November 16, 2016: I've been working on testing and implementing some changes triggered by the availability of the free Delphi 10.1 Berlin (D10) compiler download. It has many enhancements over Delphi 7 (D7), and is a good candidate for new programs. The bad news is that many of the several hundred D7 based programs on the site would require at least minor modifications to compile on D10. Many of the differences are not new, but previous Delphi versions had price tags in the hundreds of $. Converting D7 source code to more recent versions is not something I look forward to doing "for fun". So here's the evolving approach and what I've changed so far:
A viewer recompiled our Akerue word finding game under D10 and reported that it compiled but did not recognize words entered by the user. The problem was that our dictionary program required changes to account for a new default string format using 16 bit rather than 8 bit characters; necessary for languages non-Latin alphabets, but a pain in the you-know what for us. The library unit which handles dictionary access has been updated to use 8 bit character strings and Akerue is working for compilation under D7 or D10. The updated library can be downloaded from that page and also from the other big dictionary user, WordStuff, which is wrapper for six other word oriented puzzles. I also updated our Delphi 7 - Delphi XE Differences page to include some notes about the D10 conversion steps recognized so far.
October 30, 2016: What does it take to be a good problem solver? It's a question that has interested me for years, primarily because the world needs more of us J. Farmers, detectives, mechanics, doctors, scientists, artists, and programmers are just some of the occupations where success is closely related to problem solving skills. I'm sure of some of the common characteristics (fact gathering, planning, divide & conquer, persistence), but there must be others. I should add "welcoming constructive criticism" to the list. I find it difficult to think about problem solving while doing the problem solving. Today's program, Grid Subdivisions, is a first attempt at documenting my processes, for programmers at least.
October 24, 2016: A viewer reported today that our CPU Speed demo program is being flagged as a virus or malware by some systems (including mine when I checked). The timestamps and size on the site match my local version, so I'm quite sure that it is a false positive for the imported item. I've left the source download in place but removed the executable download link. The source can be recompiled and run locally with no problems. Non-Delphians will have to find another source. Increased security rarely makes everyday operations easier, but it is the price we pay to avoid the catastrophic.
October 23, 2016:
Two programs were updated today based on today's Mensa Calendar puzzle asking for 3 and 6 letter synonyms using all 9 letters in the word CARPOOLED. My Unscramble program is part of my favorite word puzzle solver collection, Wordstuff3, and should have been able to solve it, but did not. It turns out that the three letter synonym is PRO which our dictionary categorizes as an abbreviation which are not searched by default. Whether it is may be debated, but Unscramble had a hard-to-find option to include abbreviations which led me to cheat and peek at the answer. Selecting non-standard words like abbreviations is now much simpler with Unscamble V2, In the process of researching the problem, I also corrected some text scaling problems in the DicMaint dictionary maintenance program which allows words to be categorized as Abbreviation, Capitalized, or Foreign words as well as performing other maintenance tasks. Downloads for both can be found on the WordStuff3 package description page.
October 21, 2016: Although I never learned the root cause of the authentication problem with the website, it seems only to have affected files uploaded during a period of two of three days around the 15th. Most files I could repair by deleting and re-uploading pictures or page data. A couple required intervention by EasyCGI support. If you have trouble accessing pages or files on this website, please let me know.
October 15, 2016: EasyCGI, the host site for DFF, has modified something in their structure which is causing problems with accessing this website. It is erroneously asking for authentication (Username and Password) when browsing to a page. The problem seems worse with Internet Explorer and frequently goes away if you just click the "Cancel" button in the popup window several times. There may be a similar problem when attempting to download program executables or source code zip files. Google Chrome seems to work more often than Internet Explorer or Edge. All browsers seem to be missing embedded pictures on pages, at least in Windows 10. I'm going over now to check the situation on other computers to check Windows 7 and 8.1. I'll post again here as things develop or problem gets resolved .
October 6, 2016: The fall quarter newsletter was sent to subscribers a couple of days ago. It's available here in case you missed it.
Here's significant news that did not make the newsletter: The free "starter" version of Delphi has been extended by Embarcadero!. Thanks to viewer Mac for the heads up with the info. This is the first free release that I recall since Turbo Pascal became "abandonware" in 2002 and, according to Wikipedia, an Explorer version in 2005. I wasn't excited about these because they did not include the compiler source code which was (and is) a valuable learning resource. The new free release is at Delphi 10.1 Berlin Starter Edition and still has the "no commercial use" restriction but does include the source code! Mac also says that it is only available in the 32 bit version which is fine for most users, including me. They do say "Offer may be withdrawn at any time", so don't delay if you want to check it out.
September 20, 2016: A viewer recently reported significant error with the BigFloat "Divide" and "Reciprocal" operations. Divide works by computing the reciprocal of the denominator and multiplying by the numerator. If the value passed to Reciprocal directly or as a denominator is negative, values returned were incorrect. The error has existed for several months, so hopefully negative denominators are rare. BigFloatTest was reposted today with a link to the corrected test program executable, source and a new version of the DFF Library file containing the offending module.
If you use this unit and 1/-1 does not return -1 as the result, you need this fix!
September 18, 2016: It seems like our License Key Generator program has hit a busy streak recently, averaging 12 downloads per day for the past month and moving it into the top 10 downloads for the year. And that was while lacking the ability to encode the letter M! I suspect that many of the downloads are by those wishing to generate an activation code for Windows or Office, etc. They'll be disappointed. The program implements how I might protect my programs if they were for sale. They are not (everything on this site is free!) Anyway, License Key Gen Version 2,2 posted today adds a few refinements and allows Mary Doe (as well as John) to register their programs J.
September 8, 2016: A program that still gets updated after 14 years must fill some "niche" demand. My "Logic Problem Solver" fits that description. Originally written to help solve those Logic Grid problems appearing in the Dell puzzle magazines, solving requires filling a truth table grid using a number of formal logic reasoning strategies with Latin names like "Modus Tollens", "Modus Ponens", and "Reductio ad Absurdum" whether the solver knows it or not. . Thanks to "geocaching", tougher logic puzzles are still floating around. This week's update to our Logic Problem Solver V5. 6 program was triggered by note from a "cacher" solving a large puzzle called "Misadventures on Goose Island". I alternated between trying to solve it and fixing/enhancing the program with more success on the fixing than on the solving. Although it is almost as addictive as coding, I'll leave the final solution to the fellow who reported it to me and just post the updated program for now. :
August 3, 2016: Here's a "Word Attribute Puzzle Solver" which uses predefined rules to apply predefined "letter sets" to a given set of phrases with unknown common characteristics. The objective is to find for a rule/letter set combination which applies to all of those phrases and to a single phrase in a second list of solution candidates. I peeked at the backside of this calendar page to get the solution and coded the appropriate rule, but the program might provide a platform for me to do better with future puzzles of this type.
August 29, 2016: Either the projects are getting
harder, I'm getting busier with non-coding projects, or I'm just getting
slower with age. Probably all three. In any event, here's a puzzle
from the August 11 Mensa Calendar page that occupied a couple of hours a day for
the past 2 weeks: Mind Your ABCDs
requires placing those 4 letters in a 5x5 grid with the number of each letter in
each row and column as specified in this diagram. There is an added
restriction that the same letter cannot appear in two adjacent cells the the
same row or column. The program allows user play with counts updated as
letters are placed. There's also a Solve button that was the fun part of
creating the project.
July 20, 2016: Whew! I'm up and running on a new laptop after a three-week conversion effort. New computer + New Operating System = Lots of learning opportunities! The old faithful Dell Studio 17 decided it was time to retire, so action was required . The upgrade story was originally posted here, but moved to this HP Envy page because it is rather long.
I did manage to get one project written and posted today - Keypress Display Demo displays all character keys entered on the keyboard when keying from within any application. A user had suggested it as a way to view password entry for older programs that do not have the option of viewing the keyed characters before submitting the password.
June 28, 2016:
2 1/2 weeks of this month found us out west in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming visiting five National Parks with a daughter and her family. Seeing the animals and geological wonders was nice, but the family time was even better.
Probably only time for one program this month; this June 16 Mensa
calendar puzzle was chosen because I couldn't solve it manually in the 5 minutes
I allocate to these things. The program
Revolving Letters allows users to
rotate columns to find a solution, or let the program do the grunt work and
solve it for you. Computers really shine at "grunt work"!
May 28, 2016: A fix applied last month to our Cutlist program (See April 3, 2016 "What's New" post), introduced a problem which prevented the printing of user generated solution diagrams. Cutlist Version 4.04 was posted today to correct this problem.
May 27, 2016: May has been a busy month - one granddaughter earned her Dr. Pharmacy degree and another got married. We travelled to attend both. We're proud of Kristen and happy for Sarah. Coincidentally, if things go as planned, we will be attending Kristen's wedding and Sarah's graduation as a Chem. Engineer next spring!
The intervening days were spent catching up with mowing, garden care, tree
trimming, etc. Evenings allowed me to complete the
DTMF (Touch-tone) Decoder Test program. Here's a picture of the device
put together by the family Electrical Engineer (my son) which
listens for tones and sends the decoded digits to my program for display.
Probably not of interest for the majority of viewers, but if it is, visit the
link for more details.
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