Monthly Archives: June 2006

Disc Golf 06/30/2006

Barriers on hole 17

The usual Friday afternoon of disc golf was held along with Adam. When I got there, I admit that I was worried. For as far along the course that I could see, there was plastic orange barracade fencing up. I was initially worried that there would be construction going on here. But later on I decided that all of this fencing is for crowd control during the 4th of July celebrations. Here you can see fencing cutting across the course of hole 17 and running along the river. It also interferes with hole 2.

Missing hole 5

We had to deal with fencing across holes 3 and 4. We started throwing for hole 5 and when we got close enough, we noticed that the basket for hole 5 was missing! Not a good sign!

Construction work on hole 6

There were workers doing something in the trees next to hole 6. And, of course, there was orange fencing and rope fencing.

Barriers on hole 11

Hole 11 was a little tricky to throw past the trees and the fence, but we made it.

Alamo truck

Oh look, the Alamo Drafthouse truck!

Barriers on hole 12

The fence at hole 12 was more immediate! I threw past it with no problems. Adam bypassed it and John hit a tree and did a do-over when we found a new temporary tee.

Barriers on hole 14

This time the fencing runs along the embankment. We kept to the left of it.

Adam in water

Sadly, Adam looses his yellow disc in the lake and was not able to feel it. This wate is just too damned murkey!

Game Day 06/29/2006

Ahh game night, it turns out that there were hidden problems with the camera. Last week, I was playing around with photographing Tichu hands. It worked well. Since I was in the experimenting mood, I decided to mess around with the white balance as well. I put on an Expo Disc on the camera and took a white balance picture. Which I then applied to the default white balance. It worked well and I forgot about it. Fast forward until tonight. I take some pictures, Ed takes some pictures, I take some more pictures. And then I realize that there were three problems with the camera. The first was that the color balance was off! Doh! The second was that I had forced only one auto-focus point to be active. The third was that the camera was recording small jpegs instead of large jpegs plus raw pictures. Sigh. The camera remains a persnickity beast…

Game #1


While we were waiting for Peter and Francesca, we played a game of Bluff. And the dice were in my favor. I kept most of my dice during the game and ended up victorious.

Game #2

Crystal Faire

Mike had brought along the new Hangman game called Crystal Faire. It continues to have the same production values of the other games that they have made. That is to say, not good at all. Adequate enough to be functional. And in one case, you have problems telling the difference between a light grey circle and a white circle.

On to the mechanics. This is a set collecting game by trading. There are six types of “crystals” with differing amounts of availability. You start with nine hidden behind a flimsy screen (which kept getting blown down by the air conditioning). A start player is chosen and a trading round occurs. That person draws five more hidden crystals and then chooses two of three sets (a set of four with one hidden, a set of five with three hidden, or a set of six with five hidden). The other players only choose one of their three sets. Every one places the crystals out on the displays. The start player then chooses someone’s display and then that person will choose one of the two displays of the start player. They then secretly exchange the crystals (adding the hidden ones). The start player changes and trades continue until everyone has traded. After the trade, we draw three crystals (since there were three players in the game) and move each of the crystals that were drawn down on the status display. Players then will have the opportunity to either take 0, 1, or 2 of those crystals and move a number of crystals up or down on the display depending on how many crystals remain for other people to potentially take. Now players have the opportunity to try and score their crystals. For each crystal, players can pass or place crystals out to match or exceed what is currently out there. The person with the most crystals out (where ties are good) will score victory points (which is money). They then have to discard a number of crystals. The victory points are the following as crystals move down the status display: 1 (-1), 2 (-2), 3 (-2), 4 (-2), 6 (-3), 9 (-3), 12 (-4), 16 (-4), 25 (-5), 36 (-6). The numbers in parenthesis are how many crystals the winners are required to discard.

There is a lot of keeping up with what everyone else does in this game. No one used their 6 crystal set in trades. People would offer their 4 and 5s and the others would offer their 4s. Which means that the trader will loose a crystal in the deal since their 5 would be chosen against the offered 4. In scoring crystals, people would usually go after the 3 or 4 victory points and loose two crystals. Rather than waiting and trying to score 6 or more. So I kept up with the Joneses. Then the purple crystal starting to make a run for higher victory points. I had majority in it and Mike was a close second (so two people were rooting for it and only one was opposed to it). I decided to let Mike continue scoring with me equally since we both lost the same number of purple crystals and I still had a slight majority. However, on the last round, Mike was able to grab one purple crystal and tie me to score 36 points. I was able to score more in other crystals for the win.

Game #3

Sushi Express

We ended the night with this game. A light game supposedly about delivering sushi but really about trying to make laps around a loop. When you pass the sushi express tile, you can get a customer card or tip card. The first of a customer scores 3 and additional customers of that color score 1. The fewest tips score minus points. There are some special action cards that you can play during the game. But it is a short and simple dice rolling game. The only problem was the flushing of the customer cards. This tended to speed up the game a lot quicker than it should of been. But I won, so why was I complaining?

Other games that were played:

An obviously off color Hacienda board…


and Geschenkt…


Lunch Time Tichuers 06/29/2006

Sadly, one one game of Tichu at work this week. One where we had 5 people willing to play even. Mike loves to sit on my left. He likes to make random wishes and knows I am not a big fan of them. This time, he was able to make two random wishes. The first was for a 5 during my first Tichu call. I didn’t have a 5. Or any low cards for that matter. Ed had the Dog and he jumped into a singles trick by playing a King. Everyone passed and he was forced to play a 5 and not Dog me.

When Adam had called Grand Tichu, Mike’s passed me a green 4 for the bomb and then wished for it. I bombed, led a 5-card Queen high straight and then played a pair of fives. I now have two cards left. Ed took up race now and starts playing strong cards. Unfortunately, he was trying to lead low pairs to me but I only had a Jack and a Nine left. Mike was now forced to play high in order to stop me from going out. I knew he would eventually run out of cards to do that with when Adam kept leading singles. Surprisingly enough, Adam lead trips and Ed played trip Kings to go out first. I could tell he had the Phoenix but was hamstrung with the Dragon still out there. I was able to play my 9 for the 1/2 and the win!

The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
Ed & MarkH MikeA & AdamR
T+ 105    
  310 T+  
  455 T+  
  T- 150  
    285 T+
  665   T+ 435  
  1020     280 GT-

Python and Tichu goodness

The beginnings of Perl were directly inspired by running into a problem I
couldn’t solve with the tools I had. Or rather, that I couldn’t easily
solve. As the Apostle Paul so succinctly put it, “All things are
possible, but not all things are expedient.” I could have solved my
problem with awk and shell eventually, but I possess a fortuitous surplus
of the three chief virtues of a programmer: Laziness, Impatience and
Hubris. I was too lazy to do it in awk because it would have been hard to
get awk to jump through the hoops I was wanting it to jump through. I was
too impatient to wait for awk to finish because it was so slow. And
finally, I had the hubris to think I could do better.

  — Larry Wall

I wrote my second Python script for Tichu game data this weekend. My first script was recording a game’s score and any GrandTichu or Tichu calls made. It would take that data and generate an HTML table. Which I would then paste into my game reports. It works well enough for me. So I stopped improving on it. Although certain others would disagree and argue that the data is not presentented effectively.

However, I still have an urge for more data shown about a game. So I wrote a program that would take this and output this. Last Thursday, Adam and I tried to enter hand data during our game of Tichu. And I have learned that it is slow, takes thought power away from playing the game, and other people are not so understanding about this process. So, I am going to set up a camera to take a picture during evey hand played. Hopefully, this will finally allow me to finally record every hand played during the game. Of course, data entry will be a bitch!

And what do I intend to do with this data? Who knows… if you build it, they will come! Perhaps a cute flash app to present the game. Perhaps a data-mining application. Or perhaps an ugly HTML table that others can complain about.


My favourite interview question: Sketch out a software design to referee the game Monopoly link via


How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon link via

Your first job can hose you for life link via

Worlds largest pinhole camera link via

Settlers dice link via

Building and flying a jet from the anime movie Nausicaa link via

Drawing a picture by hand with photoshop link via

Break into a company’s computer system by leaving trojaned USB drives around outside link via

A lake has been transformed from freshwater to 30 per cent vodka after a leak from a nearby distillery link via

Pizza cone link via

Nutrition facts for the homeless link via

Carbon fiber toilet link via

Software wars link via

Virtual replay of all of the goals of FIFA’s World Cup link1 link2 via

Disc Golf 06/24/2006

Lost night disc

Well it rained again this morning. What is going on with the weather? It is supposed to be hot and dry by now with a month of no rain. But instead it is raining and messing up our plans. Once again I wasn’t gonna the weather rain on my parade, or at least my day out side. Previous die hard Jon joined my along with new die hard John.

I found this disc right out in the open. When I flipped it over, I found this. Apparently someone was playing a game of disc golf at night. The disc landed on the other side and the light was covered. Seems like a flawed design with a 50% chance of working.

New stream

The rain had stopped by the time we got out to the course. The only thing that we had to deal with was a flooded plain. This stream ran pretty much along the entire open area. It was too wide to cross without getting my feet wet, so I just gave up and sloshed away. Fortunately, I had a set of dry socks and sneakers in the truck. Along with a towel.

Disc Golf 06/23/2006

Lost disc at hole2

The usual day of disc golf at Old Settler’s Park. Except Adam shows up! We even start to look for a disc on hole two. Our mighty powers of prediction fails us and we have to search for the disc.

John closest ace

On hole 10, John comes this close to an ace or hole in one. Needless to say, he birdies it. And look where Adam is? He sinks his putt from there for 3!

Can you find the bug in this picture? Adam did after it bit him on the leg when he was teeing off…

Adam wedged his disc into a tree on hole 13. That was thrown pretty hard to wind up in an almost vertical position.

Game Day 06/22/2006

Dark Clouds

During the drive home, I noticed some small, really dark clouds along with grey and white clouds. At least, the perspective made it seem that way that they were all together. But wouldn’t they all have the same amount of moisture in them and therefore be the same color?

Game #1


Ed brought another new game called Tsuro. It is like Metro in that you build paths and each tile contains 4 points that are connected to four other points that form 4 roads. Instead of placing the tile anywhere on the board, you are required to place it in front of your piece (this prevents other people from directly hosing you). Your piece and any other pieces then start moving and stop when they come to the end of the road. If a piece moves to the end of the board, it falls of and the game is over for that person. So, there is some screwage of other people in this game but only if your piece ends up next to a square that someone else must play on.

Since you only have three tiles in your hand, you must hope that the other person must be forced to move their piece the best that they can and your piece will still be able to move. And that was the position that I was in a couple of times. I knew my placement would put me next to someone, and I hoped that they could do nothing about it. Ed seemed to be in a good position in this game. He was off alone in a big empty section. But that didn’t last long. Surprisingly, I won the game. It came down to having (or drawing) exactly the tile I needed to get myself out of the situation that I was in.

Game #2

Vegas Showdown

I finally got to play John’s game, Vegas Showdown. I have seen it being played on the other tables a lot recently, so it must be good. It is basically a bidding game. In your casino, there is a number of people that come into it and an amount of money that they spend. Your income during the game is the minimum of these two. And at the end of the game, there are extra points for majorities in either of these two. With your money, there are three types of tiles that you fight over. Yellow tiles mostly generate income (and some times give you people or victory points). These are the slot machines. Blue tiles mostly generate people (and some times give you income or victory points). These are the restaurants. And green tiles give you victory points (and some times give you people).

There is a area each for one of a set of basic tiles (one yellow, green and blue) and four areas where more advanced tiles can appear. Each of these areas has a line of numbers that represent possible bids. The advanced tiles start off at a large bid (like 44 for example) and get reduced each turn that they remain on the board. When you bid for a tile, you place your marker on one of the bids. If you are out bid, you get to place again. This continues until everyone has placed.

You then pay for your tile and place it on the board. There are doors which allow people to travel in from one of two sides. Yellow tiles are placed so that they can be reached by a path to one side of the board. Blues from the other side. And greens can connect to a yellow or blue. You also get points if you fill up your yellow or blue areas. And can get points if you can travel from one end of the board to the other.

And that was basically it. A simple game. With simple and drab artwork. And cheap materials. But it works alright. Not on the thematic level of Volle Hutte though.

Game #3


Two games of Tichu tonight. Both extremely one sided. The second game started with a Grand Tichu call because Mike thought he was still playing the first game (the 1000 point delta had already been obtained). Mike only had the Phoenix and the Dog when he made the call. When an Ace was wished for, our team had them all! And he still made it! The other extreme was when Adam called Grand Tichu. I passed him an Ace. Mike made the Ace wish. Adam bombed with Aces. And consequently lost the call. Sigh.

An interesting hand of mine. What bomb potential… What would you pass and why? I went for the four bomb and was passed a 4! Which was good enough to set Jon’s Grand Tichu call.

The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
MarkH & AdamR MikeA & Jon
T+   5  
  400   T-
  600     0  
  600   T+ 300  
T+ 760     440  
    275 GT-
    110 GT-
  GT- -65  

The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
MarkH & AdamR MikeA & Jon
  GT+ 200  
  T- 130  
  305 T+  
  305     395  
  245 T- T+
  290   GT+
  115 GT-  
GT-   930  
New Tichu picture taking setup

I have been itching to record more detail on our Tichu games. Right now, I have an XML file of our game scores along with the Tichu/GrandTichu calls. The next step that I want to record is the actual cards played during the game. So, tonight, I tried to record that information on the ThinkPad during the game. Adam was also helpful and recorded as well. This does slow the game down a bit (and take a bit of my concentration away from the game). Mike and Jon were impatient with this. So I gave up after three hands.

So for the next game night, I am going to set up this contraption. A tripod positioned over the table with a remote controller attached. I played around later with the settings. With the kitchen fluorescent light, the fan’s fluorescent light, and the big halogen light half on, I can get a 1/60″ 2.8 picture. But the entire table is not in focus with that wide aperature. Stepping down to a 16, the shutter speed moves to 1/2″. And with the halogen light on full, I can get a 4/10″ 22 picture. Which is good enough.

Tich hand test photo

To give this picture which is 850K. The cards are readable. And the ISO was only 400. I could double it and halve the shutter speed if necessary. I think this should work…

Lunch Time Tichuers 06/22/2006

Mike is usually late coming to these games. Even though we remind him constantly to show up earlier. So, when 12pm rolled around, J.P. joined in his place.

J.P. has played other trick taking games before as well as bridge. And he has watched us play, so it didn’t take much for him to get up to speed. However, he did make some beginner mistakes. For Ed’s first Tichu call, Ed was down to one card and J.P. took the lead with a single King. He then has two cards left (K2). Unfortunately, he led the 2 (since he knew it was a looser). He should have led the King instead because everyone else had passed on the single King before. I was in no position to stop Ed with a A32.

The other mistake that he made was playing a Phoenix on Ed’s Queen when Ed called Tichu for the second time. Yes, it is worth -25 points. But, it is a powerful card that should not have been thrown away so quickly and needlessly.

And once again we lost by one Tichu call and 230 points.

The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
Ed & AdamR MarkH & JPS
  300 T+   0  
  300     300 T+
T+   385  
  815   T+ 685  

Lunch Time Tichuers 06/20/2006

For the first hand of the game, Mike started out with his reckless behavior by wishing for an Ace. When I played low, Ed was forced to play his Ace. Later on in the hand, Adam came in and called and made Tichu.

This turned out to be a game of points. And a one-sided one at that. The GrandTichu and Tichu calls evened out. The opposing team just scored 350 more points than we did.

The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
Ed & MikeA AdamR & MarkH
  35   T+
  55   GT+
GT+   450  
T+   480  
  T+ 590  
  T- 510  
  995   GT+
  1025   GT-