Friday, May 25, 2018

Review Day: Forbidden Island

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Forbidden Island is our latest attempt at finding a two-player game we can play together that isn't just the cripple version of a game for more people. It's designed for 2 - 4 players to play cooperatively and feels well-done at both ends of the range.

Players start on a randomly organized island of 24 tiles and, with limited inventory, must collect enough treasure cards to attain the 4 plastic treasures. Once the team has all of the treasures, they must reach the helicopter landing pad to fly away together. The gimmick of the game is that random parts of the island sink after every turn, at a rate that gradually increases over time (and like the real world, flooded properties are more susceptible to future floods). You can use an action on your turn to "shore up" a nearby tile, but tiles that flood twice without any shoring up are permanently removed from the island.

Each member of the team has a random occupation, like the Engineer who can shore up 2 tiles per turn, or the Messenger who can trade treasure cards to anyone on the island without standing right next to them. The game is spent strategizing, moving, trading, and shoring up while hoping that the dreaded "Waters Rise!" card isn't drawn to accelerate the flood rate.

In our games, we've won more than we've lost, but it's been pretty close at the Novice and Normal difficulty levels (we're about ready to increase the challenge next time we play). The relatively small number of unique card types make it easy to keep track of what's going on while the many random variables make each game feel fresh without introducing any scenarios that just feel impossible (random impossibility is the worst). Overall, we definitely enjoy this game and plan to play it again very soon!

Final Grade: A

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stuff In My Drawers Day: PEPCO

It's intern season at my current company, and it's pretty impressive how much effort has gone into giving them something interesting and useful to do. For example, one intern is doing data mining of publicly available open-source data to extract intelligence that our company can use. I'm reminded of my first internship at PEPCO which I previously wrote about. While other computer science majors were writing Makefiles or learning UNIX Scripting, I was retyping handwritten invoices and delivering mail.

Here is an article from the PEPCO newsletter about my internship, where I was clearly more politically lenient on the position than it warranted.

"Program a database and create interfaces" translates into "make badly embossed graphics in Paint Shop Pro and drag and drop them onto a Lotus Notes website template, then upload hundreds of pages of manually scanned (non-OCR) plant procedures to a fileserver".

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Weekend Wrap-up

On Saturday morning, I dipped my toe back into the world of cloud certifications by passing the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam with a 970/1000. This is the beginner cloud cert so it would have been embarassing had I not passed, but I wanted to start easy before renewing all of the actually hard ones.

In the afternoon, we had a barbeque of PTAs (Katie and Hannah) and neighbours (James and Patty, and Aaron and Vanessa) where I grilled my seasoned steaks recipe. It finally stopped raining midday, but was still too damp to do anything outside during the BBQ. Maia enjoyed playing with 3 other kids (2, 1, and newish) and the plastic kitchen we inherited from Kathy was a hit.

On Sunday, we tried hiking to Bear's Den on the Appalachian Trail. While we did make it, we faced flooded trails, overzealous poison ivy, and thick, pasty, humidity. Rebecca carried Maia in her crazy kid backpack while I gingerly traversed the mudslides to minimize getting dirty.

In the afternoon, we gorged on BBQ leftovers and stayed in the nice air-conditioned house watching Game of Thrones, the new John Mulaney special, and playing Forbidden Island.

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Under Stars by Amy MacDonald:
This is a pleasant album full of forgettable cliched lyrics. No album has topped her first, This is the Life, but some of the more annoying bits of her interim albums are polished away here.

Final Grade: B-

Wild Pendulum by Trashcan Sinatras:
There are no amazing songs on this album, but it's like spending an afternoon with an old friend. The group has perfected the "chilling in a meadow" approach to songwriting and still sound great for a band that's 32 years old.

Final Grade: B

Different Days by the Charlatans UK:
I really liked Modern Nature but this follow-on album isn't nearly as good. The songs are a bit repetitive, especially the one that sounds like a remix of itself with the same two lines of lyrics that could easily have been expanded to be less irritating.

Final Grade: C+

Beta Male by Kumail Nanjiani:
This is a funny collection of mildly dirty, story-driven stand-up from the creator of The Big Sick (one joke will be familiar from the movie). There were a few unpolished edges in the live performance, but it kept us entertained during an I-95 South delay caused by a 6 car pile-up followed by an exploded manure truck.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Storm Day

There's no real update today because I spent yesterday recovering from the devastation of the almost-tornado-based lightning surge that decimated my computer zone. Maia helped figure out what needed replacement.

Internet was out for 19 hours and we had power brownouts for 3 hours on Tuesday morning. The $200 router, already weakened by a spilled Belgian beer in February, gave its last gasp and needed to be replaced. Also, the $200 Geforce GTX 960 peculiarly failed as well though I have no idea how it got surged but nothing around it died. It is now replaced with a Geforce GTX 1050 Ti.

Update: The laser printer also died.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

 

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