22 August 2021

HOW TO SHARE A WORD BLITZ TOURNAMENT TO A GROUP

 Word Blitz, the popular Boggle-clone word game, has yet more "improvements" that make sharing a tournament game to a group even more difficult.  There are slightly different versions of Word Blitz, the one I am discussing is played via Facebook.  First some background:

At its basic level, you play Word Blitz against a friend.  Next up, you somehow hook up to a non-friend.  The two of you play three rounds of the game and whoever have the most points win.  As surprising as it sounds, sometimes you cannot find opponents to play against.  Again, I am talking about the Facebook version, where games are limited by the friends or non-friends you have who also play the game.  There is also another outlet, The League, where you can usually play up to six single-round games, one at a time, against a random player.  Personally, I think it is great that the game doesn't make it too easy to play all the time.  Smartphone users in general already spend too much time playing games.  But then again there is the Tournament option.

With Tournaments, you can play against a wider range of players.  You have up to seven days to try again and again with different board configurations, not of your own choosing, to get the best score you can.  There is a limit of seven tournaments you can join at any given time.  Still, having seven games over seven days is still a lot of play time.  Alas, the issue again is finding people who would join the tournament games you created, which by default only appears on your own timeline.  So you need friends who would join.  I am somewhat selective these days and try not to have new Facebook friends unless I already know them in person.  Or have a need for it, like teachers at my old high school, since I run an active alumni group.  Others may have other reasons not to friend people on Facebook.  This is where Facebook groups created solely for sharing Word Blitz tournament games come in.  One such group is the Word Blitz Tournaments Center, located at https://www.facebook.com/groups/435605317529797 .  I am a member of the group and a frequent question is "How do I share to the group?"  I hope the instruction below will help.  The instruction is for an iPhone user in the U.S.A.  In future posts, I can make another for Apple MacOS or Microsoft Windows.  Go join the group before you follow the instruction.

Recall that I mentioned there are changes to the game that makes sharing tournaments more difficult?  It used to be you can create an almost limitless number of tournaments while participating in only seven or fewer.  Maybe some or many tournaments ended up with no participants or maybe the many number of tournaments somehow cost Lotum, the distributor of Word Blitz, too much money.  The new rule is you have to be in a tournament game else nobody can join it.  You still cannot play more than seven games simultaneously so create tournament games only when you have fewer than seven games going.  If you already play seven games and try to create a tournament, you will get some unhelpful error message.  No, it does not tell you that you already have seven games active and that you must be in a new tournament game that you create.

On with the instruction!

At some random schedule, there is a podium icon that sorta reads Create Tournament, as circled in green.  Note the partly hidden Invite button on the far right of that row.  It may be necessary to scroll sideway to bring the podium icon into view.  Click Create and you will be on your way to creating a tournament.

Be sure to click the line below your name to have it show Public.  If it is left on Friends Only then group members who are your friends cannot play.  Next click the Share button near the bottom then don't do anything for a few seconds.  If you have fewer seven games going, in a few seconds a new game will start.  Give it your best, if you wish, to get some high score then leave Word Blitz altogether.


Click the Menu icon in the lower right then scroll to the top and click See Your Profile.  Try to do this as soon as you quit Word Blitz in the above step, before your timeline have other new stuff.

The new tournament game you created and shared to your timeline should be easy to find.  Click on its Share button.  Note the score of only one point.  If I played some words before, my score would be higher.  In this case, I didn't play any words.

Click Share To A Group (I used title-case to make the instruction easier to follow.  I am aware the actual title for link is slightly different).

You should already be a member of the group called Word Blitz Tournaments Center.  In the screenshot, next to the magnifying glass, I typed to and the list of groups shortened to just two items.  I clicked on the lower choice.

At last we come to the final step to sharing a tournament game to a group.  Note that near the top of the screen the group name is shown.  I strongly recommend entering some info to make your game different than the many others that are shared to the group.  Of great use is the day of the week.  Recall that games last seven days.  Some people like to join games that end soon, so that they don't have to wait a week to join a new game.  For example, if you join seven games that were started on a Sunday, you can only play those seven games and cannot join any new ones.  When you include the info, i.e. day of the week, in your posts, people can search for the word Sunday, or whatever the case, and join only those games.  Finally, click Share Now and your game will be shared to the group for all to enjoy.

31 May 2021

THROWN UNDER A BUS, WHEW, JUST A DREAM

 Many books have been written about the subject of dreaming, as in seeing things while sleeping.  I wish I know a better word to describe it.  Nowadays, to dream can also mean wishing for something, a positive thing.  The English language can be great for making puns and being ambiguous but sometimes I want to be direct about the subject.  I want to simply talk about the things I saw while sleeping, something that my brain somehow made up on its own, not because I want it to really happen.  Sure, it maybe something I did subconsciously, fer sure.  But not something I actively want.  But enough of the meaning of "dreaming".

In real life, I am a cautious pedestrian.  I always look both way crossing the street.  I don't wear headphone and such, so that I am always aware of my surrounding.  Definitely not staring at the smartphone screen while walking, as some people I know regularly do, very annoying.  But in last night's dream, for lack of a better word, I caused a three-bus accident at a street intersection that seemed to be that of Canal Street and Baxter Street in Manhattan Chinatown.  I crossed Canal Street from the north side to the south side but then immediately tried to cross to Baxter but the light was changing.  A bus in the bus stop was moving forward so I tried to run behind it but then another bus was going in the driving lane.  It seemed as I tried to go back to the sidewalk yet another bus came from the other direction of the two-way street.  Now, in real life Baxter Street is very narrow, just enough for two parking lanes and one driving lane, it's a one-way street.  In this dream, it was a two-way street, wide enough for buses to go through, so maybe it wasn't Baxter, but hey it was a dream, it didn't have to match reality.  Anyway, perhaps because the third bus tried to avoid me, it braked too hard and went flying and hit the first bus.  Again, physics may not apply in dreams.  One thing I was sure is that as the levitated bus came at me, I was alert enough to lay flat and the bus flew right over me.  I do recall feeling guilty for causing the accident, who knew how many people died or got hurt, so I guess my dream version also had integrity.  I don't know what happened next because the shock in the dream woke me up.  Or maybe it was my busting kidneys needing to unload.

Yes, back to reality.  It is a three-day weekend, Memorial Day today, thank you to all who made the ultimate sacrifice.  It was rainy for the first two days so I was home all day.  I was hoping to do something outdoor today but the house has a plumbing problem.  A plumber came yesterday but the problem is bigger than originally thought.  He's coming back today with tools to rip off part of the bathtub wall etc.  Water's been shut off for now for the whole house.  It's a minor inconvenience, we lived through worse times.

30 May 2021

STILL NO INDOOR DINING AT MACDONALD CARTERET

 This past Friday I again had breakfast not at home.  I was happy to see that the MacDonald's in Carteret was done with the renovation.  "We are open!", the sign said.  Alas, unlike the Burger King down the road, they still didn't have indoor dining.  Nope, take-out only.  Ironically, on that day New Jersey governor announced additional relaxation of COVID rules, that businesses were free to not require masks etc.  I suppose Mickey Dee wanted to be extra safe.

This past Sunday I was in Chinatown for an errand.  On Mott Street I saw what appeared at first as one of those outdoor dining structure being taken apart.  Ah, another sign of the city going back to pre-pandemic atmosphere, I thought.  Just to be sure, I stood a few buildings away to observe the "dismantling".  Nope, I was wrong.  The workers were carefully measuring things with retractable measuring tape then screwed things down.  It was an additional area they were working on.  Weird, if you ask me, but who knows, maybe this particular restaurant was slow in getting the outdoor permit or things are going so well with outdoor dining they decided to add a few more tables outside.

Something else I noticed on Mott Street was that perhaps because of the outdoor structures, there were cars parked halfway up the sidewalk.  The drivers were in the cars, I suppose in case the traffic cops come around they would move.  It was news to me but who knows, maybe it had been like that for a while, since I rarely go into Manhattan these days.  The scene reminded me of a certain section of Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn, just a tad north of Linden Boulevard.  Street parking is allowed, except for certain days when there was street-cleaning.  However, the road is narrower than usual, so perhaps voluntarily all the cars would park halfway on the sidewalk.  It is illegal probably but maybe there's an unspoken rule between the traffic agents and the local drivers.  Maybe too many cars got side-swiped so people don't want to take a chance with parking completely on the street.

21 May 2021

ANOTHER SIGN OF NORMALCY - EAT-IN AT FAST FOOD RESTAURANT

 I am happy to report that today I was able to have a sit-down breakfast at the Burger King near my office.  For a long time now, I had my breakfast, whether My Way or Not, in the car.  I usually have a podcast going, either Somethin' Rhymes With Purple or Ask Me Another.  It's nice and all, but I want the option of sitting at a table and not worry about littering in my own car.

Perhaps because of the nearby McDonald's being closed for renovation, service was slow at Burger King.  No one else was in the dining area, but the drive-by window had to be busy.  At least it seems that way.  I do prefer McDonald's one chunk of hash brown as opposed to the King's little tots.  Hopefully McD will re-open soon.  It's a little closer to the highway exit, BK being a little further away.  I am a lazy driver, the less I have to drive the better I feel.

WE ARE LIVING IN INTERESTING TIMES...

 We are living in interesting times but we have no time to write things down to look back on.  I love history and especially enjoy recalling my own past.  Social media is nice and all but I still prefer a blog.  I hope to revive this blog, at least try to have new posts every weekend.  Where did I hear that before?  It cannot hurt to try.

What happened today (Wednesday 19 May 2021)?  New York State followed CDC recommendation to relax mask requirements for vaccinated people.  I will go along with that, unless I am in an enclosed area with other people.  Who knows if any of them are anti-vax people who may be carrier of the disease or its variants.

My CityStrides.com stat isn't so great these days, at least with regards to Brooklyn.  For a while, for fear of the COVID-19 virus, I didn't run at all.  Did all my exercising in the backyard or in the living room.  I did resume a bit but it's a slow process.  Carteret, NJ and Staten Island, NY are now my main focus during the week.  I work in Carteret and go through Staten everyday.  I thought I was #1 in Carteret but all of a sudden some Private User popped out of nowhere to put me in the #2 spot.  Staten Island I have a comfortable lead but I have to keep it up.  So many streets, so little time.


[Originally written on perhaps May 19, 2021, but it's been so long since I blog that I forgot to click the Publish button until today.  Sigh.]


16 January 2021

OPEN OUTLOOK WITH MULTIPLE VIEWS

It's been a while since I literally work a desk job, i.e. sitting at a desk with my own phone extension, a computer monitor, drawers for my own stuff etc.  I started a new job about a month ago and that's exactly what came with the job.  I now also have two monitors to work with, a great thing to have to meet today's work demand.  One monitor for email, the other for the web etc.  With two monitors, I rarely need to print things out, just put the things to compare side by side.

One thing I love to do is have my programs run as soon as I log in.  Outlook, Chrome, Windows Explorer, a DOS box, etc. stuff that I would launch sooner or later.  As I now have two monitors to use, I started the habit of having up to three views of Outlook while using it.  Most people have Outlook show them their email then switch to the Calendar view when needed and switch back afterward.  Instead of just clicking on Calendar, if you right-click on it there's an option to open the Calendar in a new window.  I do that, also for Notes.  Nice to have Mail, Calendar, and Notes up and ready, just a click away, without having to switch back and forth with Mail.

I already have Outlook starts up along with other programs but it only opens the Mail view.  I knew there must be some command line switch I can use but at first there seems to be none.  (FYI, most, if not all, programs that you use in Windows is actually a pretty icon on the front, behind it is some filename that ends in .exe and such that you can type to start the program.)  I did come across this link, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/command-line-switches-for-microsoft-office-products-079164cd-4ef5-4178-b235-441737deb3a6#ID0EAABAAA=Outlook but it wasn't so obvious.  Ultimately, it was the /select foldername option but the use of the word foldername threw me off.  I think of folders as those things I created in my Inbox to keep things tidy.  I have one for my boss, one for some news subscription, etc, with matching Rules to filter the incoming mail into them.  I am lucky now that I don't have many email message to wade through but if needed I can easily find my boss' email because he has his own folder.  But folder the way Outlook sees it, per the Microsoft link anyway, is what I think of as View.  So what I have now are three separate commands:

c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /select outlook:Mail

c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /select outlook:Calendar

c:\program files\microsoft office\office15\outlook.exe" /select outlook:Notes

The exact path to Outlook.exe may be different for you, depending on whether you use the same Office version etc.  I already have an Outlook shortcut in my Startup folder, set to the Mail View, so I copied it twice, then edit the path to use outlook:Calendar and outlook:Notes.  Voila!  As soon as I log in, I have the three "Views" opened for me.  

06 January 2021

WORD BLITZ - PLAY WITH NON-FRIENDS

My current favorite word game is Word Blitz by Lotum, usually played through Facebook's relatively new game engine.  It's basically a Boggle clone, i.e. you have a grid of letters to work with, connect the letters to form words in the allocated two minutes, in a race against an opponent.  Like most word games, the words you form don't necessarily have useful daily usage, but rather it depends on the letters' assigned points, not unlike Scrabble.

One strange thing with the Facebook version is that you don't get to randomly play against opponents, not easily anyway.  You either drag many of your friends into the fray or earn some Hearts, whether through a timing system or by watching video ads, so that you can play in a tournament.  I suppose that's how they primarily make money, eyeballs supposedly exposed to advertisements.  While the game is popular, many people have a hard time convincing friends to play the game.  Waiting around to have enough Hearts to be able to enter a tournament is a pain.  A popular request in some Facebook groups for players of Word Blitz is that they need friends to play with.  There is no obvious way to play with people who are not already a friend in the Facebook world.  But it is true that you don't need to be a friend of someone to be able to challenge them to a game.

The trick is you first need to make a connection with a player via Facebook Messenger, which is the messaging system in the Facebook ecosystem.  Anyone can send a private message to anyone via Messenger, unless one party doesn't like the other and already blocked them.  When you see someone say, "I need someone to play me!", go to their profile and send them a message, something like "Let us play Word Blitz!"

Next launch Word Blitz and scroll down the Leaderboard, all the way down to the bottom of the list to find the Invite entry.  In the screenshot below, I scrawled over people I am friend with to give them some privacy.  Click on the plus sign next to Invite.


Scroll a bit down to find the list of people who you recently exchanged messages in Messenger.  It can be a friend or in this case, the non-friend that you just verbally challenged to a game.  That challenge of course was nothing more than to establish a link, so that that person would show up in the list after you clicked the plus sign in the screen before.  Click Play.


That's it!  That's how you can play people who are not friends with you on Facebook.  Personally, I do this from time to time.  People would send me friend request for the sole purpose of having an opponent.  It is so unnecessary once you know this way.  Not straightforward, but it works.  I'd rather just play someone this way instead of having to see people's posts in my feed.

25 November 2020

STRAVA MULTIPLE RIDE MAPPER

I love technology, things like computers, smartphone, and programming.  I also enjoy long distance running as a form of exercise.  It's wonderful when the two areas of my life converge.  Through a blog comment, I learned about the tool called Strava Multiple Ride Mapper (SMRM), http://www.jonathanokeeffe.com/strava/map.php .  It's a web form that lets you specify a range of dates to load your Strava activities and put them all on a map.  It works for most Strava activities, like running and walking, not just bicycle rides.  My first use for it was to make a word without having connecting lines between the letters.  It can be done but it's tedious.  You have to end a run after each letter.  Three-letter word would mean three separate runs.  I think the system that I have in place, whereby most of the time the letters are linked at the bottom, works fine for me.  It does save time, like if you make the letter U you can just end at the upper right corner instead of having to run back down to the bottom of the letter.  But as I said, it is too much work, from my point of view.  I also don't like to monopolize people's Strava feed.  For example, if I spell Strava with SMRM, that's six separate runs, or six entries in the Strava feed of people who follow me there.  I just don't like it.  I regularly unfollow people on Facebook who regularly post nothing but links to YouTube videos, one after another.

What SMRM is great for is to make phrases and I put it to use with my latest three runs.  The phrase is Live Laugh Love, that cheesy phrase seen all over Etsy.  I planned the words so that they are kinda strung together but not on the same baseline.  I like to work with rectangular grids but there is not enough room to spell all three words across.  It may be possible to stack them but I really like how the phrase turned out.  It's irregular, less boring, somewhat whimsical.

A few tips on using SMRM:

  • You do have to grant SMRM access to your Strava account.  If you are hiding from The Man, or working for The Man on a secret mission, this is not for you.  You probably shouldn't be using Strava in the first place anyway.  Or something like that, you know what I mean.
  • Have patient once you click that Load button.  It takes a while to parse through your Strava activities to find matching info.  Not only can you specify the date range, you can also select type of activity, whether to ignore Commuting entries, etc.  Give it some time.
  • While the tool works on smartphones, it's best used on a desktop or laptop computer.  If you have to do it on a smartphone, put the phone in landscape mode first.
A wish-list:
  • Strava recently switched to OpenStreetMap and while there are some downside to it, a welcomed change is the lack of all these local businesses clogging the map.  Google makes some money with all that info, not the open-sourced OpenStreetMap.  I wish SMRM would get away from GoogleMap too.
  • There's a link called Download KVM but it doesn't work.  I love to explore all the features of a given app or tool, but clicking that link only produces the error message There was a problem generating the KML file, please try again.
  • Similarly, if you try to give the author feedback, the link for that gives me the error Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress. I don't know what that means and don't want to go through the trouble of "fixing" my system just to leave a comment.
The author, Jonathan Okeeffe, actually has a few Strava tools offered.  I find SMRM useful and made a donation.  Check it out and donate if you agree it's a good tool to support.