Delphi For Fun Newsletter #82

October 2, 2016

Welcome to the fall edition of our DFF Newsletter.  Nights are getting cooler and the deer, turkeys and bear on our mountain are fattening up on acorns for the winter to come.

I'm adjusting to a new laptop (HP Envy 17t) and operating system (Windows 10 Pro).   The laptop is fast and stays so cool that I really can work with it on my lap, but there are some keyboard key arrangement changes from Dell keyboards which require some finger muscle retraining.    Windows 10 has compatibility problems with older programs like Delphi 7, my preferred compiler, FrontPage 2003, my website maintenance program, and MailList King, the mailing list manager I've used for many years.  Special thanks to Nigel at MailList King for helping get the list data transferred and working under Windows 10.  There is lots of "behind the screen" stuff required to handle list management and the actual sending process and MLK handles it well.  The HP Envy link in the July 20 entry below has been updated with more details if you're interested.

November will bring two significant events: deer season and a Presidential election.  I've listed those in decreasing probability that I can affect the outcome.  In the 16 years I've been hosting this website, I have always avoided mentioning religion and politics.  I'm breaking that ban today to propose my solution to the choice dilemma faced by US citizens this year.  Both candidates have a strong disapproval ratings, but only one of them really scares me.  By nature, I'm financially conservative (Republican)  and socially liberal (Democrat).   I don't care who you sleep with or what you smoke, just don't harm others and don't expect me to pay for it!  I'm convinced the Donald Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (characterized by exaggerated sense of self-importance, tendency to denigrate others, and a total lack of empathy;  look it up).   Sounds like a dangerous combination of traits for a Commander-In-Chief of our country!   So even though I don't like doing it, I'll be voting for Hillary and for every other Republican candidate on the ticket next month.             

OK, on to less important but more pleasant topics.  I coded three new projects this quarter; two puzzle solvers and a program to display keystrokes from any other program (e.g. passwords which only display as asterisks).  Also three program fixes or enhancements for older programs.  One important one for users of our BigFloat unit handling unlimited number size arithmetic; divide operations with negative denominators returned incorrect results since an update a few months ago.

Here are the "What's New" items for the quarter:  


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.


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 (names in the left column in this case) with unknown common characteristics.  Rules could include attributes of the words or letters such as syllables, alphabetical order, alphabetical letter position, vowel/consonant categories, letter shapes, or ???.   The objective is to find 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 for this puzzle, 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 in 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 most fun part of creating the project. 

 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 "geocacher" 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.   :

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 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!     


Quotes about Democracy:

"Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least." -- Robert Byrne.( American author)

"Remember one thing about democracy. We can have anything we want and, at the same time, we always end up with exactly what we deserve."  -- Edward Albee (American playwright)

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."  -- Winston Churchill (British PM)

"Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education."  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt (US President)

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." -- Winston Churchill (British PM)

“One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.  ...It is a well-known fact that those people who want to rule people are those least suited to do it.  To summarize: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” -- Douglas Adams, (English author & humorist)

"It is really difficult to find upbeat encouraging quotes about democracy!" -- Gary Darby  (Programmer)

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