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Scenes from my programming past: Puzzles III

Continuing through this set of five puzzles from 40 years ago ( one , two ) that I had to solve using FORTRAN on punched cards on King’s College’s timeshare. The third puzzle is perhaps the most tedious of all so far. Let’s see what it says: One Christmas treat we, alas, never miss is Aunt Millicent’s smell game. She puts five of what she terms ‘substances’ in muslin bags and bids us take a good sniff in turn. Her sense of humour is very much her own as you will see from this record of guesses from...

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Scenes from my programming past: Puzzles II

Continuing through this set of five puzzles from 40 years ago , presumably designed to be solved with FORTRAN, the language I used back then. Here’s the second puzzle, one that seems like a logical one: Five anglers were propping up the bar of The Compleat Idiot the other night, arguing about the day’s catch. As all were lying themselves blue, no information whatever emerged until the landlord finally intervened. “Look,” he said, “each of you has caught just one fish. The five fish together weigh...

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Scenes from my programming past: Puzzles I

In cleaning out our basement ready for our move, I came across the folders of my notes I’d laboriously written during the lectures for my Mathematics degree. There in the middle of Year 2’s notes were some notes on programming, and in there were a set of five puzzles. Presumably we were given these to see whether we could write a program to solve them. In FORTRAN, natch, because that’s all we had at the time. So let’s see how we do. Here’s the first puzzle. If OODDF is the square root of WONDERFUL...

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The Mortgage Protection sleaze

Back in August 2015, I wrote a blog post about the sleazy auto-warranty companies mailing me trying to get me to sign up after I’d bought out the lease on my wife’s car. It’s turned into one of the more popular posts on this site, so, without further ado: it’s time for another sleaze! A couple of weeks ago, I closed on a new house for us: bigger plot and house, with a garage for a third car (hello, 64SAINT !), and air conditioning. We’re certainly happy about it and are going to be moving in a couple...

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Five dozen

Numerology, like a whole bunch of New Age-y things, is a complete load of old bollocks. If you want to see some “meaning” in a bunch of numbers, those associations will be there to spot. Sometimes you can be convinced enough to put them on a lottery ticket and watch your money disappear. For me in my life – weirdly, perhaps coincidentally – it’s the number 12. But then again, 12 is this nice number that’s divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6. You could also make some argument that it forms “nice” fractions...

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Sheer panic

You might know the feeling. You’ve got a flight, 2+ hours. You’ve prepared and uploaded a bunch of ripped DVDs to your tablet, at least one or two of which you’ll watch during the flight. You pop your headphones on as the doors are closed and you start the first video. “Cannot play video. Please try again later.” Yes, this was me on Monday morning, my heart sinking into my boots. All I had, literally, for this flight to entertain myself were these videos. And they wouldn’t play. Maybe I’d overloaded...

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Why I won’t use WordPress, in one image

From a site I’m the webmaster for, a list of requests that caused a 404 not found error: PHP attack! In essence, this was an automated attack, as it happened all within a couple of minutes (the list goes on for a second and third page). Some script kiddie running a script that was trying to get some response from the assumed PHP that’s running the site. Requesting a whole bunch of PHP files, one after the other. In fact it’s probably four kiddies (unless it’s the same kiddie trying four times, because...

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Dell’s new Thunderbolt dock

Ten months ago – 10! It seems like yesterday – I upgraded my Dell XPS 13 to the latest version at the time and purchased a Dell TB15 Thunderbolt dock to go with it. Although the laptop is great, the dock has been anything but. Let’s put it like this: it took a long while for the drivers to stabilize enough for me to actually use it properly. Where ‘properly’ means some approximation of correctly. (For example, the Ethernet port was incredibly flaky and so I bought a Plugable USB-C dock to help out...

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Automating the pasting of code in blog posts

So, just before Christmas, I switched to using a client-side library to highlight the code in my blog posts . The library I chose was Prism JS , and it works by marrying up some JavaScript and CSS to specially decorated pre and code elements so that their content (the code itself) is highlighted nicely. Specially decorated? Yep, it looks like this in the HTML: <div class="jmbcodeblock"> <pre><code class="language-foo"> _the code to be shown highlighted_ </code></pre>...

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Replacing Microsoft Money – Moneyspire

Next on my saga of finding the best replacement for Microsoft Money – well, OK, the best for me – is Moneyspire . Actually, I half-heartedly tried this out some 8 months ago, but I wasn’t feeling the urge at the time and I stopped. At that time they produced a free version for a single account (if I recall correctly) but that’s now been dropped: you can get a two-week trial version with limited accounts and transactions, or pony up some cash for the Basic or the Plus version. I Paypaled $75 for the...

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