Jeremy Rayner on java and other stuff.

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London Puzzle Party
Posted on 04 Oct 2007

I went along to the London Puzzle Party at Camden Lock last night, which is an event run, once a month, by the wonderful little shop full of mechanical puzzles called Village Games.

I've never been along to these before, but I guessed I might like the community, after all I look with envy at the Gathering for Gardner and Burning Man events in the USA.

I arrived at the shop in Camden, to be greeted by Ray the owner, he very kindly showed me some of the most popular puzzles and took me on a tour of the books. Ray tells me that he cannot compete with the likes of ebay and amazon on the books, and therefore is not going to restock any of the shelves with books when these ones disappear.

Ray showed me where the evening event was taking place, and I took my place at the table.

Martin very kindly introduced me to all the people round the table, and he explained that his passion was the sliding block puzzles. Martin has some amazing pictures of his collection online.

John arrived soon afterwards, with his pockets full to bursting with little wooden blocks in odd configurations, his passions are the cube puzzles and number theory.

The owner of Grand Illusions shop arrived next, his name is Tim and he travels the world in search of interesting gadgets. This evening he had brought along

  • a yo-yo in the shape of a cone
  • a device that gives you the impression your eyes are over 10 inches apart
  • a smooth mirror, which when a light is shone upon it, reflects a picture onto the wall

Robert is the resident genius, he is a wonderful 81 year old chap who hasn't missed a single one of these events.

David Wells was there, author of some of my favourite books, I showed him a wonderful little thing on knot multiplication

Simon who is the resident Go expert talked to me about the London Open and a possible get together for kids who liked the game. When pressed, Simon recommended a book called In the Beginning which will have to be sought out.

I sat for most of the evening scratching my head over various interlocking 3-d puzzles that were thrust into my hand, I think I solved about 2/3 of them, but I wouldn't want to be in a competition against any of these chaps.

When time was finally called, I was accompanied back to the station by Frank, who explained to me that his passion was impossible objects. One of his favourites is the corkscrew opener (with cork) inside a bottle, as these objects go naturally together.

Suprisingly though, it isn't the puzzles themselves that seem to light up this room, it is the interest they all have in other people, how they solve the puzzles, what alternative solutions they might give, and any new ideas.

Thanks to Ray for organising this event, it was great fun, I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys Recreational Mathematics and Puzzles.

04 Oct 2007 |

Posted on 14 Sep 2005
The object of the puzzle is to figure out which of the squares should be coloured in to make up a picture, which is the solution to the puzzle.
print out and solve this puzzle
  here is a more difficult one
  • Numbers by each row or column form a 'clue'
  • Each clue tells you how many solid blocks there are on that column or row, how big they are, and in what order they appear
  • There must be at least one gap between two blocks
For example: A clue of "3,1" tells you there is a block of 3 consecutive solid squares on this row, and to the right of it is a single block of 1 solid square.
[more info]
Nonograms (a.k.a. Griddlers) in their current form, have a history going back about 20 years.

The theory behind these puzzles can get quite involved, and provides an interesting exercise in programming. Steven Simpson has provided some interesting nonogram solvers

There are also some interesting variants on this puzzle too.

More nonograms to play with are here, here and here.

update: Here is a nice tutorial on how to solve these puzzles.

14 Sep 2005 |

Lecture, from chap who walked on the Moon, next Wednesday...
Posted on 26 Apr 2004
Saturn V lift off If you're in London on Wednesday 5 May, consider coming along to the Royal Society with me to a talk by Dr David Scott. Dr. Scott will be giving his unique views on the proposed manned mission to Mars.

Dr David Scott was an astronaut on the Gemini 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 15 missions, which included the Lunar Lander 'Falcon'. He will give his views on the challenges for sending people to the red planet, and possibly bringing them back again.

This promises to be an entertaining evening, so if you're reading this and fancy coming along too, leave a comment on this blog and we'll arrange to meetup in Picadilly Circus for some food first.

26 Apr 2004 |

Spaced - The Movie
Posted on 19 Mar 2004
...well nearly. If you're a fan of the channel 4 comedy series Spaced, you might be pleased to see the trailer [flash] for Shaun of the Dead due in your cinemas from 9th April.

It is just one of a number of cool looking movies coming from working title films this year. Others include ...

19 Mar 2004 |

Halliwell's Hundred
Posted on 27 Jan 2004
As a film collector, Halliwell's Hundred is a goldmine of nostalgia and what used to be great about the cinema (1930s-1950s). The book is (unfortunately) now out of print, but I have put up a page containing a list of each of these wonderful films, I suggest you track down one of these films soon.

Classic Film List

27 Jan 2004 |

The Great Fire of London
Posted on 10 Dec 2003
Andi and I enjoyed a stroll down to the monument at lunch today, hope you enjoy the pictures below...

10 Dec 2003 |

human metadata about british telly
Posted on 08 Dec 2003
Cool programme on (british) Sky TV - ch.277, called Flipside, basically four or so pundits on a sofa watching and gabblin about what's on TV at that moment.

So much more 'human' than rolling through the EPG, recommend you try and catch a couple of minutes, but after that you might just watch the other channel that they're chattin about...

cool concept, well executed...

08 Dec 2003 |

bloogmark: code in many ways
Posted on 08 Dec 2003
As a form of language cookbook, these are all handy examples of code: I'm sure there was a repository of HelloWorlds for Java technologies, i.e. simplistic implementations of MessageBeans, Servlets, JNI etc... any ideas where that was...?
08 Dec 2003 |

Lasers can be fun...
Posted on 03 Dec 2003
This is a really fun puzzle game

thanks to cal for the link.

cool game with lasers
03 Dec 2003 |

funny email humor
Posted on 27 Nov 2003
some fun screenshots here
27 Nov 2003 |


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