What's New -  February, 2008

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February 25, 2008:  It has been  three years since we visited the world of Keno.  A recent email from a fellow in Brazil prompted  Keno Version 2 posted today.  The Brazilian national lottery is a version of Keno which they call "Lotomania".  In this game the "Pool" is 100 numbers, 20 "Spots" are selected and the "Draw" is 50 numbers.  I expanded Keno Version 1 to allow user selection  of Pool, Draw, and Spots values.   I also expanded the Payout results table to include theoretical and observed odds as well as probability for the number of "catches".   The program verifies that the government published odds of 20 catches is 1 in 11,372,635 games.  (Well, actually I calculate it as 1 in 11,372,376 but, close enough.)

February 20, 2008:  We spent President's Day with my daughter and her family in Connecticut.  We had a good visit and 11-year old grandson, Luke, gave me a couple of good ideas for future projects.

As a homework assignment, he had made a word search puzzle (with words from The Odyssey!) in which he cleverly used partial versions of the words as space fillers and filled in the remaining unused letter spaces only with letters that appear in the target words.  From experience I can tell you that both of these "features" make it significantly harder to find the words.   I plan to incorporate his ideas in my Crossword Puzzle builder which also makes word-search puzzles.

He also had an original "Rush Hour" puzzle configuration which was particularly tough to solve.    Rush Hour is a puzzle game by Binary Arts which challenges players is free a particular vehicle by sliding other plastic  vehicles on a constrained board so as to open a path to the exit.  My version of the game is called "Traffic Jam" and I plan to add Luke's puzzle to it.

In the meantime, here is a "Sentence Parser" program written to help a fellow teaching English as a foreign language in Indonesia.  He wants  to write an automatic translator to help in some online training software he is developing.   This provides him with a start by identifying words, sentences, and paragraphs as well as recognizing abbreviations (so that their "dots" to not count as end-of-sentence delimiters)..

February 10, 2008: A number, the sum of whose proper divisors is equal to the number itself, is called a perfect number. If the sum is less than the number, the number is deficient and if the sum is greater, it is abundant. (Proper divisors are divisors which a smaller than the number itself.)   It has been proven that every number greater than 83,160 can be expressed as the sum of two abundant numbers. Here's a little Abundant Numbers program that answers a few more questions about what kinds kind of sums can (and can') be formed.

February 6, 2008:  One of the first programs posted on DFF, back in 2001, was Reaction Times, written to help one of my grandkids with a school project  to measure the response time to click a mouse button when a colored pattern was randomy flashed on the screen.   The data is captured to files and a couple of other programs  help analyze the data.  Since it was published, I hear from a student about once a year with questions or a request for some enhancement.  This year's experimenter wanted to know how to get the frequency chart of response times copied so that she could include it in her report.   Due to a big oversight on my part, it turned out that there as no easy way!   It seems like I should have recognized that virtually all school project reports are prepared on computers these days.  Anyway, a new version of the Density Plot program was posted today which corrects the situation.  In addition into adding several charting options, there are now buttons to print the chart, save it as a bitmap (BMP) file,  or save it as a Windows Metafile (WMF) file.  WMF files are much smaller than BMP files and may scale better when inserted into Word documents.

Yesterday's  Mensa Page-A-Day Puzzle calendar has another age puzzle: "Allan is twice as old as Gloria was three years ago.  In three years, Gloria will be as old as Allan is now.  How old are Allan and Gloria now?"  Our Age Problem Solver solves this using the text as input.  And without any updates to the parser tables!  I  added the puzzle to the download zip files  bringing the number of solvable sample puzzles to 12.

February 1, 2008:  Version 2 of "Cows and Bulls", a pattern guessing game, was posted today.  Cows and Bulls is an older version of "Mastermind", the board version of the  game using colored pegs instead of digits.    Because there are 10 choices rather than 6 for each pattern position, finding the pattern is much harder.  Among other new features, this version provides some help by allowing you to see the remaining  possible solutions as guesses are made.