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Introducing PrimalPairs – Finally, a daily math game to challenge Wordle

As I was working on my last game, GlideWords, it struck me that the recent “Daily Puzzle” craze has really been focused on word games, leaving math nerds with few options to compete. Looking further back, even common number puzzles like 2048, griddlers, or traditional sudoku are more about patterns than actual math.

and so, an idea slowly formed, that would become PrimalPairs.

Play PrimalPairs!

The idea behind PrimalPairs is simple. You are given a large prime number, a current total, which starts at zero, and a series of small prime operands. Each operand can be added to, subtracted from, multiplied with or divided from the current total, to change its value. The goal is to make the current total match the large prime in as few moves as possible.

A few more things to know

  1. You can skip an operand, if you want, but it will still cost you a move.
  2. The current total is not allowed to go negative. It will be reset at zero if an operation would result in a negative number.
  3. All division is rounded down to the nearest integer.
  4. below the current total and operand, there is a list of upcoming operands. Use this list to strategize each move.

Tips for playing like a pro

  1. Most perfect games are 7 to 9 moves long.
    This means that you normally cannot fully solve the game from the information on screen at the start. You must think about your strategy in stages, and reassess with each new move. You are very unlikely to get a perfect game on your first playthrough of the day, so I recommend taking note of the sequence of primes that appear in your first playthrough, to inform your next attempt.
  2. Your first move should almost always be addition.
    Since the initial total is zero, any operation but addition is equivalent to skipping the first number. It is almost always better to get to a total that other operations can impact, than to skip and stay limited to addition.
  3. Your last move will never be multiplication or skipping.
    Since your target is always a prime number, you will never reach it by multiplying your total by your operand.
  4. Division is the most powerful late-game move.
    Because all division is rounded down, it can be used to solve issues of being just a few numbers off. For example, if your target number was 5, and you worked backwards to try to make your last move dividing by 11, your next to the last total could be anything from 55 to 65, and the result would still be the same. This means that often the optimal solution will have division as one of the last few moves.
  5. Multiplication is the most powerful early game move.
    Because the goal is to grow your total quickly to reach or surpass the target number, the early game must involve multiplication, although, in some cases a sequence of addition may be used first to prepare the total for a specific operand.
  6. Your second move is the most strategic.
    Since the first move can be made almost without consideration, your second move contains seven unique primes to strategize with. This is the time to stop and develop a strategy for how to handle each operand, as it appears. Future moves should involve reassessing and tweaking this plan, but by move 3 or 4, the rest of the game may be on auto-pilot.
  7. You have to play to get good.
    It is very unlikely (unless your name is Rachel Riley) that your day-job involves solving puzzles like this. Practicing will improve both your intuition and your overall speed at strategizing.

Play PrimalPairs! on a mobile phone

Introducing GlideWords – Another daily word game to feed your addiction

Like most of the world, I’ve spent the last few months playing Wordle religiously. It’s a fun way to spend a few minutes every morning, and whether it actually has any effect or not, it certainly feels like it helps me get my creative juices flowing. However, despite my addiction to Wordle, I found myself wanting more. I wanted a real challenge that involved more concurrent skills.

After a few weeks of feverish coding, GlideWords was born.

Play GlideWords

GlideWords is the bastard child of Boggle, Traffic Jam, and Countdown. It challenges your spatial reasoning skills, and vocab skills all while making you think around obvious distractions. It is also VERY HARD.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each day, players get a new grid of five 5-letter words.
  2. Each word can be slid left and right to place a different letter in the central column. In addition, you can slide up and down to rotate the order of the words in the grid.
  3. The player gains points by arranging the board such that the central column of letters contains a five letter English word, read top to bottom.
  4. The player has five minutes to find as many words as possible. Words are classified as either “common” (green) or “bonus”(yellow). Your final score is calculated as: Number of common words found / total number of common words in puzzle, as a percent plus an additional 4% for every bonus word found.

If it sounds like fun, give it a shot! I warn you, getting a score of 100 is much harder than it seems.

Play GlideWords

WordPress still needs a better shortcode parser.

WordPress 5.0 has now been released, with the new block syntax front and center. This data structure is completely new, and lays on top of all the existing structures that modify post-content, such as shortcodes, leaving many people wondering “why didn’t they just use shortcodes to store block data?”. There are several reasons for this, one of them being the Gutenberg team’s preference for HTML comments since they default to being un-rendered by browsers. However, the biggest reason for the switch that I can see is a bit more fundamental than that. Simply put, shortcode parsing in WordPress is terrible! read more »

If WordPress 5.0 broke your site, here’s how to fix it.

WordPress 5.0 is launching tomorrow, and the internet is likely to be flooded with searches for this question when many people update to WordPress 5.0. Some users will be unable to edit pages that they have made, and others will be unable to even access their edit screen. There may even be 500 errors or white screens for some users. These issues will mostly effect WordPress sites running older or unsupported themes or plugins, but may affect some brand-new sites as well.

The process for fixing these errors is well known among WordPress developers, but for the many people who use WordPress as a tool and not a livelihood, this can be a major issue, and there isn’t currently a clear source for information on remediating the issue.

So, in order to make things simpler for these users, I’ve compiled a simple set of steps to get your site back up and running: read more »