Thursday, January 13, 2022


I really enjoy Wordle.

But somehow, my brain is busted from years of playing games like Jotto and Mastermind as a child, so I keep making dumb mistakes.

Today, for example, I got stuck because I thought that Wordle's word list did not allow repeated letters; that is, that a valid Wordle word was five distinct letters.

I, of course, was wrong. Repeated letters are in fact allowed in Wordle.

And that's true of Jotto, also, I guess, although in my family I recall that we disallowed repeated letters in our secret words (though, importantly, not in the guess words). Wikipedia notes that this was a common "table rules" decision when playing Jotto. And the version that MentalFloss describes was quite strict about the no-repeated-letters rule.

I guess I'm not the only person who sees Wordle in this historical context: Wordle’s massively popular (Jewish) predecessors

I am a child of the 60's, after all (though not Jewish).

My parents played Mental Jotto with me as well; it was quite the mental workout! We didn't take walks to the synagogue, but, living in Southern California, we did often find ourselves going on multi-hour drives (that's what Southern Californians do for fun, after all), and Mental Jotto definitely passed the time! Clearly we weren't the only ones who did this.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Dead and Company winter tour upheaval

Bill the drummer has a Twitter account? How did I not know this?

Bummer of a way to find out, though.

And John Mayer is ill as well, oh dear.

I'd never heard of Tom Hamilton before, although my tour buddies are quite familiar with him, as they've seen Joe Russo's Almost Dead multiple times.

Chasing those links led me to see that JRAD are headlining the High Sierra Music Festival. This looks great! Maybe I should check it out next summer? (Check out the Guidelines for important Hula-Hoop information!)

I bet Quincy is wicked hot in late June, but I've been there before in the summer and, being at moderate elevation (3500'), it was lovely in the evenings, and even pretty decent in late afternoon.

Gotta keep on truckin...

UPDATE Now they're starting to cancel the shows. They haven't canceled the entire tour yet, but ...

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Project Zero on the iMessage zero-click exploit

Three months after Apple released the patch for the exploit, the Project Zero team have released a fabulous detailed description of how it worked: A deep dive into an NSO zero-click iMessage exploit: Remote Code Execution.

The Project Zero team, who most certainly have seen it all, dryly observe:

Based on our research and findings, we assess this to be one of the most technically sophisticated exploits we've ever seen

This is an extraordinarily interesting article, well worth a read. (And note that it's only part of the overall explanation; the Project Zero team promise further details in the future.)

They provide a wealth of background links and reference material as well.

Highly recommended.

Friday, December 10, 2021

WCC 2021 is complete

... and Magnus Carlsen is World Chess Champion for two more years.

After a quiet draw in the previous match, Ian Nepomniachtchi had the white pieces, and with his back completely against the wall he had to take some chances. In a wild sequence starting around move 19, Nepo forced the relatively closed position open, after which Carlsen quickly saw that he could sacrifice the exchange for a ferocious attack. 15 moves later, Nepo had defended against the attack, but ended up in a hopeless endgame which Carlsen won with seeming ease.

It was a wonderful match, overall, with many beautiful games.

And it was very exciting to see how the worldwide interest in chess continues to grow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Up, up, and away

As I noted just three weeks ago, the first test of the new Millenium Tower stabilization procedures was completed and "a second test will follow".

Not a promising early result from the new test, though: SF Millennium Tower Tilts Quarter Inch in Four Days

Newly released monitoring data shows that San Francisco’s Millennium Tower tilted a quarter inch during the four days it took to install the first test pile to bedrock last month.


The latest data – including the four days that the test pile was installed from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19 – shows a quarter inch of new tilt, as well as a tenth of an inch of settlement at the time the test installation occurred. At the same time, there was marked fluctuation of water pressure below the foundation on the Mission Street side of the structure.


While the data shows plunging pressure level quickly came back up, Pyke said the brief loss would likely generate settlement.


“You can accidentally remove soil that you want to stay in place,” said Rune Storesund, a geotechnical engineer who runs UC Berkeley’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. He says the water pressure data suggests engineers could clearly do more to refine their methods. “You’re always going to get settlement, obviously you want that to be as low as possible.”

It's not like they didn't expect there would be some impact; they're just discussing how substantial the measured impact was.

I guess that if the building settles evenly, that's the most important thing; the tilt is far more of a challenge than the settling.

Not that this is easy, but it sure would be nice if the overall result were successful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

WCC 2021: A third Carlsen victory

Carlsen has now won 3 of the last 4 games, and leads, overall, 6-3.

I'm not sure whether Carlsen needs 7 or 7.5 points in order to retain his title, but either way, he's getting close.

Game 9 was quite interesting until it, suddenly, wasn't very interesting at all.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

WCC 2021: A second Carlsen victory

After eight of the scheduled fourteen games, Carlsen now leads 5-3.

Today's match was sharp and short, compared to the epic game six marathon. In a queen-and-pawn endgame, Carlsen maneuvered crisply and won two pawns, and Nepomniachtchi resigned on move 46.