I’m bored of #fakemaths

We’ve all probably seen these posts on social media – little puzzles that all-but claim to be the hardest mathematical thing you’ll ever see, and after seeing another one I’ve had enough.


So this is going to be a guide for whoever is creates them: “How to keep post your little puzzle without it being #fakemaths”.

1)  Don’t head up the ‘problem’ with “only for genius”, “only expects can solve”, or similar – mainly because that is so very far from the truth. Maybe call it a number puzzle – after all, that is all it is.

2)  Don’t make claims about ~97% of people failing! There’s no such thing as failing at one of these (you’ve just not found the correct solution yet), and clearly that is a made up percentage.


3)  Type 1 puzzles – misuse of symbols, my pet peeve! Don’t take mathematical symbols that already have a set meaning and try to repurpose them (it’s either done because you’re trying to deceive or you don’t know any better, and neither is a good enough reason).
Using ⊕ is one option, although that still has its uses, the best solution would be to use function notation (no misuse there!):
f(5,8)= ?
You could then actually ask people then to describe what f(x,y) is!

4)  Type 2 puzzles – BIDMAS (like the one above). Orders of operations is not a trick, these are hardly puzzles in themselves, boring move on!


5)  Type 3 puzzles – simultaneous equations. Writing these things as a collection of silly pictures almost actively prevents people from simplifying the expressions and using maths to solve them. Plus most of the time the pictures have stupid subtle changes that are designed to trick the reader into using the wrong value – very boring!

6)  Type 4 puzzles – misusing percentages, especially when you’ve tried to assign each letter in the alphabet its own percentage from 1-26 (forgetting that 1-26 are not percentages, so the maths in the bottom half of above picture is complete rubbish to go with it:

Rant over. I’m sure there are more types… link me any more that you’ve found / been confronted by.


Miscellaneous Cakes 2014/15

imageBrooklin Blackout

image Ben’s First Birthday

imageCoffee Layer Cake studded with Caramel Hazelnuts

(Original Mojito Cake)

image Red Velvet Cake, with raspberry sugar shards

image Mint Choc Chip Triple


Mojito Cake 3.0

wpid-imag0545_1.jpgTriple-decker carrot cake 🙂


NFL Podcast Power Rankings 2014

NFLlogoIn a change from last year’s podcast-draft, the 2014 review comes in the form of Power Rankings:

1. The Around The League Podcast – Move over Dave, there’s a new sheriff (or team of sheriffs) in town: This pod has been launched since the last rankings, and has become my new favourite! Three times a week the ATL’s room full of heroes (Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler, Chris Wesseling and Greg Rosenthall) bring you every item of news you’ll ever need, plus game reviews (on a Sunday night/Monday morning!) and comment, all with a huge slice of mirth. It’s always a joy when a new episode lands in my Stitcher tray.

2. The Dave Dameshek Football Program – Another great option from NFL Network, the DDFP brings an excellent mixture of football talk and everything but! Dave is ably aided by Adam Rank, Handsome Hank and Black Tie (when he’s not trying to keep episodes below a “tight 45”, so Fire Black Tie if you prefer).
The main reason this previous #1 is no longer occupying that slot is that it comes out less frequently – coming out only one or twice per week. “Come on playa, what’s up with dat?!”

3. The Rich Eisen Podcast – Moving up since last year is Rich Eisen’s brand of football-meets-pop-culture-meets-celebrity. A very good all round podcast with great in-depth interviews and a whole host of opinion. No wig is too big to be on this pod! Richs’ two Chris-es (Brockman and Law also produce epic montage podcasts during NFL down periods). The big bonus here is that his podcasts can run over the 2-hour mark!

4. NFL Fantasy Live – A must listen for anyone playing fantasy football. The daily (Mon-Fri) podcast will keep you up to date with, if not ahead of, the fantasy landscape in the NFL. If I had listened to and acted on more of their advice sooner then I would’ve won more the one league last season!

5. UK EndZone Football Program – This has fast become my favourite podcast based on this side of the pond. Thomas Moore and Ollie Connelly do a superb job of hosting the UKEZ, which includes all the week’s NFL-news as well as all the week’s not-news. These two are aided by featured slots with Robbo in the Field and Neil Dutton who both add to the detailed discussion of all things American Football. My only bugbear is that Mr Moore has his own special way of reading my Twitter handle believing that I’m a fan of the band with such hits as Take On Me (…maybe try @not-only-a-hat-rack).

6. College Football 24-7 – The more you follow the NFL the more you’ll be interested in who will be available for drafting come April-time, and investment here means that when that time rolls round you’ll find that you’re already up to speed. This pod is hosted by two of the best voices in the business (Matt-Money-Smith & Bucky Brooks), not to mention the addition of super-scout Daniel Jeremiah; this is a joy to listen to.

7. Tuesday Morning Football – Falling since last year are the TMF boys. Nothing to fault the content whatsoever from these 2 die-hard fans, plus Olly, but it’s the at times sporadic nature of the pod that’s hurt them.. A solid listen from this UK based podcast! Will Gavin / James Dixon / Olly Hunter

8. Over that Cap – Wondering about everything salary cap related? Well look no further. Expect detailed breakdowns of contracts and cap situations, which really does help to explain some of the mentalities behind certain financial decisions in the NFL. Jason_OTC

9. Mainz and Dutton Discuss Football – A fantasy football & betting podcast in one – your one-stop shop for being competitive when it comes to both beating your mates or beating the bookies. Neil Dutton makes his second appearance on the list, together with his mate Mainzey provide a great overview of the week’s action in their two respective areas.

10. Ross Tucker Football Podcast – From the point of view of an ex-player, the Ross Tucker Football Podcast provides a unique and regular insight into the mind and mentality of NFL players (and in particular O-Linemen). This comes out a very healthy 3 times per week and is never short of quality content.

11. Fantasy Feast: Eatin’ – Another podcast from Ross Tucker‘s podcast stable… Coming at fantasy football from the point of view of newbie is quite refreshing. Not assuming that everyone already knows everything means that no one is left out. All the advice rings true for whatever level of player you are, and a reminder of the key points and some of the intricacies of the game will never hurt anyone. If you’re starting to play yourself, just need a refresher, or really need a helping hand on getting better then Fantasy Feast: Eatin’ is a great option.
Ohh, and watch out for a 3rd offering, Even Money, a betting/gambling podcast, coming soon.

12. Zone Coverage Football Show – The UK’s first NFL phone-in show, and a it’s made a solid start. There’s only been 1 episode so far, but from the sounds of things this could well jump up the rankings when things kick themselves off. ZoneCoverageFS

13. BoltTalk – If you’re a Chargers fan this is the podcast to fill your needs. Two great, knowledgeable hosts conduct a ~weekly discussion via Skype from opposite coast of the states. Nothing is left out/overlooked and with a good community spirit behind it, is a solid pick for fans of San Diego. Ray Chan / Loren Casuto

14. Inside The Huddle – Some more UK-based comment now brought to you squarely from Sky Sports. Jeff Reinbold provides an interesting perspective to the Neil Reynolds hosted product.

15. The Coaches Show Podcast – For the best dissection of every game from the weekend Coach Brian Billick is the man to turn to. Great perspective during the season, just a shame we can’t keep him on microphone the whole year round. Last season the man on the other mic was Mooch, but nothing is certain in this business.

16. M&M Podcast – Marshall (Faulk) & Michael (Irvin) give you their take on the week through the eyes of 2 (recently) ex-players. Disappointingly the podcast is intermittent at best.

There are other podcast options out there, just not ones that I listen to right now, but this are my tried and tested selection. My main piece of advice would be to try to listen to as many of these as you can fit into your schedule.

Update: Apparent glaring oversight: Overtime Ireland – it seems to come very highly recommended, so I’d better try that one then! OTI on Twitter

Mojito Cake

This year I decided to bake myself a Mojito Cake as my birthday cake. The recipe was simple: 2 lime sponges, then a lime and mint butter-cream to fill and top it (could’ve done with more of that for the sides). The only issue was that as I was going into work with the cake, I didn’t feel I could put any rum in it.

I thought I’d need to invent the recipe, but a quick Google turned up this perfect one, and an easy one to follow at that, courtesy of Domestic Sluttery – I doubled the ingredients to make a 2-tier cake.

Lime and Mint, but unfortunately no rum in this one

Lime and Mint, but unfortunately no rum in this one

(UPDATE – this post contains version 2.0)

Calling the Maths Police

This afternoon Pizza Express engaged in some Twitter-based advertising that I feel warrants the attention of the #mathspoliceColin & Dave.

This looks to be a straight forward puzzle, but I expect the 140 characters limit has lead to the puzzle being set without enough rigour, or was it just another example of a pizza chain and it’s careless approach to maths? As I see it, there are at least 2 different interpretations to the question provided.

1) Those 2 people order 2 pizzas in 2 minutes, therefore their rate of ordering is 1 pizza/minute. So if they continue to order more pizzas at that rate them alone will order all 500 in 500 minutes (i.e. the answer is 2 people).

2) If the restaurant is full of people and everyone orders just one pizza (not mentioned in the question so would have to be a heavy assumption) and everyone we consider orders at the same rate as the original couple then it will take 500 people (if they’re ordering in series).

3) Anyone have any other interpretation?

As it stands I believe that #1 is the most accurate answer, regardless of how greedy it makes those 2 look. It comes down to the question referring to the rate at which the couple is ordering their pizzas at: they are ordering at a rate of 1 pizza per minute so just the 2 of them will order the full quota in the desired time.

Pizza Express have chosen the second option, which I feel only works as an answer if the question is rephrased. They can blame 140 characters, but I blame bad maths… #mathspolice I turn the investigation over to you.

NFL Play-Off Challenge 2013

NFLlogoAfter we did this last season, I feel I’ll dust off and rejuvenate these words that I wrote last year. And to save sidepodcast posting most of the same words (as most of them still apply), I’ll pop them here this time:

If the excitement of the NFL play offs isn’t enough for you, then there is a treat in store. The Fantasy-Football season has been extended so that you can now create your own mini-team that will run up until the Super Bowl. If, like me, you had a Fantasy team for the regular season, then some extra fancy action is perfect.

It works as most other fantasy games do so; in essence you choose your selection of offensive players and a team’s defence, then points are allocated when those players hit different targets during the games in the playoffs. E.g. a rushing/receiving TD counts for 6 points, throwing a TD pass counts for 4 points, losing a fumble or an interception is worth -2 points, etc. (The full point-scoring system as well as the full Ts-&-Cs are available via the NFL website.)

You need to select: 1× Quarterback, 2× Running Backs, 2× Wide Receivers, 1× Tight End, 1× Kicker, and a Defence. After each week you get the chance to change your team, however if you chose a player and then keep him in your line-up for more weeks, his total receives a multiplier (2×, 3×,…) that increases the longer they stay in the hunt. Each week the teams must be finalised before the first game of that weekend kicks off, but it doesn’t necessarily matter if you miss the Wild Card Weekend. So long as you then choose players from teams with byes, then they are automatically granted a 2× bonus in the Divisional Round.

It’s a toss-up between picking players who’ll score big points but might get knocked out early vs. players that’ll receive large multiplier-bonuses – I’m sure I don’t need to say that, and that’s enough of me giving away tactics. Until the contest begins you’ll not be able to see you friends’ picks, but if you’ve not got a brilliant idea of who might be a good pick there are a set of stats next to each player to give you a helping hand – just in case you’ve not been following the season so far in minute detail.

Once you’ve created a login and chosen your team via the Fantasy Playoff Challenge portion of the NFL website you can join various groups so that you can ‘play’ against your friends or fans of your favourite team (etc); and of course there is a Sidepodcast group – the link should get you to the group, otherwise searching will get you there just as well. At the time of going to press there are only 6 rosters entered, so please join.

Not only will having a selection of players from across the conferences to cheer for make the playoffs even more interesting, but having our own mini-league will keep things nice and competitive. Then come the Super Bowl, we’ll all have our own selection of players and will need different things from each in order to make a challenge for the mini-title, again if the game itself isn’t going to be exiting enough already!!

Like I said it was great fun last season, so make sure you sign up ASAP to get your picks in before the Wild Card Weekend.

Apple* Strudel

*cinnamon and raisin

700g apples (these one are home-grown)
lemon juice
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
60g raisins
8 filo pastry sheets
melted butter
dried breadcrumbs
demerara sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  • Peel, core and chop the apples into ~1 inch cubes, drizzling on some lemon juice to slow any browning.
  • Mix the apple, sugar, cinnamon and raisins in a large bowl.
  • Flour some greaseproof paper and lay on a sheet of filo. Brush with melted butter, and place the next sheet on top. Continue until you’ve layered them all up.
  • At one end of the filo sprinkle on some dried breadcrumbs, then spoon the apple mixture on top.
  • Roll the pastry up around the filling like a cigar, using the greaseproof paper to help. Seal in the final join and ends to form a parcel.
  • Place the filo roll onto a greased baking tray – trying to place as much as possible of the overlapped pastry on the top.
  • Brush with any remaining melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  • Cook for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned and the filling is hot.
  • Serve warm with a good cream, or cool with warm custard.

(Recent changes around here have meant that I have to be more efficient when doing everything, so disappointingly there aren’t any photos of layering up the pastry, or building the roll… I’ll just have to make another sooner than later – as they are soooo easy.)