Yesterday I had to travel to "the big customer". This involves about four to five hours sitting in trains and at train stations each way plus waiting time between meeting and my train back home (yesterday this summed up to a fourteen hour day for a three hour meeting).

I was lucky to pick seats with a desk and power supply for the longest part of the journey, so I had enough power for my notebook all the way. After some light Java hacking on the way to the meeting, I decided it was time for some entertainment on my way back, so I started nethack with a new random character.

Even though different GUI front ends are available - even for the iBook - I prefer to run nethack in tty mode. So soon enough my screen contained an xterm that looked like this

The priest of Mitra intones:  "Pilgrim, you enter a sacred place!"--More--


     ------
     |.....##########   --------------------------------
     |....|         #  #......................%........|
     |..<..#        ##`#|.------|--------------..-----.|
     |....|#          ##|.|....|..|...|....|.[-..-...|.|
     |....|#          ##..|....|..|...|....|..|..|...|.|
     |....|#           #|.---|----|...||------|..|...|.|
     ------#           #|......|..|...|.|..|%%|.-----|..####    -------
           #           #..----.|..|-|--.|.)|%%|.|..[.|.|#`######-..^..|
           #         #%#|.|..-.-|--..{..-)-|..|.|..@.|.|#  ###  |.....|
           )         #  |.|..|.............-+--.@..j.|.|#` #####...>..|
         ###       ###  |.|----|--.----|--......|....|.|#    ###|.....|
         #------   #    |.|((|...|.-..|.%|--|--------|.|#      #+.....|
         #|....-####    |.|((|(((|.|..|.%| ...|#.|...-.|        |.....|
         #.....| #      |.|..|(((|.---|[%|....|..|.!%|.|        -------
          |.....##      |.-|------..{.---------|------.|
          ------        |..............................|
                        --------------------------------

Bodewig the Bandit         St:18/02 Dx:16 Co:18 In:7 Wi:8 Ch:6  Neutral
Dlvl:7  $:633 HP:99(109) Pw:25(25) AC:-6 Xp:9/2656 Burdened

That's me entering the minestown temple.

It is not the first time that I had people watching with a very puzzled look in their face while playing nethack. My wife by now knows that "me" is that little "@" walking around, that my pet is the small "f" (I prefer cats over dogs) - and that the rest of the game couldn't be of any interest to her.

This time it hasn't been any different, just that yesterday marks the first time that a complete stranger asked me to explain what was going on. I could have told him I was running a network monitor, but we know how that would end.

It was funny to explain, in particular as he really seemed interested and kept asking question. I ended up playing a lot slower and more careful than usual (which could explain why my Barbarian hasn't died yet) and enjoyed the conversation at the same time. It was one of my most pleasant train travels so far.

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