What's New - December 2001


December 30, 2001:: If you downloaded the MakeCaption routine posted a week or so ago, you may want to do it again.  I discovered today that the width effect of italic font style in captions was not accounted for.  It is now.      

December 22, 2001:  Well, we're off to the Virginia grandkids to find Santa, then we're bringing them back to the mountain for a few days - so I believe I'm  booked for the rest of the  year. Lot's of good things waiting in the wings though.  

Here's wishing you and yours a 
Happy Holiday Season


December 21, 2001:  I just posted the MakeCaption procedure over in the Delphi Techniques section.  It displays titlebar captions in two pieces, left and right justified.   Harder than one would expect since windows makes it difficult to get at that titlebar information.  

December 20, 2001:  A second school has been added to our Reading Program search site, Saint Ann School in Bridgeport CT.    I've learned that there are a number of reading programs available;  Saint Ann School has  "Reading Counts"  from Scholastic.  Here's a link to the new book search index page in case you want to check it out. 

I finally got around to tabulating the results of the "Future Postings" voting page.  I've browsed the results periodically I during our first year online, usually just to see if anyone had voted for something I felt like working on anyway.    I have the program written to tabulate the results now, so I may be running it more frequently.   Several of the most requested will also require the most effort to document, a necessary but not so fun part of the job.   But I need to do it, just to see if I can still figure how they work. :>)    


December 17, 2001: We're starting a project to  revisit existing programs with the goal of adding usability features.  A number of interesting  puzzles are posted as versions that show computer solutions but do not allow user play.  (That's not the most fun part for programmers.)    It recently occurred to me that many of these would be of interest to non-programmers, specifically teachers looking for innovative ways to use technology in the classroom.   A number are usable in their current form - I've listed some in the Notes for Teachers section.  Here's the first re-posting of a puzzle that previously lacked user play  but now has it , the Seven Coins Puzzle.   

December 14, 2001:  I ran across this problem in a Donald Knuth paper the other day and thought it would make a logical addition to our "T-Shirt" series.  (T-shirts with "interesting" numbers on the front and the reason that they are interesting printed on the back.  Or should it be the other way around?   We'll let the marketing guys decide.)    The question for T-Shirt #2 is "The smallest 3 digit number equal to the sum of the cubes of its digits".  As usual, a simple problem can lead to not-so-simple investigations.  But there are less than  50 lines of code in the "Brute Force" solution which will get us started.    

December 10, 2001:  Today's programming project was my second Delphi CGI program, one  to automatically handle newsletter subscribe/unsubscribe requests.   It actually just takes the information you supply on the Newsletter page and submits an email request  in a  format that the list-server  can understand.  (The "list-server" is the guy that reads the list of email addresses and sends out newsletters when  I send him one.)    The program even seems to be working!  If you try to subscribe (or unsubscribe) and have any problems, let me know.    

December 8: 2001: Yesterday was a lost day at DelphiForFun. There were  more "hardware"  problems at the new host site so we were down most of the day.   Here's a page with  transcripts of communications with M6.net if anyone is interested in the not-so-fun part of running a website.     

December 6, 2001:  This Car and Goats program implements a probability game that has stirred a lot of controversy over the years.     You're a contestant on a game show trying to choose which of three closed doors has the new car behind it (goats behind the other two).  After you choose, Monty Hall, the host, opens one of the other doors revealing a goat and offers you a chance to switch doors.  Should you?

By the way, I have had a number of feedback emails from viewers who are interested in the problems, but not the programming.  Toward the bottom of each program page you will find a "Download executable" link that will let you retrieve and run the program without any Delphi code or knowledge.   (But  "getting there",  the coding,  is at least half the fun.)    

December 5, 2001:  Oops!  I replaced the Big Integer Arithmetic unit today, zeros interior to quotients after divide operations were somehow missing (123456 divided by 112 returned 112, not 1102).  

December 3, 2001: I started working on the "Square Root Piles" problem this week, and realized that I didn't have the source for the "Huge Integer" unit I had used to generate combinations. So, not liking the structure of anything I found online, and just for the fun of it, here's my version of a Big Integer Arithmetic unit posted over in Delphi Techniques.    It's a "quick and dirty",  2 days of coding time, and pretty much simulates what you would do with pencil and paper to add, subtract, multiply or divide numbers that are dozens, or hundreds of digits long. Other methods available include Assign, Modulo, Factorial, Compare, and ConvertToDecimalString. I wouldn't want to enter any speed contests with it, but it seems fast enough for now.