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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Illustration of three monitors and screenshots of online games

 

After undergoing what feels like numerous lockdowns, I think our team has really thrived in the socializing department. We all do miss each other in the office but I honestly believe being apart has brought us closer together. Cheesy I know… it’s all Gouda.

 

Personally, I try to have face-to-face conversations with each one of my colleagues on a weekly basis. Whether I’m asking a question about a project, or just a quick call to say “hi,” my teammates always answer when I call – this is something I’m truly grateful for because the team at REM is comprised of some of the funniest individuals I know.

 

In addition to our virtual face-to-face chats, at REM our entire team gathers on a call and collectively plays a game on Wednesdays! This weekly gathering is always filled with laughter and is the meeting I look forward to every week. I highly suggest implementing this “virtual fun time” with your teams, it boosts comradery, and pauses the stresses we all are facing right now.

 

In an effort to get you started here are some games that we’ve played so far:

 

Among Us

This game will truly test your sneak abilities. You’ll strategize together as a team to survive and have fun calling out your team members who hold the keys to your fate in the game.

 

Online Poker

This game really does bring out our competitive behaviours. It’s a great way to learn each other’s bluffing skills and push each other to our limits. It usually ends in an exciting show down that will have everyone talking.

 

skribbl.io

Although I haven’t played this specific game with the team yet, I hear it’s quite a riveting time. The synopsis – virtual Pictionary – drawing with a mouse leads to everyone having a grand old time.

 

Have you played any games with your team members lately? If you have, please share them with us! We love trying new things!

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Todd playing foosball in the office

 

Let me preface this blog with the fact that I cannot play foosball. It’s not that I don’t want to, or I don’t care to it’s simply just one of those games that I cannot succeed at. I’m a klutz by nature with absolutely no hand-eye coordination so playing the game of foosball just never fared well for me.

 

However, I do love how much joy it brings my teammates, I desperately miss the sounds and laughter of my colleagues over lunch challenging each other. Whether or not each individual chooses to play, it’s an important part of our culture at REM and gives us a little bit more than just a lunch hour break.

 

When asked why Foosball is such an important part of the REM culture our designer Christine had a lot to say:

 

“Foosball at REM builds comradery between coworkers and teaches us good sportsmanship, friendly competition and owning up to mistakes, while being silly and goofing around. It adds excitement in our office, we cheer loudly for our coworkers when we compete, which builds confidence in other areas of our lives, like our jobs. Foosball gives us an opportunity to laugh and witness aspects of each other’s personality we don’t normally see and is a great way to 'break the ice' and welcome a new team member into the group. It encourages us to create strategies and 'think outside the box,' thereby stimulating the innovative, problem solving parts of our brain.

 

"Besides the emotional and mental benefits, it’s also physically good for us and here’s why – Foosball encourages us to get up and move, even if it’s mostly our arms that are moving. We use quick, powerful motions with our arms and wrists during the game, which loosens our forearm muscles, helps circulation and relieves tension. It also increases our heart-rate, promoting good health. We’ve proven this by looking at our smart-watches with heartbeat monitors. One time, Sean S. was super dialed into the game and his heartbeat rose to more than 120 beats/minute (that’s in the fat burning zone!).”

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Home office setup with a glitchy effect

 

It’s been quite some time now that most of our team has been working from home, we miss each other and our awesome office. 

 

One of the most important things when working remotely is having a dedicated workspace to stay engaged and ready for action. A well-armed, personalized, organized, ergonomic home office makes all the difference when battling one’s foes, also known as daily tasks and routine. For most of us who are nerds and/or gamers, we wanted to show off our sweet setups, complete with multiple monitors, LED lights and peripheral equipment/devices. There are some perks to working at home for me – I get to snuggle with my dog on my breaks and make really good lunches!

 

We decided that it would be great to share what our at home “battle stations” look like and give you a few ideas for yours!

 

 

Sean S.'s home office setup

Sean Sanderson

 

Christine's home office setup

Christine Votruba

 

Sean L.'s home office setup

Sean Legge

 

Sean M.'s home office setup

Sean McParland

 

Ryan's home office setup

Ryan Covert

 

Rob's home office setup

Rob Matlow

 

Todd's home office setup

Todd Hannigan

 

Matt's home office setup

Matt Stern

 

Shauna's home office setup

Shauna Ramsaroop

 

 

 

For more tips on how to create a great workspace, check out this blog post: “A Streamlined Work Environment

 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s no secret that we love games and are very competitive at REM. Combine a passion for games with building comradery, rapport and trust and we got: an awesome company event!

 

REM's 1st 2020 team-building event

We played games at Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo; a fun place with a cool vibe where one could hang out with friends and coworkers to play unlimited arcade games.

 

  Todd Hannigan playing an arcade game

 

Sean McParland playing a pinball machine  

It has a very nostalgic, retro feel that would appeal to casual players and hardcore gamers alike. It’s also in a perfect spot uptown in a plaza where university students could come in to take a break from studying. Check out their Facebook page here.

 

In the arcade is a nice assortment of games such as super-retro ones from the 70’s that’s completely mechanical and analogue to machines that have bright, flashy digital screens. Some are familiar classics such as Pac-man, Super Mario, Tetris and Street Fighter, while others are based on TV or movie franchises like Terminator, Guardians of the Galaxy or South Park.

 

Competitive streaks came out as each tried to best their colleague by getting the highest score or by winning in a one-on-one game. A few of us got particularly competitive while playing 3 games:

  1. International Shoot Out where a person controls a pair of paddles to shoot a ball into their opponent’s goal
  2. Another game where one had to throw basketballs into a moving hoop.
  3. And of course, at a few games of foosball on a table that lit up.

 

 

Below is a short video of Sean Legge getting “nothin’ but net!” Check out and follow us on Instagram for more videos and photos!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sean Legger going for the top score!!

A post shared by REMWebSolutions (@remwebsolutions) on

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

We hope that everyone had a great holiday with friends and family. We also hope you enjoyed our game as much as we enjoyed making it! Congratulations to Christine D. for winning an XBOX One S! 

This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

I'd like to take a break from the regular type of posts that I put out and talk about a personal passion of mine:

MMO gaming!

Person's hands on a gaming keyboard

 

Since about as long as I can remember, I have always loved role-playing and adventure games. It can provide an escape from the mundane realities of daily life, and can give you a chance to be a hero, even if it is in an entirely seperate world. Of these types of games, the pinnicle would be the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). It takes all the best elements of gaming, and mashes them together. You have level-up systems, fighting, peaceful gathering, teamwork, loot systems, chat, groups, unique art styles, massive worlds, and great storyline in most cases.

 

While these games are generally the best quality and most immersive of any game genre, this often comes at a price. They are not only generally full-price games to start with, but often come with either a monthly cost to continue playing, or a microtransaction system which is nesseccary to utilize to stay competitive within the playerbase. That being said, most of the great MMOs out there will offer at least 2 methods to pay for this: in-game currency, or real money.

 

Of any of the MMORPG out there (and there are plenty!), there are 2 that I have consistently played and come back to throughout my life, and which I can forsee continuing to be powerhouses in the MMO genre. I will be releasing 2 seperate blogs talking about these at another time, however both games have been going for more than 15 years and still have very stong playerbase numbers. These two games are World of Warcraft and RuneScape.

 

Stay tuned for the next blog where I do a feature spot on RuneScape (RS) and get into some details on that!

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Play Santa's Workshop Showdown for a chance to win an Xbox One S

 

We have created another take on our interactive game. This year playing and winning the top spot could win you an XBOX One S 1TB Console - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order™ Bundle!

 

We've remastered the game and need your help more than ever matching childhood photos to the correct REM team member. The top 20 contestants will be entered in our draw to win the XBOX One S bundle.

 


 

WIN A FREE XBOX ONE S!

Click here to play!

 

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This is a headshot of Ryan Covert.

Early two thousand's style desktop with Fornite on the screen.

 

It's 2019 at the time of this writing. Fortnite has taken the gaming world by storm over the past year or so. Every parent has been begged and pleaded with by their children to purchase a modern console gaming system so that they can become sweaty try hards.

 

Then it happens. Those same children are watching YouTube personalities and streamers alike who push PC hardware as the next-level in the Fortnite madness. The begging and pleading is revived. This time, those same parents don't know where to start and may not have the funds to dump into a high-level gaming PC.

 

Socket 775 To The Rescue

 

As of June 2019, I have successfully built four Fortnite-worthy gaming PCs using hardware dated as far back as 12 years old. It wasn't difficult, but finding DDR2 RAM for older PCs is tricky, and I will throw in some more "modern" suggestions at the end of this blog for those having the same problem.

 

The secret to my success has been in the procurement of used Socket 775 motherboards and CPUs that used to fetch top dollar when they were new. Socket 775 motherboards are now in the range of $30-$60 on eBay. A magnificent Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPU, which was considered the cream of the crop in 2008, can now be coupled with those motherboards for a meer $65 on eBay as well. You'll also want a minimum of 6 GB of RAM, but 8 GB of RAM is ideal. You can get by with 4 GB, but your OS will be starved for resources and you will experience in-game hitching or stuttering as your computer continuously fights to balance your operating system's memory requirements with those of the game.

 

Next, you need to find a GPU with enough horsepower to run modern PC games at a decent framerate. While I have managed to run Fortnite at 60 fps on a GeForce GTX 560 ti, I would suggest purchasing a GPU with at least support for the latest nVidia or AMD drivers. I suggest trying to find one of these cards within your budget on eBay, Kijiji, Craig's List, or similar:

 

  • GeForce GTX 760
  • GeForce GTX 960
  • GeForce GTX 1050 ti
  • AMD R9 290X
  • AMD R9 380
  • AMD RX 480
  • AMD RX 570

 

There are many different combinations of these cards, with varying amounts of video RAM typically listed as "GDDR". Generally speaking, the more RAM you have, the better experience you will have. However, in my testing, the older GTX 760 with 2 GB of GDDR3 RAM provides plenty of speed to drive 60 fps gaming on Medium quality settings in Fortnite at resolutions up to 1920x1080. Considering this is running on a 12 year old PC, this is mind blowing.

 

For those interested in doing this themselves, here are some additional links to help you out:

 

  • CPU-Z
    Determine the exact motherboard make and model you're running, along with the type and configuration of RAM you have installed. This helps you determine what upgrades are available for your existing hardware.
     
  • Core i3 based PCs
    These machines are a great example of a complete system (lacking a dedicated graphics card / GPU) that have plenty of power to run modern PC games for thousands of hours of enjoyment. They typically use DDR3 RAM, which is much cheaper than the older DDR2 variant mentioned above due to supply and demand.

 

Feel free to drop your questions in the comments below if you'd like more information.

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This is a headshot of Todd Hannigan.

Learning Better Pinball Skills:

 

We have a pinball machine at the office and it has become somewhat of a competitive monthly game to be in the top spot. We have a score board and we record the top three scores every month. You never know when you are going to get knocked out of the top three and it changes almost daily. The top player gets their name up on Pinball Wizard board for bragging rights for the month.

 

A blackboard with a chalk drawn wizard with the text "Pinball Wizard, June, Brad"

Brad is the Pinball Wizard for June

 

It is appropriate that we have a Pinball Wizard, because we make a content management system called WebWiz@rd, that makes adding content to your custom designed website extremely easy. If you want to be a web wizard as much as I want to be a pinball wizard, please send us an email at sales@remwebsolutions.com or check out our site at remwebsolutions.com and the great things we do here.

 

Back to pinball! It has become so much of a competition that I find myself wanting to learn more about the skills necessary to give myself the advantage over the other players in the office. So much so, that I decided to write a blog about it to let others know of a great site https://papa.org/, that you can learn all of the tricks you need to become the best pinball player you can be. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association website has some great tips in their Learning Center under Player’s Guild. I especially like the videos on flipper skills, really makes the game more fun once you master a couple of new flipper skills. You really do have much more control of a game that most people think is random and very little control. Give them a watch and see just how much you game improves.

 

Picture of a yellow, green and orange Expressway Pinball machine beside a red and white Coca-Cola machine

This is the machine in our office

 

Our office likes pinball so much that we are planning a night out to go to the Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo (https://www.facebook.com/PinUpArcadeBar/). It is a great place to go and pay one low price of $5.00 and you can play as much as you want for the night. 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s a known fact that we at REM love to play foosball!

 

It’s a fun activity to do and it feels great to get your energy levels up after playing a vigorous, challenging match with a friend. Personally, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. When I first started playing about 2 years ago I lost a lot – and I mean A LOT! But the key in acquiring new skills is to never get discouraged, no matter the number of loses. I didn’t see it as losing I saw it as “training;” with that mentality I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.

 

So how does one play foosball? Essentially, foosball is table game/sport based on Soccer (or Football for Europeans). The name originated from the German word for soccer (pronounced the same way) literally meaning “foot plus ball.”

 

The goal is to utilize the 4 rods and a total of 9 “players” (the wooden or plastic men with no arms) to put the ball into the “net” (usually just a hole at your opponent’s side). The 4 rods are:

  1. The 5-bar: the rod in the middle that starts off the game. Usually the strongest because it’s the heaviest and the hardest to get pass because of how many “players” in the bar.
     

  2. The 3-bar: the main set of players that shoot the ball into the goal and therefore closest to the opponent’s “net.”
     

  3. The Defense (2-bar): this bar is right in front of your goalie and net. Its main uses are two-fold: a) to block/deflect the ball from the net and b) to push the ball away from your side of the table and into your opponent’s side.
     

  4. The Goalie: self-explanatory here.

I’ve learned that when it comes to Foosball, it’s not about the power of your shots (although having strong, powerful shots can help a lot…. I’m looking at you, Sean Sanderson!), but the precision of them.

 

Of course there’s a lot more that goes into this sport. And yes, it is a sport! It requires training, accuracy, strategy…and sometimes trash-talk…. hehe  but of course all in good fun. The important thing is to have fun and to be a good sport about it. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a link to a handy-dandy video:

 

 

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Contributors

Shauna Ramsaroop
62
July 20, 2021
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Rob Matlow
105
June 30, 2021
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Christine Votruba
28
January 15, 2021
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Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
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Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
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Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
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Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
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Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
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Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
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