April 19, 2015:
A buddy of mine is designing a Veteran's Day monument which will consist of
panels representing the Armed Forces services and aligned in such a way that the
sun will cast a shadow on the memorial plaque on November 11 at 11:AM. At
his location, he thought that the sun would cast the shadow again in February
when the the sun will be at the same altitude at that hour. I took
advantage of the opportunity to educate him about the "analemma" figure 8
shape of the sun's path through the sky and assure him that the February sun at
11 AM will be about 10 degrees further East than the November path. I
updated AstroDemo Version 2.0, our
Astronomy unit test program, with an "animated" analemma. That option helped me
determine that at 11:11 AM in Lucedale, MS, the crossing point of the figure 8
occurs on February 12 as days are getting longer and August 29 on the way back
down, so no problem for Jim's project!
April 13, 2015: Here's an interesting little puzzle that requires some human thought to solve efficiently:
A farmer tells his son to select five watermelons to take to market. Because the watermelons are sold by weight, they must be put on a scale before the trip to town, but the son makes a small mistake and weighs them in pairs. Here are the weights he comes up with, in pounds: 20, 22, ,23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31. How much does each of the watermelons weigh? (Source: Sit & Solve® Brainteasers (Sit & Solve® Series)
The Weighing Watermelons program posted today implements the solving strategy.
March 15, 2015:
Another calendar puzzle that is well suited to using the computer as a helper.
The two pieces required to solve Mind Your Ps and Qs will not only be mirror imaged (flipped about their vertical axes), but also reversed to top bottom (flipped about their horizontal axes). Interestingly, and perhaps a clue to help solving these puzzles, these two flips are equivalent to a 180° rotation.
Rather drawing heavy outlines, the two pieces are defined on the program by
assigning a color to each of the two letters and assigning colors to other grid
cells by clicking.
March 8, 2015: Windows makes it's time zone information
available to programs in a "TimeZoneInformation" record. Several years ago
I wrote a program to illustrate how to access this information in Delphi,
the namesake programming language for this site.
2 corrects the Daylight Saving time start and end date displays from that
record which requires an undocumented "trick" to display correctly.
The system "Day of Month" value in these fields does not contain day of month
but rather acts as a template defining which occurrence of the "Day of Week"
value defines Daylight Savings starts and ends (1st Sunday, 3rd Wednesday, etc).
The supplied values are now converted to the correct "Day of Month" in the
March 3, 2015:
This puzzle type requires the player to find the word for the missing row of
a 3-row grid such that every column is a valid 3-letter word.
WordGrid_3LetterWords Version 2.0
posted today reflects changes required to solve the 7 column Mensa
Calendar puzzle for February 13, 2015 (shown at right). As usual when I
revisit a program, a couple of additional enhancements are included.
February 18, 2015: Several years ago I was attracted to the problem of locating objects from sensors which could measure distance to a target but had no idea about its direction. Your GPS is an example of such a target which does the calculation by reading satellite signals containing timestamps allowing the device to calculate how far it is from each satellite. It takes 4 such satellite signals to determine a location using mathematics similar to those contained in my program, Point from 4 Sensors. A viewer recently reported an error in a sample sensor equation in the web page description, although the implementation in the program was correct. In the process of verifying (and correcting) the web page error, I cleaned up a couple problems with program displays caused by my use of text scaling on my monitor. Since I had the program open anyway, I fixed those and posted the update today as Version 5.1.
February 15, 2015: Having survived Friday the 13th, I resurrected this Friday the 13th program to check for other occurrences this year and discovered that we have two more (in March and November). That's the maximum that can occur in a year and we won't see three in a year again until 2026, then 2037. It's an interesting mental exercise to understand why there are 11 year gaps going forward but only 6 years since the last occurrence when I first posted this program in in 2009. The program is also useful for finding occurrences of specific days and dates, e.g. when is the next time your birthday falls on your birth day?
February 10: The RSA Key algorithm is well known to those involved with securely exchanging data electronically. I implemented my demo version because I wanted to see how it worked and "just for fun". RSA Public Key Demo V2.1 was posted today fixing a subtle bug which occasionally generated RSA keys so secure that the encrypted data could never be decrypted! I had never encountered the error myself, but a sharp user did and even provided a program to replicate the error.
February 2, 2015: Two small updates this week. If you already have these programs but haven't seen the problems fixed, it's probably not worth the time to download.
Logic Problem Solver V5.5 fixes a problem a user was having saving a new logic case. Making the automatic backup copy of the existing file with that name failed under some conditions.
The Unscramble V2.2, program, part of our Wordstuff collection, corrects range of maximum and minimum word lengths to find. It now keeps them within the valid range based on the length of the current scrambled word.
January 26, 2015:
Here's a "Word Search" puzzle solver motivated by a Mensa Puzzle Calendar entry which asks viewers to find five 7-letter words in the given grid by following "crooked" paths. The search rules require moving from each letter to an adjacent letter horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to the next letter and no letter may be revisited within a single word. The puzzle is one of several included in the program downloads.
Users may play by clicking cells to form words. They may
also change size, contents, target words, search style, etc. and
save/reload modified or new puzzles.
January 18, 2015:
Last month's update to our Brute Force program stopped automatically displaying the equations and parameters I used to solve each puzzle. It accidentally flagged the puzzle as changed when the button to display that information was clicked. As a result, when the puzzle was closed users were always asked if they wanted to save changes. Brute Force Version 3.4 corrects that problem. It also corrects a scaling problem which occurred in the "Change Title" dialogs for lower resolution screens. Finally, the program also now allows removing images associated with puzzles if no longer wanted. Formerly, they could be added or changed but not removed.
These problems were found when I was solving yesterday's Mensa Calendar puzzle displayed at right. It is included with the current downloads and, surprisingly, can be solved with only two equations!
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July 7, 2014: Note: this "Collapsible" month by month list of postings since year 2000 is not collapsing for some reason, making this a very large home page. Until it gets fixed, you can reference the complete quarter by quarter list of postings on the Newsletter page.
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