Saturday, May 14, 2022

You Got Disconnected

Photo by Jonathan on Unsplash

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Recently, I had to work from a coworking space where my Internet connection was spotty, at times.

Typically, the problem would rear its ugly head as follows: I’d be in the middle of developing something, need some documentation, open a web browser, and do a search. And then I’d wait… and wait… and wait. Eventually, I’d give up, close my browser, reopen it, and then my search would quickly load up.

After a few of these incidents, I decided that slow loading meant I should just turn off the WiFi on my computer, and then turn it on again. This usually seemed faster than just waiting to reconnect, or getting timed out.

I couldn’t figure it out. What was causing this strange and annoying problem? Was the WiFi router really that bad? I expect a coworking space to have really good Internet. After all, most people who use a coworking space are doing work on the Internet. You generally don’t see stacks of books and people typing away on a typewriter at a coworking space 🙂

One day, as I waited and wondered whether I needed to reset my WiFi, I noticed the droning of a microwave in the next room over. And then it hit me — the microwave was interfering with my WiFi! It seemed quite odd, but the next few times I got disconnected, I noticed the microwave running. It wasn’t exactly a science experiment, but I’ve become convinced that microwaves can interfere with WiFi! I’m guessing it depends on the router and the microwave, but I think it has happened to me too frequently to be a coincidence… Perhaps I need to place a tinfoil hat on my computer (or on me!).

When this happened to me, it was so frustrating! And I felt a lot of empathy with any player who has been frustrated with a disconnect from World of Card Games right smack in the middle of a game.

Sometimes, people will email me complaining about getting disconnected from the site. There have definitely been times in the past when everyone playing at the site got disconnected due to a problem with the hosting service (the “hosting service” is the company that maintains the big computer that runs World of Card Games software). However, the truth is that most disconnects are due to local problems — and often the culprit is bad WiFi. According to technology writer Geoffrey Fowler at the Washington Post, “Bad Internet connections are [Americans’] №1 tech problem”.

That Washington Post article outlines some things you can try to fix your Internet connection. And there’s a follow-up article with reader fixes for WiFi problems as well. Next time you get disconnected, try some of those suggested solutions. If they don’t work, check out my blog post where I describe my own experience with game player issues.

Or, just make sure the microwave is turned off before you play 🙂 And please comment here if you find anything that helps you, since it might help someone else.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

This is an off topic post. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. If you’re a mom, then Happy Mother’s Day to you!

My mom was not perfect — who is? But my childhood was pretty happy, in large part due to her. She encouraged me in so many ways. I was lucky to have her, as a child, and still am.

When I look back on how we celebrated Mother’s Day as a kid, it seems so corny. I recall giving her various little hand-crafted gifts, like a necklace made of painted pasta shells, drawings, a sculpture made of acorns, or crocheted potholders. She claimed that she really liked these handmade things, and preferred them over something that could be bought. I think we might have given her the classic breakfast in bed, one time, but I don’t think that was something she really wanted… Probably because she had to clean up the mess in the kitchen afterward!

Thanks Mom! I hope you have a great day!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Play Cards with Friends at Private Tables

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

One of the most common features that people use at World of Card Games is the “private table” feature. Does this surprise you? I didn’t expect it when I first started running the site. I imagined the typical player was someone who really enjoyed a specific type of card game: Euchre, Double Deck Pinochle, Hearts, Spades, etc. Maybe they missed playing with their friends from the navy, or from college, or with relatives as they were growing up. They’d do an online search, find the site, and hop right in to play with complete strangers online. After all, it’s so easy to play, even without being registered (although there are some benefits to registering). But it does take a bit of courage to play with total strangers. Let’s face it, not everyone is so nice!

People who are pretty extroverted like that might never even realize there’s a private table feature at the site, unless they dig around for the information in the blog or in the FAQ.

Well, it turns out that a lot of people don’t enjoy playing with just any old stranger (imagine that!!). For them, I guess, the fun is not just about the game per se. A lot of the fun comes from the social contact with loved ones and friends — people that they know. They could do a Zoom call or Skype or FaceTime, but you can’t play cards together so well that way. No one is coordinating the deck of cards. Well, World of Card Games solves that problem. The site’s server (a big computer in the “cloud”) is basically a robotic dealer that keeps track of cards that are dealt and makes sure that everyone plays by the rules. And there’s a chat feature that lets you type in what you want to say while you play.

World of Card Games gives you the option of allowing turns that take up to 5 minutes at private tables, too. So you can chat away for quite a bit, if you like, while considering what to bid or which card to play. And you don’t have to worry about anyone kicking you under the table if you take too long for your turn.

If you know someone who used to play cards in person, but had to stop due to lack of mobility, or because their crowd of friends just doesn’t hang out together anymore, please let them know that they can play cards online with their friends using private tables at World of Card Games. The site’s not perfect for everyone, but it could be a way to get your games started up again within your social circle. I’ve had many emails from people telling me that they are so happy they found the site, and that they get together with a group on a regular basis for a game of cards and a fun chat with friends. Some people tell me they’ve been doing this for years! That’s pretty amazing, and I’m glad I’ve been able to help all these people by providing them with an online space to play cards.

You can choose from a lot of different “wallpapers” (background), too!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

It wouldn’t kill you to be nice

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Why is it so hard for some people to be a good sport?

Sometimes, I’m playing a game of cards online, and one of the people at the table starts in. Their partner can’t do anything right. Maybe it’s me that they have it in for, or else it’s their partner on the opposing team.

I wonder what they think they’re accomplishing by being so rude? Surely, they’re aware that sometimes one has no choice but to make a bad play due to the constraints of the rules. For example, in the card game Spades, a player might bid nil. The opponent leads a 2 of clubs, their partner plays the 3, and the other opponent plays a 4, and oops the nil got set. The nil bidder then proceeds to throw a tantrum. “How dare you, p, you’re incompetent and come from a long line of incompetent Spades players!!!”. You get the idea — it’s usually much worse than this. And then the next time clubs are played, it’s clear that their partner had exactly one club, the 3. All is forgiven, if only briefly, before they start going at it again.

Yep, I know that it’s more often the case that someone actually did make a dunderheaded play. Maybe they were distracted or tired or not feeling well. Or, perhaps, their tactics are just different. They might be learning the game — or maybe they’re really pretty experienced, and the ranter doesn’t understand what they were trying to accomplish.

I don’t believe that any words on my part are going to change the behavior of someone who behaves poorly online. I suspect that in some cases, hefty amounts of a mind-altering substance are involved in their commentary. Other times, I just wonder why people think it’s okay to be so uncivil because they’re hidden behind a veil of anonymity. Overall, I have to think that if they can’t get through a game without blowing their top, they might be in for some serious problems in other, more consequential parts of their lives.

If you run into someone who behaves like this, I suggest that you don’t use their behavior as a license to respond in kind. Doing that doesn’t help you, and probably does more damage to yourself than good. If you find they’re getting your goat, turn off their chats. And remember that you never know what someone is going through. Try to find it in your heart to be patient with them. We could all use more civility, online and off.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Do Video Games Put You To Sleep?

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

I used to play cards at World of Card Games all the time. These days, I don’t have much time for it, because I’ve got a regular job. But I find that playing card games online is a good way to unwind at the end of a day, or even in the middle of the day, when I’m on a break from dealing with some intractable work problem.

Are video games relaxing? In fact, I heard something interesting the other day. I was listening to the Timothy Ferriss podcast where he interviews Jane McGonigal, a futurist and games researcher. She claimed that playing video games before bedtime is a good way to help you get to sleep! Tetris was mentioned specifically in the interview. Tetris is very different from a physical, in-person card game. But the card games at World of Card Games are video games. I wonder if the research would apply to the types of games at the site, as well.

It’s hard to imagine any game making me sleepy. My adrenaline usually surges when I play a video game, and that’s not ideal for sleeping. However, apparently there really is some research that shows video games can have a relaxing effect that helps you more easily fall asleep. Perhaps this is because you can’t focus on the intricacies of playing a game without getting a bit detached from other problems in your life. It helps to distance you from things which may not be that important, after all. Kind of like meditation, in that respect.

I can’t speak for card games as a sleeping aid. I think that if anything, they kind of perk me up when I’m feeling a bit sleepy. But they do seem like a good distraction from worries. If something’s bugging me at work, I can play a game or two, and find that the problem was just not so important after all.

One funny thing that I’ve noticed is that if I play card games just before bedtime, I’ll often see the images of cards being played in my mind as I’m falling asleep! That was mentioned in the Timothy Ferriss interview, too — that people who play a game will see the game images as they fall asleep.

I’m curious to know if other people at the site have used games to get to sleep. Leave a comment if you’ve tried it, and let us know what happened!

Start of a fun game of Spades with the bots!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

You Don’t Have to Bid Your Hand

Is your hand really that good?

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

My favorite card game at World of Card Games is Spades. I can’t explain exactly what’s so interesting about the game, but I never get tired of it. Sometimes you get a great partner, and it’s as if they’re reading your mind. They play the cards just the way you would! But life doesn’t always go that way. At times, you have to wonder what your partner is thinking.

I just finished a Spades game where I was fortunate to be in tune with my teammate. In one hand, my partner was first to bid. She had a bad hand, and bid 1. The next player bid 3. My hand was crummy, also. I bid 2, bringing the total bid to 6.

The last player to bid paused dramatically, and finally called 7! I could see my partner metaphorically peeking over their cards at me, thinking, uh oh, we’re in trouble. Neither one of us could imagine that the last player to bid would bring the total bid to 13 without having some serious ammo in their hands.

Well, it turned out that our opponents got set. The 7-bidder was long in diamonds, while I was short in them. I managed to snag an extra trick with one of my low trump cards. And it also turned out that the 7-bidder’s teammate fell short of their 3 bid — they only made 2. It’s easy to make a mistake in your bidding and be off by just 1.

So here’s my tip of the day. You don’t always have to “bid your hand”. I mean, if you think you’re going to get 7, consider what happens if your teammate doesn’t get all the tricks they thought they would. Or what happens if they were counting on taking a trick with a suit that you were sure you’d be able to trump?

If you’re last to bid, and your bid brings the total bid to 13, consider that your teammate may have overestimated what they can do, or your opponents were perhaps a bit too modest in making their bids. Or maybe your cards just aren’t as good as they look. Really think carefully before bringing the total bid to 13. And don’t blame your partner if your team gets set. You were last to bid, so you had the maximum information — and it’s a team game.

This situation is kind of like life. If you live your life close to the edge, and don’t leave any room for error, you’re probably going to “get set” more often than you might expect. Isn’t it nice that card games can teach you life lessons in a safe environment. 😄 So go and play a game of Spades, and let me know what you think!

Friday, August 20, 2021

Game report - Double Deck Pinochle

This one is for the Double Deck Pinochle fans!

I got a message from a wonderful fellow named George who told me that his team had picked up all 50 counters in a hand of pinochle at World of Card Games - unusual, to say the least! Here's the screenshot he sent.

It is such a pleasure to get messages from people who use the site to play in a friendly way! Thank you, George, and I hope you and your friends have many more fun games at the site.
Double Deck Pinochle took all counters