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Distractions
     A Pitfalls Contest and a Web Treasure Hunt -- prizes awarded!

The Editors

This is a new column which offers some amusements as a distraction from writing LaTeX and TeX documents. There are two contests (with prizes!): Let us know if you like them. Feel free to suggest or send other distractions. Answers, posted November 1, 2005.


A LaTeX pitfalls contest

This contest will test your basic LaTeX technique with: space eaten after control sequences; quoting; special characters; hyphens, en- and em-dashes, and minus sign; ellipses; and different stretchable spaces. For a refresher on LaTeX's pitfalls refer to Tim Null's \begin{here} column.

How to enter the contest: Edit this LaTeX file to correct the errors. Then typeset it and compare it to the page image below. Send your corrected LaTeX source and either a pdf or dvi file to Pitfalls. Put your name in the subject line of the email. Entries must be received by August 15, 2005. After the close of the contest we will select submissions at random and the first five with correct answers will receive a souvenir PracTeX postcard.

This is the correct output:

pitfalls

A Web Treasure Hunt

Urban treasure hunts are fairly popular in cities throughout the world. Small teams of amateur sleuths search the streets and alleys for answers to clues, and along the way learn about the city's history. San Francisco has the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, and there was a treasure hunt at PracTeX04 in San Francisco.

A Web Treasure Hunt is similar, but instead you will be surfing the Web to solve the clues. While you are searching for answers to the clues you will learn more about the subject -- in this case TeX. All you need is a net connection, a Web browser, and your problem-solving skills. You can work as a team or work alone. Once you have the answers email them to us and you may be the winner of a souvenir PracTeX postcard.

Here's how the clues work: the first part of the clue will direct you to one of the web sites listed at the bottom of this page. The remainder of the clue will guide you through the site to arrive at the answer. To get an idea of how it works try solving this one:

Sample Clue: A strong pull (or a type of boat). Within you will find a showcase with the picture of a girl, played by Scarlett Johansson in a recent movie. Who submitted this pearl of an image?

(Try to solve it on your own before looking at the answer at the end of this page.)

How to enter the contest: Solve the following clues and then send an email to the contest judge by August 15, 2005. Put your name in the subject line of the email. For example:

Subject: Web treasure hunt answers from: Sue Trex

In the body of the email put the answers for the clues:

  1. The Lone Ranger
  2. Green
  3. ...

After August 15 we will choose entries at random and the first five selected with the most correct answers will receive prizes. If there are multiple entries by the same person we will use the one with the earliest date. Good luck and happy hunting!



1. Can TeX Add Numbers? (Initially this makes sense.) If you Look through you will find info. If you're lshort on time, reading this will help you in the long run, no matter which language you speak. Who is the main author here?

2. A well-known scientist (whose name contains a Latin lion) dropped the ball here. (It was a big day for gravity.) Four centuries later a leaning lion will host a meeting here on what date?

3. pic



Some pictures can be pulled down. There you will find a curious cabinet containing a mirror image of the site owner's name. What is the date below?

4. He wrote a divinely comedic book. The group which uses his name holds local meetings for regulars (and beer is served!). What are these gatherings called?



pic1



5. It's August without the gold. What's the name of the lakeside resort where the annual meeting is held and where this photo was taken?

(Extra credit: supply a caption for this photo.)



6. This year is the 400th anniversary of a famous novel about two wanderers in La Mancha. A modern-day group uses the author's name, with a xmall alteration. Which anniversary are they celebrating?

7. An untangled Chain is holding pic2



At the end of your Travel you may want to see some sites. What is the One Soup here?

8. Ask our friend with one and a hundred zeros about latex errors and he will suggest an artistic way of solving your problem. What special character is at #5?




All answers may be found within these sites:


Answer to Sample Clue: "A strong pull" is a "tug". Looking down the list of links you will see "TUG". Click on this to enter the site. The word "showcase" will lead you to the category "TeX Showcase" (you can also enter "showcase" in the Find box in the upper left of the home page). Click this link. Looking down the TeX showcase page you will see an image of Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring", played by Scarlett Johansson in a movie of the same name. The answer is "Antonio Almeida", the person who submitted this item.


Photo in clue #5 (c)Wojciech Myszka


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