Blog: August 2023

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Disappointed in Netflix

Me: Opens help chat with Netflix (there is no email option).
Chatbot: Title?
Me: Accessibility options for choosing shows

Chatbot: Sends links to irrelevant articles I already had to click past to get to the contact link.
Me: Clicks "chat with an agent".

(Opening handshake.)

Agent: Can you elaborate the issue that you are facing?

Me: When browsing shows, either on my TV or on your web site, you only show graphics for the shows. I don't see very well and the art is often hard to see, particularly if the show uses small or fancy fonts. Is there a way to see a text list? You used to have that for the web site (but not the TV) but that's been gone for a while. I do not want to have to hover over or navigate into each thing when browsing -- too many to do that. I'm looking for a way to scan a list of titles I can actually see.

Agent: The list is not available anymore

Me: Is there some accessibility setting I can change? It's really frustrating to not be able to navigate your offerings.

Agent: I understand, but there is no setting

Me: Thank you. I understand. How can I escalate my concern? I know that you cannot fix it but somebody at Netflix should be concerned about ADA/accessibility. How do I reach that person?

Agent: There is no one that can resolve it. I can pass on the suggestion and the feedback to our team. And they will look into it.

I suspect I know how that will go. I have the impression that all the streaming services are anti-accessible like this, though I've only done cursory browsing. They probably all think it's ok because everybody else does it. Netflix has had this problem for a while; I don't often use the service because of that, and every time I go to watch something I am reminded of how hostile it is. (In case you're wondering, my Netflix subscription comes bundled with something else; otherwise I probably would have dropped it by now because of this.)

First looks at three new games

Last month a friend brought over a copy of Flamecraft, which I recognized from our Origins A-list but it was sold out before we could register. The game is set in a town with a collection of shops, each of which natively has one good type that you can acquire there. You can play cards to expand a shop. If you gather the right combinations of goods, you can enchant shops to make them even better (and earn points). Shops have capacity limits, and as they fill up new shops come out so there's always stuff to do. It's a cute game with (mostly) good production values, and I'm glad we got to play it. One thing that I found suboptimal is that the layout is long and skinny, so no matter where you sit, you can't see everything without getting up and looming over the table. Maybe some people don't have that problem, but several of us did.

At Pennsic our camp has a gameroom (look, have you met us?), and somebody brought a copy of Equinox. This is a card game with betting and attempting to manipulate the outcome. There are eight magical creatures, one of which will be eliminated each round. You can place betting tokens on creatures; earlier bets pay off more, but if a creature you bet on gets eliminated before the end, you get nothing for that bet. For each creature there are cards numbered 0 through 9, plus there are chameleon cards (also 0 through 9) that can be played anywhere. On your turn you play a card from your hand into the corresponding "slot" for the current round. You can play over existing cards -- so if someone played an 8 on that creature you want to eliminate, you can play a "0" there. Turns continue until every creature has something for that round (so at least eight turns but it could be a lot more), and then the lowest-valued creature is eliminated and you go to the next round. Each creature also has a special power, which you can use if you play on it and you're the majority better. I played this a few times throughout the week and enjoyed it. I expect we'll buy a copy.

Yesterday two friends joined us for games and food and we played Point City, which they had just gotten from Kickstarter. (General release is next month.) This is from the same folks who made Point Salad and the style is similar, though Point City has more strategy. Two-sided cards are dealt out into a market; one side shows one of five resources (or a wildcard) and the other side shows a building. Buildings require specified resources and produce some value -- usually they give you permanent resources, but they might also give you victory points or "civics" points, which are variable scoring rewards. In a manner similar to Splendor, you're trying to build up permanent resources so that you can build other cards without first needing to get and spend the one-shot resource cards. On your turn you take two adjacent cards from the market, and if you take a building you must be able to build it immediately (you do not have a hand of cards). If you don't have a valid play, you draw two resources from the deck.

We played this a few times and liked it -- it's a nice, tight game that doesn't take a long time to play (though I disbelieve the claimed lower bound of 15 minutes, even for experienced players). We plan to buy this when it's available.

Today's news

The person who murdered my friends at Tree of Life has just been sentenced to death. There will presumably be years of appeals, but it still feels like there's some closure. I mean, as much as there can be when people we cared about are gone and obviously aren't coming back.

I have complicated feelings about the death penalty. In this case I found the defense's arguments wholly unconvincing. We're supposed to believe that someone who spent months planning an attack, who talked coherently about it on social media, who carried it out methodically, and who showed no remorse -- should get a pass because he had a difficult childhood? Lots of people have difficult childhoods but don't turn into bigoted murderers, y'know? I'm no expert, but it seems to me that he was clearly capable of forming intent, and did. I guess the defense made the best arguments they could; they just didn't have much to work with.

I've noticed that the local Jewish newspaper does not use his name, and neither shall I. We don't need to give him word-fame and help make him a martyr. He's a nobody, a murderous nobody -- Ploni.