I’m done with Lifehacker

I’ve been reading Lifehacker, the “do everything better” blog, for 15 years or more. It was one of the first subscriptions I added to Google Reader, and it has been a regular staple of my daily procrastination reading ever since. Over the years, Lifehacker has taught me productivity tips, cooking hacks, time savers, and various other little life lessons.

And now I’m done with it.

Gina Trapani’s original vision for Lifehacker was to help readers become more productive. It seems the current goal is to cause readers to repeatedly bang their heads against their desks and question their life(hacker) choices.

By way of example, here are a few of their recent articles:

  • 10 ways to show you ads while you click through an annoying slideshow
  • You’ve been breathing wrong the whole time
  • 32 things you can do with a coffee filter (but never will, because you’ll forget the list ten seconds after you read it)
  • How to do something unethical and get away with it
  • Make Lifehacker money by buying “the best coffee maker” through affiliate links
  • The best science-based methods for relieving pain (that aren’t actually science-based like, you know, medication)
  • How to stop malware according to a 22-year-old journalist who knows nothing about cybersecurity and didn’t interview any experts

Okay, so those aren’t real Lifehacker headlines, but they may as well be. Look, I understand the need for the site’s corporate overlords to make money. And, in with the sand there are a few pearls, like the glorious gourmand Claire Lower and the trusty trainer Beth Skwarecki. It’s why I’ve put up over the years with link-bait headlines, annoying ads, and even auto-play videos. But, overall, things have gotten so bad that finding a genuinely useful article on Lifehacker is as rare as finding a compassionate soul at a Trump rally.

Unfollowing Lifehacker on Feedly

So, that’s it then. I’m unsubscribed. I’m free from the call of the Lifehacker headline siren that lures me to the destruction of my productivity-seeking soul. Now if I can just learn to resist the urge to check Twitter and Facebook 279 times per day…

Posted in Me

Product review: Codenames: Duet

Carrie and I are always looking for fun two-player board games. Could we play games with other people? Yes, we could. Do we? No. I’d like to blame the pandemic, but honestly we were just as lame before COVID.

Anyway, I’d had Codenames: Duet on my wishlist for a while. When I saw it on sale for half off recently, I jumped on it. (Which is to say that, sometime after seeing it on sale and before the sale ended, I tapped the “Buy Now” button.)

Codenames: Duet is a word game that is best described as a combination of Password and Battleship. It’s a cooperative game, which is good for us, since Carrie doesn’t like to lose (despite doing it often when we play games together). You lay out some randomly selected word cards in a grid. Each player has a key card that identifies which words their partner has to guess, and which words are to be avoided. Gameplay is as simple as taking turns giving hints with one word and a number, like “fruit 3,” meaning you want your partner to find three words related to fruit. You get limited turns to clear the board (identify all the “secret agents”) without guessing wrong and ending the game with an “assassin.”

Example of Codenames: Duet game setup.

While the concept is simple, it takes some creativity to figure out a clue that connects words like “grass,” “dirt,” and “sidewalk” without also causing your partner to guess, say, “driveway.” It’s a fun challenge. At least, it is once you understand the rules. Not that we would have played several games thinking it was too easy because we didn’t limit the number of turns correctly. We’re educated people with strong reading comprehension skills… the kind of people who play word games for fun. You know, nerds.

Anyway, it is a fun game, and the randomness of the words and patterns in each game make it different each time. There’s even an advanced variation where you travel the world, with each destination providing a different “time limit” (number of turns) to vary the challenge level. In the end, I expect that Codenames: Duet is a game we’ll come back to with some frequency. After all, we’re nerds.

Rating: 4 out of 5 secret agents