Sudoku has a mathematical solution

When I first discovered Sudoku puzzles I looked at the boxes and the numbers and said “well, this MUST have a mathematical solution.” I mean, come on, it’s 9 rows, 9 boxes, 9 sets, each with a solution set of numbers 1-9. It seemed perfectly ordered to me and seemed like a mathematical solution was obvious.

So, I started doing some research and it turns out that all the brilliant-est math minds steadfastly held that there was NO mathematical solution for Sudoku. Until today.

I’m not going to pretend that I understand the math in the actual paper but I do understand this:

What Crook has done … is more or less systematized what the average mind does and made it into some sort of computer algorithm – which is a step-by-step procedure.

This means that you can now solve Sudoku puzzles using a computer program. I’ve always maintained that we just need more programs that help us solve all of life’s puzzles.



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Some updates to the TeamSpot installation

I have made some changes to the signage and equipment in the TeamSpot area in order to help answer some questions that students have raised about this service.

Can I play a DVD?

Yes, simply check out a pair of headphones (or the multi-line headphone jack and several sets of headphones for groups) and the keyboard and mouse from circulation, pop in your DVD, and enjoy.

Why is there no keyboard and mouse?

You shouldn’t need a keyboard or mouse to control the server because once you download, install and start the client on your laptop, you can use your laptop to control the server (see the instructions in the TeamSpot booklet). That said, the library recognizes that there may be times that students, staff, and faculty might want to use the station in a more “traditional” manner and a keyboard and mouse are available at the circulation desk for you to check out. Just plug them into the USB port and you’re on your way.

Who should I contact if I have a problem, complain, or need a training session?

Please contact me, Tim Bostelle, by phone (253.692.4650) or email ( for any questions regarding this equipment.

I have also updated the remote desktop configuration which means that I can manage this computer from home if there’s a problem, put a sign on the “reboot” button and encourage users to reboot the system if there are problems and am forwarding my work phone to my cell phone.

Hopefully that should catch all the problems as they fall through.  If not, let me know.

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First Tweet

I have added a twitter account for UWT LIT.

Follow me here

…if you’re into that sort of thing.

This isn’t my first foray into Twitter, I also have an account for my Arsenal blog and one private twitter. Though no one is following me on any of them!

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A Sweet Goodbye

We had a potluck today to say farewell to a great cow orker, a great personality and all around smart chick; Ahlana.  Her last request was that I post the recipe for my Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato dish. Who am I to deny a tech her last wish?

I created this dish when I was a vegan and had a chance to sample a similar dish during a vegan lunch buffet at a Persian vegan restaurant called Flowers in Seattle. It’s not the same as their dish, but it’s as close as I could get it.

This recipe exemplifies, as with all the dishes in their buffet, everything I love about cooking — it is simple yet full of flavor.

Basically, this recipe is two ingredients: roasted veggies and tahini sauce. The secret is in the balance of soft sweet potato, crispy and earthy cauliflower, and tangy tahini. In a pinch I will substitute Amy’s Goddess dressing for the tahini sauce, because it’s vegan, and less mess.

Enough intro…


  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1-2 red garnet sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 c. sesame butter
  • 1/2 c. water
  • juice from 1/2 a large lemon (at least 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • cilantro
  • flat leaf parsley

Oven 500F

Break the cauliflower into different sized florets and set in a bowl. Slice the potatoes into 1/4″ bias cut pieces and set in the same bowl. Add enough Olive oil to just coat the veggies and mix together. Add some salt and pepper and mix more.

Dump onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes or so, checking to make sure you’re getting nice color on the veggies. Turn and roast some more, until the cauliflower is nicely browned but still crispy.

While you’re roasting the veg, assemble the tahini. Seriously, this couldn’t be easier: mix the sesame butter and water with the clove of garlic. I blend with a hand mixer to really get the garlic all chopped up. Now add the lemon juice. I always reserve some lemon juice for the end so that I can adjust the flavor. Add salt and pepper, taste. Add more lemon, taste. Too much lemon? If that happens a little bit of sugar (just like a 1/4 teaspoon) will balance it right back out. Now add some cilantro (optional, not everyone likes cilantro) and flat leaf parsley and blitz up to desired consistency. Set aside.

Pull the veggies out of the oven, let them cool, and pour the sauce on top. Serve chilled or at room temp.

Remember, it’s just roasted veggies and tahini, what could go wrong?

Anyway, thanks to you Ahlana for all you did, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we enjoyed having you at work.

Good luck!

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Printing Stats

So, we got the printing statistics from the Pharos people up in Seattle and several things stood out.

  1. Number of jobs: the UWT Library made 65,863 imprints last quarter.
  2. Percentage of jobs: the UWT Library handled 81% of the total print jobs on campus (the library printed 65,863 and all of the computer labs printed 14,999)
  3. Compared to other units: the UWT Library printed 1101 more jobs than the Bothell Library
  4. UWT Library ranked 5th: only OUGL (nearly 10x the number of jobs), Suzzallo Allen, the Law Library, and Foster Business Library beat the UWT Library for number of prints
  5. Color printing: there were only 267 total color prints last quarter
  6. Total money recovered: about $7900 for the whole quarter.

Interesting stuff, and more evidence that the UWT Library is the most popular computing spot on campus.


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Teamspot demos

Here in a few minutes we’re going to host the last of our open house demos of the TeamSpot collaborative software. As you may recall this software was part of the Founder’s Endowment Grant that is loving refered to as the “Learning Cave:” basically, the University gave us a bunch of money toput in some cool new collaborative software, flexible seating so that students could make the space suit the size of their group, comfortable chairs, and other amenities that transform a stodgy old collection space to a vibrant new group study space.

So far we’ve had a pretty fair number of students come in and get the demo, but I know there are a lot more out there who need to be reached. To that end I have put aside time, specifically for student groups, to make appointments with me so that I can give them an introduction to the software.

From now until February 19th, simply email me (tbostell at u dot washington dot edu) or call me (253 692 4650) at least a day or two in advance and pick one of the two times I’ve set aside (9-10am or 4-5pm) and I will meet your group and give a live demo. It’s about a 15-20 minute presentation and we do a hands-on demonstration and we can do it with your laptops or the library’s laptops — your choice.

Also, if you’re a faculty or staff person and you know of some students who need to work on projects like this, please feel free to contact me: I’ll come to your classroom, send an email, talk on the phone, whatever it takes to get your class up to speed.

Right, that’s it, gotta teach another class.  See you in the collaboration studio!

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Where are the floods?

I came across this interactive map of the flooding we are getting around here. Looks like it was put together by some folks at the Pierce County web site so, that’s as far as I can go vouching for the accuracy of the detail. There some good detail like flow rates and where the rivers are actually breaking onto the roads, plus alink to a more detailed report on each flood zone. Check it out.

I’ve decided to use this as a single place to put some alerts and information for people regarding the floods. As I come across the info, I will paste links and synopsis in this post so feel free to check back from time to time.

Most of the information I’m getting is from the News Tribune RSS feed, via my Google reader so if you know how to subscribe to an RSS feed you can bypass me altogether. I wouldn’t mind at all.

Anyway, here’s the latest resources and information I have.

1/8/09 3:30pm

Trains running all over Western Washington are being suspended left and right. If you need to get somewhere by train, I recommend calling Amtrak to make sure your train is running.

Also, it turns out there are problems with Sound Transit going various places and they too are posting the latest information on their web site ( So, go there and check that out if you need public transit.

Pierce Transit is having some problems with their Orting service and NE Tacoma service, check their web site for the latest information as well.

Finally, I want to mention that the Red Cross is opening several emergency shelters throughout the area and you may want to jot down the location of the nearest one to you just in case the worst happened.

I’ll update this if there is more information forthcoming.

Stay safe!

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Fall Quarter 2008 Computer Use Stats

Similarly to the web stats, this is our first full quarter of gathering computer use stats so we don’t have any reliable data from previous quarters to compare nor can we “impress” people with bogus percentage increases in traffic.

What I can do, however, is show in pretty fine detail which systems are popular, what the average usage is, total number of computing hours per day, total number of logons , and average length of stay. As we track this data over the quarter we should be able to do things like make STF requests based on student usage patterns.

One more thing, these numbers cover only the period of September 24th to December 12 (inclusive), which was a total of 77 days that the library was open and a total of 880 hours that the library was operational.

The Broad Numbers

  • There were a total of 15,447 logons
  • Since we were open for 880 hours that means there were 17.5 logons per hour
  • Library Information Technology supported 638,042 minutes or 10,634 hours of computing
  • The average user stayed for 41 minutes per logon
  • Given how long they stayed, and the sheer number of logons, those numbers mean that there were 138 hours of library computing per day

Popular/Unpopular Computers

The most popular set of computers, by a huge margin, are the 7 computers that library staff call the “public” computers. These computers used to be open computers (no logon) and anyone (public, student, etc) could walk up and use the computer for as long as they wanted. During the summer we converted all of them to logon computers and changed the rules so that the public only has access to 3 computers and must ask library staff for a username and password to logon.

Those 7 computers had a total of 4,241 logons, which lasted an average of 26 minutes for a total of 1,862 hours of computer usage. This usage represents 27% of the total library logons but only 18% of the total hours. All of which is consistent with the primary purpose of those computers; provide a quick access point for stundets who need to print a paper, chek their Blackboard, print some ERES, check their email, etc.

The least popular computers in the library were the two microfilm scanners. Those computers received just 35 total logons all quarter for a total usage of 15 hours. In fact, looking at the individual users it looks more like people were using them to check their email or other quick tasks rather than to scan microfilm (a time consuming task) — there were only 8 users who used those computers for more than 30 minutes at a time.

The most popular classroom computers remain the main lab on the first floor, receiving 963 logons and an average use of 54 minutes per logon.

The least popular classroom computer is surprisingly the second presentation room upstairs in lib239, there were only 92 logons in that room all quarter.


The total number of logons and the number of computing hours per day was a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t fully aware of all the hours of computer work the library patrons were doing. Similarly, I knew that lunch time was a busy time of the day for the “patron” or quick use computers but I never knew how many logons those systems supported per day.

On the other end of the spectrum I’m very disappointed with the usage of the upstairs classroom. I have to think that the furniture layout and lack of comfortable, flexible seating played a part in that. To that end I have moved some wheeled chairs up to that area provide students with more comfort and flexibility. We’ll see if that and some better marketing can increase the use of that space.

Finally, I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised by the low usage numbers for the microfilm computers — anecdotal evidence suggested that they weren’t being used much — but 15 total hours of usage in a quarter is a bit of a shock. This area is being tracked by Circulation, Reference, and LIT as space that may need to be reclaimed by the library for other uses.

As usual, please feel free to PM me if you have questions, or heck, you could post them here… it’s a blog after all.

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Fall Quarter 2008 Web Stats

If you remember, back in May I installed the Google Analytic script on all the UW Tacoma Library web pages. Since we adopted the tracking software mid-quarter, in the last quarter of the year we’ll never have a real good baseline to compare last year’s starts to this year’s. Further, since our first full quarter is a summer quarter and those quarters are nothing like the rest of the year I can’t use that as a comparison until next summer.  So, I just left out any comparisons… at least until next year.

Here are the numbers:

  • Total visits: 68,808
    • 44,611 returning visitors
    • 24,197 new visitors
  • They are in the HOUSE! 41,692 people visited the library web site from within the subnet.
  • Best Day: October 12th — 3,783
  • Most hits from out of state: California (540)
  • Most hits/population from out of state: Oregon (100)

That’s a snapshot of the traffic during Fall quarter. If you’d like to see the detailed reports I have the PDF’s and would be more than happy to share them.

Look for in-house computer use stats tomorrow!

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The Big Picture goes Small puts out an article twice a week that they call “The Big Picture. As a photographer I love this article, their pictures never cease to amaze me and make me want to push the boundaries of what I do. As a geek, the articles are often about something scientific and nerdy and again, they make me look on in awe at the world.

Today’s installment manages to do both: today, The Big Picture goes small. From a nanotube Obama to the landscape of a mosquito’s antennae, today’s article is something spectacular to behold.

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