the walking writer

One of my favorite parts of the Sims community is the immense wealth of mods and custom content to keep your game fresh and alive. Unlike in The Sims 3, the mods I use for The Sims 4 mostly add fun things to the game, instead of fixing lag and errors. Here is a sampling of my favorite mods so far:

Door Locks
Door locks are a useful feature in The Sims, and were always included in the previous games. For whatever reason, The Sims 4 has no locking system. This missing feature is especially annoying after the release of the Get to Work expansion. Fortunately, a brilliant mod creator heard the cries of the players and gave us this excellent mod. Now you can keep wandering store visitors from using your employee’s break room.

My rebellious teenage Sim having fun at school.

My rebellious teenage Sim having fun at school.

Go to School
Although I haven’t used this mod too much, I am thoroughly impressed by this mod’s very existence. Basically, the author used the active career system from the Get to Work expansion to create active school days for kids and teens. With this mod, you can choose to follow your younger Sims to school and direct them to participate in a variety of activities, including socializing and skill building. This mod is definitely worth it if you want to have more to do with your young Sims.

No Mosaic
I’m adult, and I think mosaics on Barbie dolls look silly.

Friendlier Ask to Leave
I’m not sure why the game is coded to make Sims look angry or embarrassed when they ask someone to leave. This mod changes the animation played so that everyone is happier.

Crazy Career Outfit in The Sims 4

If you really want to, you can send your Sim to work looking like this.

Customizable Career Outfit
This mod’s goal is is simple: it lets you alter the outfit your Sim wears to work.

MC Command Center
One of the missed features from The Sims 3 is the game’s story progression. Essentially, story progression gave Sims you didn’t control their own lives; they got married, had kids, found jobs and more. The Sims 4 does not have this feature, probably in an effort to help the game run more smoothly on lower-end computers. Fortunately, this mod came along to offer some of the same features. The mod does a number of things to liven your town, such as having Sims in relationships have kids to help replenish your town’s population. The mod also adds some other features and has optional modules. One of my favorite features of the mod is the ability to edit a townie’s look without using cheats.

Renamed Emotions
This is a simple cosmetic fix for the game. Instead of seeing your Sim’s emotions as “very angry,” you’ll see “furious” and so on.

No More Same Sims Everywhere
Not long after creating a new Sim, I usually take them out to socialize with their fellow Sims. No matter where I go, I see the same townie Sims over and over again. Don Lothario, please go away! This mod forces the game to actually randomize the Sims you’ll see at any public location.

If you haven’t tried out any mods for your game, I highly give it a shot. Mods are easy to install and can really spice up your game.




How to Stop Comment Spam On Your WordPress Site

Credit: Mkhmarketing, CC BY 2.0 (image edited by author)

With more and more people now using WordPress to power their websites, spammers are getting better and better at figuring out how to spam the comments feature efficiently. These annoying spam-filled comments usually include links to sites that you definitely don’t want appearing on your own website. Depending on how popular your blog is, you could see hundreds of spam comments a day. This tutorial aims at providing some basic ideas to help you avoid the need to wade through piles of comment spam to find comments actually left by humans.

Moderate All Comments

Moderating all of your comments will absolutely ensure that no spam appears on your site. By choosing to moderate your comments, you will need to sift through the comments each day to find and approve legitimate comments. Although this option will cost you some time, you can fine tune it to make it a bit easier. For example, you can set your WordPress installation to allow comments from repeat commentators. In other words, if you’ve accepted a comment from one person once, the next time they comment, their comment will go through without needing approval. These options are all under Settings > Discussion on your control panel.

Use an Anti-Spam Plugin

If you’d prefer a more automatic option to deal with spam, you can try a variety of plugins from the WordPress community. The Akismet plugin comes with each fresh WordPress installation. However, the terms for using Akismet have changed over the years. If you have any kind of advertising on your blog (for example, an Amazon affiliate link), you must pay at least $5 dollars a month to use the service. Fortunately, there are some other alternatives that you can use instead, including the aptly titled Anti-spam. A quick search on the WordPress plugin site can help you find more plugins to better suit your needs.
Please be aware that Akismet and other plugins will on occasion mark a legitimate comment as spam, so you may want to browse through the spam comments from time to time. Spammers have gotten better with making their spam look legitimate, but it’s still pretty easy to identify true spam, especially if you look at the URL they include in their comments.

Block Repeat Spammers

If you have a troublesome spammer who refuses to give up, it’s easy to blacklist them if they have a pattern to their comments. First, go to Settings and then Discussion. If the spammer is leaving a lot of links, then fill out the option to hold a comment if they leave X number of comments. This will not mark it as spam, however, but it will hold the comment in moderation. You can also scroll down a bit further to the Comment Blacklist form. Here you can put particular words or URLs that will automatically be marked as spam. Maybe you’ve noticed you have a problem with a spammer who is trying to sell you toothbrushes. If you’re not too worried about someone submitting a legitimate comment with the word “toothbrush”, you can simply add “toothbrush” and future comments with that word will automatically be held for moderation.

Pinging Can Bring Spam

When you make a new post on your WordPress blog, you have the option to ping update services to let these websites know about your newest post. Spammers monitor these update lists to find new blogs to unleash their advertisements on. Be cautious about what ping services you choose to use. I suggest using only Pingomatic. This service is run by the creators of WordPress and automatically notifies the other important update services for you. You can also turn this function off completely, but you may lose out on some legitimate visitors as well as the spammers. You can adjust this feature in the Writing settings in your WordPress control panel.

CAPTCHA Plugins

You can also install a CAPTCHA plugin to ensure that only a human reader can leave a comment. CAPTCHAs are garbled images with some blurry text that you must decipher and input to prove you’re a human. Some people strongly dislike CAPTCHA plugins because they often generate images that are hard to read. There are, however, some other kinds of plugins that are less annoying and only ask your visitors to input something simple, such as answering a basic math question. In my opinion, this option is a last resort as some of your visitors may refuse to leave comments because they dislike dealing with CAPTCHA.

Good luck! Comment spam is annoying, but there are many ways to increase your defenses against it.




The other night, I was browsing Amazon to find an inexpensive cat toy to help me get free shipping on an order. After skipping past endless amounts of colorful mice with tails I’d only have to cut off (our cats have a tendency to eat the tails), I came across a most unusual toy called “Captain Goldbloomer.” The brief listing said something about it being a battery-less toy and featured what looked like a picture of a cat chasing a fly. So I clicked on it and discovered that the listing was in fact for a real and very alive housefly!

Yes, for a mere couple of dollars, you too can buy a housefly for your cat to chase. Like other odd Amazon products, the reviews were pretty entertaining. I learned that if your fly arrived dead, the company would replace it for free! Sadly, I must be the bearer of bad news as it appears the item is now unavailable. I’m not sure how the vendor ran out of houseflies, but I guess everyone will just have to look outside to find their own. As for me? I went for a couple of catnip toys shaped like fish instead. At least those toys will last!




Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered AmericaSuper Mario: How Mario Conquered America
Author: Jeff Ryan

One of my earliest memories from childhood is of my dad bringing home the original Nintendo console with a shiny gold cartridge entitled “The Legend of Zelda.” Although I didn’t get to play it often (my siblings hogged the system, so I ended up just watching a lot), it started a lifelong love of Nintendo games. Beyond knowing about Nintendo’s got its start producing and selling Hanafuda cards, I didn’t know much about the company’s early history. So I was excited to pick up this book and learn some more about a game company that has survived the odds through the decades and continues to thrive.

I enjoyed the majority of the book, but it started to get a little repetitive and a little too philosophical on the role of Mario in the world. Sometimes, it felt like the author forgot people play video games to have fun above all else. After about two-thirds of the book, I was starting to skim as I didn’t really want to read more about the hardware specifications of Microsoft’s Xbox or Sony’s PlayStation. The book is also a couple of years out of date, so it doesn’t cover any recent developments. There were also some bad jokes sprinkled throughout, and the Kindle edition featured some truly impressive spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, including words repeated several times in a sentence.

Overall, if you’re a Nintendo fan and you’re interested in learning more about the company’s history, this book is a decent place to start. Although this book focuses on Nintendo’s efforts to establish themselves in the United States, you’ll also learn plenty about the company’s history in Japan and some interesting tidbits. For example, did you know that the word Nintendo roughly translates into English to mean “leave luck to heaven?” If you want something more in-depth, however, I think there are better books out there.