WordPress Bug – Not In The Slightest Bit Interesting

February 22, 2012

I just noticed a bug.  When I started this blog two years ago the URL was different.  Back then it didn’t say swearbox.wordpress.com it said something else.  I realised I’d fkd up so after a while I created the blog you now see and I migrated all my previous content to the new swearbox.wordpress.com site.  It all appeared to migrate OK and after a few more small tweaks I was happy and so the old version of the blog was left alone but not scrapped – it still is live if you know the URL.

Earlier on I posted my main blog post for the day and did a bit of site maintenance and what not and I took a look at where my days visitors were coming from.  I hopped off to a recent blog that I’ve added to my blogroll as it appears I’m now getting traffic from there so I figured my request to be added to that site’s blogroll must now have been fulfilled.  I looked at the comments and it’s there in black and white…”Added Swearbox”…but I couldn’t see my blog post of only an hour or so old listed.  So I got to rooting through the blogroll and I finally found myself right at the bottom of the pile showing my last post as being 2 years ago.  WTF?

Now, in between finishing my last blog post (Re: Second Guessing) and doing the above I was looking through a few of my older posts going right back to the day I started.  I read through a couple as I was going to try and create a widget to highlight some of the older posts that are now buried but I feel deserve to be made available on my home page.  Reading through one post dated Feb 21 2010 I spotted a spelling mistake and corrected it.  It was that update that has caused my blog to appear to be untouched for 2 years – and this is on everybody’s blogroll that it appears on.  The issue has to be something to do with updating a post that originally appeared on my other blog URL so I’m thinking the only way to correct this is to create this post to get me back into the here and now on other people’s blogrolls.

Sorry for any inconvenience…and please don’t boot me off due to 2 years inactivity LOL.

Re: Second Guessing

February 22, 2012

Having commented on an excellent post over on Cassini’s Blog he returned the favour in spades and devoted a whole blog post about a traders (bettors) mindset using my comment as a basis upon which to write the piece.  The blog post can be found here at Green All Over .  Rather than posting a lengthy answer to the questions he raises by commenting back to that post I thought I would use this post to address a couple of matters that I feel should be expanded upon.

For those that may not be inclined to chase through a series of links and comments to get the gist of what is going on here’s a quick summary.  The Financial Times recently ran an article about sports psychology and in particular the loss of form that has befallen a certain Mr F Torres (c/o the Chelsea subs bench).  Peter Webb, over at Bet Angel, picked up on this story and suggests that not only are high profile athletes and sportsmen and women susceptible to this loss of form but it can also apply to people who are actively participating in the sporting markets, ie bettors, layers, and traders.  Finally Cassini tied the two articles together on his own blog.  I commented and this in turn spawned a whole new blog post from Cassini (linked to above)…the next bit on here is my response to a couple of points that arose.

Cassini writes:   “I am puzzled why it is not possible for him to build up from a small bank once again. The original bank was blown due to a lack of discipline, i.e. not following the system correctly, but if there is an edge, then a fresh bank and correctly proportioned stakes would see the bank build up once more.”

Quite simply I don’t have a significant enough amount of extra cash to just dump into an account and start again. Not sure whether I ever will but I remain optimistic and in the meantime I’m exploring some avenues that will take a fair while to assess to see if they are worth pursuing over the longer term.

I’ve long banged on about having a reasonable bank if you are in any way serious about punting for a living. £40-50k is be the figure I would come up with….anything less and it’s just a hobby.  I’ve funded my Betfair account on several occasions since the crash in 2005 but I know that it’s just play money and ultimately it ends up in someone else’s account.  I think my mindset is to blame again as I find myself so desperate to build the bank up quickly I end up getting involved in all sorts of nonsense, particularly when it comes to football bets.  There’s so much cheating going on especially in South America. And another beef I have is the absolute dirge that Betfair serves up on their in play markets.  Unbelievable crap like the Serbian Women’s Potato Picking League 3rd Division (you get my drift)…this garbage has no place on any exchange market, in play or otherwise.  But I’m off on a tangent now so back to the topic…

The situation I now find myself in means that any money I do put into my betting bank that grows beyond a few quid into something a little more substantial ends up getting taken out again. In other words I simply have to sweep some out to help pay for bills and what not so the betting bank never really gets a chance to build up to much.  I agree wholeheartedly with the point that I could start off from scratch and build up slowly but that would require an initial sum of money that I can absolutely do without and in the area that I live jobs that pay enough to facilitate this are few and far between.

Cassini again:  “Without knowing the details of Swearbox’s horse-racing edge, I have doubts that even if there was a genuine edge there for a time, that in this sport such an edge could be expected to last for too long. If the edge was mathematical, it would be found out sooner or later, or too many members in the syndicate would drive the edge down to zero or negative, and if the edge was knowledge based, then this is clearly a weakness. Swearbox states that “my info was emailed every day and there was a set strategy to follow” but it is this total reliance on others which makes the decision to go full-time even more risky than having a self-developed edge, or preferably edges. It’s easy with hindsight to say that Swearbox should have waited until he had built up more funds, or given the system longer, but there are other factors that go into making a decision of this kind that only Swearbox knows in full.”

I’m not really sure that we had an edge to speak of.  Do such things exist over the longer term?  As I pointed out in my earlier post my info came direct via email.  A team of private handicappers assessed the races each day and came up with a list of horses that they considered value lays at the price.  What they based their decisions on I don’t know though my spreadsheets show some really solid long term profitable performances so they had to be doing something right.

As Cassini says it’s all very well having an edge but if your staking plan is no good it’s next to useless.  I think our staking strategy was very good and if I were to go back to the period when I was punting full time (2003, 2004, 2005) I would only change one thing and that would be NOT to bet every day even though there would be info every day.

This is gambling after all and there is always the danger of a day when all the horses marked as lays will win and it happened twice in quick succession back in 2005 and ultimately led to an end to my pro punting.  Yes we had stop losses but if you hit a bad day where 75% or more of the results went against you it would cost you a weeks profits.  If you believe in fate those two days were always just sitting there waiting to happen and ready to bust your bank.  By tweaking the system slightly and maybe limiting bets to two or three times a week you would be lessening the chances of being in front of your pc when those fateful days came around and therefore in better shape to avoid those guaranteed losses.  But that’s all in the past and hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The problem is when you’ve tasted the good times and the freedom that betting professionally gives you it’s like an ache that never goes away.  Not because of the thrill – if you bet for the thrill then take the easy route and set fire to your money, you’ll reach the endpoint much sooner that way.  It’s just the freedom thing that I miss terribly.  Many pros complain about the solitude and loneliness of sitting in front of a pc in your home office but I’m not one of them.  Not that I’m an avid twitterer or facebooker but these days you’ve got a virtual world of acquaintances and friends at your fingertips so you’re hardly alone.

Having been there and done that I’m fully in agreement with Peter Webb’s remarks that people who actively participate in the activity of betting in sporting markets can reach a point whereby they lose their confidence to such an extent that it all starts to go horribly wrong.  I don’t know what the antidote is and neither, it appears for now, does Fernando Torres.  I just hope things turn around for the better both in my case and, even though I don’t much care for Chelski, for Torres too – it must be pure hell being in his boots these days.

Betfair’s In Play Suspensions For…. Nothing

February 19, 2012

Don’t they drive you mad?  I’m talking about the matches that appear to be monitored by the piss taking entity known as the SUSPEND MONKEY.  You know the ones I mean…the ones where the ball is in the middle of the park and then the SUSPENDED splash appears on your screen.  Could it be that your feed is a few secs behind and a goal has been scored?  You watch in anticipation as the ball makes it’s way up the pitch and then the excitement begins to build….a free kick is awarded to the attacking team just outside the box.  Your lay of the 0-0 HT score rests on this goal…you’re quids in…you just need to see the goal for yourself.  The game is still suspended…always a good sign…then you return to the shitty streaming feed with foreign commentary and you watch as the free kick taker with the funny haircut coolly and clinically strikes the ball and wonder just how much practice it takes to get that ball to just clear the defensive walls heads then soar like a Storm Petrel to 500 feet and drop like a stone into Row Z of the stands.  Fucking uncanny.  The goalie puts the goal kick back into the centre circle and the action resumes.  Still SUSPENDED.  Minutes pass then, as if by some divine command, the SUSPENDED sign goes away and the markets are back in play.  Rinse and repeat for the rest of the match. WHAT THE FUCK BETFAIR ????

Then of course you have the other scourge of in play bettors and that is the suspension of betting as soon as the whistle goes for the start of the match.  Of course it’s lifted at the end of the first half only to reappear for the start of the second.  Again I’m inclined to cry WTF Betfair?

I’m quite amazed and bewildered at the fact that Betfair have no answer to these phenomena save to hide themselves behind their catch all terms and conditions.  I’m not the only one to have fallen foul of this and there’s currently a thread up on the first page of the Footy forum bemoaning this very issue.  If you complain to Betfair like I have in the past you get no sensible answer short of ‘We lost our feed’.  If I can find an uninterrupted feed then why can’t they?

Some weeks ago I mailed them about this issue and here’s the exchange that went back and forward…

Me:Hello, As I type this I’m staring at a screen that shows the correct score market for the in play game between Defensa y Justicia and Ferro Oeste (Argie game, last of the night)….bang in the middle of the screen there’s a big red SUSPENDED splash that first appeared about 20 minutes into the first half. It went away during half time then promptly reappeared at the start of play in the second half.

I actually called Betfair to ask why the match was suspended in the first half and was told that it was a problem with the feed. Now, if I can find a feed that works how in the hell can’t you lot with all your money and all the technical resources you have to draw from ?

It was suggested on the Footy forum that you only go by your ‘official’ feed and if that goes down then you have to suspend the markets until it comes back. WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A BACKUP FEED FFS ???

I don’t expect that this match will be returned in play so I am at the mercy of the game…if the score is 3-0 or 3-1 then I win, if not then I lose. No chance to trade out of my position (and by the way, the markets being turned in play at HT did no-one any favours…liquidity/prices were abysmal).

You keep banging on about how you’re improving our overall experience by making this improvement and that but situations like this where you only have ONE OFFICIAL FEED to go by is complete bollocks and you should quite rightly be hung out to dry for shafting your customers like this.

Yours, very pissed off,”

Betfair:Dear Sir/Madam Thank you for your e-mail.

Were sorry that you experienced technical difficulties during this game. While we work hard to make sure our feeds are functioning correctly at all times, we can not garenty that there will not on occasion be issues that are beyond our control and this is covered in our terms & conditions.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further enquiries.
Kind regards,”

Me: “Hmmmm…I’m assuming that your reply was actually typed by a human as opposed to being copied and pasted from a vast repository of stock responses that cover most of the questions/complaints that you receive. The giveaway is the fact that there’s no such word as ‘garenty’…I could be wrong…maybe the stock response didn’t get the proof reading it so desperately needed before being filed away ready for future use.

That reply was pathetic. I was looking for answers not asking to be directed to T&Cs. The question is why don’t you have a fail over method to protect those in play bettors when your primary feed goes down?…I’ll give you a clue, the answer I’m looking for looks nothing like the answer I got below.”

Betfair: “Thank you for your e-mail. Firstly I would like to apologise for the spelling and errors in the previous email, it was an admin error on our part that was not picked up before the email was sent on.

Once our primary feed goes down we have to suspend the markets as we are unable to manage these markets in play, it is not as simple as getting another feed on these markets to be able to manage them in play as we need to be sure that the new feed we have is going to be as secure and just as reliable. Whilst we appreciate the position customers are faced with when these markets are suspended due to these faults if we can’t manage the market in play due to this then we won’t attempt to as customers could then have bets on markets matched unfairly.

Kind regards,”

Me:Thank you for your reply…at least I feel that you are actually listening to what I’m saying instead of just firing off a pre-prepared statement. I have comments listed below which I would like you to read, digest, and reply if you see fit…

Thank you for your e-mail.Firstly I would like to apologise for the spelling and errors in the previous email, it was an admin error on our part that was not picked up before the email was sent on.

Once our primary feed goes down we have to suspend the markets as we are unable to manage these markets in play, This bit I understand…. it is not as simple as getting another feed on these markets to be able to manage them in play Why not ? A Secondary feed should be mandatory… as we need to be sure that the new feed we have is going to be as secure and just as reliable Your first feed clearly isn’t reliable so that makes no sense… Whilst we appreciate the position customers are faced with when these markets are suspended due to these faults No you don’t or you’d apply what should be a simple fix and get a secondary feed set up if we can’t manage the market in play due to this then we won’t attempt to as customers could then have bets on markets matched unfairly. So rather than attempt to avoid this by fixing the problem you choose to just ignore it and leave us all out to dry when your feed screws up. If I can find a feed on some dodgy internet site that shows the game uninterrupted in real time then so should you be able to. Just remember you are nothing without your customers and I’m sure at the end of the day this is a trivial thing to fix so do the right thing by them that pay your wages and sort it out.”

That was our final exchange.  No reply to that last mail above then the cheeky fuckers had the audacity to send me a Betfair Customer Experience Survey the following day.

I could understand it if this was a fledgeling company but it’s not.  It’s the biggest, most successful betting exchange on the planet yet they can’t protect their legions of loyal customers by sorting out a simple issue like guaranteeing that when they say an event is being offered in play they follow through on that.  If you’re reading this Betfair then get a grip.  Fix your in play issues and if you can’t then hire some people who can.



Why Is It So Difficult To Post A Comment To A Blogger Blog???

February 17, 2012

<Begin Rant> For crying out loud Blogger sort it out.  How fucking difficult do you have to make it?  I go to the trouble of posting a comment on a Blogspot.com blog and then I have to clear security that Fort Knox would be proud of before it gets published.  That’s all fine and dandy, I’m all for being able to moderate posts that come into my blog and to be honest I’ve no idea how hard it is for readers to get their comments published, ie what hoops they must jump through but I’ve had a torrid time today.

On one site I must have refreshed the captcha code things 30 times and on at least 5 of those times I was absolutely 100% sure I’d got the words rights but no…apparently I’d failed.  In frustration I ended up closing the comment box down so who knows whether or not it got through? Pain in the arse.

On another occasion I wrote my comment then filled in the bit that asks you where you’re coming from (in my case I’m posting as a WordPress blogger) and all that happens is the page refreshes…no message to say that the comment would appear after moderation…so I’m left like a lemon resubmitting again and again and I still get the same outcome.

In this day and age posting a comment to a blog that’s hosted on a different blogging platform to your own simply should not be this frustratingly difficult.  Sort your act out for fucks sake. <Ed Rant>

Neural Network Betting App Setback

February 16, 2012

Got an email today asking me to ring the folks at Brisnet as they had an update for me regarding the PDF files I was going to use to source the data for my app.  I rang up and was informed that there’s a very strong chance that they won’t be available at all in a few weeks time.  Apparently they are doing some data migration between servers and they have been looking at what should and shouldn’t be included in the work.  Apparently it’s felt that certain data sources aren’t being used as much as they could be and as a result may not be available in the future.  The Yank racing PDF’s that I use on the UK Brisnet site are not long for this world so it would appear so if you’re a user then you’d best start looking elsewhere for your form guides.

This is a real pisser as I’ve already begun populating my spreadsheet using their data though thankfully I’m only a few races into it but nevertheless it’s a lot of work down the pan.  I now have to look elsewhere to source the info.  Ideally I want something that I don’t have to pay for.  The US Brisnet site has race card info available but they want money for them.  I might take a look over at the DRF site to see what’s available there.

I mentioned in a previous post that data consistency is absolutely key to a project like this so I need to find a site where I can source all of my info in the same place each and every time.  If anyone is familiar with what I am trying to achieve then please do comment, it would be greatly appreciated.

I’ll leave it there for now and disappear to see what I can find out in internet land.  There’s tons of stuff I know, it’s just finding stuff that’s easy to understand, is free, and is available to download for future reference (in case tweaks are needed).  Back soon with good news (I hope).

Oh, before I go…and there’s not a cat in hells chance of them reading this…but congratulations to Travis & Jackie on your windfall.  Jackie phoned earlier today to announce that they had won the Lotto 649 to the tune of $1,000,000.  Actually they didn’t win the lottery itself, they won what’s called the ‘Encore’, something I never play if I buy a ticket.  Travis is in a work syndicate and took their ticket to the local shop to get it scanned to see if they’d won anything.  The lights on the machine started flashing and the bells and whistles sounded and Travis asked what the hell all of that meant.  The lady behind the counter said, and I quote, “You’ve won a million fucking dollars.”.  And so they had.  Split 18 ways (the downside) each syndicate member trousers $55000 each.  Nice work if you can get it.

I See Stretch Armstrong Is Back On Betfair

February 16, 2012

At least I think he is…my spider senses are tingling like fuck and they are telling me that the idiot is back.  Hope I’m right as it’ll mean the almost completely sterile forums will soon be witnessing another of his now famous meltdowns.  Can you guess his new nicknames?  I’ll give you all a clue – he posted on the horsey forum earlier today using both his names on the same thread where he had a pop at another forumite (fancy that !!!) questioning his sexuality.  Won’t be long before people cotton on to what the names are that he’s currently using.

Stretchy, if you’re reading feel free to comment, good or bad I’ll accept it and publish it.  Because of dicks like you I’m unable to get on the forum so for now my comments are restricted to this blog.  Let me know how things are going….how’s your ‘big 4×4’ ?…what’s the food like at Membury Services?…what medication are you currently on?…so many questions.  Say what you like, I really don’t mind, it’s all good.  Later ‘bruv’.

UPDATE>>>>>>>>>  Further scrutiny of the horsey forum leads me to have to make a correction.  The above text in the first paragraph suggests our deranged friend posted under two usernames on the same thread.  That appears to be incorrect.  I also stated that he was knocking another forumite and questioning his sexual preferences.  I’ll take that back too as a second reading would suggest that he’s actually sticking up for someone who is getting grief from another forumite.  To be honest there isn’t a great deal to go on but I’ll stick to what I said at the start of the post – he’s back.

A Bump In The Road

February 14, 2012

Doh, just when I get all motivated and excited and start gathering data for my neural network app I find there’s a bit of a problem that needs to be sorted before I carry on.

I was busy transferring race data to my Excel spreadsheet when I ran into an issue that required a phone call to try and sort it out.  If you’ve read my previous posts on this subject you’ll know that I’m in the process of building a neural network for race prediction based on US horse racing as the UK flat season is some way off yet.  Race cards are available online in PDF format that look like the cards you’d find in the Racing Post or up on the wall at the bookies.  Normally US race cards are so packed with different stats you need a month’s course just to figure it all out so some kind soul has produced these UK friendly PDF’s to help out UK punters that want to bet in US horse races.

My first hurdle to overcome was that there was info on the race card that I didn’t understand.  Each horse had a letter or a couple of letters just below the line that showed the weight carried and I had no idea what that letter represented.  I had to make a phone call to find out what this meant as it may or may not be a key piece of data that needed to be recorded.  I had a very pleasant chat with someone in the States and it turned out that the letters showed what drugs the horse was using.  L meant Lasix, L inside a circle meant first time Lasix, and there were other letters for another drug (which I can’t quite recall but you get the drift).  So, problem solved and I moved on.

I considered that acting on the going underfoot was a worthwhile inclusion in the data that I eventually will present to the network so I set about recording that piece of info for the races I had selected.  Then came the stopper.  There is a guide at the end of the PDF that tells you how to read the detailed form for each horse in the race. The guide shows that Line 14 gives the info for how the horse has handled the going in previous races plus how it fared over the course and distance.  Key pieces of info in my book.  I looked at the first horse in the first race at Tampa for the race card for the 9th Feb and I couldn’t decypher Line 14.  It just didn’t make perfect sense to me so that prompted yet another call to Brisnet.  This time round I got a different guy but he looked after me just as well.  I emailed him the PDF so that he could see exactly what I was trying to point out and he came to the conclusion that the way the info was represented didn’t make sense to him either.  So the next step is to get the guy who created the PDF’s involved and bring it to his attention.  All of this took place last Friday (10th Feb) and so far no word back but the upshot is I’m temporarily suspending my data gathering until this has been cleared up as I don’t want to be using flawed information (if that is what it is) as that would be plain useless and a waste of time and effort.  I could of course just not include that info and be done with it but omitting course and distance info and whether the horse acts on the ground?  I think not.  More on this when I get it.

Moving swiftly on I have to say that I’m getting more and more pissed off with the chappies at TSEG who run the forums for Betfair and I’m sure they aren’t that fond of me if you take into account that I’ve been waiting since Wednesday last week for an answer to an email I sent them.  Apparently there’s been ‘some weather’ in the UK that’s prevented a lot of people from getting to work (or so I’m led to believe by listening to the automated messages at Betfair).  That said you can’t tell me that they don’t have people looking at the emails that are sent to them who are able either to repond or forward on to those who may be better placed to respond.  Maybe when you become IP banned you just don’t count any more but then again maybe the weather really is to blame…it’ll all come out in the end.

That’s it for now.  My next task for today is to rekindle some old alliances…I have many links to other blogs on here but most of the reciprocal arrangements that used to be in place are no longer in force so exposure to my ramblings is limited somewhat.  I’ll be contacting a few bloggers out there to see about getting my link back up on their sites as I know from my stats there is some interest in what I write.  Have a good day readers and be lucky.



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