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on using a solver for the timed puzzles
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Posted on: Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:45 pm

Posts: 2881
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 11:58 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
paulv66 wrote:
I notice that the number of people submitting timed puzzles of all sizes yesterday was significantly down on the usual numbers. Is this an indication that the problem is a bit more widespread than might be inferred from Patrick's post?

No, just the two so far.

Posted on: Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:52 pm

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 9:43 am
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
pnm wrote:
paulv66 wrote:
I notice that the number of people submitting timed puzzles of all sizes yesterday was significantly down on the usual numbers. Is this an indication that the problem is a bit more widespread than might be inferred from Patrick's post?

No, just the two so far.

It is not absolutely true

Posted on: Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:58 pm

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 9:43 am
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
angelwhite wrote:
pnm wrote:
paulv66 wrote:
I notice that the number of people submitting timed puzzles of all sizes yesterday was significantly down on the usual numbers. Is this an indication that the problem is a bit more widespread than might be inferred from Patrick's post?

No, just the two so far.

It is not absolutely true

At least a dozen people cheat

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:52 am

Posts: 239
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 4:55 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
pnm wrote:
UPDATE

So far only angelwhite has reacted writing that (s)he is angry, the times are "normal"
(I did see that for angelwhite, a lot of times were normal, but some were not).

(S)he also recommends that I remove the following accounts because they've been cheating for years:
[five usernames] etc ..... [<- edited by bram to remove actual usernames after pnm removed them from original post]

For the record, I categorically deny ever having used a solver or cheated in any other way when solving any puzzle here at calcudoku.org, be it timed or not. Other than this, I shouldn't really dignify angelwhite's baseless accusation with a response, but I think I owe it to Patrick and the overwhelming majority of the users of this site to offer a few observations which may be relevant to a good-faith discussion of possible timing issues:

(1) Timing apparently dependent on system clock on user's system

Back in early May this year I bought a (very old) used Toshiba Satellite as a secondary/spare laptop. Its system/CMOS battery is dead and can't be replaced (at least not easily, by a non-expert), which is common to a lot of (older) TS models. The system clock regularly falls behind because it pauses whenever the laptop is turned off or goes to sleep.

Most of you have probably noticed that the congratulations message even for a regular, non-timed puzzle reports the time it took you to solve it. I've only rarely used calcudoku.org from my secondary laptop rather than the primary one, but I've indeed logged in a few times and solved some regular, non-timed puzzles without suspecting that the system clock issue would affect the computation of the solving time. At a few occasions, the congratulations message for a solved regular puzzle has reported a very strange solving time – once even quite a long negative one if I recall correctly. This has caused me to log out of calcudoku.org from the secondary laptop and in again from the primary one before I proceeded to solve any timed puzzle. If a flattering-but-false time had accidentally been recorded for a timed puzzle I would've reported the issue to Patrick, but I saw no reason to do so at the few occasions when such times were computed for regular puzzles, seeing that they'd neither be rewarded with bonus points nor recorded in ranking tables anyway (though they might briefly show up in the animated "solved puzzles ticker").

(2) Timing of regular puzzles not necessarily "from scratch"

As you all know, any regular puzzle at calcudoku.org can be saved at any stage of the solving process, even with just a single cell remaining. This comes in handy if you want to take a break from a large (or particularly difficult) puzzle. It's also a good safeguard in case of a browser crash or a lost server connection (which happened occasionally a long time ago when Patrick was let down by hosting services that turned out to be sub-par, and very recently when calcudoku.org was targeted by DDOS attacks). Back then I suspected (rightly or wrongly) that the very event of having a puzzle solution auto-submitted (right after you'd seen the puzzle turn green) could itself trigger some sort of failure. For that reason I often saved large or difficult puzzles when they were almost finished, just so I wouldn't have to do a large portion all over again. To this day I'm still not certain if saving a puzzle is "safer"/less dependent on connecting to the server than auto-submitting it, but the habit has stuck with me.

Now, if a regular puzzle has been saved and then reloaded at a later time, then the solving time appears to be computed not "from scratch" but from the time the puzzle was reloaded until it was finished and auto-submitted. Of course, if a puzzle has been saved in an almost-finished state and then reloaded before you filled out the last few cells, then an impossibly short solving time may appear in the congratulations message, and, presumably, in the "solved puzzles ticker", which might give a false impression af "cheating".

(3) In conclusion

Not every apparent anomaly is evidence of wrongdoing. And everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, including the two accounts Patrick named. But I have no doubt that he wouldn't be this categorical without solid evidence. At any rate, those users can answer for themselves, and angelwhite's apparent decision that an attack is the strongest defense leaves me, shall we say, unimpressed. Even if they'd honestly gotton a false impression of "cheating" by me and the other accounts they named (e.g. through the "ticker" as hypothesised above), it would suit them to report those suspicions to Patrick as such rather than stating as fact that other users are cheating when they're not.

pnm wrote:
Never mind the time it takes me to deal with this.

I can sympathise with that – even if writing this has taken me only a fraction of the time you must've spent

pnm wrote:
I'm in fact still angry that this is taking even more time.

Same

Last edited by bram on Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:04 am

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 9:43 am
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
bram wrote:
pnm wrote:
UPDATE

So far only angelwhite has reacted writing that (s)he is angry, the times are "normal"
(I did see that for angelwhite, a lot of times were normal, but some were not).

(S)he also recommends that I remove the following accounts because they've been cheating for years:
wjgir, kadelson, bram, yinyin_song, rona etc .....

For the record, I categorically deny ever having used a solver or cheated in any other way when solving any puzzle here at calcudoku.org, be it timed or not. Other than this, I shouldn't really dignify angelwhite's baseless accusation with a response, but I think I owe it to Patrick and the overwhelming majority of the users of this site to offer a few observations which may be relevant to a good-faith discussion of possible timing issues:

(1) Timing apparently dependent on system clock on user's system

Back in early May this year I bought a (very old) used Toshiba Satellite as a secondary/spare laptop. Its system/CMOS battery is dead and can't be replaced (at least not easily, by a non-expert), which is common to a lot of (older) TS models. The system clock regularly falls behind because it pauses whenever the laptop is turned off or goes to sleep.

Most of you have probably noticed that the congratulations message even for a regular, non-timed puzzle reports the time it took you to solve it. I've only rarely used calcudoku.org from my secondary laptop rather than the primary one, but I've indeed logged in a few times and solved some regular, non-timed puzzles without suspecting that the system clock issue would affect the computation of the solving time. At a few occasions, the congratulations message for a solved regular puzzle has reported a very strange solving time – once even quite a long negative one if I recall correctly. This has caused me to log out of calcudoku.org from the secondary laptop and in again from the primary one before I proceeded to solve any timed puzzle. If a flattering-but-false time had accidentally been recorded for a timed puzzle I would've reported the issue to Patrick, but I saw no reason to do so at the few occasions when such times were computed for regular puzzles, seeing that they'd neither be rewarded with bonus points nor recorded in ranking tables anyway (though they might briefly show up in the animated "solved puzzles ticker").

(2) Timing of regular puzzles not necessarily "from scratch"

As you all know, any regular puzzle at calcudoku.org can be saved at any stage of the solving process, even with just a single cell remaining. This comes in handy if you want to take a break from a large (or particularly difficult) puzzle. It's also a good safeguard in case of a browser crash or a lost server connection (which happened occasionally a long time ago when Patrick was let down by hosting services that turned out to be sub-par, and very recently when calcudoku.org was targeted by DDOS attacks). Back then I suspected (rightly or wrongly) that the very event of having a puzzle solution auto-submitted (right after you'd seen the puzzle turn green) could itself trigger some sort of failure. For that reason I often saved large or difficult puzzles when they were almost finished, just so I wouldn't have to do a large portion all over again. To this day I'm still not certain if saving a puzzle is "safer"/less dependent on connecting to the server than auto-submitting it, but the habit has stuck with me.

Now, if a regular puzzle has been saved and then reloaded at a later time, then the solving time appears to be computed not "from scratch" but from the time the puzzle was reloaded until it was finished and auto-submitted. Of course, if a puzzle has been saved in an almost-finished state and then reloaded before you filled out the last few cells, then an impossibly short solving time may appear in the congratulations message, and, presumably, in the "solved puzzles ticker", which might give a false impression af "cheating".

(3) In conclusion

Not every apparent anomaly is evidence of wrongdoing. And everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, including the two accounts Patrick named. But I have no doubt that he wouldn't be this categorical without solid evidence. At any rate, those users can answer for themselves, and angelwhite's apparent decision that an attack is the strongest defense leaves me, shall we say, unimpressed. Even if they'd honestly gotton a false impression of "cheating" by me and the other accounts they named (e.g. through the "ticker" as hypothesised above), it would suit them to report those suspicions to Patrick as such rather than stating as fact that other users are cheating when they're not.

pnm wrote:
Never mind the time it takes me to deal with this.

I can sympathise with that – even if writing this has taken me only a fraction of the time you must've spent

pnm wrote:
I'm in fact still angry that this is taking even more time.

Same

However you will see that from today the average times will rise considerably

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:54 pm

Posts: 2881
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 11:58 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
bram wrote:
(1) Timing apparently dependent on system clock on user's system

Timers are run both "client side" (= your computer) and "server side", and they are compared.
If they are off by too much, the time gets flagged.

bram wrote:
(2) Timing of regular puzzles not necessarily "from scratch"

True (a nicer solution would be to save the "time used so far" with the saved puzzle, and restart
the timer at that value when the puzzle is reloaded), but those times don't appear in the ticker of course.

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 3:31 pm

Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:28 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
Patrick, would you mind sharing with us (if you have the time) how exactly you detect these cheaters? Does it just have to do with the client side and server side times?

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:14 pm

Posts: 2881
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 11:58 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
jpoos wrote:
Patrick, would you mind sharing with us (if you have the time) how exactly you detect these cheaters? Does it just have to do with the client side and server side times?

Many methods are used, and I can't really give any details (for obvious reasons).

(if you dig in the forum you'll find a bit more info)

It is possible to defeat the detection, but this would be quite a programming project..

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:07 pm

Posts: 1
Joined: Sat May 04, 2019 2:04 am
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
WHAAATTTTTTT? Someone just sent me a private message that I've been accused of cheating.
WHAAAATTTTTT???????

The message says "these people have been cheating for years" and included my account name.

1) I have never cheated.
2) I have had my account for less than one year, so I have not even been on here "for years".
3) The page that lists the fastest timed puzzlers - I'm usually not even on it! I myself have looked at the top speeds and wondered how people do it.
4) Who is this "angelwhite" person accusing me of cheating? I don't know who she is, she doesn't know me. Her words are dangerous, as she is spewing lies with no proof. I know she has no proof, because I DIDN'T CHEAT! It's one thing to say, "Can you look into these people who have been scoring highly?" It's another to flat-out say, "These people have been cheating for years." It is a flat-out LIE. Can you please set her straight somehow? That behavior must not be tolerated. It is UNETHICAL, it is WRONG. Seriously - there's enough BS in the world these days that we don't need "angelwhite" judging strangers based on NOTHING. It's precisely because of the BS in this world that I am so severely calling out "angelwhite's" LIES. I know this is just a puzzle site, it's not important in the big scheme of life, but LIES WILL NOT STAND. I will call out lying wherever and whenever I see it.

To "angelwhite": STOP TELLING LIES.

To the owner and forum master: I respectfully request that you suspend "angelwhite" from this spite for spewing lies, accusing people with no proof, and fostering a hostile, unpleasant atmosphere on this site that I had otherwise been enjoying.

Sincerely,
rona

Posted on: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:31 pm

Posts: 2881
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 11:58 pm
Re: on using a solver for the timed puzzles
rona wrote:
WHAAATTTTTTT? Someone just sent me a private message that I've been accused of cheating.
WHAAAATTTTTT???????

Yes, sorry, maybe I should not have added that list of usernames that he sent to me,
there's a risk of starting "flame wars".

I know all these users post valid times.

I'm thinking angelwhite was just angry.

And I was annoyed with his/her reply, which is why I posted the details on the forum..

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