CLOSE
Original image

The Boss Key

Original image

This weekend I was enjoying some performance from Coachella via AT&T Blue Room and noticed something fun: their online video player has a Boss Button. Pressing the Boss Button pops up a fullscreen fake Excel spreadsheet (pictured at left), designed to fake out your boss or coworkers if they happen to walk by while you're, uh, not being productive.

This feature brought me back to video games from the 80's, where a Boss Key (often F10 or some other generally unused key) was a common feature. Where did the Boss Key go? Why haven't we developed a modern equivalent -- there are over 100 keys on my keyboard; surely they could have assigned one to the Boss Key function by now.

Wikipedia has some historical info about the Boss Key. One implementation I remember is from Leisure Suit Larry, where pressing Ctrl-B would bring up a fake word processing document.

Reading the Wikipedia article, they suggest some alternate mechanisms for implementing your own Boss Key -- including the simple notion of hitting Alt-Tab (or Command-Tab for us Mac users) to switch to another application. In Mac OS X, you can also hit Command-M to minimize the current window. In the upcoming Mac OS X Leopard, Apple will implement Spaces, which allows you to quickly shift the entire contents of your screen to another set of applications -- I look forward to having an entire Space just for goofing off.

Have you figured out your own version of the Boss Key? Let us know your strategies for keeping your nonproductivity a secret!

Original image
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest
arrow
Design
Learn All About Fonts by Playing With These Poker Cards
Original image
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

Want to learn about fonts? Try playing poker with the Font Deck, a pack of cards designed to help users learn the finer points of typography and font design.

The deck is the work of Canadian designer Ben Barrett-Forrest, who runs a graphic design studio based out of Ontario and the Yukon. In 2014, Barrett-Forrest designed the precursor to the Font Deck, a product called the Design Deck that aimed to teach users about the ins and outs of graphic design. Some of the Design Deck cards feature typography lessons, but the Font Deck—available for $17 a deck on Barrett-Forrest’s website or on Kickstarter—gives the topic a deeper dive.

A male hand holds fanned-out cards next to a Font Deck box and a stack of playing cards.
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

The deck includes topics like letter anatomy, old style typefaces, the difference between a font and a typeface, and profiles of specific typefaces, like Helvetica. The cards themselves are printed by the same company that makes popular playing cards like Bicycle and Bee, so they’re gambling ready, if you feel like betting your fortune on that slab serif card.

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
Original image
iStock

Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios