# Puzzle #60: Sold to Gypsies?

“You’re lucky your parents did not sell you to gypsies when you were young.” What a nasty taunt. So you have to check: “Mom, Dad, you weren’t going to sell me to gypsies when I was little, were you?”

“Well, actually, we tried. They didn’t offer a good enough price for you so we sold only your brother. They would have offered \$2000 for the both of you.”

If your brother was valued at two-thirds of you plus \$500 and whether the gypsies bought one of you or both of you made no difference in the pricing, how much did your mom and dad turn down for you?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 30, 2014> at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

# The Importance of Not Planning Too Much

Last week, I wrote No Planning Required? HA! wherein I wrote about the need for planning. Now for the other side.

In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, he has a character (Salvor Hardin) who is fond of the phrase, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Events prove Hardin correct for that time and place.

In others, I think that the first word should be “Planning”.

Planning is necessary, but at some point, one has to move to doing. All too often, a complex plan will not work anyway. By the time that it is executed, the circumstances will have changed.

The German Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is known for the statement (loose translation) “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

When I see an overly-detailed plan, I get worried. Often, such plans Can Not Be Changed. This is a recipe for disaster.

Maybe, the person that you plan to have do some part of your project will move, be on vacation, or want to do something else. Your resources available might be cut or have to be spent on something else.

So, plan, but plan to change your plan to adapt to changing circumstances.

# Odd Language #56: Spaces Count

In http://thedailywtf.com/Comments/Not-Your-Quotidian-Database.aspx, an argument was made that spaces are not needed between words in order to be able to read something.

The issue: While this may, in general, be true, it takes longer, and sometimes, ambiguity can occur. This was one person’s response:

Now I understand how ancient Israel was conquered. A soldier at the front sent back the dire warning, “The Babylonians are now here!”, but writing it without spaces, it was interpreted as “The Babylonians are nowhere.”

# Puzzle #59: Blocks

You have seven identical cube blocks. You want to count how many combinations you can make under certain rules. 1) Divide the blocks into a number of groups with each group having a different number of blocks in it. 2) In each group, form shapes. A shape consists of all of the group’s blocks in layers. Each layer above the first has no more blocks than the layer just below it. The first layer can have any number of blocks. 3) Arrangement in the layers is not being considered here, and the blocks are never at a slant. 4) A combination is a set of shapes (one for each group) of the seven blocks. 5) No two groups in a combination can have the same shape.

How many combinations are there?

Hint: This problem is simpler than it first appears. Get lazy.

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 22, 2014> at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

# No Planning Required? HA!

When you start on a large project, it is a good idea to plan. A good plan sets out where you are working to get to and what you will have to do.

It is possible to spend too much time planning and not get to the doing.

It is also possible to overvalue the doing.

The latter can be a real problem in programming. Too many systems are done by the seat of the pants. The initial results can be promising, but later, the lack of planning can slow things up horribly.

The short-cut that worked so well for the project when it was small may get in the way when the project is bigger.

It is easy to work on a small project. If it is necessary to rewrite it, there is not much to do. However, any useful project is liable to grow, and at some point, it is not nearly so easy to change direction. If you have gone the wrong way, it may be very difficult to reverse.

Since a good project will tend to get bigger, it is a good idea to plan on any project.

# Odd Language #55: Just What?

In http://namesakecomic.com/comic/interview-with-alice-purcell/, in the last panel, one of the characters says, “I’VE BEEN ASKED ABOUT WENDY, BUT JUST SHE’S MY BUNKMATE.”

The issue: One of the author admits it is an error (for “… SHE’S JUST …”), and the strip has since been corrected. As originally written, it is grammatically correct and does mean something, namely, that only Wendy is her bunkmate.

# Puzzle #58: Tictactoe

Tictactoe (or X’s and O’s) is a simple game. Play continues until a three-in-a-row is formed or all nine locations are filled in.

Let us extend the game slightly and have play not stop when a three-in-a-row is formed, but only end when all nine locations are filled in. In a given game, it might be that more than one three-in-a-row is formed. What is the maximum number of three-in-a-rows that can be formed in a game under the new rules?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.