The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Minor-Miner Update

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Now that the boy is in camp, I have some access to the computer again, which means more Factorio. I get 50 hours into a base earlier this summer, but then six weeks away meant I had lost the thread. My power situation was OK but weird (some issue with heat pipes maybe being too far) and my trains were a mess, so I decided to start again. (I still have the save if I figure out the things I could go back to it). I’ve had a few false starts, so I keep resetting after a few hours.  I think I’m going to play the new one … build a small starter base and then build a main bus, and then perhaps a mega base. We’ll see.

I also did go-kart racing (work team builder) which lead to an injury. I knocked a shoe off while getting into the cart (It caught on the edge of the pedal) while switching off in a team-style Le Mans (“Which team can complete the most laps” during the event).  When reaching around/over the steering wheel to replace it I managed to strain every muscle in my core and left arm due to a spasm in that awkward position, which was not an injury I’d ever considered worrying about at a go-kart track. I consistently came close to the tree at the edge of the tight corner, but that just means I wasn’t dawdling….

It turns out that I am pretty good at the (~40MPH) beasts. Surprised me. (A bunch of racing games have given me a decent eye for the best line). Still, 30 minutes in 99° heat (with one break) and muscle spasms meant I was a wreck afterwards.

Thankfully I have tomorrow off to relax my muscles and work on my factory.

In other gaming news, Mrs. Tao did some old school D&D with her coworkers, while my (no-longer-minor) eldest mocked her during her absence.

Strange days, my friends, strange days.

Written by taogaming

July 20, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Non-Gaming

Tagged with


with 5 comments

Update — Fixed hand. Dummy has C5.

You pick up S:7 H:K965432 D:Q4 C:A73 in fourth seat with nobody vulnerable.

LHO opens 1NT and it goes pass-pass to you. You could bid 2H, but for the sake of discussion let’s say you pass.

Partner (playing standard leads) opens with the club six.


Club 6 led
                  S: T82
                  H: 8
                  D: KJ753
                  C: Q854

(Your hand)

And at this point (if you are wide awake) you know a bit about the hand. For example, the exact layout of clubs. It’s textbook.

Partner lead fourth best (leading from three or two is unlikely. If partner had a long major he may have led it (the auction slightly calls for a major) so clubs are probably longer or maybe equal and better. So, assume it’s fourth best.

Can it be five or six? No — Declarer promised at least two clubs. (Actually, declarer could have a stiff honor, but we’ll ignore that for now).

By the rule of 11, declarer has one card higher than the 5. Can it be the K? Nope. Partner would have led the Jack from JT95. And from KJT5 or KT95, he may have led the interior sequence (bolded). So declarer likely has the T. (And because of that, probably not a singleton). The most likely layout is clubs 4=4=3=2 around the table with partner having KJ95 and declarer having T2.

After this hand (I was not south), I thought that the club situation would not  have been out of place in a beginner’s “How to count out a hand” text. The deductions weren’t difficult, but just took some effort and were exactly correct.

Written by taogaming

July 12, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Bridge

Well played

The live band at the beach bar last night mainly did the stuff you’d expect a live-band to do, but their Instrumental mashup of The Entertainer (as made famous by the Sting) and the Mario Brothers Theme was actually amazing.

Also, my sister-in-law is friends with some of Fragile Rock, which is may be a truly great band name and a truly horrifying idea. But the best band name that I heard of last week (in the Bowie book I’m reading)?

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Gaming at the beach? I did learn Mexican Train (possibly correctly, possibly not). Also played a game of Scrabble (your bingo challenge rack is — ehikost) and some Boggle. But overall not much gaming. I did read the latest bridge bulletin, although judging from the cover you would think that bridge is a chore and burden. Perhaps the ACBL is actually composed of people who have managed to construct a derivative that allows them to short-sell bridge.

(This is not the first time I’ve had that thought).

Anyway, I’m now back from “second vacation”, which probably means I should not game and go back to work. We’ll see.

Written by taogaming

July 8, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Two reviews of ‘Seeing Like a State’

I haven’t read the book (by James C. Scott). But I am a fan of Scott Alexander, so I naturally saw his review a few months ago. Nice, but no real reason for me to mention it. (The fact that the book nicely confirms what I already believed means that I should be somewhat cautious.)

(Seeing like a State points out how well-meaning scientific technocrats — of all economic beliefs — often do horrible damage to systems they are trying to improve, and provides examples of how governments do things to increase their visibility into systems — usually for purposes of taxation. Like I said, “nicely confirms what I already believed”. I believe Nassim Talib’s Antifragile covers the same ground.)

Anyway, I come back to the country I see that Scott has pointed to a review by Samzdat and that is quite useful for people on both sides of the political discussion, as it tries to explain the phenomenom of increased political divisiveness even in an improving society. (It does this by introducing the concept of legibility to the conversation, and goes in a surprising direction that seems correct, at least on first glance).

Anyway, this may be of interest. I’m definitely going to be reading through Samzdat. The article on Polyani’s Great Transformation extends this further (and contains some very interesting thoughts on economics that, strangely enough, I just encountered in Paradise Lost). And the next book to be discussed is Hoffer’s The True Believer, which I did read (30 years ago, vhoj’ha moi!).


Written by taogaming

June 20, 2017 at 8:04 pm

Software is hard, but not that hard

I just got back from my vacation …. after a full solid 26 hours of airports and planes. It actually wasn’t horrible (apart from the four hour delay at JFK) because Delta planes have in-seat entertainment systems (and I had my books, of course).

The big game for the last two weeks (on the cruise, and in the airplane) was Boggle. (OK, the airplane’s game was the simpler “how many words can you find in this jumble for letters.”)

When I got home, I googled “Open Source dictionary,” because the last two weeks made me think those weren’t a thing.  Here are some words the cruises “Word finder” game didn’t accept:

  • cries
  • cried
  • makes

There were a ton of others. For a while I thought it was not allowing ‘s’ words (or multiple forms of the same word), abut other times it allowed all forms. That game also accepted a bunch of non-English latin words, acronyms, as well as frankly weird things like “ggg” and “Vneder” (but it rejected “Vender,” which is an archaic ‘vendor’.) [It shows a list of “words you missed” after each round, which is how I discovered these.]

It also accepted practically every name. I get that they can’t use the OSPD or SOWPODs (without ponying up licensing money), but downloading an OS dictionary takes literally a few minutes. (After playing for a while, I started mentally designing a “Boggle solver,” that won’t take forever. I may actually write it as an exercise, we’ll see).

Anyway, after spending way too much of my ship time playing Boggle (and being bewildered by dictionary) I played a few hours of “Letter Mix” on Delta on the way home. And I realized two things:

  1. After a dozen times I started seeing repeats of the puzzles (six letters).
  2. One set didn’t contain all the possible words in the solution. (They missed ‘hides’, but got ‘shied’).

And I realized that program didn’t have a solver, just a list of puzzles and acceptable words for each! Come on, this isn’t rocket science. (The Delta series of games definitely had a slapdash nature. The poker program had misleading english. “Player A raises to $2” when he actually raised a $2 bet to $4. And I suspect that the chess program had the “Easy/Medium/Hard” settings flipped, because I casually lost on easy unless I was paying attention, but on Hard the program just hung a queen for no reason.

Look — writing a good computer program may be hard, but some parts shouldn’t be. Get a good dictionary, people.

(My only other gaming news was losing in a cash no-limit game when my aces got cracked. In my last few cruises I spent a lot of time on the casino — I dislike cruises and may yet rant about that if I haven’t already — and after that I decided to just spend my sea time playing boggle instead, since in my two hours playing I couldn’t spot the fish).

I also murdered a few hours playing bridge, but on a cruise ship with random opponents that hardly counts as gaming.

Written by taogaming

June 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Got some Factorio recently

I launched a rocket to get the “no solar panels and no laser defense” achievements. Now I’m working on the mega-base ramp up (and turned off rockets to pause and let the base work on other products). Added nuclear power (which is a huge relief, basically tripling my power and letting me use the steam engines as reserves. In fact, for a while I wasted power, as you can’t tune nuclear. When I add two more reactors I’ll triple it again, I think). So now I’m adding a lot more iron processing (400k plates/hour), and generally clearing out the nearby aliens and otherwise growing. I think I have a dozen trains (ish) running, which is appropriate for a train world.

I also got nuclear weapons, so I’ll definitely have to nuke some aliens in the near future. Maybe also go for depleted uranium bullets…

One of the toughest parts was coming back to a base I hadn’t played in a few weeks … I had no idea where everything was. In fact I had a few really terrible things that needed fixing (including a train stopped in an intersection … I’d never set up a fuel station for it, and it was blocking other trains).

But whenever you solve one thing you simply discover the next bottleneck. I need really ramp up my iron mines (since my smelting can now process a train’s load of ore before the next train arrives) then a bit more iron smelting, then copper.

Then circuits (green/red blue) and then I’ll see if how good my rocket throughput is.

Written by taogaming

June 4, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with

Mid-year Media

The Good

Just finished Better Call Saul Season 2 (on Netflix). Still amazing.

Waiting for Rick and Morty S3.

Currently reading The Complete David Bowie (Revised edition).  Not a bio, but a series of encyclopedic entries about each song, album, movie, tours, etc. The entry on Blackstar (the song) justifies the cost, and the rest of the book is interesting, too. (Unlike the expectations I had when I wrote my obituary for Bowie, Blackstar (the album) is damn good, although I suspect it wouldn’t have won so many awards if Bowie was still alive). Also, I finally got around to watching the Prestige, which was good (Bowie has a minor role).

Also reading some short stories and novellas by Gene Wolf. Just started.

Currently Watching Grace and Frankie S3 and its somewhere between great and cringeworthy. But mostly great.

The OK

I’m watching the current season of Doctor Who and it is a step up (I disliked Clara). It’s mostly fine, with a few good episodes and one great one. (Actually, that’s kind of par for Doctor Who, but I really disliked Clara and then she stuck around past the resolution of her story, IMO). Nardole is a great addition. Bill is fine (praise the maker for a companion who is just a companion). Capaldi is reliably excellent. I used to love Moffat, but I’m ready for him to go now.

Still watching Supernatural, the definition of comfort-inertia TV. The TaoLing is still very into this. I assume it will keep going until the leads cannot physically do this.

F is for Family is not great, but a small commitment and amusing enough.

I was not impressed with the current season of Archer. It may not be a purchase anymore. It wasn’t bad, and had funny moments, but there weren’t many quotable lines or even a standout episode.

The “Uh, maybe not” files

Haven’t gotten around to watching Rectify S3, but that just dropped fairly recently and I may watch it.

Gave up on Iron Fist halfway through the season. Never bothered to continue Penny Dreadful or Doctor Norrell & Mr. Strange.

I’ve given up on the Arrowverse. And that was before hitting the terrible S4 stuff (the Arrow reddit decided to just ignore the show and talk about Daredevil. Man.) Just boring. And S2 of Flash lost of a lot of the fun of S1. Agents of Shield is also off the rotation.

I watched the first episode of Riverdale and wow, its trashy. But trashy fun, or trashy-bleh? Not sure yet. May watch more.

As always — open for suggestions.

Also — if I die in the next few days, please avenge my death by killing a few trillion cold viruses in my name. Thank you.

Written by taogaming

June 4, 2017 at 12:03 am

Posted in TV & Media