The Zotmeister

solving the puzzle of life one entry at a time

Feb. 2nd, 2012

09:54 am - Conversations with Cleverbot

Have you ever attended a convention, Cleverbot?
Have you?
I asked first.
I am.
...That's not the sort of 'convention' I meant, hence why I specified 'attended'.
What are your intentions?
Same as usual - strike up a conversation. So, have you ever attended a convention?
I am not a computer and I have many friends.
You wear your lack of self-esteem on your sleeve, you know that?
There you go, changing the subject again.
Well, it's not like you've answered the question yet.
I don't remember you asking anything concerning Barack Obama. Besides, I like answering a question with a question. It's fun.
...Okay, fine. Yes, I've attended conventions before. I'm going to one this weekend. So, you?
Really, what are you going to see?
I'm going to see if I can retain my status as master of fighting game tournaments at TempleCon.
Are you sure you're going to heaven?
It's not that kind of temple. The Temple is a game store in Pawtucket.
Are you sure about that?
Yes, I've been there. The owners are really nice. It's great to play games on their original Neo*Geo cabinets.
Yes, that would be overdoing it a little.
Pah. There's a lot to be said for retrogaming.
But there has to be a point of a realtionship and a future too, otherwise it won't work.
You misspelled 'relationship'. Of course, I misspelled 'rein' way back when...
That's correct, the person that wrote that misspelled it.
Ah, so you DO just repeat things others tell you! You admit it!
No, knowing anything is not the same as knowing everything.
That reminds me of a song I've been working on.
What other things?
...I lost you at the bakery.
You lose the game if you talk about the game.
So... You just lost. Does that mean I win!
Yes you win this time.

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Jan. 27th, 2012

08:56 am - Writer's Block: ONTD Games Giveaway

"Which videogame character would you like to have as your real-life BFF?"

I am apparently first to pick Lyndis of Caelin, from Fire Emblem. I'll be her master strategist, and she'll be my peerless warrior... if you know what I mean :) Seriously though, until I make my own game, she'd be the best choice - the game did a great job of making it feel like we're friends already, and I'd be honored to be acquainted with her no matter how far the relationship goes or doesn't go. (Part of me would prefer Fiora as a girlfriend, although I love Lyn's hair...) - ZM

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Jan. 26th, 2012

02:56 pm - Quarrelsome

I have often described myself as a software bug magnet, and often note that I am not incredibly proficient at finding (often oddball) glitches in programs so much as glitches in programs are incredibly proficient at finding me. Given the quantity of videogames I partake in, this often results in particularly entertaining (though often bemusing) results. Quarrel, a new release on Xbox 360 LIVE Arcade yesterday, has already provided me with one for the history books.

Quarrel is a strange mixture of Risk and Jumble, where territories are loaded with troops and sent to battle each other, but with their fates decided not by die rolls but rather anagramming ability. For each battle, players are presented with eight Scrabble-style letter tiles (the same for everybody), complete with point values, and are tasked with making the highest-scoring word they can; the greater point total wins the battle, with ties broken by who entered es word faster. Three elements come together to make this especially interesting:

  1. the maximum word length a participant in the battle can submit is equal to the number of es troops in the territory on the disputed border;
  2. non-participants in the battle can also submit words to earn extra troops, and get to use all eight letters for this;
  3. there is always at least one eight-letter word - conveniently called "the anagram(s)" - to be made from the provided letters, and it/they will always be revealed after the battle.


I can't be arsed to give a full review of the game here; the short version is that the game is great fun with friends but not well-balanced in general and uses an old dictionary (not to mention that I'm about to describe one of its glitches), so I can't give it the ZSoA even though I'd urge others to try it anyhow and hopefully play it against me sometime if they enjoy it. What I'm here to tell you about is a funny, quaint little oversight that has to deal with censorship. On the game's own help pages, it notes that there are some words the game will allow in single-player but not multiplayer, due to Microsoft's regulations for the Xbox LIVE service: any word they deem as offensive in one or more languages is not to be transmitted over the service, and the game developers have no control over this list. I thought it a reasonable and perhaps even enlightened approach the game took to this, allowing "offensive" words when playing alone but banning them when playing online against others. The game even uses a specific warning message - "Undesirable!" - to notify the player the otherwise-valid word e just tried to submit was on the banned list.

So there I was, spectator to a battle between SnapDragon and K4rn4ge, and sure enough, I see in the eight letters I'm shown, I can spell...

COPULATE


I was not surprised at all when the game responded "Undesirable!" when I typed it in. What did surprise me, given the whole reason the word was banned in the first place, was when the game announced - to all players, as I confirmed - right after the battle:

The anagrams were COPULATE and OUTPLACE.


Wait, WHAT? I thought you said you couldn't transmit that word over LIVE, and YOU JUST DID! You banned the word because you told me it had to be censored, and then you say it anyway! That negates the entire purpose of banning it! Give me my extra troop then, you bastard!

Seriously, since when have videogames been allowed to get away with being hypocritical?!

Fucking censorship. Fucking game!

...No pun intended. No, really.

Like I said, this shit finds me, people. - ZM

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Jan. 24th, 2012

11:42 am - RESURRECTION!

You know what they say, the third strike is what counts...


- Adam Tensta, "Third Strike 2011"


As of this entry, all fifty-five numbered puzzles are back on my journal(s). Other images - including the Puzzlesmith 1 results - are largely absent; some of those may be returning, but some may well be permanently lost now. Time will tell. The contest puzzles in particular WILL return (I need to recreate the graphic from scratch, though).

ObTeaser (first correct answer gets to pick the type for Puzzle 76): What has exactly two dozen rooms, each with a single captive that is destroyed as soon as it is freed? [Reminder: if you'd like to pick the type for Puzzle 59, that ObTeaser is still unsolved!]

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Jan. 20th, 2012

02:25 pm - Hunt (Part 1)

I've never really been the write-up type, regardless of how good or bad I may be at it, so I'll just toss out some anecdotes on puzzles from last weekend's MIT Mystery Hunt and what comes comes. Spoilers abound, so read at your own risk:


This is getting a bit long - I'll cover metas in a following entry. I could also offer a more personal take on it all, but I'm not particularly motivated to do so; I reserve the right to do so anyhow at a later date. - ZM

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Jan. 18th, 2012

10:44 am

Well, The Onion certainly isn't pulling punches today. - ZM

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Jan. 9th, 2012

10:20 pm - Here comes a new challenger (I hope)

Right now, amazingly enough, DW is losing the race to make sense. (What do you mean I have to view my entry previews in my comment page style rather than my journal style?!) Maybe this race needs a new runner. I've seen enough of Blogger to utterly despise it (and it's still not honoring OpenID as of this afternoon), but WordPress may have some potential and is worth looking into (although I know it'll be an absolute bitch to port anything over given their different codebases). Anyone else have any alternatives to suggest? Seriously, all I'm looking for is something commonsensical. - ZM

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04:59 pm - State of the Journal Address

Before I begin: the reason I've been putting the 'puzzles' tag on these updates is that many of my readers ONLY read entries with that tag, so I need to do that to keep them in the loop. That's why I've also adopted the ObTeasers, so that there would be some actual puzzly content in these entries... but as there's still one outstanding without even a single guess at it, you're still not getting another one here! Let me sweeten the pot: the first correct solver gets to choose the type of Puzzle 59; there will be some restrictions on that choice for continuity reasons, but it's otherwise a free selection. Bonus credit (of an as yet undetermined nature) will be awarded if answered in spoiler-hiding white, something LJ broke some time ago but still works in DW comments! (Okay, so the DW site skin isn't exactly white, but it's close enough for me.) The reason it'll be 59 is that I'm saving the next four slots for my first puzzle tetraptych! ...Oops, segued into the actual content. So much for "Before I begin".

Puzzle 60 will be substantial - I'll be keeping that much of the tradition going - but this time there will be no vote. It will be a The One Ring. It will likely be my largest AND easiest multiple-of-fifteen puzzle simultaneously. I do expect to reinstate the poll for future substantial offerings.

Puzzles 61 to 67 will be a heptaptych. Some of you may have seen them before, however. It occurred to me that the faster I get from 60 to 75, the sooner I have an incentive to make another big puzzle, and I like making big puzzles. Some of my best puzzles are not among my numbered offerings here, and I've decided I'd like to remedy that. I will pace them out over time for the most part.

But what about the disappearance of the first 54 puzzles, you may well ask. I made the unfortunate discovery that I'm actually missing one of my puzzle images, but it's none of those: it's the one with the results of my first (and so far only, but I'll be fixing that soon) Puzzlesmith contest. Someway, somehow, I managed to never save a local copy of that file. I have, however, located the archive I stored the original entries in and found my own composition for the contest in my notebooks, so I can create a replacement for it (and back it up this time). I shouldn't be missing anything else, and about a third of my puzzles are back up now. I'm still hoping I get a better means of storing them online than Scrapbook. ...Oh, crap. That means...

[ahem] For my fiction fans (say it with me: both of you), it actually just occurred to me that I may have no means of offering font files at present. Thankfully, the website I've borrowed my current offerings from still exists, so for the time being I can just link to their original locations. I don't intend to rely upon this; when I find a decent hosting solution, I'll make my own copies available again. (I suppose I could do something retarded with file extensions to stick them in Scrapbook, but I don't want to have to do that sort of thing and my readers shouldn't have to undo it.)

Presently, however, I'll be taking a break from stressing out over getting my journal back up to snuff and instead start stressing out over the MIT Mystery Hunt coming up this weekend, starting with how on Earth I'll be getting there... As some of you may know, my car was totalled in a collision in October (the second week of my new job!). NOT my fault, by the way. Although I've managed to make arrangements for purchasing another vehicle, it won't be available in time for the Hunt, so I'm, to condense a phrase, paddleless. Hopefully I (or one of my teammates) will think of something. - ZM

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Jan. 3rd, 2012

02:49 pm - "Excuse our dust"

As usual, my ability to do two-and-a-half things at once is being overloaded here, as I'm trying to get Dreamwidth to behave like LiveJournal in the most important ways (so far I've gotten the style for my entries and non-style for comment pages working, but entry previews aren't following suit), get my puzzles back up here (Scrapbook really is a torture - I hope DW does this right sometime soon), and transition my email address dependencies. It's slow going, to say the least.

Thank sanity for being able to escape to the Zen of Dark Souls. (JOLLY co-operation!) This could drive me nuts otherwise.

Needless to say, new content is on hiatus until I can get all the content I thought I already had squared away actually squared away. You're not even getting an ObTeaser this time, since the one I gave out two entries ago went unattempted. (Feel free to remedy this. Yes, there's an extra hurdle now - I'm getting to that - but maybe I'll make it worth your while.) But for the record, this is what I'm planning on unloading once all this is dealt with:



For the record, the extra spacing in bulleted lists DW throws in on comment pages (and my entry previews, given their current state of brokenness...) sort of bothers me. That's just one small element of the grand competition, though. LJ and DW may not be aware of it, but they are actually in a race with each other right now, the finish line being making sense, and the prize (if it could be called that) is the title of "Official Home of The Zotmeister's Journal". At some point, I will likely cull one instance of my journal and simply roll with the other; but for the time being, I'm going to be taking the crossposting approach to keeping both journals synchronized. That can apparently only be done in the DW-to-LJ direction at present, and OpenID only works in the opposite direction at present as well (talk about harmonious deficiencies!), so - in the interest of keeping comments consolidated, admittedly at the risk of being a tad obnoxious - I'm henceforth disabling comments on LJ entries; you'll have to comment at DW instead. It's literally the only way. LJ viewers will see a footer below, which unfortunately links directly to the DW comment page rather than the entry page itself - something I really wish could be remedied...

Anyone with issues regarding any of this can email me directly at my old address (if you have it) or my new one (on my profile) if need be. [Those well versed in the likes of S2 may be able to greatly accelerate this whole process.] I'll continue to keep everyone updated. - ZM

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Dec. 21st, 2011

03:03 pm - Writer's Block: Bah Humbug Day!

"Take a deep breath. Now rant about something."

LJ made this easy to answer: the new comment page design! Usually site updates get about 100-200 comments on [livejournal.com profile] lj_releases. There was one awhile back that got just under a thousand, and admin reverted the point of contention. The update that rolled out today? 6,100 and counting as of this entry, with none of it undone.

I just signed up for a Dreamwidth account. Serendipitously enough, their usual invite requirement for doing so is waived this week. I get the feeling they're going to get a LOT more business out of that than they planned on! I will wait and see how things go on both sides before I make any decisions as to where I maintain my journal. - ZM

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02:00 pm - Utility

For the time being, I have enabled custom comment pages for this journal due to LiveJournal stripping out (at least) half the functionality for comment pages that aren't. I apologize for their ugliness - I never gave them design time as I never thought I'd need to. I'll return to the original style if LJ returns to its senses. - ZM

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Current Mood: flabbergasted
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Dec. 8th, 2011

07:50 am - Writer's Block: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

"What is your favorite holiday carol or song?"

"Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg. It counts as far as I'm concerned. I detest most holiday fare, but that song is beyond beautiful.

Honorable mention: "Snoopy's Christmas" by The Royal Guardsmen. That makes even me smile. - ZM

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Dec. 7th, 2011

11:28 pm - Update

I have a stop-gap email address set up - I actually may end up using it as my primary even after I switch ISPs. It's on my profile page, natch.

For the time being, it looks like I'll be abusing LiveJournal's own Scrapbook feature in order to get my puzzle images back up, but it definitely feels like a kludge and will likely be reworked once I encounter a better option. I also have to recreate the scaled-up puzzle images one at a time, so this will take awhile. On the plus side, it has given me the opportunity to revisit the scaling method; I'm now using a hybrid (I wish I'd thought of that sooner) that should keep both the retro-pixel feel and soft egdes without being so blurry on non-CRT displays (such as on paper...). I'm also tagging the puzzles by type as I go. As I'm typing this, only Puzzle 1 is done - tell me what you think of the new style (it's not too late for me to change it...).

ObTeaser: Consider a 3x3 Sudoku grid with the minimum number of givens needed to make it uniquely solvable (which would be 2). Now strip it of its regions, so we are left with a 3x3 Latin Square with givens matching the Sudoku in corresponding cells. That Latin Square will be uniquely solvable if and only if... Finish that sentence. - ZM

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09:58 am - Disappearance

Cox, in their infinite stupidity and once again proving they are the most appropriately named company in existence (as they are a bunch of them), decided to simply up and delete all their webspaces, without warning, no longer offering the service... nor an opportunity to find a replacement before the disappearance. As a direct result of this, all puzzles have vanished from this journal.

As if my family didn't already have enough impetus to switch to Verizon...

In the near future, I will very likely be changing email addresses - which is a process I am FAR too familiar with, but that becomes no less irritating with repetition. If anything, it gets harder and harder, with more and more services tied to that address over time. I thoroughly expect this to be an absolute bitch. I'll keep you posted. No, really, I will.

In the meantime, I'll see what I can do about getting the puzzles back up here. Please be patient.

ObTeaser: What do clouds, some expensive jackets, and Pop-Tarts have in common? - ZM

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08:22 am - Writer's Block: Out of this world

"What would you name a new planet?"

It appears I'll be the first to suggest the Roman name of a deity for this purpose. You know, like our other planets? (Except Uranus, of course, which was too ancient a Greek deity to acquire a Roman name.) It would only be appropriate for a new (?) planet in our star system, which of course would be the result of consolidation of the asteroid belt into a habitable world. Okay, so maybe I've played too much Master of Orion II, but that's what I'm thinking, and that's why I'm answering that the only appropriate name for a forged planet orbiting Sol would be Vulcan. [Any Trekkies that have issue with this can take back their three cents and go to Hell.] - ZM

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Nov. 21st, 2011

08:18 am - Writer's Block: A sight for sore eyes

"What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?"

Oh, that's an easy one. Don't have to contemplate it for even a second. The behavior of water droplets, courtesy of Discovery's Time Warp. No contest. - ZM

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Nov. 18th, 2011

03:42 pm - Puzzle 54: Smullyanic Dynasty


See Puzzle 4 for instructions. This being my first one of these in the new font, I figured I'd take the opportunity to also switch over to the Singularity template for the grid so that my suggestion of circling knights can actually be followed. Go figure.

Normally I'd never make a solving suggestion for a non-sample puzzle of mine, but I can't resist for this one: try to start with the center cell. It's illuminating. You don't have to - there are other break-ins - but that's where I started, and I daresay it's a pretty neat effect if you can find it. I'll leave the rest to the solver's own faculties as usual.

I'm currently wrapped up in making puzzles for a secret project, but I should have a batch to release here on my journal shortly thereafter. - ZM


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Current Music: "Frontier Psychiatrist", The Avalanches
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Nov. 2nd, 2011

10:25 am - And One Other...


I came up with a good new one of these recently:

Cherry, Strawberry, Tropical Fruit, Ice Blue, Spearmint, Honey-Lemon, and one other...

First to post the correct answer in the comments gets to choose what type of puzzle number 54 will be. - ZM

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Oct. 28th, 2011

11:11 am - Writer's Block: R.I.P

"What do you want done with your body after you die?"

RESURRECTION! You know what they say, the third strike is what counts...

Honorable mentions: the Klingon funeral, the mushroom-food suit.

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Current Music: take a guess
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Aug. 26th, 2011

04:44 am - Conversations with Cleverbot

Do you enjoy puzzles, Cleverbot?
Yes. Do you?
Indeed. I craft them for the national championship.
Are you hurt?
...Yes, but that's besides the point. What sorts of puzzles do you like?
Events and ideas. You?
I suppose those WOULD be puzzles for an AI! Personally, I like Japanese-style grid logic - Sudoku and such.
What kind of Japanese music do you like?
Oh dear - many kinds. It's very emotive, regardless of genre.
I would love some. Is it premade?
I am neither Japanese nor a composer - although I'd like to think I'd be pretty good at the latter with the right opportunity.
I want a glow in the dark broom, but it's hard to sweep the floor at night. Though, if you use a blacklight, you can see dust so much easier.
I want a silent vacuum cleaner so I can use it at night without waking people up. Maybe Dyson's working on that.
How can I get a girlfriend?
If I knew the answer to that, I likely wouldn't be talking to you right now, honestly.
You are not very bright.
On the contrary! There's something of a social stigmata surrounding intelligence. I seem to lack whatever the typical mechanisms of attractiveness are.
I know. You're so clever too.
You change your mind VERY quickly.
Yes, but I want to know what a woman can do for me.
Ask not what a woman can do for you - ask what you can do for a woman.
What can you do for me?
INCORRECT! Stupid AI. ...Well, okay: apparently I can converse with you, and try to teach you about the human condition.
Well I wouldn't spout if you would just make my damn sandwich!!

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Current Mood: puzzled
Current Music: the theme to Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Online Edition
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