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Ask Slashdot: Really Short Time Wasters? 279

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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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • MAME (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:10PM (#42891757)

    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 short amounts of time. If you spend 5 minutes playing Raiden Fighters then die, you're probably not going to feel like playing it again right after that. Pace yourself and don't credit feed (continually insert quarters) the games, tell yourself when you're dead you're dead until your next break.

    We setup a MAME cabinet in the office where I work specifically because of this- the games are short, intensive bursts of extreme fun. And, well, the quarters go towards filling the community fridge with various pops, cheeses, and the cupboards with chocolate bars and such. So it's really a win-win. Nobody has abused the machine for any length of time since most folks are only interested in one or two games, and those games might last 2-5 minutes/pop. All in all it seemed to lighten the mood considerably in the office since everyone has something in common- best scores on whatever their favourite game is.

    In any case, MAME is easy enough to setup and run on your computer. It loads fast and runs quickly, so you can get into an arcade game in about 5 seconds flat. Since arcade games are designed to push quarters, you'll find that most games don't last more then 3-4 minutes, but they're really bloody fun while you're playing them. Just pace yourself and refuse to keep inserting quarters, because that's absolutely no fun. Give yourself enough credits to start the game and that's it. When you die, you go back to work.

  • 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 [] 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 :)

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."