Today is the day of the British EU referendum and I decided to express some random thoughts while waiting for the outcome. Polls and the bookmaker odds / market pricing (of the sterling, the FTSE 100) show mixed messages. Polls reveal a very close call (50/50), while the bookmaker odds and the pricing of the market reveal a strong belief that the remain vote will prevail (75% for remain/25% for exit).

These two mixed messages remind me of the famous line from Naked Gun. Nordberg (O. J. Simson) is severely injured in hospital and his colleagues discuss:

Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.

So the Brexit referendum is all about the polls, or should I say the Poles? It’s primarily about internal EU immigration. The Brexit supporters claim that currently people from poorer member states can easily move to richer states and work or claim benefits, essentially moving money out Great Britain. Talking about going into a country, taking its wealth and moving it back to your home country, I can’t help but think those Brexit supporters have never visited the British Museum.

The Brexit supporters also claim that EU is increasing the bureaucracy in Great Britain. Having lived in the UK for 5 years, I am a bit puzzled. I remember we had to fill in a risk assessment form every time we wanted to play basketball at Uni. I also remember lecturers at Uni. complaining they had to spend hours preparing and attending useless committees and doing less research. In  Greece which is notoriously bureaucratic I when it comes to your dealings with the public sector things are much more straight forward in everyday life. So I don’t for the everyday bureaucracy in the UK, the  EU is to blame.

Experts say if Great Britain decides to exit it will have to worry more about the Scots and Irish the next day, than for its future relations with the EU.

The EU is definitively broken and it needs fixing before it falls apart. All member states face similar issues and Brussels doesn’t react (at least effectively). If history has tough us anything though, leaving Germany as the only primary ruling power in Europe has never had a happy ending. The EU needs Britain to help shape its future.

Is there really a 25% chance of Brexit?

Going back to the fact the polls give 50% for Brexit, while the bookies only 25%. Either the polls, or the bookies (or both for that matter) have to be wrong. One argument is that the polls can’t be trusted because there is no history on such a referendum. But what about the bookies? In addition to the “fair odds” (what a bookie decides to be an objective probability for a result) they also adjust the odds based on their exposure to the outcomes, to minimize risk.

Assume that you are a bookie and at the start of two events A and B you think there are 50/50 chances. So (assuming you gain nothing for yourself) you give odds of 2 for A and odds of 2 for B. During the course of the event you have  asymmetric wagering  (e.g. $1M is wagered on A and $250K is wagered on B). Assume your view as a bookie is still 50/50 for A and B, but if the outcome is A, you owe: $2M (net loss of $750K) while if the outcome is B you owe $500K (net profit of $750K). So as more money is wagered on A, the bookie will naturally lower the odds on A and increase the odds on B, purely to minimize the risk and attract more money on event B. So for example the bookie may adjust odds for A to 1.5 and odds for B to 3.  It doesn’t mean the bookie thinks there is a 66.6% change for A and 33.3% chance for B. The bookie merely lowers the odds of A for risk management purposes.

A blog post by Landbrokes that in essence the amount of money wagered on remain is responsible for the low odds of remain, validates this claim.

Let’s also have a flashback one year ago at another referendum, the Greek one. If you study both the polls and the bookies, it’s a deja vu. Polls showed it was a close call, while the bookies gave odds that attributed probabilities of around 64% on Yes (around 1.5 decimal odds). Guess what happened? Greeks voted No, bookies were “wrong” (as explained in the previous paragraph there is no right or wrong, it’s all about risk management) and whoever saw the valuebet and bet on No made some good money.

Let’s have another flashback, two years ago at the Scottish referendum. Again the polls gave it a close call, but bookmakers were much more certain that the remain vote would prevail. As explained by this financial times article, there is much resemblance in the betting patterns of the Brexit referendum with the Scottish referendum.

So, for the Brexit referendum will the bookies get it right like the Scottish referendum or will they get it wrong like the Greek one? Difficult to tell until the result is out. Will the pollsters get it right that it’s going to be a close call? A blog post by financial times suggests that (a) pollsters are subject to herding and (b) if you count the tendency of the undecided voters to vote for the status quo and (c) take into account that the leave campaigners are much more “loud”, the remain has more than 50% chances.

Odds of around 4 for the leave vote are certainly a value bet and even if you think that there is as low as 30% probability of leave, the Kelly criterion suggests you should bet 6.6% of your bankroll on leave. You should be betting on the poor 1.3 odds of remain only if you think it has at least 75% chance of happening. Does it? No idea! I personally think remain has more chances and there are decent odds  for the handicap (50-55% or 55-60%) of the remain.

I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2011) with 8GB of RAM. As I need quite a few memory thirsty applications I have reached a point where 8GB is not enough. The official documentation of the Mac says that it supports up to 8GB. So I need to buy a new laptop?

Apparently not! It seems that the laptop supports 16GB of RAM, but not officially (from Apple). Crucial provides a system scanner, which scans your systems and suggests for compatible memory. It suggested a kit of 16GB memory. I have ordered it and I am waiting to install. The link for the scanner: http://eu.crucial.com/eur/en/systemscanner

I keep this blog (which I don’t update very often, but that’s another story) and I post both personal and professional (in the sense that it will appreciated by Computer Scientists) content. I would like to import all blog posts automatically from this blog into my facebook and linkedin profiles.

The thing is that I don’t want to post Computer Science related content into facebook and I don’t want to post into my (professional) linkedin profile all kinds of rubbish. I found out that it is easy to selectively syndicate content depending on the tags that I will add to my post.

So I added two tags, an import_facebook for posts that I want to be imported into my facebook profile and an import_linkedin tag for posts that I want to be imported into my linedin profile.

Then I installed the “WordPress” application for linkedin and I set as a feed url of my blog the following: http://kyriakos.anastasakis.net/tag/import_linkedin

I also installed RSS Graffiti for facebook and I set as a url of my feed the following: http://kyriakos.anastasakis.net/tag/import_facebook/feed

From now on any WordPress post I tag as “import_facebook” will be imported into my facebook profile, while every WordPress post I tag as “import_linkedin” will be imported into my linkedin profile. Before installing the WordPress and the RSS Grafiti apps on your linkedin and facebook profiled respectively, you need to have at least one post tagged “import_facebook” and a post tagged as “import_linkedin” for the applications to pick up the links properly.

I use a virtualbox virtual machine to run Ubuntu from within Windows (yes, I know I am a masochist). Anyway, every time I resume the virtual machine Ubuntu loses connection with the internet and I have to reset the interface. In windows from the command prompt you have to do an ipconfig /release and an ipconfig /renew. Similarly in Ubuntu all I had to do was the following:

1. sudo ifconfig to get a list of all the network interfaces. There you can see the name of the networking interface that you need to reset. In my case I wanted to reset interface “eth3”. So I did:
2.sudo dhclient -r eth3 to ipconfig /release
3.sudo dhclient eht3 to ipconfig /renew

That’s it! Got a new IP and I can access the internet!

I was reading an article in the Computer Weekly magazine the other day. The article features the 10 worst inventions from apple (so far) and the 7 worse inventions from Microsoft (so far). Such articles prove one thing that has been well documented.. it takes many failures to become successful! The articles from the computer weekly magazine are the following:

Update: The method described in the following proved to be useless in the summer, when the laptop became too slow (almost unresponsive). I guess setting the CPU Fan Control level to quiet does not work well when the environment temperature is relatively high. So, I removed the fan cover (all you need to do is remove 6 screws on my laptop) and injected some sewing machine oil on the fan! Now the laptop is TOTALLY silent again! Hurrah!

The noise level of the CPU Fan of my Sony Vaio VGN-SZ71E laptop was driving me crazy for the past few days. When the laptop was on, you could hear the fan operating even in the room next door. The fan was also producing vibrations, which I could feel when I had my arms on the keyboard palmrest! It’s needless to say you can’t work properly (i.e. concentrate on your work) under these circumstances.

I tried removing the chassis to see if I can replace the fan, but in order to have access to the CPU fan on this laptop model you need to disassemble pretty much everything! Luckily there is a workaround.

I had installed the Sony VAIO Power Management utilities, which allow me to manage the CPU Fan speed (Control Panel -> Power Options->VAIO Power Managent -> CPU Fan Control ). I set it to level  “1-quiet” and I have to say it is much better now.  Probably this has some impact on the performance, but this comes second to the peace of mind when working 🙂

For the past 3 hours I have been cleaning up my desk and sorting out the papers I had printed out (yes, when I talk about spring cleaning, I really mean it)! Anyway, I was listening to last.fm, while cleaning up. I asked it to play similar artists to Mikis Theodorakis, who is an excellent Greek composer of hmmmm… “metasymphonic music” (the term is borrowed from Wikipedia). After a couple of songs of similar to Miki’s music, last.fm decided to play a necromantia song! Necromantia is a Greek black metal group. What is the similarity between “metasymphonic music” and black metal? Well both artists are Greek, but apart from that.. none I would dare to say!Last.fm FAQ on the “similar artists” functionality says:

The list of artists which you may see on an artist page as being “similar” is based exactly on our user’s listening habits. If a lot of users listen to Artist X, but also Artist Y and Z – Y and Z artists will become similar to X.

With a few added constants and other functions thrown into the equation to help make it more accurate, you’ll find that’s how Similar Artists are made.

The screencap follows:

Theodorakis_Necromantia

Update: Please note that I am in no way affiliated to the mytv service, in fact I am no longer abroad and I have stopped using it! So please do not send comments or e-mails for support requests! This post is just describing how to convert recorded mytv files into divx format! Thank you!

There is an internet service ( http://www.greeklive.tv/ ), which broadcasts greek tv channels over the internet. It is a subscription service, but it is probably worth the money considering you can watch all shows of the most popular greek tv stations of the past 6 days. Anyway, I only use to watch basketball games.

This service has its own program (myTV.exe) , which has the ability to record a show. Now, the stream data is encrypted and the videos saved are not easy to transfer as they are encoded using a very unpopular codec. If you want to convert the video files saved by the application to DivX or other popular video formats, all you need to do is use the anyMP4 Media Converter.

Kaspersky antivirus and comondo firewall have rendered my windows 2000 laptop to be very slow. So I decided to give it a try with linux.

My set-up: A Toshiba 2450-S203 laptop (P4@2.8), an nvidia video card (don’t remember the details of the chip) and a wireless pcmcia linksys WPC11 version 4.

My experiences:

Mepis 6.5

First I tried Mepis 6.5. It worked very well out of the box and the wireless card connected to our router without a problem. However since Mepis 6.5 is based on an older version of ubuntu its repository has reaaaaly old versions of software. This was a problem and since Mepis 7.0 is coming out, I decided to try version 7.0 RC2.

Mepis 7.0RC2

Installed well, but I couldn’t make the wireless card work. I sent a post to the mepislovers forum and received a number of useful answers. It could be the version ndiswrapper that comes with Mepis 7, or the driver. So I had to either download the latest source code of ndiswrapper and compile it, or try different version… Too much work for a RC version.

Kubuntu 7.1

As I have been a windows user, I decide to go for another kde distribution, kubuntu. The installation went smoothly. However I couldn’t connect the wireless card to our router. Kubuntu would recognise it, but as soon as I tried to connect to the router… kernel panic! The caps lock light flashed and the system was unresponsive. I tried to blacklist the native drivers and use ndiswrapper with my windows drivers… but to install ndiswrapper it asked for the installation cd! (Even though I was already connected to the internet with my ethernet cable).

I managed to make it word with ndiswrapper and the system was quite stable. So, now let’s try ubuntu for a change…

Ubuntu 7.1

As expected I had the same problem with the wireless card and  resolved it using ndiswrapper again. I have to confess that I liked the interface better than KDE. It was quite fast and stable. The problem is that I need windows anyway (some .NET development, software which don’t have a linux version) . I can use virtualization (vmware) to run windows from within linux, but to do that I need more hard disk space and probably I will need again the firewall and antivirus installed.

The verdict?? I might try to switch to linux after I finish writing up, but right now I don’t have the time, resources (i.e. hard disk space) to do it properly. However there are some things I didn’t like. First of all in (k)ubuntu, when the native wireless card drivers crashed, NOTHING was logged in the log files, no warning, no nothing (at least a windows blue screen gives you a message with the address/module that caused the crash.).  The other annoying thing… why do you need the installation cd if you are already on the internet and the package manager can find the binaries on the internet?

I mean ok… you blaim windows for the blue screens of death, you blaim them for asking the installation cd all the time… so people say switch to linux (or get a mac).. you switch to linux and see things are not much better there.

Having said that I hope that some day I will have the time to be actively involved in a linux distro.