Saturday, December 13, 2014

Online Chess, for Free

Once upon a time I was a good chessplayer. The USCF remembers. If I was to enter a tournament, my rating would start about 3 classes above my current playing strength. I'd do better playing golf

except I haven't learned to walk a fairway in 4 inch heels.

After quitting tournaments, I hung out for a while in the Square. Playing outside, with real people & smelly basset hounds was pretty good. A long time ago I discovered free online chess. Why is there free online chess? Because that's the going rate.

The first site was Microsoft Gaming Zone. Well designed, good graphics, and you could play it on a modem. Don't think it's there anymore.

So I moved on to Excite. The graphics were a bit off, but it worked pretty well. Then they turned all their games over to Pogo. Pogo tried to monetize the game with advertising. It sucked.

The next step down was Yahoo. Yahoo started the trend of really lazy programming. For years and years, they never fixed obvious problems. People would leave boards open. Lots of boards. 95% of open boards, looking for a player, would actually be unattended. You could offer a draw when not on move. Finishing off a jerk, but in a bit of time trouble? They hit you with 15 draw offers. You have to clear them & can't move. Yahoo dropped chess without fixing it.

So, now there's a primitive form on Facebook.

Anyhow, try it out.
One thing never changes - Your opponent is probably a 13 year old boy with bad skin and a worse attitude.

If you're serious about chess there are a lot of really great sites to study, do problems, and find events.
But the gameplay seems to have been designed by Barbie.

Alas, my girl has been let down again . Computer Engineer? As if. Even for basic coding, she had to turn to boys. If the suits at Mattel can't even be bothered to protect their meal ticket, I dunno. I weep. Maybe Hello Kitty can become a role model.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sad news from Edgar

Barbie has fallen on tough times. According to the last 10-Q, Barbie sales are down 15% this year. Mattel is doing pretty poorly except for American Girl. Sure, we can all agree to hate Fisher-Price. But this is just sad:
So get out there and buy a Barbie. Don't have a small girl in the household? No Problem! Barbie has thousands of uses.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Made for TV Spectaculars!

What to do when the day is rained out, the family is on the road, and your back is sore?

Watch TeeVee & blog, of course. Time for the 200th post in this joint.

I miss the old time Made for TV movie. Sure, if you look at any kind of serious list of the best ever, there are a bunch of artsy cable flicks, and they're still making those.  On different fronts, SyFy has plumbed ever deeper veins in the cheese mines. Hallmark has perfected instant product  :  tune into any of their movies, at any point, and you know exactly what's going on & how it will turn out.


I miss Lindsay Wagner heart tuggers, Barbara Eden pepfests, Robert Vaughn villainy, and Christmas Specials, most of all.

2 of the greatest ever were Chritmas specials!

Silent Night, Lonely Night was about 2 middle aged strangers hooking up at Christmas, and....
And nothing, really. They filled up the time taking long taxi rides from the bus station to the hotel a few yards away, and talking about their marriages. Just the perfect holiday movie!

Lloyd looks slightly more appalled than I remember.

Sunshine Christmas is even better. A Texan whose wife died (In Sunshine : this is a sequel) comes home from Canada for Christmas and maunders about whether to stay & hitch up with Barbara Hershey. I remembered how good the young Kirstie Alley looked in this, until I looked it up & found out it was Meg Foster. Oh well.

Another great one was Single Bars & Single Women. I thought this was about Earl Holliman & the meat market bar scene of the 1970s, until a woman explained it to me : She'd had the same jacket that Shelley Hack wore in the show.

Alas, I can't find it, but there is this classic clip:

There you have it America! For the Glorious 4th - moral decay, corporate soullessness & a deep nostalgia for that which never was.

(I note that this long dormant ghost of a blog has now passed 140,000 page views. 2% humans? Maybe)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

100,000 views, Lincoln, & Concern Trolls

The strange popularity of this blog among the robot set (500 views a day & no real comments) has pushed it over 100,000 page views.

To celebrate without illusions, it's convenient that I've been reading The Coming Fury, and found a passage about Lincoln's secretaries answering letters during the campaign. Per Catton, Lincoln, asked to soothe Southerners sincerely disturbed by the tone of the campaign, replied "There are no such men".

Or, in a more modern - Linkable! version -

The president understood the dangers that any public pronouncement would entail. Shortly after the 1860 presidential election, Mr. Lincoln talked to one visitor about yielding to the worries of Southerners: "It is the trick by which the South breaks down every northern man. I would go to Washington without the support of the men who supported me and were my friends before election. I would be as powerless as a block of buckeye wood. The honest man (you are talking of honest men) will look at our platform and what I have said. There they will find everything I could now say or which they would ask me to say. All I could say would be but repetition. Having told them all these things ten times already, would they believe the eleventh declaration? Let us be practical. There are many general terms afloat, such as 'conservatism,' 'enforcement of the irrepressible conflict at the point of the bayonet,' 'hostility to the South,' and so forth - all of which mean nothing without definition. What then could I say to allay their fears, if they will not define what particular act or acts they fear from me or my friends?"

Which is, of course, a bit different than Catton's version. Such are quotes from the pre-tape recorder era. "Modern quotes are 100% accurate" - Albert Camus.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Doing pretty well for a dead blog

I have nearly 9000 page views in the last month. Mostly, because an old post happened to mention the Ukraine & the IRS.

Of course, I get that this is robots.

Thank you, robots. Bet you don't even realize this is really Reese & Joaquin. Heh.