Omnified G

The name Edward Martin is hardly a household one. At the pinnacle of his career — at least, the part of his career relevant to this story — he competed in his hobby’s World Championships three times. In 2005, he finished 24th, a result he’d never match. At the next event two years later, he finished 54th, and then, after failing or declining to compete in 2009, returned to finish 51st in 2011. And the best part? He got to keep his clothes on the entire time — although that, for a moment, may have been in question.

That’s the life of a world-class Scrabble player.

Scrabble — yes, the board game, to be clear here — was created in 1938 by a guy named Alfred Butts. Butts’ game quickly developed into being a local favorite, and by the early 1950s a major game manufacturer discovered it. Shortly thereafter, Scrabble spread throughout the country and, ultimately, the world. In 1991, Mattel, the game’s manufacturer at the time (it is now manufacturer by Hasbro in the U.S. and Canada and Mattel everywhere else) hosted the inaugural World Scrabble Championship in London. Four dozen players from around the world competed for $19,000 in prize money, with the eventual champion taking $10,000. (The runner up that year, as Wikipedia notes, tried to play the non-word “SMAIL” when he could have played the actual-word “CLAIMS,” which likely cost him the title.)

Despite the relatively small prize pool, interest in the World Scrabble Championship has increased over the years, and in 2011, the aforementioned Edward Martin was one of 106 people in Warsaw, each after a $20,000 first prize. A man named Nigel Richards won his second world title that year (he also won in 2007 and would take the 2013 crown, too), playing the word “OMNIFIED” for the win in the finals, but Martin was unfortunately the lead story. Slate explains:

In Round 7 of the 34-game event, Edward Martin, an IT consultant from London, was playing Chollapat Itthi-Aree, a math instructor from Bangkok. Near the end of the game, Martin realized a tile was missing; instead of two tiles in the bag there was only one. How did he know this? Competitive Scrabble players “track” the 98 letters and two blanks as they are played. That way, when the bag is empty, each player will, if he has tracked correctly, know what tiles his opponent holds. This is when Scrabble turns from a game of imperfect information into one of perfect information; a player can map out the endgame with full knowledge of his opponent’s possible gambits.

The director had Martin and Chollapat search for the tile—in the bag, under the board, on the floor, on their chairs—but they turned up nothing. The director then ruled that, since the players thought the game had begun with a full allotment of tiles, the missing letter—a G—should be procured from another set and placed in the bag. Chollapat was entitled to the final two letters. Since Martin had determined how the game would likely play out, it was clear the addition of the G would change the outcome from a three-point win for Chollapat to a one-point win for Martin. (The G is worth two points.)

For Chollapat, this was unacceptable. Cheating in major competitions isn’t unheard of, and Scrabble is no exception; in 2012, for example, a competitor was disqualified from the U.S. national championships for intentionally dropping the two blank tiles on the floor, concealing them for later use. And that’s where Chollapat’s mind went. He assumed that Martin had cheated. According to a few reports (although Slate claims this a lie by Mattel, in hopes of getting a little PR for the event), Chollapat requested that Martin be strip-searched, in hopes of finding the elusive G.

Whether the claims are true, the result was the same — no one made Martin doff his outfit. The G was never located, Martin wasn’t disqualified, and neither Martin nor Chollapat finished in the money. And even if Chollapat had defeated Martin, he’d not have been the champion — he would have finished with 17 wins and 17 losses, and probably in 52nd place.

– Dan Lewis

Software Options: Customization


When investigating different software possibilities, companies will discover that less configurable packages have features that address many project goals but do not completely answer all of their challenges. CRM software, for example, often advertises “custom fields” allowing users to track data beyond its out-of-the-box limitations. Features of O-O-T-B (out-of-the-box) are usually of limited scope, offer a limited number of fields, place restrictions on the type of available fields or their placement, and have constraints on how the fields relate to each other, and whether or not the field data can be accessed when generating reports.

The advantage of more configurable software is that it allows the product to more easily adapt to project requirements. For users and administrators, highly configurable software provides more opportunities to customize the way data is stored, displayed, imported, and exported. Customization can also allow users to more easily generate visual reports, instead of lists of numbers justified to the left margin. For development, configurable software provides comprehensive access to controlling stored data using custom code, as well as (ideally) a strong, logical, and consistent framework that can be easily adopted by other developers.

This way of consolidating configurability and technology can help ensure that the software or service will meet your exact specifications, as well as a smoother adoption process.

Wherever possible, work with the KCSI project team to meet your project goals without additional customization, using standard tools provided by the system or service, and build your own custom solution. While this advice may cause you to go back to the drawing board a few times, KCSI will guarantee that the final outcome of your project will be stronger and significantly easier to support in the future.

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At the Expense of Accountants

kcsi_nothingyetThe host of the show in the stadium said, “We are all here today to prove to the world that Accountants are brilliant people. Can I have a volunteer?” One Accountant stepped up. The host said to him, “What is 15 plus 15?” After 15 or 20 seconds he said “Eighteen.”

80,000 Accountants started cheering “Give him another chance, give him another chance.” The host said “Well, since we’ve gone to the trouble of getting 80,000 of you here and the world-wide press, I guess we can give him another chance.”

The host says “What is 5 plus 5?” After nearly 30 seconds he eventually said “Ninety?” The host sighed. Everyone was crestfallen and the Accountants started yelling “Give him another chance, give him another chance.”

The host, unsure whether or not he was doing more harm than good eventually said, “Ok! One more chance. What is 2 plus 2?” The accountant closed his eyes and after a whole minute eventually said “Four.”

Around the stadium 80,000 accountants started yelling “Give him another chance, give him another chance!”


Two accountants are working in a bank when armed robbers burst in. While several of the robbers take the money from the tellers, others line up the customers and accountants against a wall, then proceed to take their wallets, watches, and so on. While this is going on the first accountant jams something into the second accountant’s hand.

Without looking down, the second accountant whispers, “What is this?”

The first accountant replies, “It’s that fifty dollars I owe you.”


A patient was at her doctor’s office after undergoing a complete physical exam.

The doctor said, “I have some very grave news for you. You only have six months to live.”

The patient asked, “Oh doctor, what should I do?”

The doctor replied, “Marry an accountant.”

“Will that make me live longer?” asked the patient.

“No,” said the doctor, “but it will make it seem longer.”


There once was a business owner who was interviewing people for a division manager position. He decided to select the individual that could answer the question “How much is 2+2?”

The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, and finally announced, “It lies between 3.98 and 4.02”.

The mathematician said, “In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with a short proof.”

The physicist declared, “It’s in the magnitude of 1×101.”

The logician paused for a long while and then said, “This problem is solvable.”

The social worker said, “I don’t know the answer, but I am glad that we discussed this important question.”

The attorney stated, “In the case of Svenson vs. the State, 2 + 2 was declared to be 4.”

The trader asked, “Are you buying or selling?”

The accountant looked at the business owner, then got out of his chair, went to see if anyone was listening at the door and pulled the drapes. Then he returned to the business owner, leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, “What would you like it to be?”

More Tech Facts


Digital Equipment Corporation was founded by Ken Olsen in 1957.

Gay Lussac and Thenard extracted impure amorphous silicon in 1811.

George Boole published his Mathematical Analysis of Logic, inventing Boolean algebra in 1854. This became the basis for computer design.

In 1801, Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents a machine to automatically control the patterns in fabrics using punch cards. They were called Jacquard Looms.

In 1890, Herman Hollerith constructs a punch-card tabulating machine for use in the US Census.

In 1973, PROLOG was developed by Alain Comerauer.

In 1989, Microsoft’s sales reached $1 billion, the first year to do so.

John Backus of IBM created FORTRAN in 1954.

Radio Shack introduced, in 1971, the first computer with a keyboard and CRT display.

Software Application giants Aldus and Adobe, merged in 1994.

The CompuServe online service was launched in 1979.

The QWERTY keyboard was actually designed with the intention of slowing down typists.

Wit and Wisdom

simms_wisdom“A man who cannot mind his own business is not fit to be trusted with the king’s.” – J.F. Saville

Some years ago, the Hotel Ambassador played host to the first International Crossword Puzzle Tournament. This was a purely spontaneous affair and the fact that the entire executive board of Simon and Schuster and the publishers of Webster’s Dictionary happened to be buzzing around was purely coincidental. The winnah and undisputed champeen turned out to be a legal gentleman named William Stern, who was not quite prepared for the prize that rewarded his great effort. It was one of those walloping big dictionaries that should come equipped with their own electric hoisting machines. The chairman managed to deposit it in Mr. Stem’s outstretched hands. Mr. Stem thereupon fell flat on his face, closely followed by the chairman. The defeated contestants cheered mightily.

“There are in business three things necessary: knowledge, temper and time.” – Owen Feltham

There are a host of stories based on the penny-pinching habits of John D. Rockefeller. He got used to the sensation of signing away millions, but actual cash out of his pocket was something else again. His famous ten-cent tips were cause for hilarity the country over.
His clothes concerned him little, if at all. One suit had a big patch on the coat, and a bright shine on the pants.
”What’s wrong with this suit?” he asked crankily when a friend urged him to discard it. “Everything,” said the friend. “Your father would be ashamed of you. You know how neatly he used to dress.”
“But,” protested Rockefeller triumphantly, “I’m wearing a suit of my father’s right now.”
Mr. Rockefeller spent his last winters in Florida. Down there they tell a story that one day he went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled.
“How much?” he asked in advance.
“Three dollars,” said the dentist, who didn’t even know who his client was.
“Hmph! Three dollars to pull a tooth!” grumbled John D. “Here’s a dollar. Loosen it a little bit!”

A distinguished scientist, says Louis Sobol, who probably saw him, was observing the heavens through the huge telescope at the Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Suddenly he announced, “It’s going to rain.”
“What makes you think so?” asked his guide.
“Because,” said the astronomer, still peering through the telescope, “my corns hurt.”

SIMMS Replenishment Module

For success, meeting the demands that your clients make is of utmost importance. Excessive stock leads to a lower profit margin, increased storage costs, and aging of goods on your own shelves. But when a client cannot get items in time you lose both the client and the sale.

The Replenishment Module allows the user to manage demand/backordered quantities on sales orders and even kit demand. Once a sales order has been generated creating demand or a kit has been added to the kit build queue, the items are then
listed in the Replenishment Module.

The Replenishment Module allows the user to create batch purchase orders based on stock reorder values and customers demand quantities on transactions.

As an enhancement of the Backorder Manager, users can view and act on their most pressing order needs quickly and easily.

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Thoughts and Theories

RandomThoughtsIt doesn’t matter how acquainted you are with a particular brand of computer. When you need to borrow someone else’s, it feels like you’re using their toothbrush. —Kevin Kelly

Cecil B. DeMille was once asked why he made so many Biblical motion pictures. He answered, “Why let two thousand years of publicity go to waste?”

Three IBM staffers were on a long car trip when they got a flat tire. After they stopped and studied the situation, the sales rep said, “That does it. We need a new car.”
The service rep said, “Wait! Let’s switch some parts around until it works again.”
The software rep said, “No. Just turn the car on and off to see if that fixes the problem.”

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand. —Archibald Putt, 1981

To the Editor:
I’m writing this letter,
Quite frankly, to say
I abhorred the column
You wrote yesterday!
It was weak and insipid
And words synonymous—
In short, it lacked courage!

Yours truly,

Supply Chain Building Blocks


The application selection and development is a key step in the IT supply chain. Because IT applications can be integrated, layered, distributed, modularized, and customized in many ways, it is appropriate to first look at the basic building blocks of an application. From the perspective of a value capture in the business use and operations stages these blocks are master data, transactions, procedures or methods, messages, and processes:

– Master data in IT applications defines the different entities involved in the business. Customers, products, suppliers, employees, warehouses, order types and terms of payment are all described using master data. The purpose of master data is to effectively organize information that is needed often (e.g., the delivery addresses of customers, and occasional changes to those addresses).


– A transaction is an action that produces a result. For example, order entry is the transaction that produces an order, and a query is a transaction to produce a report.

– Procedures or methods are used in transactions to get the desired result. For example, pricing is the method used to make sure that the customer order has the right price.

– Messages are a practical way to link transactions. For example, an order message can be used to link the purchase transaction of your customer with your order entry transaction.

– Processes, or work flows, in IT applications link all the transactions needed to produce a business result.

To get the right product to the right customer, an application may have an order-to-delivery process linking order entry, shipping, and invoicing. Technology providers often talk in terms of modules and functionality, but it is more practical to think of a module as an application that performs a set of processes and transactions. Because the trend is toward more open solutions, it is important to avoid confusing individual IT applications with the business solution.

– William J. Hoover, Jr.

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Tech Facts

simms_wisdomIn 1843, mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, published the first computer programs.

In 1964, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz developed the BASIC programming language at Dartmouth College.

In 1964, the American Standards Association adopted ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) as a standard code for data transfer.

In 1972, Bob Metcalfe created Ethernet, a trademark of the Xerox Company.

In December, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart, of the Stanford Research Institute, demonstrated his system of keyboard, mouse and windows at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

Konrad Zuse, a construction engineer at the Henschel Aircraft Company in Berlin, developed the world’s first programmable computer in 1941.

Radio Shack introduced, in 1971, the first computer with a keyboard and CRT display.

The first business application to go live on a stored-program computer was in November 1951 when the J Lyons company began weekly operation of a bakery valuations job.

The first mechanical calculator capable of multiplication was invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who also co-invented the calculus, in 1673.

The first transistorized computer was completed, the TX-O, at MIT in early 1956.

The Z1, a pre-war electro mechanical binary computer designed by German inventor Konrad Zuse, and its blue prints, were destroyed without trace by wartime bombing during WW II.

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