Saturday, September 29, 2007

When does a puzzle qualify as a Nonogram?

This definition is from Wikipedia :
Nonograms are picture logic puzzles in which cells in a grid have to be colored or left blank according to numbers given at the side of the grid to reveal a hidden picture.
and further
Nintendo picked up on this puzzle fad and in 1995 released two "Picross" (Picture Crossword) titles for the Game Boy
These puzzles are very addictive and the fabulous reward for solving the puzzle is a great picture.
I search now and then new sites with these puzzles but sofar I haven't found even a good challenge for Conceptis; to say nothing about a winner.

The second time I found a site, or actually Gil did, which does not care about the picture but focuses to the solution time. Web Picross introduces puzzles in 5 different levels, the easy ones have 5x5 grids and the hardest 25x25 grids. The site has some puzzles with a title and they could be interpreted as pictures but for a puzzle addict that is just an appetizer. The toolbar shows more options:

The random games give a dissappointment. The solution is not a picture anymore. To get on top of the list you just have to solve the puzzle fastest. If you make a wrong move, just quessing or by mistake, you receive more time to your score as a punishment. The solved puzzle looks like this:

It is solved even tough there remains one unopened square. Checking closer to the lower right-hand corner reveals the awful truth: I could have place the one in the bottom row also to the remainig square and the solution had still been right according to the clues. I made this quess and got the puzzle right. Anyway this puzzle has two solutions! I have no way of knowing if the program would have claimed I was wrong if I had chosen the other square.

This is not the first time when I see games like this. The site has the same concept; all that matters is the solution time.
I have never cared how long it takes me to solve the puzzle. There are many games developed for those who want to train their speed. Wanting to solve the puzzle as fast as possible leads so easily to guessing.

I think the puzzles mentioned above should change their name. They definitely not are nonograms or picrosses.

Remember these?

Great memories about the evolution of personal computers.
The site has the respective images of MAC, too. I have never used MAC and not very much the first ones of Windows either.

clipped from

The Evolution of Desktops

Microsoft Windows 1.0
November 1985:
Microsoft Windows 1.0
Microsoft Windows 1.0
November 1985:
Microsoft Windows 1.0
Microsoft Windows 2.0
December 1987:
Microsoft Windows 2.0
Microsoft Windows 2.0
December 1987:
Microsoft Windows 2.0
Microsoft Windows 3.0
May 1990:
Microsoft Windows 3.0
Microsoft Windows 3.1
August 1992:
Microsoft Windows 3.1
Microsoft Windows 95
August 1995:
Microsoft Windows 95
Microsoft Windows 98
June 1998:
Microsoft Windows 98
Microsoft Windows XP
October 2001:
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows Vista

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alex Beam: Crossing over to join the Puzzle People - The Boston Globe

It started innocently enough. Last year, my son and his ninth-grade cronies discovered the Washington Post crossword puzzle online. It has a lot to recommend it. It's free, and it isn't very hard. The Post is handing out the gateway drug to full-scale crossword puzzle addiction.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Perfect Design for a Puzzle Addict

This is something I really would have. Propably too big however!
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New puzzles from Conceptis

Conceptis is once again filling our needs with more puzzles.
This time they have introduced Hashi, also known as Bridges.
I have already solved some of them in magazines and love them!



Each circle represents an island and the number in each island tells how many bridges are connected to it. The object is to connect between islands according to the number of bridges so that there are no more than two bridges in the same direction and there is a continuous path connecting all islands together. Bridges can only be vertical or horizontal and are not allowed to cross islands or other bridges.

Hashi Puzzle

Hashi Puzzles

Hashi Solution

Hashi Puzzles

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Finland is the best place to live

I seem to be promoting Finland all the time, but the latest Reader's Digest published a list of the best and the worst countries regarding environmental issues. The result was a surprise to me
clipped from

Living Green

Ranking the best (and worst) countries.

By Matthew E. Kahn, PhD, and Fran Lostys

Five Key Environmental Lessons

Just because a place is environmentally "fit" doesn't mean you'd want to spend your life there—think glaciers and rain forests. But finding the perfect balance between what's green and what's livable could lead you to paradise. Aiming for that ideal, we researched the world's greenest countries while also ensuring they were ones where people could thrive.
We analyzed data from two top sources covering 141 nations to rank the planet's greenest, most livable places. Our analysis delved into social factors (income and education, for instance) and environmental measures (see our chart for who scores highest and lowest for some of them
You Can Always Get Greener
Even the cleanest countries have serious environmental problems. Top-ranked Finland wins high marks for air and water quality, a low incidence of infant disease, and how well it protects citizens from water pollution and natural disasters. But the country also produces an above-average amount of greenhouse gases, has a large ecological footprint (the mass of land and water needed to sustain the national level of consumption) and contributes significantly to regional environmental woes.
The reason: Finland has the highest industrial-energy consumption rate of all five Nordic countries, due largely to its reliance on the fuel-intensive forestry and quarry industries. Colder winters and lower rainfall in recent years have also had an impact, forcing cuts in the production of hydroelectricity and boosting—by 15 percent since 2005—the national appetite for fossil fuels, a major source of greenhouse gases.

HoHow Countries Rate

Top 5

1. Finland
2. Iceland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Austria

Bottom 5

137. Chad
138. Burkina Faso
139. Sierra Leone
140. Niger
141. Ethiopia

Air Quality
Rates concentration of several pollutants in urban areas

1. Moldova
8. Finland
63. United States
126. Ethiopia
141. Guatemala

Water Quality
Rates pollutant levels as well as other factors that affect water purity

1. Norway
2. Finland
22. United States
127. Ethiopia
141. Morocco

Greenhouse Gases
Rates carbon emissions per capita and by GDP

1. Chad
18. Ethiopia
75. Finland
107. United States
141. Turkmenistan

Energy Efficiency
Rates conservation efforts and use of renewables such as hydro power

1. D.R. Congo
17. Ethiopia
66. Finland
106. United States
141. Trinidad & Tobago

Environmental Health
Rates childhood mortality, disease; deaths from intestinal infections

1. Austria
8. Finland
125. Ethiopia
16. United States

141. Turkmenistan

The solution to Finland's Energy efficiency according to Reader's Digest:

A Move to Improve
To get greener, countries must do more to capitalize on national strengths. Finland, among the world's largest exporters of wind-power technology, produces less than 1 percent of its own electricity via wind power, despite average coastal wind speeds of 15 mph, 50 percent stronger than those in Chicago.

I don't actually understand why wind power has been taken as a solution. We have much more possibilities in bio energy and we are planning on more nuclear power. In my opinion that would have been taken in account years earlier. Wind power will never be our saviour. I tried to find more info about our current situation, but at least this time the article in the English Wikipedia was total crap!

Humour of Hypocrisy

I know that living in Finland differs quite a lot from the rest of the world. We have cold and dark half of the year, lots of open space for 5.2 M people. We have saunas and we swim among ice. We are also quite liberated in things which in some countries are considered forbidden subjects. So usually I am not surprised when I watch TV and see programs where even the lips are censored when someone says a dirty word or when I hear music where part of the words are missing.

This time I was however caught by surprise. Crooked Brains introduces a T-shirt

and tells that
It's a pickup line using calculus. Try to solve the equation & you will come up with a rude pickup line.
Though to the 99% of the people who will see this, it wont make any sense as what is the result of evaluation of this math expression, & apart from this a further 0.4% (plus or minus a bit) are more likely to jump on the erroneous conclusion that the integral evaluates to 42 without trying to plug in the values.
The story continues with the details how the answer will be achieved. Good sofar! I just was wondering about the word "rude". If I was young enough to be picked up, I would surely like a pickup line which shows that the guy wearing it shows interest in maths. What amazed me was that the answer was never shown. The article ends:
If this still doesn't make sense, it may be helpful to note that the numeric result of the calculation is, in the idiomatic slang of most of the population of the United States, suggestive of a particular interpersonal activity which does not fall under the heading of things permitted in public.
The answer is 69! Does this revelation make me an adult-content blogger? Should I check the textbooks for problems and censor all of those with this answer? I teach adults but how many of them know about this being so suggestive? We pick up slang very easily nowadays!

Labels to this article were humour and offbeat. At first I thought that it was just humorous but after thinking about this for a while I started to think the sadness of the story.

Besides, a beautiful mathematical expression and even a beautiful answer... How can that be a RUDE pickup line. I have heard much ruder!

Friday, September 21, 2007

I love the mailman

You just know that the day is going to be nice when you open the mailbox and find large envelopes or book sized packages in there. Large brown envelopes mean my favourites, puzzle magazines. Today I had both; one large envelope and a package with on the cover. I never know what is in them, because I usually make pre-orders even more than a half years ahead.
My package contained this:
That is the cover of a box with a daily calendar with 312 Conceptis Battleship puzzles. There are six pages for each week (Monday-Friday, Saturday + Sunday) with one Battleships puzzle.

The calendar is on a hard plastic background which can be placed on the table, hung on the wall or the middle of the background can be foldeded back and the calendar placed standing on the table.

The first 3 pages contain the rules and tips for solving. The page is supposed to be torn off and the solutions are on the back of each page. Puzzle difficulties progress from easiest on Mondays till the hardest on Saturdays and Sundays.

The sad thing is that now I have to wait for more than 3 months before I can start solving.
If you want to order online, here is the link.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Internet phenomena

I wrote earlier about Olli Hokkanen, who became famous by not succeeding in making a record of drinking Coca Cola. His popularity was mainly restricted to Finland.

We had an example of the effect of Internet in April 2006 which I remembered while browsing YouTube. I thought it was just a temporary phenominon, but checking it yesterday I found out that it is still growing and more videos are uploaded every day. Also this incident has been added in Wikipedia in English.

The Finnish quartet Loituma sang a
traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka" in 1995 and it was published in their debut album Things of Beauty. The song is sung in Savo, the Finnish dialect of eastern central Finland.The quartet does not sing together anymore. Here is a video of their original performance:

The song appeared on the Internet in late April 2006 as Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin), a Flash animation set, and quickly became popular, drawing over a million viewers. Here is a sample of that:

On 10 July 2006, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Loituma Girl had caused a resurgence in Loituma's popularity, and the band had received thousands of fan letters from around the world. At that point I checked it on YouTube and found about 30 videos of various people or groups showing their own version of the song.

My favourite was this from Aria
, a science fiction Manga by Kozue Amano

I checked yesterday and with a search "Loituma" I got the information that there were about 1160 videos. One of the most popular made by one of my favourites, Swedish
Basshunter. His song "Boten Anna" is also a strange phenomenon. It grew very popular in Finland and made to the top chart and in my opinion one of the reasons was that he had the video in his homepage.
The name can be missleading. I first thought that it was "Båten Anna", with a Swedish o. In that case it would have been a song about a boat named Anna. My son had to explain to me what an IRC bot is. Also the video adds the confusion. The singer is singing in a pedal boat on a river. The words of the song say "i våran kanal" which could mean "in our canal" but in this case it is "in our channel". There were lots of false translations of the lyrics at the time.
Here is Boten Anna with English subtitles:

and here is Basshunter's version of Loituma (the title is misspelled: It says Leva's, but it is a missinterpretation because in some fonts the lower case l and the upper case I look the same)

My Finnish Blog

When I started blogging, I could never have imagined, where it would take me. Blogging is fun and with the help of other bloggers I have found many interesting sites and interesting people.

I teach mathematics and our school Turun iltalukio, has a very good learning space in the net. The disadvantage however is that it is a secured site and only the teachers and students have access there.

I gave it a long thought and checked what and where people are blogging in Finnish. I came to a very odd conclusion but it may be that I was not thorough enough. Most of the Finnish blogs are diaries or journals about the blogger's every day life and feelings. I found one with a teacher informing students about events, homework and classes (5th grade). The aspect of linking to general groups was not very visible. Well, that may be a part of the Finnish character; we have a reputation to keeping to our selves.

The main host was LiveJournal which to my eye is very old-fashioned. It reminds me of those days when I first learned how to use Internet and e-mails. I can't even remember how long ago that was, more than 10 years ago.
Blogspot was also used in some cases and someone stated that he got bored with the inconvenience of LiveJournal.

I decided to start blogging in Finnish about my work in the hope that I could get someone convinced that it is never too late to study ;) I will also provide links to my students who want to have something more than just the normal school maths or who want to exercise the logic skills in sites like Conceptis.

Since I am a bit proud of my home country I chose a blog from After writing two posts I am not sure if I continue there or choose another place. It is definitely worse than Blogger. The most irritating thing is the Google-ad's. I would have to pay 39.90 € to get rid of those and at the same time I would get more options for the layout. What I have seen so far made me decide that it's not worth paying that.

Currently my new blog is in but it maybe that I'll start a new blog somewhere else.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What Makes a Prodigy?

The Daily Galaxy -News from Planet Earth & Beyond contained the article posted by Rebecca Sato on September the 6th.
clipped from

Newton’s Children -What Makes a Prodigy?


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It seems to me that no progress has been done in many years.
The story contains an example of a very gifted child.

March Boedihardjo is like other boys his age in many respects, but the Indonesian-Chinese mathematics prodigy is also Hong Kong's youngest undergraduate. The 9 year-old was accepted by Hong Kong's Baptist University to study for a master's degree after gaining straight As in entrance A-level exams usually taken by 17 to 18 year-olds.

"It was too easy," Boedihardjo complained to reporters after his first day of classes earlier this week. He added that he'd already learnt all this stuff a year or two ago. Not only were the classes boring, but he thought the other students were pretty dull too. The boy pointed out that his old school friends "wanted to play", unlike the university students.

"They made no response. They just listened in the class and didn't interact with each other," March said.

Even though the university has designed a special five-year program for the child, some educational experts have been critical about the boy attending college so young. They warn he might experience stunted personal and social development as a result. However, March wants to continue learning new things—something that would be nearly impossible in a class of typical 9 year-olds.

I very strongly disagree on the worry about the social development. If this child was attending school with children of his own age he would face at least two problems. He would very possibly get negative attention from his school mates and being teased. That would not improve his social development but made him realize that he can't cope with normal people. The other result might be boredom in classes which again might cause him disturb the whole class or a serious affect on his learning habits. He would conclude that he does not have to work ever to learn something. I have come across to both problems in real life.

Some theories, particularly the biosocial theory of creativity, suggest that there is a strong link between genius and disorders. It suggests that the source of the genius abnormality lies in a physically “defective” brain, which is the result of hereditary coincidences. This theory points out the many cases of geniuses that also suffered from some form of “insanity”, as in the common portrayal of the mad scientist. People with “savant syndrome” are often considered to be geniuses, but their genius appears to somehow coincide with autisms or some other developmental disability.
This theory is very old. I somehow agree with that since many intelligent people have been considered insane. However part of this is due to the fact that people with lesser intelligence have no ability to understand the thouhgts and logic of a genius. In addition many intelligent people find it hard or even impossible to lower their explanations to the level the other people can understand. This is usually easier for women and very often women are not referred as geniuses even though they exist. Women have to create the ability if they have children.

Currently, the causes and the nature of genius are not well understood. The human brain is still a mystery in many ways, but science has unraveled a few interesting clues. Scientists don’t know exactly how the gray matter in the human brain works, but there is an interesting correlation between intelligence and grey matter. While the overall size of a brain does not appear to have much influence on intelligence, the amount of grey matter in the brain may.A 2004 study at the University of California, Irvine found that the volume of gray matter in parts of the cerebral cortex had a greater impact on intelligence than the brain's total volume. The findings suggest that specific physical attributes of certain stuctures of the brain may partially determine in what ways a person excels intellectually.
A paper published last year in the journal "Nature" also suggested that particular way a brain develops affects intelligence. A person's cerebral cortex gets thicker during childhood and thinner during adolescence. According to the study, the brains of children with higher IQs thickened faster than those of other children. Studies also suggest that children do partially inherit intelligence from their parents. Some researchers theorize that this is because specific physical structures of the brain can be an inherited trait.
I have been very interested in this. Even though there are acceptions, certain abilities seem to run in the family. In all aspects I think the development and functioning of the brain is not very well known. I trust the truth lies in biology and psychology has done more damage than improvement to some people.

The conclusion of the article gives hope to everybody:
Even “normal” people have been known to acquire exceptional talents with enough patience and perseverance.
I just hope all parents remeber that a child can not be forced to be a genius. The passion has to come from the child's own interest.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Work disturbes hobbies

The first week at work is over. In my work as a teacher in a school for adults it is also the hardest. Teaching there is a pleasure but the beginning is hard. You can never know how many students will show up this year.
This year I had enough of them, at this point about 40 starting the long math courses and there will be more, I know that from experience. This is enough to keep the courses going through all year. There are always eager starters who notice that it is too hard for them at this point of life.

The week has gone and I have not had time to write to the blog, I have barely been able to answer most e-mails and after school at 21.00 I am mostly too tired to concentrate on anything.
Even this week's review puzzle is not finished. It started just fine, but Wednesday I found out I had made an error and I just have not had energy to erase the part where the error is, yet. I am going to do it since I want to solve them myself without clues from others.

For those who don't know what I am talking about:
Conceptis publishes a review puzzle every Sunday. Members solve or try to solve the puzzle and then write a review about the puzzle: the quality of the picture, how hard the puzzles was and things like that. One can even say that it was too hard to solve. One lucky member wins a T-shirt every week.

My absolute favourites are B/W Pic-A-Pix puzzles which I always solve on paper even though Conceptis offers also two of them online every week.
I have my favourites attached to my freezer door with magnets and today I took pictures of them to share.

This is the first puzzle I reviewed

And this was the second. I was not very experienced yet and it took me the whole week. I even had to clue a fresh part in the top middle because I had erased so many times that the paper started to wear out.

This was also one of the first ones. It is large but it's a coloured Link-A-Pix and thus much easier to solve

This was the one which won me the T-shirt in the summer of 2005. Ironic that this is a B/W Link-A-Pix and I think they are too easy :)

This is the hardest one I've solved so far (I don't count Advanced Logic Fill-A-Pixies since I have not had the energy to learn to solve them)

My favourite is one of these, I just can't decide which:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Amazing things happen!

I have previously used clipmarks in my blog when I created links to Conceptis website. I have been viewing other people's clipmarks and popped the interesting ones for further use. I have so far created 17 of my own, containing news and of course my main interests: puzzles and mathematics. This clip I made two days ago and it has been popped 21 times! On top of that it has been commented on 7 times (that contains my own comments). I was among the 5 most popped yesterday.
The more I spend time blogging and socializing in the net, the more I get amazed. This was not something I thought would interest so many people.
clipped from
Mathematics Exist?
According to Neo-Platonists,
mathematics exist independent of human quest, so they are in fact discovered,
not invented. Even the most abstract mathematical objects are real and
For Formalists on the other,
mathematical objects do not exist. Mathematics consist of symbols, axioms/sentences
composed of such symbols and rules to transform sentences into others (e.g.
theorems), but none of these has any particular meaning. Mathematics is
therefore a humanly constructed language devised by human beings for definite
ends prescribed by themselves.
Constructivists take the extreme
view that if something cannot be constructed in a finite number of steps
it does not exist.
Links on the Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics
can be found at the University of Waterloo/ Department of Philosophy site

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Proud to be Finnish!

My classes start today and probably that will affect my posting :(
I still have no idea how I could combine blogging and teaching...

Something really fabulous and unexpected happened over the weekend.
Finland won the first EUROVISION DANCE CONTEST (EDC 2007) and thus became the first winner in the 'history' of this contest. I did not watch the show on TV until I happened to pass by and saw the start of the voting.

Finland's dance is spectacular. It is artistic and also a noticable thing is that the music is Finnish by Apocalyptica.
Here is the winning dance:

It was only 1.5 years ago when we won the Eurovision song contest with the biggest amount of points in the long history of that contest thanks to Lordi. Before that we probably were the first in the "worst points ever" - list.
And here is our winning song from there. Monsters and hard rock, something you would not expect a woman of my age to like. Anyway I love it!!. This version is from this years contest opening. Finland hosted them and the show started with this video.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

When nobody becomes Somebody

I consider giL my mentor in my new blogging hobby and what a good mentor he has been!

Yesterday giL published a post about the second most popular clip on YouTube this week showing the incomprehensible answer Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007 gives in a beauty contest to one of those questions which normally should have an answer like "I would like to save the Earth" or something similar.
Since my opinion of the clip was quite different from giL's, I even commented the post in his blog. Another comment from cooper suggests that the girl probably will be famous because of it.

I very much agree with cooper on that and I have an example here from Finland. Our country is very small, but because of the internet, even a Finnish person can get famous by doing something so funny that the video starts to get more and more watchers.

Olli Hokkanen made himself famous or like Wikipedia describes it: became an internet phenomenon in Finland after failing his attempt to drink 1.5 litres of Coca-Cola on the television show Ennätystehdas ("Record Factory").

On the television broadcast Hokkanen attempted to drink 1.5 litres of Coca-Cola that was poured into seven regular-sized glasses. No specific time limit was set, since there was no knowledge of an existing record for drinking 1.5 litres of Coke in Finland. Hokkanen abandoned his effort after drinking three glasses. After the third glass of Coke, Hokkanen commented on the high carbonic acid level of the drink, by saying the now famous words, "Ei pysty, on niin hapokasta" ("Can't do it. Too acidic"). The host asked him whether or not he was surprised at the fact that Coca-Cola contains carbonic acid. Hokkanen then explained that at home he usually keeps his bottles open for some time so that the drink becomes less 'acidic' and thus easier to drink. Prior to the attempt Hokkanen had said that he was an experienced Coke drinker since early childhood.

I happened to see the actual show on TV and had a good laugh but I would never have imagined where it would lead.

After the broadcast of the seventh episode of Ennätystehdas, the Internet phenomenon started to emerge. The YouTube video-sharing service was the most important distribution channel for the video, which has been watched over one million times (as of July 2007). In addition to the video, new edited video clips, edited images and pieces of music related to the event appeared. T-shirts with a text "Can't do it – too acidic" in Finnish have been sold. Hokkanen also claims that rubber masks resembling him have been made.

The story of Olli Hokkanen continues at the moment and Wikipedia seems to get updated regularly. Even though Olli Hokkanen was laughed at by everybody, he thinks that publicity has more benefits than disadvantages and that this was like winning in the Lottery.

here is the video with English Subtitles, judge for yourself :)