Saturday, October 31

GeoLogTag: Geotag With Any Camera for $5 (+ iPhone)

Today Cait and I wandered around Acadia National Park with our SLR (a D50 with Nikon’s 18–200mm VR, both highly recommended, though the D50 has been effectively replaced by the D40). I wanted to geotag the photos (maps on computers are fun) but, alas, the D50 does not have GPS.

The iPhone does though, so I was able to use a nifty app called GeoLogTag [iTunes, $5] to do the tagging for me.

Thursday, October 29

Songs I Like in Languages I Don’t Understand

I made this playlist a few weeks ago and stuck it in my sidebar, but since I’m starting a little series I thought I’d call it out in a post.

Here are five songs I like in languages I don’t understand:

Boats and Being on Them

The first track from The Darwin Song Project, “Trust in the Rolling Ocean,” has been running through my head the past few days. It’s inspired me to put together a quick playlist of some of my favorite songs about boats and, in particular, being on them:

Monday, October 12

Pizza Blog!

Found this on my door. Glad to see them on Blogger (, but maybe I should let them know about our free custom domain hosting.

Also, if you're in Porter Square and like fancy weird pizza, check them out.  

Saturday, October 10

Scavenger Hunt in the Graveyard

Getting Board-Gamey with Board Games #3: Play Against the Machine

For the first and second parts of this mini-series I talked about playing board games mostly with Cait. Today I want to cover some iPhone and computer versions of board games that have a single player mode against an AI. (Useful for when Cait is blogging.)

The iPhone game I’ve been enjoying the most is Renier Knizia’s Robot Master [iTunes, $0.99]. As a board game I can see how it might give limited enjoyment (its BGG rating is 6.47), but as a solitaire iPhone game it’s tremendous.

In Robot Master, you’re given tiles one at a time and must place them on a 5×5 grid. The tiles are valued between 0 and 5 points, and your score at the end is (Knizia-style) the lowest of all of the row and column sums. Two of the same value tile along the same row or tile scores 10× the tile’s value — lousy for 0 or 1, but pretty valuable for 4 and 5. Three of the same tile in a row or a column scores as 100 points, which is a great use of those low-value tiles.

The “deck” has six of each value, so in each game a random eleven tiles won’t be seen. This adds a good amount of tension as you get down to the last few empty squares and hope that you’ll draw that one 4 you need to go from 11 to 57.

Overall, trying to place the tiles to maximize their values across two axis — while not knowing what will come next — makes for a great game. It plays quickly (I can usually do several rounds during a subway commute) and is perfectly suited for the iPhone’s touch interface.

Against the computer, one player takes the rows and the other the columns. I haven’t actually given this mode a shot because going for high scores on solitaire has been so much fun.

Wednesday, October 7

By the Tank

Having an awkward meal at Legal's. It's hard to eat while being stared at by fish.

Tuesday, October 6

Getting Board-Gamey with Board Games #2: More Board Games!

Yesterday I posted a bit in depth about some of the games that Cait and I have been playing recently. Those aren’t the only ones that hit the table, though. Here are some others:
  • Lost Cities. Nostalgia! One of our first games, from back in San Jose. We brought it back out for the memories, even though we don’t like it as much as…
  • Battle Line. More of the aggravating (in a good way) “should I play now or wait” than Lost Cities, plus more in-depth, tactical play.
  • Ticket to Ride: Switzerland. An expansion specifically for two or three players, but we’d rather play the USA map and 1910’s Big Cities.
  • Mystery Rummy: Jekyll & Hyde. Nothing exciting, probably a solid 6 on the BGG ratings scale. The Jekyll / Hyde mechanic is a clever addition to Rummy.
  • Agricola. An old favorite. Still pretty. I seem score lower each game, though, I think from trying to over-optimize.
  • 1960: The Making of the President. This one is growing on us as we get a feel for how it plays out. Unfortunately it’s not practical to track the electoral college numbers during the game. It is fun to run a pro–Civil Rights campaign in the Northeast as Nixon, however.
  • Wits & Wagers. Go-to party game. This is usually the first (and inevitably the second) game I bring out whenever there are 5 or more people around.
  • Wise and Otherwise. Brilliant Dictionary-alike game if the crowd is right. (It was.)
Thanks for reading! Next post: boardgames against the computer (or iPhone, a type of computer).

Getting Board-Gamey with Board Games #1: Board Games!

I’ve gotten back on a board games kick in the past few weeks, and it looks like I have a few topics, so I can do another mini-series. This one won’t particularly help you lose weight, unless you run to the game store for board games and then run home after you’ve purchased some. I recommend this course of action.

We spent some time with the 2009 Spiel des Jahres winner, Dominion. It plays like a simple CCG (but no booster packs to buy… almost), with the innovative mechanic that you draft cards into your deck as you play. Since your score is based on the value of the treasure cards in your deck at the end of the game, but those treasure cards are deadweight in your hand when you draw them, there’s a tension as you balance the ratio of action cards with scoring cards. Fun with probability was had by all.