Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Career options

I was up late last night and felt for sure I'd stumbled on my new career - doing late night quiz shows for money. It seems easy enough - ring a number - pay 55 cents per call (more from mobiles) - whether you get through or not - and get randomly selected by the computer for the chance of winning money. For answering the cross-word last night, I could have won $50 instantly (for a short period), or $1,000 or $3,000 plus a bonus $10,000 if I got through, answered the puzzle correctly, and then was able to correctly identify the 3-digit code to open the vault - and then ... I can't remember what the next thing was ... by that stage it was all getting a bit hard. Even the puzzle, which could have seemed easy enough but which was harder than it looked - even though "you don't have to be Einstein to work it out" and "it's an English word" and "it's in the Macquarie dictionary" but it had to be the one word they had selected before the program (hmmm - and how do we know they don't change it to another word when someone gives the correct response?). Well, let me tell you, it could have been any number of words. I worked out (thanks to my Aard crossword/anagram program on Palm) that the first letter was either g i j or l (as in *amb); the second a e i o or u (d*b), the third c d e h l m o p r t w (*ater) and the fourth a e l n r s (be*t). So I sat there for a moment (or more - it was pretty late by that stage) wondering how many possible combinations there were for this "simple, four-letter word" and whether it would be worthwhile to try ($3,000 to gain, by "x" 55c calls). Then I thought about whether it would be possible to write a short story using only words made from those letter configurations - because it seemed like that would totally be possible - and then my brain started hurting and I went to bed - despite the female co-hosts enticing me to "make that call" because it was just "one word" and there could be "only one winner". But I can't help wondering how many combinations there actually are or whether there's a computer program or site on the web that could provide the answer ... and, if not, whether it's worth learning to program so I could sell it to other people who sit up late at night and ...

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