Archive for April, 2007

Logic Puzzle Hall of Shame

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

My puzzle links page gets a decent number of hits. It’s sort of a best-of compilation of places to go to do (mostly logic) puzzles online. It’s for my own convenience, but I know other people are using it too. Check it out.

So, I might as well go off in the other direction. Today we welcome Puzzle Junction to the Hall of Shame for giving The Purdue Exponent a sample kakuro that’s impossible to solve. Ouch.

The Exponent is polling for a new puzzle to add along side the sudoku on the comics page. To that end they printed representative puzzles from several of the Puzzle Junction-supplied types. I was looking forward to it, being an avid puzzle fan.

So with great anticipation I turned to the sample kakuro and saw the puzzle pictured here. Bad Kakuro from Puzzle Junction My first thought was “Wow, that’s got to be the hardest kakuro of that size I’ve ever seen!” To save some erasing, I headed over to Indigo Puzzles and typed it in to the kakuro assistant so I could do some experimentation. (I later typed it in at Jarek to get it typeset for this column.)

It was soundly rejected because it has multiple solutions. Sure enough, there are several sets of interchangeable digits that make it truly impossible to solve logically. There are at least six obvious solutions at first glance (that off-handed dis is dedicated to Pierre de Fermat).

For those who aren’t hopeless logic puzzle addicts, multiple solutions don’t make a puzzle easier. Many solution strategies depend on the fact that a proper puzzle has only one solution. This is especially true in kakuro. Besides, it’s against the rules.

So a big jeer to Puzzle Junction. Boooooooo! Their other puzzles are pretty lame too. I’m guessing their “Anagram Jumble” will win the poll, but it’s not as good as the brand-name kind. People do love the Jumble, though.

It’s not The Exponent’s fault, but it’s disappointing that kakuro doesn’t have a ghost of a chance. If they’d printed one that was of a reasonable difficulty, I think they might’ve got some nibbles. As-is, I doubt anyone who’d not see one before got very far before deciding it was a waste of time.

Papal Bull?

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

According to IMDb Studio Briefing, on March 12, 2007 the Vatican announced that it “plans to launch an international satellite channel that will provide news and entertainment in seven languages” because the Pope has said that “much of what is transmitted in various forms to the homes of millions of families around the world is destructive.”

What’s an anti-censorship atheist like me say about that? I say good for them. I’d much rather people provide an alternative than try to ruin TV for the rest of us. If they are correct that people want less “destructive” programming, it’s a win-win.

But I’ve got one word for our friends in the big hats: “pax”. Not pax as in Latin (well, not directly) for “peace”, but PAX as in PAX TV. I doubt they’ll fare that well.

“But there are a zillion Catholics out there, ab!” Yes, but the non-denominational PAX TV should’ve had an even bigger (though, perhaps, not as loyal) audience. And last I checked, the most popular shows in the biggest Catholic zones were things like sexy, violent, telenovelas.

Just as I have (a lot of, actually) respect for their movie ratings system, I think it’s a great idea to offer alternative programming for their flock. But I wouldn’t expect it to be both noticeably different and overwhelmingly successful.

My guess, considering what the bishops say about TV, is that the Pope’s views are out of touch even within his organization. Unlike the noisy crusaders I hear about the most, the Big-C Church actually trusts adults to be adults. Well, mostly.

They’re likely much better off producing some new (and branded) shows to sprinkle throughout the existing broadcast and Internet space and not taking the hit of starting up a whole network. If they have one solid success (even if they have a bunch of failures), it’ll say a lot more than adding yet another channel no one watches to the dial.

Getting the Blog Rolling (Again)

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

I did make it back from that trip, and promptly got busy with other things, like, geez, work. I figured I’d channel my compulsive writing (well, more like typing these days, I’m afraid) into the blog, but I got sidetracked with some stuff at TV.com. I wrote most of the guide for “Watch Over Me”, but since no one else watched it, I doubt you care.

Of late, I’ve spent most of my nights doing puzzles online and catching up on some TV shows. I have an enormous backlog of DVDs I’m getting through too. I’ll probably babble about some of those, and (I hope) put up the rest of my notes from the 3-D Expo.

I know, don’t hold your breath.