# Fuzzy Time (#99)

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1. Please do not post any solutions or spoiler discussion for this quiz
until
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1. Enjoy!

Suggestion: A [QUIZ] in the subject of emails about the problem helps
everyone
message,
if you can.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

by Gavin K.

``````The Background
---------------------------------------------------------------------
``````

Last night I was having trouble falling asleep, and was staring at my
digital
alarm clock (as I do so often under that circumstance). Something on the
bedside
table was occluding the minutes digit, however, so all I could tell is
that it
was “10 4”. (Oddly, my alarm clock has no “:” between the hours and
minutes.)

“How nice!” I thought. “An imposed vagueness to keep me from obsessing
on
exactly what time it is! Should I really be worried about the exact
time?
Shouldn’t I be more relaxed? Shouldn’t a 10-minute precision in life be
enough
to keep me roughly on time, without obsessing on exacting promptitude?”

I realized that if I kept staring at the clock (as I did), and I were to
observe
it changing from “10 4” to “10 5”, that I would, at that moment, know
exactly
what time it is.

“Bah” I thought, “so much for that idea.”

And then I thought some more. I thought of bad ideas: analog watches
where the
hand erratically swings forward and backward, digital clocks that showed
random
times near the correct time. And then I dreamed of the watch I wanted to
own…

``````The Challenge
---------------------------------------------------------------------
``````

Requirement #1: Write a Ruby program that shows the current time, but
only the
‘tens’ part of the minutes. For example, if the time is 10:37, then the
program
might output “10:3~”

Requirement #2: The time shown by the clock must randomly vary +/- 5
minutes
from reality. For example, if the time is actually 10:37, the program
might
output “10:3~” or “10:4~” (but not “10:2~” or “10:5~”).

Requirement #3: The time on the clock should continuously increase. If
the time
shows “10:4~” it must continue to show “10:4~” until it shows “10:5~”.
(It can’t
show “10:4~”, then “10:3~” for a bit and then come back to “10:4~”.)

Putting the three requirements together, the left column below shows the
actual
time and the next three columns show the possible outputs from three
different
runs of the same program:

``````10:35    10:3~    10:4~    10:3~
10:36    10:3~    10:4~    10:3~
10:37    10:3~    10:4~    10:3~
10:38    10:3~    10:4~    10:3~
10:39    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:40    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:41    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:42    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:43    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:44    10:4~    10:4~    10:3~
10:45    10:4~    10:4~    10:4~
10:46    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:47    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:48    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:49    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:50    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:51    10:4~    10:4~    10:5~
10:52    10:5~    10:4~    10:5~
10:53    10:5~    10:4~    10:5~
10:54    10:5~    10:4~    10:5~
10:55    10:5~    10:5~    10:5~
10:56    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~
10:57    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~
10:58    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~
10:59    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~
11:00    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~
11:01    10:5~    10:5~    11:0~

---------------------------------------------------------------------
``````

You should supply a FuzzyTime class that supports the following:

``````ft = FuzzyTime.new                      # Start at the current time
ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(1161104503)) # Start at a specific time

p ft.to_s                               # to_s format
#=> "10:5~"

p ft.actual, ft.actual.class            # Reports real time as Time
#=> Tue Oct 17 11:01:36 -0600 2006
#=> Time

puts ft                                 # by a specified number of
#=> 11:0~                               # seconds.

sleep( 60 * 10 )

ft.update              # Automatically update the time based on the
puts ft                # time that has passed since the last call
#=> 11:1~              # to #initialize, #advance or #update
``````

Your class and output will be tested with code like the following:

``````def test_output
# Initialize with a well-known time
ft = FuzzyTime.new( Time.at( ... ) )

60.times do
@legal  = ...       # Find the array of legal output strings
@output = ft.to_s

assert_block "#@output not one of #@legal.inspect" do
@legal.include?( @output )
end

sleep( rand( 30 ) )
ft.update
end

60.times do
@legal  = ...       # Find the array of legal output strings
@output = ft.to_s

assert_block "#@output not one of #@legal.inspect" do
@legal.include?( @output )
end

end
end

Extra Credit
---------------------------------------------------------------------

* Provide a self-running application that shows the time somehow.
(ASCII in the terminal, some GUI window, etc.)

* Allow your class to be customized to display 12- or 24-hour time.

* Allow your class to be customized to change how close to reality
it must display. (+/- 3 minutes, +/- 12 minutes, etc.)

* Allow your class to be customized to change how roughly it displays
the time (e.g. 1 minute, 10 minute, 1 hour intervals).

* Ensure that the transition from one digit to the next occurs
randomly across the range of -5 to +5. (So, while the digit might
change 5 minutes before or 5 minutes after the real transition, on
average the change should occur around the transition itself.)
called with a certain regularity (e.g. once per second, once every
7 seconds, once every 30 seconds, etc.)

* Come up with your own technique of displaying time that
(a) is always 'close' to right, but (b) never allows a
watchful person to ever know exactly what time it is.

Things to Keep in Mind
---------------------------------------------------------------------

* You need to be able to handle the transition across hour/day
boundaries. (10:5~ might change to 11:0~ when the real time is still
10:58, or might continue to display 10:5~ when the real time is
11:04. On a 24-hour click, you also need to be able to wrap from
23:5~ to 00:0~)

* For testing purposes of the real-time #update advancing, you might
find it easier to work with minutes and seconds instead of hours and
minutes.

* Requirement #3 is, well, a requirement. Repeated #update/#to_s
calls to a FuzzyTime instance should never show an earlier time
(unless 24 hours occurred between #update calls ;).
``````

On Fri, 27 Oct 2006, Ruby Q. wrote:

Requirement #3: The time on the clock should continuously increase. If the time
shows “10:4~” it must continue to show “10:4~” until it shows “10:5~”. (It can’t
show “10:4~”, then “10:3~” for a bit and then come back to “10:4~”.)

it seems like #2 and #3 contradict one another. imagine it’s 10:45 and,
through randomness, you choose to vary the clock by +5, therefore
displaying
10:5~, you will not be able to change the output again until 10:55, and
then
only because the upper bould will have rolled over into the next hour.
here it
is in table form

lower actual upper selection

10:40 10:45 10:50 10:50/5~
10:41 10:46 10:51 10:51/5~
10:42 10:47 10:52 10:52/5~
10:43 10:48 10:53 10:53/5~
10:44 10:49 10:54 10:54/5~
10:45 10:50 10:55 10:55/5~
10:46 10:51 10:56 10:56/5~
10:47 10:52 10:57 10:57/5~
10:48 10:53 10:58 10:58/5~
10:49 10:54 10:59 10:59/5~
10:50 10:55 11:00 11:00/0~

an initial high selection eats into subsequent ranges - in otherwords a
selection of t+ means that #2 will not by able to hold: the variance
will be
required to b smaller for the next choice: a high selection eats the
variance
range of the next choice…

it’s possibly even worse when we not near the top of an hour and start
of with
maximum variance:

lower actual upper selection

10:20 10:25 10:30 10:30/3~
10:21 10:26 10:31 10:31/3~
10:22 10:27 10:32 10:32/3~
10:23 10:28 10:33 10:33/3~
10:24 10:29 10:34 10:34/3~
10:25 10:30 10:35 10:35/3~
10:26 10:31 10:36 10:36/3~
10:27 10:32 10:37 10:37/3~
10:28 10:33 10:38 10:38/3~
10:29 10:34 10:39 10:39/3~
10:30 10:35 10:40 10:30/3~
10:31 10:36 10:41 10:31/3~
10:32 10:37 10:42 10:32/3~
10:33 10:38 10:43 10:33/3~
10:34 10:39 10:44 10:34/3~
10:35 10:40 10:45 10:35/3~
10:36 10:41 10:46 10:36/3~
10:37 10:42 10:47 10:37/3~
10:38 10:43 10:48 10:38/3~
10:39 10:44 10:49 10:39/3~
10:40 10:45 10:50 10:50/5~

so the combined effect means that it’s acceptable to display the same
time~
for twenty straight minutes - is that really the a desired potential
effect?

-a

On 10/27/06, [email protected] [email protected] wrote:

it seems like #2 and #3 contradict one another.

Indeed. I take it that the challenge of the quiz is to come up with a
way to balance out the two goals. The purpose for requirement 2 is
that you don’t want the user to be able to deduce the actual time
based on when you switch from one output to the next. The problem
with doing that as a simple random selection is that you get wildly
differing ranges.

+/- 5 minutes from reality.

Is problematic, as you point out Ara. The example

For example, if the time is actually 10:37, the program might
output “10:3~” or “10:4~” (but not “10:2~” or “10:5~”).

however, is much more lenient. You don’t have to round down, you just
can’t pick a number from a different section. (10:3~ is not +/-5 of
10:37 obviously).

I gather that there would be some pretty simple ways you can dampen
the latter effect while still preventing the user from easily guessing
the actual time.

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
################################################################################

street

It’s been

another great

# quiz.

################################################################################

class Time

# A string representation for times on the quarter hour

def to_quarter_s
case min
when 0
“#{hour_12} o-clock”
when 15
“quarter past #{hour_12}”
when 30
“half past #{hour_12}”
when 45
n = self + 3600
“quarter 'till #{n.hour_12}”
end
end

# Let the Time library to the hard work for getting 12 time.

def hour_12
(strftime “%I”).sub(/\A0/,‘’)
end
end

class FuzzyTime

# Quarter hours fall every 900 seconds

TimeScale = 60 * 15

def initialize(time = Time.now)
@real = @time = time
@emitted = nil
end

to work

quite a

approximating to

second, you

# increase the time between calls to one minute.

def to_s
pick = rand(TimeScale)
threshold = TimeScale - @time.to_i % TimeScale - 1
p [pick, threshold, last_valid, next_valid] if \$DEBUG

``````@emitted = if ([email protected]? && @emitted > last_valid) \
|| pick >= threshold
next_valid
else
last_valid
end

@emitted.to_quarter_s
``````

end

def inspect
t_obj = if @emitted.nil?
self.class.new(@time).next_valid
else
@emitted
end
%!FuzzyTime[“#{t_obj.to_quarter_s}”]!
end

def actual
@time
end

def last_valid
Time.at(@time.to_i / TimeScale * TimeScale)
end

def next_valid
last_valid + TimeScale
end

@real = Time.now
@time += offset
offset
end

def update
now = Time.now
delta = now - @real
@time += delta
@real = now
end

end

‘cls’, but

# I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader. winks

ClearString = `clear`
def clear
print ClearString
end

def get_sample_rate
default = 60
return default unless ARGV[0]
begin
return ARGV[0].to_i
rescue
return default
end
end

if caller.empty?
ft = FuzzyTime.new

while true do
clear
puts ft
sleep get_sample_rate
ft.update
end
end

On Oct 29, 2006, at 10:28 AM, Marcel W. wrote:

This is also my first greeting to the Ruby community… Hello!

Then let me be one of the first to welcome you to Ruby and the Ruby
Quiz!

James Edward G. II

Thanks for this week’s interesting problem. My solution is below and
I look forward to any feedback and seeing other techniques used.

There are two files pasted below; the second is the unit test, which
takes about 5-10 minutes to run to completion. My first unit test
ever in any language

This is also my first greeting to the Ruby community… Hello!

Cheers,
Marcel

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

# Solution for Ruby Q. number 99

################################################

class FuzzyTime

# If the time passed is nil, then keep track of the time now.

def initialize(tm=nil, range_secs=600, disp_accuracy_secs=range_secs,
fmt="%H:%M", obs_period=nil)
@actual = @last_update = @next_diff = tm || Time.now
@realtime = tm.nil?
@maxrange = range_secs
@display_accuracy = @best_accuracy = disp_accuracy_secs
@tformat = fmt
@last_observed = @max_disptime = Time.at(0)
@timed_observation_period = obs_period
end

def to_s
@last_update = Time.now
@actual = @last_update if @realtime

``````check_observation_period unless @timed_observation_period.nil?

# We only calculate a new offset each time the last offset times out.
if @next_diff <= @actual
# Calculate a new time offset
@diff = rand(@maxrange) - @maxrange/2
# Decide when to calculate the next time offset
@next_diff = @actual + rand(@maxrange)
end
@last_observed = @actual

# Don't display a time less than the time already displayed
@max_disptime = [@max_disptime, @actual + @diff].max

# Take care to preserve any specific locale (time zone / dst)
``````

information
# stored in @actual - for example, we cannot use
Time::at(Time::to_i).
disptime = @max_disptime.strftime(@tformat)

``````# Lop off characters from the right of the display string until the
# remaining string matches one of the extreme values; then fuzz out
``````

the
# rightmost digits
(0…disptime.size).to_a.reverse.each do
|w|
[@display_accuracy.div(2), - @display_accuracy.div(2)].map{
|offs|
(@max_disptime + offs).strftime(@tformat)
}.each do
|testtime|
return disptime[0,w] + disptime[w…-1].tr(“0123456789”, “~”) if

disptime[0,w] == testtime[0,w]
end
end
end

if @realtime
@actual = Time.now + secs
# Once a real-time FuzzyTime is advanced, it can never again be
# real-time.
@realtime = false
else
@actual += secs
end
@last_update = Time.now
end

def update
diff = Time.now - @last_update
@actual += diff
@last_update += diff
# By calling update, you are effectively saying “set a fixed time”
# so we must disable the real-time flag.
@realtime = false
end

def accuracy
“+/- #{@maxrange/2}s”
end

def dump
“actual: #{@actual.strftime(”%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S")}, "
“diff: #{@diff}, "
“next_diff: #{@next_diff.strftime(”%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S”)}, "
“accuracy: #{@display_accuracy}”
end

private
def check_observation_period
# Is the clock being displayed too often?

``````# Although this method seems to work, it may be a bit simplistic.
# Proper statistical / mathematical analysis and a proper
``````

understanding
# of the human ability to count seconds may be necessary to
determine
# whether this still gives away too much info for the average
observer.

``````patience = @actual - @last_observed

if patience < @timed_observation_period / 2
# Worsen display accuracy according to how impatient the observer
``````

is.
@display_accuracy += (2 * @best_accuracy *
(@timed_observation_period - patience)) /
@timed_observation_period
elsif patience < @timed_observation_period
# Immediately punish impatience by enforcing a minumum accuracy
# twice as bad as the best possible.
# Don’t give too much away but allow the accuracy to get slowly
better
# if the observer is a bit more patient and waits over half the
# observation period
@display_accuracy = [
2 * @best_accuracy,
@display_accuracy - ((@best_accuracy * patience) /
@timed_observation_period)
].max
else
# The observer has waited long enough.
# Reset to the best possible accuracy.
@display_accuracy = @best_accuracy
end
end
end

def wardies_clock

parameter==nil

whilst

have

# to wait 30s between observations to see the clock with best

accuracy.
ft = FuzzyTime.new(nil, 30, 10, “%H:%M:%S”, 30)

# shows “HH:M~”. (This is the default when no parameters are provided)

#ft = FuzzyTime.new(nil, 600, 600, “%H:%M”)

puts “** Wardies Clock\n”
puts "\n Observing more often than every "
“#{ft.timed_observation_period} seconds reduces accuracy”
unless ft.timed_observation_period.nil?
puts “**\n\n”

loop do
puts “\n\nTime Now: #{ft.to_s} (#{ft.accuracy})\n\n”
"-- Press Enter to observe the clock again or "
“q then Enter to quit --\n\n”

``````# Flush the output text so that we can scan for character input.
STDOUT.flush

break if STDIN.getc == ?q
``````

end
end

def clocks_go_back_in_uk

# Start at Sun Oct 29 01:58:38 +0100 2006

ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(Time.at(1162083518)))

# 01:1~

60.times do
puts ft.to_s
end
end

def full_date_example

# non-30-day months because these are not divisble exactly by 10.

tm = FuzzyTime.new(nil, 2419200, 2419200, “%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S”)
300.times do
puts “#{tm.to_s} (#{tm.dump})”
#sleep 0.2
end
end

# If you are in a different timezone, you should see other values.

def quiz_example
ft = FuzzyTime.new # Start at the current time
ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(1161104503)) # Start at a specific time

p ft.to_s # to_s format

p ft.actual, ft.actual.class # Reports real time as Time
#=> Tue Oct 17 11:01:36 -0600 2006
#=> Time

puts ft # by a specified number of
#=> 11:0~ # seconds.

sleep( 60 * 10 )

ft.update # Automatically update the time based on the
puts ft # time that has passed since the last call
#=> 11:1~ # to #initialize, #advance or #update
end

if FILE == \$0
wardies_clock
#clocks_go_back_in_uk
#full_date_example
#quiz_example
end

################################################

# fuzzy_time_test.rb

require ‘test/unit’
require ‘fuzzy_time’

class FuzzyTime_Test < Test::Unit::TestCase
#def setup
#end

#def teardown
#end

``````# Initialize with a known UTC time (Tue Jun 10 03:14:52 UTC 1975)
ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(171602092).getgm, 60, 60, "%H:%M:%S")

# Add 6 hours 45 minutes 30 secs to give us
# (Tue Jun 10 09:59:22 UTC 1975)
@last_output = ""

60.times do
# Initial displayed time sourced from between 09:58:52 and
``````

09:59:52
# Time will be advanced by between 0 and 600 seconds.
# So final displayed time source ranges from 10:08:52 to 10:09:52

``````  # The array of legal output strings:
@legal  = ["09:58:~~", "09:59:~~", "10:00:~~", "10:01:~~",
"10:02:~~", "10:03:~~", "10:04:~~", "10:05:~~",
"10:06:~~", "10:07:~~", "10:08:~~", "10:09:~~"]

@output = ft.to_s

assert_block "#@output not one of #{@legal.inspect}" do
@legal.include?( @output )
end

assert_block  "#@output must be greater than or equal to " \
"last value, #@last_output" \
do
@output >= @last_output
end
@last_output = @output

end
``````

end

# Initialize with a known UTC time (Fri Dec 31 23:58:25 UTC 1999)
# Test rollover at midnight
# Note, we have an accuracy of +/- 5 secs now and enabled the
# observations timer
ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(946684705).getgm, 10, 10, “%H:%M:%S”, 10)

``````30.times do
# Initial displayed time sourced from between 23:58:20 and
``````

23:58:30
# Time will be advanced by between 0 and 150 seconds.
# So final displayed time source ranges from 00:00:50 to 00:01:00

``````  # Note, if we watch too often over a short period of time,
# our displayed accuracy will decrease.  Then we will lose
# the 10's digit of the seconds and occasionally the 1's minute.

# The array of legal output strings:
@legal = ["23:58:1~", "23:58:2~", "23:58:3~",
"23:58:4~", "23:58:5~", "23:58:6~",
"23:58:~~", "23:59:~~", "23:5~:~~",
"23:59:0~", "23:59:1~", "23:59:2~",
"23:59:3~", "23:59:4~", "23:59:5~",
"00:00:0~", "00:00:1~", "00:00:2~",
"00:00:3~", "00:00:4~", "00:00:5~", "00:00:~~",
"00:01:0~", "00:01:~~", "00:0~:~~"]

@output = ft.to_s

assert_block "#@output not one of #{@legal.inspect}" do
@legal.include?( @output )
end

# We cannot easily check that the current output is greater or
``````

equal to
# the last because with timed observations, a valid output
sequence is:
# 23:59:0~
# 23:59:~~ (looking too often, accuracy has been reduced)
# 23:59:0~ (waited long enough before observing for accuracy to
return)

``````  ft.advance( rand(6) )
end
``````

end

def test_update
# NOTE - this test takes 5-10 minutes to complete

``````# Initialize with a known UTC time (Tue Jun 10 03:14:52 UTC 1975)
ft = FuzzyTime.new(Time.at(171602092).getgm, 60, 60, "%H:%M:%S")
@last_output = ""

60.times do
# Initial displayed time sourced from between 03:14:22 and
``````

03:15:22
# Duration of loop will be between 0 and ~600 seconds.
# So final displayed time source ranges from 03:14:22 to 03:25:22

``````  # The array of legal output strings:
@legal  = ["03:14:~~", "03:15:~~", "03:16:~~", "03:17:~~",
"03:18:~~", "03:19:~~", "03:20:~~", "03:21:~~",
"03:22:~~", "03:23:~~", "03:24:~~", "03:25:~~"]

@output = ft.to_s

assert_block "#@output not one of #{@legal.inspect}" do
@legal.include?( @output )
end

assert_block  "#@output must be greater than or equal to " \
"last value, #@last_output" \
do
@output >= @last_output
end
@last_output = @output

sleep( rand( 11 ) ) # wait between 0..10 secs
ft.update
end
``````

end
end

Hi all

Here’s is my script. It was fun working at it, just please no more
time based quiz when there’s the switching of daylight time saving
The scripts defines two class one to manage how to move within a given
range and one for actual FuzzyTime implementation.
At the end of the email there’s a really ugly extra file you may want
to use to play with the FuzzyTime class.

Paolo

#!/bin/ruby
class WanderingWalker
SIGN = [1, -1]
CHECK_LIMIT = %w(min max)
DEFAULT_GENERATOR = lambda { |limit| rand(limit) * SIGN[rand(2)] }
alias :level :position
def initialize(limit, &block)
@limit = limit
@generator = block_given? ? block : DEFAULT_GENERATOR
@position = 0
generate_target
end
def walk(steps)
generate_target while @position == @target
new_pos = [(@position + direction*steps), @target].send
CHECK_LIMIT[SIGN.index(direction)]
@position = new_pos
end
def distance
@target - @position
end
def direction
if distance == 0 : 1 else distance/distance.abs end
end
private
def generate_target
@target = @generator.call limit
end
end

class FuzzyTime
FORMATS = %w(%H:%M %I:%M)
#two params, both optional time and an hash
#time: a time object used as the starting point
#hash params
#:hidden_digits - hidden_digits number, from right
#:precision - maximum distance from real time in seconds
def initialize(time=Time.new, opts={})
@internaltime = time
@last_call = @printed_time = Time.new
@precision = opts[:precision] || 300
@fuzziness = WanderingWalker.new(@precision)
@format = FORMATS[0]
@hidden_digits = opts[:hidden_digits] || 1
@sub_args = case @hidden_digits
when 0 : [//, ‘’]
when 1 : [/\d\$/, ‘~’]
when 2 : [/\d{2}\$/, ‘’]
when 3 : [/\d:\d{2}\$/, '~:
’]
else
raise “nothing to see!”
end
end
tic(secs)
end
def update
tic Time.new - @last_call
end
def actual
@internaltime
end
#switch 12 / 24h format
def toggle_format
@format = FORMATS[FORMATS.index(@format) == 0 ? 1 : 0]
end
def to_s
@printed_time = [@printed_time, (@internaltime +
fuzziness.level)].max
@printed_time.strftime(@format).sub(*@sub_args)
end
private
def tic(secs=1)
@internaltime += secs
@last_call = Time.new
@fuzziness.walk secs
end
end

Ad here’s the super ugly runner script

#!/bin/ruby
require ‘fuzzy_time’

# accepts a FuzzyTime object as argument + an hash of options

#possible options

# :time_warp if true instead of working as a clock just prints out

#in an instant all the clock output, if false, works as a clock

# :duration how many step_size the clock should run

class FuzzyExec
def initialize(ft = FuzzyTime.new ,opts = {})
opt_def = {:duration => 100, :step_size => 60, :print_actual =>
true}
@opts = opt_def.update opts
@ft = ft
end
def show_fuzzy_clock
@opts[:duration].times do
@ft.toggle_format if @opts[:toggle]
out = []
out << @ft.to_s
out << @ft.actual.strftime(’%H:%M’) if @opts[:print_actual]
out << @ft.fuzziness.level if @opts[:print_fuzziness]
out << Time.new.strftime(’%H:%M’) if @opts[:print_current]
puts out.join ’ ’
if @opts[:time_warp]
else
sleep @opts[:step_size]
@ft.update
end
end
end
end

Here’s my effort. I didn’t get around to testing it, but the concept
seems sound. I decided to interpret the goal a little more
conservatively and instead of just making sure the displayed time
never goes forward, I decided to make sure the offset never goes
backwards. To do this, I made the max delta from the current offset
no more than the amount of time that passed since the last offset
update:

class FuzzyTime
MAX_OFFSET = 5*60

def initialize(*args)
now = Time.new
@internal_time = args[0] || now
@time_offset = now - @internal_time
@fuzzy_secs = 0
@last_calc = Time.new
end

def actual
@internal_time
end

def update
@internal_time = Time.new + @time_offset
end

@time_offset += amount.to_i
end

def calc_offset
# Choose a new offset that’s between +/- 5 mins. If it has been
# less than 5 mins since the last offset calc, choose that time as
# a max delta (this makes sure time is always going forward)

`````` time_from_last_calc = (Time.new - @last_calc).to_i

if time_from_last_calc > 0
begin
max_delta = [MAX_OFFSET, time_from_last_calc].min

delta = rand((2*max_delta) + 1) - max_delta
end until (delta + @fuzzy_secs).abs < MAX_OFFSET
@fuzzy_secs += delta

puts "Fuzzy secs now: #{@fuzzy_secs}"

@last_calc = Time.new
end
@fuzzy_secs
``````

end

def get_time
fuzzy_hour = @internal_time.hour
fuzzy_min = @internal_time.min
fuzzy_sec = @internal_time.sec + calc_offset

`````` if fuzzy_sec > 60
fuzzy_sec -= 60
fuzzy_min += 1
end

if fuzzy_sec < 0
fuzzy_sec += 60
fuzzy_min -= 1
end

if fuzzy_min > 60
fuzzy_min -= 60
fuzzy_hour = (fuzzy_hour + 1) % 24
end

if fuzzy_min < 0
fuzzy_min += 60
fuzzy_hour = (fuzzy_hour + 23) % 24
end

[fuzzy_hour, fuzzy_min, fuzzy_sec]
``````

end

def to_s
fuzzy_hour, fuzzy_min, fuzzy_sec = get_time
“#{fuzzy_hour}:#{fuzzy_min / 10}~”
# “#{fuzzy_hour}:#{fuzzy_min / 10}~ (#{fuzzy_hour}:#{”%02d" %
fuzzy_min}:#{"%02d" % fuzzy_sec})"
end

end

if \$0 == FILE
t = FuzzyTime.new
10.times do
puts t, Time.new
sleep 10
t.update
end
end

Hi

I’ve posted an old version the second line of initialize should be
changed from

@last_call = @printed_time = Time.new

to

@last_call = @printed_time = time

sorry

Paolo

Ahh, it feels good to do a ruby quiz again :-). I’ve ignored the other
solutions so far so someone else may have taken the same approach.

I took the approach that there are actual 3 times involved, so as to
hopefully avoid as little as possible the range limiting that Ara was

Essentially, the time displayed to the user is all that must be
increase. So long as that is continually moving forward, the times
behind the scene don’t really matter. That for me results in 3
different times.

``````- Actual time
- Fuzzed time  : actual time fuzzed within the fuzzy range (+- 5 min
``````

default)
- Display time : Fuzzed time ‘floored’ to a granularity (10 min
default)

As a result, my approach has the following algorithm:
- Calculate the actual time (update/advance)
- Calculate a fuzzy range for the new fuzzed time which has
- lower bound = the maximum of the last display time or (actual

• fuzz factor minutes)
- upper bound = actual + range
• randomly pick a new time in that range for the fuzzed time
• calculate the new display time off of the fuzzed time

As a result, the Fuzzed time can increase/decrease with respect to
itself, but will always be greater than the displayed time. But overall
the fuzzed time will continue to increase. And the display time is
always increasing.

I also threw in some Extra Credits: 24hour/12hour option, fuzz factor
(changing the ± range) and display granularity(one minute, ten minute
on hour).

Great Quiz!

enjoy,

-jeremy

Here is my script. This is my first entry to Ruby Q…

I wanted this FuzzyTime to support random access so you can do this:

ft = FuzzyTime.new; puts ft
=> 17:5~
ft = FuzzyTime.set(Time.now+4.hours); puts ft
=> 22:0~
ft = FuzzyTime.set(Time.now+10.minutes); puts ft
=> 18:1~
ft = FuzzyTime.set(Time.now); puts ft
=> 17:5~

you cannot rewind to before the time FuzzyTime was initialized with).
Now ‘update’ adds to the internal time based on how long since you last
called one of ‘initialize’, ‘advance’, ‘rewind’, ‘update’ or ‘set’.

Other than ensuring that the transition occurs randomly for each ten
minute block, I didn’t implement any of the extra credit options.

-Dan Lucraft

# handy stuff…

require
‘/home/dan/gems/activesupport-1.3.1/lib/active_support/core_ext/numeric’
require
‘/home/dan/gems/activesupport-1.3.1/lib/active_support/core_ext/time’

class FuzzyTime
def initialize(time=Time.now)
# we record the start time as it’s used to reset the random number
generator
# every time we fuzzify a time
@start_time = time

``````time_mins = (time - time.beginning_of_day).to_i/60
hours = time_mins/60
mins = time_mins-(hours*60)
tens = mins/10
@time_of_nearest_ten_before_start = time_mins - mins + (tens*10) -5

@internal_time = time
@last_called = time
``````

end

def actual
@internal_time
end

@internal_time += secs
@last_called = Time.now
end

def rewind(secs)
@internal_time -= secs
check_valid
@last_called = Time.now
end

def update
@internal_time += Time.now - @last_called
check_valid
@last_called = Time.now
end

def set(time=Time.now)
@internal_time = time
check_valid
@last_called = Time.now
end

# this fuzzifies the current internal time.

def to_s
# run through random numbers for the number of 10 minute blocks
since the
# start time, and keep the last one (switch_val)
time_mins = ((@internal_time -
@start_time.beginning_of_day).to_i)/60
distance = time_mins - @time_of_nearest_ten_before_start
Kernel.srand(@start_time.to_i)
switch_val = nil
((distance/10)+1).to_i.times do
switch_val = rand(10)
end

``````# the kept random number is where in the 10 minute interval around
# the current time that the fuzzy time switches from low to high
# E.g.
# current time 9:12
# interval around current time: [9:05, 9:15]
# a switch_val of 3 means that we go from 9:0~ to 9:1~ at 9:08
# NB we always get the same switch_val for this ten-minute block,
# since we are resetting the generator and counting the correct
``````

number
# of random numbers in. This is what allows random access.
# marginal_mins is 7 in this case. (9:12-9:05)
marginal_mins = distance - (10*(distance/10))
if marginal_mins >= switch_val and marginal_mins >= 5
near_time(@internal_time, :below)
elsif marginal_mins >= switch_val and marginal_mins < 5
near_time(@internal_time, :above)
elsif marginal_mins < switch_val and marginal_mins >= 5
near_time(@internal_time-10.minutes, :below)
elsif marginal_mins < switch_val and marginal_mins < 5
near_time(@internal_time, :below)
end
end

def near_time(time, type)
time = (time - time.beginning_of_day).to_i
hour = time/3600
fuzzy_min = ((time - (hour*3600))/60)/10
fuzzy_min += 1 if type == :above
(fuzzy_min = 0 and hour += 1) if fuzzy_min == 6
hour = 0 if hour == 24
if hour >= 10
“#{hour}:#{fuzzy_min}~”
else
“0#{hour}:#{fuzzy_min}~”
end
end

def check_valid
if @internal_time < @start_time
raise Exception, “Rewound past start of FuzzyTime.”
end
end
end

if FILE == \$0
ft = FuzzyTime.new
puts ft
step = ARGV[0].to_i || 60
while(true)
sleep step
puts ft
end
end

Hi all,

This is my first submission to the list and I’m new to Ruby too. I’m
really be appreciated.

I haven’t had time to do any “extra credit” stuff, or even test this
fully, but here goes -

class FuzzyTime

def initialize(*start_time)
@current_systime = Time.new
@actual = start_time[0] || Time.new
@last_displayed = @actual
end

def to_s
# Decide whether to go forward or back 5 mins
if rand(2) == 1
@display = @actual + (5 * 60)
else
@display = @actual - (5 * 60)
end

`````` # If the time we are going to display is before what was last
``````

displayed, don’t do it
if @display < @last_displayed
@display = @last_displayed
end

`````` @last_displayed = @display

"#{"%02d" % @display.hour}:#{("%02d" % @display.min.to_s)[0..0]}~"
``````

end

# Advance the actual time by a number of seconds, reset the system

time record so that

# update will work

@actual += secs
@current_systime = Time.new
end

# and apply this to the actual time

def update
diff = Time.new - @current_systime
@actual += diff.to_i
@current_systime = Time.new
end

end

Thanks everyone

Robert

Hi,

attached is my FuzzyTime.rb solution and a corresponding Unit Test
file. Thanks for the quiz, I look forward to any feedback. I didn’t
have time to do the extra credit tasks

On 10/27/06, Ruby Q. [email protected] wrote:

I realized that if I kept staring at the clock (as I did), and I were to observe
---------------------------------------------------------------------
shows “10:4~” it must continue to show “10:4~” until it shows “10:5~”. (It can’t
10:39 10:4~ 10:4~ 10:3~
10:50 10:4~ 10:4~ 10:5~
11:01 10:5~ 10:5~ 11:0~
#=> “10:5~”

``````      60.times do

end
it must display. (+/- 3 minutes, +/- 12 minutes, etc.)
7 seconds, once every 30 seconds, etc.)
10:58, or might continue to display 10:5~ when the real time is
``````

Caleb

“There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck
Norris allows to live.”

Hi all,

I’m new to Ruby and this is the first quiz I’m doing. Not sure if I’m
missing something, but this seems pretty easy to me. Here’s what I
have:

class FuzzyTime

# if 24 then show in 24 hour format, else 12 hour format

attr_accessor :mode

def initialize(startAt = Time.now, variance = 5*60)
@time = Time.at(startAt)
@offset = Time.now - @time
@variance = variance
@mintime = Time.at(@time.to_i - @variance).to_i
@mode = 24
end

def to_s
t = @time.to_i - @variance + rand(@variance * 2)
@mintime = @mintime > t ? @mintime : t
now = Time.at(@mintime)
sprintf(‘%02d:%d~ %s’,
@mode == 24 ? now.hour : now.hour % 12,
now.min / 10,
@mode != 24 ? now.hour / 12 == 1 ? ‘pm’ : ‘am’ : ‘’
)
end

def update
@time = Time.now + @offset
end

def actual
@time
end

def +(amt)
@time = @time + amt
self
end

def -(amt)
@time = @time + (-amt)
# reset the minimum displayed time
@mintime = Time.at(@time.to_i - @variance).to_i
self
end
end

if FILE == \$0 then
t = FuzzyTime.new
t.mode = 24

30.times {
t += 60
puts “#{t.to_s} (#{t.actual.strftime(‘%H:%M’)})”
}
end

Cheers,
Thomas

2006/10/30, Caleb P. [email protected]:

On Oct 29, 2006, at 6:34 PM, Robert Conn wrote:

Hi all,

Hello.

This is my first submission to the list and I’m new to Ruby too.

Welcome!

My comment is that I wish I wrote Ruby that pretty when I was new.

I’ll give a couple super minor suggestions…

def initialize(*start_time)
@current_systime = Time.new
@actual = start_time[0] || Time.new
@last_displayed = @actual
end

Why take an Array of arguments but only use the first one? I think
you should drop the slurping operator:

def initialize(start_time)
@current_systime = Time.new
@actual = start_time || Time.new
@last_displayed = @actual
end

``````# Decide whether to go forward or back 5 mins
if rand(2) == 1
@display = @actual + (5 * 60)
else
@display = @actual - (5 * 60)
end
``````

You could shorten that up a bit, though I’m not sure this is as

@display = @actual.send(%w[+ -][rand(2)], 5 * 60)

``````"#{"%02d" % @display.hour}:#{("%02d" % @display.min.to_s)[0..0]}~"
``````

Perhaps the this is more straight forward:

@display.strftime("%H:%M").sub(/\d\$/, “~”)

Hope that gives you some new ideas.

James Edward G. II

Thanks for the test and the quiz. Writing a solution wasn’t very hard,
but coming up with a good way to keep the time from drifting ahead and
had good ‘fuzziness’, quantifying what made a good fuzzy time and then
testing different approaches was the interesting part.

An approach I took to test the fuzziness of my FuzzyTime class was
track the number of minutes the fuzzy time remained the same, advancing
one minute at a time, and then calculate the mean and variance of that
set of numbers, with the idea that a good fuzzy time would have a mean
change interval close to 10 minutes but with a large variance. That
would also snag solutions that always displayed the correct time plus
solutions that were always ahead or behind by a fixed amount: there
would be no variance to the intervals. (It would also be good to see
different results each time it’s run) A unit test for that is after my
solution.

In my approach, when a time is asked for, it computes a time that is
+/- 5 minutes from the actual time, keeping a low water mark that is
the last displayed time or 5 mintes from the actual time, whatever is
greater. There is a strong bias not to advance the time, correcting for
the tendancy for the time to drift ahead. This is what my solution got

And means and variances:

Mean interval: 9.02446115288221
Variance: 3.07336219244858

As for the solution:

---- FuzzyTime.rb

class FuzzyTime

# fuzzy_minutes -> number of minutes to randomly vary time

def initialize(time=Time.now, fuzzy_minutes=5)
@fuzzy_factor = fuzzy_minutes
@current_time = time
set_low_water_mark
set_updated
end

# time.

def to_s
ft = fuzzy_time
s = ft.strftime("%H:%M")
s[4] = ‘~’
s
end

# if negative

raise “advance: seconds cannot be negative” if seconds < 0
@current_time = @current_time + seconds
set_updated
end

# elapsed since the last time this method was called

def update
@current_time = @current_time + update_interval
set_updated
end

def actual
@current_time
end

private

# goes backwards

def set_low_water_mark
@low_water_mark = @current_time - (@fuzzy_factor*60)
end

def set_updated
@last_updated = Time.now
end

# Gets the number of seconds since the last update

def update_interval
Time.now - @last_updated
end

# returned last time we were called.

def fuzzy_time
fuzzy_seconds = @fuzzy_factor * 60

``````# Raise the low watermark if it is lower than allowed, if we
# advanced by a huge degree, etc.
@low_water_mark =
[@low_water_mark, @current_time - fuzzy_seconds].max

# Compute a new random time, and set it to be the fuzzy time if
# it is higher than the low water mark. The algorithm is biased
# to return a negative time. This is to compensate for the low
# water mark. We want the time to be behind as much as it is
# ahead. At least 60 percent of the time the time will not
random_time = @current_time +
(rand(fuzzy_seconds*5) - fuzzy_seconds*4)
fuzzy_time = [@low_water_mark, random_time].max

# Update the low water mark if necessary
@low_water_mark = [@low_water_mark, fuzzy_time].max

fuzzy_time
``````

end
end

The unit test to calculate means and variances:

----- FuzzyTimeTest.rb

require ‘FuzzyTime’

class FuzzyTimeTest < Test::Unit::TestCase

# as large as possible.

def test_intervals
ft = FuzzyTime.new

``````last_time = nil
fuzzy_interval = 0
intervals = Array.new
100000.times do
fuzzy_time = ft.to_s

if last_time.nil? || last_time == fuzzy_time
fuzzy_interval += 1
else
intervals.push fuzzy_interval
fuzzy_interval = 0
end
last_time = fuzzy_time
end

average = intervals.inject {|sum,val| sum + val }.to_f /
intervals.length
puts "Mean interval: #{average}"

variance = intervals.inject {|sum, val| sum+(val-average).abs}.to_f
``````

/
intervals.length
puts “Variance: #{variance}”
end
end

Hi,

Here’s my entry. I haven’t peeked at any of the other responses yet,
way. Any comments are welcome, I’m a relative nuby, and have only
done toy projects so far.

The place where there’s probably the most latitude for variation is
in the algorithm for deciding how the offset between the reported
time and the actual time varies. The first thing I tried was to
figure out, whenever the time was updated, what the range of possible
offsets was (given the current actual and reported times and need to
make sure the reported time doesn’t retrogress) and then select a new
offset uniformly within that range. The problem there is that, if
you update more often than every five minutes, the clock will tend to
advance 4-5 minutes ahead of the actual time and stay there. To
address that, I now select an offset uniformly within the range of
allowable errors (+5 minutes to -5 minutes) and, if the new offset
would cause the time to retrogress, I just leave the reported time
unchanged. The offset will still tend to be positive, however, and
more positive the shorter the interval between updates. I’m
interested to see if anyone came up with a good way to get a balanced
distribution of errors over a long run.

Cheers,

Tom

Here are my sources for the FuzzyTime module and a driver program.
To run the driver, just say

`````` ruby fuzzyclock.rb
``````

You can set the number of digits to fuzz out with the option ‘-f
’.
You can set the “wobble” (maximum allowable error) with ‘-w ’.
You can have it display the actual time and cuurrent error with ‘-d’.
You can have it run in an accelerated test mode with the option ‘-t’.

• fuzzytime.rb - - - - - - - -

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

# Author: Tom P. [email protected]

class FuzzyTime
attr_accessor :am_pm, :fuzz, :wobble, :method

# times are represented in 12-hour style by default.

def initialize ( actual=nil )
@actual = actual || Time.new() # the actual time (Time)
@current = nil # the time that we report (Time)
@updated = Time.new # when @current was last
updated (Time)
@wobble = 5 # the maximum error in @current
(minutes)
@fuzz = 1 # the number of digits to fuzz
out (int)
@method = 2 # the update algorithm to use
(int)
@am_pm = true # report 12-hour time? (boolean)
@current = @actual + offset
end

# (The reported time may or may not change.)

@actual += delta
@current = @actual + offset
@updated = Time.new
self
end

last changed.

def update
end

reported times.

# (This is called whenever the actual time changes.)

def offset
max_range = 2*@wobble + 1
min_offset = @current.to_i/60 - @actual.to_i/60
if @current.nil? || min_offset < -@wobble
range = max_range
else
range = @wobble - min_offset + 1
end
range = max_range if range > max_range

`````` if range == 0
delta = 0
else
if @method == 1
# pick a new offset within the legal range of offsets.
delta = @wobble - rand(range)
else
# pick a new offset within the range of allowable errors.
# if it would require the time to regress, don't change the
``````

reported time.
delta = @wobble - rand(max_range)
delta = min_offset if delta < min_offset
end
end
return 60 * delta
end

# Report the difference (in minutes) between the reported and

actual times.
def error
(current - actual).to_i/60
end

# The number of digits obscured by tildes is controlled by the

‘fuzz’ attribute.

# Whether the time is in 12- or 24-hour style is controlled by

‘am_pm’.
def to_s
if @am_pm
display = @current.strftime(“%I:%M”)
else
display = @current.strftime(“%H:%M”)
end
@fuzz.times { display.sub!(/\d(\D*)\$/, ‘~\1’) } if @fuzz > 0
display
end
end

• fuzzyclock.rb - - - - - - - -

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

# Report the current time on the console, using the FuzzyTime module.

require ‘fuzzytime.rb’
require ‘getoptlong.rb’

opts = GetoptLong.new(
[ ‘–fuzz’, ‘-f’, GetoptLong::REQUIRED_ARGUMENT],
[ ‘–wobble’, ‘-w’, GetoptLong::REQUIRED_ARGUMENT],
[ ‘–24hour’, ‘-m’, GetoptLong::NO_ARGUMENT],
[ ‘–test’, ‘-t’, GetoptLong::NO_ARGUMENT],
[ ‘–debug’, ‘-d’, GetoptLong::NO_ARGUMENT]
)

ft = FuzzyTime.new
test = false
debug = false

opts.each do |opt, arg|
ft.fuzz = arg.to_i if opt == ‘–fuzz’
ft.wobble = arg.to_i if opt == ‘–wobble’
ft.am_pm = false if opt == ‘–24hour’
debug = true if opt == ‘–debug’
test = true if opt == ‘–test’
end

puts “Fuzzy Clock”
while true
printf “\r%s”, ft.to_s
printf " (%s %3d)“, ft.actual.strftime(”%H:%M"), ft.error if debug
STDOUT.flush
if test
sleep 1
else
sleep 60
ft.update
end
end

Robert Conn wrote:

As a sidenote, I assume Ruby doesn’t support overloaded methods? I
initially tried to implement initialize with 2 methods, one with no
parameters, one with the time parameter but it didn’t work.

No: any time you find
def something
end

it redefines the previous meaning. But you can use optional arguments

def func(a,b = :special)
if b == :special
# code for one arg
else
# code for two
end
end

I agree it is quite cumbersome, but I think when you get more used to
Ruby, you won’t need overloaded methods anymore.

``Vince``

On Oct 30, 2006, at 12:43 PM, Daniel L. wrote:

This is my first entry to Ruby Q…

Welcome!

James Edward G. II

James

Thanks for the comments. This -

@display.strftime("%H:%M").sub(/\d\$/, “~”)

is certainly more elegant than mine.

Gavin - I was able to test the code with your test class. I don’t
claim to fully understand it yet though. It’s good to finally do
some test driven development.

As a sidenote, I assume Ruby doesn’t support overloaded methods? I
initially tried to implement initialize with 2 methods, one with no
parameters, one with the time parameter but it didn’t work.

Thanks

Robert