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.

Today I decided to update to OSX Yosemite. How much time would it take? 1 hour, 2hours? It appeared to get stuck to “one minute to finish” the installation for quite some time. During the upgrade process if you move the cursor to the top of the screen a menu will appear. One of the options is: “Show Log”. This option pops up a window that shows detailed information about the process.

In my case for around half an hour it was logging events like this:

It appears it was taking a lot of time processing the texlive files. I had installed texlive in the past, but i haven’t used it at least in a year. So, before upgrading to Yosemite make sure to delete any unwanted applications for a faster upgrade!

I wanted to replace my old Logitech laptop speakers. I have recently started listening to Spotify a lot and I got a Netflix subscription, which I use on my Apple TV. So I needed some good 2.1 Speakers. Searching the Internet it looked like Edifier S730 where the best choice. It was a bit expensive around 300 euros.

It arrived in a heavy, solid box. I opened the box and the first items I removed was the controller with the cables and the remote. First thing I noticed: Many scratches on the screen of the device. It’s outrageous that they had a cover on the buttons of the thing, but not the screen! It seems that the cables and the plastic stand for the controller, which were in the same compartment in the box were scratching the screen all the way from China (or wherever they are made in) to Greece.  Apart from the scratches there was also a visible mark .




I contacted the shop where I bought them from and they were very very helpful. I am expecting a new controller in 10 days, hopefully without any scratches. If you pay 300 Euros for speakers, you expect some quality, at least when they arrive brand new. If they are susceptible to scratches it’s your job to look after them once you start using them, but they first have to arrive in a good condition!

For the sound quality part/review, there are loads of reviews and youtube videos. Speakers come with a 3.5mm to RCA, RCA to RCA and coaxial cables. They do not come with optical audio cable though. What I can say is that I connected my Macbook pro headphones exit to the speakers using the 3.5 mm to RCA. The sound was not what I expected. Certainly better than my old speakers, but still it seemed to be missing something.

Then I thought that maybe the headphones exit of my soundcard is not a good choice. So, I used airplay to send only sound to my Apple TV, which I connected to the speakers using an optical cable. Not sure if it’s just my idea, but I have a feeling the sound is a bit better with this setup.


Update: As it turns out, the screen has a plastic protector and the scratches were against this plastic. The plastic cover is attached to the screen and doesn’t protrude. You need to use your fingernails on the edge of the screen to remove it.

I recently received an Apple TV as a gift. I saw that it had inherent support for watching NBA games. I had to buy an international NBA League Pass subscription, login and that should be it.

1. NBA League Pass Apple TV Only Available in Certain Countries

I bought a monthly League Pass Premium subscription. However, it turned out that even if you buy a subcription Apple TV is not available in certain countries! This was not evident on the fist subscription screen where it showed that if I bought a subscription I would have access from “multiple platforms”. The logo of Apple TV, Xbox, Kindle appeared amongst other logos.

2. Cancelling my Subscription

I assume the lack of any clear indication that some platforms are not available in certain countries constitutes false advertising. But still, I just decided to cancel my subscription. I logged into my account on the league pass website. I navigated to all available screens. There is no visible way to cancel the subscription. What’s worse is that under the “My Packages Section” it is mentioned:

Below is a list of your current packages and upgrades if available

Excellent! I can upgrade my subscription (i.e. pay more) but there is no direct way to cancel it! I sent an email to their support and I am waiting for their response.

I still have good faith in the League and I hope that my horrible experience was due to incompetent software engineers who can’t provide vital information available at first glance and can’t support some standard functionality like unsubscribing.


Update:  The situation is a joke. I sent them two emails without any reply. I tried to login to my account on the web and it says the account has been locked. Ok, I wanted to cancel my subscription, but I have already paid for 30 days! If you forbid me to login at least return the amount of money already paid. I am not going to spend any more time on this.

I am using VirtualBox 4.3.2. I have recently upgraded to OSX Mavericks and after I close VirtualBox it doesn’t seem to close properly and it’s still running. Doing force quit doesn’t seem to close VirtualBox.

The worse part is that I can’t seem to be able to shutdown my laptop! When try to shutdown after having run VirtualBox the shutdown process gets stuck and the only way to shutdown properly is by pressing the “Power On/Off” button on the laptop for some time.

The solution that works for me, is to go to the “Login Window” screen (by clicking on my account name on the top right corner, next to the clock -> Login Window…”. Then I click on “Shutdown” from that screen and it works.

The vast majority of the posts in this blog are about software development. A good part of most of my posts have some source code. My previous template was a three column one. Most of the code didn’t fit into the middle column of the template, so people had to scroll all the time and formatting was awful.

I tried quite a few templates, but they didn’t match what I wanted. Finally I ended up Continue reading

I was reading a blog post the other day that in order to upgrade from OSX Lion to OSX Mavericks you need to first upgrade to mountain lion (paying the $20 upgrade fee). Checking the description by apple as pointed out here:
it is evident that there is no such requirement:

You can upgrade to OS X Mavericks from Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (10.7), or Mountain Lion (10.8).

So, I have backed up everything and I am going to start the upgrade process now!

I wanted to add a new device to my wireless network, but I had forgotten the wireless key. My network uses WEP encryption. So, I used aircrack to recover the key. Basically what I had to do was:

    • use airodump to save a large number of  transmissions between the wireless router and a device that is already connected to the network.
    •  use aircrack to analyse the file produced by airodump and find the password

In particular, I managed to recover the key in the following simple steps:

  1. Download BackTrack Linux Distribution and burn it on a DVD.
  2. Boot my laptop using the live DVD
  3. On command prompt type:
    ifconfig to see the available network interfaces in Linux. Doing this I was able to find my laptop’s wireless interface.
  4. Type: airodump-ng -write afile.cap wlan0 , where afile.txt is the file that airodump will save all communication and wlan0 is the wireless network interface of my laptop as discovered in step 3. Let it run and collect packets for quite some time. It may a few hours (in my case it took 6 hours) for this step to collect enough packets. The time it will require depends on the traffic of the network. The more traffic the better. Once enough packets have been collected press Ctr+c to kill the process.
  5. Type: ivstools -convert afile.cap afile.ivs to convert the captured packets to ivs format compatible with aircrack
  6. Use aircrack-ng afile.ivs. Aircrack will pop up a menu to ask you which network you want to crack. Select the SSID of your network and if enough packets have been collected in step 3, you will have the key of your wireless network in no time!