The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Software is hard, but not that hard

I just got back from my vacation …. after a full solid 26 hours of airports and planes. It actually wasn’t horrible (apart from the four hour delay at JFK) because Delta planes have in-seat entertainment systems (and I had my books, of course).

The big game for the last two weeks (on the cruise, and in the airplane) was Boggle. (OK, the airplane’s game was the simpler “how many words can you find in this jumble for letters.”)

When I got home, I googled “Open Source dictionary,” because the last two weeks made me think those weren’t a thing.  Here are some words the cruises “Word finder” game didn’t accept:

  • cries
  • cried
  • makes

There were a ton of others. For a while I thought it was not allowing ‘s’ words (or multiple forms of the same word), abut other times it allowed all forms. That game also accepted a bunch of non-English latin words, acronyms, as well as frankly weird things like “ggg” and “Vneder” (but it rejected “Vender,” which is an archaic ‘vendor’.) [It shows a list of “words you missed” after each round, which is how I discovered these.]

It also accepted practically every name. I get that they can’t use the OSPD or SOWPODs (without ponying up licensing money), but downloading an OS dictionary takes literally a few minutes. (After playing for a while, I started mentally designing a “Boggle solver,” that won’t take forever. I may actually write it as an exercise, we’ll see).

Anyway, after spending way too much of my ship time playing Boggle (and being bewildered by dictionary) I played a few hours of “Letter Mix” on Delta on the way home. And I realized two things:

  1. After a dozen times I started seeing repeats of the puzzles (six letters).
  2. One set didn’t contain all the possible words in the solution. (They missed ‘hides’, but got ‘shied’).

And I realized that program didn’t have a solver, just a list of puzzles and acceptable words for each! Come on, this isn’t rocket science. (The Delta series of games definitely had a slapdash nature. The poker program had misleading english. “Player A raises to $2” when he actually raised a $2 bet to $4. And I suspect that the chess program had the “Easy/Medium/Hard” settings flipped, because I casually lost on easy unless I was paying attention, but on Hard the program just hung a queen for no reason.

Look — writing a good computer program may be hard, but some parts shouldn’t be. Get a good dictionary, people.

(My only other gaming news was losing in a cash no-limit game when my aces got cracked. In my last few cruises I spent a lot of time on the casino — I dislike cruises and may yet rant about that if I haven’t already — and after that I decided to just spend my sea time playing boggle instead, since in my two hours playing I couldn’t spot the fish).

I also murdered a few hours playing bridge, but on a cruise ship with random opponents that hardly counts as gaming.

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Written by taogaming

June 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm

One Response

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  1. We took a good cruise (Celebrity on the Mediterranean) and a mediocre cruise (Royal Caribbean in the Caribbean). The former had good food and interesting ports, while the latter had mediocre food and lackluster ports. Aside from the big nightly show and the occasional trivia quiz, we pretty much ignored the rest of the programmed entertainment in favor of books and puzzles. We avoided the casino.

    Curious why you dislike cruises.

    Peter Sarrett

    June 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm


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