Monthly Archives: January 2014

Communication Skills

I have noticed an interesting asymmetry in job ads.

It is quite common for a job description to include a requirement of excellent communication skills.

It is also quite common for the job ad to state that the company will only contact people selected for an interview.

It seems to me that excellent communications skills for an HR department would include a thank you for submitting an application. It might even create some goodwill for the company.

Odd Language #33: Another Missing Comma

‘”Mark stop!“‘ — Mercedes Lackey, “Burning Water”, p. 171, ISBN: 9-812-52485-3. This book was a very good read.

The issue: There should be a comma between “Mark” and “stop”. To mark is a verb so a sentence could be constructed where this lack of a comma results in even more ambiguity. “Mark, the tests.”: “Mark, give me the tests.” vs. “Mark the tests.”: “Grade the tests.”

Puzzle #36: Marbles

You have a bunch of marbles. Each is one of six colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. There is at least one marble of each colour.

1) The number of yellow marbles is the sum of two of the prime numbers of marbles.
2) The number of red, orange, and yellow marbles are the squares.
3) There are five blue marbles.
4) The total number of marbles is evenly divisible by four.
5) The number of violet marbles is the highest prime number of marbles.
6) The number of orange marbles is not four.
7) There are three colours where the number of marbles of that colour is a square and three where it is prime.

How many marbles of each colour do you have?

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, February 12, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #34 Solution: Good Bets?

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

The New Normal

It is interesting how fast one can adapt to a new situation.

Last week, I wrote about how the Kamloops Daily News newspaper had ceased publication. I missed it last week, but this week, not really.

I was not pleased to see it go, but now that it has, well, life goes on. Kamloops This Week is expanding, and with a three-day-per-week newspaper, we are not doing too badly.

Puzzle #35: The Vending Machine

The vending machine price for potato chips is $1.50 per bag. The vending machine accepts nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies, and toonies. (In Canada, the $1 coin is called the loonie, and the $2 coin is called the toonie.)

How many ways can you pay $1.50 exactly?

If you pay with a toonie, how many ways can the machine give you your $0.50 change?

The government starts pushing the half-dollar coin. The vending machine gets modified to accept and dispense half-dollar coins. Answer each of the above cases with this change in effect.

(In all cases, for counting the number of ways, the order of the coins does not matter. It is only the number of each coin type that counts.)

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, February 5, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #33 Solution: Pawns

Consider the rook pawns (the outer ones). If they capture towards the middle all the way, that is the furthest right and left that they can go. Some of these squares are in common. All of the other pawns can get to those common squares. The common squares are shown with “C” in the diagram below. There are 12 of them.

	\C	C	C	C	C	C/	
		\C	C	C	C/		
			\C	C/			
			/	\			
		/			\		
	/					\	

The End of a Daily Newspaper

Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, a city of approximately 85,000 no longer has a daily newspaper.

A recent timeline of newspapering in Kamloops:

Monday: Radio news that Kamloops Daily News, Kamloops’s daily newspaper will cease publishing sometime in the next 60 days after 80 years of publication.

Tuesday: front page news in Kamloops Daily News and Kamloops This Week stating the same.  KTW states that it will start publishing three days per week (up from two).

Friday: Kamloops Daily News, front page, not lead: Saturday will mark the final issue.

Saturday: Kamloops Daily News‘s final issue.  Sold out at retail so I (a regular purchaser) could not buy a copy.  (Would that it had been like that more often before.)

Yes, people can get news from the Internet, but having people who are journalists helps on news reliability.  Also important, there are the other things done by newspapers that help build a community and hold it together.  Among other things, a local newspaper can help facilitate debate on local issues, help get city hall to deal with an issue, help hold a politician’s feet to the fire, or fundraise.  On the Web, local issues can be diluted badly.

I have noticed a similar effect during my computer diploma and degree.  In 2002, the lab was busy and it was easy to find someone else if one needed help.  In 2010 and for a few years prior, the lab was practically empty.  There was a definite loss of community.

The Internet has a certain amount to answer for.

Odd Language #31: String of Ings

From a forum comment:

So sane analysis. I was considering writing something* like this when I saw your post. I definitely would not have expressed it so clearly in english. Thank you !

* first time I see three consecutive “ing”-finishing words in a valid sentence… can we do even better ? Hmmm…. let’s see.

I was considering writing something missing siblings** can understand.

** I hate this “s” …. help me english grammar nazis out there !

Anyone care to try for four?