Why Uno and Friends is Evil

Uno & Friends Loading Screen

Uno & Friends Loading Screen

I’ve long been a fan of the game Uno. It’s fun, addictive, and very satisfying when you win.

I discovered the Uno game in the iOS App Store, but it was standalone, crashed often, and was very tedious to play. When I saw that Uno and Friends came out and that it was free, I jumped on it. I loved the multiplayer play, the boosts, the overall gameplay, and the competitiveness.

One of my friends who I hang around often asked me what I was playing all the time. I told her it was Uno & Friends. She wanted to join in on the fun and downloaded the game for her Android phone.

She became as addicted to the game as I did. Then surpassed me. She became beyond addicted.

I have since vowed never to play the game again. The game is evil. Here’s why.

The Game Isn’t Really Free

The Uno & Friends game advertises itself as free. And to an extent, the game is free.

When you first load the game up, you’re given some coins, a handful of tokens, and an easy way to join games.

This is about when you realize it takes 2 tokens to create a new game and that sooner or later you will run out.

When joining a game, you’re suddenly introduced to boosts.

Uno and Friends Boosts

Uno and Friends Boosts

The boosts require coins in order to purchase and are good for only one game.

As of this writing, here are the boosts and how many coins it takes to purchase them.

  • Reshuffle Hand (50 coins): Allows you to exchange your crappy hand for an even crappier one.
  • 50% Point Bonus (75 coins): Get 50% more points, but honestly you have no idea if it’s working.
  • Dampener (350 coins): The best boost. Draw half as many cards when someone plays a Draw 2 or Draw 4 on you.
  • Spy (400 coins): You can see others’ cards. It’s an evil boost, but it helps you win a lot.
  • Mirror (750 coins): When someone plays a special card against you, you can make them feel the pain and draw the same amount of cards.
  • Overdraw (1200 coins): The stupidest and most evil boost. When someone draws, they draw 2 cards instead of one. This boost pisses EVERYONE off and typically makes a game take way longer to finish.

You don’t need an accounting degree to realize you will run out of coins fast. And what’s the best way to earn coins? Well, you have to join games and develop a win streak. But to join games, you need tokens. And to get tokens, you either have to buy more or wait for a free scratcher so you can earn some free tokens (or watch ads until you have enough tokens to play).

So yeah, you will run out of coins and tokens pretty fast. And while you’re waiting for a new scratcher, you can’t play the game. At least, not for free.

Now what if you want to play, but are out of the coveted tokens that it takes to play a game? As stated before, you can wait for a new scratcher to show up. Or, you can spend real money and buy some tokens. And if you want more coins, yeah, you can pay real money for those too. Uno & Friends calls them Coin and Token packs. They start as low as $1.99 (USD) for a handful or as much as $39.99 for quite some more.

Granted, the Token Pack is what you want to purchase if you want to play games or tournaments. You can’t play without tokens. But, if you want a better chance of winning, you need to buy boosts (especially in tournament mode). To buy boosts, you need coins. Want more coins? Buy a Coin Pack.

So is Uno & Friends really free? Kinda. But for those who really want to play, they are shelling out real cash for the chance to beat you into submission.

VIP is a Ripoff, but Totally Necessary

We’ve already established that Uno & Friends is free. It’s not quite bait and switch as you can really play Uno & Friends for free if you really want to and you have quite a bit of patience.

When first playing, the game quickly tries to encourage you to pay for VIP. So what exactly is VIP?

Uno & Friends makes money from the purchase of Token Packs, Coin Packs, and (gasp) ads. Without purchasing VIP, you will be subjected to watching ads between games. To get rid of these pesky ads? Buy VIP.

Back when I purchased VIP, it cost $3.99 (USD). I expected heaven and earth to move, but no, the only thing I got was an annoying VIP sticker when I played and the removal of ads. You get one or more tokens extra when you do a scratcher, but that is the extent of the benefits. You don’t get more tokens when leveling up. You don’t get extra coins.

There’s really nothing gained by buying VIP. But if you want to get rid of those pesky ads, it’s a must-purchase item.

Uno and Friends Encourages You to Cheat

Let’s call boosts what they really are: the ability to cheat.

I’ve already mentioned several of the boosts available, but there are even more to purchase in tournament mode.

The boosts give you an unfair advantage over others playing who haven’t purchased boosts themselves.

Typically the players who haven’t had a chance to purchase boosts are at lower levels (likely level 20 or below). Uno & Friends allows you to play with people of all levels when playing (which is kind of unfair in itself if you are at a rather high level).

A player with boosts will trounce these players. We at higher levels have already amassed a large amount of tokens and coins, so we can basically purchase any boost at whim. Those on lower levels have just started and typically can’t get any boosts unless they purchase a Coin Pack.

So yeah, I love playing against players at lower levels. I can see their cards. I will mirror the crap out of them. I will even turn on the evil overdraw if they piss me off.

Am I cheating? Hell, yes. But the game allows me to do it, so I do.

The Game Crashes. A Lot!

If the game crashes and you lose tokens or coins, that’s just too bad. If you try e-mailing Gameloft, all you will get is stupid excuses like quitting all apps on your Android or iOS device and/or restarting your device. The game is absurdly slow on my iPhone 4S, and is also really slow on my friend’s iPad 3 and Android device.

The game typically crashes in the last round of a tournament (especially if you are winning). It crashes randomly during regular games. The game just crashes. A lot.

Uno & Friends
Uno and Friends Crashes - 01
crashes
Uno and Friends Crashes - 20
so often
Uno and Friends Crashes - 19
that
Uno and Friends Crashes - 18
I
Uno and Friends Crashes - 17
can’t
Uno and Friends Crashes - 16
count
Uno and Friends Crashes - 15
how many
Uno and Friends Crashes - 14
times
Uno and Friends Crashes - 13
on
Uno and Friends Crashes - 12
two
Uno and Friends Crashes - 11
fucking
Uno and Friends Crashes - 10
hands.
Uno and Friends Crashes - 09
And
Uno and Friends Crashes - 08
I
Uno and Friends Crashes - 07
still
Uno and Friends Crashes - 06
keep
Uno and Friends Crashes - 05
counting
Uno and Friends Crashes - 04
for
Uno and Friends Crashes - 03
what
Uno and Friends Crashes - 02
seems
Uno and Friends Crashes - 01
forever.

Yet the Game is Addictive

The game makes use of psychology to keep you hooked. The closest term I can think of is that of Classical Conditioning, in which behavior is strengthened or weakened, depending on its consequences. You might as well throw in Gambler’s Fallacy in there too.

So when you lose, you’re frustrated and think you’re destined for a win (which may or may not come). If you win a lot in a row, you might as well play some more to boost up your win streak.

Uno and Friends Broken Win Streak

Uno and Friends Broken Win Streak that Costs 20 Freakin’ Tokens

The geniuses of Uno & Friends have made the game so addictive that the more you lose, the more you play. The more you win, the more you play. And the more you play, you suck up valuable tokens and coins (which you must purchase when they run out).

Remember, purchasing Coin and Token Packs costs real money. If I were to guess, the guys behind Uno & Friends are sitting on a gold mine.

I Refuse to Play Anymore

I’ve invested about as much money as I can stand towards Uno & Friends. Yes, the game is fun, but I don’t want to pay any more money towards the damn game.

I can’t stand the “cheating”, even if I partake if I have enough coins. I really fucking hate the overdraw boost, and it seems that every other game has some bastard who has it on.

I can’t stand the constant crashes.

And personally, I don’t find it fun anymore. I’d rather just go to the store, buy the actual cards (which I have done), and find two or three deserving souls to play the “old school” game with. It’s much funner when you beat someone’s ass in person.

So Yes, Uno & Friends is Evil

The fact that the game requires real money to play in order to have a good chance of winning is enough to call it evil. Add in the constant crashes, the poor support from Gameloft, the blatant cheating, and unfairness of playing different levels together, then you have a truly evil game.

I personally won’t play the game anymore. If you read the reviews on the respective app stores for the game, you will see many agree with me. Many are just fed up with it.

Uno and Friends - Ronalfy

Uno and Friends – Ronalfy

So goodbye Uno & Friends. I doubt anyone will miss me.

Comments Welcome

My friend who got addicted to Uno & Friends after I introduced her to it is still very much playing the game. She’ll probably write an article later detailing all the ways to get tokens and coins aplenty without paying.

If you have your own tips, please share them below and they’ll make it in the article.

If you have your own grievances, please share them below as well.

Things a Karaoke DJ (KJ) May or May Not Tell You

Microphone

Photo by Derek Gavey

I’ve been to hundreds of Karaoke shows all over the country and in Europe. Each one is different, run by many different kinds of people, but the person behind the show (the Karaoke host or Karaoke DJ — I usually call them a KJ) is always consistent.

Here are things the Karaoke DJ may or may not tell you, based on my many experiences and (gasp) talking to some of them.

They Love Regulars

Some establishments start a Karaoke show in order to draw in more people. This sometimes works. Sometimes it fails miserably.

However, a good Karaoke DJ has a following. If they happen to start a new show in a place hardly anybody frequents, it’s a gamble. The KJ doesn’t necessarily expect the normal restaurant patrons to get up and start singing away (although that would be nice). Sometimes the KJ is limited to just singing a few songs, waiting for singers, and playing DJ music the rest of the night (boring!).

A good KJ will have a social media presence and announce venues and times. And if the KJ has a nice following, their regulars will (gasp) show up.

The appearance of regulars at a dead show is a godsend. The regulars show up, eat (if there’s food), drink (and tip), and sing. This looks good for the KJ who is just starting out at a new venue. The KJ gets singers (win) and the venue gets drinking and tipping customers.

So ask any KJ: do they like regulars? The answer will most likely be a yes with conditions (nobody likes an annoying regular — you know, the one who drinks water all night, doesn’t tip, and sings nothing but George Strait all night).

They Love Tips

KJs make a living on having the most songs, the best equipment, and having a good fan base. They might probably net $100-300 a night at best. Sometimes the venue supplies free food and drinks, but that is in a best case scenario.

KJs still have to purchase the songs, buy equipment (if the venue isn’t supplying it), drive to the actual venue (gas money, hello?), and then put up with insanely drunk people who think they sing like Mariah Carey but actually sound like Rebecca Black.

Most KJs have some kind of tip jar, but (sadly) some venues don’t even allow tipping.

Well, here’s a secret: KJs LOVE tips. I mean love them. Even if the venue doesn’t allow them, I’ve never seen a KJ turn them down.

So what’ll a tip get you?

According to some KJs, absolutely nothing.

Other KJs? Well, a $10 dollar tip might get you a significant boost in the rotation if it’s a long one. A $20 tip might get you the next song or the coveted last song of the night. Most KJs appreciate a $1 or $2 tip per song. It helps pay the bills.

One of my KJ friends had a 30+ person rotation where new singers had a very small chance of getting a chance to sing. In walks a wedding party who wants to sing. They decided to tip their way in to the rotation. And it worked.

So sure, you can not tip and wait your turn, or you can see how a tip will get you special privileges (if the KJ is not being an ass).

Note from the author: This part of the article seems to be the most controversial. I say, tip what you like (a good rule of thumb is $1-$2 per song). It never hurts to ask the KJ if giving a big tip will get you special treatment. The worst they can say is no. And if the KJ says no, it’s probably to protect the regulars, so just sit down and wait your turn like everyone else.

Some Things are “Broken”

Have you heard the stories about bartenders pretending their blender is broken? It’s because bartenders absolutely hate making blended drinks when they have a full house. It’s a waste of time, the usually don’t get any extra tips out of the drinks, and it prevents them from honoring other tipping patrons who have more reasonable drink requests. So yeah, bartenders will lie that the blender is broken.

KJs do the same thing. If a group of girls wants to sing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, the KJ might pretend their extra mic is out of batteries or is broken. Why? Because nine times out of ten, the two mics are given to the loudest non-singers of the group who belt out three to four minutes of horrible, gag-inducing vocals.

One evil trick KJs do is pretend a song is corrupted. Want to sing “Stawberry Wine” by Deana Carter? “I’m sorry, the version we have is corrupted and/or missing lyrics.” Why would a KJ do this? Probably because every single show they do, somebody wants to sing the damn song. And hearing the same song sung horribly every other night can be a real downer. So yeah, KJs do pretend some songs don’t work or they’ll just say they don’t have the song. Bummer for you, but joy for the rest of us.

Drop a Mic or Place Your Beer on their Setup, You’re Cut Off

Want to piss a KJ off? Drop the mic. It’s a quick way to get you booted out of the rotation. It’s either a sign that you’re too drunk to sing, or that you are not capable of holding an expensive object for three to four minutes.

An honorable mention is when someone tries to place their beer onto the KJs setup. You know, the setup where there’s a computer, audio controls, and the like? Yeah, not cool. It’s a quick way to piss a KJ off. Don’t do it. You could get dropped.

One other thing KJs can’t stand: smoking while singing. What’s the point? You can’t go three or so minutes without taking a puff? It’s not like you can smoke and sing at the same time. Just wait until after your song is over.

They Don’t Care If It’s Your Birthday

“Oh, it’s my birthday! Let me sing a hundred songs!”

Yeah, wait your turn like everyone else. Unless you’re a regular who tips, then all bets are off.

Group Songs are Horrible

You always have the same white girls who think they can sing “Baby Got Back” and utterly destroy it. I mentioned “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Yeah, I’ve never seen a good version.

In my experience, a group song announcement is three to four minutes of disaster waiting to happen. It’s what most regulars would call a “time to smoke outside” break. Even KJs make their trip to the bathroom during these songs. The songs are fun to the group. Nobody else.

One KJ is Alabama absolutely refused to do group songs, so really it’s up to the KJ’s discretion. It’s their show after all.

There Are Songs KJs Hate

The song “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock? It’s the worst fucking song ever. Every KJ I know hates it. The original song sucked. There’s not much you can do to redeem it.

“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks? A close second.

Show tunes (including Disney)? Save them for the shower.

Sing a Song Longer Than 7 Minutes and Everyone Will Hate You

You know what sucks? A long rotation when you’re trying to get a song in.

You know what sucks worse? A long rotation and someone decides to sing the VERY LONG song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” or the detested “Freebird.”

There was one KJ in Austin who cut off a girl singing “Freebird” after 2 minutes. She was furious, but the KJ was actually applauded by the decision.

Country Gets Old Really Fast

Most KJs I know love all kinds of music, including country. However, after twenty straight country songs, the genre kinda gets on your nerves.

Win the KJs favor and shake it up with some pop, rap, or alternative. The crowd may hate you for it, but the KJ will appreciate the change up.

When Am I Up Next?

So you put in a song. Buy a few drinks. You listen to a few people sing. All of the sudden you get the urge to see when you are up next. Please don’t.

I’ve never met a KJ who wasn’t annoyed by the inevitable, “How long till I sing?” question.

Keep in mind, if it’s a long rotation (20 or more), they have people constantly nagging them for updates and to change their songs. You are not helping. Especially if you do it over and over and over and over and over again.

When they put your song in, look at your position in the rotation. Keep a mental view or your status and wait your damn turn. If you can’t see your position, ask how many people are ahead of you. They’ll usually tell you. Please don’t keep bombarding them with questions. They have better things to do, like to make the next epic group song sound amazing.

Yes, Your Mic Could Get Turned Off and/or Your Song Cut Off

Some KJs operate in family friendly venues. And unfortunately, the KJs do not know the lyrics to every song in existence. So when you want to sing Eminem’s Superman where there are kids present, the KJ might cut you off in order to save face.

Some KJs have a no cussing policy. Ask before singing. If a song is inappropriate, let the KJs know and ask if it’s okay to sing it. They’ll give you a yay or nay immediately.

Some KJs and restaurants have an after 11pm policy (because honestly, all kids should be put to bed by then). If it’s after this magic hour, anything goes.

Regarding getting your mic cut off, it happens. If you’re really drunk and really loud and spouting non-sense, the KJ might lower your volume or just plain turn the mic off. You’re probably so drunk you won’t even notice.

It’s Their Show

In the end, it’s wise to remember that it’s the KJ’s show. They should be given the alternate title “Drunk Singing Moderators.”

If a KJ wants to squeeze a new singer in ahead of you, that’s their decision. If there’s thirty people left to sing with only twenty minutes to go, they might pick and choose singers (maybe based on tips).

If you’re an ass and get booted, whining to the bar manager or waitress will not help.

So keep this in mind: it’s their show. It’s up to them how to manage to get as many people singing as possible.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you go to Karaoke occasionally, then this tip might not apply to you. But, it helps to know the song you’re singing.

You might have a vague recollection of Selena’s hit “I Could Fall in Love”, but then totally forget there’s a Spanish part and you don’t speak the language.

At best, research the song on YouTube. Look at the lyrics. Try your best at singing it. If it’s passable, attempt it. I’ve never seen anybody get booed at a Karaoke show (with one exception, which I’ll keep to myself).

And sometimes, no matter how much you practice, the song comes out awful. Live and learn.

But KJs Love You

The point of Karaoke is for a bunch of amateurs to go out, have a good time, and sing songs they love. Karaoke generally isn’t a contest (although some treat it like one) and nobody expects you to sound perfect.

KJs will welcome all. Have an eight year old girl that wants to sing some Kesha or Lady Gaga? Go for it! Love Frank Sinatra? Annoy everyone with your talent!

Just show up, sing, tip (ahem), and leave the world a better place than you found it.

KJs love it when you show up, because without you, their show wouldn’t be possible.

Disclaimer

So I do not speak for all KJs or people that go to Karaoke shows. A lot of these “opinions” and observations are from speaking to actual KJs, reading list article after list article, and going to my own shows.

Have I made some of these mistakes listed? Absolutely. Have I learned? Kinda.

Karaoke is immense fun when you have a group of regulars, a great and attentive crowd, and a great KJ.

Comments Welcome

Are you a KJ or go to Karaoke bars regularly? Please share your experiences. Rip on my observations. Say that “Friends in Low Places” is awesome (it’s not).

Eisley in Dallas

Eisley

Eisley

I’ve been following Eisley since 2004. I finally got the chance to see them live in Dallas this past weekend. In short, they were amazing. For a band that has been churning out music for over a decade, they are extremely humble. There’s even YouTube videos of them saying they never tried something acoustic so no promises, yet they were amazing.

It’s rather hard to describe their music, but I just absolutely love them. Every EP and full release is definitely a keeper in my book.

Here’s a video I took of their encore. I captured it toward the end of one of their songs, but I got a full recording of “If You’re Wondering” from their Combinations album.

OH

OH on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean Ohio. It can also be short for “overheard.” It’s a nice prefix to put before something that you overhear on occasion. Some are funny. Some are offensive. Some don’t make sense. Some we’re better off not overhearing.

I’ve rounded up most of the OH’s I’ve made on Twitter for your reading pleasure (or pain, whichever you prefer). Some of these are rather absurd, so read with caution.

OH: I don’t know how to get her there except give her an M&M.

OH: Children are forever. Cats you can eat.

OH: I have a three day weekend. On Monday it’s murder indigenous people day!

OH: Actually, all morning people should be sedated until 9 a.m.

OH: I’m out of fat jokes. Oh wait, there’s room for one more.

OH: don’t take responsibility for someone else’s failure.

OH: Man talking to a Woman – if you ever want to be a lesbian, let me know. I have inside information (no pun intended).

OH: If there’s a spork in the road, use it to “get’ a pic’a’nic ba s’ket”. “Yogi Bear, 1905″.

OH: I’m a Texas fan and even I can appreciate the ass kicking we recieved. Texas fans will be walking bowlegged for at least a year.

OH: Now where to buy a freaking stretcher?

OH: The fate of the world depends on the consumption of one nugget.

OH: or we can call it ^/wPress$

OH: So what if we fork WordPress and call it PalabraPress?

OH: I see you’re creating a database. Be careful not to drop it.

OH: I want Starbucks branded underwear. I want a skinny latte in my pants.

OH: I don’t want you anywhere near my wood

OH: don’t bring a spork to a knife fight

OH: it’s a good thing I’m not a girl because I’d be the biggest slut ever

OH: “You need a laxative for your brain.” “Wouldn’t that cause diarrhea of the mouth?”

OH: I’m an equal-age-opportunist.

OH: I think your addiction of eating nuts has gone too far.

OH: Person A – “I’d have to drink to Gamble.” Person B – “No, you’d have to gamble to drink.” Person C – “I just have to drink.”

OH: your mind is not only in the gutter, you own the gutter. In fact, you own the sewer under the gutter too.

OH: I’m about to be on the corner right about now.

OH: I pulled it out, can’t get it back in, so now I have to put it up.

OH: When you combine Slim Chickens and a fat asshole, someone’s losing an arm.

OH: It’s not laziness if you never intended to do it.

OH: Don’t touch my windy crack, and definitely don’t put your finger in it.

OH: Who’s the guy behind Craig’s list? – “Craig.” – Well I hate him!

OH: You have a lamp! I don’t have a lamp that can make dark!

OH: I didn’t give you the finger. I gave you half a peace sign and save the other half for later.

OH: The pilot is about to turn on “The plane is about to split sign.”

OH: I wish I were faking this.

OH: Religion is for nuts. Nuts are for squirrels. Therefore only squirrels should be religious.

Psychiatric Care in the United States

Photo by Ryan Hellyer

Photo by Ryan Hellyer

My friend Pauli weighs in on what psychiatric care ends up costing in the United States. God forbid if you need hospitalization.

Medical Insurance Coverage

Mental health insurance coverage is much more limited than standard medical, which generally involves an out of pocket co-pay for “in network providers” of $15 to $25 for an office visit. Most annual lab tests are covered in full, while certain procedures may require a 20% co-insurance payment or go towards an annual deductible which can run anywhere from $500 to $5,000. Unless you are with an HMO, you are free to go to a specialist without prior approval by the insurer.

Seeing a Psychiatrist

Your PPO insurance may allow you to self-refer to a psychiatrist, however, the earliest I could see a shrink calling 6 different offices to get much needed antidepressants, I found the minimum wait was 6-8 weeks for 5 of them and one with a 3-month-long waiting list. I wasn’t suicidal, but with that kind of wait, either I would have been, or I would be over it. I didn’t want to risk it, so I saw my family practice doctor, and we went through various antidepressants until I came out on the other side of the issues that were bothering me by talking with a competent counselor.

Counselors

Getting in to talk to a counselor to work through problems is considerably easier than seeing someone who can actually prescribe medication. However, it is more costly and generally requires pre-certification. You are generally approved for no more than 13 sessions per calendar year and you will pay 50% of the fee allowed by your insurance. You’ll want to look for an “in network” provider, and you better make rapid progress or you will be paying the full allowed fee in short order.  That or make sure you have your mental breakdown no earlier than October so you can start over in January.

Your Experience

What is your experience, if any, with psychiatric care in the United States? I’d especially like to hear from you if you’ve been hospitalized. Anonymous commenters are welcome. You can read about my own experience as well.

Schizophrenia or Public Intoxication?

A schizophrenic man had somehow wandered onto a locked campus. Once on the campus, it was impossible to get out unless by escort.

Confused and delusional, the man grabbed the arm of a passerby wanting help. The person clamored for the building seeking refuge from the man.

The cops were called. An expert in mental health informed the cops that the person was delusional and was a sufferer of schizophrenia.

The cops disregarded this expert diagnosis and decided to charge the man with public intoxication.

This is just another example of someone with a mental illness being hauled to jail instead of receiving adequate treatment.

What would you have done if you were in the same situation?