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Words With Friends: Another Stupid Game — Or An Obsession?

Words With Friends: Another Stupid Game — Or An Obsession?


    (Editor’s note: The following is an article written by Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., author of the book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us. Rosen is past Chair and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is a research psychologist and computer educator, and is recognized as an international expert in the “Psychology of Technology.” Over the past 25 years, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues have examined reactions to technology among more than 30,000 children, teens, college students, and adults in the United States and in 23 other countries. He has been quoted in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Good Morning America and writes a regular blog for Psychology Today. You can learn more about Rosen’s new book here.)

    The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating cover story on April 4, 2012 written with wisdom, humor and insight by Sam Anderson. Anderson’s basic premise is that the concept of gaming has changed. For decades, a special class of teen or young adult gamer would use specialized systems, to play complex multi-player, multi-level games that might last from a few hours to many days or even weeks. Now, however, anyone can play a quick game — what Anderson terms a “stupid game” — any time of the day or night right there on their smartphone that rests somewhere next to their body 24/7. And this, Anderson argues, has changed the world of gaming to ” . . . not just hard-core gamers, but their mothers, their mailmen and their college professors. Consumers who never would have put a quarter into an arcade or even set eyes on an XBOX 360 were now carrying a sophisticated game console with them, all the time, in their pockets or their purses.”

    For decades I scrupulously avoided video games even when my four children delighted in playing them. I think that I once played Pong and perhaps Donkey Kong in a bar somewhere but that was under duress and the influence of a few beers. I have never played a video game that resides on a console although I have watched, fascinated, as young children seem to understand intuitively what actions to take to make the next level or win the game. Just last night I watched my friend’s 9-year-old son sit down at a game console in a restaurant as we were waiting to be seated and without even glancing at the instructions, he popped in two quarters and played.

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    I have, however, always enjoyed card games and board games, particularly those that required thought or cunning to win the game. I consider myself a pretty good Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit player and delighted in winning nearly every Monopoly game with my children (I used a unique strategy that I refuse to divulge as I plan to use it with my grandchildren!). My iPhones (I have owned four of them) have always come with a hefty game center in the App Store, which, as you might guess, I have avoided like the plague. Until someone pointed out Words With Friends!

    Arghhhh! I shall mark that day on my calendar as the day that my life — and my brain — changed. And I am pretty sure that it changed for the worse.

    As soon as I downloaded WWF I was hooked. Now I am playing a dozen games with multiple players (all of my opponents are personal friends, as I think it is a bit bizarre to play with people you don’t know, although it is a good way to meet new people). In his NYT article Sam Anderson relayed a similar situation with his wife: “My wife, who had never been a serious gamer, got one and became addicted, almost immediately, to a form of off-brand digital Scrabble called Words With Friends. Before long she was playing 6 or 10 games at a time, against people all over the world. Sometimes I would lose her in the middle of a conversation: her phone would go brinnng or pwomp or dernalernadern-dern, and she would look away from me, midsentence, to see if her opponent had set her up for a triple word score.”

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    That is so true! Anderson’s wife sounds like me, and like everyone else that I play with. I am beginning to see patterns in my WWF friends (I call them that even though two are colleagues, one is my partner, one is a student in my lab and two are other people that I know very well). At first I said that I was going to “just play at night” after watching Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper but before The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Pretty soon I found myself pausing the news and jumping in and making a few plays, and then returning to the news. Then, I think I said “to heck with it” and left the news on and played WWF with the news as background. Now, who cares about the news. Who cares about anything. WWF RULES!

    I confess that I am now addicted. But is it truly an addiction or is there more to it? I don’t feel like an addict. I am not shirking my responsibilities at home (I still cook every night although one night I had to grab a cooked chicken because I got into a vicious back-and-forth WWF game with someone — and I WON!) nor is my work suffering. I still teach, still write, but something is happening and I think that I know what it is. What I am feeling, I believe, is a compulsion. Somewhat like Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets,” I feel as though if I don’t do a certain behavior — i.e., play WWF — I will meet with some dire consequence. I am not washing my hands constantly or locking and unlocking my doors, nor am I avoiding cracks when I walk in the neighborhood. But I feel anxiety much as Jack did when I spot my smartphone. And the anxiety is “I wonder if so-and-so played a word and I better check and play one, too.”

    As I sit and stare at my phone wondering about WWF, I am not feeling the discomfort that someone feels when he or she has a true psychological addiction. I am not even hoping that playing will bring me pleasure. What I am feeling is an intense NEED to play or rather to check in to see who has played. And when I do play I don’t feel that rush of dopamine, which feels like pleasure. What I feel is . . . nothing. But then my phone beckons to me and I slide to the last page of apps (I made myself put the WWF app on the last page to make it more difficult to get to. What a fool! It must take me all of a second to flick a few times and it literally pops out at me when I get to that page) and press my finger on the icon and, voila, my games appear!

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    So, what do I think is happening? I had some time to think about this the other day. I was at public radio studio, waiting to go on a noontime radio broadcast followed by a TV taping. Since I always arrive early I had lots of time and only my phone to keep me busy. I knew that I was going to talk about this on the air so I spent some time with my phone in front of me trying to analyze what might be going on in my brain. Wow! After just a few minutes of “thinking” I somehow found myself looking at a WWF screen of 12 ongoing games. How did I get there? Well, partially I think it was a habit and partially I think I was compelled to do so in a way that resided just below the surface of conscious activity. Sure sounds like a compulsion to me.

    How do I plan to break this compulsion? I have started giving myself “WWF Time” where I grant myself the option to play for 15 minutes and no more and then put my phone away, out of sight, and do something else for 45 minutes. I set a timer (on my phone, of course) and when it rings I play and when it rings again I stop. Not sure if it will work as I have only been doing this for a week but I am finding that the 45 minutes is going by pretty quickly now compared to the crawling seconds and minutes that appeared to barely move the first few times I waited for my WWF Time.

    Do you feel compelled by your technology? Do certain games or activities that you do on the phone beckon to you? This is one of the main points of my new book, iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, where I devote two chapters to obsessions and compulsions surrounding technology. Let me know what you think.

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    (Photo credit: The Sandwich Lady)

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

    25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

    Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

    Or even better:

    What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

    You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

    Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

    How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

    The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

    In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

    • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
    • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
    • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

    As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

    Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

    Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

    But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

    his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

    5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

    Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

    But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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    1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
    2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
    3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
    4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
    5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

    Who can use Excel shortcuts?

    There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

    • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
    • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
    • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
    • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

    Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

    With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

    25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

    Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

    1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

    If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

    2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

    If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

    If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

    3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

    Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

    =sum(

    …and then press F3.

    When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

    4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

    Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

    =match(

    …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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    When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

    But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

    5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

    If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

    • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
    • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
    • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
    • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
    • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

    6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

    By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

    The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

    For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

    A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

    7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

    When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

    8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

    When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

    9. Use filtering

    Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

    It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

    To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

    10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

    Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

    Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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    To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

    11. See formula results with F9

    If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

    Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

    12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

    If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

    13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

    Here’s how to use EDATE:

    =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

    =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

    14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

    Here’s how to use EMONTH:

    =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

    =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

    15. Remove spaces with TRIM

    TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

    16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

    In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

    17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

    When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

    And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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    18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

    If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

    19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

    Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

    You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

    20. Use data validation

    This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

    • Create dependent drop-down lists;
    • Create drop-down lists;
    • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

    21. Use conditional formatting

    It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

    22. Use formula auditing

    This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

    The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

    23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

    Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

    It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

    24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

    INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

    25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

    OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

    The bottom line

    As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

    That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

    If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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