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Comment: Re:two classes of games (Score 1) 377

by ottothecow (#47778859) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?
You should try Lords of Waterdeep.

Don't let the D&D tie-in scare you off (it literally has zero bearing on the game besides giving a general "theme" and providing names and artwork to put on the cards/board).

Best with 3 or 4 players (a little off with 5 but workable). Super easy to learn and teach, especially if 1 player already knows the "detailed" rules...everything is laid out on the board so other than basic gameplay, there is nothing to remember (e.g. If you place your piece on this space, you will get 2 orange blocks, as shown by the picture of two orange blocks). I think there is an iphone version, so someone can get acquainted with the rules prior to introducing the game to the group.

Comment: Valve Combo (Score 1) 377

by ottothecow (#47778753) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?
For PC games, looking at modern games you might actually play: Depends who you play with, but if you want to be able to have games that you can play with friends (online or LAN) that are pretty standardly owned across large groups of people...hard to go wrong with the basic Valve Stack.

Helps that there are crazy steam sales all of the time, and many of these games can be had for 99 cents.

  • Counterstrike--might as well have 1.6, CS:s, and CS:GO...I held off from CS:GO, but it is really quite delightful to play with a group of friends who aren't hardcore CS players. The institutionalized version of Gun Game, and the smaller arena maps are great in a small LAN party situation.
  • Team Fortress 2. TF2 is great, and it is free. Harder to play with just a small group, but you can all join a big server together and have fun.
  • Left 4 Dead 2. Great coop play with 4 people and devastating versus play with 8. Excellent LAN game, but no problems playing online either.
  • DOTA 2. Not my favorite game, but it is free and widely played. AI is very good, so you can play decent LAN games with any number of players (either coop vs AI or split into teams with AI filling in the gaps) without feeling like you are carting around an idiot (which is how playing 3-player L4D2 often feels).

I am sure there are more games you could add to the list, but if you have those 4, odds are you can find a game in common with pretty much every PC gamer out there.

Comment: Re:various card games (Score 1) 377

by ottothecow (#47778573) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?
I find that *not* having the Special Building Phase would slow the game down even more.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if 5 player games go faster than 4 player because of this.

The extra builds let you get things done faster and keeps the game engaging for all players. I find that one of the big problems with advanced board games is the detatchment players feel between turns in games with more than 4 players. Some games solve this with simultaneous action (such as Game of Thrones where everybody places orders at the same time). Catan solves it by letting players interrupt and build. Building 2 turns after your turn gets you 4 more chances to gain resources from what you built (and prevents you from losing resources on a 7) which can only speed the game up.

What slows the game down, especially with more players, are players who are annoying about trades. Lots of time can be spent going down the rabbit hole of players not being quick and direct about trades.

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 1) 338

by ottothecow (#47729125) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike
People who complain about going to the post office have clearly never been to the UPS warehouse.

The few I have been to are pretty depressing and the service makes the USPS clerks look attentive. They are located either in particularly bad parts of town, or in industrial wastelands, unlike the post office which is usually just minutes away. They keep limited hours (and unlike the post office, you can't just drop in at lunchtime because you are probably not anywhere near the UPS warehouse).

Unfortunately, unlike FedEx or USPS, they don't offer free package pickup at your neighborhood location. If you want to re-route a package to a UPS store, you have to pay $5 for the privilege of them not having to bring it to your door.

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 1) 338

by ottothecow (#47728971) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike
I think the above poster forgets that there are a number of issues at stake.

If I think that both of them have terrible and misguided ideas when it comes to fiscal issues and corporate regulations, but one of them is a fundamentalist who thinks that gays should be sent to brainwashing camps...I am going to vote for the guy who treats people like people. Things like internet regulations will be so tainted by lobbying that it probably doesn't really matter which congressman you elect--once the winner is decided, the corporate dollars going towards his opponent's campaign will start going towards lobbying the victor. And at least with complex issues, they tend to lean on advisers and experts--often actual bills that get introduced are far less crazy than what was proposed during a campaign because their advisers tell them that their ideas were out of line (not to say the advisers can't be hired by lobbyists too...but at least they know that the internet is not made up of tubes)

Unfortunately, It is much easier to rile up the populace on hot button social issues. Fiscal policy and corporate regulation can be complex and slow moving; it is hard to sway voters based on a 5 year plan that may not ever come to fruition and definitely won't see results during your first term (especially in the House). Much easier to scream about "Ban This" "Legalize That" "Repeal X" and figure out where to draw the line on your "beliefs" such that you get a little more than half of your local population to vote for you.

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 1) 232

by ottothecow (#47697655) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It
OK, so solve the second problem I noted in my post.

In the smartphone world, I'm not going to have a mountain of unread emails because I will have at least looked at the subject and first line or two of each of those messages within a few hours of them being sent. How do I avoid having to keep checking? Telling my boss to call me because I am just going to turn off push notifications isn't going to work. That's part of what gets solved here with this proposition. Upper management has cut the cord for me. My hypothetical boss can't say "I know that corporate says we have a great work-life balance, but I'm gonna need you to always check your email". He has to make the call that something is important enough to interrupt my vacation for.

I liken this to Nielsen removing the "reply-all" function from their email in order to curb overuse of CC and rampant extra email that gets in the way of actual worker productivity. Management could preach all day long that you shouldn't overuse it and the employees will just keep doing it until they physically cut off the button. The workaround is easy (just manually add the CC list), but it requires just enough work and forces someone to apply just enough thought that they will now limit distribution to people who really need the email. Same thing goes here: if they really want me, there is contact info in the auto-reply. They can call me, text me, or forward it to my personal address that I might be checking--but its an extra step that makes them think "is this really the best way to get what I need? Or should I try contacting someone else?".

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 1) 232

by ottothecow (#47697471) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It
Except there is no way to know if that email is still relevant. You sent it before you knew that I wasn't in the office. So maybe you got my auto-reply and then handled it yourself or sought out the person I indicated could help you in my auto-reply. If you send a followup email (or worse, copy me on every single interaction with my replacement), I am now going to have multiple emails from you, and I won't know until I get to the later ones if the first ones are still important.

But really, the problem here isn't so much the mountain of email when you get back, but rather the constant contact when you are on vacation. All they have done here is instituted a mandatory policy to keep your manager from bugging you on vacation. They can still pick up the phone and call you if it is important, but the unimportant stuff just falls away. And for someone like me, its not really a mountain of email when I get back--I have to keep wading through that email while I am on vacation precisely because people still email me important stuff. I still have to look at my phone when it buzzes--I can safely ignore the automated or routine emails, but I have to at least glance at emails from important people to see if it is important or if I can save it until I get back. If those emails got deleted by corporate policy, then I'd just get a phone call or voicemail if something important happened...but without a corporate mandate (to which people are held accountable by the actual deletion), there is no way to redirect the important stuff away from email and minimize the unimportant stuff.

It is the next best thing to having a secretary that can take over your email while you are gone and only pass along important matters.

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 1) 232

by ottothecow (#47697205) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It
Yeah, but if you are calling someone (which suggests it is probably relatively urgent anyways) and the receptionist tells you that they are going to be gone for the next week...are you actually going to leave a message?

A good receptionist will offer to take the message, but they will also offer to pass you along to someone who is in the office and can handle your request. And in the days before email, the receptionist wouldn't pass along your message until the person returned to the office unless it was important enough to call them at their hotel.

Faced with the knowledge that they won't even get my message for a week (at which point it might not be relevant anymore), I certainly won't leave one. But for email? I don't know that they are gone until after I get their I write up the whole email and send it. Sometimes I will then follow up with a "Sorry, didn't realize you were out--I'll follow up with XYZ and you can disregard", but that just leaves them with two emails to read...and if they read them in order, they won't see my "please disregard" until after reading the first mail.

I don't know that deleting everything is the best way to handle this, but I think it is a step in the right direction. Maybe you could have some queuing system where people can choose whether or not they want to queue the email for your return...but would anyone actually use it?.

Comment: Re:Eames lounge (Score 1) 154

by ottothecow (#47681417) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer?
I've sat in some relatively high end knock offs that were not very comfortable.

The real thing has a way of moving with you...some of the knockoffs don't. If I were going the knockoff route, I would want to make sure I got one that felt like the real thing, rather than a "higher end" one that used better quality materials but didn't feel right.

Comment: Re:Buffalo (Score 1) 427

by ottothecow (#47634107) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?
This should be the final answer for this thread (plus a couple ASUS routers for variety). May not be true in another year, but it is true now and has been for a while.

I think I have a WZR-600DHP (seems to have been replaced with a *DHP2 version), which came with a version of DD-WRT pre-installed. It has been rock solid, even more so than my previous Buffalo router that I installed DD-WRT on (it didn't have problems, but I wanted gigabit switching and wireless-N).

Comment: Re:Youtube of this same idea (Score 1) 182

I have one of these running in my apartment and it is mediocre at best. I have radiator heat and window AC, so I figured it would be nice to have the kind of air circulation and filtration that a furnace blower provides.

Some filters are better than others, but standard box fans are not designed to have to blow air *through* anything. They don't push the air hard enough to force it through the filter, so airflow really drops down. Perhaps the hepa filters this guy is using are better (furnace filters and hepa filters are different), and that cannon fan looks like it might push air harder.

I can put one of those spun fiberglasss filters on the box fan and it gets decent airflow...but it doesn't really pick up anything smaller than cat fur. The only other filter I have found to have decent airflow is the red 3m filtrete filter (and home depot no longer carries filtrete). Stepping to a lower MIRV rating actually got me less airflow than the filtrete...the medium was much more like a piece of paper than a piece of cloth...I could run it for month and it wouldn't even look like it was getting dirty (as opposed to the filtrete which at least was moving enough air that it could pick up visible particles).

So I don't know how much I trust these tests. Of course a particle counter on the exhaust side will show a reduction...but if you have a large room, you are going to need a lot of air flow. Sounds like the guy in this article at least did room-based tests rather than just holding a particle counter in front of the fan.

Comment: Re: Minivans useful (Score 2) 205

by ottothecow (#47502835) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids
Yup. And they are built on car bodies, so they ride smoother. Typically more fuel efficent than an SUV too (maybe not one of those SUVs that looks like a hatchback on a lift kit, but a full size SUV that has similar cargo and passenger capacity will definitely get less MPG).

They don't tow or go off road well...but a majority of pickup and SUV owners don't actually tow anything heavy or take it off road. The poor off-road ability is actually a plus for the average person--lower ride height brings increased stability and convenience at the cost of less ground clearance). The towing is mostly due to the FWD and lower torque engines--get a bit of tongue weight and some pulling force on the back of a FWD car, and , but that's the price you pay for not having to run the transmission all the way to the back wheels (which gets you your fold-flat seats and low ride height).

It is a shame that they are so ugly and all honesty, they are the "right" car for a significant majority of people.

Comment: Re:I hope this surprises no one,.. (Score 1) 68

Yup. People should really think of SSN's as glorified names. That's all they are really supposed to be: a non-duplicative name, a unique key, an identifier that nobody else shares.

In fact, an authentication tool doesn't have to be unique. If you had a password associated with your SSN, who would care if both 123-45-6789 and 987-65-4321 had the same password? For all you know, your next-door neighbor could use the exact same gmail password as you and nobody would never know.

Asking people to verify their SSN as a way of determining their identity is a step above asking them to spell their last name. Sure, if they don't know their last name, they are probably not the person they say they are, but that doesn't automatically mean the converse is true.

Comment: Re:The right competitor to SAS is Statistica (Score 1) 143

I will say that while SAS has some really great point-and-click analysis tools...I would venture to guess that most experienced SAS are doing as much "command line programming" as they would have to do in R.

My company uses a ton of SAS and I can count on one hand the number of times I have went to look at someone else's work and found that they were using the GUI stuff. Pretty much everyone just writes .sas programs; most people use EG as an IDE, but those programs could all be run just as well in batch mode from the AIX command line.

We can predict everything, except the future.