Sunday, June 17, 2007

Houston Gamers: I learn another two new games

Tonight I tried out one of Kevin Nunn's prototypes with Kevin H., and after that Kevin H. brought out A Very Long German-Sounding-Title Deduction Game.

The prototype was interesting, and I suggested a few things to Kevin that sounded fun but unworkable. I've seen several of his prototypes go from meh to way-cool, so it's always interesting to get in on the ground floor.

The deduction game players were Kevin H, James Spurney, Amy Pike, Ed, Bill, and I. It's a secret-teams game where the object is to get certain cards in the hands of the partnership and declare victory, without incorrectly identifying any team members. It went on slightly too long for me, and I think the powers are a little unbalanced, but I'd still play it again.

Also, I bought 3 games from Ray Mulford, as he is selling some of his 1500-game collection to reclaim some space.

Thursday night: favorites

One of Lee's co-workers joined RJ, Chris, Tim, and I for a round of Reiner Knizia's Money, and a round of Transamerica. She had to split due to inclement weather, but the 4 of us decided to break out Puerto Rico. It was a good game, and finished out with the scores relatively even at 30-34-36-37 or so. I won on a point of shipping, thanks to a fairly early wharf. Chris and I both had factories turning out 3 doubloons per production phase.

Chris didn't have to work the next day, so he and I played a quick game of Attika. We set up for a second session, but Alex needed me to tuck her in, so we cut the second game short.

This was a great night, with lots of favorite games hitting the table for me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Miscellaneous catch-up

Anyway, I ended up playing 2 games of Power Grid with Larry in the previous week that somehow didn't get blogged about, plus a game of Blue Moon City with Chris, RJ, and Tim.

2-player Power Grid is different - it feels more mechanical somehow. I still enjoy it, and have been doing well at it. We played the western US side of the normal map, then a couple days later played the eastern side of the US. Two nearly-completely-different games resulted, mostly from the huge swing in building costs.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ubuntu Server install failed, on to Debian Minimal

Alas, the Ubuntu Server 7.04 install failed. Reading my instructions, I think my server-to-be has nowhere near the memory to run it. I tried twice with a differently-sized swap file the second time, and it failed at a different place.

Tonight's run is a Debian minimal-components install CD.

Results: installer completed on bare-minimum run. Can't resolve DHCP, can't find repositories using apt-get.

Anyway, slightly better than nothing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nerd blogging

I have a copy of Ubuntu Server installing right now on the ancient, ancient Compaq. I have been really lax about trying to do something with it.

So, if it works, I'll have a LAMP (Linux, Apache, mySQL, PHP) server to serve up pages for the domain names I bought. If it doesn't work, well, I know it's even more worthless than I thought it was, and I can throw it away.

Monday, June 04, 2007

How to tell if your medical claims website sucks

  • It requires a login to download claim forms
  • The login failure requires you to email or call support
  • The login message to email or call support doesn't include the email address or phone number,
  • You email them but get no immediate response - did the email die? Did it succeed? Who knows?
  • You get the phone number you need out of a totally-unrelated PDF on the website
  • The main page is written for investors and the salespeople trying to flog the system
  • The website violates basic usability guidelines in every way and generally makes you so angry you can't even blog about boardgames
  • The customer support rep on the phone can't email the form. She has to fax it (!!)

Good work, Acclaris! You have constructed a sucky medical and dependent care reimbursement website. Your children are fat, yet also bad at video games.

Why can't I get the form I need via email? Is it because you hate America? You know, I could email this rant to your CEO using the information on the website more easily than I could ask for claims support via email. That's pathetic.

Your "Contact Us" page contains only the "sales" email. That doesn't make me want to buy your service. Seeing that is exactly when I decided to write this post. I have given you all the information needed to fix your website.

When you spend money on website development, it actually makes you money by reducing those expensive, irritating phone transactions. Fortunately, I'll be on a different system soon, and you can go on faxing (!!) your claim forms to angry, angry people who could have just downloaded the form from your website... presuming it didn't suck.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Anniversary Trip

We spent a couple days out at the Kasper House Bed & Breakfast in Shiner, TX. I did partake of two bottles of Shiner 98 while we were at a steak house.

The Shiner Public Library is only a block away, and they graciously allowed us to borrow two DVDs for a day. Lee enjoyed Cars, and I enjoyed Madagascar and pretty much hated Cars with every fiber of my being.

Other than that, we played San Juan, Wyatt Earp, and 3 games of Merchant of Venus. It's my favorite chit-driven sci-fi randomized-start pick-up-and-deliver boardgame ever, ha ha. As a 2-player, it's actually fairly fast, lasting about 60-90 minutes. We have an excellent sorting system for the goods, people, IOU, factory deeds, and so on, so once the initial setup is complete, it's easy to jump in and play again.

Merchant of Venus used to run about $20 on Ebay, but word finally got out about it a few years ago, and now it routinely fetches $50 or more.

Speaking of Ebay, I just got outbid on another copy of Outpost. Just for fun, I go ahead and bid $75 on every copy that comes up. I've never been outbid in less than a day. I know Tom Lehmann, one of the two designers of Outpost, has a new game that's just been released called Phoenicia, with some elements of Outpost, yet with a shorter play time, and easier record-keeping.

[As an aside, I sent Tom an email recently and confirmed that his co-designer Jim Hlavaty owns the rights to Outpost. Tom was really nice and didn't even say "Hey, Todd, I'm releasing Phoenicia this month, and if you're a big Outpost fan, you should check it out." I'll say it here for him, instead.]