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Ask Slashdot: Really Short Time Wasters? 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-widdle dept.
rueger writes "At various times during the day I need a quick break from serious work. Browsing the 'net is not a good choice because it invariably winds up consuming an hour on places like Slashdot, so right now that means my break is a game of Solitaire. Loads in seconds, takes maybe a minute to play, then back to stuff that matters. I'm wondering what other goodies could fill that role — maybe games, maybe something that actually leads to knowledge, skills, or a measurable output? Think of it as an on-screen micro-hobby. Any Ideas?"
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Ask Slashdot: Really Short Time Wasters?

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  • World of Goo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by solune (803114) <peteseyeview@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:09PM (#42891231) Journal
    I quite like it. Shortish puzzles, an "open" mode where you compete against others; an all around good lil game
    • Re:World of Goo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by johnsnails (1715452) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:19PM (#42891343) Homepage
      If this takes you more than a few minutes you need to go back to REGEXP 101 :P
      http://www.coinheist.com/rubik/a_regular_crossword/grid.pdf [coinheist.com]
      http://games.slashdot.org/story/13/02/13/2346253/can-you-do-the-regular-expression-crossword [slashdot.org]
    • Re:World of Goo (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:23PM (#42891393) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, my favorite time-wasters at the moment (most tend to rely on playing with other humans):

      Web:
      http://fantasticcontraption.com/ [fantasticcontraption.com] : build 2D rigs to solve puzzles.
      http://freerice.com/ [freerice.com] : buff your SAT words, earn grains of rice for charity
      http://youdontknowjack.com/ [youdontknowjack.com] : nice weekly trivia quiz, 1-2 players (maybe, haven't done this for a decade or so)

      PC:
      World of Tanks (15 minute battles, free to play)

      Android:
      Wordfeud: Scrabble where you can play multiple people at once, and have up to 2 days per turn.
      Chess Online: timed games against similarly-ranked players... you can wrap up pretty quickly
      SketchIt Online: Pictionary, and sometime penis.
      Zombie, Run! : Get from point A to point B IRL, while running away from zombies on your GPS map.

      But mostly I just Fark and Slashdot.

      • by nmb3000 (741169)

        Wordfeud: Scrabble where you can play multiple people at once, and have up to 2 days per turn.

        I like Word Ruggle [google.com] on Android. It's like Boggle but playing with a bunch of other people at the same time, with each player's scores being ranked and displayed between the 2-3 minute rounds.

      • I second World of Tanks [worldoftanks.com]. It's one of the most "perfect" games I've ever seen. In *every* way -- sound, graphics, gameplay -- it gets straight 'A's. From the desktop to driving your tank takes about a minute, and battles are capped at 10 minutes in length. It's a great game to just pick up and play for fifteen minutes.

        The game is free to play, but you can opt to pay a monthly fee to increase the speed at which you gain experience and money. And although you can pay money to buy certain items that can g

    • Re:World of Goo (Score:5, Informative)

      by galatian (52029) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:30PM (#42891455)

      If you like puzzles, specially hard ones with some nice math and logic try Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzles [greenend.org.uk]. I'm currently addicted to sign post, but I can recommend net, light up, and loopy. Depending on the difficulty level, you can spend any kind of time doing them. The puzzles are awesome since you can pick pretty much any difficulty and enter your own parameters. For net I prefer a 25x25 grid, but for signpost I'm currently working on a 7x7.

      They're available in android in a really good port. But stay away from the IOS version, you have to pay and it's garbage.

      • Awesome puzzle collection. I am also currently hooked on signpost, but I still like pattern, netgame, loopy, galaxies, dominosa, and magnets. All are highly configurable to suit your time-wasting budget. Classic puzzles like mastermind, sudoku (regular, jigsaw, killer), minesweeper, black box, and kenken are there too! The iOS port does suck, but hey Simon's puzzles are open source, so you could port them yourself. Android, Mac, and Windows ports are all well done. I even use it on my old Palm device!
    • I recommend playing chess at the Free Internet Chess Club. You can play a 5 minute game and there is a time cap of 10 minutes. And you get a relaxing mental excercise that distracts from work without putting you to sleep.

      • by Inda (580031)
        After not playing for 20 years, I installed Backgammon, Checkers, and Reversi on my phone. All written by AI on Google Play.

        They're great little five minute time wasters.

        Backgammon - started on the lowest level and got beat. Today I beat the highest level nine times out of ten.

        Checkers - seems such an easy game, but I still have problems beating level seven.

        Reversi - as long as I'm black, I win every single time.

        Now, either I've got really good at playing, or the AI sucks. I like to think I'm good. :)

        All fr
    • I find that a combination of River dance, yodeling and playing Ruzzle on my smartphone stimulates me both physically and mentally. Your results may vary.
  • Oooh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gertlex (722812) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:10PM (#42891239)

    [Insert euphemism for masturbation here]

  • Staring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AaronLS (1804210) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:11PM (#42891247)

    Staring out the window is actually beneficial. If you spend alot of time on "near work" such as staring at a screen, it is good for your eyes to take a break and stare at something in the distance for a short while. If you can walk to an empty conference room/break room that has a window.

    • Re:Staring (Score:5, Interesting)

      by karnal (22275) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:26PM (#42891419)

      You know what's sad? Why should you have to go to a break or conference room for a window? I don't know if it's 100% true, but co-workers I met in Germany state that when they build out cube farms/offices there, each person has to be able to see out a window. Natural light and all etc. Instead of huge walls walling off a support section, they had plexi/glass up so you had natural light and a view outside.

      I once had a window cube; somedays I do wish I had that back.

      • Re:Staring (Score:5, Interesting)

        by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:57PM (#42891667) Journal

        When I was an *intern* back in the 80s I had a space with a window. There wasn't much to do sometimes. On one particularly slow day, I decided to verify that most cars are white. I tracked the colors of cars going up an exit ramp, using good old paper-and-pencil. Sure enough, most cars were white. I was surprised. It just doesn't register until you actually track it.

        Just verifying popular colors isn't all that interesting. Maybe if he took daily traffic statistics some more interesting patterns would emerge. I never went any further with it. Of course if he doesn't have a busy ramp outside his window, he'll have to find another hobby...

      • Re:Staring (Score:4, Funny)

        by SQLGuru (980662) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:06AM (#42892139) Journal

        I once had a window cube....next to a column, so my cube was offset from the window about 3 feet making it extra large......and it had a view of the Hyatt pool! Oh, and the column put it on a "dead-end" aisle, so no sneaking up on me, either. That was the best cube ever.

      • by houghi (78078)

        in none of the places I have been to in Europe I have not seen any cubicles. (Perhaps they do exist, I just have never seen them in the many companies I have seen). The closest what I have see was where they had high walls between the desks. This meant no being able to see the person on the other side.

        Normally they are low walls, so you can see the other person when you are sitting.

        So the one place that had these high walls, I decided to remove them. Before they were removed, the people were complaining to

    • If you can define "short" as ~ 15 min, then I usually just take a nap. A 15 min nap and I wake up surprisingly energized and recharged. Of course, I work by myself so can do this without worrying about what coworkers are thinking about me, but if you have your own office, close the door and set the alarm and you're good to go.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Most people can't just nap whenever they want. I probably couldn't do that even if I was tired, and you shouldn't be tired enough to nap during the day anyways. I couldn't even nap like that when I was a kid. During nap time in kindergarten, I would just lie there, not sleeping.

  • Whenever I need a break, I play chess.

    In 5 minutes, you can think of a move in a high-level long game, or play a couple of games of speed chess.

    It's mental, fun, and doesn't have to stretch into any more time than you want.

    • Re:Chess (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:48PM (#42892015) Homepage Journal

      I agree with turn based games, but not speed chess - rushing isn't good when you need a break.

      My preference: Infocom games. They'll wait for you, and you can spend as little or as much time as you like.
      The graphics is also awesome - way better than Skyrim, for sure - powered by imagination.

  • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:13PM (#42891263)

    http://wololo.net/download/ [wololo.net]

    Initial setup for the game and building a deck are somewhat time intensive, but once you are familiar with the game you can start it up and play a game or two and then shut it down.

    We're all nerds here, and this game has enough complexity to satisfy. You can also help with coding if you like by hacking on the game files, since the official game that Wagic is based on is always moving forward!

  • Get up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by al0ha (1262684) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:14PM (#42891271) Journal
    Get up and take a short walk outside - rest your eyes, get the blood flowing and some vitamin D absorption if it's a sunny day. Your body will thank you in the long term.
    • by Jaktar (975138)

      I was about to suggest something similar. Many people would benefit from a body weight only exercise (or weights if you can have them where you work).

      There are a myriad of exercises that you could knock out in under a minute.

      • Re:Get up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by chihowa (366380) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:41PM (#42891565)

        Drop and give me twenty. Seriously, though, quick little body weight exercises are great for getting your blood moving and decramping your butt after sitting in a chair for hours. People do tend to look at you weird, though, so a little privacy is nice. (On the upside, after a few weeks they stop looking at you weird!)

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          after a few weeks they stop looking at you weird

          No they don't. They just get better at hiding their reaction.

    • Re:Get up (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:27PM (#42891429)

      Plus, if you have a job that requires you to think, you'll probably find that those short walks increase your productivity.

  • I started playing CSR Racing. It burns through a "tank" of fuel in 10 minutes, it's free, and as long as you have your headphones on, you look like you're really intently working on something.

    To be clear, it's not a great game. It's still a short distraction and is fun for those few minutes.

    My actual favorite, as in while I'm waiting for the "tank" to fill up again, is going for a walk. It sounds goofy, but I actually enjoy just walking out the front door to check the mail. I live in a warm climate so i

  • vocabulary flashcards (either "college words" in your native language, or a new language)
    listen to a song
    smoke a cigarette
    do 10 lunges
    doodle, or paint (i like doodling on my tablet, but i also carry watercolors and a stack of 3x5 notecards)

    • by treeves (963993)

      i'd like to see you do 10 lunges while smoking a cigarette....not saying you can't...saying it would be entertaining.

  • by rwade (131726) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:18PM (#42891327)

    If it is me - and this guy sounds just like me - he needs to take that time and do anything but be on a computer. Take 5 minutes for longer breaks to grab a coffee or make a phone call you have been putting off. Or if you need a short break, sort out your desk or stare out the window for 30 seconds.

    Your wrists will thank you - if you are an information worker, you are at risk of being seriously debilitated in mere years if you don't take steps now.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I have one of those spring-based hand exercisers on a shelf near my computer. I pick that up and squeeze it (alternating hands) while I look out the window.

    • by jamesh (87723)
      I'm heading this way now. Wrist pain most of the time. I've swapped to using the mouse with the left hand but it doesn't seem to have helped. Any hints on where to go from here? (or is this not a 'self help' kind of problem?) I brought a rubiks cube to work to give a typing break every so often, but I can solve it in under 2 minutes so it's not enough of a break and gets a bit boring.
      • If you have insurance, no reason not to get a doc's advice. That said, I have been using the workrave app [workrave.org] for about 5 years now and I think it has saved me from significant deterioration. It has both 'nix and Windows implementations. Basically reminds you to take a micro break every 5 minutes and a coffee break every ten. I manage to keep working during these breaks. Usually it is a phone call or a convo with the boss or a colleague. And you can always count on a meeting as a good opportunity for a break.

        Be

        • by jamesh (87723) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:57AM (#42892977)

          If you have insurance, no reason not to get a doc's advice. That said, I have been using the workrave app [workrave.org] for about 5 years now and I think it has saved me from significant deterioration. It has both 'nix and Windows implementations. Basically reminds you to take a micro break every 5 minutes and a coffee break every ten. I manage to keep working during these breaks. Usually it is a phone call or a convo with the boss or a colleague. And you can always count on a meeting as a good opportunity for a break.

          Best piece of nagware out there IMHO.

          Sounds like a neat idea. If you were actually getting a new coffee every 10 minutes you would probably approach a lethal dose pretty quick though :)

      • I was this way a decade ago. Got much better now, but tends to return, when I stop behaving.

        By behaving I mean using a split keyboard (Microsoft Natural 4000 right now), a digitizer instead of a mouse (better a Wacom, because a battery in a stylus makes it heavy and cumbersome), and plenty of short breaks (going outside and walking around the building, brewing a pot of tea the proper way).

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:19PM (#42891351) Journal

    What greater waste of time do you need?

  • Learn a language (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidannis (939047) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:21PM (#42891367) Homepage
    Just not a computer language. I use flashcard programs [byki.com] and mp3s from Pimsleur and Japanese Pod 101 [japanesepod101.com] to learn Japanese. You can do the mp3s while walking outside as others have suggested. It has worked well for me, though my breaks last about 15 minutes.
  • Needing a break (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:21PM (#42891369)

    How about just walking, going up and down some stairs, stretching, looking out the window, eating a fruit, or drinking a glass of water? If you want to gamify that activity, you could even place a pebble into a jar every time you performed that activity to keep track of your progress.

  • I find the best breaks are alone, but some like the coffee machine chit chat.

    A quick walk around the block is great. Greet people and animals, buy knick-knacks (like your next meal ^^).

    You can choose to remain seated, though that's less of a breather. Music maybe ?

  • This site has done an amazing job of turning learning a language into a game...Duolingo [duolingo.com]

  • I study Japanese so I'll run through a few vocabulary cards (using Mnemosyne, but Anki is reportedly good too) whenever I need a quick mental break. Works nicely as a way to shift focus, even for a minute or less.

    • by aiht (1017790)

      I study Japanese so I'll run through a few vocabulary cards (using Mnemosyne, but Anki is reportedly good too) whenever I need a quick mental break. Works nicely as a way to shift focus, even for a minute or less.

      Seconded.
      I am also learning Japanese, and I take short breaks to do some kana flashcards when I'm getting too caught up in work. I use Kanatest on Linux, and Obenkyo on Android.

  • enough said.

    BD is awesome, and being tick-based it's perfect for short breaks here and there. It forces you to take those breaks, because you want to see progress on the game, you sent some units out, wanna see how it went, or check if you are being attacked, etc. And the amount of things you can do in a tick usually won't go over 2 minutes.

    Best MMORPG ever.

  • I've been playing a game called Robot Rising on Facebook which is pretty good. Sort of an action RPG with robots, Diablo style, and free to play... You can play through a level in 5-10 minutes. One caveat, it requires the Unity plugin, which isn't a big deal for me because I already had it installed, but some people don't like plugins...
  • Buy a harmonica (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:33PM (#42891491) Homepage Journal

    Besides being an enjoyable time-waster, you'll eventually get good at playing the harmonica and chicks dig musicians.

    Anyone can blow "Oh, Susanna" on day one but in a few months, you can play real blues harp. Watch your friends' faces when you pull a harp out of your pocket and wail on the opening bars of "Juke" by Little Walter or "Whammer Jammer". There are scores of quick two-minute lessons on YouTube to get you started. It's relaxing and there's evidence that it improves lung function.

    A Hohner Special 20 in the key of A (useful when you play with a guitar player) will set you back less than $40.

  • by phallstrom (69697) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:37PM (#42891527)

    Build a filter on stackoverflow.com (or equivalent) focusing on the technologies you like/know-something-about and watch the new/unanswered queue. Answer one. Usually doesn't take that long, good questions put you in a different mindset, and you're helping someone out.

  • Thinking FTW.

  • Coffee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:43PM (#42891579) Homepage Journal

    or your favorite beverage that requires walking more than 3 feet to refill.*

    *if your coffeemaker or fridge is that close to your keyboard, you get points for efficiency but you'll need to find a different micro-break. May I suggest moving it across the room?

    • If your coffeemaker and fridge are that close, then there's a clear and frequent micro-break that your going to need shortly. Let's hope that's a little further away.
    • if your coffeemaker or fridge is that close to your keyboard, you get points for efficiency but you'll need to find a different micro-break. May I suggest moving it across the room?

      I disagree about the need to move it farther away...

      Caffeine is a diuretic (a substance that promotes the production of urine), which means you will need to get up for more "bio-breaks." Even if you drink decaf, having a coffee machine within close reach will promote drinking more, and drinking more of any liquid will have the same effect of increased bio-breaks.

  • Go to (Score:3, Funny)

    by olip85 (1770514) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:44PM (#42891587)

    Dice.com. I hear it's a nice place.

  • I load up my fave game (Beat Hazard, available through Steam) and blast away on one of my fave MP3s. As short as 3 mins, or as long as 30. Obviously it won't fit the bill if you're using a work PC, but I code at home.

    I'm not associated with the company, related to the developers, etc, etc. I just find it a very good time-waster for short amounts of time.
  • When submitting statistical jobs on a mainframe, which would take much longer in real time than in CPU time, I used to read examples in the statistics programming manual. I would see interesting functions to try out, and then I had to buy a stats text book so that I could understand what the functions were doing in more detail and how to interpret them. Gradually I taught myself lots of stats AND I was able to try out new functions and apply them to my work.

  • MAME (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Two words: arcade games.

    MAME emulates a lot of arcade hardware out there, and it's reasonably simple to setup. 99% of the games (ROM based games, anyways) take up very little space- usually around 1 to 20mb/piece (disk and drive based games are around 250-2GB though, but most of those games aren't emulated properly or don't even work). There's a bucket of fantastic titles to pick from, spanning anywhere from the early 1980s to 2008 and beyond.

    The great thing about arcade games is that they're great fun for

  • I find that Dicewars is just the perfect lunch/dinner-time thing for me. It's turn-based so I make a move, then turn to take a bite and chew while AI goes, then back to my turn. It seems to take the exact amount of time that it takes me to eat (~15 min). Sometimes I do wish there was a bit more hardcore, classic fantasy/sci-fi, and/or useful skill-building equivalent that I could find.

  • Here's something I used in that way years ago.

    I download some books as text files from Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org], and had a program which would randomly select a ~10 line section from a random file. It would then encode this file as a simple substitution cypher [wikipedia.org]. Finally I had a little program to aid with decoding - it would display the cypher text, and let me try various cypher-letter to plaintext-letter assignments.

    I left word spacing and punctuation intact, which makes the problem pretty easy and entertaining. Fo

  • email (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hort_wort (1401963) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:37PM (#42891937)

    At the risk of sounding too mushy, taking just a couple minutes every day to email someone important to you might be the most worthwhile thing to do. Just that little bit each day is something a lot of us antisocial nerds don't do.

  • Sometimes I notice a lot of people here bitching about how slashdot has lost its way, or whining about other people's stupid questions, and I usually ignore them and move on, thinking they are getting old and cranky. But what the hell? Somebody asks how to kill ten minutes because he can think of NOTHING to do with that time, and the post gets approved? Seriously? For fuck's sake, come on... Take up crossword puzzles, or try walking, or just play Angry Birds like everybody else. Or is that too many choices?
  • by blibbo (928752) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:00AM (#42892095)

    I found this for android: "Guess-free minesweeper"

    It has an ad-supported free version and a cheap paid version, $1 - $2 I think . It's like the puzzle game that comes free in Windows but less frustrating... you never get to an unsolvable point.

    It still requires enough focus that it'll close your brain off from your serious work, and on the "expert" setting you'll find that you're better challenged than the old windows one... you keep searching (rather than guessing) for a solution because you know there is one.

    I think someone's made something similar for windows too as freeware. Anyhow, it's good... but surprisingly addictive. I guess that's different problem though :)

  • I have four two-inch 1.1 pound steel ball bearings (What did you THINK I meant?!) that I can whip out and twirl or juggle if I'm feeling particularly adventurous. It's a nice break from typing and they're heavy enough for it to feel like real exercise. You can get 'em on amazon.com, just search for 2" steel ball bearing. Make sure you actually click on the 2" ones, they're just the right size!
  • Always random, quite fresh, plenty of replay value, cheap as dirt. Also loaded with tons of references.

  • Walk to the break room, make a fresh pot of coffee, and guard it while it brews. Snarl at the other coders who are attracted to the scent of prey, and would steal the most rich first cup, taking the most caffeine for themselves while the pot yet brews, and leaving only tasteless watered down dregs for the rest.

    Alternatively: Enjoy your pecking order and take that most delicious blackest life-blood for your own!

  • No, really.

    Fire up WinUAE on a usb stick. Download some old RPG or strategy games. Bards Tale, Phantasie, Ultima, Civilization, Nuclear War...whatever. Play for 5 or 10 minutes. No need to get back to the inn or some other save spot to stop playing - just use the Save State function (F12 - miscellaneous - state files) to save your spot. Works like a charm and it's just the thing to burn a quick ten minutes.

    Remember to use the End-Break key combination to emulate at maximum speed to reduce your load

  • I favor online riichi mahjong. I usually play at Tenhou. Games are pretty short and entertaining.

    Tenhou: http://tenhou.net/ [tenhou.net]
    How to play at Tenhou, including links to introduction materials for riichi mahjong, in English: http://arcturus.su/tenhou/ [arcturus.su]

  • What I will often do when I have some downtime is proofread some pages at http://www.pgdp.net/ [pgdp.net]. It's essentially a project to take OCR'd out-of-copyright books and proofread and format them for Project Gutenberg. You only have to do one page at a time, so (depending on the type of book you choose to work on), it can take anywhere from just a minute or two on up, and the result is something useful.

    And while I've been doing it, every once in a while something will catch my interest that I would normally hav

  • Just go ahead and grab a new round of $BEVERAGE and maybe pick one station that's not on your floor but another floor so you get some stair exercise at the same thing. A walkabout is sometimes useful to straighten out the lines of thoughts and even get a chat on the way with someone.

    Work is more than just looking forward - work is a lot like driving in traffic - you need to pay attention to your surroundings too in order to catch the flow. Organized meetings appear only when the tide has turned, the small i

  • Solitaire for grown-ups....

  • Do you compose music? A pad of five-line stave can be bought cheaply at music shops or some news/magazine vendors, and a pen/pencil. There are some simple notation rules, that are easily looked up. A few notes at a time.... You never know when you'll write the next big hit.

    Electrical circuit design takes some understanding, but it can be taken up and put down. It takes a blank sheet of paper, and a pen/pencil. Again, there are some simple notation rules, that are easily looked up. Try a simple one-transis

    • by treeves (963993)

      or you can just print out some blank music paper...best done from Lilypond, which you can spend time learning. www.lilypond.org

  • by treeves (963993)

    and floss your teeth. Not a waste of time. Might prevent cardiovascular disease, definitely prevents tooth decay and gingivitis.

  • is my favourite time-waster. Just draw some buildings, put in a cycle path. It gives a nice feeling that the time you spent there is not wasted and will benefit others.
  • I'm playing scales on a solid body electric guitar

    solid body => it's not loud
    it helps relaxing your fingers
    it's like meditation really...

  • ... Just learn to solve it first. From then on, it won't take you much more than 2 minutes.
  • I gave Warwick Davis a couple of blintzes to paint my fence, but he never did it!
  • Put on your robe and wizard hat.
  • Learn to fall asleep very fast. You need a room where you won't get disturbed and that you can lie down in in relative comfort. Set the alarm on your phone for 10 or 15 mins; I find 15 to be optimal; and switch off. If you have problems clearing your mind then learn some meditation techniques or listening to something quiet and gentle can work. You can get white noise generator apps for your phone. Sleep is restorative and consolidates learning and if youre anything like me, this helps to balance out stayi
  • by Bud (1705)

    Learn to juggle! Seriously! I learned to juggle with three balls during a particularly stressful software project some 15 years ago. Nowadays when I feel blocked, I pick up three round objects and go somewhere else to juggle for a while. I haven't progressed beyond three objects but then again I'm not doing it for the fame and the money. :)

    Juggling activates other parts of your brain than you (as a software engineer or IT guy) normally use. You can juggle as long as you like, ten seconds or ten minutes. The

  • mille [mit.edu], as long as Hasbro doesn't kill it (I presume that's why there's no "bornes" in the name). At one point, it was one of my favorite toys for "compiling!" [xkcd.com] xmille [x.org] (and the accompanying README [x.org]) if you want a GUI.

  • Skritter [skritter.com] is a game where you draw Chinese characters. Like anything you do repeatedly, they will burrow into your brain and take up residence. Result: you have learned Chinese on your lunch breaks.
  • Work on Wikipedia. It's rare to find a Wikipedia article not in need of some work. You get to learn about various topics and you get to make something better for everyone. Wikipedia is reportedly the fifth most popular web site in the world. As you learn more about editing, it's easier and easier to find things that are broken that are easy to spot and fix in a couple of minutes.

  • by JD-1027 (726234) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @09:34AM (#42894865)
    I've started learning Origami during my mini work breaks. Origami is quick to learn, only takes a few minutes to create a single item, I'm exercising my brain, and my kids love them. It also helps that post-it notes are square and office environments are full of them. For really quick breaks (2-3 minutes), I'll solve a Rubik's Cube just to loosen up by brain a bit.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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