The Omm of Scrivener

I use Scrivener to write with. I love most things about it, but there are a few things that I either don’t like or haven’t been able to figure out yet. This blog looks like it will be helpful for the latter.

Here’s an example about creating distraction free writing space: The Omm of Scrivener.

Boardgame(s) – Phase 10 and Rummikub

I grew up playing versions of the card game Rummy, mainly a variant of Shanghai Rummy (with the buys, but no jokers) and Canadian Rummy (which may be a form of Continental Rummy). We still play lots of it as an extended family (on my side), and it led on to games like Canasta, Bolivia, Samba, and others which required you to ‘meld’ certain combinations of cards to play a round. Ironically, I have never played Gin Rummy, which seems to be more an American game than British one.

(I have just consulted my copy of “The New Complete Hoyle: The Authoritative Guide to the Official Rules of All Popular Games of Skill and Chance, Revised Edition” (Albert H. Morehead, Richard L. Frey, Geoffrey Mott-Smith) and can find no mention of Canadian Rummy, so it must be some kind of variation that my grandparents picked up on their travels somewhere).

Anywhere, where this is leading is to the two games for today, which are both based on a Rummy/Canasta (with a touch of Mahjong) style of playing with melds, required sequences and sets, and a number of ‘suits’ – albeit represented by colours.

Phase 10 is the first game off the shelf – which is a card game where you progress through a series of different levels or ‘phases’ that you have to complete in turn to get to the end of the game. There is nothing so frustrating as getting stuck on a phase for turn after turn as everyone else progresses forward. A good game, relatively easy to learn, but can be frustrating for younger players (and me), and can take much longer than you think leading to game fatigue by the end. If you can play a Rummy variant you can play this almost with no extra effort – once again the idea is to have the lowest score and the highest phase.


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Rummikub is a board game which is effectively a card game in disguise. Yes, there are tiles instead of cards, but you have four ‘suits’ – red, gold, blue, and black – and you used the tile like cards to meld a certain number of points to start, you have ‘joker’ tiles, and you want to get the lowest point score at the end of the game. But, in terms of a tactile sense it is easier to manipulate by smaller hands, there’s a solidity to rearranging sets and sequences of tiles on the table, and has a stand for your pieces. And the turns are relatively quick, so less game fatigue than Phase 10, or even a Rummy card game. We played the other day and it was fun to come back to it after a year or two.

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All in all, both are good games, but for a real challenge learn to play Canasta which is a real challenge and pleasure to play.


Melbourne for a bit

Currently visiting family in Melbourne for a few days. A few snaps (from different locations) of the cricket/footy ground right outside my folk’s place. Nice to see and hear the cricket game yesterday afternoon.

Boardgames – San Juan, Six and Oceania

The next game of the bookshelf in the lounge is San Juan from Rio Grande Games. This is a good game in terms of compact size, quick set up, relatively quick gameplay and scoring, and reasonably easy to learn rule. This game is the card game version of Puerto Rico, also from Rio Grande, set during the Spanish colonisation of the Caribbean. In the game you have to produce resources (e.g. coffee, silver, tobacco), as well as develop properties (which also convey certain advantages to the player). A round of the game, comprising a turn from each player, has the players selecting a particular activity (e.g. trading, building, producing etc.) and there’s an element of randomness governing the pricing of goods for sale. Overall, it’s a fun game to play – though as one commentator has noted, in a post-colonial context is might fall into the Best game with a morally repugnant premise: San Juan – 11 board games you should be playing as an adult – Vox category.

See also: San Juan | Board Game | BoardGameGeek

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Next off the shelf (and a game I played tonight with one of my children) is Six from Dr Wood/Foxmind. Basically it’s like two-player Connect Four played with hexagons on a flat surface, with the idea of creating six adjacent tiles in a straight line, a loop or a triangle. Very simple to learn, but you have to keep focused the whole time. Really good for introducting children to boardgames, while still challenging for adults.

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More details at: Six | Board Game | BoardGameGeek

Video review at:

Another video review at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvA1PTmvCIc

The final game is Oceania from Mayfair Games. It’s a game my two older boys played for a while, and I’ve included it here because it’s one of the few games that is genuinely created for two players.

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TEC – 2013 Tertiary Education Performance Report

The Tertiary Education Commission’s 2013 Tertiary Education Report is now available on their website, along with a set of interesting info graphic summaries of

As well as overall information and analysis of the NZ tertiary education sector (according to TEC’s criteria) it also highlights details for major players such as universities, polytechnics and wānanga. The information in the PTE section is of particular interest to me in my role.

Boardgame(s) – Pillars of the Earth

Moving back to board games today, and to one of the favourite games of my eldest child is Pillars of the Earth from Mayfair Games. The game is based on Ken Follet’s novel of the same name (see Pillars of the Earth (Novel) and also the TV series) based around the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral.

The game takes a bit of set up, and you have to concentrate for the whole game. Basically you need to acquire resources and workmen which help build the cathedral and in doing that you earn victory points. Along the way you need to make sure you have enough gold, avoid being taxed to much, dabble in some intrigue, and keep up with the other players – it’s hard to catch up at the end. The game takes a fixed number of turns – each turn adds a part of the cathedral – and is relatively complicated if you’re not a regular board gamer. New players struggle for the first few games and even non-newbies take a while to remember how to play, but if you played regularly it’d become more familiar.

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Here’s the game we were plaining the other day – pretty much at the start of the game as there are no tokens on the board at the various “stations” or a cathedral being built yet. The cubes represent resources: metal (blue); white (sand); grey (stone); and brown (wood). You can also trade resources at the market in some situations.

If you like medieval game settings, and something to stretch the brain, this is a good choice for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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[Written with Ecto]

Boardgame(s) – Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! from Rio Grande games is one of my all time favourite games – well, it does involve pizza – and a game that my kids have played since preschool (even though it says ages 10+). Basically you make pizzas by playing ingredient cards and order cards into the oven (a pile in the middle), and then when you finish the replacement card pile you flip the over over and deal out the cards. If an order comes up and the ingredients are in the oven then the order is complete and those ingredients are removed from the oven. Really simple to learn through playing, a good memory game, and short time play (three rounds and you’re0\ done). Like the box says, easy, fast and fun.

There’s also the spin-off game Sole Mio! which can be played on it’s own or with Mamma Mia!. They’re both Mamma Mia! Plus tin.

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More details at:

Video review showing the game play

[Written with Microsoft Windows Live Writer]

One year ago…

One year ago I was just about to start my current job. Heading back to work this Monday after three weeks annual leave feels like starting all over again (but with the stress levels turned up a few notches).

http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1231
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[Written with trial version of MacJournal. I’m sure I have a license for this, but can’t find the email with it in]

Boardgame(s) – Coloretto/Zooleretto

Today’s games are the card game Coloretto and the related board game Zooloretto, both from Rio Grand Games/AbacusSpiele. Both of these require you get sets of cards or pieces which you then score at the end of each turn, but there’s an element of risk-taking while you let the sets build up because someone else might take the set you want or add in cards you don’t need or want.

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Coloretto is one of the earliest card games we got after we’d been playing Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne for a few years. Personally, I don’t really like it that much, but the rest of the family do, and that inspired playing the board game version based on the card game.

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The card game is relatively easy to learn to play, and the scoring system is straight-forward. Our kids have played from about age 4-5 on.

More details at:

There are some expansions and variations. For a fuller list see:

 [Written with MarsEdit]