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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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  • World of Goo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by solune ( 803114 ) <peteseyeview@yUU ... inus threevowels> 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
  • 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.

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

    by johnsnails ( 1715452 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:19PM (#42891343)
    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]
  • 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.

  • 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):

    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)

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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!)

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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 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 :)

  • 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.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith