A famous actress and a famous director share the same last name, although they are unrelated. The first name of one of these is a classic musical. The first name of the other is an anagram of a classic musical. Who are they?
Yes, this is an easy one. But hey, let’s see if a computer can solve it anyway … Continue Reading →
Hey, have you not purchased the Crosswords LA puzzles yet? Is that because you hate charity or because you don’t like good crosswords? Seriously, though, these crosswords range from very good to excellent and all the profits go to the Reading To Kids charity. If these were daily puzzles in a major newspaper, Todd McClary’s puzzle would be talked about as possibly the best Monday puzzle of the year, and Jeffrey Harris’s puzzle would be in the running for best overall puzzle. What’s more, you get John “Doppler” Schiff’s ferris wheel-themed team game, which is a lot of fun.
Now, you may have noticed that these puzzles are for sale at the Crossword Nexus Store, which you may not have heard of before. Let me walk you through what it is. Continue Reading →
Think of a well-known celebrity who goes by a single name — the last two letters of which are alphabetically separated by only one letter (like A and C, or B and D). Replace this pair of letters with the one that separates them, and you’ll have a common, everyday word. What is it?
It used to be that a puzzle like this was tough to solve with a computer program, because there wasn’t a list of famous names available anywhere. Well, now there is such a list, and it makes solving things like this a snap. You will still need a list of common words to solve this puzzle, but those are available all over. I used the Enable dictionary from the NPL.
A few interesting quirks happened along the way to solving this puzzle. First, it turns out that this particular person isn’t listed in Wikipedia by only his/her first name. So I had to tweak the code a bit to look at all possible first names in my list. This created a bit of a logjam because ROBERT -> ROBES comes up a ton. So the final hacked code to give the answer is below. Not my best work, but not bad for ten minutes.
It’s also a relief to see that the intended answer had a score of 100. YAY FAMOUS PEOPLE LIST Continue Reading →
The scores are now distributed so as to have more granularity at the top end of the list and less at the bottom end. This means that it is now harder to get a score of 100 than before, a score of 80 isn’t nearly as good as it used to be, and there are fewer entries overall with scores of 90+. Hopefully the algorithm separates the wheat from the chaff well enough to merit this change.
Enjoy! If you do anything cool with this data, I’d love to hear about it.
So I released my list of famous names the other day, and as promised the first thing I did was to try to beat 35 in the Gaffney-Gordon pangram challenge. If you’re not familiar with that challenge, here’s a little backstory (spoilers abound): Continue Reading →
I’m updating the Wikipedia Regex Search, creating a new ranked list of Wikipedia pages, and I have some thoughts:
Thanks to an excellent comment from Jim Kingdon, I tried including some redirects in the new results. But even excluding all the redirects marked as “bad” isn’t enough. There are so many redirects not marked as anything and it’s impossible to differentiate between them for scoring purposes. There’s lot of junk in there, and even for the stuff that’s not junk – how do you score it? “Mr. October” is a redirect (to Reggie Jackson, of course). Do I give it the same score as Reggie? It only has 1 inlink, do I give it a terrible score because of that? I suppose I could take an average, but the problem of the junk remains. I’ll have to table this indefinitely.
I am totally on board with the “code first, optimize later” school of programming. But sometimes one can forget to optimize, which can be a minor issue (if the code was already pretty optimized) or a major one (if there’s a glaringly obvious improvement to be made). I recently coded something up to help someone out and it definitely needed some optimization before it was done.
Every week for a few weeks I’ll be participating in a crossword race against one of the greatest crossword solvers of all time. But since I’d never have a chance in a fair fight, he’s going to get an increasingly ludicrous handicap each time out. In this first episode, he has to enter all the entries in the grid backward. Will that be enough for me to win? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.
Dammit, this exact thing happened to me today, but with a different question. My family and I were driving from Palm Springs back to Los Angeles through the San Gorgonio Pass, one of the windiest places in the country. My daughter asked “What makes wind?” and I told her that since hot air rises, this creates a vacuum for cold air to rush into. Since the air in the desert is consistently hotter than that near the ocean, there is a near-constant wind rushing through the pass to get from the ocean to the desert.
She paused for about five seconds and then asked “So why does hot air rise?”