Archive for month: August, 2002

Surprise, Success!

August 30, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

My exhaustive testing indicated that the shortest path to the goal position in Scarne’s challenge was at least 71 moves long. I relaxed the criteria a bit, and obtained a solution which requires 72 moves, which (if I haven’t made an off by one error, still checking that out) is an actual minimal cost solution! […]

Update: Scarne’s Challenge

August 30, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

After running all night, I can assert with confidence that there are no paths of length 71 or less. I’m obviously not going to get to the ~100 move mark with the current heuristic and transposition tables alone. Addendum: I’ve actually just got a version of the game which doesn’t include the initial five “hopping” […]

First try at Scarne’s Challenge

August 29, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

After a couple more hours of typing, I managed to get a start on Scarne’s Challenge. I’ve got a simple version of IDA* with transposition tables working, along with a simple heurstic based entirely on summing the shortest path distance between where a node is and its desired final position. It is smart enough to […]

On cycles in Scarne’s Challenge

August 28, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

You can swap two pieces in place in Scarne’s challenge, but not in the normal 8 or 15 puzzles. This is because there are no odd length cycles in the 8 or 15 puzzles, but there are cycles of length three in Scarne’s challenge. The easiest way to see this is to draw the graphs […]

On search…

August 28, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

Well, I decided to start my exploration of the Scarne’s challenge by writing a simpler program to test out my recollection of how the A* algorithm worked. I chose to implement a simple version of iterative deepening A* for the 8-puzzle, the simple 3×3 sliding tile puzzle that perhaps might be more familiar as a […]

Scarne’s Challenge

August 26, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

At the Hacker’s picnic the other day, Bill Ragsdale was trying to drum up interest in participating in writing computer players for Scarne’s Challenge, a solitaire boardgame first created in 1950. The board has 24 numbered spaces plus an empty center space, and 24 numbered tokens placed randomly. The idea is to slide pieces along […]

Revamp in Progress

August 25, 2002 | My Projects | By: Mark VandeWettering

Excuse our dust. Eric Meyer’s book on cascading style sheets made me rethink the strategy and design of my website, and it will probably take a few more days of tweaking for the dust to settle. Hopefully the end design will be worth it. We’ll get back to real projects soon.

Eric Meyer on CSS

August 23, 2002 | Books I Read | By: Mark VandeWettering

I just picked up a copy of a new book on Cascading Style sheets by Eric Meyer. He’s a wizard of all things having to do with style sheets, and rather than just describe the syntax and options (which are easy to get from htmlhelp.org) he presents style sheet wizardry in the form of thirteen […]

Why is being a programmer so difficult?

August 22, 2002 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

Just like the talking Barbie who drew the ire of feminists everywhere by claiming that "Math is hard", I find myself asking more and more often "Why is programming so hard?"

Threats to Open Source Software…

August 20, 2002 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

Open source software owes its existence to the convergence of three technologies: Fast, cheap computer hardware Fast, cheap networking Cheap compilers Inexpensive PC hardware provides the raw grist for programmers. GCC provided a reasonable way to program this hardware. Cheap networking allowed the fruits of their labors to be propagated to people all over the […]

Say Goodbye to Microsoft Webfonts?

August 19, 2002 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

I love twiddling around with fonts, but let’s face it: most of them completely suck, especially for display on screens and in web browser. Without any doubt, the best widely available fonts were Microsoft’s core webfonts, which used to be freely downloadable from their website. Unfortunately, they recently announced that they were withdrawing free downloads […]

LinuxWorld Expo

August 15, 2002 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

I had no meetings scheduled for the afternoon, so I decided to trek into San Francisco and attend the Linux World Expo. I was mostly curious to see how the shakey economy had affected the world of businesses without business plans. I was expecting a blast crater on the exhibit floor, but was actually surprised […]

An Essay on Typography

August 13, 2002 | Books I Read | By: Mark VandeWettering

Recently I’ve become rather interested in the topic of the design and printing of books. It seems that many modern books are incredibly poorly designed and typeset, despite the existence of excellent tools that should make book production simpler. The problem is that while software has been created to reduce the tedium, it has not […]

Two Down, Two Left

August 12, 2002 | Amateur Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

In an earlier story I mentioned the project to fly a model airplane across the Atlantic Ocean. So far they have managed to lose two of their four planes in rather disappointingly short periods of flight. Check here for updates. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Will CGI Collapse the Hollywood Economy?

August 11, 2002 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

I have a love/hate relationship with Slashdot. They do occasionally point me at interesting stories, some of which I shamelessly swipe for this site. But often they post stories with an editorial slant which doesn’t even border on absurd. No better example can be the story today entitled Will CGI Collapse the Hollywood Economy?