Monthly Archives: June 2013

Getting Back into Communication

Did your last conversation with someone not end well?  And you have not spoken since?  Maybe quite a while ago?

Until recently, that would be me with my dad.

On Sunday, I decided to call my dad.  Our last conversation did not end well, and it was fifteen years ago.  I was nervous about calling, but finally, I just did it.

It was amazing how unimportant fifteen years can make something.  We both admitted that we did not handle the situation very well.  We got caught up on things, and now, we are back in communication.

I was stupid not to have called sooner.  Fifteen years is a long time to not-communicate with someone.

If there is someone you have not spoken to for a long time, consider calling.  Not-communicating really did not work for me; communication is much better.


Why Don’t You Know Where Your Data Is?

Programmers and Systems Analysts, please consider this article before designing or writing your next piece of software.

Computer users, do you know where your data is?

Probably not.

I have programs that I have used for years.  Often, those programs write data.  They write it, well, somewhere.

If I want to back up or delete the data, I have to know where it is stored.  When I replace my computer, I have to find that data so I can copy it to the new system.

I play some on-line games.  The games save my progress in the game to a file on my system.  After finishing the game, I may wish to reset the game data so that I can play again from the beginning.

All of the above situations are made more difficult because much software does not indicate where it stores its data and gives no option to back up or delete the data.

As someone very familiar with computers, I can deal with this.  Sometimes, it is easy, but sometimes, it is awkward.  Either way, it is still a bother for me.  It must be worse for others.

When I replace my system, I list the programs that I use, then find out where they store their data.  I then carefully check the list again.  Finally, I move the data over to the new system.  This is somewhat time-consuming, and it is made worse, because most programs give no idea where they store their data.  “their” data?  I meant to write “my” data.

If you are writing a computer program, consider adding features to allow for data to be backed up and restored from within your program (as some accounting systems do).  If you do not do this, at least give some indication of where the data is so that someone can figure it out easily.

Remember, if your program is useful, it may end up being used for many years.  In that time, the computer is liable to be replaced.  Please make it easy for this to happen and the user able to continue using your program.

Puzzle #2: Prime Triplets

A prime number has two factors only: one and itself.  They start with 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, and 47.  A prime pair is two numbers n and n + 2 where both are prime.  In the preceding list, these are 3, 5; 5, 7; 11, 13; 17, 19; 29, 31; and 41, 43.  Extending this, a prime triple is three numbers n, n + 2, and n + 4 where all three are prime.  The first prime triple is 3, 5, 7.  Find the second.  You will not need to check numbers over one trillion.

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

The Real Definition of “should”

Over the years, I have heard many people use the word “should”.  Using the word does not guarantee anything, but others might be misled.  As a public service, here is the real definition of “should”:

present tense:

When you wish to make a statement that is not backed up by proof, but rather you feel there is an obligation for the statement to be true for whatever reason (such as ignorance, righteous indignation, or expediency), use the present tense of “should”.  Examples:

  • “This should work.”
  • “This new program should solve all of our problems.”
  • “How difficult could it be?  I should not have any problems.”

past tense:

When the unknown or unconsidered factors sneak up behind you and boot you hard in the ass as a result of ignoring them, adopt a mournful expression and use the past tense: “It should have worked!”

Rumour has it that “should” is occasionally used in another way.