Posts filed under the 'Blog' category


486 bag refunds?

So I went into Whole Foods earlier on this week to get something for dinner, clutching my reusable bag. Whole Foods have this scheme whereby if you have a bag to put your shopping in, they’ll refund you 10 cents because they’re not going to have to use one of their paper bags. To which you can then ask for them to put that 10 cents to their promoted charity of the week. It’s called a Donation Bag Refund. […]

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Solving Sudoku with backtracking

I’m pretty sure that the puzzle game of Sudoku needs no introduction. A 9x9 grid formed as a 3x3 grid of 3x3 boxes, with some digits from 1 to 9 in there, and you have to solve for the empty cells such that there are no duplicate digits in each row, column or box. I enjoy playing it, sometimes I’m pretty good, sometimes … not so much. Of course, these puzzles are not generated by hand, they’re generated by some program, but how? How do you solve a Sudoku puzzle programmatically? And how, using that knowledge, can you generate a new puzzle? […]

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Knuth’s Fascicle 5 has arrived

Or to give it its full title, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 4, Fascicle 5. Fascicle 6 on Satisfiability was published first, and these two form the first 2/3 (well, perhaps, we’ll see) of Volume 4B of Donald Knuth’s lifelong oeuvre. […]

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Pollinated Cat

We woke up this morning to find our youngest cat, Alpheus, covered in something … yellow. What the heck had he got into? After some searching around the house, we came to the conclusion that he’d basically messed around with a flower display we had on the kitchen counter. He was covered in pollen. […]

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Enter the Twenties and blogging

Like it or not, I view 2020 as the start of the decade, the decade of the 20s. […]

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Donald Knuth Christmas lecture 2019

Donald Knuth does one of these lighthearted lectures every year, and this one was perhaps more fun and interesting than before: Pi and the Art of Computer Programming. A reminder: Knuth is like the grand master of algorithms, and I have all of his books on my shelves behind me, and used them when I wrote my own book on algorithms. […]

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Reapplying for my UK passport

In February next year – not too far away at the time of writing – my UK passport is due to expire. Although I am now permanently living in the States, and have been for over 25 years now, both the US and the UK allow for dual citizenship so I have two passports. And I kind of like having a UK passport. For a start, it’s easier to enter the UK whenever I (or we) fly into Heathrow for business or a holiday, and it’s still good for entering the EU. Well, OK, true enough, only just, with regard to that last point. […]

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Business card, as a blast from the past

I’ve been tidying up some of my old technical books recently to try and get them recycled (Undocumented DOS, anyone? No, I thought not.) In one of them, imagine my surprise to find one of my old business cards. […]

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LinkedIntolerable

OK, it was a voluntary action, but I did it anyway. I registered myself on LinkedIn some 14 years ago, essentially when I started my job as CTO at DevExpress. It’s … OK, but not what I thought it would be. I first thought it would be a professional network of sorts, a kind of Facebook , but for job- or work-related connections. I suppose it started out like that, sure, but now? […]

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Marketing emails, part deux

Amazingly it seems, crass, irrelevant – and dare I say it – spammy marketing emails are still going strong and arriving by the couple-of-dozen-plus every day in my inboxes since my last post about the subject (now two years ago!). I’m also seeing more and more where they start off by saying something along the lines of “I researched you on LinkedIn,” but that’s a post for another day. […]

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