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Monday May 02, 2016

Re: Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

Well the time has come at last for me to post about: AGRICOLA.

Agricola was one of the first board games I bought about 9 years ago when I was getting into the hobby, based on the glowing reviews it was getting on hardcore board game discussion sites.

I tried playing it once and completely gave up on the game in disgust and sold it.  The complexity and sheer number of things to figure out, as well as the fiddly scoring left a bad taste in my mouth.

Skip ahead a few years, and with some more experience with heavier/euro board games, I felt an unexplained itch to try it again, and after a more determined effort to learn the rules I found that I became an Agricola fan, and it's become one of my favorite modern board games.

What makes Agricola such a special game?

Agricola has been called a "farming simulator" and that's an apt description.  More than any other game I have it feels like a true sandbox simulation, where components and actions interact and unfold over time creating dynamics that are sometimes hard to predict and control, but always with a satisfying level of stress and amusement.  Even if you have no interest in farming, there is something utterly compelling about the theme and the setting.  It's a hard scrabble existence as a farmer, and resources are always in short supply.  Do you try to make it growing grains and vegetables?  Or specialize in sheep, boar, cattle?  Or focus on growing a big family and expanding your house into a mansion.  Everything takes work and planning and you never quite have time to do everything you want.  It's a worker placement game, which means that you'll have to constantly adapt your strategy to be different from your playmates.


I taught it to a group of people yesterday and they loved it.  In fact I highly recommend you find someone who can teach it to you rather than try to learn it from the rulebook, which can be a very frustrating experience. I also highly recommend the "Farmers of the Moor" expansion, which adds horses and the need to heat your house, which helps balance things out.

This is definitely NOT a casual board game -- it can take quite a while to play and requires some serious rule learning -- but I do highly recommend it.  It can also be played solo -- which is never hugely fun, but i'd say it was one of the very few board games that actually can be enjoyable to play solo.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - May 02, 2016, 08:49:00 AM
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Saturday April 30, 2016

jayisgames.png - longtime favorite casual games review website - calls it quits

From 2005 to 2016 there have been over 100 posts on this forum referring to the casual flash game review site
During the heyday of casual flash games -- before mobile phones took off like a rocket and flash fell out of favor - JayIsGames was one of the very best places to discover new fun games playable in the browser.
They will be missed  :(

Here's the announcement:

posted by mouser donate to mouser - April 30, 2016, 12:33:00 PM
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Monday April 04, 2016

Neat little video on how youtube generates video ids and why

Neat little video on the video url ids that youtube uses, with side discussions on base64 and why not to use incremental numbering for online url ids:


posted by mouser donate to mouser - April 04, 2016, 01:09:00 PM
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Saturday April 02, 2016

DonationCoder board game night Saturday April 9th at 5pm, in Champaign IL

Anyone in the area is welcome to join us for board game night at my house (in Champaign, IL) on Saturday, April 9th starting at 5pm. [won't technically be many DC folks but that doesn't matter, you are still welcome.]

I will be running a 10k in the morning nearby ( -- if you are interested in participating in that as well i'd be happy to give you a lift from my house.

There will be food and snacks.  Message me for directions.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - April 02, 2016, 05:43:00 PM
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Thursday March 24, 2016

Samarost 3 - Beautiful charming computer game - is out today

One of the first games ever discussed on this forum, back in 2005, was Samarost -- a truly beautiful, different, charming, relaxing, hand-animated point-and-click adventure game about a little fellow who traveled in space.

Samarost 3 became available today and it looks like it's going to be another charmer.

Rock Paper Shotgun says: "Samorost 3 is so bursting with life, so lovingly crafted, that it’s impossible not to adore. I cannot think of a game whose soundtrack comes close to this, and few that are so pretty. Gnome’s yelps of delight, or enthusiastic dances, or the way he sometimes says, “Hop!” when he jumps, are idiotically adorable. It’s so alive, so intricate, and so graceful. I wonder if the difficulty will see it be a less celebrated game than the last two, but it really is a thing of beauty."

Samarost really does feel different than most of the point and click games you see on the internet.. it feels like you are experiencing a game from a different culture.. or a different planet..  I can't wait to try it.

Discuss now..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - March 24, 2016, 05:42:00 PM
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Friday March 11, 2016

Board Game Review - Pandemic Legacy - The Best Board Game Experience I Have Ever Had

Pandemic Legacy: My Favorite Board Game Experience Ever


Pandemic was a groundbreaking cooperative board game that was released in 2008.  Players work together to cure diseases that are spreading around the globe.  It's a wonderful game, and ushered in the modern era of cooperative board games.

The game has seen many expansions, but in late 2015, the creator of Pandemic released a very different twist on the game called Pandemic Legacy.

The "Legacy" term was first used in a game called Risk Legacy (2011), where new rules and pieces are unveiled (and old ones destroyed) as you play a series of games.  Stickers or writing is applied to the board as you win or lose, etc.  It was quite a radical idea.

Last week I had the opportunity to play 7 games of Pandemic Legacy with a good friend -- half the campaign.

It was the most compelling board game experience I have ever had.  The fact that each game was a continuation of the next, with true consequences to the outcomes, gave the entire experience a completely different weight.  Decisions suddenly mattered more than in a normal board game.  Having new surprises after every game was amazing.  My heart was literally racing and i had to get out of my seat often out of nervousness.  I've never taken as much care in weighing my options in a board game.

It was, for a board gamer like me, heaven -- the best board game experience I have ever had.

This is not a game for casual gamers -- but for anyone who is looking to have a unique board game experience that spans a dozen games -- who loves thematic elements, I cannot recommend Pandemic Legacy any more highly.  If this is the future of board games we are in for some amazing times.

10 of 10.

More on Pandemic Legacy at board game geek: https://boardgamegee...emic-legacy-season-1

posted by mouser donate to mouser - March 11, 2016, 06:11:00 AM
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Sunday February 14, 2016

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Make a custom 20 key keypad for $10

Nice little tutorial on how you can make a custom usb keypad with 20 custom keys to do whatever you want for $10.

The trick is to use a generic cheap external usb numpad but then use some clever software that can be told to only respond to certain keys pressed on a certain keyboard.

Neat stuff.


Friday February 12, 2016

Thursday February 11, 2016

Re: More good web comics you've discovered

This series is so cute, tessandlion, Important Cat Jobs:
Screenshot - 2_11_2016 , 9_34_54 AM.png

posted by mouser donate to mouser - February 11, 2016, 09:36:00 AM
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Tuesday February 09, 2016

Amazon Lumberyard - free game engine integrated with AWS and Twitch

Amazon Lumberyard is a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine for you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch.

By starting game projects with Lumberyard, you can spend more of your time creating great gameplay and building communities of fans, and less time on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building a game engine and managing server infrastructure.

How did they develop a AAA game engine out of nowhere? Well... they cheated a little. :)

Lumberyard's core engine technology is based on Crytek's CryEngine. Amazon licensed the German studio's engine and got "full, unencumbered access to the technology" to build upon, says Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games.

However, Lumberyard represents a branch of that tech, and the company is replacing or upgrading many of CryEngine's systems. Future versions of CryEngine and Lumberyard will continue to diverge.


At public beta launch, Lumberyard already has components that are not based on CryEngine. Aside from adding the AWS SDK to the engine -- allowing for native C++ access to its services -- Amazon has also brought in new low-latency networking code based on what Double Helix, the Southern California studio it acquired in 2014, developed for Xbox One fighting game Killer Instinct.

posted by Deozaan donate to Deozaan - February 09, 2016, 06:16:00 PM
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Monday January 25, 2016

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MakeUseOf recommends 3 price comparison browser extensions

Three browser extensions are recommended in this short article.

I haven't checked them out yet -- personally I do most of my shopping on and I have been very happy with CamelCamelCamel for tracking prices there.

The first method is to compare the price between two stores immediately. The second way is to compare the price right now with the price at a different time. After all, the price you see right now may not be the best possible price for a product at any given time. Heck, if an item is expected to go on sale in a week, it makes sense to wait for the discount. The third and final way is to compare a new item’s price against a used one.


While we're on the subject, you know what would be nice? A way to filter out commercial high-volume sellers from ebay search results...

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 25, 2016, 08:14:00 AM
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Saturday January 23, 2016

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ghacks interviews freewaregenius

Martin over at has a sweet interview with Samer, who runs/ran -- two great freeware sites that have always been supportive of DonationCoder:

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 23, 2016, 06:07:00 AM
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Sunday January 03, 2016


NANY 2016 Roundup

For the last 10 years on the site we run a friendly event called "NANY" (New Apps for the New Year), where invite forum visitors to release a new free program on the first of the new year, to celebrate the new year.
We typically get a variety of entries -- some are genuinely useful tools designed to be shared widely, and some are programming exercises for new users.

This year was a fairly low-key affair and we didn't promote the event outside of the forum -- but we still got some fun entries.  Here's a roundup of the submissions:

These are in no particular order, but I'll start with the three utilities I released:

Automatic Screenshotter
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42090.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...enshotter/index.html
as_Screenshot - 12_24_2015 , 11_40_31 PM.png
What it does:
Automatic Screenshotter runs in the background grabbing screenshots of desktop or active window at predefined intervals, and keeping the last N copies, with some hopefully smart options to avoid duplicates, add exceptions, etc. The intention is to be a fairly lightweight primitive "backup" tool, like an airplane black box, so that in a case of last resort (app or system crash) you can go back and see what was on your screen at a certain time in the past.
Key features:
  • It's made to run in the background, taking screenshots of either the currently active foreground window, or the entire desktop.
  • You can configure how often the screenshots are taken, and how they are named.  The naming can include putting them into subdirectories and can be based on the data,time, and application name.
  • It will automatically prune older screenshots based on limits you set regarding screenshot age, # screenshots to keep, and total file space you want to use.
  • It will also try to be smart about avoiding saving multiple screenshots when the window (desktop) contents don't actually change, with some configurable tolerances, to minimize disk space used.
  • It can also be told about certain applications to never capture, or alternatively a small list of applications that it should only ever capture.
  • It can be configured to ignore capture when your pc has been idle for a certain amount of time, or when screensaver is running, or when full-screen games are running.
  • You can also manually trigger a capture with a hotkey.
  • You can also toggle capturing on-and-off easily from system tray menu.
  • Screenshots are saved as standard png files.

Mousers Media Browser
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42114.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...iaBrowser/index.html
Screenshot - 12_28_2015 , 9_44_59 PM.png Screenshot - 12_28_2015 , 6_08_12 PM.png Screenshot - 12_28_2015 , 6_07_17 PM.png
What it does:
Mouser's Media Browser is a small utility for browsing directories containing images.  
Key features:
  • Lots of viewing modes to find the one that works best for you.
  • Option to show recursive contents of folder tree (with search filtering and sorting)
  • There are excellent powerful free image viewers/browsers (irfanview, xnview, etc.), and it would be foolish to try to compete with these.  My aim here is to make a more streamlined, focus helper utility.
  • It was designed to be bundled with other programs to provide a nice way to browse image directories.

Lucid Dream Inducer
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42140.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...amInducer/index.html
What it does:
Lucid Dream Inducer is at core a simple little utility to play a customizeable chime and voice file in the middle of the night to try to nudge you into Lucid Dreaming. The basic idea is that you would enable it when you head to sleep, and some hours later it will play some chimes to semi-wake you  and then a voice recording to remind you to try to be aware that you are dreaming. There are options to let you easily choose which chimes and voice messages to (randomly) play at what volume. I include a few but really you should make your own. You can choose how long after you head to sleep the first episode should occur, and then the number and delay between subsequent episodes.
Key features:
  • Nice checklist of chimes and messages you want the program to randomly choose from.
  • Easy to add your own message and chime files.
  • Configure random element to the timing of messages to avoid complete predictability; configure primary and secondary schedules.
  • Customize volumes of chimes and messages.
  • Log helps you identify which sounds worked for you after the fact.

Text Overlay Tool
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=41759.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
This app creates a transparent window that stays on screen on top of other windows and displays the contents of any text file.  If it detects markdown, it will display it formatted in markdown.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42136.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
This app sits in the System Tray, and tries to detect newly installed applications that put an icon in the system tray. When detected, it sets that to always show, stores the application name in a list, and waits for the next application to be added.  It was written to solve an extremely annoying and confusing behavior in recent versions of MS windows, where application system tray icons are hidden by default, and must be manually enabled, which can easily lead to applications running in the background without being noticed by the user.  It is a complicated process to circumvent, and this program attempts to do just that.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42128.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Tiny, tray-based utility that gives you the option to shutdown, restart, switch user, log off, lock, sleep, or hibernate your computer.  I use Microsoft's Remote Desktop (RDP) a lot for the various computers and VMs that I deal with.  RDP works great but has one drawback and that is, for whatever reason Microsoft has, the normal shutdown and reboot commands are missing from the Start Menu when you're working on a computer remotely.  Yes, you can use the shutdown command via the commandline or you can click the taskbar and press Alt-F4, etc, but not everybody is comfortable using the commandline or remembers that hotkey.  Hence, this simple utility.

QuickJump 2016
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42086.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
QuickJump 2016 is a FREE, fast, and easy file/program launcher. It can be used 2 ways, put QuickJump2016.exe in any folder and run it. It will list all files and folders in a menu so you can just click and it will open/run. Or you can put QuickJump2016.exe in a folder and create shortcuts to it passing a path to files or shortcuts. It will list all of the files in that path. See QJ Readme.txt for more info.

Move Aside Please
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42131.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Many times we need to keep a small window of a program always on top of the desktop screen. This program may show network connection, mail status, auto updating messages etc. Now when we are working on some full screen program like editor, browser etc., this small window block the view of the part of the editor or browser. Instead of closing or removing the small window,  this tool moves it aside from view when you hover the mouse cursor on it. This way you can easily view the blocked part of the editor or browser.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42088.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
txtproc is a text processing tool, similar to my TIMU. It currently comes without a GUI though, i.e. it is just a command line tool at the moment. It is a completely new implementation. Compared to TIMU, its most interesting features are:
  • It works on Linux as well as Windows (and probably OS X as well)
  • It can be used in a pipeline to do multiple text manipulations in a row
  • It has a better understanding of text. It knows words and sentences. E.g. "hello,world" are two words in txtproc, but only one in TIMU.
  • It has most of TIMU's text processing functions, some new one's which TIMU doesn't have, and even one or two which were requested for TIMU but I never added.

Minecraft Places
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42132.0
Official web page and download: see link above
What it does:
Store the coordinates of places you visit in Minecraft in a searchable database to find your way back to your base, a dungeon, a stronghold, and/or other places of your interest.
  • Portable enabled.
  • Keep notes about each place.
  • You may also edit/copy a place and change what is needed.
  • You may also delete places you no longer need.
  • Search the places. (Hint: Right click search bar for search type.)

wjamoe's 2016 FARR alias collection
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42116.0
What it does:
I asked wjamoe to collect his recent aliases for Find and Run Robot and collect them as a kind of meta-NANY submission.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42079.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Iconus is a simple icon viewer.
  • Designed to be Quick and Easy
  • View icons at 16x16 or 32x32
  • Easily and quickly switch between libraries
  • Common Libs menu:  Keep a library of often used icon libraries
  • History List: Keep history of viewed libraries
  • Open the library in your favourite icon library editor
  • Open icon libraries in Iconus via commandline, drag-n-drop, file-browse
  • Get detailed information on each icon in the library
  • Easily extract any icon in the library
  • Easily fetch the icon's ID

win resize keys
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42018.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Lets you resize you window for multiple side by side monitors using only keyboard short cuts.
win resize visual.png

PINCode Grapher
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=41999.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Helps you remember your PIN with the help of a chart.

Quick Bible Command Line Utility
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42101.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Let's you search for bible verses.  Works on windows/linux/mac but requires PHP with the pdo_sqlite extension installed.

Skully the Training Virus
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42138.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
This is completely benign "Training Virus" that was written to be used during a "Human Firewall" Security Training program. Its primary purpose is to scare the shit out on the user - after they have engaged in some foolish behavior - and then it displays a series of text segments that give a rough outline of what they just did wrong. It will not cause any actual harm to the pc.

YouTube Downloader Shell
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42124.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
This is a gui wrapper around the well known "youtube-dl" tool (a command-line program to download videos from and a few more sites).

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 03, 2016, 01:16:00 AM
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