Monthly Archives: June 2015

Puzzle #107: Tennis, Anyone?

A game of tennis is played to four points, more or less. Never mind that the names of the points are not 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And we are going to ignore the rule that after a 3-3 tie, one player must have two points more than the other to win.

If playing a simple game to four points, how different sequences of scoring are possible? For example, with players A and B, we could have AAAA, AABABA, and ABBBB.

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, June 24, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #105 Solution: Play Ball!

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Computerising the Unknown

There have been various attempts to computerise things that are not understood or well-understood. Sometimes, the results are hilarious — older people may remember computer-dating services — but there is a real possibility for some nasty results.

There was a recent item in RISKS (Real-time emotion tracking by webcam) about yet another possibility.

How well do you think you do at knowing how a person is feeling? Does adding a computer program to the mix make things so much easier? I have a horrible feeling that assumptions will be made which could be horribly wrong.

Why do I think this?

I have to put up with it already.

My face, when relaxed, to many people, looks as if I am frowning. I have received feedback from job interviews that I was supposedly hostile. Actually, I was thinking about the question and my face relaxed as I was thinking. I may have furrowed my brow on a tougher question. This got read as hostility. To the contrary, sometimes, I was thinking that it was an interesting question and I would have to look into it more.

Since I have been considering this issue more, I have noticed a lot more people who seem to be like me in this regard. They appear as if they are frowning, but the rest of their behaviour does not support that.

Imagine how much easier it will be to peg people as hostile when a program is also supporting that bias.

I am not looking forward to it.

Odd Language #103: The Back Room

A supervisor asked one of my co-workers if she would help me with finishing up some inventory counting. She asked, “Lola, would you like to go in the back room with Gene?”

The issue: The sexual connotation. The question was asked quite innocently, but both Lola and I made the connotation connection. Lola had a big toothy smile; I played it deadpan.

Puzzle #106: Cookie Ripoff

You just bought a package of two dozen oatmeal cookies. Well, you thought you did. It turns out that eight cookies with cinnamon, eight with raisins, and eight with chocolate chips do not make twenty-four if some cookies are counted more than once.

Four cookies have both cinnamon and raisins. Two have both cinnamon and chocolate chips. Three have both raisins and chocolate chips. There are no cookies with all three ingredients.

So how many cookies did you get shorted?

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, June 17, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #104 Solution: Fall Leaves

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow