Monthly Archives: April 2015

Puzzle #99: Prime Sums

Taking all of the prime numbers up to some prime, there is a pattern in the sums. Odd and even sums alternate with each additional prime considered. Is this a coincidence?

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, April 29, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #97 Solution: The Group

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Putting on the Drama

One of the on-line visual stories — “Comic? Bah!” See The Word’s the Thing — that I follow is “Weregeek” by Alina Pete. If you are a gamer, you might love it, too.

In a recent strip, a character acted in a manner that many considered inappropriate. I understand that these things happen, but the reaction from many commenters was quite severe and very overdramatic. For example, one comment was “Kinda ruined this comic for me in one strip”. There were many other comments laying it on just too thick.

Ms. Pete did not just start “Weregeek”. It has been running for over eight years now. She is an experienced professional. Does anyone really think she ruined it in one strip?

I find that there is much too much of this drama in the world. Imagine putting a lot of effort into something and getting trashed like this. “Weregeek” has had many storylines, ones that take months to play out. The result of the inappropriate behaviour in the story universe? That has yet to be seen. I am confident that Ms. Pete will handle it well.

Rather than lash out, more people should consider waiting a bit to see what happens. Hissy fits might be fun for some, but they can cause trouble for others. Please lighten up.

Odd Language #95: Out Of

A recent USENET post quoted a company’s Website, “We operate out of the US which is one of the few, if only, countries without a mandatory data retention law.”

The issue: “out of” can mean “in” or “out” depending on context. So what does the above mean? Imagine this conversation:
Ring! Ring!
“Good morning. Smith Accounting Services. How may I help you?”
“Good morning. Are you people local?”
“Yes, we operate out of an office downtown.”
“Oh, good. May I please speak with Mr. Smith?”
“Sorry, but he is out of the office.”

Puzzle #98: Alphabet Sets

The letters of the alphabet have been divided into three sets. Each letter is in only one set. Determine the membership rule for each set.

1) {E, M, W}
2) {C, I, O, S, U}
3) the rest of the letters

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, April 22, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #96 Solution: Marbles That You Have Not Lost

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Missing Language Pieces Bite Again!

In Missing Language Pieces, I discussed the frustration of a language missing useful pieces. Gremlins, noting this, decided to send me a further example.

I follow the RISKS List moderated by Peter G. Neumann. RISKS deals with computer-related risks. You can read it as the USENET newsgroup comp.risks or at http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks. I disagreed somewhat with a recent submission by one Lauren Weinstein and decided to write a rebuttal to the points I disagreed with. I wrote my rebuttal, and then, I framed it with a note to the RISKS moderator and Lauren, a reference to Lauren’s blog, and a reference to my blog.

I checked Lauren’s Website. When I saw the picture of Lauren looking rather bigger than expected astride a big motorcycle, it occurred to me that Lauren was not Ms. Weinstein after all. I had assumed that Lauren is a female name (and it is), but Lauren Weinstein is male. (Gene is a male name, and I have encountered a female Gene.)

Now, I had to correct about ten references in my rebuttal and framing. It was courteous to do so, but it was time that I do not think should have been necessary. Lauren’s sex was irrelevant to his arguments and mine.

“I really would like to see a gender-neutral, singular, third-person pronoun.” _____ [the blogger] whined. Fill in the blank, please, and not with “they”.

Odd Language #94: Not Excluding Me

“Hands up. Who here in this room thinks he is as good a programmer as I am?”

The issue: The person asking the question is presumably in the room, but it is a fairly safe bet that he will not raise his hand (though, obviously, he is as good as he is).

I understand that it is understood in that case, but often, people speak somewhat vaguely around boundary cases. When I am discussing how a proposed program should work, I have to pay special attention to these. For example, does a rule apply starting on the specified date, or does it apply starting after that date? Both situations are common. Examples: Starting 2015-04-15, the yet-another-tax rate will be 6.5%. If the due date for an invoice is 2015-04-15, it is not overdue until 2015-04-16.)

Puzzle #97: The Group

Given the following statements, come up with an arrangement where all of them are true and another where all of them are false.

1) There are five people in the group.
2) Sam is older than Bob.
3) Mary is the oldest.
4) John is younger than Mary, or maybe Sue, but not both.
5) Bob is the youngest male.
6) Sue is not the youngest.

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, April 15, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #95 Solution: Another Number Grid

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow