Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

I am an addict

My name is Neil, and I am a Solitaire addict.
Screenshot of the most frequently used programs on Neil's Start Menu
The Start Menu says it all really. Admittedly, it doesn’t include any of the apps in quicklaunch, which arguably are used more often, but it’s a sorry picture.
It was never always this way though. Personally I blame dial-up internet. I came to university in September 2002 after nearly a year on broadband, and suddenly I had to wait while my computer dialed up to the internet. Now, on any good ISP, that takes a minute tops. But the university’s own access was heavily over-subscribed – 240 lines for, well, a lot of students. So, consequently, it was often engaged. At its worst, it could take 100 redials and over half an hour before I could get connected.
So what did I do in those anxious minutes? I played games. First it was Spider Solitaire, but after I while, I got bored of that, so it’s been Solitaire now for the past 18 months. Minesweeper pops in occasionally too, although since you can’t pause it I tend not to play that so much. Recently, Freecell has appeared in there too.
In fact, to widen my scope, I dug out Microsoft’s Best of Entertainment pack, which I bought years ago (it came on a floppy disk copyrighted in 1994), and installed that, so that I had games like Chip’s Challenge, Golf, Taipei, Tut’s Tomb and Tripeaks to keep me occupied.
The worrying thing is, as soon as I have to wait for something, either because I’m downloading a file or installing for some software, I get a reflex action to reach for a game. Even at home, where I get broadband. It’s scary.
Obviously I could play better games – I’ve got Worms Armageddon on here for example – but they’re not games you can flit between while working on something else. In any case, I hope this is an addiction I can overcome. You can get credibility saying that you’re good at playing Counterstrike, but say that you can complete a game of Solitaire with Vegas scoring makes you sound like a total nerd.


  1. I don’t know’s a sorrier picture: that you play that game that much or that you’re using Windows XP’s performance-hogging bubbly menus and not classic mode. 😉

  2. Actually, if you minimise Minesweeper it pauses automatically, and continues when you restore. In Windows 3.1-Me you could minimise it by pressing escape, though I’m not sure that works in XP.
    James (who suffers the same problem when using his parents Me dial-up machine)

  3. It pauses nicely in xp if you just pes the little minimising button in the top right corner. (Very technical explanation there!)

  4. Yes, I see it does now. Funny that I never noticed that before.
    Jake: but I like the new start menu!

  5. Brilliantly written as always Neil, thank you.