Categories
Politics and government

Israeli politics in a nutshell

This exchange basically represents Israeli politics for me.

Source: Times of Israel

Categories
Applications Useful stuff Web/Tech

Cautionary tale about clearing your browser history

I cleared my Firefox cache in an attempt to resolve a slow performance issue. Boy, I didn’t realise how much I rely on my browser history to get things done every day.

I should have persisted with the performance issue …

Categories
Events and Life Wellbeing

Horrifying COVID-19 infection rate ahead of Israeli lockdown

Israel is going into another national lockdown this weekend, for three weeks. It’s controversial (as are most things in Israel these days), and the cost to our economy will likely be substantial. At the same time, our COVID-19 infection rate seems to be out of control.

This headline on Times of Israel is just horrifying:

Main image – Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing outside the coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 14, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

According to the article:

The Health Ministry said Tuesday morning that the daily coronavirus infection rate had rocketed to nearly 5,000 a day earlier as the country prepared for the nationwide lockdown set to begin on Friday.

According to the figures there were 4,973 positive tests for coronavirus the previous day, taking the number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 162,273.

Daily infection rate surges to nearly 5,000 ahead of lockdown | The Times of Israel

I read another headline in the last week or so where an Israeli medical practitioner commented that Israelis will only pay attention when we see the death toll climb.

I hope that’s not the case, and fear it is. While many people are wearing masks, trying to keep a safe distance, and keep to the rules, far too many are not.

Our new year starts this weekend. I hope that it doesn’t become memorable for the tragedy we bring on ourselves because we didn’t take the pandemic seriously.

Categories
Science and nature Travel and places

Kangaroos in Israel

My Summer vacation has gone by so quickly, as vacations often do. One of the many things we did was to take a drive up north to see kangaroos in Israel at Gan-Garoo, an Australian Park … in Israel.

The drive was pretty scenic, and I captured part of the drive with my camera along the way.

Gan-Garoo was apparently developed in conjunction with an Australian team that requires the park to meet various specifications to best accommodate the kangaroos in Israel.

It’s a really nice park, all in all. We booked online, and walked around through some of the initial sections before heading to the main enclosure.

The kangaroo enclosure has a number of kangaroos. I hadn’t actually seen kangaroos in person (we didn’t see kangaroos when we visited Australia last year). There are a couple rules about interacting with them, and they were pretty placid.

My wife and son fed the kangaroos from a feeder that exchanged pellets for some coins. It was pretty hot, so many of the kangaroos were resting in the shade, or sleeping in peculiar positions.

We also went for a walk through a short maze that explored some dinosaur species, complete with animatronic dinosaurs.

We were hoping to walk across to natural springs for a picnic lunch, but confused where we were supposed to go. We decided to take a half hour drive a little further north to the Kinneret, another popular spot that I hadn’t visited yet.

It was really hot, and we didn’t have shade, so we had a pretty quick picnic lunch, and made our way home.

Categories
Events and Life Food and Drink Miscellany

Kicking off my Summer vacation

Today is the first day of my Summer vacation, and I’ve started it with an unexpectedly appealing drink in a park with our daughter while we wait for our son to finish a lesson nearby.

Categories
Games

A Minecraft Dungeons Adventurer’s Life

I purchased Minecraft Dungeons for the Nintendo Switch a month or two ago, primarily for our kids. They’re Minecraft fanatics, and they’d been looking forward to this game since they first saw the announcement. I was also curious whether this was a game that I could enjoy (despite the blocky graphics that I really wasn’t that sure about).

It didn’t take long for me to develop an obsession with the game. I believe I’ve logged more than 40 hours playing this oddly compelling game, more time than I spent playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, back when I was obsessed with that game.

Minecraft Dungeons seems like a simple, silly dungeon crawler game at a glance. The more time I spend playing the game, the more I appreciate just how smart, and immersive the game is.

Not just hack and slash (although it can be)

On the one hand, it is a dungeon crawler where you move through different adventures, collecting items, weapons, and slaying a variety of bad guys (I believe the technical term is “mobs”) that feature in Minecraft itself. There are loads of hidden secrets, secret levels, and variable challenge levels as you level up in the game.

You could play it as a hack-and-slash game, rushing to the end of each adventure to progress to through to the end. To me, it’s much more fun if you explore each level, and seek out the hidden treasures and secrets.

Simpler gameplay in Minecraft Dungeons

I spent some time playing Legend of Zelda last week for a few hours, and it reminded me how different the two games are. As I mentioned previously –

Legend of Zelda feels like an open world that continuously surprises me. The initial quest seems pretty simple: collect a number of special objects, and then head off to fight the Big Bad. Except it isn’t.

Completing the initial quest is just the start of an expanded quest with increasing variations, surprises, twists, and turns. There seems to be something new to explore in the former kingdom of Hyrule each time I return to play.

Legend of Zelda is a very permissive game, and the scale of it just amazes me. At the same time, I find it a more difficult game to play because it seems to require more physical coordination than I have. This becomes apparent when I’m fighting a tougher opponent, and am trying to remember which combination of buttons makes Link leap to the side, do a backflip, raise his shield, or do some other action.

In Minecraft Dungeons, the controls are pretty simple. This one swings your weapon, that one fires arrows (when you have), and these buttons trigger magical artifacts. Gameplay can become pretty crazy when you’re in the middle of so many mobs, you can barely see your character, and yet the controls are straightforward enough that I’ve developed muscle memory, and can play without thinking too much about the game.

A thoughtful game

Thinking that Minecraft Dungeons is a basic, kids game is simplistic. The more I play, the more I appreciate how much thought has gone into the game’s design, and how it all comes together.

I initially thought that once I finished the initial set of adventures, that I’d be finished with the game. Oh no, not only are there three difficulty levels (Default, Adventurer, and Apocalypse), you also realise that there are about half a dozen hidden levels that you can unlock for some pretty huge dungeons.

In addition, once you complete the adventures on Default difficulty, you can unlock a set of runes that, in turn, unlock a fairly gratuitous adventure where you plough through cow-mushroom hybrids called Mooshrooms to gather experience, and some cool weapons (if you survive).

Each adventure has a story with a common thread, leading to your ultimate encounter with the Arch-Illager who has subjugated the land with a magical artifact that it discovered. And even when (or if) you defeat it, there is an expansion pack that takes you through jungle settings where you meet new mobs (on each difficulty level too).

Go for the Hero edition

The game is available at two prices: the “standard” version, and the Hero edition. The cost difference is a few dollars, and the Hero edition unlocks the expansion levels for free (at least the jungle levels, and hopefully the frozen tundra biome that hasn’t been released yet).

It’s well worth paying the extra few dollars for the Hero edition.

A couple drawbacks

There are a couple drawbacks. Even though the game is available on the Switch, Xbox, and Windows, you can’t play with your friends across platforms. This is a real pity because the option to play with friends on the same console has you playing characters on the main user’s account, not the character you may develop through your own account.

What I mean by this is as follows:

  • When I play the game using my Switch profile, I have a character who I’ve built up over time.
  • When I play with our kids, I’m playing a totally different character that’s more of a guest on their Switch profiles.

What this means is that we can’t play with our respective, “main” characters on the same device. If we each had our own Switch, though, we would be able to play together, online (which seems like fun, based on my observations of our son playing with his friends).

All that said, it is fun playing together, and the way this works does tend to encourage players to spend more time playing together so they level up together. The game can be tough when you play solo.


Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Categories
Science and nature

Adolescent sunflowers

My wife and son are growing various plants on our balcony, including three sunflowers. As with most adolescents, they are tall, gawky, and show great potential!

Categories
Miscellany

Powerful Deer – The Best GIF I’ve Seen This Week

We share a lot of GIFs in Slack at work, and one of my colleagues shared “Powerful Deer”. It’s probably the best GIF I’ve seen this week, heck all month!

Back to work …