Saturday, October 04, 2008

Quit smoking with the help of computer Solitaire

Apparently, it's been done by some. From David Williams at iTWire:

Quit smoking and other ways to keep healthy with Linux
[...] Solitaire is so well-known that it’s possibly one of the first apps anyone switching from an operating system to another will want to find, along with the web browser and e-mail program.

Linux doesn’t let you down on the Solitaire front. The package gnome-games contains a remarkable compendium of no less than 82 distinct single player card games called AisleRiot Solitaire.

Linux, using Gnome's AisleRiot Solitaire card game.

“Ok, what’s this got to do with health, let alone smoking?” I hear you ask. The connection is actually surprising simple. During this past week a colleague was exuberant about how she had discovered AIsleRiot. In particular, she found the game called “Chessboard” especially tough.

This game uses one pack of card and divides it into ten piles, all face up. Only the front card in each pile can be used. Four new piles must be built up, reassembling the suits in order – as is the goal for probably every other single solitaire game ever. Cards be dropped onto other piles so long as they meet certain criteria.

In a way it’s akin to Freecell but with one important distinction; there are no free cells! Once you drop a card into the suit re-assembly piles it’s no longer playable. It’s freakishly difficult to get far in this game unless you can really get into the right mindset.

The interesting thing is, she said, she played it so much that over the course of a fortnight she realised she was no longer smoking. Instead of going outside to light up she’d use her downtime to hone her AisleRiot skills.

What happened to her makes sense; a lot of websites aimed at helping people wean themselves off cancer-sticks advocate preparing distractions which will take your mind off cigarettes. It seems the desires and cravings are easier to deal with if you can distract yourself away.

Now, a single Solitaire game – two if you count FreeCell – is passé, and unless you’re under five years of age Purble Place isn’t likely to hold your attention for longer than an hour. But 82 different card games all in one free package is quite an astounding piece of software. If you haven't already installed AisleRiot go do it now.

If you’re a smoker, let Linux help get your mind onto other things with its rich collection of games and other items of software. [...]

The article goes on to describe another application available in Linux, that helps people prevent or lessen repetitive strain injury (RSI).

But Solitaire therapy for smokers could work with any computer Solitaire program(s) on any platform. I did a post not long ago about my favorite Solitaire software program, Pysol Fan Club Edition. It's free to download and use, with over 1,000 games, and it has versions that work in both Windows and Linux. It also has the game "Chessboard" mentioned above, you can find it under the "select" drop down menu: /French games/ Beleaguered Castle type/ Chessboard.

Even if you aren't trying to quit smoking, try Pysol out, it's fun.

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