There’s a fairly simple puzzle, called The Eight Queens, that I’ve long favored as a project for first semester CS students. The problem is simple enough for a beginner to tackle, yet also interesting enough to be engaging. (And just tricky enough to be a nice beginner challenge.)
Due to a discussion on my other blog, I dug out an old Python implementation I had, and, after looking at it, I thought it might be worth writing a post about. If nothing else, as I said, the problem is interesting enough to be engaging.
Lately I’ve been exploring the idea of a vector space with a large number of dimensions (but few degrees of freedom). A model was presented with five degrees of freedom in 500 dimensions (neurons, as it happens).
The question is, given the axes are bit-level, does normal vector manipulation semantics make sense. My contention is it has severe problems.
To ring in the new year I thought I’d play around with an old friend from my earliest programming days, a random text generator. Back then (over 30 years ago), but a little bit always, a good way to practice programming is by working on small, relatively easy, but still fun, programs.
Simple games are common choice, but not the only one. (I’ve probably written a version of Mastermind in every programming language I know.) Another fun choice is various image or text generators (or processors). Random text generators, in particular, offer a range of complexity depending on your taste and time.
Cleaning out some old boxes of papers, I came across one of those humor bits that circulate in any profession. Back in the day, it was usually by fax. Then it was email, and now Tweets and other social platforms. (The song remains the same.)
This one concerned “rare” (i.e. made up) languages loosely based on existing languages. The humor depends, mostly, on recognizing parodied languages and certain other topical references (like “Valley Girls”).
In other words, a lot of the funny has sailed, but I found parts of it cute enough to record here…
In the process of cleaning out boxes of old paperwork, I found this company memo, circa early 1980s, that describes a “simpler” way to send email. At the time, email systems were mainframe-based text systems you logged onto and typed at — actually not terribly unlike the web-based email systems today.
The memo reminds me of how it was back then and of how far we’ve come since. Here it is, reproduced as is:
What follows is the text of a piece I wrote back May of 1990 in a Star Trek USENET group. There is some minor editing for clarity. Given that 64 bits seems common now, the projections may need some adjustment!