Best Of Blog

Sunday December 27, 2015

N.A.N.Y. 2016 Announcement

Since 2007 we have held an annual event that we call NANY (New Apps for the New Year), where we ask the coders who hang out on DonationCoder to create some new piece of free software and share it with the world on January 1st of the new year.

NANY is really the funnest thing we do on this site, and it's one of the few times we can all play together.  There are no winners or losers, it's simply a celebration of programming and creating new software and sharing it with the world.  You can target any operating system (desktop or mobile) or even make a web-based tool.  It can be a game, utility, large application, whatever.  DC takes makes no claim on your software, it's just an event to encourage you to share a creation with others.  Best of all, everyone who participates gets a free commemorative coffee mug.


Browse previous year entries here: http://www.donationc...ndex.php?board=210.0

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 27, 2015, 03:32:00 AM
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Saturday December 26, 2015

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

This christmas day we played two great board games that I would highly recommend to casual gamers.  The first was "Tokaido":

Tokaido is a very casual, stress-free, beautiful board game where players travel along a famous road in Japan and choose from a few basic activities.  The activities are things like eating at a restaurant, visiting a souvenir shop, etc.  It's a very relaxing experience but with real strategic elements, and it was enjoyed by a new gamer who was scared of complicated rules.  It's a very atmospheric experience and feels like traveling in a foreign land.  Perfect for non-gamer families.

I'm not sure it would hold up to dozens of plays, but highly recommended as a gaming experience for a non-boardgame family looking for a relaxing but engaging experience.  The art design is incredibly elegant.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 26, 2015, 08:58:00 AM
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Re: Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

The second board game we played this christmas day was "Evolution".
(note: we actually played with the FLIGHT expansion).

I have played this game before with my nieces (12 and 20), with great success.

This is a game where players evolve species and struggle to feed them (or each each other).

There are few games I've played that do as good a job of capturing an engaging theme as this one..  It is a wonderful experience that everyone I've played with is captured by and quickly embraces.
Very fun to see how your creatures struggle to compete with each other.  We had some great moments in the last game where a bird evolved to become a carnivore predator and killed off a bunch of us and then quickly found itself in the unfortunate position of having to canibalize its owners other species.  Great fun.

This is more of a gamer's game, with a higher learning curve, but one that is extremely engaging and thematic.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 26, 2015, 08:58:00 AM
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Wednesday December 23, 2015

Japanese (?) character readers - please tell me what my sake mug set says!

please help me solve this mystery.  i have a sake set and all around the main container and the little cups are writings.
i'd love to know what they say.  so many characters!!
i am assuming it's japanese but could be chinese -- correct me if i'm wrong!


Click here to read the full post and comment..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 23, 2015, 04:48:00 PM
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Thursday December 03, 2015

More Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

I'm going to try to add more small board/card game recommendations as we come up to the holidays, in case people are looking for stocking stuffers, etc..

Today's Micro-review is for the 2-player-only card game "Lost Cities":


Lost Cities is highly recommended on board game geek as a fairly casual and easy-to-learn, but strategically rich, two-player card game.

I found the recommendations were well warranted.  We learned it during the first game and were excited to replay it immediately after.  Gameplay is simple and fast.  We were both quite intrigued by the strategic decisions during the game and felt compelled to talk about them afterwards -- always the sign of a good game.

Gameplay is simple and fast.  I would definitely recommend this to couples looking for a different kind of card game to add to their collection.

Click to read more reviews/recommendations..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 03, 2015, 11:51:00 AM
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Saturday November 28, 2015

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Re: Hidden Netflix Marathon Gems to Watch Online

The Great British Baking Show

Very sweet british amateur baking competition -- everyone is nice to each other.

See also here for more info.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - November 28, 2015, 09:09:00 PM
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Tuesday November 24, 2015


A Cabinet of Infocom Curiosities

If you’re coming into this relatively new, or even if you need a little brush-up, let me state: Steve Meretzky has earned the title of “Game God” several times over, having been at the center of the early zenith of computer games in the 1980s and persisting, even thriving, in the years since. He continues to work in the industry, still doing game design, 35 years since he started out as a tester at what would become Infocom.

But more than that – besides writing a large amount of game classics in the Interactive Fiction realm, he also was an incredibly good historian and archivist, saving everything.


When we finally connected during production (as it turned out, we lived within 10 miles of each other), Steve showed me his collection of items he had from the days of Infocom (which spanned from roughly 1981 through to the company’s eventual closing and absorption by Activision in the early 1990s).

posted by Deozaan donate to Deozaan - November 24, 2015, 04:21:00 PM
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Friday November 06, 2015

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Blog Essay: Reconsider - Startups Don't Need to Disrupt the Universe

Long interesting essay ranting against the culture of startups that are trying to "disrupt" the universe, and in favor of a gentler slower approach.

Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It’s not enough to serve customers, they have to capture them. In fact, it’s hard to carry on a conversation with most startup people these days without getting inundated with odes to network effects and the valiance of deferring “monetization” until you find something everyone in the whole damn world wants to fixate their eyeballs on.


posted by mouser donate to mouser - November 06, 2015, 09:16:00 AM
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Friday October 30, 2015

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Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!

Disclaimer: mouser is currently bugging me in chat to post something here and bring this game to everyone attention, and since I am the ever-benevolent me, I decided to go along with it. (That, and it is a very damn good game!) :-*

Link to game website
Link to Steam Store page

To be precise, mouser was linking me to a certain review, but personally I'd like to talk all of you into not looking at it. Instead, I'm going to describe the game in as basic a way as possible; to do anything more would simply ruin the curve where you first meet the game, then explore its intricacies and finally smash your face into the wall trying to find the right way to tackle that particular bomb.... ah fine, I digress.

This game can generally be put into the 'party game' genre: you are supposed to play it with multiple people. These people can be in the same room, although I've personally played it with other people through skype, teamspeak and/or mumble.

At that, it is an asymmetric game that only requires one person to actually own the game; this person is the one who will be interacting with the bomb, the so-called defuser. There's bonus fun to be had if there's an Oculus involved, but it plays completely fine with the mouse or gamepad. They describe the bomb, decide which modules (which are basically mini-games that have no relation to eachother) need to be tackled, and then spend all their time followin the instructions of the experts in order to not die. Easy peasy!

All other players are the so-called experts, and all they have to go on is a bomb manual as well as a pen and some paper which they will need in order to write down notes. There can be one experts, there can be five; some bombs can actually be more difficult with more people, whereas others are simply too difficult with too few people. During the game, the defuser will describe things on the bombs, and the experts will use this information to as quickly as possible figure out the instructions that the defuser needs to follow in order to disarm the bomb. This is not as easy as it sounds: many of the instructions are confusing as hell, and the nature of some games preys on misunderstandings and other communication mishaps!

This game has a very good tutorial. Actually, it does not amount to much in a practical sense, but the levels themselves gradually increase the difficulty, both by introducing you to new modules step-by-step, but also by removing the room for error as well as lowering the time limit. You essentially teach yourself how to play the game! And because the game could end up too easy (hah), the game also throws some curve balls for the defuser to work with as the difficulty increases. Think of environmental distractions as well as special bomb modules that exist for no reason other than to increase the pressure on the defuser even more.

As a whole, everyone I know really enjoys playing this game. Sure, all the experts have is a manual and pen and paper, but the fact they do not know the bigger picture and are always low on time without being able to see the clock is what gets their adrenaline pumping something fierce. As for the defuser.. suffice to say that this game (ab)uses plenty of auditory cues in ways that even an suspenseful action movie would have trouble contending with.

I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. There will definitely be some fighting and laughter as a result of people screwing up, but that is a part of the game... although the finish line and 10 seconds left on the clock can make a final trivial mistake really hard to swallow!

(P.S.: I obviously own the game. If people want to experience it as an expert, I'll gladly play with them!)

posted by worstje donate to worstje - October 30, 2015, 09:40:00 AM
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Monday October 19, 2015

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Nirsoft's Antivirus Hall of Shame

Martin over at ghacks writes today about a recent essay posted on the Nirsoft site, discussing the issue of false positives, and ranking antivirus tools.

False positives are when an antivirus tool flags a program as being a possible malware when it really isn't.   They can be a huge pain for small developers, creating unnecessary fear among users.  And some antivirus companies are outrageously irresponsible about these kinds of detections, not explaining to the user the difference between a known malware and a complete half-assed guess about something they don't understand.

We've talked a LOT about this issue on the DonationCoder forum over the last 10 years, and have been bit by these lazy antivirus coders on more than one occasion.

Anyway, the nirsoft post goes into some detail ranking antivirus tools according to their false positives.

Full Nirsoft essay:

(see also the ghacks summary:

I do think it's worth repeating what I've said many times -- I don't expect the antivirus tools to be 100% right all the time -- I understand that sometimes they want to be better safe than sorry.  But the thing is, if you want to tell a user that you have found a file that you haven no experience with, and it has some patterns that remind you of something similar you may have seen before which might be a malware, but might not, fine, i have no problem with that -- TELL THE USER WHAT YOU KNOW AND TELL THEM HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION AND TELL THEM HOW TO LET YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE WRONG.

Just do not go throwing up a siren telling the user that malware was found in some program if you aren't damn sure it has been.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - October 19, 2015, 03:16:00 PM
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The Hostile Email Landscape

There was an interesting post on slashdot today about how we've entered an age where only the big players in email domain hosting can reliably expect their emails to be received and not discarded as untrustworthy.

While it's not *yet* impossible to just run a mail server from your local domain, it is becoming increasingly likely that if you do, some recipients will have your mail automatically filed in their spam folders or outright rejected.

To me this is just another consequence of the big players slowly exerting their dominance over the rest of us.. there is just no incentive for them not to do this, and every incentive for them to make it harder and harder for small players to coexist with them.

As we consolidate on just a few major email services, it becomes more and more difficult to launch your own mail server. From the article: "Email perfectly embodies the spirit of the internet: independent mail hosts exchanging messages, no host more or less important than any other. Joining the network is as easy as installing Sendmail and slapping on an MX record. At least, that used to be the case. If you were to launch a new mail server right now, many networks would simply refuse to speak to you. The problem: reputation. ... Earlier this year I moved my personal email from Google Apps to a self-hosted server, with hopes of launching a paid mail service à la Fastmail on the same infrastructure. ... I had no issues sending to other servers running Postfix or Exim; SpamAssassin happily gave me a 0.0 score, but most big services and corporate mail servers were rejecting my mail, or flagging it as spam: accepted my email, but discarded it. GMail flagged me as spam. MimeCast put my mail into a perpetual greylist. Corporate networks using Microsoft's Online Exchange Protection bounced my mail."


posted by mouser donate to mouser - October 19, 2015, 01:02:00 PM
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Saturday October 17, 2015

Patch your Flash! Version (October 16, 2015)

Adobe has released an update to patch a critical vulnerability, details in the link.

You can check your current version here and update if necessary.

• Online Update:
• Offline Update:

posted by lanux128 donate to lanux128 - October 17, 2015, 09:29:00 AM
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Tuesday October 13, 2015

Samorost 3 web adventure game announced

One of the very first web (flash) games mentioned on the DC forum was Samorost, a beautiful, charming, captivating, unusual, simple point-and-click adventure filled with strange alien creatures to interact with.

They've just announced Samorost 3 is coming out this year and it looks lovely:


posted by mouser donate to mouser - October 13, 2015, 10:18:00 AM
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