Friday, 25 September 2009

The Attraction of Puzzles

I enjoy doing the puzzles in the newspapers I buy, both the numerical ones like Sudoku or Kakuro or the letter ones like Crosswords or the Code type where numbers stand for letters, though the latter aren't usually very tricky. In fact the puzzles provide the main reason that I buy papers at all these days.

By far and away my favourite crosswords are those composed hy Araucaria in the Guardian. Unfortunately the other composers in the Guardian never seem to reach the same standard. Not only are his clues always fair, so that once you have found a solution you can tell with reasonable certainty that you have found the correct solution, but he also covers a wide range of knowledge (which is often exhibited in themed puzzles) and is also often humorous.

It is annoying however when puzzles are misprinted, or mistakenly set, so that they have no solution or more than one. I wrote to the Radio Times last week to complain that in two recent issues their Mandali puzzle, which is a sort of maze, had two numerical solutions. They were kind enough to reply and apologise. Unfortunately the Mandali puzzle in this week's issue has at least six solutions! This is just carelessness.

The attraction I find in puzzles I think has to do with the fact that they are soluble problems. There are too many problems in real life that are insoluble and simply frustrating. The only viable approach to them I have concluded is step by step and little by little, and maybe a little amelioration can be achieved.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Cycling to Eastbourne

Today the need for some exercise that I've been feeling for a while came to the fore and I decided to cycle to Eastbourne. I should have set out earlier but it took a while to persuade myself that it was better than lying around. The decider was that the sun was still shining at ten o'clock and it looked too fine a day to waste. Indeed it was a lovely day, the only drawback being the strong headwind on the outward stretch. I several times thought of stopping short, but once I reached Pevensey Bay it seemed, looking at the map, too short a distance left to call it off there. I went as far as Beachy Head, and had a meal at the cafe below the hill where the South Downs Way starts. Just to prove I did the trip, the photo is of Eastbourne pier taken on my way back. I arrived back at 6 pm, so it was four hours either way. Part of this slowness was due to the headwind on the way out, and due to taking some wrong turnings on the way back, trying to follow the cycle lane markings, and also choosing to walk the bike along the beach from Glyne Gap rather than cycle the heavily congested and polluted Bexhill Road. No doubt I'll be feeling a bit stiff in the legs and sunburnt on the head in the morning.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Autumn is Here

I took this photo of my favourite tree as I went out for a walk along the front as far as the old bathing pool site at the end of Sea Road. I have been thinking of getting out on my bike and going perhaps as far as Eastbourne, but left it too late to do that today. It was a very sunny afternoon. The other pictures I took haven't come out very well probably because the light was too bright and I couldn't see clearly what I was focusing on. The leaves on the tree are starting to turn brown, and some of them may have been shed already. There are a lot of leaves from other trees blowing around.

When I turned on my computer and activated the PCGuard I got a message "Rps: The parameter is incorrect" with no further explanation. Checking it on Google I was led to download a thing called RegistryBooster costing about £20. Whether this does any good remains to be seen. It claims to have cleared up a lot of errors in the Registry, but whether they are really significant or just listed to impress I don't know. Perhaps I shouldn't be so cynical.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Knight's Tours Again

I've been making some progress in organising my files on Knight's Tours into publishable form. It is taking the form of a series of separate "Studies", each of about 60 pages, covering a particular topic. These are at present: History, Theory of moves, Leaper tours, Knight on 6x6 board, Knight on 8x8 board, Knight on other rectangular boards, Shaped and holey boards, Figured and magic tours. I should be able to make these available in PDF form, if not as a book.

We had two three or four-hour power cuts here over the past two weeks. The first one on Thursday 3rd September 5-8pm was without warning but the other on Friday 11th September 11am-3pm was notified by the electric company EDF. I took the opportunity to give my refrigerator a thorough defrosting and clean. Fortunately I had kept a supply of matches to light the gas, and have a supply of candles somewhere in case of emergency, but not needed on this occasion.