Best Of Blog

Tuesday August 09, 2016

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Anyone attending GenCon (board game convention) Aug 4-7 in Indiana?

Because it's so close to me, it looks like I will be attending GenCon, the large board game convention, on Aug 4-7 in Indiana.
If any other DonationCoder members are going, send me a message so we can meet up to say hello and play a game or two.

Click here to read my impressions of Gencon 2016

posted by mouser donate to mouser - August 09, 2016, 06:30:45 PM
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Wednesday July 27, 2016

Ghacks looks at software giveaway sites

Ghacks has an interesting roundup of software free giveaway sites today, with a concise comparison chart:

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posted by mouser donate to mouser - July 27, 2016, 01:30:00 PM
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Thursday July 21, 2016

Screenshot Captor #1 at TechRadar's Article on Best Screen Capture Software 2016

Very nice write up at TechRadar today for Screenshot Captor:

Screenshot Captor seems to have ideas above its station somewhat. Far from just being a screenshot app - and, rest easy, it does do that - it'll grab images from your webcam, and it even includes a full suite of scanning tools to make sure your documents look their best.

But those advanced features don't stop there. Ever wanted to capture the contents of a scrolling window? It'll do that automatically, and even trim the margins for you. Need to capture a screen region of a fixed size? Piece of cake. Splicing areas out of screenshots, annotating, interfacing with advanced image editors, blurring areas you don't want seen? It's all here.

Download Screenshot Captor freeIf there's a downside, Screenshot Captor is a little esoteric in terms of its general interface, but the important bits are all well explained and easy to grasp. It's donationware, so while it's free to use, make sure you chip a little bit into the pot if Screenshot Captor is something you use regularly.

Very nice!

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posted by mouser donate to mouser - July 21, 2016, 01:26:00 PM
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Thursday June 30, 2016

Hadean Lands Text Adventure Game

Read a couple of very intriguing blog posts today about this (pure) text adventure game called Hadean:

"The best video game I played last year is a science-fiction thriller about alchemy, and it has no graphics or sound effects"

"Hadean Lands is a game of alchemy and exploration, with an intricate structure of interlinked puzzles. Every ritual you learn adds a new ability to your toolkit. But every ritual requires a different combination of ingredients, and some ingredients are in desperately short supply."

"Hadean Lands offers a highly consistent and fair puzzle system in which the basic rules of the universe never change, but where the player has to learn to think at a higher and higher level. At the outset, you’re worrying about how to get a single ingredient for a particular ritual. By the endgame, you’re thinking about how to chain together all the different rituals you know and how to manage scarce ingredients so that you can accomplish hard tasks before you need to reset."

If you have a significant other, or a child or parent that might be willing to join you for extended puzzle-solving, few experiences are as satisfying to team up on as a good text adventure..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - June 30, 2016, 05:08:00 AM
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Friday May 13, 2016

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Long read: An Interview with Matt Haughey, Founder of MetaFilter

Interesting read about a well known community site that caught the wave of google ads and then saw it decline overnight..

MetaFilter, started in the late ’90s as one of the original group blogs, grew into a small but active community site. When AdSense came out in 2003, it suddenly started accruing revenue. By 2005, Matt was making double his salary and was able to quit his day job to focus on MetaFilter full-time.

In 2012, a reconfiguration in how Google ranked pages caused MetaFilter’s revenues to drop overnight. During the next few years, Matt struggled to keep MetaFilter afloat. Just over a year ago, Matt stepped back from his day-to-day role. caught up with him last week to check in on how things have been going.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - May 13, 2016, 10:11:00 AM
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Thursday May 12, 2016

Screenshot - 5_12_2016 , 2_09_08 PM.png 9 Cleanest & Safest Websites to Download Free Software for Windows - DonationCoder makes the list!

DonationCoder was listed on a page on 9 cleanest and safest websites to download free software for windows!  :Thmbsup:

As the author points out, we aren't a general repository and only host our own software -- which makes it even more of an honor that we were listed.  :up: :up: :up:

posted by mouser donate to mouser - May 12, 2016, 02:11:00 PM
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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.


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