Monday, July 06, 2009

Off-Day Puzzle #10: Mr Customer's Puzzle

Welcome to today's puzzle, the creation of which was awarded to the winner of the first third of the puzzle season. Here it is:

(click image to enlarge)

The object is to connect the squares of the same color. Here are the rules:

  1. Paths may not cross black squares or any other path, including its own (no loops).
  2. Paths may not cross the large black square surrounding the grid.
  3. Paths may not cross squares containing a letter from the name of their color.
  4. Paths may not turn back on themselves. The path between two colored squares may share a side with no more than two squares that are part of the same path. For example:

Hint #1 (9:57am): The longer the name of the color, the more potential routes are blocked by "forbidden letters". It's easier to find the "bottlenecks" where there is only 1 possible path for those colors.

Hint #2 (10:56am): Here's a path to get you started:

---------------------------------------------------------------

Puzzle Rules: The answer to the puzzle is the name of a current or former Dodger. Comment freely in the thread, but if you have the solution, please don't give it away to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:

  • Email us with the first and last name of the answer, as well as your reasoning. And please include your screen name somewhere in the email; and
  • Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt. I may not be able to reply to your original email promptly, so please be patient and check back on the comment thread for the latest news; I may confirm correct answers there.
  • Watch the comments section for possible hints from Mr Customer (no promises though).

You have until midnight PT tonight to submit your answer. Good luck!

Not familiar with SoSG's off-day puzzle competition? We're always looking for more participants!

86 comments:

berkowit28 said...

Hmmm. Without a color printer or colored pencils, this is going to be tricky.

Mr. Customer said...

I hope you all have as much fun solving it as I had making it.

QuadSevens said...

Finally!!! A puzzle that doesn't have words in it! I can solve this one, I know it!

Wicks said...

I can't print at work or at home.....no soup for me!

berkowit28 said...

If you've ever wanted to design a subway map - with no way to transfer from one line to another - this is your puzzle.

karina said...

is every square colored?

Mr. Customer said...

Wicks & Berko,

There's always, say, Acrobat Reader, for the paper-challenged. As a matter of fact, I don't believe I printed a single sheet either constructing or checking this one.

Mr. Customer said...

Karina,

It is not necessary to cover every square. Just connect the ends of the path using the 3 rules.

berkowit28 said...

I'm not aware that you can do any sort of editing - drawing colored lines - in Acrobat Reader, can you? It's just for reading. You'd need the full Acrobat, if that. Now that I think about it, there is a Mac application called OmniGraffle that would be perfect for this. But I don't think you could paste the puzzle into it, you'd have to construct it anew. (And I don't have OG.)

Ubragg said...

answer sent! sweet puzzle mr customer!

Loney Fan said...

Answer sent

Wicks said...

Thanks Mr. Customer! I forgot I have photoshop, it works too.

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

I'm fairly certain you can use the commenting and markup toolbar in Reader 9.

karina said...

"It is not necessary to cover every square. Just connect the ends of the path using the 3 rules."

every colored path?

i don't know about anyone else, but i'm using Illustrator.

Eric Karros said...

UBragg is unstoppable. Mr Customer, as your primary rival, you should have studied UBragg's tendencies over the past several weeks and designed a puzzle specifically engineered to play to his weaknesses.

Oh, that's right. He has none.

Loney Fan, alas your submission is not correct.

Ubragg said...

Ha, thanks EK :)

Mr. Customer, that really was a great puzzle, I had a super fun time with it!

Mr. Customer said...

Thanks Ubragg,

Just leave some courtesy PCS points in the tip jar for me!

If I can't make up more ground before the next grand slam, hopefully I'll be able to return the favor then.

berkowit28 said...

Well, this would be intersting if I had the time and could figure oit out. I've managed to save the image as PDF and open it in Acrobat Reader, and there are all sorts of interesting things including highlighting that could be done in Commenting Toolbar, but it requires that Document Rights be enabled, and they aren't. No Commenting allowed, and I don't see how/where to turn them on.

Mr. Customer said...

Karina,

Yes, each colored pair must be connected by paths. I should have said 'paths' in my previous answer. Sorry if that was confusing.

Illustrator should work great, too.

Josh S. said...

Busy work day, so I don't think I can get away with working on a puzzle that actually looks like a puzzle.

Nice work though, Mr. C!

berkowit28 said...

Well, this really is the type of puzzle I like. But it's too complicated to do in black and white with a black pencil, I'm sorry. And I do not appear to have the graphics tools or applications to do it on my computer. Actually, I'm sure I must have them, but I'm not familiar with them. In Adobe Reader, I'd need to have the correct document rights for the pdf, which can only be assigned by someone else, it seems. I can't do it in (Mac) Preview application. I've looked in Graphic Converter, and there might be a way there, but I don't know it. I do not have Illustrator or Photoshop. I have something called Photoshop Elements 2 that came with my scanner but it won't open - I think it must be too ancient for my OS.

So that's that. Too bad. It looks really interesting and challenging.

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

I don't have the time or the attention span to do this.

Mr. Customer said...

Josh,

Thanks! Other that Ubragg, looks like this one was pretty challenging. I'll post a hint shortly.

berkowit28 said...

I don't need a hint. I can see how it works - I like topology. I've even got the basic "shapes" for the really problematic paths worked out - I can see what has to fit around what. I just can't keep track of paths without colors.

If anyone has any other tips for free versions of applications where it's possible to mark up selections of graphics on a Mac, please let me know.

Eric Karros said...

Personally, I lack the time, the graphical tools, and the ability to do this one.

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

Sorry about the trouble. I'm not Mac-friendly enough to even know where to start.

karina said...

Berko, why don't you try with Preview?. Maybe if you go to the apple page, you might find a shareware of some image editing software. Just saying.

It's gonna take me ages to solve this, i'm working too!

Mr. Customer said...

Hint #1: The longer the name of the color, the more potential routes are blocked by "forbidden letters". It's easier to find the "bottlenecks" where there is only 1 possible path for those colors.

QuadSevens said...

Hmmm...this is proving trickier than I had anticipated.

Berko: if you have office for the MAC, how about recreating the graph in excel? Might take some time, but at least you'll have the colors and won't have to print.

karina said...

Berko, since i have no problem you beat me at every puzzle, i found a few programs (in spite i don't know how familiar you are with image editing software):

Paintbrush (on the description it says it's similar to Paint and MacPaint)
http://tinyurl.com/37byve

EazyDraw
http://tinyurl.com/yp7dsh

VectorDesigner
http://tinyurl.com/5bba

Drawlt (this also support bitmaps so it can be useful to open the file of the puzzle)
http://tinyurl.com/bzagtw

ZeusDraw
http://tinyurl.com/ksnq7m

DrawBerry (this looks very friendly)
http://tinyurl.com/5sa7gk

Acorn
http://tinyurl.com/krssnw

If you think i might help you with something else, just tell in here.

karina said...

Mr. Customer, that hint is confusing me!

berkowit28 said...

Quad, I did think of Excel. It can't take more than 20 minutes or so to recreate the puzzle there, so I think this is a good route. I think that applying a background or fill color for each cell will be simple and straightforward.

Karina, thanks for all the suggestions! Given the fact that I'd have to learn a new application, plus working with selections in a graphic might be tricky (it could obscure the text), I think I might go the Excel route instead. I'll take a look at those. Preview is no good - I tried already (no editing or applying higghlight colors to selections.) But that was really enterprising and helpful of you - I 'll take a look at those apps in any case.

Mr. Customer said...

Karina,

For instance, the "Red" path would not be able to cross only R, E, or D.

The "Violet" path would not be able to cross any V, I, O, L, E, or T.

The more squares you can eliminate, the easier it is to see the correct route. Does that make more sense?

berkowit28 said...

Actually, Paintbrush is fantastic - much simpler than doing it in Excel, really easy and fast. easy to undo. Thanks, Karina!

Now we'll see if I can get anywhere...

Eric Karros said...

Welcome to SoSG's Puzzle Thread/Graphics Application Users Forum.

karina said...

I think i might get it, Mr. Customer. Thanks!. Appropriate timing, since it's my lunch break.

Berko, i'm glad it was useful for you :)

Eric, isn't the comments section to post doubts and help each other?

Mr. Customer said...

EK,

"Welcome to SoSG's Puzzle Thread/Graphics Application Users Forum."

Now you know what it's like in my brain, all the time!

Mr. Customer said...

Hint #2 should be arriving around 11a (just sent to EK)

berkowit28 said...

Paintbrush isn't so simple to *erase*, it turns out. You have to keep backing up by undos, losing everything else you've done in between. I'm sticking with it for now, but may end up doing the Excel route after all, since each cell can be altered individually. I'll get there in the end...

BWrightson said...

Answer in! Nice puzzle.

Eric Karros said...

BWrightson is in! Before the 2nd hint was posted, I might add. UBragg, Mr Customer...you guys might have to keep your eye on him...

1. UBragg
2. BWrightson

Mr. Customer said...

BWrightson,


Thanks! Nice work.

Mr. Customer said...

Second hint is up, BTW.

QuadSevens said...

One rule is that paths cannot cross, but can they overlap?

Eric Karros said...

Quad - no

karina said...

So, i suspect not every color is a path...

Keven C said...

Answered?

Mr. Customer said...

Karina,

Every color will have a complete path (except black and white, of course).

Steve Sax said...

Mr Customer, this is a great puzzle by the way. Thanks for the contribution; I imagine it took a lot of time to construct! Well done.

Eric Karros said...

Kev C at number 3!

1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C

karina said...

There's this letter you can't use for paths...

Mr. Customer said...

Sax,

Thanks for the stamp of approval!

Actually, It was probably easier for me to reverse-engineer this puzzle than to solve it from scratch, since I knew where I was trying to go from the start. I just set the paths where I needed them to be and systematically eliminated the alternate routes.

Mr. Customer said...

Karina,

Some of the letters can't belong to any path...

I wonder why? ;)

I've released Hint #3 to EK. Perhaps that will shed some light on the problem.

karina said...

I know why :)

Thing is getting the path correctly. But i was asking about this letter that doesn't belong to any of the colors' names.

Loney Fan said...

answer sent

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

No way I'm getting this one.

fanerman said...

Answer sent! Hopefully I'm right...

Eric Karros said...

LF and fanerman are in:
1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C
4. LF
5. Fanerman

berkowit28 said...

Answer sent in. (Ignore previous emails.) Once I solved the puzzle, it took me a very long time to get the answer to what it spelled out, unfortunately.

berkowit28 said...

I really liked this puzzle, Mr. Customer, once I found a way to do the colors. Excel worked best, well worth the trouble of recreating the puzzle there. It's important to be able to try things out and undo them when they don't work. Excel lets you remove the colors of any parts of the path (via individual cells). It also has a "paint" (paste format) tool that makes things easy. In the freeware app I tried earlier (Paintbrush) you could only undo backwards one step at a time - too complicated.

I think it would be best if puzzles could be solved using tools and free applications available, mind you. But this was a great puzzle - very intricate and logical.

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

Thanks... I think ;)

I did use excel to create it, but I assumed most people would print it out to solve it. I'm glad to see everyone being environmentally sensitive little puzzle solvers and saving the paper.

Eric Karros said...

1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C
4. LF
5. Fanerman
6. Berkowit28

QuadSevens said...

Answer sent in.

BWrightson said...

You can do anything online for free these days. I solved this with layers in Photoshop but there are free image editors online that have layers too - you don't even have to download anything. Like this:

http://www.splashup.com/

berkowit28 said...

I actually much prefer pencil and paper, and usually do the puzzles that way. (That's how I was completely stumped on the puzzle that required you to select it - which some people apparently did in order to copy and paste it - to be able to see hidden flashing letters.)

But for this puzzle, I'd have needed 7 colored pencils. I don't have even 2 colored pencils, unfortunately. Missing tools of the puzzle trade, I guess.

rbnlaw said...

I'm too busy voting for Kemp. Actually, this is a puzzle I get, so I'm trying to solve it in my spare time.

Steve Sax said...

Boy, economic times must be really tough when people can't even afford more than two colored pencils.

berkowit28 said...

Yeah, cash-strapped for pencils.

It's just that I never knew I'd need a bunch of colored pencils for anything, and don't have any. I'm at home today, so it's something of a bother to go downtown and buy some. I was too busy trying to solve the puzzle and complaining. ;-)

drewdez said...

Answer sent. Great puzzle!

Eric Karros said...

quad and drewdez are in:
1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C
4. LF
5. Fanerman
6. Berkowit28
7. Quadsevens
8. Drewdez

Erin said...

I've got four of the seven colors down, and now I'm going crazy. I'll get this if it's the last thing I do.

rbnlaw said...

My daughter gave me the idea of writing the first letter of the color you're tracing in the box so you don't have to keep scrapping the puzzle.

I took her advice when I printed out the second copy.

QuadSevens said...

"quad and drewdez are in:
1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C
4. LF
5. Fanerman
6. Berkowit28
7. Quadsevens
8. Drewdez"

Feels good to see my name in that list again. So much frustration from the last three puzzles finally let out.

Mr. Customer said...

Hint #3: SO
M ELE T T
E RSY O U
N EED A R E
N O TP AR
T OF A N
YCO LO R N
AME

Eric Karros said...

rbnlaw - what's your daughter's screen name? She's getting half of any points you score on this one.

Erin said...

That hint should help, since I'm more than halfway through, but all it does is confuse me more.

Figures, the one time I actually have time to do a puzzle.

Mr. Customer said...

Erin,

Keep working on figuring out the paths. The hint should help once you have everything connected.

rbnlaw said...

EK,
She left for the beach 2 hours ago. She'd laugh if she saw the crumpled copies of the puzzle on the table.

Erin said...

Answer emailed.

berkowit28 said...

Mr. Customer,

Tomorrow, I'd be very interested to know how, when you were constructing the puzzle, you made sure it did not have more than one solution for the paths.

Eric Karros said...

Erin's return to puzzletown is triumphant!

1. UBragg
2. BWrightson
3. Keven C
4. LF
5. Fanerman
6. Berkowit28
7. Quadsevens
8. Drewdez
9. Erin

Wicks said...

I can sort of see what is going on but I must be doing something wrong. I don't see how I can finish without crossing paths. yikes!

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

I alluded to my methodology a bit in my response to Sax above. I'll expound on that a bit on this thread after the deadline expires.

jose said...

I figured out all the paths, but I can't seem to find out who the actual Dodger is.

jose said...

Ok, answer sent, hope it's right.

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

I basically built this puzzle in Excel. I started with a with a layout of the way I wanted the paths to run, but one cell smaller on all four sides. I then took the sentence I wanted to hide and put each successive letter in a location where it couldn't be crossed by adjacent paths, adding black squares as necessary, and shifting each path over to accommodate the displaced square.

Once that was set, I made 8 new worksheets (1 for the solution, 1 for each color). I linked the contents of the cells to the solution sheet, then set autoformating to gray out the appropriate uncrossable letters on each sheet.

I then added a few letters (i.e. YWL under the top yellow square) to get the paths going in the right direction. I extended each path (on the solution worksheet) as far as it was constrained by letters or other paths. I then filled in additional blocking letters until the each line was committed to a single route.

At that point, I probably had about 1/3 of the grid filled. The remaining squares were then filled with "neutral" letters.

I hope that makes sense! I'm probably glossed over something along the way, but that's the gist of it.