WordNerd for web

January 8th, 2018

Word Nerd, Supernifty’s crossword solver, is now available as a web application.

Try it out at Word Nerd. No installation required. Available on both desktop and mobile.

On first visit, a substantial download is required (approximately 30Mb), but with browser caching, subsequent visits are fast to start up.

As with the installable version of Word Nerd, the web version enables three main functions:

  • Find words matching a pattern: e.g. find all words matching “m..k.y”
  • Find anagrams of a word: e.g. find all anagrams of “read”
  • Find words contained in a word’s definition: e.g. find all words that contain “carbon dioxide” in its definition.

You can easily use Word Nerd to solve crosswords, or simply as a searchable offline dictionary.

Find matching words

Find anagrams

The web app is a little slower than the installed version of Word Nerd (particularly the definition search) but still quite usable for those final pesky crossword clues.

This is the first release of the software so may have a few rough edges. Any problems, please raise an issue over at https://github.com/supernifty/wordnerd/issues.

If you’re interested in the implementation, the source code is available at https://github.com/supernifty/wordnerd/

Try it out!

Estimating the value of Pi with Archimedes

April 23rd, 2017

Estimating Pi
Archimedes lived from 282 BC to 212 BC. He made many contributions to mathematics, engineering, physics, and astronomy.

He invented an interesting method of estimating Pi. He noticed that you can calculate a lower and upper bound for the ratio between the radius squared, and the area of a circle, which can estimate the value of Pi.

By drawing a square inside a circle and calculating its area, you can calculate a lower bound for what the area must be.

In this case, the square can be seen as four right angled triangles with length equal to the radius. Each triangle has an area of r * r / 2, which gives us a total area of 2r2.

Similarly, by drawing a square containing the circle, it has sides of length 2r, so has an area of 4r2. This gives us an upper bound for the area of the circle.

So, from these two calculations we know that the area lies between 2r2 and 4r2 – hence Pi lies between 2 and 4.

Doesn’t seem like a very accurate prediction. However, Archimedes realised that by using this same technique with polygons with more sides, he could get a more accurate estimate.

With a 10-sided polygon, the range becomes 0.31, a margin of error of 10%. With 100 sides, the estimate is accurate to two decimal places.

If you’re interested in the code that does the calculation, it’s available at GitHub.

Top 500 songs of all time by Magic 1278

March 13th, 2015

Magic recently completed their listener survey for the top 500 songs of all time, and Supernifty has put together a web page for exploring the countdown.

Most popular artists of all time

There were big changes from the last survey of 2012, with over 200 new entries in the list. There has been a shift in the radio station’s playlist since the last survey, and this was reflected in the results. Songs from the 70s and Neil Diamond were big winners.

In fact, a 70s song stole the crown as the best song of all time. Can you guess what it is? Check out the top 500 songs of all time.

  • Oldest best song of all time: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole
  • Newest best song of all time: Mascara by John Stephan

Check out this year’s results, and compare it to the results of previous surveys in 2012, 2010 and 2008.

Compare tennis players across eras

November 28th, 2013

It’s always been difficult to compare tennis players from different generations – not any more!

Now you can compare tennis players by looking at how many grand slam titles they have won over their careers.

How does Pete Sampras compare to Rafael Nadal? Can Novak Djokovic match Roger Federer’s career? Who’s better, Steffi Graf or Serena Williams?

A few interesting match-ups:

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal

Federer vs Nadal for grand slams

Many people consider Federer to be the best male tennis player of all time. However, before Nadal’s injury problems, Rafa was generally doing better than Roger was at the same age.

Nadal started winning titles much earlier than Roger did and this gives Nadal an opportunity to match Roger.

If Nadal remains injury free, it will be interesting to see where he finishes relative to Federer’s stellar career.

Ivan Lendl vs Andy Murray

Murray vs Lendl for grand slams

Ivan Lendl won his first grand slam title at the relatively old age of 24 having previously been runner-up on 3 separate occasions. Similarly, Andy Murray won his first title at the practically ancient age of 25 (see John McEnroe below).

It seems unlikely that Murray can match the efforts of his coach, talented though he may be.

Serena Williams vs Monica Seles

Serena vs Seles for grand slams

Monica Seles had an explosive start to her career, winning an amazing 8 grand spam titles by the age of 19. And this at the time when Steffi Graf – one of women’s greatest players – was active.

Her spectacular start put her way ahead of Serena Williams at a similar age, highlighting how events transpired to end the career of a potentially great female player.

In contrast, Serena has demonstrated great longevity, continuing to win grand slam titles well into her thirties. Very few women have won a grand slam title over the age of 30 and this reflects Serena’s talent and dedication to the sport of tennis.

Andre Agassi vs John McEnroe

Agassi vs McEnroe for grand slams
Two incredibly talented American players of contrasting styles – their pattern of grand slam titles are also very different.

John McEnroe’s tennis ability shone early and brightly. Incredibly, he won his last grand slam title at the age of 25 – the same age that Andy Murray won his first title!

Agassi on the other hand had a late bloom starting at age 29. He put on another 5 grand slam titles to bring his final haul to 8 – one more than John McEnroe.

Try it yourself!

We hope you’ve found these comparisons across the eras of tennis interesting.

Why not try it for yourself? Compare your own favourite tennis players.

If you discover an interesting head to head, feel free to pass it on or if you have thoughts or suggestions, let us know!

Online Regular Expression Tester

November 22nd, 2013

Supernifty has made available an online regular expression tester.

Of course, there are already numerous online regex testers available but in our defence, this one is fast, free, simple and easy to use.

Also, regular expressions are seriously cool; if you don’t already know them, you really should.

We have plans for more regular expression shenanigans; watch this space.

If you do try Supernifty’s Regex Tester and have feedback, thoughts or comments, get in touch!

Book Review – Confessions of a Public Speaker

October 20th, 2013

Confessions of a Public Speaker provides a glimpse into the world of public speaker Scott Berkun.

This relatively short book consists of a series of amusing public speaking related anecdotes – typically some unpleasant event personally experienced by Scott – followed by some advice on how to prevent said unpleasant experience from happening to you.

The book was interesting and a little addictive – I always wanted to turn the page to see what sticky situation Scott would be in next. The book also contained a range of practical public speaking tips.

I particularly enjoyed the final chapter – a compilation of public speaking stories sent in by other speakers – some of the stories were seriously hilarious.

Even if you’re not a professional public speaker, it still makes for a quick, light-hearted read. Everyone has to speak publicly occasionally and this book contains plenty of useful advice.

Note: This book was provided by O’Reilly Media as part of their blogger review program.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

MemShot is moving to MemShotApp.com

September 4th, 2013

MemShot has a new home.

We have spun out MemShot to its own website: http://www.memshotapp.com/.

All learning sets remain unchanged and in general, everything will work exactly as before.

What you need to do

If you normally sign in to Supernifty with your email and password, you don’t need to do anything. Head over to MemShot and sign in as usual. Nothing has changed.

If you sign in to MemShot using OpenID – i.e. Google, Yahoo or other external provider – you need to link your Supernifty account with your MemShot account. Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to http://www.supernifty.org/updateuser.php and sign in as usual;
  2. Set an email address and password;
  3. Go to http://www.memshotapp.com/ and sign in with your OpenID account;
  4. You will be given the option of linking to an existing account: enter your Supernifty email and password;
  5. Your accounts are now linked and you can access your existing MemShot sets.

If you have any problems or questions regarding this process, please contact us.

What’s MemShot?

It’s a Spaced Repetition system built on flashcards.

Spaced Repetition is a memory system developed to help memorize things as efficiently as possible.

It’s a fine alternative to rote learning that can save you a great deal of time.

Book Review – Graph Databases

August 26th, 2013

Graph Databases provides a concise introduction to this particular alternative to the relational database.

Having lots of experience with relational databases and very little experience with graph databases, I found this book to be an interesting read. The book effectively describes the weaknesses of relational databases and explains how graph databases address these weaknesses.

After introducing the idea of a graph database, the book proceeds to demonstrate domains that graph databases are suited to. This corresponds to domains where a network is a natural representation of the data, although the authors tend to suggest that graph databases are almost always more suitable than a relational database!

Next up is the demonstration of a specific implementation: Neo4J and Cypher. Examples of how to create a Neo4J database and query with Cypher follow. Explanations are a little terse, but the interested student can easily investigate further.

Finally, the book includes an interesting comparison of Graph Databases with some of the other NoSQL options available.

My only reservation is that the book felt a little unbalanced in its unwavering promotion of graph databases and the limited discussion of alternatives to Neo4J/Cypher. Overall though, this book provided a good overview of this technology and opened my eyes to the possibilities of Graph Databases.

Note: This book was provided by O’Reilly Media as part of their blogger review program.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

New MemShot features – email reminders, progress reports, timed challenges and more

June 2nd, 2013

Some handy new features have been added to MemShot.

What’s MemShot?

It’s a Spaced Repetition system built on flashcards.

Spaced Repetition is a memory system developed to help memorize things as efficiently as possible.

There are a number of flashcard systems out there, but here are a few features of MemShot that most of the others don’t have:

Email Reminders

We all need a little help with the motivation sometimes, but it only takes a few minutes each day to keep your memory sharp.

MemShot can remind you to practice daily and let you know what needs work.

MemShot practice reminder

Weekly Progress

Each week, MemShot sends you a progress report so you can bask in the glory of your path to mastery.

MemShot progress report

Daily Tracking

MemShot is now integrated with Supernifty’s goal tracker.

This tool helps you track what you are doing every day and form new habits. Learn more about goal tracker.

Timed Challenges

Having as long as you like to answer a question is not the same as the pressure of a real life situation of needing to be able to recall something immediately. For example, when you are speaking a foreign language, the other person is unlikely to have infinite patience.

Enter timed challenges.

MemShot timed challenges

Once a certain level of proficiency is reached, time limits are introduced.

MemShot timed challenge

Many people find the pressure of a time limit confronting – great practice for real life situations which typically include pressure to perform.

Shared Sets with Updates

Share your set by clicking the pencil next to “Private”.

Find public sets by clicking more learning sets.

MemShot now supports notifications – if an imported set has new items added to it you’ll get an icon next to that set to import the updates.

Want to learn more?

Import your Anki decks into MemShot

April 25th, 2013

Excellent news!

If you have existing decks in Anki and would like to try them in MemShot, you can now import your Anki decks into MemShot.

Import Anki decks into MemShot

What’s MemShot?

A free web-based learning system built on Flashcards and Spaced Repetition to make learning things like a new language fun and efficient. More about MemShot.

How to import your Anki decks into MemShot:

  1. Start up Anki. You need to be using at least version 2 of Anki;
  2. Choose File->Export. You can either export all decks or choose a specific one. Note that when you import into MemShot it will be imported as a single learning set;
  3. Visit MemShot Importer and login if required;
  4. Choose a set name for the imported deck along with any other required options;
  5. Next to the Import from Anki option, select your exported Anki file. This file should have the .apkg extension;
  6. Click Add Items; and
  7. You’re done! Start learning with MemShot!

Public Anki decks

Anki has many publicly available learning sets that can now easily be imported and used in MemShot.

Why MemShot?

There are a number of Spaced Repetition Flashcard based learning systems available.

MemShot is free, fun and easy to use. It is actively being developed with new features regularly added. In fact, if you’d like to see a feature, suggest it!


The Anki import feature currently has some limitations:

  • Images and sounds are currently not imported. Support for media files is in progress.
  • Special formatting of text e.g. colours, fonts is currently not supported.

We hope you try out your Anki decks with MemShot. If you do, let us know how it goes!