The Zotmeister

solving the puzzle of life one entry at a time

Apr. 3rd, 2014

01:46 am - Is this thing on?

Is anyone still keeping eyes here, perchance? I've largely moved to Twitter, but I do have plans to resurrect this journal at some point. Now is definitely not the time, though - my situation is frankly rather dire. If you'd like to help, or if you want to see what puzzle construction I'll be up to over the next couple of months - and boy howdy will I ever be making puzzles - then (if you haven't already) please check out my Indiegogo campaign; it only has just over 48 hours left as I'm typing this. - ZM

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Current Mood: anxious
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Apr. 5th, 2012

10:50 pm - Amazing

Have you ever heard a song in a public place - say, at a restaurant - and thought it great, but couldn't make out enough of the lyrics (perhaps due to background chatter, a lousy PA system, or bad acoustics - and let's face it, some singers have horrible articulation) to be able to track it down online and learn its title and artist? Sure, every now and then the radio DJ will be remiss in providing that data, but you can usually rest assured the song will play again soon enough; in a restaurant, you're often hosed. You have no idea if or when you may ever hear it again, even if you frequent that place.

Just such a puzzle had been tormenting me for years - a puzzle I could only refer to as "that song I heard in Ruby Tuesday, like, twice". I was never able to nail it down well enough to get an ID off of it once I got back to my computer at work. And keep in mind this was when I had my old job, so when I said "years", I meant it - at least two, bare minimum, since I was unemployed that long.

After work today at my new job, I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. And just as I was about to fill in the tip on my receipt right before I leave, that song played. I was fortunate in that the typical dinner crowd hadn't yet arrived in force - I was the only customer not at the bar when I'd first arrived, and there were, what, three other tables occupied when I left? - so I had a better-than-average chance of making out enough of the inflected lyrics to actually be able to identify the song once and for all once I got home.

And that's exactly what I was able to do.

I solved that puzzle today, and I'm quite frankly disco-Kirby-level happy about that. But the best part about it is that the song is playable in its entirety, for free, on the artist's official website - in fact, I've linked to it below (or above, if you're on the comment page right now). So you can hear it for yourself, and even without the years of being tormented by not knowing the source! I've totally lost count of how many times I've played it tonight. It's totally stuck in my head. WHERE IT BELONGS.

This is the first time I've ever really been able to use that 'torment' tag of mine in the past tense. Man it feels good!

ObTeaser (the classic kind): Puzzle 59 is complete and will be here tomorrow. If you've been following me on Twitter, you should already know what surprise it will offer :) - ZM

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Current Music: "Amazing", Alex Lloyd
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Dec. 21st, 2011

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

Current Mood: flabbergasted
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Dec. 7th, 2011

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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Oct. 3rd, 2010

08:42 pm - Smile

Alright, you're all getting a bitching session life update, if for no other reason than advance warning if you'll have to deal with me in person soon. If I'm not terribly talkative - or just generally not my usual denying cheerful self - for a few weeks, you can assume it's because I only have half a face.

They call it Bell's palsy. Basically, the muscles on the right side of my head just aren't working, their common nerve non-functional. The three areas primarily affected by it are:

1) My forehead - I can't raise that eyebrow. I know, whoopdee-shit, but wait, it gets better worse.

2) My eye - I can't shut it all the way. That's worse than one can realize. As I've come to learn, it dries out in short order unless I use eyedrops or remember to "blink" it manually. At night, I will need to literally tape my eye shut and wear a patch, lest it become damaged permanently.

3) My mouth - I can't operate that half of my lips. I have quickly come to realize just how much is done with the lips instinctually; apart from the obvious inability to smile, it turns out that quite a lot of the processes of eating and drinking use the lips in ways difficult to describe or even notice until they stop working. Even with a straw, I'm likely to dribble if I don't use my tongue to stop it up after sipping.

So how did this happen? Well, they don't know for certain yet, but they have an educated guess - shingles. About three days ago, I got the sensation something was in my right ear, as if I'd been in a sealed car too long and needed to swallow to clear it, only it wasn't clearing. Looking inside the ear didn't find anything, nor did a cotton swab. The day before yesterday, the skin around the ear began to occasionally tingle, or even sting. Yesterday, the ear turned red and hard. The plan to make a doctor's appointment first thing Monday was rapidly scrapped in favor of a trip to the emergency room when I woke up this morning to find half my face didn't work. I literally woke up with the paralysis, with no sign of it when I'd turned in. The ear was (and still is) very swollen and appears to have blisters. Apparently that aforementioned nerve is, like, right there.

My hearing has also started being affected, with certain sounds coming through as strangely tinny. I asked my mother to confirm that I'm really 34, not 84.

They have me on a steroid to get the swelling down and an antiviral to get the ear infection to back off. There's also a blood test in the works to see if I have Lyme disease. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes, but right now it's still very much "IT'S IN MY EAR AND I WANT IT OUT". - ZM

Current Music: a totally inappropriate twang
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Sep. 21st, 2010

12:57 am

You would think that someone who wanted to specialize in copyright concerns would understand the basic concept of a copyleft license. You would also think people would stop asking me why I hate Wikipedia. - ZM

P.S.: Proper content to this journal is to be resumed promptly after this debacle is over and done with, should I be so lucky.

Current Mood: exasperated
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Sep. 13th, 2010

08:03 pm - Puzzle Zero: Masyu

Why does this sort of retarded crap always seem to happen to me?

This puzzle may look familiar to you:

It's the only pure Masyu I've ever published (as opposed to whatever The One Ring happens to count as), and it's one of only four puzzles I've ever published (and likely ever will) under the GNU Free Documentation License. I created it in order to have a meaningful sample puzzle for the Wikipedia article on Masyu, and it has served that purpose for five years now. It's there now, again, but check its history, and you'll see that in July, it and its solution were replaced.

Now, I know what you're saying: those look like the same images to me, right? Well, they're the same puzzle, but the images are very much different. They are in a different format for starters - SVG instead of PNG - but that's not the real issue. Look at the attribution.

It claims it was created by one "Life of Riley".

And that it's es own work.

And that it's in the public domain.

Just so there's no ambiguity here: I composed that puzzle, and I did not surrender it to the public domain. It remains licensed by the GFDL. This is a copyright violation, and the proof lies on Wikipedia itself: my original is still there.

I posted a polite (...) message on that user's talk page, the most forceful word I used being 'insist'. Given this same user made SVG versions of my Heyawake puzzle and solution but DID attribute and license those properly, I'm hoping this was just a stupid oversight and will be remedied in short order, but I'm not about to take any chances that may result in the sacrifice of my rights. If I lose one puzzle, who's to say about the rest...

For someone more knowledgeable of Wikipedia policy than I am: I looked through the various copyright-violation-tagging methods available, but none seemed to be properly phrased for this situation. Could someone tell me how I should be marking Life of Riley's versions of my Masyu images to correctly demarcate them as license violations that need to be repaired or deleted (or, if you're an editor yourself, mark them for me)? It would mean a great deal to me.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I'd be perfectly happy if all copies of this puzzle - legit or otherwise - disappeared from all Wikimedia properties. It doesn't need to be there. I certainly don't mind it being there - after all, I put it there in the first place - and I don't mind it being spread around and used for other purposes, just as its license reads. The problem is that it's my work, it means a lot to me on a personal and professional level, and this is essentially theft. If it's going to be exposed, then my name should be on it, for better or worse.

I'm not happy I had to sign in to my Wikipedia account for the first time in four years in order to deal with this. I very much wanted to be DONE with Wikipedia. But if I don't defend this... - ZM

UPDATE: The user has recognized es mistakes; e claims it was unintentional, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. However, e also claimed to have fixed them. E hasn't. A license tag was added to only one of the two images, and neither has yet to be properly attributed (note that this also means one of the files in question hasn't been changed at all). I pointed this out to em and reiterated my request. At least I know e's working with me on this. - ZM 2010-09-14 09:35 EDT

P.S.: For those who just want to solve the puzzle but don't know the rules: it's a The One Ring where the white circles are angel dots, the black circles devil dots, and the rest of the grid cells plain dots. Or you can view the instructions on

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Current Mood: pissed off
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Oct. 16th, 2007

12:54 pm - Torment

I know I've been saying I'll be posting here more, replying to more emails, and the like, but right now there's something under my skin that's keeping me from thinking straight:

Xbox 360 ref currently without Xbox 360

The phrase "bites the wax tadpole" isn't sufficiently harsh to describe how disgustingly annoying, and perhaps even heartbreaking, this is to me. Readers of this journal should be well familiar with my track record with telephone service personnel by now; I am NOT looking forward to spending this afternoon getting this dealt with.

One thing not mentioned in that article, since it isn't of importance to Twin Galaxies operations: My HD DVD player doesn't like my Japanese console, either. It installed fine, the movies do come up, and they do attempt to play... but there's a lot of stalling, with discs stopping the video and audio pretty much randomly, halting everything for about two seconds roughly every five seconds on average.

And I just recently picked up some new movies and games I can't play.

Basically, I'm not in a decent mood at all; I'm largely filled with dread, disgust, and perhaps even depression. I promise that more posts and e-mail replies WILL come, but I really need to deal with this first. - ZM

Current Music: the hum of an office fan
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Sep. 18th, 2006

12:53 pm - Torment

Screw it. I really didn't want to go into this - and I really didn't want to make two consecutive bitching entries to this journal - but it has proverbially tunneled under my skin so deep that I feel I have to say something about it. I suppose I'd have a new puzzle posted by now if it weren't for my trying to deal with this, so here's my excuse. I'm not even going to go into last month's affair resulting in why I'll never buy anything from Amazon ever again, as the cause for that is merely retarded, but this is just downright insidious; I'm in no mood to summarize, I'm afraid, so I'll just let you read up:

eBay sits idly by and lets me be a victim, part 1
eBay sits idly by and lets me be a victim, part 2

Forget the fact that I was scammed less than a month before this - I understand that there are ripoff artists out there and that there's only so much eBay can do about them. But this is something staring them in the face, blatantly obvious, that they have full control over and they're just sitting on their hands. Not to mention that if their software was written with common sense, the issue wouldn't even BE here to begin with, but I digress.

I'm really shaken up by this. I am, as I often fear, at the mercy of the inefficient, if not the stupid, and I seem to have no real recourse but to sit, wait, and suffer. This is a contract we're talking about - this is a legal matter. Why eBay should think I'd ever feel comfortable with and trusting of their service after these circumstances is beyond me.

I'll try to get back to puzzlesmithing soon. I certainly want to. But right now, at this moment, I'm having trouble concentrating: when I think of logic, I think of the complete lack of it in how I've been treated lately. - ZM

UPDATE: The bastard just hit me with an Unpaid Item Strike. I am officially done with eBay; as soon as the Hershey Wrappercash promotion is over, I'm closing my eBay account permanently, as it clearly isn't safe. - ZM 2006/9/24 23:44 EDT

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Nov. 9th, 2005

04:30 pm - Torment

I apologize for this in advance - it isn't like me to rant about current life events here, and in fact I've been intentionally avoiding it (as advertised [Disambiguity]); however, I seem to have become fairly popular lately, and as such feel I should present this to explain why it may be awhile if I don't respond to an email with my usual alacrity. It would seem that at present my time is spent suffering one torment after another:

  • My new laptop - which I've vaguely alluded to on several occasions - is apparently identifying itself as a lemon. Without even going into the idiocy of my previous issue, now my laptop has taken it unto itself to dutifully shut itself off 80% of the time during the boot process. That's right - the fucker doesn't even turn ON over half the time. When it does manage to turn on, it usually stays on, but it hiccups atrociously, and in very unusual manners: it seems to run, say, Postal2 well enough, even with all the graphical options maximized, but it completely up and chokes when presented with simple Java applets. Even the interface and mouse cursor are lagging, and the Java control panel all but locks up the machine. For the love of sanity, even the Windows start-up sound stutters... AND WORST OF ALL, SYSTEM RESTORE HAS CEASED TO FUNCTION.

    None of this happened prior to Friday of last week. This is all new.

    To answer your questions: it isn't Java, and it isn't anything else on the hard drive. CheckDisk cleared it completely, filewise and sectorwise; McAfee deemed it free of malicious logic. I've uninstalled and reinstalled Java: same symptoms occur. I've tried examining the heat sink: no blockage, no damage that I've found. I've tried swapping out the video card: same symptoms with either. I've tried removing the battery: same symptoms. I've tried just the battery: same symptoms. I've tried swapping around the RAM: no combination of this-card-in-this-slot I tried solved the problems. I keep thinking the problem is memory-related - the symptoms seem to point to that - but I don't believe the memory chips themselves are faulty; I think there's a subtler ghost at work in the machine, scaring the laptop into powering itself down when it tries to use it.

    Now I do have a warranty for this thing, but I learned from my previous encounter with the company I purchased it from that I can expect broken promises, long turn-arounds, general incompetency, and pointless prattle from them. It would appear that the company has a firm policy stating that a three-digit IQ is a firing offense.

    In short, I'm screwed, and at the mercy of idiots... I don't believe in the "Christian" "Hell", but if it exists and I find myself there, that's what it would likely consist of for me.

    Do yourself a favor: don't buy any computers with spider labels on them. If it's like mine, it bites the wax tadpole. Incidentally, if anyone has a clever idea regarding how I may be able to get this thing to work or get it replaced without effectively losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process and without dealing with retards, I'm listening.

  • I was planning a trip to Funspot for next week, something that I was looking forward to for months. I was preparing to take the days off from work and establish travel plans. One of the great draws on this particular trip was that a group of us experienced gamers were going to all enter the weekly Texas Hold'Em tournament held there. It would have been glorious: we see each other no more frequently than every six months, and competing like that on something more social than classic arcade games was a terrific concept. As it turns out, Funspot no longer runs those poker tournies - they play Bingo instead. Bloody Bingo. One-hundred-percent-skill-free BINGO. What a disappointment. That was half the reason I wanted to go. I may not even find myself going at all now, seeing as I have that much less incentive to deal with getting out of work and delaying my room repair.

  • Which reminds me: there's a hole in the floor of my bedroom. [ profile] spkskippy can vouch for that - he discovered it, with the entire corner of the bed instantaneously plunking about six inches while he was sitting on it. I've moved the bed several times to avoid the hole, but it always seems to manage to break through again, widening the hole. Right now I have the bedframe at an angle so as to keep its spelunking leg well away from the hole, but my room is really too narrow to leave it like that comfortably, and it's probably just a matter of time before it punches through again.

    Repairing this essentially requires my room to be completely emptied. Those of you who have seen my room probably have a fairly good sense of how densely populated it is with my belongings - moving all that is a LOT of work, especially when there really isn't any place I can move it to that is even remotely organized. Or climate-controlled. But if the landlord is ever going to get it repaired...

  • As of late, I've become a rather respected Wikipedian, offering praised guidance to many articles about puzzles. In particular, the Sudoku article is one I am largely credited for, both for creation and maintenance. Maintenance often entails deletions or truncations, be they removing blatant advertising or rewording subtly-biased perspectives. During a significant and desperately needed revamping of the Variants section, I removed a paragraph that, apart from advertising a particular Sudoku-variant program, was largely redundant with info elsewhere in the section. Imagine my surprise when I got a personal email apparently from Uwe Meffert himself. Now this guy is a fairly famous puzzle constructor of the three-dimensional variety; I have one of his Pyraminx devices - a Tomy original, I might add - sitting on my headboard. So what does this legend do? He attaches three .pdf files to his email in an attempt to defend the reference to that program I deleted: apparently he wrote the program, and he wrote the original paragraph mentioning it in the article. Now already, he's admitted to a no-no: advertising yourself or your creations on Wikipedia is a MAJOR faux pas. Beyond that, he's taken a Wikipedia issue outside of Wikipedia. What should have been presented publicly on a discussion page was privately sent to me. But even worse than his etiquette transgressions are the contents of those files themselves: one is a Martin Gardner article portion apparently included to gratify Mr. Meffert, one is one of the most inane and unresearched attempts at a historical article I've ever seen (which even contradicts Mr. Meffert's argument at points!), and one is a theiving of the concept of the lo shu which even contains an error. So here I am, humble puzzle hobbyist, singled out with the task to tell this not-so-humble puzzle veteran that he's being an idiot. I don't care how good I am at that sort of thing - why do I always get stuck with having to tell people off?

  • Oh, and I just came down with a cold. I have lots of nose-blowing and coughing to look forward to as I'm trying to deal with all of this crap.

  • In the interest of mentioning something a reader may actually care about: I'm expecting to have my next puzzle posted tomorrow. It's called Archipelago, and it is my firm belief that it was created with the sole purpose of screwing with the heads of those who have solved too many other puzzles. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, though. For now, I'm going home to play Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Somehow. If I'm lucky. - ZM, who is as always willing to hear anything anyone has to say about any of this - positive, negative, or otherwise

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