What's New -  November, 2006



November 27, 2006:  We have two deer in the freezer,  enough venison for the coming year, so my wife says I'm through for this season.  We had a great Thanksgiving with most of the kids and grandkids here so, again, a week without much time for programming.   I did fix some documentation  errors for our write-up of the Mastermind program.  Thanks to sharp-eyed viewer Dave H. for spotting the errors.

November 18, 2006:  Hunting season is open here which has taken time away from programming for the past week.  But I have been communicating with an 82 year old fellow who, among other hobbies, decrypts messages, "just for fun".   A good example (I hope) that "use it or lose it" applies to brain power!  He had questions about two which he had solved but which our Decryption program program didn't.  It turns out that in one case, encoding errors for "this", "that" and "the" stymied the program  (the human had filled in these words by context without bothering to do the character by character substitution).    The second case contained the plaintext word "northwards" which was not in my dictionary  but many other 10 letter words have the same letter in the 3rd and 8th positions so the search was long.  I'm not sure how Frank cracked that one.

I made a couple of program changes to help the user in cases where a message is not decrypted in a reasonable amount of time.   Words can be temporarily removed from the decryption by un-checking a checkbox entry.   Also specific plaintext words which appear to be leading the decryption down the wrong track can be added to an "Ignore Words" list.   Version 3 of Decrypt is now part of WordStuff2 program.  There is also an updated set of dictionaries, (including "northwards"), available from that page.


November 8, 2006:  I exchanged an interesting series of emails recently with a fellow who used our Catapult Simulator program to help his daughter design a catapult for her high school Physics project.    Here is the story.

November 6, 2006:  I finally got around to post an update to the DFF Play CD file, DFF Play CD.zip  today.  The file is quite large, 20 mb.     It has been a year since the last update to this collection of executable versions of my favorite DFF programs.   I added several more programs (75 now) and rewrote the "program loader" program  so it may work more smoothly if anyone actually runs the program from a CD.  

The original idea was to make a set of programs portable by burning them to a CD, but  the problem arises for those programs which want (or need) to write data to disk.   The new version uses the CopyFolder procedure posted last week to copy those programs and associated data to a user specified hard drive folder and runs them from there.  I confess that I have not rigorously checked all 75 for this condition, so use the feedback link if you find any that I missed.  

In the process, I corrected some typos in the documentation for a couple of  programs and reposted them:  Probability Distributions and BruteForce.