LAN Party Game Suggestions?

What are the best PC games for LAN parties right now?

I am #blessed to have a group of friends that gets together for a yearly LAN. There is a magical synergy that occurs when everyone is playing the same game together, with no splinter factions. I would love to get any suggestions on cheap/free games that are fairly easy to pick up.

Below are some of the games we’ve played in the past, but please please please comment with some new suggestions

Team Fortress 2 was a solid choice for many years. Free-to-play, easy to hop in and blast people, but also a lot of depth. You can run a local server, meaning that you don’t run into problems with lag or bandwidth saturation. Did I mention free-to-play? Herding cats into buying a game for a once-a-year LAN is an uphill battle, so free is nice in coalescing around a game.

The Mann vs Machine mode in TF2 was a nice cooperative game too, but unfortunately capped at 6 people. There’s a lot of fun to be had teaming an entire LAN party up together.

Xonotic was a fun surprise last year. It’s basically Quake 3 with new maps, but Free (as in beer and as in speech). It turns out that I still have a lot of muscle memory from Quake 3.

As an aside – in the year 2000 I found myself with Quake 3 on my Dreamcast with a keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet adapter. Reader: that combination was basically cheating when playing against people on dial-up with their clawed hands wrapped around a Dreamcast controller.

Don’t Starve Together was solid when my friends and I last gave it a try. It has a local, dedicated server option. It looks like it only supports 6 players though.

Rocket League is great, but pretty much requires a controller, maxes out at 6 players. I don’t think it has a local server option either.

Town of Salem is basically Werewolf so let’s just play Secret Hitler or Resistance instead of lugging our computers over.

Left 4 Dead 2 has some solid co-op and vs modes, and has a local server. The humans-vs-super zombies mode can be fun, or just getting 4 people in the same room against the hoard. The downsides are that game sizes are either exactly 4 or 8 people and not everyone appreciates jump scares.

Counterstrike: GO works locally with bots to fill out the teams. The only complaint I heard was the realism – quick deaths, no respawns, and wild bullet patterns make the game less accessible for people who don’t play much.

WALL·E on Typeset In The Future

We are a WALL·E house. For both my kids, it was the first movie that they loved. I think it’s because so much of the storytelling happens in the animation. Even if you can’t quite follow what everyone is saying, you can see the story happening. Plus, WALL·E is a bit of a charmer.

We have WALL·E merch. It can be hard to find stuff 10 years after a movie was made, but we still managed to wind up with a couple toys (one that makes lots of noise, yay I guess), plushes, at least 3 copies of the Little Golden Book (with gorgeous art, which is in the heading of this post), a twin bedset with matching curtain, and a few other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Like I said, we are a WALL·E house.

When you have a movie more-or-less on repeat in your house, you notice a few things. WALL·E stands for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-class.” You pick up some trivia, like the fact that the cockroach is named “Hal” after producer Hal Roach. But I have nothing on Typeset In The Future’s deep dive into WALL·E.

Ostensibly the post (and the book) is about the typography, and definitely covers that:

Before we get started, there is an important detail we must clear up. Our hero’s name is not, as you might think, WALL-E. Moreover, it definitely isn’t WALL•E. His name is WALL·E, and that dot is an interpunct, not a hyphen or a bullet.

and

WALL·E’s self-promotional poster is also a fine example of Handel Gothic, one of the movie’s supporting typefaces. Originally designed in 1965 by Donald J. Handel, the font has become a mainstay of design futurism. … My favorite use of the typeface in WALL·E occurs later in the movie, when we see the distinctly curved E of some Handel Gothic… on a handle. (I refuse to believe this is anything but a deliberate typographic joke.)


https://typesetinthefuture.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/walle_0_58_301.jpg?w=1100

But there is so much more interesting background information. The design of the ship The Axiom, the inspiration for the monorails, the class system aboard the Axiom, the economic inflation of BNL’s currency. If you have any love for Pixar’s (surprisingly large) yellow robot, please do yourself a favor and read WALL·E from Typeset In The Future.

Christmas Songs Are a Huge Scam

This morning my 5 year old was singing Let It Snow and I realized something. A lot of Christmas songs start playing in November, but are about the snow that (in Michigan) we usually don’t see until January.

Frosty the Snowman? Dude is not getting built until February.

Let It Snow? The weather outside is mild.

Winter Wonderland? Astronomical winter doesn’t start until December 21. You probably aren’t going to have snow glistening in your lane for another month.

US map of probabilities for a white Chistmas

The song that gets it right is White Christmas. I’m dreaming of a 36% chance of a white Christmas. And as the climate changes, that 36% is going to 📉

My point, if I have one, is that radio stations should start separating the Christmas music from the winter music, and milk the seasonal playlist for another 6 weeks until mid-February

Video of the 2018 Harold Hotelling Lecture

Lawrence Tech’s 2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture is up on YouTube:

Dad was on board with school choice, and it turns out that he and Dr. Harris discussed this when Dr. Harris was dad’s student. I enjoyed the nuance that Dr. Harris brought to the topic as well – something deeper than “markets are good” or “government is good.” Around the 22:00 mark he goes into the challenges in getting benefits of an free market in education:

As always, the stories at the start of the lecture are a highlight for my family and I, and I’m grateful to all the people at Lawrence Tech for organizing it each year.

The Downside of a Spotify’s Free Google Home

Spotify is giving away a free Google Home Mini to any account with the family plan. That’s pretty neat. And they are doing it for new and existing users, which is great because it doesn’t make the mistake of punishing existing customers in the pursuit of acquisition.

It makes sense for Spotify – get folks to upgrade from the $10 personal plan to the $15 family plan. It makes sense for Google – they are throwing tons of money to be the smart speaker/display platform in your home. (Aside: I have a half-written blog post about why I switched from Alexa to Google Home, but the tl;dr is that being able to Chromecast Spotify was the deciding factor)

There’s no catch – a Google Home Mini ostensibly costs $50 and you get it for $0. So what’s the downside?

A person at my coworking space just posted this in Slack:

Last night someone got into my Spotify account to upgrade it to a Family Plan to take advantage of a promotion for a free Google Home Mini. I was able to cancel that upgrade (and got the free Home Mini too!), but definitely keep your eyes peeled for any unauthorized access

That brought up other stories about Spotify getting hacked, something that seems to happen with anecdotal regularity. Now there’s a financial incentive for the hacker: they can score a free Google Home that they can turn around and re-sell. You start paying $5 more per month so that hacker can re-sell your smart speaker.

As always, there are 2 things you should be doing to keep all your accounts safe:

  1. Use a unique password for every site, which means using a password manager. If you are all-in on Apple, iCloud Keychain does a decent job too. Mozilla is making inroads here too.
    Yes it’s a pain to start and change your passwords, but you absolutely need to be doing this. Hackers have databases of passwords from so, so many sites. Seriously, click that link and look at all the sites that have been hacked. I guarantee you use at least one of those sites. The hackers will try your password from those sites on other sites and if you reuse your passwords, you will get hacked. How sure are you that you don’t reuse that hacked password?
  2. Use 2 factor authentication wherever you can. Preferably with an app instead of SMS. Sadly, Spotify doesn’t support 2FA, which probably is why lots of folks have stories about them getting hacked.

If you do these 2 things, you will be miles ahead of most people.

Visualize California Wildfires

Map of the 2018 Camp Fire size over Detroit

I really appreciate journalism that helps me empathize with people affected by tragedy. That’s what caught me when I saw this map from NBC News:

Overlay of the California Camp Fire on a map of Detroit.

I can read “200 square miles” in a news article and that sort of washes over me. But the map makes me stop and consider that this is going from Redford to Grosse Pointe. From Dearborn to Warren. People in the area know that is a huge swath of land. I can’t imagine being stuck in evacuation gridlock, trying to get from Hamtramck to Livonia with wildfires all around me.

Then I saw the drop down and realized there are more fires.

Election Day Should Not Be A National Holiday

One of the nice things about importing decades-old blog posts is you can see how wrong you were how much you’ve grown. Take this post from April 2004: Why isn’t Election Day a national holiday?

On the surface it seems like a decent idea. Democracy is good, holidays are good, what’s not to like? More voters because you can’t use work as an excuse!

Here’s the thing though – do you get Columbus Day off work? Veterans’ Day? Washington’s Birthday? Those are all federal holidays but if you still have to work, does it help voter turnout?

There are some things that actually make voting better. Mailing everyone a ballot makes it actually easier to vote. Automatic voter registration makes it easier to vote. When you make it easier to vote, you hear more voices at the polls and get better outcomes.

So let’s put the holiday thing on the back burner and focus on something that matters more than celebrating democracy: sharing democracy with every citizen.

Talking Gutenberg at West Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup

I will be speaking at the November meeting of the West Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 to talk about the Gutenberg block editor.

WordPress 5.0 is scheduled to ship on November 19th, and will have the Gutenberg editor as the default. I’ll be leading demoing Gutenberg, leading an informal discussion, and answering questions. If you use or manage a WordPress site, you need to know about Gutenberg.

The meetup will be at 6:30pm at the Canton Public Library. Seats are limited, you’ll need to pre-register for free at Eventbrite if you’d like to come. Hope to see you there!

🎃🤖

Two WiFi pumpkin robots from friends: Ryan’s Pumpkin Pi shoots flames:
Les’s makes faces:
View this post on Instagram

Also the wifi pumpkin is gibbering away again

A post shared by Les Orchard (@l.m.orchard) on

   

Continuity Camera on macOS is Magic

This is “it just works” territory stuff, in a way that hasn’t just worked in the past. Continuity Camera is a feature in macOS Whatevercodename2018 that lets you use your iPhone as a camera for your Mac. Preview uses this to let you quickly scan documents.

When you open Preview and choose the “Import from iPhone” option, your phone instantly opens up with a scanner that automatically recognizes documents:

The only tap I made on my phone was to hit the Save button at the end. After you hit Save on your phone, a PDF opens on your Mac with your scanned docs.

Screenshot of Preview with the scanned documents.

This works for pretty much anything I would want to digitize in a given month. I posted a shorter version to my coworking Slack and heard back

Whoa. That’s the first handoff-like feature that just worked, first time, without any trouble. Amazing.

I know you can scan documents with Notes and other apps, but this has so much less friction for me.