How does this mind work here trying to get to the bottom of all of this? How did it form?
At a very young age, I was always interested in computers. Our middle school had a giant sofa sized computer, a PDP-10 mainframe. It was a wonderful escape from endless spelling and match problems (Perhaps that why I cant do either very well) into worlds of imagination and adventure.
In fact, The game that enthralled me was Colossal Cave Adventure (also known as ADVENT, Colossal Cave, or Adventure), the Very first example of what is known as is a text adventure game, developed in 1976-77 by Will Crowther and Don Woods. In the game, the player controls a character through simple text commands to explore a cave rumored to be filled with wealth. Players earn points for acquiring treasure and escaping the cave alive, with only the descriptions of the cave rooms and areas, the objects they contained, your inventory and how you use it in game. The days of HALO 3 of 3d mega graphics are nowhere to be seen here in 1980, no, the graphics are your imagination. Your visual of the “Two Pit Room” would differ from mine, As I see it in my head.
You would be making a hand drawn map, trying all the possible compass direction exits, and the sense of discovery and thrill of the unknown as you push deeper into the cave is palpable. Your shiny Brass Lamp providing light, the treasure you are collecting shining in its glow.
The real skill here is working out the puzzles. Given a room, a situation happening in the room, and various items you encounter and pick up along the way, you would enter commands to try and solve the puzzle and get the treasure or progress further into the game. There is nothing quite like working on a puzzle for hours, giving up in frustration, and quite literally, jumping right up out of bed with an A-HA! Moment – And verifying your theory with success. That’s Logic being worked on there. How do you get light into a room where the only entrance is a thin crack and you cant fit half your inventory (lamp) with you as you enter? How do you get past a bear in a room that guards a treasure? How do you get a giant clam to open it’s mouth and where does the pearl go when you open it as the room is slanted?
As actual personal computers starting becoming available in your very own home, This game spawned an entire Computer Game industry, with dozens of companies doing Text Adventures of all sorts (Mystery, Adventure (Indiana Jones exploration), Sci-Fi and so on. Colossal Cave was the Great Grandfather of The King Of all Adventure Games, ZORK made by INFOCOM which was masterclass storytelling and Puzzle creation. You were by now, literally lost inside of a fantastic book, interacting with its made characters and solving the worlds Many Puzzles. I cant tell you how logic and puzzle solving cemented itself in my brain by doing these.
The beauty of design in world creation, situational setup and resolution was a crystallization of pure magic. No matter how fanciful the setting or the objects, there was a solution, even if you really had to laterally think about the problem while standing on your head for a while.
After awhile it became so sophisticated that there would be extra rooms, objects, people and materials then you would use to solve all the puzzles as it would be in a real world. Being able to sort out what is needed and what is used where is the real skill set.
One of my favorite puzzles is the magic map and the magic pencil with only so many times to use:
…we can reach the map room, where we find a purple scroll, a worn pencil inscribed with runes, and an old parchment map. The ASCII-rendered map appears to match the Translucent Room area we’ve mapped out, but it is inscribed with letters and indicates the presence of a room P that can’t be reached by any existing passage.The other rooms are also lettered, which is probably another clue about how we might use the map.
Hmmm… the pencil is from the Frobozz Magic Pencil Company. Can we use it to amend the map? Yes, but it releases the fabled Unseen Terror! Our score drops to -10, and the game is over with a rank of Menace to Society. So that’s not a good idea. Experimentation reveals that we have enough of the worn pencil left to draw two connections, and erase two connections. So maybe we can rouse the beast and move it out of its lair, without actually releasing it into the world at large. But it doesn’t seem to move unless it thinks it can escape, and we can’t really tell where it is without making some educated guesses. The Terror’s room contains a scroll emanating power, but we can’t allow the Terror to escape. Maybe we need to cut off the main entrance and use the triangle area to avoid it ourselves. ERASE B AND R; CONNECT P TO F — now we can approach the Terror without letting it out of the maze.
Can we get in and out of the maze without releasing the Terror? We are trapped once we are in the creature’s presence, so we need to avoid it completely unless we’re going into the room with the scroll, where we can at least defend ourselves.
So… can we predict the Terror’s movements? Does it make a beeline for the exit? If so, it would probably traverse through P, M, R, and B. We want to go M, then to P, get the scroll, go to F and get the Terror trapped again. Maybe if we start at R and then take the sidestep route through H… no, it’s moving too fast and soon catches up with us. Does it seek us out?
The Invisiclues indicate that it only moves one room per turn, so we have options here. Maybe we can trap it in the F-V-J-K section of the translucent maze by disconnecting M and V. So we’ll try this — connect P to F; wait a turn, then disconnect M and V, then disconnect F and P. Now we can CONNECT M TO P and grab the scroll…
That seemed to work, whew! Confirmation comes a few turns later, when You hear a horrible anguished scream through the walls of the cavern as the Terror realizes that it is trapped and its scroll of power stolen!
I even wrote my own adventures, crudely, on my own Atari 1200Xl computer. I look back on them now, laughingly, but I see the logic skills getting a workout. Every Great Olympic champion started on a high school team somewhere.
My Love of computers grew beyond the logic games and has been my vocation ever since. Some folks are a whiz at plants and some do math or music or mechanics with ease. My forte has always been the cold clear logic of Computers.
I began to think in “If/Then” charts. When presented with most any situation, “I cant print”, that doesn’t tell me much, but lets start to break it down. Is it just you who cant print, or everyone? If its everyone, a whole side of the if\then chart erases itself, because the problem isn’t localized at the persons pc only, the fault lies at the printer end. If it IS only that person, the other side of the If/Then Chart erases itself – you have to work at the persons pc. Is it ALL of your files that cant print? or have you only tried one file over and over? Try to print an e-mail. That works? well, what kind of file is it? A PowerPoint file? try another PowerPoint file. That works? see the logic in whittling it down – its not the printer, its not the pc communicating to the printer, its not all printing, its this very specific file. and if its a network file, and no one else can print JUST that file, we have the actual cause of the problem.
That’s how logic works.
You can apply that to most every problem to find exactly where the issue is. The more you use this technique, the better your logic sharpens.
The fantastic Sherlock Holmes was a further teacher of logic and problem solving. He taught me to observe all the little details of life – the signs and results others don’t notice. That’s how he can tell if someone has quit smoking, that he has an injury in a certain area, that he is a widow and that he has a dog, etc. The Maxim I live by, is:
“You SEE Watson, But you DO NOT OBSERVE. That is the distinction”.
My brain is hard wired to constantly observe subconsciously. If I am watching a standard police procedural, and it starts with 2 guys, pals at work, coming out of an elevator to walk across and get in a car, they will be chatting about random throw away lines, dating someone in the Office, and laughing while they walk towards the car. The one guy will get ahead of the other, its clear they carpool now, and say “Here, you drive, My carpel tunnel is killing me today” and toss the other the keys with his RIGHT HAND. The other guy says “Sure” and catches the keys with his LEFT HAND. There is no spot lite on this, its all fast and very general everyday looking, but my mind saw 3 things, who is left handed, who is right handed, and that one has a wrist issue. All of that will be established here and come into play later. Sure enough,. the killer is LEFT HANDED and the detective says “we have to see who is left handed”. Well, I already know.
Lateral Thinking puzzles challenge you to solve problems in creative ways with your mind. You may need to think about it from a different angle then you normally would or look for what you are not being told to solve it.
“There is a small town in the midwest with exactly 2 barbershops, one on each side of town. The barbershop on the west side of town is pristine. Its floors are spotless, the windows are always perfectly clear, and the air always smells fresh. The barber has a friendly smile, shined shoes, a well-groomed head of hair, and a fancy shirt. The barbershop on the east side of town is a mess. Its floors and windows are dirty, and the air smells of garbage. The barber always has a grimace on his face. His skin is oily, his hair is short and ragged, and he has food on his clothes all the time.
A man traveling through the town realizes he needs a haircut. Knowing the stories of the two barbers, the man decides to go to the dirty barbershop on the east side of town. Why does he do this?”
What is the solution?
I have used lateral thinking, logic, deductive method, and observational skills all my life and it doesn’t shut off or shut down. My brain thinks in problem solving, Scientific procedure and I excel in puzzle solving.
The CRITICAL REVIEW of entertainment came next. You can thank my Brother for that part of the brain being switched on.