24/7 based on whatever rules I set, without me having to actively manage it in real time. This opens up a large volume of events which could be bet on, which means that relatively small bets can be quite profitable in such an environment. Of course, leaving robots alone with your money to blindly bet on things based on a set of rules without a care as to any other factors which might impact the event can also be dangerous, so it makes sense to bet in smaller amounts through automation than you might do if you were betting by hand.

I’ve been playing around with automated betting for about a year. It hasn’t been smooth sailing. I have made some costly mistakes along the way. But I have learned an awful lot and have some methods which are doing well. What I intend to do at times on this blog is show you some of the methods that are working for me, and take you along on my journey a bit and see how methods develop and the results they get over time. It’s not the only thing I’m going to write about by any means, but it is something which I expect I will focus on a bit in the coming weeks, and then see how things go and how much of interest I have to write.

I don’t pretend to know everything. I’m learning as I go. But hopefully what I have learned and what I will learn will be of some interest and value to you. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a million and one people on the internet to give you advice on gambling, and you can listen to whoever you want, but I hope that my approach is at least a bit different to what you will find elsewhere and can be educational regardless of whether you want to follow my methods or not.

This should be an interesting ride and I’m looking forward to it.

Samuel

Add comment February 17th, 2024 at 07:55am

Shyley on British television

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time would probably recognise my two lovely Jack Russells, Shyley and Pebbles
Shyley and Pebbles

Well, late last year a few days before Christmas, early in the morning, Shyley and I were watching some British greyhound racing via the online stream of British free to air TV station SportyStuff.tv and their Greyhound TV program. For those of you unfamiliar with this station, it is similar to Australia’s Racing.com in a way as it is available free to air and free to stream, and carries a select number of races. GTV usually focuses on two greyhound meetings at a time, just as Racing.com usually focuses on two or three horse racing meetings at a time.

As I do sometimes when watching this, I sent them an email. But given the time of year it wasn’t really about the racing as such, it was more of a Christmas greeting. It was getting late in the program so I didn’t really expect them to get to the email or spend much time on it if they did, but as soon as the next commercial break finished, Julie started talking about how much she enjoys receiving emails from overseas, so I quickly started recording on my phone, and sure enough, Shyley made an appearance on British television!

video
play-sharp-fill

Direct link

I’m sure it was a thrill for her. When Pebbles got out of bed later in the day I showed her the video and she sniffed at it, possibly checking that I hadn’t duplicated Shyley and added to the puppy dog mischief in the household!

Samuel

2 comments February 16th, 2024 at 05:56am

Rush Limbaugh: Behind the Golden EIB Microphone (1996)

Here’s a video worth sharing with you.

This was originally sent out by post to subscribers of Rush Limbaugh’s “The Limbaugh Letter” in 1996. Back then, as was the case until Rush died in early 2021, Rush was the #1 talk radio host in America, syndicated to a radio station in almost every market in the country, and an incredibly influential voice in conservative politics and beyond.

I bought this VHS off eBay in 2015 and intended to digitise it and upload it. I didn’t get around to it until last year. In a way, I’m glad I waited as I was able to access much better quality equipment for the job than I would have been able to use in 2015. Alas with age and use the tape has deteriorated a bit so the playback wasn’t perfect, but now that Rush is no longer with us, it is a great memento of the wonderful years of his broadcasting.

Samuel

Add comment February 15th, 2024 at 05:33pm

One method of converting flv videos to mp4 format

As a followup to my thought in the previous post about needing to go back through some of the very old videos on this site in the Flash video format, which no longer play in web browsers and haven’t for a few years, I picked one of the old files and had a quick go at converting it to MP4. Most decent video transcoding tools will convert flv files, however it is nice to be able to play the original file and compare it to the transcoded file to ensure there’s nothing amiss with the new file (such as audio/video out of sync, lower picture quality etc).

I chose the video from the night long-time WIN Canberra news presenter Peter Leonard retired and was given a send-off by the other presenters, as it is one of the more historically important videos on the site. I have the original off-air recording around here somewhere, but I decided to just work with the flv file to prove the concept.

After I downloaded it, my computer immediately decided it was a file openable by VLC, an excellent and free video player. Makes sense, VLC will play almost any file you throw at it. This then gave me an idea. VLC can also perform transcoding. The results can be a bit variable but it was worth a shot. In this case it worked very well once I changed one setting.

The process is this
1. Open VLC and go to File -> Convert/Stream
Converting FLV to MP4 in VLC

2. Select the file you want to convert, choose the MP4 profile, and choose an output file. Note that for some reason, VLC unnecessarily insists that you can’t use .mp4 as the file extension for the output file and must instead use .m4v which is strange but not really a problem and can be fixed later.
Converting FLV to MP4 in VLC

3. Customize the MP4 profile and go to the audio tab. VLC defaults to plain MPEG audio here, and while VLC will happily play that, a lot of other things including QuickTime and web browsers probably won’t. Change this to MPEG 4 Audio (AAC). You can leave the rest of the settings alone.
Converting FLV to MP4 in VLC

4. Click Apply, then click Save, and VLC will start transcoding. You will see the status bar move while the transcode is taking place but you won’t see any video while it’s happening.
Converting FLV to MP4 in VLC

5. You should then have your original FLV file and a new M4V file. Rename the M4V file with a mp4 extension.
Converting FLV to MP4 in VLC

In this case, the result is this

video
play-sharp-fill

Direct download (at the time of writing, the embedded player above is adding a watermark which is not on the file itself. I’ll deal with that in due course)

A slightly smaller filesize but a practically indistinguishable video quality. The video itself is quite small as the original Flash one was, and perhaps I should dig out the original recording and upload a larger sized video now that postage-stamp sized videos are a relic of the past, but that’s not the point here, merely that the transcoding process works well and simply.

Fairly quick and straightforward, so it’s a task which shouldn’t take me too long in my overall site tidy up.

Samuel

Add comment February 15th, 2024 at 12:20pm

Hello again after a little while

Hello again, it has been a while.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for many years will recognise the pattern of silence for a long time, a sudden burst of activity, and then another long silence. Welcome to the end of another silence.

Seriously though, I recognise the pattern and a few times when I’ve thought about starting blogging again, I’ve also thought about how it’s not particularly fair on you, dear reader, to have me start writing again for a while and then disappear and leave you in the lurch. The main reason I can see for the long silences is that I usually only write about things which interest me to some extent, and I either end up with a whole heap of things to write in a backlog and realise how long it will take to write about them, and just don’t, or I write about things which start to make me so cranky that I don’t want to write about them any more.

So a few times, having recognised this pattern, I wondered whether it was really worth keeping the blog online if I wasn’t going to commit to using it again. After all, the history of it is archived in a few places including the National Library of Australia, so it wouldn’t be a wiping of history per se, and it does cost me a few dollars but not really that many to keep it online, but maybe I’m sentimental about it as I could never bring myself to actually shut the blog down and get rid of the hosting. There was always the possibility that I might find something to write about which I can be interested and motivated enough to write about on an ongoing basis.

Well, it so happens that there is something I can write about and probably even put some videos together about. I have had some discussions in recent days about this particular topic and can see it being viable. I’m going to keep you in suspense about what that topic is for the moment though.

Now, having something to write about is one thing. The question which remained with that was: if it’s a complete change of topic, do I keep this blog going or start again elsewhere? The main topic I’m thinking of isn’t a complete change for this blog as it has been a minor theme over the years and in fact some of the posts on that topic continue to receive a burst of traffic once per year. It won’t be the only thing I write about. I’d like to have a few more personal posts, which is where this blog started out way back when, and dial back the political posts a bit as politics has really left me quite disillusioned in recent years. That subject may very well be my next post!

There’s also something nice about moving away from some of the social media platforms and back to my own domain. Not entirely perhaps but to an extent. There’s an irony in how, back when Google Video and YouTube were just starting to gain prominence, I was opposed to the idea of uploading all of my videos there exclusively, insisting on having at least a copy of the video files available directly on this site; likewise I absolutely refused to use any of the photo album wesbites such as Flickr and had all of my photos here and on my own hosted photo gallery software. In both cases, handing over control of my content to some third-party who could do what they wanted with it and change their pricing structure at-will seemed like a terrible idea. Yet despite this, I, like just about everyone else with a personal blog, took to Facebook and Twitter and seemingly abandoned blogging.

I was chatting with a friend late last year about this move of personal bloggers from their own blogs to the major social media platforms. Blogs have, it seemed, survived for niche topics and evolved into something else for political sites, but not survived as much as personal journals. My plan is to keep this site running as a personal site but with some specific topics which have a fair bit of focus.

In order to do this, I think the site needs a bit of a tidy up. There’s a heap of dead links on the sidebar. The photo at the top of the page is probably 14 years old and could use an update. The theme of the site overall is dated, not that I mind things looking a bit old-fashioned, and in some ways I think it has aged well compared to many more modern-looking sites, but the site is not very mobile-friendly or even particularly scalable for modern desktop resolutions. Whether I persist with the current theme and make a few adjustments or change theme entirely is something I haven’t decided yet, but it’s safe to say there will be a few cosmetic changes.

At some stage, and it’s quite low on the priority list but will need to be looked at eventually, back in the day when I didn’t want to use Google Video or YouTube at all and simply embedded videos on this site directly, I did so in the Flash Video format with a Flash Player wrapper. Flash was killed off almost completely three years ago so those videos don’t play, although I did have the foresight at the time to link to copies of the videos in other formats so they’re not completely inaccessible. I thought about this when Flash was killed off at the end of 2020 as I was working somewhere which had a Flash based system as a key component managing various systems and even had its own custom Flash Player so it wasn’t susceptible to the built-in kill-switch in Adobe’s Flash Player. I will look at seeing how else I can embed those old FLV files at some stage, probably by transcoding them to some other format which modern browsers will play natively.

Anyway, I’m back on the blog and you will hear from me again soon. I look forward to writing some interesting things for you to read and enjoy, and hopefully find quite useful.

Samuel

Add comment February 15th, 2024 at 01:03am

Samuel’s voting recommendations for 2022

A lot of people have already voted. I am one of them as I voted by post before prepoll even opened. Still, today is Election Day and many people will vote today.

I find this election to be a bit of a conundrum. It’s no secret that I am a very conservative voter. In fact the National Communist Broadcaster’s Vote Compass almost puts me off the edge of the map and I sometimes wonder if they’ve skewed the map to make the gap between The Greens and Labor look larger than it actually is, and even make the gap between Labor and Liberal look larger than it is.

The dilemma for me is that a Labor/Green government is a dreadful prospect whereby great strides towards socialist all-powerful UN-led world government will be achieved, but a Liberal government sadly will do much the same thing but at a slower pace. In fact it seems to me that, as a party, perhaps not true of all of the individuals within the party, it cares about freedom and liberty and sovereignty during election campaigns but then largely goes missing on the subjects between elections, and even helps to implement the opposite of those ideas. Indeed the Liberal Party, once a bastion of truth when it came to exposing the expensive scam and fraud of global warming has signed Australia on to “net zero” nonsense which is designed to destroy freedom and economic prosperity. So a Liberal government is only very marginally and slightly better than a Labor/Greens government.

I used to be a member of the Liberal Party. I wouldn’t say I was ever perfectly ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party but it was, for a time, a close enough match. Alas the Liberal Party has drifted away from my values quite significantly, and I have probably drifted away from it a bit too. I don’t really see that any of the minor parties completely align with me, but there are a number of smaller parties which are a closer match to me than the Liberal Party; not close enough for me to join them as a member but certainly close enough for me to vote for them.

Alas none of the smaller parties are likely to have the numbers to form government at this election, and probably not at an election in the foreseeable future under the current electoral system, but they can be greatly influential in small numbers.

So my hope is that there is a minority government. It doesn’t matter much which party forms that government although the Liberal/National coalition is probably slightly preferable. Importantly the minority government needs to have to contend with a crossbench filled with minor freedom-loving parties (not those awful “teal” Greens posing as independents) who can sway the government on every vote and get Australia on to the right track and away from globalist control.

To that end, my recommendation in all parts of the country is to vote for these groups, in whichever order is best based on the candidates available where you live:

  • One Nation
  • United Australia
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Informed Medical Options
  • The Great Australian Party
  • Sustainable Australia

I specifically endorse:

  • Craig Kelly, United Australia in Hughes
  • Dean Mackin, United Australia in Dobell
  • Pauline Hanson, One Nation in the Senate for Queensland
  • Campbell Newman, Liberal Democrats in the Senate for Queensland
  • George Christensen, One Nation in the Senate for Queensland
  • Clive Palmer, United Australia in the Senate for Queensland
  • Rod Culleton, The Great Australian Party for the Senate in Western Australia (* there is a question mark over Rod’s eligibility for election, so be sure to preference other freedom-minded candidates)
  • Jim Molan, Liberal Party for the Senate in New South Wales (he really should be the minister for Defence)
  • Gerard Rennick, Liberal Party for the Senate in Queensland (consistently pro-freedom in regards to tyrannical COVID rules, unlike many other Liberals)
  • John Ruddick, Liberal Democrats for the Senate in New South Wales

As for how I voted and how I recommend people vote where I live:

For the electorate of Canberra
There isn’t a lot of choice in good candidates here, so I have put the obvious freedom party candidates first, giving United Australia priority as I believe they have a better chance of achieving 4% of the primary vote in the electorate and thus getting some reimbursement for their electoral costs, followed by the Liberal candidate, and then the awful candidates in order for least awful to most awful.
How to vote in Canberra
(click to enlarge)

  1. Catherine Smith, United Australia
  2. James Miles, One Nation
  3. Slade Minson, Liberal
  4. Tim Bohm, Independent
  5. Alicia Payne, Labor
  6. Tim Hollo, Greens

For the Senate in the ACT
I have voted below the line to allow for maximum optimisation of the placement of preferences. Once again I have gone with the good freedom parties first, but there aren’t many of them. Then the Legalise Cannabis Party who, while I’m not a cannabis user and don’t particular care about the topic, they are generally on board with many aspects of freedom. Then we get to the Liberal Party although in reverse order as I believe Kacey Lam has the potential to be a very good elected representative one day and, as much as I like Zed Seselja personally, I don’t support Australia’s excessive foreign aid spending which is something he now oversees a fair bit of as a minister, and he is the only incumbent from the Liberal Party on my ballot papers so I must on principle penalise him for the actions of the Liberal/National government which stood by and put up effectively no fight while states enacted all kinds of draconian measures throughout the COVID scamdemic. After this we get to the bad options and Labor are largely better than most of the rest so their second candidate gets the next preference as Katy Gallagher is a very dreadful person to have in parliament, then we run through the second candidates of the very terrible parties in a vague order of least awful to most awful (strategically the second candidates go first here to try to avoid any of them reaching a quota), followed by the Communist Chinese independent bloke, then the top candidates of the very terrible parties, once again in a vague order of least awful to most awful, and finally we come to Labor’s Katy Gallagher who the nation would be much better off without, and then the loopy Greens with their bizarre Nasi Goreng Goreng woman absolute last.
How to vote in the Senate
(click to enlarge)

  1. James Savoulidis, United Australia
  2. Tracey Page, United Australia
  3. Michael Simms, Informed Medical Options
  4. Mary-Jane Liddicoat, Informed Medical Options
  5. Joy Angel, Sustainable Australia
  6. John Haydon, Sustainable Australia
  7. Andrew Katalaris, Legalise Cannabis
  8. Michelle Stanvic, Legalise Cannabis
  9. Kacey Lam, Liberal
  10. Zed Seselja, Liberal
  11. Maddy Northam, Labor
  12. Jannah Fahiz, Animal Justice
  13. Stephen Lin, Australian Progressives
  14. Kim Hunyh, Kim For Canberra
  15. Clare Doube, David Pocock Party
  16. Fuxin Li, Independent
  17. Yana del Valle, Animal Justice
  18. Therese Faulkner, Australian Progressives
  19. Kim Rubenstein, Kim For Canberra
  20. David Pocock, David Pocock Party
  21. Katy Gallagher, Labor
  22. James Cruz, Greens
  23. Tjanara Goreng Goreng, Greens

All that is left to do now is to wait for the votes to be counted, hope that they are counted correctly, and pray that Australians have the good judgement to vote for a good outcome.

To satisfy Electoral Commission requirements: Authorised by Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Reid ACT 2612

Samuel

May 21st, 2022 at 01:44am

US Supreme Court reminds us that elections have consequences

In recent hours something happened which has never happened before. A draft decision of the United States Supreme Court was leaked. The decision is purportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito and appears to be a majority decision overturning Roe v Wade, effectively returning decision making authority about abortion laws to the states and making it likely that some states will ban abortion, others will permit it quite openly, and others will find a middle ground.

The decision itself is monumental but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Equally importantly, the leaking of a draft Supreme Court decision is reprehensible and does great harm to the institution. Draft decisions are generally written on both the majority and minority side of any case. They are subject to change as the justices deliberate. It’s even possible that arguments in the draft decisions may lead a justice to change sides and thus change the outcome of a decision. The process happens in private after all of the arguments of the battling parties have been heard in court sessions. It’s a process which happens in private so that the justices can deliberate and discuss the matter without external influences and distractions.

The leak almost certainly came from a clerk for one of the justices. There’s speculation as to motive and I can see merit in many of the theories there but none stand out so I won’t speculate. But I will say the motive is irrelevant. The incredible breach of trust has damaged the institution of the court and whomever is responsible for the leak must be found and must be disbarred. The Supreme Court must be beyond reproach and so must purge itself of anybody and anything which would leak a confidential draft decision while the justices are still deliberating.

As for the decision itself, assuming the draft to be accurate, it is an incredibly important reminder that elections have consequences and when Republicans voted for Donald Trump in 2016, even the ones who couldn’t stand him, largely they did so because he had a clear plan to appoint conservative constitutionalist justices to the Surpreme Court and a raft of arguably more important circuit courts. The leaked draft decision was exactly the kind of decision, a decision which puts important legislative power in the hands of the states and not the federal government, thus ensuring the wide variety of viewpoints on contentious topics can coexist and each have their own views in law in neighbouring states of one country…it is this type of decision that the voters for Donald Trump were hoping to achieve. That it is happening with abortion is largely a sign of the times. It really could have happened with any number of major topics but this is the one which has been burning away for long enough to reach the Supreme Court at a time when the balance of the court has shifted towards constitutional conservatism.

Donald Trump, through his appointments to the courts, did more to uphold the constitution than any president since Reagan, and maybe even more than Reagan (Reagan did many wonderful things but he had a Cold War to contend with and one can only do so much in eight years). He did what other Republicans have talked a lot about in recent times but never delivered.

After the November midterms later this year, the prolonged circus of people deciding to run for the presidential nomination will kick in to high gear. It would be wise for constitutionalists to remember who actually delivered for them and who opposed him, and vote accordingly, be it for Trump or a similar candidate, if they want the constitution to continue to be upheld and defended. Going back to the types of Republican candidates who have talked up the constitution but achieved nothing and blocked Trump at every turn will just result in the constitutional victories petering out in the near future.

Conversely those who believe the constitution needs to be changed and/or want more power in the hands of the feds rather than the states, will undoubtedly see this Supreme Court decision, or even the leaked draft thereof, to be a rallying cry to elect the sort of politicians who will work to achieve those aims. In the last century or so, that side has been more successful while the conservative constitutionalist side has tended to talk a big game and do very little. Perhaps the tide is turning thanks to an electoral tsunami in 2016.

On a side note. Given Elon Musk’s recent efforts to restore proper freedom of speech on Twitter, I have been considering using it more again. But this topic reminds me that the character limit of Twitter is not conducive to discussing complex points. To boil this down to a handful of tweets would remove valuable context and lead to pointless arguments with strangers over misinterpretations of each other’s points. It’s a pity Elon didn’t buy Facebook instead.

The fact is, in this blog, I have my own little corner of the world. I should use it more. Perhaps I don’t have a lot of time for it and I’m not overly interested in having lengthy debates with people about things these days, but it is nice to be able to write down a few thoughts and let the world wander by to read my ideas every now and then. Whether or not that means I will write more here, I don’t know yet.

Samuel

May 4th, 2022 at 12:01am

No, I’m not downloading a government tracking app

There has been plenty of discussion about the federal government’s CovidSAFE contact tracing app today. I won’t download it, but I respect the rights of others to do so if they want.

The app itself is relatively benign in the amount of information it gathers, but the model requiring a centralised database concerns me especially considering Apple/Google’s planned version doesn’t require a centralised database. My bigger concern is this is a first step in getting people to voluntarily sign up to full-time government tracking, and once people are conditioned to accept that (and plenty already are) it’s only a matter of time before the scope of such tracking will increase and become compulsory. Warrantless surveillance isn’t much further along the line once you sign up to tracking.

The “cure” is worse than the disease in this case. On principle I simply can’t voluntarily download this app.

There’s an argument that Facebook etc has more information about me than this app can get. This is true to an extent. I have some level of control over how much I share with them, I avoid using Google almost entirely, and I keep location services turned off in my phone when I’m not actively using it, which limits the ability for apps to track my movements (you would be amazed how many apps try to take location data every time you open them!) so I’m already opting out of various levels of corporate surveillance.

Paranoid? Sure! But it’s reasonable to be paranoid when there’s always someone or something that wants to watch. And my phone battery almost doesn’t hold a charge any more, but I can double my battery life with location services and Bluetooth switched off, so my paranoia brings practical benefits too.

Samuel

April 27th, 2020 at 12:48pm

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