Post-It Minesweeper

Remember Minesweeper? It’s probably been forever since you played, so go have a game online now. And there went your afternoon.

A game of Microsoft Minesweeper in progress.
This is actually a pretty tough move.

My geek-crush Ben Foxall posted on Twitter on Monday morning to share that he’d had a moment of fun nostalgia when he’d come into the office to discover that somebody in his team had covered his monitor with two layers of Post-It notes. The bottom layer contained numbers – and bombs! – to represent the result of a Minesweeper board, and the upper layer ‘covered’ them so that individual Post-Its could be removed to reveal what lay beneath. Awesome.

Ben Foxall discovers Post-It Minesweeper
Unlike most computerised implementations of Minesweeper, the first move isn’t guaranteed to be safe. Tread carefully…

Not to be outdone, I hunted around my office and found some mini-Post-Its. Being smaller meant that I could fit more of them onto a monitor and thus make a more-sophisticated (and more-challenging!) play space. But how to generate the board? Sure: I could do it by hand, but that doesn’t seem very elegant at all – plus, humans make really bad random number generators! I didn’t need quantum-tunnelling-seeded Minesweeper (yes, that’s a thing) levels of entropy, sure, but it’d still be nice to outsource the heavy lifting to a computer, right?

Screenshot of my Post-It Minesweeper board generator.
Yes, I’m quite aware of the irony of using a computer to generate a paper-based version of a computer game, why do you ask?

So naturally, I wrote a program to do it for me. Want to see? It’s at danq.me/minesweeper. Just line up some Post-Its on a co-worker’s monitor to work out how many you can fit across it in each dimension (I found that I could get 6 × 4 standard-sized Post-Its but 7 × 5 or even 8 × 5 mini-sized Post-Its very comfortably onto one of the typical widescreen monitors in my office), decide how many mines you want, and click Generate. Don’t like the board you get? Click it again!

Liz McCarthy tweets about her experience of being given a Post-It Minesweeper game to play.
I set up the first game on my colleague Liz’s computer, before she came in this morning.

And because I was looking for a fresh excuse to play with Periscope, I broadcast the first game I set up live to the Internet. In the end, 66 people ended up watching some or all of a paper-based game of Minesweeper played by my colleague Liz, including moments of cheering her on and, in one weird moment, dispair at the revelation that she was married. The internet’s strange, yo.

Anyway: in case you missed the Periscope broadcast, I’ve put it on YouTube. Sorry about the portrait-orientation filming: I think it’s awful, too, but it’s a Periscope thing and I haven’t installed the new update that fixes it yet.

Now go set up a game of Post-It Minesweeper for a friend or co-worker.

Interview Sarah Palin

Remember about four-and-a-bit years ago, I downloaded Dadadodo, which I described at the time as a “word disassociator?” The program itself is a Markov chain generator/randomiser that works on sentence structures: in other words, given some text (speeches, poetry, blog posts, whatever – other kinds have been demonstrated to work on things like music) it will learn the frequencies in which words and punctuation follow other words and punctuation and use that to build resulting sentences.

Imagine the fun you could have if you took the combined speeches of any politician particularly famous for waffling through their answers. Like, say, US presidential election Republican party running mate Sarah Palin

Well, imagine no more – Interview Sarah Palin has you covered. Kick-starting paragraphs (“winding her up”) with particular topics (e.g. “Iraq and Afghanistan,” “John McCain,” etc.) sets off this fabulous little Markov-chain-speechbot. Even if you don’t understand even the theories of the mathematics, you can enjoy this site so long as you’ve got a suitable sense of humour around political waffling.

Super Munchkin

There’s been quite a lot said recently on abnib about class. JTA opened up the debate; Claire followed up by listing some of her least favourite things about the stereotypes of the middle class, and attracted a lot of debate in her comments; Matt P argued that the class system doesn’t exist (or, at least, isn’t relevant) in the UK any more anyway; and even Beth weighed in with her opinions on the whole thing, although it did take me prodding her with a virtual stick before she did so.

I thought it was about time that I rode in like a knight in slimy armour (wearing my helm of peripheral vision, of course) and closed the argument once and for all:

Who says I can’t be a half-middle-class, half-lower-class half-Elf, half-Orc?

(with insincere apologies to those who don’t play Munchkin)

Incidentally, Geek Night this week will be on Friday at Ele and Penny‘s house.