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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "in favour of lashing together something that just about works after a few user complaints and iteration"

    Well that rules me out then

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Me too. But then the whole competition thing is very hierarchical and I don't need to prove myself.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Yeah, stop oppressing us with your heteromediocrity!

  2. James Howat

    Any command-line language?

    Sounds good - but the competition rules say:


    Your entry may be submitted in any of the following languages:

    Java, VB, Swift, C'Dent, Node, PHP, Python

    Entries must be submitted only in one of the languages specified.


    Have I missed something?

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Any command-line language?

      Poop. My particular poison is perl so I'll pass. Particularly as I'd produce a pipeline of programs particular to the part of the problem they'd be perfect at.

      1. Steve Aubrey

        Re: Any command-line language?


        Paah. Poppycock, probably.

      2. MrDamage

        Re: Any command-line language?

        @Daggerchild: Send it in anyway. Just put your name down as Steven Bradbury and hope history repeats itself.

  3. MacroRodent Silver badge

    One-file rule

    The rules say each program must be submitted as a single zipped text file. This is a bit unnatural for Java, which requires a 1-1 relationship between public classes and source files, although probably feasible in this case. The problem does not appear to require a complex program. Just use a single public class.

    1. Skoorb

      Re: One-file rule

      A .jar file is a .zip file with a different extention.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

        Re: One-file rule

        not a text file though.

        1. Daggerchild Silver badge

          Re: One-file rule

          My particular favourite for object submission to forums is tar.gz.uu. Winzip actually understands them if you paste the below into a text file, rename it as such, and double click on it. Who needs dropbox?

          BEGIN 644 foo.tar.gz



          Now you can have a new way of socially engineering people to give themselves viruses.

  4. Chris Long


    This does seem to be a rather poorly-specified compo, ironically enough. What are the judging criteria? The Reg article suggests correct entries will be judged on code quality more than performance, but the compo rules don't say anything one way or the other. It's not at all obvious that a high-quality Java solution can or should be contained in a single source file, but that's what the rules require. There's no indication of typical input data volume, which is necessary in balancing performance against code clarity and simplicity.

    How strange.

    1. Ottman001

      Re: Shambles

      Maybe it's a test to see if the entrant actually read the whole specification before choosing a development environment. A good programmer will choose the best tool for the job. In this case, it's probably not Java.

  5. Skoorb

    Mobile App

    Why not say that the winner gets a contract to rewrite El Reg's Android app? The current one is particulaly crap, and I'm sure that a great many of your readers have the ability to make a better job of it, and for a decent price to boot.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it any wonder IBM are going extinct if this is their math ability?

    "For example, a 100m time of 10.2 seconds would be calculated as 25.4347 x (18-10.2)1.81, which works out to 1047.412736, "

    Except that 25.4747*(18-10.2)*1.81 = 359.0870946...

    So, what mathematical operation does "(18-10.2)1.81" represent if not multiplication?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it any wonder IBM are going extinct if this is their math ability?

      Should be:

      25.4347 * (18-10.2)<sup>1.81</sup>...

      Totally obvious from the description. NOT!

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Is it any wonder IBM are going extinct if this is their math ability?

      I suspect it should be exponentiation: 25.4747*pow((18-10.2),1.81) gives ~1049.

      Incidentally, what calculator are you using? I copy and pasted 25.4747*(18-10.2)*1.81 into a console and got 359.6518146 (At any rate, it should be an exact result with no more than 7 decimals since it's multiplication of rationals.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it any wonder IBM are going extinct if this is their math ability?

        Typo: The value should be 25.4347 (which is what I used in the calculation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it any wonder IBM are going extinct if this is their math ability?

        7 decimals? Are you timing the race to the nearest 10 microseconds?

        A time of 10.2 looks to be 3 significant digits to me. If it was more accurate then either the accuracy should be stated or the time written as 10.20.

        Applying a little common sense, most sporting events are timed to the 100th of a second, maybe to the millisecond at top events. So for an event when the time is going to be under 18 seconds 4 digits would seem to be the most precision you could realistically claim, 5 at a stretch.

  7. Woza

    This gaming rig

    Is it pre-installed with Windows 10?

  8. StaudN

    No C, C++, C# option?? That's not much of a comp.

    1. stephanh

      And how did the misguided hobby project "C'Dent" make it to the list?

      1. StaudN

        Indeed - like this if you've never heard of C'Dent before now and had to Google it like me

  9. BrowserUk

    Even the sample data is wrong.

    According to the earlier rules:

    Bush 400 43.2

    should be:

    Bush 400m 43.2

    1. adnim

      Is it safe to presume

      1) Decathlon.dat will be in the working directory of the code.

      2) error checking for the existence of the dat fail sorry file will not be required. As it will be there in the right place, guaranteed. And the entrant will not be penalised for such lax coding practice as NOT checking a files existence and the ability to read it before parsing it.

      3) error checking for typos in the .dat file will not be required. As BrowserUk pointed out, the format of the dat file does not match the specification.

      Coding for perfect input data is easy. Handling every possible error scenario might take a few more lines of code....

  10. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Clarification: file format?

    The rules ask for the source as a zipped text file, but there are two common text file representations: CRLF terminated lines, like on Windows, and LF terminated lines, like on Linux and other Unix-style systems (I am not sure if any Macs still use CR-terminated lines, I believe the older ones did). Can the judges handle all of these, or must the entry be normalized to one specific format?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Such a test of programming skill.

    30 whole lines of Perl. (Shame I can't enter it!)

    1. Tony Haines

      I assume the reason they don't allow Perl is it makes it too easy.

      Why don't you try befunge?

    2. adnim


      45 lines of php, probably less for a skilled php coder.

      No error checking other than the working directory can be written to.

      No checking that the data file does not contain anything nasty and presuming it is formatted as per the specification.

      That was fun, doing things with PHP I don't normally do.

    3. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Did the rules actually forbid you using the allowed languages to exec perl?

    4. StaudN
      Thumb Down

      Yeah, number of lines of code is such a good metric.... I'll give it to you in one line... would that be helpful? Unlikely.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time limit

    "The time limit for any submitted program to run to completion on the judges' computer is 60 seconds."

    And the judges computer shall be a Pentium (with the floating point divide bug) running windows ME and performing a full virus scan and HDD defrag in the background.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Time limit

      While upgrading to Win10

  13. Woza

    Well, it's true to life

    Their example inputs do not match their written specifications...

  14. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Am I missing something?

    Isn't this just a database projection?

  15. HieronymusBloggs


    “The competition is designed to encourage efficient software development"

    "You can use Java, VB, Swift, C'Dent, Node, PHP or Python."

    C/C++ too efficient for you?

  16. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    Not a competion to to get a machine to move in 5 axis for tracing a 3d cutter path

    Guess I'm out

  17. -zardoz-
    Paris Hilton

    Not really the toughest challenge, is it?

    Anyone with half an ounce of sense would recommend either a database solution, or even a simple command line script; the Unix utilities to do this simple kind of data manipulation have been around for longer than half those languages were even an idea.

    Looks like more of an undergraduate assignment for the week than a challenge for professionals - perhaps this is a reflection of the malaise affecting IBM these days?

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Not really the toughest challenge, is it?

      I once saw someone asked to spec a web quiz that gave a result page after a number of multiple choice questions. The schema of the required database was discussed.

      At which point they were stopped because you could do the whole thing in flat HTML, just by using a page for each possible combination. To just reach for the big shinies is a trained reflex these days.

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