This was pretty obviously a Beale cipher of some sort and the 'key' text was fairly clear -- the time was taken in figuring out which variant was being used. (A lot of this was learning to 'play the DM'.)
My big problem was a little thing called "Real Life" -- didn't get to sign in until twenty something after and went down two or three empty holes before I got the right one.
This raises a philosophical point about the emphasis placed on speed.
I understand that for a website there is a limited ability to measure success beyond the binary solved/not solved, but time to find a solution is hardly the best measure of puzzle solving ability; it rewards lucky guesses and sloppy but 'good enough' work. (It also gives an advantage to those with fast connections and computers.)
The latter two of the three (luck, slop, fast computers) aspects are very "real-world"
, but neither is ideal if the intent is to encourage learning and elegance
of solution. (Luck is generally much less meaningful in "real-world" solutions since the coding schemes are so much more advanced.)
Unfortunately, I haven't anything better to offer as a solution -- but I enjoyed working the backlog of theorems when I joined more than I do the weekly race. (And, yes, I know that it's just my own competitiveness
Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:17 am