Defeating Sudoku in five simple steps

I, like many others, have taken a liking to Sudoku puzzles. I started with some simple scanning techniques (examples 1-3) which worked with the easier puzzles. Angus Johnson’s Simple Sudoku program has a delightful Help containing many strategies to solving a puzzle. I haven’t got the hang of (or memorised) the most advanced techniques but recently I finished even the “Ultimate Challenges” in two Sudoku books (about 200 puzzles each) with the following strategies that I’ve found the most effective — and enough.

1. I always start a puzzle by looking at the smallest area possible which is the 3×3 square. I check the missing numbers starting from 1 and see if I can put a number anywhere.

Sudoku example 1

2. After I’ve gone through each of the 9 small squares so many times that I can’t add numbers anymore, I check each horizontal row.

Sudoku example 2

3. After horizontal rows don’t help, I check each vertical row.

Sudoku example 3

4. I repeat steps 1-3 until I can’t add any numbers. Then I write down the “candidates” in each square. Often this reveals new numbers to add when a square has only one possible candidate.

When the candidates are written down it’s easy to see pairs or small groups so I can strike out candidates in other squares. In the example there are three squares that have to contain the numbers 1,4, and 5 so I can discard them in the square that is outside the group. I do this scan on horizontal and vertical rows, too.

Sudoku example 4

5. With the candidates in view it’s easy to find numbers to strike out when I go through the rows horizontally and vertically and notice that a number has to be contained in one of the 3×3 squares. Then I can strike out the number in the other 3×3 squares on the same row. Also, if a number is restricted to a 3×3 square and a vertical or horizontal row, candidates can be struck out within the 3×3 square.

In the example numbers 3, 6, and 9 have to be found on the first row so they can be struck out elsewhere in the second 3×3 square.

Sudoku example 5

Before I learned the strategies 4 and 5 I had trouble finishing the tougher puzzles. I suppose I had thought of checking the pairs but not the larger groups.

Perhaps next I should take on making the puzzles because I tried that on Simple Sudoku and couldn’t get a single one pass the check (= only one solution).

Disclaimer: The examples are not trying to be realistic situations or solveable puzzles, they’re just diagrams.

Wax in my grammar ear – or someone else’s?

Suddenly this started to bother me a lot. I surf to and on the front page it says: “Why Blog? All the cool kids are.

That doesn’t make sense, does it? All the cool kids are blogs? Is this correct language in some young and hip native-English speaker sort of way that is designed to baffle the non-natives, or should it in fact be “All the cool kids do.”? In my mind, ‘are’ requires a gerund: “Why should I be blogging? All the cool kids are!”

There isn’t (luckily?) a “Click here to nitpick” link on the site, so I’ll just complain about it here. :)

Who’s the translator?

Today I was putting the finishing touches to a complex Excel sheet and noticed that some translations were missing in formulas. The cells looked empty, so I understand it was easy to miss them although I mentioned about it in my instructions. I wrote the translator asking translations to the missing words; one of them was a place where calves are fed (with milk, probably). The word for feeding with liquid (juottaa) is the same as ‘weld’ in Finnish and the translator had used that in the translation. I asked if it meant ‘to feed’ as well and pointed them to a word list I had found and suggested some translations, also asking that I didn’t accidentally suggest some sort of machine that feeds calves to some other being! (As a sort of joke that would make the email not so serious and finger-pointing.)

The reply was, “Why are you asking me about animal feeding? I have no idea what it should be!” :roll:

Errare humanum est

or “the D’oh Moment”

As I’ve been laughing at other people’s ignorance, I have to tell about a computer-related blooper of my own: Last week I received a PDF that wouldn’t open. I tried both the Adobe Acrobat/Reader versions I have installed – no luck. Then I went to one of the other tech people and asked “Which PDF versions you have?”



Often one of the co-workers who lives quite close to me gets on the same bus to/from work. This morning, for instance. She started talking about work stuff — in quite a loud voice — and suddenly said one of our clients’ name (or is it clients’ names?) out loud. I couldn’t believe it! I have a very tight filter in work related things and couldn’t be caught dropping names. Client information especially is confidential. I told her she shouldn’t be talking about those things. (And she said, “nah, it’s ok.” :shock: Well, no, it’s not.)

She’s kinda annoying (oh, 2nd person I don’t really like) because she talks very loud all the time and sort of dominates the conversations around the lunch table. In one-on-one conversations I don’t mind it because I just nod and hum but in bigger groups I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts (and chime in myself…), too. Oh well.

New furniture

I bought this kind of chair today (same colour):


It won’t get here until week 41 (9.10.-) or something, though, but I can wait.

I love it!

Officially invited

This arrived yesterday:


I wanted to scan it for keeps because I’m RSVPing (although I cannot use the envelope that was provided — I bet they wouldn’t accept an Australian stamp in a Finnish post office, them crooks :laugh: ).

For the whole story, see category Tourist of Oz.

Tickets – check

I just bought the tickets! They should arrive in the mail in about a week.

I’m going to go via Frankfurt (both to and from). And what they didn’t tell me on the site, also Singapore, apparently. I guess it’s just a intermediate landing.

  • Helsinki – Frankfurt: 2.5 h
  • 4.5-hour wait in Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt – Singapore: 12 h
  • 1.5-hour wait in Singapore
  • Singapore – Sydney: 7.5 h

I’ll stay in Sydney for 18 days.

  • Sydney – Singapore: 8 h
  • 1.5-hour wait in Singapore
  • Singapore – Frankfurt: 13 h
  • 5.5-hour wait in Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt – Singapore: 2.5 h

In total: 28 h + 30.5 h. They better let me have a book in my hand luggage!

When I was paying the tickets I noticed that my balance was a bit tight… after the wad of money (or should I say a whole lotta ones and zeros, binarily speaking) had been removed from my account I was left with 12,66 €. Whoopsie. :mrgreen: Payday isn’t until October 10th so I had to take some money from my saving’s account (especially as I’ve been planning to buy the phone next week).

This’ll be my longest holiday in a looong time. I don’t think I’ll go to work right the next day even though I’ll arrive in Finland early afternoon (which can change of course).

Next step: ETA/Visa

For the whole story, see category Tourist of Oz.

Here it is, a blurry photo of an armchair!

My new armchair, photo taken on my old Nokia 6101 — the armchair arrived 2 weeks early!

My new armchair

The background is blurred in the attempt to hide my messy bed and embarrassing X-Files pictures on my wardrobe. The black thing on my bed is a beanbag on its way out of the room.

Not exactly catalogue quality, but Jafer asked for a photo!