Thank-you email from a friend

Apologies for the long break, but it’s been rather busy both onside and outside the workplace.

Today I got an email from a fan, and (no surprise) this means a lot to me particularly in what’s been a difficult year for all of us. This fan is clearly keen to improve his game, and I already like his engaging writing style.

A thank you email from a friend

He mentions “Version 1607” of Windows 10 Spider Solitaire. I am not aware of this version. I always thought Windows 10 SS meant the game that is part of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and unfortunately, I am not computer-literate enough to work out what version number this is. All I can do is post a screen-dump and ask if someone else can verify if this is indeed Version 1607 (and if not, then where do I get it?)

What I do know is I have another reason to revive this blog, so readers can expect to see regular updates – and there might be an odd video or two on Youtube as well 😊

If you are keen to improve your game, don’t be afraid to drop a comment in one of my posts.

Another Spider Solitaire Video

Last week I added my third video – this time about Empty Columns. And I have a <sarcasm> whopping </sarcasm> 13 views at last count.

Of course the real motivation for this vid is revenge on one of my Facebook friends for a really lame prank. This kind of thing should have been stamped out many years ago, but I can’t give too much away. You just have to watch the video here and judge for yourself.

Unfortunately there’s a lot going on at the moment so I won’t have time to update the blog as much as I used to. Recently I solved an extremely difficult Sudoku puzzle on Puzzling Stack Exchange and I’m also into inventing my own Sudoku puzzles. And I still have a full time job that has nothing to do with mathematical games or puzzles …

Spider Solitaire videos on YouTube

I have now started a new project: Spider Solitaire videos on YouTube with the aim of teaching other players how to play well at Four-Suit Spider Solitaire sans boop. So far I have two vids, an introduction to the rules and a lesson on guaranteed minimum turnovers.

This is also an opportunity for me to “upskill” e.g. how to use OBS Studio or how to prepare material for lessons etc. I’ve learnt quite a bit after two videos – for instance listening to my own voice just downright 83,85,67,75,83 etc. With the pandemic not going away any time soon, I thought it was just as well to learn something new – who knows, my mad skillz might come in handy one day.

Unfortunately this means the silly stories you all know and love will be put on hold temporarily, but hopefully I can compensate with even cornier jokes. I can’t claim to be raking in the views just yet, so my modest goal is to achieve at least the square root of the number of videos for Aad Van Der Wetering’s Pi Sudoku – apparently you can write the first 20 decimals of pi in an approximate circle inside a 9×9 grid, add in a King constraint (no two equal digits diagonally adjacent) and voila – there is a unique solution! This video is sitting pretty at 301,405 views so I need 549.0036429751628 views (at the time of writing) and I’m only up to 45 views for both videos combined. So if you have plenty of spare time on your hands, haven’t seen my vids yet and are desperately keen to improve your Spider Solitaire game then you know what to do 🙂

WordPress new editor

On June 1, the good folk at WordPress retired their old editor and transitioned to the new one. Not sure how many writers voted for this but if that’s the sixth level of Jumanji in 2020 then I’m not complaining.

Bad jokes aside, we have over 100 content blocks for publishing virtually any post, wider collection of block patterns, built in templates, blah blah blah blah … okay can’t say I’ve read the new specs in detail. So I’ll try to figure things out without reading the instructions … so we can align an image to the centre as usual. If you align an image to the left or right then you have surrounding text alongside it, and there are also options of wide width and full width. Give me a minute to work out what all of them do. And I think I will cheat by allowing myself to click 85,78,68,79 or Ctrl-Z whenever I do something and don’t like the results! Or alternatively I might throw my hands in the air and shout 65,72,72 70,85,67,75 73,84 it’s too hard.

Somebody mentioned changes like:

  • Like buttons appearing at the bottom of each comment
  • Videos within tweets don’t work.
  • The sidebar with the subscription function, search function, and other stuff is still there; it’s just at the bottom of the page or of the post.

Unfortunately I can’t add any meaningful comments. For one thing like buttons appearing at the bottom of each comment are irrelevant, since I very rarely get comments even for silly short stories. There seem to be other features such as “stick to the top of the blog” or “pending review” and I’m trying to figure out what’s the point of all this 83,72,73,84?

I do agree with the sentiment that WordPress likes to change the rules at the last minute, especially when the number of days between today and 1st of January 1970 is a power of a prime number and the moon is three quarters full. Perhaps someone who is more clever than I can work out the exact detailed programmatic specificity (to borrow a phrase from Kevin Rudd). One thing I noticed is that when I wanna stick a picture inside a post I often (but not always) need to save the picture as a temporary image, but the new editor seems to have solved this problem(*). Of course my sample size is very small, so I don’t wanna jinx it too much 😊

(*) but if you wanna cut and paste text and images then it won’t work. You have to do them separately.

What are your thoughts about the new editor?

The big 104

Hooray! I reached my 104th post in my Spider Solitaire blog after starting in May last year. Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t choose a nice round number like 100 instead of 104. Here’s a hint: Spider Solitaire is played with two decks. Each deck contains 13 ranks and 4 suits. I’ll let you do the math 😊

This blog started after I “busted” a rogue Spider Solitaire server that punished a player who accumulated too many wins. I then wrote a short story trilogy to explain my findings in language accessible to the layman and the rest, if you pardon the cliché, is history.

I try to post at least once a week. Throw in a couple of silly stories per month, plus a walkthrough of a game of Spider Solitaire with one update per week (which I am currently doing right now). There may be occasional news articles, such as Facebook’s new “care emoji” or Microsoft’s 30th anniversary of Solitaire. With 52 weeks per calendar year, it was not hard to achieve the 104-post milestone within the first year.

Not surprisingly the vast majority of likes come from my silly stories. The likers are mostly fellow bloggers who also write stories – and I have to admit they write much better than I do. So perhaps I should be the one learning from them 😊 Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of traction with the serious strategy articles, but maybe one day something might turn up. Occasionally, I get a like from something that isn’t a short story (like Actually Autistic Blogs liking my post on Facebook’s so-called Care Emoji). And yes, there is the occasional spam comment or two such as a link to a random Russian porn site.

My next milestone is 128 blog posts. Having already filled in 7 out of 104 squares in the diagram below, I’m already 6.73% of the way towards achieving my ultimate goal. Given that I enjoy playing and writing about Spider Solitaire much more than work this should be a walk in the park if you excuse the terrible cliché!

youarehere

Do you have a favourite article from this blog so far? If you think this blog is generally-all-round-awesome you are allowed to simultaneously vote for every blog post 😉😉😉Please let me know in the comments below!

30th Anniversary Celebration

In case you missed the news, Microsoft wanted all the good citizens of the world to unite and help break the record for most games played. Yesterday they offered double experience points as an incentive for card players over the world to kill their own productivity.

Avid readers of this blog may recall the Experience Points table for Spider Solitaire is shown below. Thus an Easy 1-suit hand scores 800 XP instead of 400 etc. Of course NaN times two is still NaN.

image-9

Apparently, this was a Facebook Live event, which featured a giveaway or three and Microsoft Solitaire’s creative director Kevin Lambert will field questions and talk about the history of Microsoft Solitaire.

I wasn’t able to participate, mainly because 22 May fell on a Friday and I still had work commitments (working remotely from home). I should also point out this event involved all games within the Solitaire family, not just my favourite Spider. Hence you can expect to see some Freecell, Klondike, Pyramid and perhaps some lesser known games.

I played a single game of Klondike (3 cards at a time) just to compare the XP gained versus Spider Solitaire and the reward for winning is only 300 XP, less than the easiest difficulty of one-suit Spider Solitaire. At least winning enabled me to get the “we did it” screen at the bottom of this blog post.

Yesterday I checked the Microsoft Solitaire Facebook page – and apparently not everything is running smoothly ☹

ohno

But such mundane matters don’t concern Microsoft as they achieved a new record for number of games played in a single day. Presumably all the good folk at Microsoft will live happily ever after.

wedidit

The New Facebook Emoji

Every man dog an millipede on the planet has surely seen it by now. Facebook has invented a new “care” emoji of a yellow smiley hugging a heart, presumably intended for users to show support for others during COVID-19.

Not surprisingly, reaction has been mixed and the memes have already started coming thick and fast. A compilation of memes is available here

Memes have already started coming thick and fast

But such mundane matters don’t concern me as I continue to achieve awesomeness at Spider Solitaire

What do you guys think of the new “care” emoji? And yes, I don’t care is a perfectly valid answer. 😊 Let me know in the comments below

My friend is a Doctor of Spider Solitaire :)

It’s official – I have awarded my Scrabble friend a Doctor of Spider Solitaire. His first actual attempt was

  • Philosophy -> Peter Thiel -> Forbes 400 -> Bill Gates -> Microsoft Windows -> Windows 3.0 -> Microsoft Solitaire -> Spider (solitaire).

Unfortunately Peter Thiel does not link to Bill Gates in 1 step, and there were a few false leads with some Windows versions (e.g. XP) not having a Microsoft Solitaire link.

For those who prefer visuals – here is a screen dump showing multiple routes from philosophy to Spider (solitaire):

My friend says he likes paths that go through Creed Bratton/The Office (visible on the left if you look closely). I have nothing much to add here 🙂

Sad St Patrick’s Day

So apparently St Patrick’s Day Solitaire is a thing, which I wasn’t aware of.

The bad news is it’s exactly like Klondike (dealing 3 cards at a time), and I can’t be bothered trying to work out how to play well at that game. So unlike Pi Day there is no way for me to achieve awesomeness ☹

VERDICT: Nothing to see here guys, move on.