Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tipping: No Balance of Power

When I was growing up, the general rate for tipping at restaurants was 10%. Then, it became 10-15%, then 15%, then 15-20%, then 20%. While this increase was occurring, tipping became much more widespread. I do not remember seeing tips jars when I was young; certainly, there were not nearly as many as there are today.

You know what? I don’t like it.

Over time, the argument has become that one should tip regardless of the service.

Tips have changed from a reward for exceptional service to an entitlement. One newsgroup that I was following several years back had people frequently justifying giving lesser service to people because they probably would not tip well. A self-fulfilling and self-serving prophecy.

I have heard the arguments. I am not convinced. I understand that in some states of the U.S.A., the employer can pay less than minimum wage because the employee can make tips. I live in British Columbia where this is not legal. Nonetheless, the tip rate is about the same. I think of it as getting gouged.

I eat out a lot less than I might otherwise because of the money-grubbing.

Odd Language #11: Peddle Faster?

From, paragraph 10:

“It’s quite a juxtaposition of realities. On the one hand, Facebook is under the same relentless downward pressure as other Web-based media. The company’s revenue amounts to a pitiful $5 per customer per year, which puts it ahead of the Huffington Post but somewhat behind the New York Times’ digital business. (Here’s the heartbreaking truth about the difference between new media and old: even in the New York Times’ declining traditional business, a subscriber is still worth more than $1,000 a year.) Facebook’s business grows only on the unsustainable basis that it can add new customers at a faster rate than the price of advertising declines. It is peddling as fast as it can. And the present scenario gets much worse as people increasingly interact with the social service on mobile devices, because on a small screen it is vastly harder to sell ads and monetize users.”

The issue: “It is >peddling< as fast as it can." would normally be ">pedalling<" as part of the expression for hurrying, but ">peddling<" is correct if the meaning is selling (which, in a way, it is).

Puzzle #14: Sets of Numbers

The positive integers have been divided up into three sets. Each positive integer is in only one of the sets. What is the rule for membership in each set?

A = {1, 5, 8, 10, 13, 17, 22, 24, 26, 29, …}
B = {2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 15, 18, 20, 23, 27, …}
C = {3, 7, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21 25, 28, 30, …}

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, September 11, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #12 Solution: Rogue Chessboard?

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Why Do You Use a Mouse That Way?

Most people are right-handed. A right-hander usually uses a mouse with his right hand.


A right-handed baseball glove is worn on the left hand, so that is not it.

I am left-handed. I use a mouse with my right hand. By doing so, I can take notes while mousing through a display. It is very convenient.

A right-hander could do the same if he used a mouse with his left hand instead of his right.

Why don’t you?

What else are you doing more awkwardly than you need to? What am I doing more awkwardly than I need to? I happened to notice this one item. What else are we missing?

Odd Language #10: Missing Quotes Can Confuse

From a USENET post: “Apparently my Intel i5 machine has 4 cores but when I look in Task Manager/Performance I see 8 CPUs (0 thru 7). And sometimes I see somebody use the word processor(s).”

The issue: The author did not mean “the word processor(s)” as in programs to process words but rather ‘the word “processor(s)”‘ as in CPUs are processors.  There should have been quotes around “processor(s)” as I have done in this sentence.

Puzzle #13: Selling Grandma

Family finances have been rather tight lately, and to save the old homestead, Grandma and the grandchildren are discussing possibly selling Grandma. Widowed a few years ago, Grandma is still a looker. Bob, as eldest grandchild, is the supposed owner. In the discussion, each of them made two statements:

B1: “I would not sell Grandma for $1,000,000.”
B2: “Grandma is a cougar.”
T1: “Grandma’s apple pie is terrible.”
T2: “Bob always does what Grandma wants.”
W1: “Bob never lies.”
W2: “Tom always lies.”
G1: “If you do sell me, I want it to be to a young stud who can keep me warm and happy at night.”
G2: “I make great apple pie.”

One of them always tells the truth, one always lies, and the other two are fencesitters (alternating between telling the truth and lying).

Is it reasonable to assume that Grandma will be getting lucky in the near future? Why or why not?

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, September 4, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #11 Solution: Pretty Beads

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Meta-Effects in Games

Some games proceed through their steps of play without interference. If you are playing Snakes and Ladders, you know that unless another player wins on his next turn, you will get another turn.

Other games have mechanisms that can change the normal sequence of play. It might be player A playing a card that forces player B to miss his next turn or that gives player A another turn.

This is extremely powerful. This is not appreciated by many game designers.

It appears that it is simply letting player A do something, but there are actually two things being done. Player A is doing something, AND player B’s play is being disrupted.

Player A is naturally going to play the card when it will work best for him. In effect, Player B gets ambushed.

This makes meta-effects in games more powerful than other effects. That is why meta-effects should be toned down some. Taken to extremes, the target player might not even get to play.

Back when I was playing Magic: the Gathering, another player related a game that he had played using several meta-effects.  He had the first play.  Through various meta-effects, he got six extra turns.  He was then built-up enough to win the game.  His opponent did not get a single turn.

If you are designing a game, please do not let meta-effects swamp the rest of the game.

Odd Language #9: Hyphen Needed

From a USENET post: “forEach could informally specify that it will execute its argument only on its calling thread, and not after it returns, but the compiler could not detect that guarantee and allow ‘sum’ to be modified.”

The issue: “could not detect” would normally be read as “was unable to detect” or “would be unable to detect”, but the meaning here is apparently “could not-detect”, that is “could fail to detect”. Hyphens can be very useful in written language.