Author Archives: EJ

Cain’s Jawbone Literary Puzzle

Cains Jawbone
Cain’s Jawbone boxed set

So, the Cain’s Jawbone Literary Puzzle was recently solved for just the third time in almost 100 years.

Edward Powys Mathers
Edward Powys Mathers

The puzzle book was written by the cryptic crosswords pioneer Edward Powys Mathers under the pseudonym “Torquemada”. The title, Cain’s Jawbone, refers to the first ever murder weapon as described in the Bible story of Cain and Abel. Cain’s Jawbone was first published in England in 1934. The puzzle is a 100-page murder mystery, with the pages printed in the wrong order. The reader is tasked with solving the puzzle by sorting the pages in the correct order.

The puzzle has over 32 million possible combinations but only one right answer. The goal is to identify who had committed the six murders that take place within the framework of the book. Solving the puzzle grants you the bragging rights as well as a cash price. Cain’s Jawbone has only been solved by three people since it was published, the first two instances were in the 1930’s but the last one made the news only very recently.

The rediscovery of Cain’s Jawbone 

The mostly forgotten the book lingered in obscurity for decades until Shandy Hall, operated by the Laurence Sterne Trust, received as a donation a collection of Powys Mathers’s works, including Cain’s Jawbone. There Patrick Wildgust, a curator at Shandy Hall began looking into the history of the puzzle. Wildgust tracked down all known copies of the book and it became quite clear quite clear that the solution had not been published anywhere. No book had the solution written in the marginalia, no articles articles revealing the solution were to be found. After a considerable sleuthing, Wildgust eventually found the solution.

In a collaboration with the publisher Unbound the novel was re-issued in the fall of 2019, with artwork by Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld. The publisher offered a £1,000 prize to the first person who could solve it within a year.

The original novel, printed with the pages printed recto-verso but the new version had each page printed on separate cards and put into a box. Having them on separate cards means that they can be spread out and placed next to each other which is much easier than dealing with the text in a book printed on both sides of the page.

First and Second Solve

First two persons to solve the puzzle were Mr. S. Sydney-Turner and Mr. W. S. Kennedy who in the 1930’s were awarded £25 each, and John Finnemore in 2020 who won £1,000. Today £25 would net you about about £1,800 at current value today. A tidy sum indeed.

Saxon Sidney-Turner

Of Mr. W.S. Kennedy we know little. The other, Mr. Saxon Sidney-Turner, is slightly better known.

‘There was probably no one less entertaining in the world’, is how a fellow student described him. His friend Leonard Woolf was kinder, ‘an eccentric in the best English tradition’. He was part of the Bloomsbury Group, a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists in the first half of the 20th century. A collective which included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. His Wikipedia article, at the time of this writing, makes no mention of what I believe is his greatest claim to fame, solving the Cain’s Jawbone.

Third Solve

John Finnemore, a comedian and a crossword setter (crossword writer) recently became only the third person to officially solve the puzzle. He spread the pages out on his bed and started working on the solve. Because of the lockdown he had ample time and he spent four months working on the problem. When he had found the solution he submitted it only two days before the closing date and netted himself the £1,000 prize.

The solution has not been made public, and Mr. Finnemore has sworn to the Sterne trust that he will keep this answer a secret, so it is still out there to be found. In other words, the prize money has been collected but the bragging rights are still out there, up for grabs.

The book is out of print as of now but if anybody knows of a copy for sale, I am looking for one.

Notes

Mathew Clayton covers the history of the Puzzle and the solves in an excellent thorough, well written and quite entertaining Twitter thread.

Apple Watch – As a safety feature

Fist when Apple announced the Apple Watch I wrote it off as a jewlery. I’ve not changed my mind for my self but I’ve been thinking about it and I could see it come strong into the market as a powerful safety feature for older people and physically disabled.

I could see it monitor the activity of a person and if the person goes suddenly to the floor or detects an unusual movement patterns (for example seizures), it could trigger an alarm that sends out messages to the caregivers or family members.

The accelerometer, and the heart-rate sensor could be a powerful combination to detect and notify when an impaired family member or in a bigger setting, an older person living in a assisted living community or a patient in a hospital or medical facilities needs help.

The Watch could also help monitoring patients suffering from dementia (like Alzheimers) and notify if they seem to be getting lost or wandering away.

An app that calls for help when pressed could also be integrated into such system.

I’m sure I’m not the first to think of this but the more I think about it now I can see a value in the Apple Watch.

Playing with photo restoration

I took a stab at photo restoration and took old damaged photos of my grand father and mother. The images were small and damaged.

My grandfather Helgi

My grandfather Helgi

 

My grandmother Lilja

My grandmother Lilja

The original images were almost stamp sized. I lost some of the clarity of the original images while working with them but when developed smaller and framed I think the loss will be acceptable. My grandmothers images had some sepia tones in them but I turned the image into black and white to match my grandfathers image. All in all pretty happy with the results but Ill see when they have been printed and framed if I’ll take another stab at them.

Just because I’m not going to buy the iPhone 6

…doesn’t mean I can’t buy one for my wife!

iPhone 6 Front

First impressions

Awesome phone that fits perfectly for my wife. The screen is superb and the speakers much better than in the 5s.

Still want a smaller phone with better battery though.

 

Sundar the cat

Sundar 2008

Sundar 2008

What kind of blog would this be if I did not post a photo of our cat. To tell the truth this is not a cat but a small lion. There is not a dog in the neighbourhood that is not afraid of this monster.

Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple watch

Apple’s presentation of the new iPhone was few days ago. There they presented the new iPhones (6 and 6 plus) as well as the new Apple Watch.  什麼亂七八糟的廣播了。I noted down few of my thoughts on it.

The intro videos are increasingly becoming more and more pointless. The videos were neat in the beginning but now it’s just something to endure. The video this time was way too long and borrowed heavily from OK GO!

I got the feeling a lot of the visual stuff in the video was not done in-camera so even it may have cost a pretty penny it felt cheap to me.

The new thing in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are:

  • Bigger screens (4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively)
  • A8 chip compared to the A7 in the 5s
  • M8 motion coprocessor compared to the M7 motion coprocessor in the 5s
  • Faster CPU
  • Higher resolution

What Apple considers a plus for the new phones

Bigger screen
For me the size of the 5s is not an issue that bothers me. If I really need to see anything as it was meant to be seen then I’ll throw it on the Apple TV.

It’s thinner
The new iPhones are now 6.9 and 7.1mm respectively compared with the 7.6mm of the 5s. I don’t see it as a plus. It would make much more sense to me If the phone would be still close the 5s using the extra space for a better battery.

More internal storage
Hard to argue with that.

Better video recording quality. 1080 x 60 fps vs 1080 x 30 fps
Which is nice.

The new iPhones are bigger

So the new iPhones are bigger, is that better? For me the size of the 5s is perfect. It fits in my pocket, my hand can do pretty much everything I want to do with it single handed.
I want a phone that fits my lifestyle if I may be so pretentious to call it that. I want a phone I can take with me to work. But I also want a phone that I can take with me to the gym, outdoors, hiking, climbing, hunting. I fear the iPhone 6 Plus is too big, too frail. I’m not saying it will break but I do believe it would be in serious danger of sustaining damage in the field of play. Most likely the tactical cases will protect the new phones, especially the plus one. Until I see it in the field though I don’t believe it will be robust enough to handle the environment that I need it to do. So far I’ve climbed with my 5s where I needed to hug the rock, I’ve used my 5s in heavy rain. It’s still in pristine condition. I seriously doubt the six could survive in my pocket in the same scenario.

Toposcope

Toposcope on the top of Keilir. Shot with my 5s in rain.

The new phones are surely better than the 5s in all aspects. My only gripe is with the size. Apple’s obsession with thickness/weight is baffling to me. Why thinner? Why not have it a little thicker with way better battery?

The Camera

The most important to me is the camera. The 5s got a nice upgrade when it went from 5 to 5s.

The front facing camera still has 1.2 MP sensors and still shoots 720p video, but the iPhone 5 has 1.75µm pixels opposite the iPhone 5s which has 1.9µm pixels. Little bit better in low light settings but that’s about it.

The upgrade to the main camera of the 5s was subtle as well with the f/2.2 aperture (for more light) as well as the dual LED flash (True Tone). And with the “Burst mode” for photos and the “Slo-mo” mode for video it does a lot of things well.

Having the lens protrude a little out from the case is not anything that bothers me. If the camera is better this is not even an issue.

How much better is the new camera in the new phones?

  • Faster CPU
  • Higher resolution
  • A phase detection autofocus is much faster.
  • Bigger pixel size. Yeah that’s always good.

Picture I took with my 5s while hiking in Esjan. beside a tiny crop this is how the picture came out of the phone.

Picture I took with my 5s while hiking in Esjan. beside a tiny crop this is how the picture came out of the phone.

In all aspects the new iPhones are going to be much better phones than the 5s but I will be sticking with the 5s and wait for the next generation after the 6. I’m hoping that Apple will bring down the size and add a little bit to the weight and thickness of the device.

The Apple Watch

Wear your jewels to bed Princess?

The iWatch... doh! I mean Apple Watch.

The iWatch… doh! I mean Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is a jewellery
Personally would wear something like Nike fuel band in the gym, out in the field and in bed. I would not wear a watch in the gym, outdoors, hiking, climbing and when I sleep.

For now it looks like it will not function on it’s own a whole lot. It is an extension of the phone.

The wearable wrist computer, be it in a form of a watch, band or some other form is the future, this first step for Apple into that future looks nice enough but for me it does not exite me. I might feel different after having used it for a while but I have a feeling the weareable line might have to go through a few iterations before it takes of. Uncoupling it from the phone would be the first step.

The Apple Pay

The new iPhones are now going to be able to function as a credit cards. The big selling points are the NFC chip combined with the touch ID of the iPhone. Chip and pin is apparently not a standard in the US so this is probably of much more value there than here in the old world.

Conclusion

All in all pretty nice progression for Apple. Nothing mind blowing perhaps but what is these days? Tim Cooks seems to be on top of things. Good times ahead.

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