Friday, June 24, 2005

Kyra's Web Site is now up

Amazing experiences are few and far between in this life, but over the last few months I have had one that I think will last for another 18 years at least.

My wife and I had a baby girl, Kyra, two months ago. She is truly amazing and virtually everyone I know must be sick of hearing about here. But, judge for yourself...

Is she, or is she not, totally lovely???

Anyway, the web site with photos for the first two months is now active!!

All I need to do now, is keep it up to date for the next 18 years, and add a little about my wife and I....

Thursday, June 23, 2005

So du you sue do ku?

Over the last week or two I've been introduced to, learnt how to play, created a spreadsheet to solve and now got somewhat bored with that infuriating Japanese numbers puzzle, Sudoku.

What is it? According to Su|do|

"It's fun. It's challenging. It's addictive!"

Well, its actually fairly simple. Its a 9x9 grid filled so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9.

It's also, highly mathematical and logical (for full details you should take a look at the Wikipedia entry), that's why I thought a spreadsheet would be a great idea.

I started off with the obvious. Create the grid. Hmm. The next bit was basically the equivalent of using a pencil to solve it - put space above each grid cell for the numbers 1-9. That way you can just delete them when they're not available. But, hang-on, I thought. Couldn't I just write a formula to do that. Was a bit tricky.

You have to check every row column and cell to see which numbers can be placed in each cell. I then mapped them back into small cells above each square. To highlight options I showed cells with 2 numbers possible in amber and 1 number in green. The final bit was to store the initial numbers and highlight them in yellow. As an after thought, I'm now also highlighting the numbers for each column and row that only have one entry.

Sad thing is, with all this automation, most of the puzzles available online seem to easy. The owners of, Pappadom, erm, Pappacom, produce the puzzles for the Times in the UK, and they are FAR too easy. Even the Diabolical rated ones only have one logic puzzle in each. Solve that and everything else just rolls out.

The Telegraph
has much more difficult puzzles, but the Fiendish ones tend to dead-end on logic and required trying a path to see if it causes problems. At least with the rules I've been able to work out so far. I'll try and post a few if I get chance...

Here's a screen shot of my excel solver...

I'll let anyone have a copy if you visit here and leave a comment with your contact info...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day Iron Chef Challenge

My first father's day as a father had a rather interesting twist.

Me and my father-in-law were told after mass that we were cooking lunch. What's more, all of the ingredients had been chosen for us.

We had:

1 large butternut squash
2lbs pork loin
2 large cactus leaves
1/2lb mushrooms
2 large leeks
1lb of brussel sprouts
A pack of 20 egg roll wrappers (pasta, not filo)

We were also allowed to use anything we had in the kitchen.

OK, so we had no idea what to do with either the cactus of the squash. Luckily, a quick google showed me a cactus chilli recipe, and my Columbian brother-in-law showed up in the nick of time with an idea for the squash.

The egg-roll wrappers were more problematic, since they had to be deep fried and we don't own a frier. Some quick thinking later had them cut into shreds and turned into a chinese style pasta.

So we had four courses:

  1. Butternut Squash Soup
    Boiled squash, lightly seasoned with cilantro garnish
  2. #3 Potsticker with Columbian Brussel Sprouts
    Some of the third course, wrapped in a couple of the egg-roll wrappers we were experimenting with, shallow fried, with lightly seasoned brussel sprouts in a lemon joice broth
  3. Pork chilli con cactus
    1 lb pork cubed, cactus leaves, mushrooms, onions, white kidney beans, two cerano peppers in a garlic chilli sauce
  4. Open egg-rolls
    1 lb pork, shredded, with shredded leeks, carrots, mushrooms, onions, spring onions in a garlic, oyster, stir fry sauce with soy sauce and black pepper over the boiled shredded egg-roll pasta in soy sauce

Overall, it all seemed to go down well and no-one got stomach ache, so I think we passed the challenge.

We had a final course of Baskin&Robbins father's day ice-cream cake.

Oh, and lots of beer while we were cooking. Hey, it was father's day after-all.