Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Computer games

[Original post date: 3/4/08] I am absolutely wiped out this morning, and the reason for that, well.. some of you may find hard to believe. But it’s true.

The story goes like this: kinda late last night, I went into my new Vista machine’s Games folder so that I could right-click-and-drag some icons to my Desktop and create shortcuts for Solitaire and Chess Titans, my two favorite built-in time-wasters. (To create Desktop shortcut icons, release the right-click/drag, and select “Create shortcut here”.)

While I had my Games folder open, I decided to also open Add/Remove Programs and get rid of the crapware games the manufacturer provided as a “value bonus”– you know the ones; trial versions of Penguins, TradeWinds, etc. from Wild Tangent (I have not yet run the excellent tool, PC Decrapifier, on this particular machine. I don’t usually do that until the Norton trial expires.)

I also thought about removing the Windows games that I never play, (I was killing time.) such as Minesweeper. Spider Solitaire was going to be the first to go. As odd as this may sound, (and I have been running Windows since Win 95) I have never, ever, not once, played Spider Solitaire. I didn’t know how.
Well, being all grown up and conservative and everything, I decided I better play it, and make sure I didn’t like it, before I took the step of deleting it forever. Maturely erring on the side of caution…
Next thing I knew, it was 1:40 a.m.! Yikes.

Addicting.. and it takes your mind off of your troubles, and fast. It takes a little brain work and calculation to win.

Microsoft has added some new games in Vista, which I for one welcome. I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of a chess game (I have been playing chess since I was knee-high to a grasshopper; and, no, I’m not very good). From what I understand, chess is rather popular right now.
Sometimes I play Mah Jong (which now comes Standard), but only when I want to be frustrated and unhappy… I have the durndest time defeating that thing. Several members of my family are Mah Jong mavens (and seem to win every time). Tile matching is not as easy as it sounds.
inkball.jpgAlso new, and worth taking a look at, is a weird game called InkBall. This animated game is a bit like bumper billiards. The object is to get the moving balls to drop into the appropriate holes. But instead of using a “cue” to direct your “shots”, you are given a pen, with which you draw lines on the “table” which act as “bumpers” and deflect the ball’s path. You have to be quick, and have an eye for angles. Challenging. Fun. And a big improvement over the stock games we’ve been used to since Windows 95.
purble.jpgAnd then there’s something totally different (for Microsoft)– Purble Place. This colorful and cartoonish-looking game is clearly aimed at children, but I am not (too) ashamed to admit that an old dinosaur like me enjoys its simple distraction from time to time. It has a lot of matching, and it uses simple mechanics. I believe that it teaches problem-solving skills as well.
There are actually 3 games inside Purble Place.

In the screenshot below, I am in a cake factory “building” a cake (I am adding the icing in the shot) and I have to match the “order” by choosing the right ‘component’. Fairly straight-forward stuff. For adults, try setting the Options to “difficult” and select the “Advanced” difficulty at the beginning of a game, and then try playing this “child’s game”. You might be surprised at how much simple diversion this new game provides (or, you might hate it. But, so what? It doesn’t hurt to try…).

Well, in conclusion, if you have a new PC and it came with Vista, stay away from the Games folder.. and definitely don’t try any of the new games there.. at least, not on a “school night”. You might find yourself with a new “addiction” (like me and Spider Solitaire).

{Bonus Hint: if the Boss walks by, hit Alt+Tab real quick.}

[Update: I have become fairly skilled at Spider, so I decided to try my hand at the “Medium” difficulty. This complicates things by using two suits. I actually pulled it off and won one… after forty-some-odd tries. Ugh.]

Today’s free link: is already mentioned. PC Decrapifier is a blessing to everyone who has recently bought a new PC, (or still has all that “Try AOL Dial-up free!” and “Gateway Games” crud still on-board) and is one of the best freeware tools/ideas to come down the pike. Just scroll up, and click the link. See what this wonder does (and doesn’t) do. Odds are good you can use it (and be glad you did). Thank you, Jason York!

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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April 4, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Gaming, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , | Leave a comment